New books and music by Oxy alumni, faculty, and staff

Breaking Protocol: America’s First Female Ambassadors, 1933-1964, by Philip Nash ’85 (University Press of Kentucky). American diplomacy was an almost exclusively male domain until the early 1930s, when the first female ambassadors changed the face of U.S. foreign relations. Nash delves into the history of the “Big Six”—Ruth Bryan Owen, Daisy Harriman, Perle Mesta, Eugenie Anderson, Clare Boothe Luce, and Frances Willis—exploring their backgrounds and appointments, the issues they faced on the job, how they were received by host countries, the complications of protocol, and their paradoxically favorable yet deeply sexist press coverage. A diplomacy and world affairs major at Oxy, Nash is associate professor of history at Penn State Shenango.

Bird Show, written and illustrated by Susan Stockdale ’76 (Peachtree Publishing Company). In rhythmic rhyme, the book (written for ages 2-6) showcases 18 spectacular birds from around the world, imagining their plumage as clothes—from a fanciful headdress to a swirly scarf to a spotted vest. A picture glossary provides information about each bird and features a pattern matching game. Bird Show is the ninth book by Stockdale, who lives in Chevy Chase, Md.

Bicycle Odyssey: An Around-the-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery, by Carla Fountain ’78 (Balboa Press). In 1991, when Fountain set off on a yearlong cycling journey, she expected new discoveries about the world. But she hadn’t anticipated a shocking rediscovery of herself. Relying solely on themselves, and a few helpful angels along the way, Carla and husband Dermot experienced the lush beauty of Uganda, the welcoming people of Vietnam, the isolated mountains and hill tribes of Thailand, the terror of traffic in India, and the magic of Bali. Told with vivid observation about the world and the people in it, Bicycle Odyssey shares the story of a rich and enlightening pilgrimage. Fountain has worked in film production and editing, taught elementary school, and has been a massage therapist and yoga and meditation teacher for the last 20 years. She has traveled the world extensively and divides her time between France and her home in Brea.

Lost Songs, by Terry Kitchen ’81 (Urban Campfire Records). Contemporary folk singer Kitchen (Max Pokrivchak) has always written songs that didn’t quite fit. Lost Songs weaves together new recordings of unreleased songs from all phases of his career, ranging from ironic '90s pop-folk ("Opposite Day"), and keening bluegrass ("She Never Looks Out the Window") to compelling narratives ("Nickel Bag," about white privilege) and stark post-mortems ("No Heroic Measures"). Guest vocalist Rebecca Lynch ’81 takes the lead on the jazz/blues torcher "Brand New Laces (Same Old Shoes)." With musicians largely recorded on his backyard patio, Lost Songs has an intimate, informal vibe that nonetheless showcases Kitchen’s keen eye for detail and ear for concise storytelling.

Paul and Image: Reading First Corinthians in Visual Terms, by Philip Erwin (Rowman & Littlefield). In Paul and Image, Erwin challenges conventional interpretations of 1 Corinthians that tend to overlook the significance of ancient Roman visual culture in framing and posing exegetical questions. By situating Paul’s letter in the context of the critical discourse on visual representation from Plato to Philo to the Second Sophistic, Erwin redefines Paul’s critique of human wisdom, treatment of idols, and resurrection discourse in visual terms. Erwin has a Ph.D. in biblical studies from Graduate Theological Union and is sales reconciliation and customer service coordinator in the Oxy Bookstore.

New Books by Oxy Faculty

The Pleasures of Death: Kurt Cobain’s Masochistic and Melancholic Persona, by Arthur Flannigan Saint-Aubin (Louisiana State University Press). As the first book-length literary and cultural study of Cobain’s creative writings, Saint-Aubin approaches the journals and songs crafted by Nirvana’s iconic front man from the perspective of cultural theory and psychoanalytic aesthetics. It’s a real departure for the longtime Oxy professor of Spanish, French and Black studies, whose previous work has focused on Haitian culture and 19th-century French writers and whose musical tastes trend more toward classical and jazz.

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Embodiment, edited by Nancy K. Dess (Routledge). Dess, a professor of psychology who has taught at Oxy since 1986, pulls together an innovative collection of pithy and accessible essays by international experts in fields ranging from biology and political science to philosophy and geology to question the centuries-old idea of what it means to be human. With contributions from around the world, this book engages with embodiment through the lens of "new materialism." It eschews the view that human beings are debased by materiality and creates a vision of humans as fully embodied creatures situated in a richly populated living planet.

As If She Were Free: A Collective Biography of Women and Emancipation in the Americas, co-edited by Erica Ball (Cambridge University Press). Covering a span of 300 years in five languages on two continents, Ball (professor of history and Black studies) and co-editors Tatiana Seijas and Terri L. Snyder present a groundbreaking compilation of biographies of two dozen Black women moving across the boundaries of slavery and freedom from Bermuda to Brazil, New York to Argen­tina, and California to Cuba.

Disruptive Archives: Feminist Memories of Resistance in Latin America’s Dirty Wars, by Viviana Beatriz MacManus ’03 (University of Illinois Press). MacManus, assistant professor of Spanish and French studies, tells the stories of women who lived through the Dirty Wars (Guerras Sucias) in Mexico and Argentina, in which national governments “disappeared” thousands of left-wing activists at the height of the Cold War.