Academics & Research / Spring 2018

Shelf Discovery: Great reading from the DU community

Whether you read for pleasure or edification or both; whether you thumb through a hardcover or swipe through a device, you’re no doubt in the market for new titles to enjoy. The University of Denver’s community of writers is happy to oblige, producing good reads that raise questions and change perspectives.


Motherhood & monsters

During the longest days of the remarkable “Year Without a Summer,” triggered by extreme climate abnormalities, the 18-year-old Mary Shelley famously dreamed up a new genre of literature and a lab experiment gone horribly wrong.

Two years later, in 1818, Shelley’s remarkable “Frankenstein” was published to mixed reviews and respectable sales. Lit lovers celebrate the book’s 200th anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion, DU English professor Rachel Feder unveils “Harvester of Hearts,” due out in August from Northwestern University Press. The book examines, among other topics, the many ways in which Shelley’s thoughts about motherhood informed her writing. (Over the course of her life with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley gave birth to four children, only one of whom survived into adulthood.)

Feder draws on her own experience of carrying a child to delve into Shelley’s creative yield. “Teaching the novel very late in my pregnancy, rereading it and then sitting in front of the class while my son kicked and punched inside me, something undeniable crystalized,” she says. “I had a new experience of an old interpretation of ‘Frankenstein,’ and that seemed like a fruitful spot from which to begin writing.”


Border crossings

In “Contraband Corridor” (Stanford University Press, 2017), Rebecca Berke Galemba of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies takes readers to the Mexico-Guatemala border to delve into the many ways that smuggling shapes and is shaped by trade, security measures and day-to-day life.

Plagued by persistent poverty, the region is characterized by an economy that is both sustained and undermined by illegal and informal smuggling of everything from basic commodities to banned substances. Without smuggling, Galemba maintains, borderland peasants would be hard-pressed to make a living. But with it, longstanding inequalities persist and much-needed reform is stymied.

As one reviewer noted, “Galemba’s landmark book helps readers understand a region where smuggling is conceived as free trade and borders are not walls that divide but pathways for encounters.”


News junkies with different habits

In “Young People and the Future of News” (Cambridge University Press, 2017), DU professor Lynn Schofield Clark, of the media, film and journalism studies department, joins co-author Regina Marchi to examine the evolving media habits of the under-20 set.

It may come as no surprise that young people are not the biggest supporters of legacy news outlets. Instead, they rely on social networks and social media for their headlines, quick takes and deep dives. But thanks to a concept known as “connective journalism,” young people aren’t just consuming news. They’re sharing — not to mention commenting upon — articles, videos, interviews and memes, often in the interests of inspiring civic participation and creating emotional engagement.

The book, which relies on a decade’s worth of fieldwork in a handful of major urban areas, offers encouraging insight to anyone inclined to view young people as apathetic or disengaged. The fact is, the book argues, young people may not read a daily newspaper or tune in for a nightly broadcast, but they are engaged in their own ways. That’s valuable insight for traditional news organizations and good news for custodians of democracy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *