Is anyone in need of an AO3 invite? Let me know.
John Tagg, The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories: Quasi-Marxist/Althusserian analysis of the ways in which photography has been deployed on behalf of the state to categorize and control (through processes of documentation), as well as ways in which photography was deemed the object of property through copyright and/or considered as art. Half very interesting, half theory babble.
Lorraine Daston & Peter Galison, Objectivity: Really neat history of the epistemology of Western scientific knowledge through the history of how scientists created, thought about, and represented images. The authors argue that various concepts competed and responded to each other through the general concept of “objectivity,” from truth-to-nature (requiring an ideal) to mechanical objectivity (requiring a picture made without human intervention) to responses to mechanical objectivity that involved either abandoning images entirely or exercising human judgment to pick and evaluate pictures. Objectivity is always defined with reference to subjectivity, and thus the debate over what an appropriate scientific image is also requires debate over the definition of what a good scientist is. A specialized but satisfying read.
Simon Schama, The American Future: A History: This kind of seemed like Schama’s “stuff I like about American history” book; I understand it’s based on a four-part documentary, and maybe it worked better that way. As a book, it moved backwards and forwards through American history connected by broad themes (and occasionally by family histories, especially the Meigs family): military service, slavery and its legacy, religion, immigration, optimism about the promise of the West. Maybe my reaction was also influenced by Schama’s immediate-post-Obama optimism that he’d just seen an amazing revitalization of the American dream, but I didn’t get much of a sense of coherence.
Ilona Andrews, Of Swine and Roses: Short story not set in one of Andrews’ existing universes. In a city of warring clans of magic-users, the heroine reluctantly goes on a date with a thug from another family in a position to do hers an important favor, but gets derailed by an an encounter with a pig. Romance ensues. I could’ve done with more worldbuilding, but that’s what you get from a short story, and this really is.
N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Palace intrigue with gods bound to serve human masters. Yeine Darr, daughter of the exiled former heir to the throne of the world, comes to the capital Sky and gets sucked into the intrigue very quickly, and there are layers and layers of personal and ethnic history that keep changing the situation. Very enjoyable—I particularly appreciated that, while this is the first book of a trilogy, there is a full satisfying story in this volume. I look forward to reading the next book.