Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin


Ashley Montagu - 1971
    "All professionals concerned with human behavior will find something of value. . . . Parents . . . can gain insight into the nurturing needs of infants."--Janet Rhoads, American Journal of Occupational Therapy

The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter


Katherine Ellison - 2005
    "The Mommy Brain" usually refers to a head full of feeding times, soccer schedules, and nursery rhymes, at the expense of creative or challenging ideas. But recent scientific research paints a dramatically different and far rosier picture. Journalist Katherine Ellison draws on cutting-edge neuroscience research to demonstrate that, contrary to long-established wisdom that having children dumbs you down, raising children may make moms smarter . From enhanced senses in pregnancy and early motherhood to the alertness and memory skills necessary to manage like a pro, to a greater aptitude for risk-taking and a talent for empathy and negotiation, these advantages not only help mothers in raising their children, but in their work and social lives as well. Filled with lively (and often hilarious) stories of multitasking moms at home and on the job, The Mommy Brain encourages all of us to cast aside conventional thinking and discover the positive ways in which having children changes mothers' brains for the better.

Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation


Eva Illouz - 2011
    They come in many shapes: loving a man or a woman who will not commit to us, being heartbroken when we're abandoned by a lover, engaging in Sisyphean internet searches, coming back lonely from bars, parties, or blind dates, feeling bored in a relationship that is so much less than we had envisaged - these are only some of the ways in which the search for love is a difficult and often painful experience.Despite the widespread and almost collective character of these experiences, our culture insists they are the result of faulty or insufficiently mature psyches. For many, the Freudian idea that the family designs the pattern of an individual's erotic career has been the main explanation for why and how we fail to find or sustain love. Psychoanalysis and popular psychology have succeeded spectacularly in convincing us that individuals bear responsibility for the misery of their romantic and erotic lives. The purpose of this book is to change our way of thinking about what is wrong in modern relationships. The problem is not dysfunctional childhoods or insufficiently self-aware psyches, but rather the institutional forces shaping how we love.The argument of this book is that the modern romantic experience is shaped by a fundamental transformation in the ecology and architecture of romantic choice. The samples from which men and women choose a partner, the modes of evaluating prospective partners, the very importance of choice and autonomy and what people imagine to be the spectrum of their choices: all these aspects of choice have transformed the very core of the will, how we want a partner, the sense of worth bestowed by relationships, and the organization of desire.This book does to love what Marx did to commodities: it shows that it is shaped by social relations and institutions and that it circulates in a marketplace of unequal actors.

The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains


Thomas W. Laqueur - 2015
    Why should he or anyone else care what became of his corpse? In The Work of the Dead, acclaimed cultural historian Thomas Laqueur examines why humanity has universally rejected Diogenes’s argument. No culture has been indifferent to mortal remains. Even in our supposedly disenchanted scientific age, the dead body still matters—for individuals, communities, and nations. A remarkably ambitious history, The Work of the Dead offers a compelling and richly detailed account of how and why the living have cared for the dead, from antiquity to the twentieth century.The book draws on a vast range of sources—from mortuary archaeology, medical tracts, letters, songs, poems, and novels to painting and landscapes in order to recover the work that the dead do for the living: making human communities that connect the past and the future. Laqueur shows how the churchyard became the dominant resting place of the dead during the Middle Ages and why the cemetery largely supplanted it during the modern period. He traces how and why since the nineteenth century we have come to gather the names of the dead on great lists and memorials and why being buried without a name has become so disturbing. And finally, he tells how modern cremation, begun as a fantasy of stripping death of its history, ultimately failed—and how even the ashes of the victims of the Holocaust have been preserved in culture.A fascinating chronicle of how we shape the dead and are in turn shaped by them, this is a landmark work of cultural history.

Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity


David D. Gilmore - 1990
    Gilmore finds that a culturally sanctioned stress on manliness—on toughness and aggressiveness, stoicism and sexuality—is almost universal, deeply ingrained in the consciousness of hunters and fishermen, workers and warriors, poets and peasants who have little else in common.

O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm


Jonathan Margolis - 2004
    But are we? The history of the orgasm is as elusive as orgasm itself can be, for sex rarely makes the historical record. Now acclaimed British journalist Jonathan Margolis delivers the definitive history of the human orgasm, of sex for pleasure as well as conception -- from prehistory to Viagra. Most people manage just twelve minutes of orgasmic bliss per year. Some never experience it at all. Yet the urge for orgasm rules much of human life, across national and cultural boundaries. How much have we learned about female pleasure since the 1558 discovery of the clitoris? How has the drive for pleasure, and the fear of it, shaped various societies -- from Saint Francis of Assisi and the thorn bush, to “primitive” tribes who embraced maximum pleasure for both sexes? How much does the sensation of orgasm differ for different people? Drawing on the biology, literature, anthropology, psychology, and technology, Jonathan Margolis delivers the final word on both male and female orgasm in an enlightening history that is a pleasure to read.

The Lonely Century: How to Restore Human Connection in a World That's Pulling Apart


Noreena Hertz - 2021
    It is damaging our health, our wealth, and our happiness and even threatening our democracy. Never has it been more pervasive or more widespread, but never has there been more that we can do about it.Even before a global pandemic introduced us to terms like "social distancing," the fabric of community was unraveling and our personal relationships were under threat. And technology isn't the sole culprit. Equally to blame are the dismantling of civic institutions, the radical reorganization of the workplace, the mass migration to cities, and decades of neoliberal policies that have placed self-interest above the collective good.This is not merely a mental health crisis. Loneliness increases our risk of heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Statistically, it's as bad for our health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. It's also an economic crisis, costing us billions annually. And it's a political crisis, as feelings of marginalization fuel divisiveness and extremism around the world. But it's also a crisis we have the power to solve.Combining a decade of research with firsthand reporting, Noreena Hertz takes us from a "how to read a face" class at an Ivy League university to isolated remote workers in London during lockdown, from "renting a friend" in Manhattan to nursing home residents knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan.Offering bold solutions ranging from compassionate AI to innovative models for urban living to new ways of reinvigorating our neighborhoods and reconciling our differences, The Lonely Century offers a hopeful and empowering vision for how to heal our fractured communities and restore connection in our lives.

Networked: The New Social Operating System


Lee Rainie - 2012
    Our perpetual connectedness gives us endless opportunities to be part of the give-and-take of networking.Some worry that this new environment makes us isolated and lonely. But in Networked, Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman show how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making, and personal interaction. The new social operating system of "networked individualism" liberates us from the restrictions of tightly knit groups; it also requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks. Rainie and Wellman outline the "triple revolution" that has brought on this transformation: the rise of social networking, the capacity of the Internet to empower individuals, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices. Drawing on extensive evidence, they examine how the move to networked individualism has expanded personal relationships beyond households and neighborhoods; transformed work into less hierarchical, more team-driven enterprises; encouraged individuals to create and share content; and changed the way people obtain information. Rainie and Wellman guide us through the challenges and opportunities of living in the evolving world of networked individuals.

Sex in History


Reay Tannahill - 1980
    Reay Tannahill's scholarly, yet accessible study ranges from the earliest form of contraception (one Egyptian concoction included crocodile dung) to some latter- day misconceptions about it- like the men who joined their lovers in taking the pill 'just to be on the safe side.' It surveys all manner of sexual practice, preference and position (the acrobatic 'wheelbarrow' position, the strenuous 'hovering butterflies' position...) and draws on souces as diverse as THE ADMIRABLE DISCOURSES OF THE PLAIN GIRL, the EXHIBTION OF FEMALE FLAGELLANTS, IMPORTANT MATTERS OF THE JADE CHAMBER and THE ROMANCE OF CHASTISEMENT. Whether writing on androgyny, courtly love, flagellation or zoophilia, Turkish eunuch's Greek dildoes, Taoist sex manuals or Japanses geisha girls, Reay Tannahill is consistently enlightening and entertaining.

Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate


Steven Johnson - 1997
    . . Representing all that information is going to require a new visual language, as complex and meaningful as the great metropolitan narratives of the 19th-century novel."--from "Interface Culture"In this hip, erudite manifesto, Steven Johnson--one of the most influential people in cyberspace, according to "Newsweek" bridges the gap that yawns between technology and the arts. Drawing on his own expertise in the humanities and on the Web, he not only demonstrates how interfaces--those buttons, graphics and words on the screen through which we control information--influence our daily lives, but also tracks their roots back to Victorian novels, early cinema and even medieval urban planning. The result is a lush cultural and historical tableau in which today's interfaces take their rightful place in the lineage of artistic innovation.With "Interface Culture," Johnson brilliantly charts the vital role interface design plays in modern society. Just as the great novels of Melville, Dickens and Zola explain a rapidly industralizing society to itself, he argues, web sites, Microsoft Bob, flying toasters and the landscapes of video games tell the digital society how to imagine itself and how to get around in cyberspace's unfamiliar realm.The role once played by novelists is now fulfilled by the interface designer, who has bridged the gap between technology and everyday life by providing a conceptual framework for the vast amounts of information and computation that surround us.Johnson boldly explores the past--a terrain few tech thinkers have dared enter, and one that throws dazzling light on the modern interface's roots. From the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages to the rise of perspective drawing in the Renaissance, from Enlightenment satire to the golden age of television, "Interface Culture" uses a wealth of venerable "interface innovation" to place newfangled creations like Windows 95 and the Web in a rich historical context.Controversial, clear-sighted and challenging, "Interface Culture" also looks at the future--from what PC screens will look like in 10 years to how new interfaces will alter the style of our conversation, prose and thoughts. With a distinctively accessible style, "Interface Culture" brings new intellectual depth to the vital discussion of how technology has transformed society, and is sure to provoke wide debate in both literary and technological circles.

Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith


Shane Hipps - 2009
    They are nearly invisible, but they change us. In this provocative book, author Shane Hipps takes readers beneath the surface of things to see how the technologies we use end up using us. Not all is dire, however, as Hipps shows us that hidden things have far less power to shape us when they aren't hidden anymore. We are only puppets of our technology if we remain asleep. Flickering Pixels will wake us up--and nothing will look the same again.

Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination


Anne Allison - 2006
    The globalization of Japanese “cool” is led by youth products: video games, manga (comic books), anime (animation), and cute characters that have fostered kid crazes from Hong Kong to Canada. Examining the crossover traffic between Japan and the United States, Millennial Monsters explores the global popularity of Japanese youth goods today while it questions the make-up of the fantasies and the capitalistic conditions of the play involved. Arguing that part of the appeal of such dream worlds is the polymorphous perversity with which they scramble identity and character, the author traces the postindustrial milieux from which such fantasies have arisen in postwar Japan and been popularly received in the United States.

The Stars in Our Pockets: Getting Lost and Sometimes Found in the Digital Age


Howard Axelrod - 2020
    In this personal exploration of digital life's impact on how we see the world, Howard Axelrod marshals science, philosophy, art criticism, pop culture, and his own experience of returning from two years of living in solitude in northern Vermont. The Stars in Our Pockets is a timely reminder of the world around us and the worlds within us--and how, as alienated as we may sometimes feel, they were made for each other.

The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture


Darrel Ray - 2009
    Darrel Ray, psychologist and lifelong student of religion, discusses religious infection from the inside out. How does guilt play into religious infection? Why is sexual control so important to so many religions? What causes the anxiety and neuroticism around death and dying? How does religion inject itself into so many areas of life, culture, and politics? The author explores this and much more in his book The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture. This second-generation book takes the reader several steps beyond previous offerings and into the realm of the personal and emotional mechanisms that affect anyone who lives in a culture steeped in religion. Examples are used that anyone can relate to and the author gives real-world guidance in how to deal with and respond to people who are religious in our families, and among our friends and coworkers.

The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting Over New Media


Ilana Gershon - 2010
    Pins and rings were handy, telling everyone in local communities that you were spoken for, and when you broke up, the absence of a ring let everyone know you were available again. Is being Facebook official really more complicated, or are status updates just a new version of these old tokens?Many people are now fascinated by how new media has affected the intricacies of relationships and their dissolution. People often talk about Facebook and Twitter as platforms that have led to a seismic shift in transparency and (over)sharing. What are the new rules for breaking up? These rules are argued over and mocked in venues from the New York Times to lamebook.com, but well-thought-out and informed considerations of the topic are rare.Ilana Gershon was intrigued by the degree to which her students used new media to communicate important romantic information--such as it's over. She decided to get to the bottom of the matter by interviewing seventy-two people about how they use Skype, texting, voice mail, instant messaging, Facebook, and cream stationery to end relationships. She opens up the world of romance as it is conducted in a digital milieu, offering insights into the ways in which different media influence behavior, beliefs, and social mores. Above all, this full-fledged ethnography of Facebook and other new tools is about technology and communication, but it also tells the reader a great deal about what college students expect from each other when breaking up--and from their friends who are the spectators or witnesses to the ebb and flow of their relationships. The Breakup 2.0 is accessible and riveting.