Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Straight from print: AU’s notable authors

A wide range of topics provide AU students and staff with much to read

Professors Cynthia Miller-Idriss, Rodger Streitmatter and Taryn Morrisey. 

AU’s literary scene has a lot to look forward to this year, including a slew of new books by AU professors. These books span a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from the political far right youth in Germany all the way to childhood development issues facing the U.S.. The Eagle has compiled a great reading list from three of AU’s five schools, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Communication and the School of Public Affairs, just in time for summer reading.

College of Arts and Sciences

“Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany”

Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, associate professor of education and sociology

Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss’ new book tells the tale of how the far right have branded themselves and, now, the youth generation of Germany. The ultimate commercialization of this belief has only expanded the far right’s impact. The politicized clothing began by capitalizing on the symbols affiliated with Nazi Culture and providing teens with a way to attach themselves to the hate-filled movement.

Miller-Idriss said that the book’s inception came from one of her previous works, “Blood and Culture: Youth, Right-Wing Extremism, and National Belonging in Contemporary Germany”,

which explored Nationalism in Germany. Her trip back to Germany in search of a cover photo for the first book wound its way into an investigation into youth style and the extremist political ideologies that the attire expressed.

“The role that material culture can play in helping to constitute identity -- it happens for young people, it happens for older people - the kind of products you purchase tie into the kind of person you are or want to be,” Miller-Idriss said.

Miller-Idriss believes the phenomenon at hand “is part of a much broader shift, a generational change, in how subcultural identities are experienced.”

Her examination of employing fashion as a means to express political beliefs goes deep into the subcultural shift of today’s far right movement.

Specifically, a style-choice considered as simple as a T-shirt became an “identity-based billboard,” she said.

Miller-Idriss investigates through the thick and thin of the growing extremism that troubles many schools across Germany. “Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany” will be available for purchase in late 2017.

School of Communication

“Mightier Than the Sword: How the News Media Have Shaped American History”

Rodger Streitmatter, professor of journalism

“Mightier Than the Sword” has now been published in a third edition, two decades after its initial release in 1997. The new edition could not have come at a better time, considering the intense and “exciting,” as Streitmatter puts it, period it is for journalism.

Streitmatter’s interest in today’s media culture lies in the 2016 presidential election, something he thinks he could write about in a future book or edition of “Mightier Than the Sword.”

“I think it would be interesting to do an analysis and write a chapter on the 2016 election .. I do think it would have to be very different from some of the other chapters [in the book].”

Streitmatter does not just examine journalism however, he digs deeper into how the changing streamline of news information has altered and impacted the history of America itself.

“The news media is a powerful institution and we should take note of that and students should be aware of that,” Streitmatter said.

News outlets are currently under fire from President Trump and his administration and the cable-cutting movement, the public’s transition to web services rather than traditional cable news and tv providers, has gone in full swing – meaning that news information has spread to many avenues. Social media, online news and cable news are all competing to gain the public’s trust and audience.

“Now, I’d have to talk about Breitbart, for example, and news venues that frankly I just don’t know much about,” Streitmatter said. “They seemed to have just happened during this election cycle.”

Streitmatter takes readers on a journey from America’s independence all the way to the Obama administration and asserts that the media has, is and will continue to be a powerful institution in America. “Mightier Than the Sword: How the News Media Have Shaped American History” is available for purchase online today.

School of Public Affairs

“Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality”

Co-Authored by Taryn Morrissey, Associate Professor of Public Administration and Policy

In her new book, Dr. Taryn Morrissey examines America’s childhood development status only to find that it is in more than just a small rut, it is in disarray.

In “Cradle to Kindergarten,” Dr. Morrissey and a team of three other authors work to craft a new way for America to solve this increasingly concerning problem for all families with young children that are struggling to afford programming and other youth development resources.

“There are wide disparities between high-income kids and low-income kids and what they’re prepared to do,” Morrissey said. “If all children were given an equal playing field in kindergarten, just think of all the possibilities.”

Morrissey said the U.S. has more trouble with this issue than other countries.

“The U.S. has particularly stark disparities in access to preschools,” Morrissey said. “Other developed nations have much higher preschool attendance than we do, especially among low-income kids.”

Morrissey’s book journeys through a well-crafted plan to not only fix the status of youth development but to correct the future disparities caused by this issue – outlining a plan to create more opportunity for America’s youth.

“Cradle to Kindergarten: A New Plan to Combat Inequality” is available for purchase online today.

draju@theeagleonline.com


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