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'Twilight' phenomenon among new faculty books

June 06, 2012

In 2005, Stephenie Meyer, a stay-at-home mom from Arizona, published her first novel, which was inspired by a vivid dream. “Twilight” was followed by four more books, and Meyer found herself as the best-selling author in the world.

What happens when a mom becomes a star? ASU associate professor of English James Blasingame and two ASU graduates, Kathleen Deakin and Laura A. Walsh, explore that question in their new book about Meyer.

Other new faculty books take their readers to Pakistan and New Spain, and look at marriage, language policy and poetry.

Here are some of the latest faculty books:

•“Minimizing Marriage: Marriage, Morality, and the Law,” by Elizabeth Brake, visiting associate professor of philosophy.

Synopsis: Even in secular and civil contexts, marriage retains sacramental connotations. Yet what moral significance does it have? This book examines its morally salient features - promise, commitment, care, and contract - with surprising results.

• “Nation, Territory, and Globalization in Pakistan: Traversing the Margins,” by Chad Haines, assistant professor of Religious Studies in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

Synopsis: The Karakoram Highway was constructed by the Pakistani state in the 1970s as a major development project that furthered the national interest and solidified state control over the disputed region of northern Pakistan. Focusing on this highway, this book provides a unique analysis of the links between space, travel and history in the formation of the Pakistani nation-state.

The book discusses how the highway was a symbol for an imagined national identity, and goes on to look at how it offered Pakistan a pre-Partition history and a fixed territory, by providing a historical link to the Silk Route and a contemporary geographical linkage to Central Asia.

• "The True History of the Conquest of New Spain," by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, translated, with an Introduction and notes by Janet Burke, associate dean, Barrett, the Honors College, and Ted Humphrey, President's Professor, Barrett, the Honors College.

Synopsis: The first completely new English translation of this classic 16th century text in the last 100 years, making use of crucial scholarship of the last 50 years. As the only full first-person participant account of the Spanish encounter with the mainland native peoples,Bernal Díaz's "True History" is the principal source on which historians of the encounter and conquest have reconstructed that fateful cultural clash.

This volume seeks to embed Bernal Díaz's narrative in the overall context of the Spaniards' coming to the Americas and to render his prose in an English that accurately reflects his distinctive perspective and way of rendering his story. Perhaps most importantly, the volume is intended both for use in a wide range of courses dealing with the Atlantic world and the history of the Americas, as well as for general readers with an interest in the relevant events.

• "Implementing Educational Language Policy in Arizona: Legal, Historical and Current Practices in SEI” (Structured English Immersion), by M. Beatriz Arias, associate professor of English, ASU, and Christian J. Faltis.

Synopsis: This volume is a unique contribution to the study of language policy and education for English learners because it focuses on the decade-long implementation of “English only” in Arizona. How this policy influences teacher preparation and classroom practice is the central topic of this volume. Scholars and researchers present their latest findings and concerns regarding the impact that a restrictive language policy has on critical areas for English Learners and diverse students.

• “Stephenie Meyer: In the Twilight,” by James Blasingame, ASU associate professor of English, Kathleen Deakin (PhD Curriculum & Instruction, English Education 2010), and Laura A. Walsh (PhD Curriculum & Instruction, English Education 2010).

Synopsis: Inspired by a vivid dream, Stephenie Meyer, a stay-at-home mom, wrote a manuscript that started a worldwide sensation that has yet to abate. In 2005, her debut novel, “Twilight,” crashed onto the shore of teen literature like a literary tsunami. Four books later, she had become the top-selling author in the world. When the final book in the “Twilight” series, “Breaking Dawn,” was released in 2008, more than a million copies were sold on the first day alone. The popular-culture phenomenon of Stephenie Meyer and her writing is much more than the sum total of her weeks on the bestseller list, however.

This book looks at the life and work of this author, beginning with her childhood and covering her teen years and life before stardom. This volume also profiles Meyer’s world since becoming a cultural icon. In addition to discussing Meyer’s writing style, the chapters also explore each of her books, with a final chapter focusing on her presence in social media and public events.

• “Fortino Samano” (The Overflowing of the Poem) by Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy, translated by Cynthia Hogue, ASU professor of English and Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry, and Sylvain Gallais.

Synopsis: Generating an exciting poetic dialogue that is as insightful as it is eloquent and creative, this combined poem and complementary philosophical analysis is an astute rendering of the intersection of intellect and language as an art form. With the original French preserved on the facing pages, this collaborative work by an emerging French poet, Virginie Lalucq, and the distinguished philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy presents a startlingly robust poetic experience.

The serial poem “Fortino Sámano” is a meditation on a photo of the eponymous subject, taken by Mexican photographer Agustín Víctor Casasola during the Mexican Revolution. In the image Sámano, a Zapatista lieutenant and counterfeiter, appears to stare death nonchalantly in the face moments before his execution by firing squad. The poem makes no attempt to craft a biography or history of the man, but instead treats the image itself—reflecting on the fact that the camera caught the image of life just prior to its end.