Spring 2021 University Press Recommendations

The master list of university presses, catalogs, and Twitter accounts can be found here (this list will help you get a sense of the shorthands I use for Press names). All past and future seasonal recommendation lists can be found here.


Spring 2021 Book Recommendations by . . .

Some notes about my recommendations:

  1. The lists below are organized alphabetically by the author surname.
  2. I have outlined, in purple font, works of particular interest to me—the highlights of the catalog season, if you will.
  3. These recommendations reflect my personal interests as well as my scholarly ones, and as such cannot wholly capture all the many hundreds of interesting, worthwhile, and significant books put out by university presses this season.

General Interest


Aveni, Creation Stories: Landscapes and the Human Imagination (Yale)

Barton, The Pornification of America: How Raunch Culture Is Ruining Our Society (NYU)

Batchelor, How the Just So Stories Were Made: The Brilliance and Tragedy Behind Kipling’s Celebrated Tales for Little Children (Yale)

Berg, Porn Work: Sex, Labor, and Late Capitalism (North Carolina)

Cohn and Porst, eds., Very Special Episodes: Televising Industrial and Social Change (Rutgers)

Das and Fassin, Words and Worlds: A Lexicon for Dark Times (Duke)

Dunn and Sanchez, Delicious: The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human (Princeton)

Falkoff, Possessed: A Cultural History of Hoarding (Cornell)

Felton, Monsters and Monarchs: Serial Killers in Classical Myth and History (Texas)

Garcia, We Are Not Born Submissive: How Patriarchy Shapes Women’s Lives (Princeton)

Givens, Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides (Policy Press)

Gray, Dislike-Minded: Media, Audiences, and the Dynamics of Taste (NYU)

Grimes, Digital Playgrounds: The Hidden Politics of Children’s Online Play Spaces, Virtual Worlds, and Connected Games (Toronto)

Grubb, Ecoliberation: Reimagining Resistance and the Green Scare (McGill-Queen’s)

Hoffman, et al., Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need (Cornell)

Krom, An Introduction to Historical Comparison, trans. by Guyatt (Bloomsbury)

Liboiron, Pollution Is Colonialism (Duke)

Pedwell, Revolutionary Routines: The Habits of Social Transformation (McGill-Queen’s)

Plotz, ed., B-Side Books: Essays on Forgotten Favorites (Columbia)

Portwood-Stacer, The Book Proposal Book: A Guide for Scholarly Authors (Princeton)

Rak, False Summit: Gender in Mountaineering Nonfiction (McGill-Queen’s)

Ralston, Slut-Shaming, Whorephobia, and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution (McGill-Queen’s)

Ritchie, The Lure of the Beach: A Global History (California)

Robins, Oil Palm: A Global History (North Carolina)

Schrag, The Princeton Guide to Historical Research (Princeton)

Smith, A Sensory History Manifesto (Penn State)

Steenberg, Are You Not Entertained? Mapping the Gladiator Across Visual Media (Bloomsbury)

Watts, The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford)

Yasmin, Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them (Johns Hopkinson)

RACE, Indigeneity, AND WHITENESS


Adair and Colegrove, Segregation by Experience: Agency, Racism, and Learning in the Early Grades (Chicago)

Adese and Andersen, eds. A People and a Nation: New Directions in Contemporary Métis Studies (UBC)

Ahad-Legardy, Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture (Illinois)

Akins and Bauer, We Are the Land: A History of Native California (California)

Anderson, Rebirthing a Nation: White Women, Identity Politics, and the Internet (Mississippi)

Bare, Black Fundamentalists: Conservative Christianity and Racial Identity in the Segregation Era (NYU)

Bay, Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance (Harvard)

Belin, et al., eds., The Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature (Arizona)

Bernardini, et al., eds., Becoming Hopi: A History (Arizona)

Bjork-James, The Divine Institution: White Evangelicalism’s Politics of the Family (Rutgers)

Bradley, Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South (North Carolina)

Braun, Breathing Race into the Machine: The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Genetics (Minnesota)

Bronner, Jewish Cultural Studies (Wayne State)

Brooks, Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound (Harvard)

Burton and Derfner, Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court (Harvard)

Butler, White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America (North Carolina)

Carlson and Berglund, eds., Indigenous Peoples Rise Up: The Global Ascendency of Social Media Activism (Rutgers)

Chávez, The Borders of AIDS: Race, Quarantine, and Resistance (Washington)

Cole, Racism in American Public Life: A Call to Action (Virginia)

Curington, et al., The Dating Divide: Race and Desire in the Era of Online Romance (California)

Darda, How White Men Won the Culture Wars: A History of Veteran America (California)

De Leon, White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, and Writing (Massachusetts)

Dunaway, Defending the Arctic Refuge: A Photographer, an Indigenous Nation, and a Fight for Environmental Justice (North Carolina)

Edwards, The Other Side of Terror: Black Women and the Culture of US Empire (NYU)

Franklin, The Digitally Disposed: Racial Capitalism and the Informatics of Value (Minnesota)

Fujikane, Mapping Abundance for a Planetary Future: Kanaka Maoli and Critical Settler Cartographies in Hawai’i (Duke)

Glass, Writing the Hamat’sa: Ethnography, Colonialism, and the Cannibal Dance (UBC)

Gökarıksel, et al., Feminist Geography Unbound: Discomfort, Bodies, and Prefigured Futures (West Virginia)

Han, Racial Erotics: Gay Men of Color, Sexual Racism, and the Politics of Desire (Washington)

Hayes, Love for Liberation: African Independence, Black Power, and a Diaspora Underground (Washington)

Hextrum, Special Admission: How College Sports Recruitment Favors White, Suburban Athletes (Rutgers)

Hinton, It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US (NYU)

Jeffries, ed., Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement (Wisconsin)

Jett, Race, Crime, and Policing in the Jim Crow South: African Americans and Law Enforcement in Birmingham, Memphis, and New Orleans, 1920–1945 (LSU)

Kamali, Homegrown Hate: Why White Nationalists and Militant Islamists Are Waging War against the United States (California)

Khan, The Deepest Dye: Obeah, Hosay, and Race in the Atlantic World (Harvard)

Kitossa, Appealing Because He Is Appalling: Black Masculinities, Colonialism, and Erotic Racism (Alberta)

Martin, The Generic Closet: Black Gayness and the Black-Cast Sitcom (Indiana)

McKegney, Carrying the Burden of Peace: Reimagining Indigenous Masculinities through Story (Regina)

Mellette, Peculiar Whiteness: Racial Anxiety and Poor Whites in Southern Literature, 1900-1965 (Mississippi)

Murillo, Impossible Stories: On the Space and Time of Black Destructive Creation (Ohio State)

Phillips, Staging Indigeneity: Salvage Tourism and the Performance of Native American History (North Carolina)

Sanchez, Homeland: Ethnic Mexican Belonging since 1900 (Oklahoma)

Simpson, A Short History of the Blockade: Giant Beavers, Diplomacy, and Regeneration in Nishnaabewin (Alberta)

Suzuki, Ocean Passages: Navigating Pacific Islander and Asian American Literatures (Temple)

Villegas, Manifest Technique: Hip Hop, Empire, and Visionary Filipino American Culture (Illinois)

Walters, Not Your Mother’s Mammy: The Black Domestic Worker in Transatlantic Women’s Media (Rutgers)

Warburton, Other Worlds Here: Honoring Native Women’s Writing in Contemporary Anarchist Movements (Northwestern)

World Cultural Studies


Adebajo, ed., The Pan-African Pantheon: Poets, Prophets, and Philosophers (Manchester)

Ágoston, The Last Muslim Conquest: The Ottoman Empire and Its Wars in Europe (Princeton)

Andrade, The Last Embassy: The Dutch Mission of 1795 and the Forgotten History of Western Encounters with China (Princeton)

Bach, Tropics of Vienna: Colonial Utopias of the Habsburg Empire (Berghahn)

Barringer, Olympia: A Cultural History (Princeton)

Cunliffe, Bretons and Britons: The Fight for Identity (Oxford)

Elwick, Making a Grade: Victorian Examinations and the Rise of Standardized Testing (Toronto)

Favereau, The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World (Harvard)

Ferguson, Repossessing Shanland: Myanmar, Thailand, and a Nation-State Deferred (Wisconsin)

Gildea, Empires of the Mind: The Colonial Past and the Politics of the Present (Cambridge)

Ironside, A Full-Value Ruble: The Promise of Prosperity in the Postwar Soviet Union (Harvard)

Jaffrelot, Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy (Princeton)

Keme, Le Maya Q’atzij/Our Maya Word: Poetics of Resistance in Guatemala (Minnesota)

Khalid, Central Asia: A New History from the Imperial Conquests to the Present (Princeton)

Kitromilides and Tsoukalas, eds., The Greek Revolution: A Critical Dictionary (Harvard)

Libbon, Talk and Textual Production in Medieval England (Ohio State)

Malkasian, The American War in Afghanistan: A History (Oxford)

Namakkal, Unsettling Utopia: The Making and Unmaking of French India (Columbia)

Ní Chonghaile, Collecting Music in the Aran Islands: A Century of History and Practice (Wisconsin)

Ocasio, Folk Stories from the Hills of Puerto Rico / Cuentos folklóricos de las montañas de Puerto Rico (Rutgers)

O’Gorman, Wetlands in a Dry Land: More-Than-Human Histories of Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin (Washington)

Otele, African Europeans: An Untold History (Basic Books)

Patt, The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw: The Afterlife of the Revolt (Wayne State)

Peterson, Thomas Sankara: A Revolutionary in Cold War Africa (Indiana)

Philliou, Turkey: A Past Against History (California)

Ponce de León, Another Aesthetics Is Possible: Arts of Rebellion in the Fourth World War (Duke)

Press, Blood and Diamonds: Germany’s Imperial Ambitions in Africa (Harvard)

Rabinovich and Valensi, Syrian Requiem: The Civil War and Its Aftermath (Princeton)

Roper, Living I Was Your Plague: Martin Luther’s World and Legacy (Princeton)

Saria, Hijras, Lovers, Brothers: Surviving Sex and Poverty in Rural India (Fordham)

Schoenbrun, The Names of the Python: Belonging in East Africa, 900 to 1930 (Wisconsin)

Shaikh, Outcaste Bombay: City Making and the Politics of the Poor (Washington)

Siollun, What Britain Did to Nigeria: A Short History of Conquest and Rule (Oxford)

Sivasundaram, Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire (Chicago)

Snedden, Independent Kashmir: An Incomplete Aspiration (Manchester)

Stollberg-Rilinger, Maria Theresa: The Habsburg Empress in Her Time (Princeton)

Sun, Many Worlds Under One Heaven: Material Culture, Identity, and Power in the Northern Frontiers of the Western Zhou, 1045–771 BCE (Columbia)

Thomas, Voyages: The Settlement of the Pacific (Basic Books)

Tismaneanu and Luber, eds., One Hundred Years of Communist Experiments (CEU)

Walther, Multispecies Modernity: Disorderly Life in Postcolonial Literature (Wilfrid Laurier)

Watson, Cold War Reckonings: Authoritarianism and the Genres of Decolonization (Fordham)

White and Gündüz, Turkish Kaleidoscope: Fractured Lives in a Time of Violence (Princeton)

American Studies


Binnall, Twenty Million Angry Men: The Case for Including Convicted Felons in Our Jury System (California)

Brown, The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America (Johns Hopkins)

Bruner, Imagining Persecution: Why American Christians Believe There Is a Global War against Their Faith (Rutgers)

Cairnes, At Home in the World: California Women and the Postwar Environmental Movement (Nebraska)

Calloway, The Chiefs Now in this City: Indians and the Urban Frontier in Early America (Oxford)

Cardon, Fashioning Character: Style, Performance, and Identity in Contemporary American Literature (Virginia)

Cross, Freak Show Legacies: How the Cute, Camp and Creepy Shaped Modern Popular Culture (Bloomsbury)

Cullen, From Memory to History: Television Versions of the Twentieth Century (Rutgers)

Daddis, Pulp Vietnam: War and Gender in Cold War Men’s Adventure Magazines (Cambridge)

Damaske, The Tolls of Uncertainty: How Privilege and the Guilt Gap Shape Unemployment in America (Princeton)

Deutsch and Casper, A Fortress in Brooklyn: Race, Real Estate, and the Making of Hasidic Williamsburg (Yale)

Elias, Gossip Men: J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and the Politics of Insinuation (Chicago)

Evans, Food and Aviation in the Twentieth Century: The Pan American Ideal (Bloomsbury)

Golia, Newspaper Confessions: A History of Advice Columns in a Pre-Internet Age (Oxford)

Graziano, Errand into the Wilderness of Mirrors: Religion and the History of the CIA (Chicago)

Griffin and Cogliano, eds., Ireland and America: Empire, Revolution, and Sovereignty (Virginia)

Grubb and Posick, eds., Crime TV: Streaming Criminology in Popular Culture (NYU)

Hartnett, A World of Turmoil: The United States, China, and Taiwan in the Long Cold War US–China Relations in the Age of Globalization (MSU)

Haydu, Upsetting Food: Three Eras of Food Protest in the United States (Temple)

Heinz, Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture (Oxford)

Hellyer, Green with Milk and Sugar: When Japan Filled America’s Tea Cups (Columbia)

Herschthal, The Science of Abolition: How Slaveholders Became the Enemies of Progress (Yale)

Howland, Hearing Luxe Pop: Glorification, Glamour, and the Middlebrow in American Popular Music (California)

Jagusch, Japan and American Children’s Books: A Journey (Rutgers)

Karapanagiotis, Branding Bhakti: Krishna Consciousness and the Makeover of a Movement (Indiana)

Kim, Illegal Immigrants/Model Minorities: The Cold War of Chinese American Narrative (Temple)

Kinder, The Radical Bookstore: Counterspace for Social Movements (Minnesota)

Klein, Millennials Killed the Video Star: MTV’s Transition to Reality Programming (Duke)

Lacombe, Firepower: How the NRA Turned Gun Owners into a Political Force (Princeton)

Lecklider, Love’s Next Meeting: The Forgotten History of Homosexuality and the Left in American Culture (California)

Manko, Ding Dong! Avon Calling! The Women and Men of Avon Products, Incorporated (Oxford)

Matsui, Millenarian Dreams and Racial Nightmares: The American Civil War as an Apocalyptic Conflict (LSU)

McBridge, Joseph Smith for President: The Prophet, the Assassins, and the Fight for American Religious Freedom (Oxford)

McGraw, From a Taller Tower: The Rise of the American Mass Shooter (Texas)

McLaughlin and Parry, Broadway Goes to War: American Theater during World War II (Kentucky)

Melnick, Hollywood’s Embassies: How Movie Theaters Projected American Power Around the World (Columbia)

Milward, Americanaland: Where Country and Western Met Rock ‘n’ Roll (Illinois)

Minutaglio, A Single Star and Bloody Knuckles: A History of Politics and Race in Texas (Texas)

Morales, Drug Lords, Cowboys, and Desperadoes: Violent Myths of the U.S.-Mexico Frontier (Notre Dame)

Mullan, The Philadelphia Irish: Nation, Culture, and the Rise of a Gaelic Public Sphere (Rutgers)

Peck, The Accidental History of the U.S. Immigration Courts: War, Fear, and the Roots of Dysfunction (California)

Priest, Designs on Empire: America’s Rise to Power in the Age of European Imperialism (Columbia)

Reid, Chief Thunderwater: An Unexpected Indian in Unexpected Places (Oklahoma)

Rosner, Playing with History: American Identities and Children’s Consumer Culture (Rutgers)

Rothman, The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America (Basic Books)

Ruehl, A Singing Army: Zilphia Horton and the Highlander Folk School (Texas)

Sanders, Wales, the Welsh, and the Making of America (Wales)

Scepanski, Tragedy Plus Time: National Trauma and Television Comedy (Texas)

Scotnicki, The Sympathetic Consumer: Moral Critique in Capitalist Culture (Stanford)

Smith, Cowboy Presidents: The Frontier Myth and U.S. Politics in the Twentieth Century (Oklahoma)

Smolko and Smolko, Atomic Tunes: The Cold War in American and British Popular Music (Indiana)

Stacy, Spoon River America: Edgar Lee Masters and the Myth of the American Small Town (Illinois)

Stevenson, A Drop of Treason: Philip Agee and His Exposure of the CIA (Chicago)

Stuber, Aspen and the American Dream: How One Town Manages Inequality in the Era of Supergentrification (California)

Stump, Remaking Appalachia: Ecosocialism, Ecofeminism, and Law (West Virginia)

Voorhees, A New Christian Identity: Christian Science Origins and Experience in American Culture (North Carolina)

Waite, West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire (North Carolina)

Waldman, Vicarious Warfare: American Strategy and the Illusion of War on the Cheap (Bristol)

Weisbard, Songbooks: The Literature of American Popular Music (Duke)

Willett, The Male Chauvinist Pig: A History (North Carolina)

Williams, Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound (Washington)

Wilson, Mid-Century Modernism and the American Body: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Power in Design (Princeton)

Yancy and Quosigk, One Faith No Longer: The Transformation of Christianity in Red and Blue America (NYU)

Young, Camping Grounds: Public Nature in American Life from the Civil War to the Occupy Movement (Oxford)

SF / Fantasy / Horror Studies


Bacchilega and Orme, eds., Inviting Interruptions: Wonder Tales in the Twenty-First Century (Wayne State)

Ball, The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination (Chicago)

Bhattacharjee and Ghosh, eds., Horror Fiction in the Global South: Cultures, Narratives, and Representations (Bloomsbury)

Booth and Jones, Watching Doctor Who: Fan Reception and Evaluation (Bloomsbury)

Booy, Interpreting Star Wars: Reading a Modern Film Franchise (Bloomsbury)

Brown, Black Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other Worlds (Duke)

Clover, The Matrix (BFI / Bloomsbury)

Cox, Roger Zelazny (Illinois)

Crandol, Ghost in the Well: The Hidden History of Horror Films in Japan (Bloomsbury)

Esterrich, Star Wars Multiverse (Rutgers)

French, The Terminator (BFI / Bloomsbury)

Gilbert-Hickey and Green-Barteet, eds., Race in Young Adult Speculative Fiction (Mississippi)

Goodwin, The Latinx Files: Race, Migration, and Space Aliens (Rutgers)

Heise-von der Lippe, Monstrous Textualities: Writing the Other in Gothic Narratives of Resistance (Wales)

Khan, Star Warriors of the Modern Raj: Materiality, Mythology and Technology of Indian Science Fiction (Wales)

Larrington, All Men Must Die: Power and Passion in Game of Thrones (Bloomsbury)

Li, Chinese Science Fiction during the Post-Mao Cultural Thaw (Toronto)

McCuskey, How Sherlock Pulled the Trick: Spiritualism and the Pseudoscientific Method (Penn State)

Munns and Nickelsen, Far Beyond the Moon: A History of Life Support Systems in the Space Age (Pittsburgh)

Murray and Nilges, eds., William Gibson and the Futures of Contemporary Culture (Iowa)

Nanda and Crosby, God Is Change: Religious Practices and Ideologies in the Works of Octavia Butler (Temple)

Newton, The Mad Max Effect: Road Warriors in International Exploitation Cinema (Bloomsbury)

Ogden, The Werewolf in the Ancient World (Oxford)

Owens, Desire After Dark: Contemporary Queer Cultures and Occultly Marvelous Media (Indiana)

Pederson, Gaming Utopia: Ludic Worlds in Art, Design, and Media (Indiana)

Prince, Apocalypse Cinema (Rutgers)

Pugh and Aronstein, eds., The United States of Medievalism (Toronto)

Raman, The Fiction of Doris Lessing: Re-Envisioning Feminism (Bloomsbury)

Redmon, ed., Next Generation Adaptation: Spectatorship and Process (Mississippi)

Schweitzer, Haunted Homes (Rutgers)

Smith and Moruzi, eds., Young Adult Gothic Fiction: Monstrous Selves/Monstrous Others (Wales)

Vint, Science Fiction (MIT)

Vosen Callens, Ode to Gen X: Institutional Cynicism in Stranger Things and 1980s Film (Mississippi)

Wang, Frankenstein in Theory: A Critical Anatomy (Bloomsbury)

Weismann, Lost in the Dark: A World History of Horror Film (Mississippi)

Williams, Mapping Fairy-Tale Space: Pastiche and Metafiction in Borderless Tales (Wayne State)

Comics Studies


Ball, Charlie Brown’s America: The Popular Politics of Peanuts (Oxford)

Costello and Cremins, eds., The Other 1980s: Reframing Comics’ Crucial Decade (LSU)

Dagbovie-Mullins and Berlatsky, eds., Mixed-Race Superheroes (Rutgers)

Fawaz, et al., eds., Keywords for Comics Studies (NYU)

Flegel and Leggatt, Superhero Culture Wars: Politics, Marketing, and Social Justice in Marvel Comics (Bloomsbury)

Gavaler and Beavers, Creating Comics: A Writer’s and Artist’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury)

Hirsch, Pulp Empire: The Secret History of Comic Book Imperialism (Chicago)

Kirtley, Typical Girls: The Rhetoric of Womanhood in Comic Strips (Ohio State)

Knopf, Politics in the Gutters: American Politicians and Elections in Comic Book Media (Mississippi)

MacLeod, Invisible Presence: The Representation of Women in French-Language Comics (Intellect)

McCrystal, Gotham City Living: The Social Dynamics in the Batman Comics and Media (Bloomsbury)

O’Connor, Robin and the Making of American Adolescence (Rutgers)

Perren and Steier, The American Comic Book Industry and Hollywood (Bloomsbury)

Wandtke, ed., Robert Kirkman: Conversations (Mississippi)

Woo and Stoll, eds., The Comics World: Comic Books, Graphic Novels, and Their Publics (Mississippi)

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