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The Origins of Global Interdependence, an anthropology class at the University of California at Irvine, will be using Michuel Leon-Portilla’s The Broken Spears during the fall 2013 semester. Examining the Aztec perspective of the Conquest of Mexico, Leon-Portilla’s book expands the Conquests history to include the voices of the indigenous peoples, and includes accounts from native Aztec descendants across the centuries. All 300 students enrolled will be required to read the book.
The Broken Spears, called “[a] moving and powerful account” by the Los Angeles Times, will allow UC Irvine students to bear witness to the extraordinary vitality of oral tradition.
The 300-pound Gorilla in the Room: University of Arizona Philosophy Class Selects The Invisible Gorilla
The University of Arizona has selected The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons as a required text for their Philosphy Department’s Logic & Critical Thinking Course. Based on the authors’ “Gorillas in Our Midst” study, The Invisible Gorilla highlights the work of Chabris and Simons, as well as other researchers, as they investigate attention, perception, memory, and reasoning. The authors ultimately show students how and why the perception of the mind is often at fault.
Both Chabris and Simons, have received PhDs from Harvard and Cornell respectively.
“A fascinating look at little-known illusions that greatly affect our daily lives…offers surprising insights into just how clueless we are about how our minds work and how we experience the world…Bound to have wide popular appeal.”—Kirkus Reviews
Roughly seventy-five students in the University of Texas at San Antonio’s anthropology department will soon be using Frans de Waal’s The Age of Empathy to investigate shifting human behavior. The book, which examines how empathy comes naturally to a great variety of creatures, including humans, studies social behaviors in animals, such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances, expressions of consolation, and conflict resolution. The author uses these findings to assert that, contrary to popular belief, human beings are not inherently selfish and can work together toward a more just society.
Stephen Hawking’s The Universe in a Nutshell will be a core component of UVA’s Astronomy 1270: Unsolved Mysteries in the Universe course this upcoming fall. The approximately 140 students will augment classroom material on theoretical physics topics such as Quantum mechanics, General relativity and Black holes with content from the book. The students will ultimately follow Stephen Hawking’s attempt to explain the Theory of Everything, which studies the links between all physical phenomena.
I’ve always loved exploring history. It’s like an uncharted hemisphere, and when you look at it closely, it has a tendency to change everything about your own time. I’m also drawn to outsiders, people who have swum against the tide. I often feel like a kind of detective hired to go find people who have been lost to history, and discover why they were lost. Whodunnit?
In this case, I found solid evidence that, of all people, Napoleon did it: he buried the memory of this great man – Gen. Alexandre Dumas, the son of a black slave who led more than 50,000 men at the height of the French Revolution and then stood up to the megalomaniacal Corsican in the deserts of Egypt. (The “famous” Alexandre Dumas is the general’s son – the author of The Three Musketeers.) Letters and eyewitness accounts show that Napoleon came to hate Dumas not only for his stubborn defense of principle but for his swagger and stature – over 6 feet tall and handsome as a matinee idol – and for the fact that he was a black man idolized by the white French army. (I found that Napoleon’s destruction of Dumas coincided with his destruction of one of the greatest accomplishments of the French Revolution – racial equality – a legacy he also did his best to bury.) (more…)