All posts by Michael Romano

Staff Recommendation – Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind


Looking around Philadelphia, the observant admirer of architecture cannot help but notice a plethora of highly decorated, Victorian Gothic buildings, located here and there in important places. Many of these were designed by none other than the master architect Frank Furness. This biographical work, Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind, covers the storied life of this 19th century architect. The book begins with his abolitionist upbringing in Philly, and then on to his life-changing experiences in fighting the American Civil War, and then finally embarks into his remarkable career in translating the struggles and hopes of his age into a flamboyant and staggering architectural form. Recommended for anyone with an interest in American and Philadelphia history, particularly those interested in architecture and aesthetics.

This book is located in the Greenfield Library open stacks, at call # 720.92 F98lew.

— Mike Romano, Circulation Assistant

Staff Recommendation – Cultural Resistance: A Reader

tumblr_oktcpnXixC1tmeqwzo1_500Cultural Resistance: A Reader, presents a historical look at the ways in which human cultures have been used and inspired by resistance to oppression. From the English Levellers of the 1600s, to the the 19th century marxists and anarchists, to the feminists and Black power activists of the 20th century, this work explores culture as a weapon through varied and interesting essays. In these pages we hear from such notables as Theodor Adorno, Virginia Woolf, Mikhail Bakhtin, Stuart Hall, Bertolt Brecht, Janice Radway, Abbie Hoffman, and Mahatma Gandhi. We glimpse into how the realms of art, music, and philosophy have helped define resistance. And, importantly, we are presented with examples of how to use and build cultures which create a more just, free, world.

This book is available in the Greenfield Library open stacks at call # 306.2 C485.

— Mike Romano, Circulation Assistant

Staff Recommendation – Women Warriors by David E. Jones

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All throughout the first thirteen years of our educations we’ve been swamped and regaled with tales of the men who shaped our society into what it is today. We learn about the founding fathers and various kings and popes, but what about the women working both in the spotlight and behind the scenes? Jones presents us with another history, a history filled with women ready to lead armies and topple government expectations, all the while owning their sexuality and the power that comes with it. Here are women who have transcended history and marched into the realm of legend.

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Jones takes us to the legendary Amazons and their incredible feats of power and military tactics that placed them squarely in the realm of fearsome myth, and whose legacies helped shape the DC heroine Wonder Woman. After this we visit the Battle Queens of Arabia, Kali’s Daughters of India, the British Isles, Africa, and Asia. We meet women such as Bat Zabbai, who conquered the eastern half of the Roman Empire, and the female pirate Hsi Kai Ching, who terrorized the Chinese government for years and retired as one of the most successful pirates in history. To anyone looking for strong, self-empowered women, this book delivers.

Women Warriors can be found in the Greenfield Library open stacks, call # 355.0082 J713w 1997

– Lauralee Martin, Greenfield Library Work Study Student Assistant

Staff Recommendation: Global Philadelphia: Immigrant Communities Old and New


Philadelphia is a city which is built upon layers of immigration. In the centuries since its founding, people have traversed oceans to land here and make this their home, transforming our city in the process. These essays include stories and struggles of older arrivals such as the Germans, Irish, Jews, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, and Italians, and also cover the immigration taking place in more recent history, which includes groups such as Indians, Mexicans, Southeast Asians, and Ethiopians. This book helps the reader understand how immigration is and has been vital for a vibrant and competitive Philadelphia, and how the immigrants and their descendants continue to change and enhance the cultural face of our city.

This title is currently on exhibit at the Greenfield Library, and is available for immediate check-out, call number 305.800974811 G51t.

–Mike Romano, Circulation Assistant

American Experience: New York, a Documentary Film

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This documentary series features 8 episodes which chronicle the history of one of America’s largest and most important cities – New York.  Beginning with the islands colonization by the Dutch, these episodes span several centuries of urban development fueled by conquest, immigration, ingenuity, innovation, greed, lust, sweat, and love.  You’ll take a tour through the desperate tenements of poor immigrants, the opulent streets of capitalist mansions, the stupendous feats of human engineering, the great works of art and literature, and the complex personalities of the cities political elites.

Curious about about this history of grit and gold? This series is available through Kanopy streaming database. Use your UArts credentials to log in!

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Staff Recommendation – Trimpin: Contraptions for Art and Sound

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This book is a collection of the major works of Trimpin, a German artist now based in Seattle, WA. His work focuses on the relationship of sound to instrument design as well as various factors in the physical environment.  Many of the works featured in the book are installation pieces, which seem to the viewer to be mega-musical instruments. These massive Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions, after given the right spark, begin to emit a cacophony of sounds specific to the pieces’ design and environment.  As wonderful as the photos in this book are, the only disappointment one feels is not being in the specific place and time to experience the auditory sensations that Trimpin pursues.

This book is is located in the Greenfield Library Open Stacks. Its call number is — 709.2 T736f

Staff Recommendation: Map: Exploring the World


Map: Exploring the World will take you on a geographical journey that charts the passions, foibles, and ingenuity of humankind. Large and colorful maps adorn the book’s pages and take the viewer on a voyage of discovery which spans the epochs of many times and cultures. How do humans develop and express their world-views? How do we assert control over spaces? How do we investigate the world around us? And how do we simply find a way from point A to point B? From ancient etchings to smartphone apps, this book will take you on a tour of these questions and how we’ve dealt with them through cartography.

Map : Exploring the World                                                                   Commissioning Editor: Victoria Clarke ; Editors: Rosie Pickles and Tim Cooke

Greenfield Open Stacks –  516.8 M32c

Staff Recommendation – Dinotopia, Journey to Chandara


The Dinotopia series, by former National Geographic artist James Gurney, is enough to ignite the exploratory child in each of us. Gurney’s series takes place on a hidden continent where sentient dinosaurs and human beings have built a utopian society based on inter-species cooperation. His beautiful paintings and detailed maps will enmesh readers of any age who enjoy exploring the art of world building, which is here peppered by fantastical technologies as well as science lessons from the real world. Journey to Chandara explores this lost continent with a scientist who sets out on an epic journey to unite two estranged empires. I would especially recommend this book for students of illustration, landscape painting, children’s artwork, and anyone in the UArts community who enjoys the whimsy of a pterodactyl ride every now and then.

This book is available in the Greenfield Library Open Stacks – 813 G966dj  

Staff Recommendation – A History of God

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Karen Armstrong’s A History of God is a great read for anyone interested in religion and its effect on societies and collective human psychology.  She takes the reader on a historical tour of the three major “Abrahamic” faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – and traces their development through the ages. We hear of a wide range of religious experiences, past and present: the shatteringly transcendent experiences of the Israelite prophets; the calm, expansive consciousness of Sufi mystics; the agony and zealousness of the Protestant reformers; the cool skepticism of rationalists; and what they have meant for people’s lives.  She focuses her study on several different ways of conceiving of the idea of “God” that have persisted throughout the history of monotheism, and concludes it with a thoughtful discussion on what, if any, idea of “God” is a healthy one for modern people to engage with. I recommend this book to believers and skeptics alike who share a curiosity about how we handle the daunting yet alluring practice of making sense of the vast world beyond the bounds of our ordinary consciousness.

You know, just some light summer reading.

This book is available in the Greenfield Library Open Stacks, at 291.211 Ar57h 1994

-Mike Romano

Circulation Assistant