May Theme: Thinkers

It’s easy enough to go through the days without wondering or questioning where the big, driving ideas of our global society come from and why. Our mission as a university press publisher is to disseminate knowledge and information that contributes to public discourse and conversation, and here, we’re particularly partial to Yale University’s motto of lux et veritas.

Individual biographies are one way to learn more about thinkers’ ideas, and this month, we have Sue Prideaux’s illuminating biography of Norwegian playwright, August Strindberg, published to coincide with the centenary of this haunting artist’s death. (Prideaux is also being consulted on the current sale of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, which was the subject of her previous YUP biography.) Also, the latest books in our Why X Matters series cover two mid-century Americans whose legacies are now more relevant than ever: critic Adam Kirsch writes on Lionel Trilling’s literary powerhouse, and Charles Lemert covers politics and morality in his study of preacher Reinhold Niebuhr.

Naturally, we’re partial to university professors and the books of Open Yale Courses, the first of which are available now, covering material from Yale’s popular classes: Shelly Kagan’s Death, Paul Fry’s Theory of Literature, and Dale Martin’s New Testament History and Literature. And outside the Elm City, we consider the careers of Eric Hobsbawm, John Lukacs, and Kelly James Clark, editor of Abraham’s Children: Liberty and Tolerance in an Age of Religious Conflict, in which fifteen influential practitioners of the Abrahamic religions, like President Jimmy Carter, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, and Abdurrahman Wahid, address religious liberty and tolerance from the perspectives of their own faith traditions.

Big ideas hit the public stage with John France’s Perilous Glory: The Rise of Western Military Power and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children. Literary critic Terry Eagleton returns to his signature theme in The Event of Literature, and Michael Meyerson revisits the Founders and the writing of the Constitution in Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America. As the “3@2 Interviews” have shown, some ideas are too big for one author, so together Felice Frankel and Angela DePace tackle effective visual communication and graphics for scientists and engineers in Visual Strategies, a practical guide for researchers, designers, and theorists alike.

And if you’ll forgive us the pun, we’ll have news on the biggest thinker of them all: The Brain: Big Bangs, Behaviors, and Beliefs, by Rob DeSalle and Ian Tattersall, illustrated by Patricia Wynne, following the exhibition on view last year at the American Museum of Natural History. Get your thinking caps on: the month is just getting started!

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