On the Bookshelf: New work by faculty

From the stories of lesbian couples who went to the altar in 2008 to examinations of music, society and literature to common bees of California, SF State faculty contribute to their academic fields throughout the year with new publications. Read more below about some of the latest books from University faculty.


Lawfully Wedded Wives: Rethinking Marriage in the 21st Century (Triton Books)

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Roughly 18,000 same-sex couples legally married in 2008 between the time the California Supreme Court overturned the state's existing ban on same-sex marriage and the passage of Proposition 8 later that year. In "Lawfully Wedded Wives: Rethinking Marriage in the 21st Century," Professor of Creative Writing Nona Caspers and co-editor Joell Hallowell illuminate the first-person stories of 20 lesbian couples who said "I do" during those months. With joy and trepidation, they rushed to the altar to make the same legal commitment so many others had made before them. Their stories -- spiritual and scandalous, philosophical and trivial, heartbreaking and hilarious -- are all the more relevant in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that Prop. 8's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, allowing thousands of other couples to join them.


Bhangra and the Asian Underground: South Asian Music and the Politics of Belonging in Britain (Duke University Press)

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In her new book, "Bhangra and the Asian Underground," Assistant Professor of Race and Resistance Studies Falu Bakrania explores the complex story of what it means to be South Asian in Britain through the lens of bhangra and Asian Underground music. Asian Underground, a fusion of South Asian genres with Western backbeats created for the dance club scene, went mainstream in the United Kingdom during the late 1990s. Bhangra, a blend of Punjabi folk music and hip-hop, was popular in South Asian communities but had yet to go mainstream. For many, the success of Asian Underground signaled the emergence of a new Britain more tolerant of South Asians. But Bakrania shows that the reality was far more complicated. In analyzing bhangra and Asian Underground music -- which is traditionally produced by male artists and consumed by female club-goers -- Bakrania finds that gender, sexuality and class intersected in ways that profoundly shaped how young people interpreted "British" and "Asian" identity and negotiated, sometimes violently, contests about ethnic authenticity, sexual morality, individual expression and political empowerment.


Sounding Real: Musicality and American Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century: (University of Alabama Press)

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How did changes in American music during the late-19th and early-20th centuries impact American literature? That's the question Associate Professor of Humanities Cristina Ruotolo looks to answer in her latest book, "Sounding Real." Rather than explore the impact of more recent popular music that began with blues and jazz, as other authors have done, Ruotolo looks at the literary response to music created in the decades leading up to the Jazz Age. What she finds is new, emerging musical forms that broke free from 19th-century constraints with an authenticity that sparked both interest and anxiety in literature. Authors began to ask how an emancipated musicality affected self and society, and how their literature could dramatize musical encounters between people otherwise segregated by class, race, ethnicity and gender. In examining this relationship between two art forms, Ruotolo explores a larger question of how art speaks to society.


Field Guide to the Common Bees of California (University of California Press)

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Professor of Biology Gretchen LeBuhn already has an army of more than 100,000 strong helping to count bees as part of her Great Sunflower Project. Now, in "Field Guide to the Common Bees of California," she offers an easy-to-use and thorough overview of bee biology as well as tools for identifying the most common bees in California and the Western United States. LeBuhn highlights bees' ties to our own lives, the food we eat and the habitat we provide, and suggests ways readers can support bees in their own backyards. She also reveals how bees are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem and how many plants, including important crop plants, depend on pollination provided by bees.


On the Bookshelf highlights new books written by SF State faculty. Check back for more from SF State professors.

-- Jonathan Morales