Academics & Research / Winter 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.


Gone Mom

Meet fiction’s new anti-heroine — an embezzling mom in hiding from her employer and family in “The Misfortune of Marion Palm” (Alfred Knopf, 2017), the much-admired debut novel from DU PhD candidate Emily Culliton.

With its crisp prose, brisk pace and shifting points of view, critics say it’s the perfect mixture of barbed satire, page-turning suspense and comic caper. “Half of the delight in Emily Culliton’s wholly delightful debut novel … lies in the way the book, like its title character, defies expectations at every turn,” New York Times reviewer Gregory Cowles noted, calling it “a witty, sneakily feminist kind of crime story.”

Culliton sets the novel in a tony neighborhood of her hometown, Brooklyn, where her protagonist raises funds for the private school her daughters attend. She’s married to a stay-at-home poet who, in her absence, takes up lifestyle blogging.

Culliton wrote the book while studying with Laird Hunt, Brian Kiteley and Selah Saterstrom of DU’s creative writing program. She’s currently working on her dissertation.


Organizing for Peace

All too often, civilians find that war is hell and that they are merely collateral damage. In “Resisting War: How Communities Protect Themselves” (Cambridge University

Press, 2017), Oliver Kaplan examines the nonviolent strategies unarmed civilians use, often at enormous risk, to limit the effects of strife on their villages and populations, even as bullets whiz around them.

An assistant professor in international security and human rights at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, Kaplan serves as associate director of DU’s Human Trafficking Center. His new book takes readers to Colombia and introduces them to the peasants and community leaders who negotiated local peace accords with FARC guerrillas. Kaplan’s fieldwork in the country included interviews with excombatants and community organizers.

Noted one early review by Harvard University’s Steven Pinker: “We have thousands of books and articles on how armed men threaten unarmed civilians, but very few on the important and fascinating phenomenon of how the civilians protect themselves and fight back. This compelling book fills the gap and represents an important turn in the study of violence, from how it is committed to how it is mitigated.”


A Poet’s ‘Painful Victories’

In her recently published chapbook, “Anatomie of the World: Poems” (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Annie Dawid shudders at the evil of skinheads, revisits T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” and laments the toll of AIDS.

For this book, Dawid (PhD ’89), who teaches creative writing in the liberal studies program at DU’s University College, derived inspiration and solace from the metaphysical poet John Donne.

“I have used Donne in many of my works, prose and poetry, as he embodies for me passion and intellect seamlessly interwoven,” she says. “He wasn’t afraid of expressing desire, though he was a priest, and I find great joy in his works as well as sorrow. Long ago I bought a tape of Richard Burton reading John Donne’s poetry, and it got stuck in my car’s player. I listened to the great Welsh actor reading his poems over and over, the cadences etched in my memory.”

Dawid’s own cadences have earned her kudos from her fellow poets. In a back-cover blurb from DU’s Bin Ramke, a professor of English and renowned poet in his own right, Dawid is hailed for producing a collection that gets under the skin: “This book is about painful victories, and is itself a hard-won delight.”


Memoir of a Movement

Longtime DU professor Carl Raschke was present at the birth of the movement known as “postmodern theology” — in fact, some observers credit him with being one of its inventors.

So it’s fitting that the religious studies scholar has chronicled its evolution in his latest book, “Postmodern Theology: A Biopic” (Cascade Books, 2017).

Offering both an analytic and a personal account, this “movement memoir” explores the four-decade history of what scholars consider one of the most important — not to mention controversial — developments in contemporary religious thought. An umbrella term that covers a range of interpretations, postmodern theology is influenced by a diverse array of thinkers, including Nietzche, Kierkegaard and Derrida.

In scholarly circles, Raschke is known as the author of several groundbreaking books and hundreds of articles. DU students and alumni also know him for his wide-ranging interests in everything from art theory to globalization. In September 2017, he shared his thoughts on postmodern theology at an installment of the Critical Conversations lecture series hosted by Denver’s BookBar.


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