University of Toronto Press Blog

  • Fall-Winter 2010 Catalogues Have Arrived!

    University of Toronto Press is very pleased to announce that our Fall-Winter 2010 catalogues have arrived. This catalogue features a new 4-colour design to display all the exciting titles coming out in the season ahead.

    The upcoming season's releases include the paperback version of the National Business Book Award finalist Gravity Shift by Wendy Dobson, as well as two new additions to the Canadian Cinema series.

    Allan King's A Married Couple, by Zoe Druick, the fifth book in the Canadian Cinema series, examines King's film in the context of late 1960s cinematic and cultural movements. Watch for Allan King's A Married Couple at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

    Darren Wershler brings us the sixth installment in the Canadian Cinema series with Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg. In this volume, Wershler argues that Maddin's use of techniques and media that fall outside of the normal repertoire of contemporary cinema require us to re-examine what we think we know about the documentary genre and even 'film' itself.

    Check out these and all the other upcoming UTP titles in the Fall-Winter 2010 Catalogue.

  • Earl H. Fry's Lament for America

    I have been preparing Lament for America: Decline of the Superpower, Plan for Renewal for several years. I am a Californian who attended public school in the San Francisco Bay Area when these schools were considered among the best in the world. Today, California, with 37 million people and the world's 8th largest "national" economy, has some of the worst-performing public schools in the country and the lowest state government bond rating in the U.S., even lower than the bond ratings of Kazakhstan and Lebanon.

    An adage asserts that "as California goes, so goes the nation." If this is true, the United States will face some difficult headwinds in the foreseeable future.

    Lament for America pinpoints three critical headwinds facing the United States: (1) the rise of competitor nations or groups of nations such as China and the European Union; (2) the potent combination of globalization, rapid technology change, and creative destruction; and (3) 15 major "fault lines" within the U.S. itself.

    In abbreviated form, the 15 fault lines include: (1) Beltway follies; (2) a corrosive campaign financing system; (3) massive government debt; (4) a burgeoning external debt and the dwindling importance of the U.S. dollar; (5) an unsustainable entitlement explosion; (6) unaffordable health care; (7) a faltering educational system; (8) the plight of the American household; (9) a new Gilded Age and Wall Street's debacle; (10) infrastructure deterioration; (11) intergenerational strife and festering cleavages; (12) a dysfunctional immigration system and failure to attract the best and brightest; (13) haphazard federalism; (14) general apathy and paucity of civic engagement; and (15) an overextended U.S. foreign policy.

    Tom Brokaw referred to those who fought in World War II and constructed the post-war international system as the "greatest generation." In no way can similar praise be heaped on those who directed U.S. affairs over the past generation. In the words of Linus van Pelt from the Peanuts' comic strip, "there's no problem so big you can't run away from it." A whole generation of leaders situated in Washington and in many state capitals has wholeheartedly embraced this advice.

    Americans and many others around the world are likely to experience more dramatic change in their lives over the next few decades than at any other time in human history. Some experts estimate that the human information base is doubling every six years, with a group of IBM scientists even predicting that the base will soon double every 11 hours. In 2050, what will be the standing of the United States in a vastly changed world, and how will national governments, peoples, businesses, and civil society interact with one another?

    Lament predicts that the United States as a superpower will decline in relative terms between now and mid-century. The big question will be the severity of the decline. For example, a mild relative decline globally which still leaves Americans with a much better quality of life at home would not be catastrophic at all. A more precipitous decline, however, would result in shockwaves reverberating around North America and the world in general.

    The book also includes a chapter highlighting the many positive features of America and then provides specific policy recommendations on how to surmount the fault lines - recommendations which will be extremely painful in the short term.

    The fate of the United States still resides primarily in the hands of the American people. Throughout history, those who settled the United States have tended to be a resilient and resourceful people, able to adapt creatively to a plethora of challenges. Can they do so again, or is their nation, arguably considered as the most powerful superpower in history, on the same downward trajectory as Great Britain early in the 20th century or Rome in the 3rd century?

    Earl H. Fry, Professor of Political Science and Endowed Professor of Canadian Studies, BYU

  • This is Not a Reading Series with Geoffrey Reaume

    This past Wednesday, the Gladstone Hotel and TINARS hosted the "Words On The Wall" event with Geoffrey Reaume, author of Remembrance of Patients Past: Life at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, 1870-1940. In Remembrance of Patients Past, historian Geoffrey Reaume remembers previously forgotten psychiatric patients by examining in rich detail their daily lives at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane (now called the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health - CAMH) from 1870-1940. Psychiatric patients endured abuse and could lead monotonous lives inside the asylum's walls, yet these same women and men worked hard at unpaid institutional jobs for years and decades on end, created their own entertainment, even in some cases made their own clothes, while forming meaningful relationships with other patients and some staff.

    The evening began at 4:00 pm, with the opening of the silent auction of pieces from the Workman Arts "inSanity" exhibition, which included artwork derived from bricks taken from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Proceeds of the auction were donated to Psychiatric Survivors Archives of Toronto (PSAT). The stage was set for the event, quite literally, as pieces by the Workman Arts, inspired by Reaume's text, were featured. The exhibit, called "The Story Behind the Wall," includes figurative sculptures that tell the story of six patients from the Toronto Hospital for the Insane.

    Reaume, on the walking tour which was the next portion of the evening's festivities, told several accounts of the patients depicted in the exhibit.

    While rain threatened to dampen the mood of the planned walking tour of the wall around CAMH, the sun began to shine through as Reaume led the group of 50 guests on his 64th walking tour of the grounds. Reaume shared vivid accounts of patients of the former Toronto Hospital for the Insane who lived "in the shadow of these walls." On the tour, Reaume focused on the labour-intensive existence of previous patients of the hospital, and the strength and longevity of the wall built by patients and what it symbolizes. Parts of the wall were erected at different times; some sections date back 150 years, built, as Reaume emphasized, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. Other portions of the wall were built the year John A. MacDonald was Prime Minister of Canada, when Roosevelt was seven years old, and the year Charlie Chaplin was born.

    One story was of particular interest: Winston, a patient featured in the exhibit at the Gladstone, was a cooper, and besides building barrels for the hospital, also tinkered with other inventions. In 1910, Winston built a wooden car with a working horn. Winston also built a wooden plane, although the workability of this invention was never tested, and a violin made from a box, a featured item in the exhibit.

    The walking tour trouped back to the Gladstone, arriving just in time for the conversation between Ruth Stackhouse and Geoffrey Reaume to begin. With a packed house, Stackhouse and Reaume discussed the ethics of publishing and opening patients' files to the general public, and the benefits of bringing attention and awareness to the conditions of the former Toronto Hospital for the Insane. Reaume's next project will include a survey of the labour conditions of all mental facilities in Ontario.

    The night concluded with the announcement of the winners of the silent auction. The proceeds of the silent auction will go to plaques in dedication to the patients who built the wall and laboured within its shadows.

    View photos from the event here!

  • Trends in Canadian Internet Use: 2009 - 2010

    For this entry in my UTP blog I decided to talk about online video use within a video - using the medium to discuss the medium. The result is hosted on YouTube and can be viewed below. Herewith follows a brief reflection on the process of video blogging.

    First of all, communicating by online video is by far the most time-intensive form of networked communication (and here I speak with almost 20 years of online experience!). Although the final product seen below is rough around the edges - clearly a largely unscripted, homemade production - it nonetheless took 90 minutes to put together. This included two failed attempts which were filmed, uploaded, annotated, then deleted due to various flaws. There are still flaws in my final presentation, but I prefer to go by the general rule 'good is good enough' when it comes to my amateur video productions.

    Nonetheless, regardless of the time involved, the project left me thinking more about YouTube videos as a promotional tool for the book (which I shamelessly promote in the video below). I intend to make numerous videos that analyze current trends in Internet and online video use and use these as tools to promote Watching YouTube to business and academic audiences. Use the medium to discuss the medium and reach readers who are searching the medium for insight into the medium. The medium is, well, everything.

    Dr. Strangelove

  • Amateurs: The New Common Culture

    Time, the magazine that declared YouTube as the Person of the Year in 2006, recently released a list of YouTube's top fifty videos. How this list was determined we do not know, but it is a marker of current tastes that merits attention.

    In Time's list of YouTube's top fifty videos fifteen are commercial productions, such as clips from news broadcasts, television shows, and music videos. Seven are made by semi-professional entertainers, such as the YouTube child star behind the Fred show. Over half, twenty-eight, are amateur videos featuring a wide range of subjects, from babies, children, puppets, assorted animals, and home-made music videos.

    While it is only five years old, YouTube continues to demonstrate that we are entranced by content coming from amateur videographers. This defies long held expectations within the media industry that only professionals would be able to develop and deliver content that would attract a mass audience. Indeed, amateur content may yet prove to be a serious source of fragmentation and competition for eyeballs within the media ecology. Exact numbers are not yet available, but I strongly suspect that amateurs account for the majority of the 25 hours of video that is upload every minute to YouTube.

    There are far more amateurs armed with video cameras than there are sources of professional content production. There are literally billions of amateur photographers and videographers in the world today, along with 1.7 billion Internet users. This means that we have entered into a fundamentally different paradigm of cultural production - one in which amateurs account for the majority of video-based cultural production. This situation, this shift in representational power, is unlikely to change.

    The commercial sector will continue to have a distinct advantage in production values and capital investment, and the audience will continue to enjoy the blockbuster movies that Hollywood and Bollywood produce. Yet when I try to talk about movies or television shows with my undergraduate students I face the effects of a highly fragmented audience. Few of them will have seen the show that I wish to discuss. If I want to talk about something from the past, for example, the excellent 1976 movie Network, staring Faye Dunaway, maybe one or two out of sixty students will have seen it. But if I ask how many of my students have seen the video parodies of Hitler in the Downfall movie, or Laughing Baby, or a cat playing piano, or David after Dentist, the majority will have seen what I saw on YouTube.

    And here we come to the crux of the matter. Television no longer offers a common culture. It is losing its position as the dominant source of shared stories. Increasingly, we find ourselves sharing the experience of having seen something on YouTube. And more often than not, that something was made by amateurs like us.

    Dr. Strangelove

Items 726 to 730 of 757 total