Covers of books by Richard Newhauser, Claudia Sadowski-Smith, and Elly van Gelderen

Happy ‘pub’ days: Newhauser, Sadowski-Smith, van Gelderen


Kristen LaRue-Sandler

Three Department of English faculty announce recent and forthcoming books centering on medieval optical science, Eastern European immigration, and verb meaning in English.


Optics, Ethics, and Art in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: Looking into Peter of Limoges's Moral Treatise on the Eye (PIMS, 2018)

With Herbert L. Kessler, Richard G. Newhauser co-edited this essay collection exploring medieval optical theories in PIMS’ “Studies and Texts” series. From the publisher:

This volume examines afresh the various ways in which the introduction of ancient and Arabic optical theories transformed thirteenth-century thinking about vision, how scientific learning came to be reconciled with theological speculation, and what effect the results of these new developments had on those who learned about them through preaching.

The contributions underscore the fact that Greek optical science was known earlier than has been often assumed, and also emphasize the ways in which Christian theories of vision had long included those in which light was a metaphor for God and in which looking at an object in a straight line of sight might be reckoned as just, while oblique vision could be understood as corrupt. Physiological vision always involved interference and, hence, implicated ethics and morality. Governed by a knowledge of Scripture, edified by exempla, and perfected through scrutiny, the results of perception had the potential to elevate the material world onto a more spiritual plane.

At the core of this collection of essays lies Peter of Limoges’s Tractatus moralis de oculo, a compilation designed for the preparation of sermons that drew creatively on the best-known theorists of optical science in late thirteenth-century Paris. The work is remarkable not only for subsuming science into the edifice of theology, but also for glossing the physiology of the eye and theories of perception in terms of Christian ethics and moralization, thereby making esoteric learning accessible to the public (including artists) through preaching. Transgressing traditional boundaries between art history, science, literature, and the history of religion, the book's nine essays complicate the generally accepted understanding of the impact science had on thirteenth-century visual culture.

Newhauser is Professor of English at ASU. He has been awarded fellowships by the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEH, ACLS, and the National Humanities Center and has published extensively on the moral tradition and sensory studies in the Middle Ages and beyond. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including Sin: Essays on the Moral Tradition in the Western Middle Ages (2007); (co-editor) Sin in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (2012); (translator) Peter of Limoges, The Moral Treatise on the Eye (2012); and (editor) A Cultural History of the Senses in the Middle Ages (2014).


The New Immigrant Whiteness: Race, Neoliberalism, and Post-Soviet Migration to the United States (NYU Press, 2018)

Claudia Sadowski-Smith’s newest monograph examines immigration, assimilation, and identity. From the publisher:

Mapping representations of post-1980s immigration from the former Soviet Union to the United States in interviews, reality TV shows, fiction, and memoirs, Claudia Sadowski-Smith shows how this nationally and ethnically diverse group is associated with idealized accounts of the assimilation and upward mobility of early twentieth-century arrivals from Europe. As it traces the contributions of historical Eastern European migration to the emergence of a white racial identity that continues to provide privileges to many post-Soviet migrants, the book places the post-USSR diaspora into larger discussions about the racialization of contemporary US immigrants under neoliberal conditions.

The New Immigrant Whiteness argues that legal status on arrival––as participants in refugee, marriage, labor, and adoptive migration–– impacts post-Soviet immigrants’ encounters with growing socioeconomic inequalities and tightened immigration restrictions, as well as their attempts to construct transnational identities. The book examines how their perceived whiteness exposes post-Soviet family migrants to heightened expectations of assimilation, explores undocumented migration from the former Soviet Union, analyzes post-USSR immigrants’ attitudes toward anti-immigration laws that target Latina/os, and considers similarities between post-Soviet and Asian immigrants in their association with notions of upward immigrant mobility. A compelling and timely volume, The New Immigrant Whiteness offers a fresh perspective on race and immigration in the United States today.

Sadowski-Smith is Associate Professor of English at ASU. She is the author of Border Fictions: Globalization, Empire, and Writing at the Boundaries of the United States, which won the IHR’s Transdisciplinary Humanities Book Award in 2009. She is also the editor of Globalization on the Line: Culture, Capital, and Citizenship at U.S. Borders.


The Diachrony of Verb Meaning: Aspect and Argument Structure (Routledge, 2018)

Elly van Gelderen brings her significant linguistic expertise to a study of changing verb meanings in English. From the publisher:

This innovative volume offers a comprehensive account of the study of language change in verb meaning in the history of the English language. Integrating both the author’s previous body of work and new research, the book explores the complex dynamic between linguistic structures, morphosyntactic and semantics, and the conceptual domain of meaning, employing a consistent theoretical treatment for analyzing different classes of predicates. Building on this analysis, each chapter connects the implications of these findings from diachronic change with data from language acquisition, offering a unique perspective on the faculty of language and the cognitive system. In bringing together a unique combination of theoretical approaches to provide an in-depth analysis of the history of diachronic change in verb meaning, this book is a key resource to researchers in historical linguistics, theoretical linguistics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, and the history of English.

Van Gelderen is Regents’ Professor of English at ASU. She is a syntactician interested in language change and is the author of eight books and eighty or so articles/chapters in journals such as Linguistic Analysis, Studia Linguistica, Word, and Linguistic Inquiry. She is also the co-editor of two book series and has herself edited or co-edited eight books/special issues.

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