Recent Reads/Micro-Reviews

We wanted to mention a few books we read in the past month or so. These micro-reviews may be useless, but for what it's worth:

John Dewey and the Lessons of Art by Philip W. Jackson - Decent enough, but a little on the art education side of things for our taste.

Prescribing the Life of the Mind by Charles W. Anderson - A political philosopher thinking through the purpose of liberal education, and along with it, the university. The cultivation of what he calls "practical reason" is ultimately the aim for both. Practical reason is largely a re-working of pragmatism - "...thinking need not be shown to be irrefutably true to be considered rational. It just has to be shown to be better than the evident alternatives in pursuing some particular human purpose."

Philosophy Americana: Making Philosophy at Home in American Culture by Douglas R. Anderson - An outstanding book, not only for its content (which is engaging mind you), but especially for its approach. Anderson broadens the range of philosophy without dumbing it down. He writes about Dewey and James, but also Tammy Wynette and Hank Williams. It's good stuff, especially the material about Thomas Davidson's education/learning as "world building."

John Dewey's Theory of Art, Experience & Nature: The Horizons of Feeling by Thomas M. Alexander - A solid philosophical book. To be honest, it was exactly the sort of technical, tightly argued and subtle book that we usually avoid. Highly academic (in both the laudatory and pejorative sense), but if you enjoy that sort of thing read it all the way through. If not, skip to the last chapter "The Art of Experience" to see why Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics is much ado about nothing in our opinion and about 60 years late.

Karaoke Nights: An Ethnographic Rhapsody by Rob Drew - Henry Jenkins characterized this book as a rare "academic page turner." We couldn't agree more. If you hate karaoke or look down on it, read the book to see if you might be persuaded to reconsider. If you love karaoke, read the book to see a smart ethnographic analysis of the culture of U.S. karaoke.