Onward to Chicago, by Larry A. McClellan ’66

New books by Larry McClellan ’66, Professor Andrew Shtulman, Kevin Adler ’07, and Ralph Kuncl ’70

Onward to Chicago, by Larry A. McClellan ’66

Onward to Chicago: Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad in Northeastern Illinois, by Larry A. McClellan ’66 (Southern Illinois University Press). Decades before the Civil War, Illinois’ status as a free state beckoned enslaved people, particularly those in Kentucky and Missouri, to cross porous river borders and travel toward new lives. While traditional histories of the Underground Railroad in Illinois start in 1839, and focus largely on the romanticized tales of white men, McClellan reframes the story, not only introducing readers to earlier freedom seekers but also illustrating that those who bravely aided them were Black and white, men and women. McClellan features dozens of individuals who made dangerous journeys to reach freedom as well as residents in Chicago and across northeastern Illinois who made a deliberate choice to break the law to help. Onward to Chicago charts the evolution of the northeastern Illinois freedom network and shows how, despite its small Black community, Chicago emerged as a point of refuge. McClellan, emeritus professor of sociology and community studies at Governors State University, has been instrumental in adding listings to the National Park Service Network to Freedom register of the Underground Railroad.

Learning to Imagine, by Andrew Shtulman

Learning to Imagine: The Science of Discovering New Possibilities, by Andrew Shtulman (Harvard University Press). The science of cognitive development shows that young children are wired to be imitators. When confronted with novel challenges, they struggle to think outside the box, and their creativity is rigidly constrained by what they deem probable, typical, or normal. Of course, children love to “play pretend,” but they are far more likely to simulate real life than to invent fantasy worlds of their own. And they generally prefer the mundane and the tried-and-true to the fanciful or the whimsical.

Children’s imaginations are not yet fully formed because they necessarily lack knowledge, and it is precisely knowledge of what is real that provides a foundation for contemplating what might be possible. The more we know, the farther our imaginations can roam. As Learning to Imagine demonstrates, the key to expanding the imagination is not forgetting what you know but learning something new. By building upon the examples of creative minds across diverse fields, from mathematics to religion, we can consciously develop our capacities for innovation and imagination at any age.

Shtulman is the author of Scienceblind (2017) and professor of psychology at Occidental, where he directs the Thinking Lab. His award-winning research has been featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Kevin Adler '07

When We Walk By: Forgotten Humanity, Broken Systems, and the Role We Can Each Play in Ending Homelessness in America, by Kevin F. Adler ’07 and Donald W. Burnes (North Atlantic Books). An estimated 6 million people experience homelessness in the United States each year. In When We Walk By, an urgent look at homelessness in America, authors Adler and Burnes introduce the concept of “relational poverty,” a dangerous form of isolation and loneliness. Through a combination of alienation, social exclusion, and learned assumptions about who becomes homeless and why, many people unwittingly choose not to see or engage with their unhoused neighbors. This poses material emotional and physical harm to those experiencing homelessness, “while costing each of us our full, shared humanity,” the authors argue.

When We Walk By takes seriously the real, intersectional reasons everyday people become housing insecure: eviction, domestic violence, racism, inadequate wages, medical emergencies, an inhumane criminal justice system, and more. Through conversations, stories, and interviews with unhoused neighbors, the book explores the complexity and nuance of America’s housing crisis while offering a profoundly relatable and optimistic guide to ending chronic homelessness within our lifetimes. The authors write: “When We Walk By offers an intimate look at how and why we unwittingly treat those without stable housing as problems to be solved rather than people to be loved.”

Adler is founder and CEO of the nonprofit Miracle Messages. (He was profiled in the Fall 2017 magazine.) Burnes is co-founder of the Burnes Institute for Poverty Research at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

Pomes, edited by Ralph W. Kuncl ’70

Pomes: Writing Like There’s No Tomorrow. The Collected Poetry of Douglas Lowry, edited by Ralph W. Kuncl ’70 (University of Rochester Press). Receiving a diagnosis of multiple myeloma may have created a sense of urgency in Douglas Lowry, emeritus dean of the Eastman School of Music, who wrote these over several years prior to his death in 2013. In one of his many speeches Lowry talked of “the theatre of ideas; not just musical ideas inspired by somebody else’s musical ideas, but the mosh pit of literature, visual art, drama; of the sciences, of social friction, of politics; in short, the mosh pit of the human condition.” His tentacles of interest reached every corner of the human condition, delusions, fantasies, memorable characters in literature, mythology, and life experiences. Toward the end, resignation set in with his realization, “Days and nights aren’t nearly as immortal as they used to be, are they?” Kuncl is a neurologist and president emeritus of the University of Redlands.