Monday, September 5, 2016

Boswell Events: J. David Hoeveler on the Wisconsin Idea, James and Aidan Campbell on Alaska adventuring, and Jennifer Keishin Armstrong discusses "Seinfeldia" at The Soup House next Monday.

It's Labor Day (we're open till 5) but later in the week, we've got two authors coming, plus here's an update about our Seinfeldia event at The Soup House next Monday.

Wednesday, September 7, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
J. David Hoeveler, author of John Bascom and the Origins of the Wisconsin Idea

UWM Distinguished professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee presents a talk on John Bascom, an influential figure in the Wisconsin Progressive movement. Hoeveler traces the intellectual history of the Wisconsin Idea from the nineteenth century to such influential Progressive Era thinkers as Richard T. Ely and John R. Commons, who believed university researchers should be a vital source of expertise for government and citizens. But it's Bascom who he sees as the inspiration.

A philosopher, theologian, and sociologist, Bascom deeply influenced a generation of students at the University of Wisconsin, including La Follette and Van Hise. Hoeveler documents how Bascom drew concepts from German idealism, liberal Protestantism, and evolutionary theory, transforming them into advocacy for social and political reform. He was a champion of temperance, women's rights, and labor, all of which brought him controversy as president of the university from 1874 to 1887. In a way unmatched by any leader of a major American university in his time, Bascom outlined a social gospel that called for an expanded role for state governments and universities as agencies of moral improvement.

Thursday, September 8, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
James Campbell, author of Braving It: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild, with Aidan Campbell

Lodi-based author James Campbell, author of The Final Frontiersman and The Ghost Mountain Boys, presents his new book about trekking through alaska with his teenage daughter Aidan. This evening features a talk by both James and Aidan Campbell.

Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to only a handful of people, is a harsh and lonely place. So when James Campbell’s cousin Heimo Korth asked him to spend a summer building a cabin in the rugged Interior, Campbell hesitated about inviting along his fifteen-year-old daughter, Aidan: Would she be able to withstand clouds of mosquitoes, bathing in an ice-cold river, and hours of grueling labor? Despite a (healthy) fear of grizzlies, Aidan embraced the wild, and even agreed to return with her father months later to help the Korths trap and hunt for caribou and moose, trading mosquitoes for windchills of 50 degrees below zero.

Returning home, Campbell saw a confidence in Aidan that reflected her growing maturity as much as her having weathered an Interior winter. Taking his cue from a traditional Eskimo rite of passage, Campbell decided to take Aidan back to Alaska one final time before she left home. It would be their most ambitious trip, backpacking over mountains to the headwaters of the mighty Hulahula River, where they would assemble a folding canoe and paddle to the Arctic Ocean. The journey would test them, and their relationship, in one of the planet’s most remote places: a land of wolves, musk oxen, Dall sheep, golden eagles, and polar bears.

Read more from Nancy Rommelmann in The Wall Street Journal: "You know those people who put helmets on their toddlers so they won’t hurt themselves? Consider James Campbell, author of Braving It, the opposite kind of dad. He subjects his 15-year-old daughter to swarms of mosquitoes, filth, possible drowning and possible starvation and equips her with bear spray in case a polar bear decides to charge. All the while, because of a heart problem, he runs the risk of dying and leaving her alone in thousands of square miles of frozen wilderness. Take that, helicopter parents."

And next week...

Monday, September 12, 7:00 pm at The Soup House, 324 E Michigan Ave A ticketed event with Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything

Admission is $6.17, including tax and fees. $6 tickets may be available at the door if we do not hit capacity. Please note that we are close to capacity. If you're on the fence, I'd get a ticket - admission includes a small bowl of soup.

From Dwight Garner in The New York Times: "I haven’t watched “Seinfeld” reruns for a while. I overdosed years ago and went cold turkey. Perhaps the highest praise I can give Seinfeldia is that it made me want to buy a loaf of marbled rye and start watching again, from the beginning."

The AV Club gave Seinfeldia an A-, and I should note they grade on a lower curve than Entertainment Weekly. Nandini Balial writes: "Seinfeldia is as funny and interesting as a good episode of the show it covers .Armstrong’s pacing and attention to detail makes it a book about pop culture that goes by almost too quickly.

Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal calls Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's book "savvy and entertaining," and answers Brandon Tartikoff's question, "Who will want to see Jews wandering around New York acting neurotic?” More people than you'd think, though they did try to take the Jewishness out of the characters. Costanza?

 While most of the reviews were great, it's not hard to find the negative one from Matt Sedensky, most because it's Associated Press and that makes it free for members to reprint. It's true that it would have been great if the principals had spoken directly to the author, but don't you figure they are saving the juicy stuff for their own books?

Last chance for tickets for our Monday, September 12 event.

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