Book Covers and Summaries

Irony and Sarcasm

By Roger Kreuz

A biography of two troublesome words.

Roger Kreuz, Irony and Sarcasm (book cover)Isn't it ironic? Or is it? Never mind, I'm just being sarcastic (or am I?). Irony and sarcasm are two of the most misused, misapplied, and misunderstood words in our conversational lexicon. In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, psycholinguist Roger Kreuz offers an enlightening and concise overview of the life and times of these two terms, mapping their evolution from Greek philosophy and Roman rhetoric to modern literary criticism to emojis.

Kreuz describes eight different ways that irony has been used through the centuries, proceeding from Socratic to dramatic to cosmic irony. He explains that verbal irony—irony as it is traditionally understood—refers to statements that mean something different (frequently the opposite) of what is literally intended, and defines sarcasm as a type of verbal irony. Kreuz outlines the prerequisites for irony and sarcasm (one of which is a shared frame of reference); clarifies what irony is not (coincidence, paradox, satire) and what it can be (among other things, a socially acceptable way to express hostility); recounts ways that people can signal their ironic intentions; and considers the difficulties of online irony.

Finally, he wonders if, because irony refers to so many different phenomena, people may gradually stop using the word, with sarcasm taking over its verbal duties.

Roger Kreuz is Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology at the University of Memphis. He is the coauthor (with Richard Roberts) of Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language, Getting Through: The Pleasures and Perils of Cross-Cultural Communication, and Changing Minds: How Aging Affects Language and How Language Affects Aging (all published by the MIT Press).

Highlights feminist rhetorical practices that disrupt and surpass boundaries of time and space

By Katherine Fredlund

Katherine Fredlund, Department of EnglishIn 1917, Alice Paul and other suffragists famously picketed in front of the White House while holding banners with short, pithy sayings such as "Mr. President: How long must women wait for Liberty?" Their juxtaposition of this short phrase with the image of the White House (a symbol of liberty and justice) relies on the same rhetorical tactics as memes, a genre contemporary feminists use frequently to make arguments about reproductive rights, Black Lives Matter, sex-positivity, and more. Many such connections between feminists of different spaces, places, and eras have yet to be considered, let alone understood. Feminist Connections: Rhetoric and Activism across Time, Space, and Place reconsiders feminist rhetorical strategies as linked, intergenerational, and surprisingly consistent despite the emergence of new forms of media and intersectional considerations.

Contributors to this volume highlight continuities in feminist rhetorical practices that are often invisible to scholars, obscured by time, new media, and wildly different cultural, political, and social contexts. Thus, this collection takes a nonchronological approach to the study of feminist rhetoric, grouping chapters by rhetorical practice rather than time, content, or choice of media.

By connecting historical, contemporary, and future trajectories, this collection develops three feminist rhetorical frameworks: revisionary rhetorics, circulatory rhetorics, and response rhetorics. A theorization of these frameworks explains how feminist rhetorical practices (past and present) rely on similar but diverse methods to create change and fight oppression.

Identifying these strategies not only helps us rethink feminist rhetoric from an academic perspective but also allows us to enact feminist activist rhetorics beyond the academy during a time in which feminist scholarship cannot afford to remain behind its hallowed yet insular walls.

Katherine Fredlund is associate professor of English and director of the First-Year Writing Program at University of Memphis. Her scholarship has appeared in Rhetoric Review, College English, Peitho, Composition Forum, Feminist Teacher, and elsewhere.


Remembering the Memphis Massacre: An American Story

By Beverly Greene Bond (Editor), Susan Eva O'Donovan (Editor)

Remembering Memphis MassacreOn May 1, 1866, a minor exchange between white Memphis city police and a group of black Union soldiers quickly escalated into murder and mayhem. Changes wrought by the Civil War and African American emancipation sent long-standing racial, economic, cultural, class, and gender tensions rocketing to new heights. For three days, a mob of white men roamed through South Memphis, leaving a trail of blood, rubble, and terror in their wake. By May 3, at least forty-six African American men, women, and children and two white men lay dead. An unknown number of black people had been driven out of the city. Every African American church and schoolhouse lay in ruins, homes and businesses burglarized and burned, and at least five women had been raped.

As a federal military commander noted in the days following, "what [was] called the 'riot'" was "in reality [a] massacre" of extended proportions. It was also a massacre whose effects spread far beyond Memphis, Tennessee. As the essays in this collection reveal, the massacre at Memphis changed the trajectory of the post–Civil War nation. Led by recently freed slaves who refused to be cowed and federal officials who took their concerns seriously, the national response to the horror that ripped through the city in May 1866 helped to shape the nation we know today.

Remembering the Memphis Massacre brings this pivotal moment and its players, long hidden from all but specialists in the field, to a public that continues to feel the effects of those three days and the history that made them possible.

BEVERLY GREENE BOND is a professor of history at the University of Memphis. She is the coeditor, with Sarah Wilkerson Freeman, of Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times, volumes 1 and 2 (both Georgia) and coeditor of Images of America: Beale Street, and codirector of the Memphis Massacre Project, a public commemoration of Reconstruction.

SUSAN EVA O'DONOVAN is an associate professor of history at the University of Memphis. She is the author of Becoming Free in the Cotton South and coeditor of two volumes of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867, part of the ongoing scholarship of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland. She is also codirector of the Memphis Massacre Project.

Action and Interaction

By Shaun Gallagher

Shaun Gallagher Action and InteractionShaun Gallagher presents a ground-breaking interdisciplinary account of human action, bringing out its essentially social dimension. He explores and synthesizes the different approaches of action theory, social cognition, and critical social theory. He shows that in order to understand human agency and the aspects of mind that are associated with it, we need to grasp the crucial role of context or circumstance in action, and the normative constraints of social and cultural practices.

He also investigates issues concerning social cognition and embodied intersubjective interaction, including direct social perception and the role of narrative and communicative practices from an interdisciplinary perspective. Gallagher thereby brings together embodied and enactive approaches to action for the first time in this book and, in developing an alternative to standard conceptions of understanding others, he bridges social cognition and critical social theory, drawing out the implications for recognition, autonomy, and justice.

Shaun Gallagher is the Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Excellence in Philosophy at the University of Memphis, and Professorial Fellow at the University of Wollongong. He has held visiting positions in Cambridge, Copenhagen, Paris, Lyon, Berlin, Oxford, and Rome. His research areas include phenomenology and philosophy of mind, embodied cognition, theories of self, intersubjectivity, and social cognition. Gallagher held the Humboldt Foundation's Anneliese Maier Research Award (2012-18). He is a founding editor and co-editor-in-chief of the journal Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. His previous publications include How the Body Shapes the Mind (Oxford 2005), The Phenomenological Mind (Routledge 2012), and Enactivist Interventions: Rethinking the Mind (Oxford 2017).

The Passive Patriarch

By Shaul Bar

Shaul Bar, The Passive PatriarchThroughout his life, Isaac remained a passive tent dweller. He did not go to find a wife; his servant brought a wife to him. He did not go to war; and when conflict arose, he withdrew. In the story of his binding, he was passive, and it appears as though he was bound forever on the altar. Isaac was dominated by his father Abraham, his wife Rebecca, Abimelech king of Gerar, and his sons Jacob and Esau. For most of his life, he is led by others, and his actions are reactions to the developing situations. He appears to have little personality and is better known as the son of his father Abraham, or the father of his sons Jacob and Esau.

Shaul Bar, Chair of Excellence, Judaic Studies, University of Memphis, is the author of A Letter That Has Not Been Read: Dreams in the Hebrew Bible (2001); I Deal Death and Give Life (2010); God's First King: The Story of Saul (2013); Daily Life of the Patriarchs (2014); A Nation Is Born: The Jacob Story (2016); and The Samson Story: Love, Seduction, Betrayal, Violence, Riddles, Myth (2018). --This text refers to the hardcover edition.