REVIEWS: Library and Information Science Research
Electronic Journal ISSN 1058-6768
2000 Volume 10 Issue 2; September.
Bi-annual LIBRES10N2 REVIEWS


REVIEWS


 

Reviews in this issue:

 

 

Crotty, Patricia McGee.  Family Law In the United States: Changing Perspectives.

Series:  Teaching Texts in Law and Politics; Vol. 7.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  184 pgs.

ISBN: 0-8204-4183-X  Np.


Reviewed by  James Burnett

 

---

 

Frylinck, John (ed).  Change in Australian Technology Library Networks: A Showcase of Current Professional Practice.   Adelaide: University of South Australia Library, 2000.  156 pgs.  ISBN:  0-86803-661-7.  A$44


Reviewed by Paul Genoni

 

---

 

Harris, Laurie Lanzen, & Abbey, Cherie D.  Biography Today:  Profiles of People of Interest to Young Readers, 1999 Annual Cumulation.  Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc.,1999.  446 p.  ISBN:  0780803701.  $56.00.

 

Reviewed by  Lisa Powell Williams

 

---

 

Kleist, Jurgen and Bruce A. Butterfield, eds.  War and Its Uses: Conflict and Creativity.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  Series: Plattsburg Studies in the Humanities.  Vol. 6.  320 pgs.  ISBN:  0-8204-4067-1  $55.95

 

Reviewed by James Burnett

 

---

 

Miller, M.C. (1999). Living Ethically in Christ. Is Christian Ethics Unique? Series: American University Studies VII: Theology and Religion.  Vol. 173   New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  320 pgs.  ISBN: 0-8204-2386-6

$51.95

 

Reviewed by Marylou Hale

 

---

 

 P.S. Nagpaul, K.C. Garg and B.M. Gupta, eds. Emerging Trends in Scientometrics. Allied Publishers Ltd., New Delhi [etc.], 1999. ISBN 81-7023-969-9. Hard cover, 304 + xvii pages

Reviewed by Ronald Rousseau


---

Thompson, Sue Ellen, ed. Halloween Program Sourcebook  Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc, 2000.  336 pgs. 

ISBN: 0-7808-0388-4   $48.00

 

Reviewed by Lisa Powell Williams

 

---

 

Zelenak, M. X. Gender and Politics in Greek Tragedy.   Series: Artists and Issues in the Theatre. Vol. 7. New York: Peter Lang Publications, 1998. 156 pgs.   ISBN: 0-8204-4000-4    $23.95

 

Reviewed by  Rebecka Lindau and Pamela Bloom

 

---

 

Peterson, John, Introduction to Scholastic Realism, Series: New Perspectives in Philosophical Scholarship: Texts and Issues.  Vol. 12.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  193 pgs.  ISBN:  0-8204-4270-4   $46.95

 

Reviewed by  Jimm Wetherbee

 


 

 

Crotty, Patricia McGee.  Family Law In the United States: Changing Perspectives.

Series:  Teaching Texts in Law and Politics; Vol. 7.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  184 pgs.

ISBN: 0-8204-4183-X  Np.

 

“As is true of most governments, the United States was formed by men in order to promote their own interests,” page 5.  As an evaluation of domestic relations and family law, this work is as limited in scope as the preceding sentence is with regard to the history of the establishment of the U.S.

 

Despite its title, this work is not a law book.  Instead, it is a feminist-oriented evaluation of the legal history and application of domestic relations law in the United States.  The author attempts to view the values and underpinnings of family law in the United States through a series of seven feminist theories, ranging from egalitarian feminism through radical feminism.  The author examines three major components of domestic relations law; marriage, property, and reproduction.  Each component is examined beginning with the notion that the law is biased against women, and then analyzed according to the precepts of each feminist theory.

 

The author’s stated limits on the scope of this work exclude same-sex relationships, which is understandable given the intense and complicated nature of the law in this area.  Whether knowingly or unknowingly, the author has also limited this work by not addressing a variety of other gender issues within family law, the most important of which may be the question of child custody following dissolution of the marriage or relationship.  This is a significant issue in gender issues, since the prevailing attitude of men involved in family law legal matters is that the law is overwhelmingly biased in favor of the woman in every instance.  The author apparently chooses to ignore this issue completely. 

 

The most recent period of time relevant to the author’s position appears to be the decade from 1987 to 1997.  During this time, there were significant changes in domestic relations law with regard to gender considerations and issues.  The current state of the law, at least from a practical point of view, appears to directly contradict the assertions of the author.  The value of this work, then, may be more in its historical analysis than in application to the current status of the law.

 

Certain studies conducted by other organizations are discussed, and basic information is included in this work.  Unfortunately, the reader will need to examine the original research in order to discover the actual basis for the results.  In one example, the author has provided a table purporting to show changes in domestic relations laws by states, with an eye towards whether such changes benefit or harm women.  The author does not, however, provide the actual data to support such a claim, so the reader is left without a basis for evaluating the reliability of the table.

 

Classroom exercises, called ‘hypotheticals’ by law students, are included in an effort to promote discussion of the issues covered by each exercise.  The information provided to the students in the text does not appear to be sufficiently broad as to allow for a full and open discussion.  For law students, these exercises would be more harmful than instructive.

 

The author has provided some significant bibliographic information following each chapter, and students in this area will benefit from this information.  However, this bibliographic information cannot be considered to be exhaustive, nor does the author make that claim. 

 

The index is usable and will give sufficient access to the work.  However, many of the legal terms in the glossary are either incorrect or inadequate to sufficiently define the term.

 

This work would be satisfactory for use as a supplemental text in women’s studies courses and some sociology and political science coursework.  It is not sufficient to stand as a primary text at the undergraduate level.  It would be a reasonable purchase for the general collection in a medium to large academic or law school library.  It is not particularly appropriate for use in domestic relations courses in law school.

 

James Burnett, BA, MA, MPA, JD

Attorney at Law

Reference Librarian

Community Colleges of Spokane

burnettjd93@hotmail.com

 

Top ---

 

Frylinck, John (ed).  Change in Australian Technology Library Networks: A Showcase of Current Professional Practice.   Adelaide: University of South Australia Library, 2000.  156 pgs.  ISBN:  0-86803-661-7.  A$44

 

The publication of this volume represents the completion of the first project of the Libraries of the Australian Technology Network (LATN), an affiliation of libraries serving the five universities which constitute the Australian Technology Network. All five of these libraries are represented by at least one of the eleven essays collected in this volume.

 

In her introduction, Vicki Williamson, University Librarian of Curtin University of Technology, explains that the purpose of the collection is to ‘showcase the professional practice of staff working in the member libraries’. It is a purpose reflected in the very practical nature of the material covered, with each of the essays describing aspects of implementing change or undertaking tasks within the particular libraries. Indeed it may have been useful to have more evidence of the research which frequently underpins such change or which measures the outcome of its implementation. Only Ann Luzeckyj’s contribution dealing with the creation of a Certificate of Library Professional Practice at the University of South Australia includes the results of research undertaken as part of the development of new practice.

 

The essays included in the collection are, however, impressive in their range. The coverage includes diverse areas such as network access by external students, provision of virtual reference services, community service programs, document delivery, service evaluation, performance management, and cataloguing. In combination, they give a picture of a library sector that is innovative and user-focused.

 

If there is a criticism that can be leveled at this volume it is that there is very little attempt to establish what it is that characterizes this particular group of libraries and which differentiates their interests and activities from those of other libraries serving academic institutions. This, it seems, is a matter of some importance if the reader is to understand the commonality of purpose or vision which is sufficient to justify the grouping of these libraries, and which might in turn lead to a style of practice which distinguishes them from other libraries. Of the essays included in this volume, only that by Tom Cochrane and Carolyn Young dealing with the allocation of acquisitions budgets at Queensland University of Technology makes an attempt to ground the discussion in a consideration of the common ground shared by these five libraries. There is not one essay here that reports on a situation that could be claimed to be unique to institutions or libraries of this ‘type’.

 

In an Australian information environment in which larger (in particular, national) objectives are increasingly giving ground to sectional or regional interests, it is relevant to ask groups that represent these interests to justify their existence by identifying the basis on which they have been created, and explaining how the effort put into sustaining them will contribute to the general well-being of the Australian information sector.

 

There is, however, much to recommend this volume. In a time when there is shrinking opportunity for monographic publication in the area of information and library studies, this collection provides a useful snapshot of important areas of professional practice at a critical period in the profession’s development. It is pleasing to note the copyright waiver in the introductory material, which should encourage the book’s use if not its sales. It is recommended to both practitioners and to students, in particular.

 

Dr Paul Genoni

Lecturer

School of Media and Information

Curtin University of Technology

Perth, Western Australia

paul@biblio.curtin.edu.au

 

Top ---

 

Harris, Laurie Lanzen, & Abbey, Cherie D.  Biography Today:  Profiles of People of Interest to Young Readers, 1999 Annual Cumulation.  Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc.,1999.  446 p.  ISBN:  0780803701.  $56.00.

 

Need to know which soap opera star is Jennifer Aniston’s father?  Want to know which recent NBA star skipped playing college basketball and headed straight for the pros?  Have to find out what is so inspiring about Oseola McCarty? Designed for use by students nine years of age and older, _Biography Today_,  Omnigraphics’ compendium of notable persons, provides the answers to these questions and many others.

 

This annual volume provides thirty biographical profiles ranging from six to nineteen pages in length.  Lauryn Hill, Sammy Sosa, and Jesse Ventura are among the personalities featured. There are seven obituaries for Sadie and Bessie Delany, King Hussein, Shari Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Gene Siskel, and John Stanford.  While these individuals are certainly newsworthy, not all of them have readily apparent appeal to young readers.   Three entries are labeled as brief entries, Maurice Ashley (World’s First African-American Chess Grandmaster), David Hampton (Creator of Furby) and Natalia Toro (winner of the 1999 Intel Science Talent Search).  No particular criteria are outlined for why these entries are shorter, though each person appears more limited in notoriety than the personalities whose lives are detailed in full entries.

 

Each entry includes information on an individual’s childhood, educational background, first jobs, family life, memories, hobbies, and awards received.  Black and white photographs are provided for each entrant. Bibliographies are provided so students can easily locate additional information about their favorite personality.  It should be noted that some of the resources listed are unauthorized bibliographies, which makes their value for further research somewhat questionable.  Additionally, addresses and websites are provided for each entry, excluding the obituaries.  Such features will help facilitate the perennial school assignment of writing to a famous person. Updated information on some subjects represented in prior issues is provided in the Appendix.

 

Several indexes are provided.  The preface notes, “beginning with the January 1999 issue, a new index appeared in _Biography Today._  In an effort to make the index easier to use, we have combined the Name and General Index into one, entitled the General Index.  This new index contains the names of all individuals who have appeared in _Biography Today_ since the series began.” This General Index provides proper names of individuals, their occupations, ethnicity and nationality.  References are made to other annual volumes of _Biography Today_, as well as special subject series of _Biography Today,_ including the Artist Series, Authors Series, Scientists and Inventors Series, Sports Series, and World Leaders Series.

 

The Birthday Index includes numerous persons, not all of whom are included in the 1999 volume students in seeking information concerning famous persons born on their birthdate will find this of value.  A Places of Birth Index is  included as well; it serves as an index for multiple volumes and other Omnigraphics biography series, not solely the 1999 _Biography Today_volume.

 

_Biography Today_ is similar to Wilson’s _Current Biography Yearbook,_ though _Current Biography_ provides more entries of interest to adult readers and its index is easier to utilize.  Omingraphics also offers a complementary series, _Biography for Beginners,_ written at mid-2nd to 3rd grade level. Each volume offers 10 profiles presented in a larger size font.  The series is billed as being “in many ways a younger version of _Biography Today.­_”  (p.5, Spring 1999 ed.)

 

It would be advantageous to own all of the various Omnigraphics biography reference sets, as _Biography Today_’s coverage is limited to but a few of the many persons referenced in its indexes.  However, as it features persons of interest to young adults in an exceptionally readable and timely manner, it is a useful “stand alone” addition for public library and school media center reference shelves.

 

Bibliography:

 

Biography for Beginners.  Detroit, Michigan:  Omnigraphics, c. 1995-.

Current Biography Yearbook.  New York, NY:  H.W. Wilson Co., 1955-.

 

Lisa Powell Williams, MLS

smilton@ewu.edu (comments)

 

Top ---

 

Kleist, Jurgen and Bruce A. Butterfield, eds.  War and Its Uses: Conflict and Creativity.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  Series: Plattsburg Studies in the Humanities.  Vol. 6.  320 pgs.  ISBN:  0-8204-4067-1  $55.95

 

This collection of monographs is Volume 6 in the Plattsburgh Studies in the Humanities series.  Using war and conflict as the basis for the essays in this volume, a wide variety of interesting and challenging topics have been brought together.  Ranging from the code of chivalry through the music of Dmitri Shostakovich  to popular culture, the authors have considered war in its many forms, both as a battlefield action as well as a cultural and societal lever of change.

 

Each article is general well-noted and lists of works cited are included, giving the reader additional avenues to explore each writer’s thesis.  Some of the topics include an analysis of a portion of the writings of Miguel Cervantes’ _Don Quixote_; the results of the historical wars of the 16th and 17th centuries; poetry from both the Spanish Civil War and World Wars 1 and 2; music and movies; Irish independence, and even the seemingly mindless conflict of insects.  One article provides an analysis of the personalities of popular media characters (from Star Trek to the X-Files) in terms of the personality traits or characteristics of these characters in conflict settings.

 

The preface, written by Mr. Butterfield, gives the reader a concise overview of the included materials, and does so in a way that should interest the reader.  He has described each essay succinctly, and is not above pointing out possible shortcomings or absences in a particular subject.

 

The individual article authors have, for the most part, found reasonable ways to relate the grand scale of military conflict to its effects, both immediate and more long-term, on individuals.  All of the articles reflect the individual author’s honest consideration of the topic.

 

Overall, this is a well-written volume and the editors have done a quality job in selecting those writings to be included.  This work would be appropriate for purchase by a medium or large academic library with programs in sociology, psychology, philosophy, and humanities.  It would also be appropriate supplemental reading for military history and military science (ROTC) coursework.  Large public libraries would not be amiss in acquiring this work, as well.

 

James Burnett, BA, MA, MPA, JD

Reference Librarian

Community Colleges of Spokane

burnettjd93@hotmail.com

 

Top ---

 

Miller, M.C. (1999). Living Ethically in Christ. Is Christian Ethics Unique? Series: American University Studies VII: Theology and Religion.  Vol. 173   New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  320 pgs.  ISBN: 0-8204-2386-6

$51.95

 

At first glance and from the title alone, this book appears to be a coffee table type of book that would generate interest among friends and family.  Readers would expect to find a checklist for living ethically in Christ with examples from the Bible of how these ethics are unique among Christians.

 

However, this expectation is not the reality.  In fact, the title does not convey the true story of this book.  This is an intense and in-depth analysis of Bernard J.F. Lonergan’s works.  Before one can truly appreciate a critique of Lonergan’s works, one must answer the questions about who was Lonergan and why was he thinking so deeply about moral theology.  Several web sites provided the answers to who was Lonergan and gave the basis from which to evaluate Miller’s analysis of Lonergan’s works which provides the why. These web sites are:  http://www.utoronto.ca/lri/; http://www.apic.net/~ogilvie/whowas.htm; http://www.lonergan.on.ca/

 

It would be beneficial to the reader to examine these sites before reading Miller’s analysis.  Unless the reader has a strong grounding in moral and Catholic theology, Miller’s critique doesn’t make much sense without the background knowledge of exactly who was Lonergan.  Miller’s book does an excellent job of providing the answers to why Lonergan thought so much about moral theology.  He examines each piece of Lonergan’s thought and dissects it in light of both ancient and modern philosophers.

 

Although this book is not the coffee table type, it is geared to graduate-level philosophy and theology students who want to examine and debate with their peers the moral ethics of the Christian.  Fortunately, all the arguments for and against Christian moral ethics are debated and detailed so that with adequate philosophical or theological training, students will be able to decide for themselves if Christian ethics are unique, at least from Lonergan’s point of view.

 

One problem with Miller’s critique of Lonergan begins on page 75.  Quoted from that page,  “Alasdair MacIntyre has never made an explicit critique of Bernard Lonergan’s methodology.  Consequently, it may seem inappropriate to include in this section.”  Miller continues to expound on MacIntyre for four more pages comparing him to Lonergan.  The question then is if MacIntyre never critiqued Lonergan, why include him in an essay about Lonergan.  In this reader’s opinion, Miller should have included MacIntyre and not mentioned the inappropriateness of the comparison, or he should have not included four pages of something inappropriate.  By prefacing this section with the aforementioned quote, the reader has both expectations and questions.  The major question is if MacIntyre never critiqued Lonergan, why include him at all.  Miller attempts to answer this question later in the section, but the opening statement defined in the quote haunts the reader.

 

For any committed Christian, the discussion of religious conversion that begins on page 122 requires careful consideration.  According to Miller, Lonergan’s favorite passage on religious conversion and the one about which he was most criticized is Romans 5:5 http://JESUSaves.com/bible/romans_5.html; http://JESUSaves.com/bible/romans_5.html.  “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”  The basis of Lonergan’s theory on conversion is that it is a gift from God given to humans by God’s love of those humans.  Some of those critics point out that in the course of human history and religious conversion, the entire range of human emotion are reflected rather than God’s love.  Others state that some conversions are the result of fear, a direct opposite of love.  Miller does a great job of defending Lonergan and his definition of the true religious conversion. 

 

In addition to religious conversion, Miller discusses Lonergan’s description of moral and intellectual conversions.  To the lay reader, this part of the book makes the most sense intuitively even without the background of a theology degree.  The explanations are clear and concise without the deep philosophical overtones that surround the rest of the book.  The discussions make sense on the most basic level. 

 

However, Miller’s description of Lonergan’s works on marriage and sexuality are extremely confusing and somewhat heavy-handed.  After such a clear discussion of moral and intellectual conversion, it is very difficult to believe that Lonergan would write on other complex topics with unclear and hard-to-understand language, although Miller does acknowledge this on page 172.  Unfortunately, the more one reads in this section, the more confusing the words become.  This particular section should be left to those who have large amounts of time to tie up all the loose ends.  The casual reader will be lost after the second paragraph.

 

Because of the depth and philosophical basis of this book, it is not for the casual reader.  Don’t plan to put it on the coffee table and generate discussion.  This book is best left to advanced philosophy and theology students.  For them, it would definitely enhance their understanding of Christian ethics. 

 

Marylou Hale

Public Services Librarian

North Las Vegas Library District

hmhale@worldnet.att.net

 

Top ---

 

 

P.S. Nagpaul, K.C. Garg and B.M. Gupta, eds. Emerging Trends in Scientometrics. Allied Publishers Ltd., New Delhi [etc.], 1999. ISBN 81-7023-969-9. Hard cover, 304 + xvii pages.

 

This book contains selected articles presented at the Indian national seminar on “Emerging trends in scientometrics’, organised by NISTADS in 1997. Two more articles were included, one by Hildrun Kretschmer and one by Roland Wagner-Döbler. The resulting book is dedicated to Dr. Ashok Jain as a Festschrift at the occasion of his retirement as director of NISTADS.

 

The book is divided into three parts: (i) Scientometrics and S&T policy, (ii) Structure and dynamics of science, and (iii) Regional dimensions of Indian science. The first part, Scientometrics and S&T policy, contains six articles. P.S. Nagpaul presents an excellent introduction to the subject of scientometrics, describing its scope and methodology. It further contains a discussion about the decline (or not?) of Indian science. Other articles in this section use multivariate statistics to evaluate the contributions of twenty-five major countries in different subdomains of physics. Another article studies patent citations as a technology indicator.

 

Part II, Structure and dynamics of science, contains five articles. A lot of attention goes to collaboration aspects, on the individual level as well as on the international level. Migrations of scientists between subfields of mathematics are studied by Wagner-Döbler. The dynamics of science is further studied through multidimensional scaling and network analysis.

 

In the last part, Regional dimensions of Indian science, containing two articles, the authors study regional imbalances in socio-economic development within India.

 

This book, actually edited by the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS) scientometrics and informetrics group, including S. Bhattacharya, Aparna Basu, Praveen Sharma and Suresh Kumar, represents a broad perspective of the field of scientometrics, as practised in India. It is a welcome addition to the field, supplementing article contributions in journals such as Scientometrics and Research Policy.

 

 

Ronald Rousseau

KHBO – Department Industrial Sciences and Technology

Zeedijk 101 – B-8400  Oostende  Belgium

ronald.rousseau@kh.khbo.be

 

 

Top ---

 

 

Thompson, Sue Ellen, ed.  Halloween Program Sourcebook  Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc, 2000.  336 pgs. 

ISBN: 0-7808-0388-4   $48.00

 

To find a complete adult reference book on any holiday other than Christmas is a rarity.  To find one as extensive as the _Halloween Program Sourcebook_ is a pleasure.

 

The book provides seven chapters focusing on the symbols, lore, poems, plays, recipes and activities related to this spookiest of holidays.  An Author/Title Index and an index to First Lines of Poetry are included.

 

Originally a Celtic celebration called Samhain, the holiday evolved into the Christian church celebration of All Hallow’s Day and then into Halloween. The introduction of Halloween to the United States by Irish immigrants in the 1800’s provides the historical context for today’s interpretation of the holiday. The “Legend of Jack-o’-Lantern” recalls how the pumpkin carving tradition began.  Trick or treat traditions, superstitions, history of the Salem witch trials are also described.

 

Several tales suitable for ghost story telling sessions are found within the ­_Halloween Program Sourcebook’s_  pages, including Washington Irving’s _The Legend of Sleepy Hollow_ and Edgar Allan Poe’s _The Black Cat._”  Many notable poets’ works from Carl Sandburg’s _Theme in Yellow_ to Jack Prelutsky’s _The Witch_ are included.  Four plays by anonymous writers that are suitable for middle school use are provided. 

 

The Activities section describes typical Halloween traditions such as pumpkin carving and costume making.   It provides ideas for party games, including fortune telling and on how to hold a séance.

Recipes for creating treats fit for any ghoul or goblin from roasted pumpkin seeds to bobbing apple punch are included.  These will be helpful to librarians assisting room mothers and others in their holiday party planning.

 

The _Halloween Program Sourcebook’s_ “Introduction—The Story of Halloween” is similar to the description of holiday symbols in Edna Barth’s classic holiday volume, _Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of Halloween Symbols_.  The _Halloween Program Sourcebook_is more contemporary in that it provides a section of Halloween related websites; though only two sites are listed, both links are currently active.

 

The book could have benefited from color photographs or illustrations such as those found in two recent works on this spookiest of holidays, _­Tricks and Treats: The Ultimate Halloween Book­­­_ and _The Big Book of Halloween: Creative and Creepy Projects for Revelers of All Ages,_ as the illustrations in the work are black ink block style prints.

 

The Halloween Program Sourcebook is billed as “Volume One of The Celebrations Library”.  The _Thanksgiving Program Sourcebook_ is scheduled to be published in October 2000. Both volumes are sure to be welcome additions to public library reference collections and school media centers.

               

References:

 

Barth, Edna.  Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of Halloween Symbols.  New York: The Seabury Press, c. 1972.

 

Doran, Laura Dover.  The Big Book of Halloween: Creative and Creepy Projects for Revelers of All Ages.

Asheville, NC:  Lark Books, c. 1998.

 

Harding, Deborah.  Tricks & Treats: The Ultimate Halloween Book.  Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest,

c. 1998.

 

Lisa Powell Williams, MLS

smilton@ewu.edu (comments)

 

Top ---

 

Zelenac, M. X. Gender and Politics in Greek Tragedy. Series: Artists and Issues in the Theatre. Vol. 7. New York: Peter Lang Publications, 1998. 156 pgs
ISBN 0-8204 4000-4

Michael Zelenak’s book presents a highly original and insightful look at gender ideology in fifth-century BCE Athens. This well-structured and extensively researched study is divided into ten chapters. The first three comprise an exploration of the historical features of politics and gender centered upon the institution of tragedy and the festival, the City Dionysia, the following seven consist of an analysis of plays by the great tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The themes of gender and politics are scrutinized in each of the plays examined: Suppliant Maidens, The Oresteia, Antigone, Alcestis, Medea, and Philoctetes.

 

Of special value is the examination of the City Dionysia and its interplay with the democratic city-state, the polis. Zelenak discusses the ways in which the plays overtly question central ideological premises and the transformation of Greek tragedy from “political pageant and civic spectacle” to dramatic art. Zelenak’s text questions many assumptions made about Greek theater and examines the presence of women at the festivals as well as the function of female characters. “Gender displacement, gender inversion and gender transgression” are at the heart of this book. Throughout Zelenak supports and highlights these themes.

 

Tragedy, as Michael Zelenak and others have observed, was deeply rooted in Athenian history and its particular social, political, and religious institutions, and cannot be viewed as a purely aesthetic or literary art form. Not coincidentally, tragedy developed along with Athenian democracy. Zelenak views them both as intimately interwoven with the concept and practice of patriarchy. “Gender antagonism,” he says, “became the major symbolic mode of opposition in Greek tragedy.”

 

Attending the theater performances was a civic event, a central feature of the cultural and political discourse of Athenian life, and part of a religious festival in honor of the god Dionysus. The name Dionysus appears as early as the Bronze Age. Zelenak believes, however, that the drunken, effeminate god accompanied by male satyrs with erect phalluses was a new phenomenon introduced by tragedy. Athenian political gender ideology altered not only the theater but theology as well, according to the author. Tragedy was used to legitimize the major institutions of the democratic polis, including the religious, according to this view. Since few tragedies with the exception of Euripides’ Bacchae portray the god at any depth, the claim made about the “new” Dionysus may not be entirely convincing. Also, ityphallic satyrs and a drunken Dionysus appear on Athenian vases in the sixth century, long before Euripides wrote his play. Further, the effeminate type does not really become prominent until the Roman Bacchus. Zelenak sees tragedy as explaining the new civic ideology by using familiar icons of continuity in the form of myths well-known to the populace. The content of Greek tragedy, as Zelenak observes, often appears controversial, but was not ideologically subversive.

 

In the book’s second chapter, Inventing the Female, Michael Zelenak initiates a discussion of how gender roles and assumptions are invented and reinforced in tragedy, which ascribes to women irrationality and weakness as well as a closeness to nature and animals. The “female” as a literary and imaginative concept, he remarks, had barely existed before fifth-century Athenian tragedy.

 

Another interesting observation the author makes is that entrances of female characters in the plays are preceded or followed by an almost obligatory statement explaining why they are outside the home or palace since Athenian free-born women were not allowed to venture outside unescorted by a man. This statement does appear in some of the tragedies, especially in Euripides, but not in all, Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus being a case in point.

 

Perhaps the book’s most intriguing chapter is Tragedy and Pornography: Transvestite Ritual Theatre. Here Zelenak details both the lesser known Athenian female festival, the Thesmophoria, which was open only to women and its, in Zelenak’s view, contrasting male festival, the City Dionysia. In reference to the male festival, the author observes that “until recently, few critics or scholars have thought it important enough even to allude to the overtly sexual features of the City Dionysia. Those who do write them off as quaint ritual oddities or irrelevant quirks of the Athenian imagination.” It is in this intense examination of the overt sexuality of the festival and its masculine nature that Michael Zelenak makes some of his most valuable contributions. Building on Eva  Keul’s theory of an Athenian phallocracy, Zelenak concludes, in jest, that Athens now wielded the largest phallus in Greece (Keuls, E. C. _The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens._ New York: Harper & Row, 1985).

 

Further, Zelenak makes the intriguing, yet, in places, not sufficiently argued or supported assertion that the course of western drama changed when female characters were introduced. To speak of change at all at this early stage of western drama is questionable. Thespis has traditionally been credited with the introduction of the (male) mask in addition to a speaking actor and the lesser-known Phrynichus, according to the Byzantine lexicon the Suda, with the introduction of the female mask, i.e. female characters. Certainly, students of classical drama are taught that novelties included an increasing number of actors and stage painting, and only rarely, as Zelenak correctly observes, the introduction of female characters.

 

All female roles were played by what Zelenak refers to as transvestite male performers. The terms transvestite and drag seem anachronistic and should be used with caution in this context since the modern concepts are often used as intentionally transgressive. The term cross-gender performance might be more appropriate. Zelenak expresses justified surprise at the dearth of material discussing the fact that all female roles were played by men dressed as women.

 

Zelenak focuses exclusively on tragedy. It would have been interesting, however, to look at how comedy fits in as well. Since comedy was as integral to the dramatic performances at the City Dionysia as was tragedy and there, too, the female roles were played by men, but with contemporary personalities and events being parodied, comedy may lend itself particularly well to investigations of gender assumptions and the construct of the female. Zelenak’s decision not to include comedy in his study makes his claim that the introduction of female characters changed the course of western drama seem incomplete. Another interesting pursuit could be to parallel Zelenak’s examination of the impact the seeing of “female masks” had on the institution and ideology of gender with the effect the novelty of seeing male mortals playing immortal gods and goddesses may have had on religious institutions and beliefs.

 

It should be noted that as is so often the case with Peter Lang publications, this book is a revised version of the author’s 1991 doctoral thesis from Yale University. This is not mentioned in the book. It concludes with an extensive although nontraditional bibliography, i.e. a list of publications which the author considers “provocative or enlightening” divided into such categories as “origins of tragedy,” “gender and sexuality,” “theatre history,” and “critical works on Greek tragedy.” This is good for those seeking further reading. The inclusion of a general alphabetized bibliography would have been useful for reference. The book contains an index.

 

In his introduction, Zelenak writes that his work is addressed to the general audience of those interested in drama and theater, not to the Greek specialist or classicist. Towards this end he has succeeded. Many of the details in the book are not encountered in general introductions to drama texts, but should perhaps be. Most readers interested in the subject will find the text accessible, enlightening, and challenging.

 

Rebecka Lindau                                   Pamela Bloom
Classics Librarian                                 Performing Arts Librarian  

New York University                           New York University               

rebecka.lindau@nyu.edu                    pamela.bloom@nyu.edu

 


Top ---

 

Peterson, John, Introduction to Scholastic Realism, Series: New Perspectives in Philosophical Scholarship: Texts and Issues.  Vol. 12.  New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1999.  193 pgs.  ISBN:  0-8204-4270-4   $46.95

 

It is no secret that there has been a revived interest in ancient and medieval thought. One of the central themes of that time was the relation of one particular to another and how particulars where capable of being compared. This question found its way into epistemology, metaphysics and even ethics. One way to address these question has been called realism. The task Peterson sets out for himself in _Introduction to Scholastic Realism_ (hereafter, _Realism_) is to outline one particular version of realism. Scholastic realism was part of a philosophical synthesis between Neoplatonic realism and the moderate realism of Aristotle. Perhaps the best known exponent of this synthesis is Thomas Aquinas, whom Peterson relies upon extensively. Peterson goes on to characterize alternatives to realism, namely nominalism and conceptualism. Against these alternatives, Peterson argues that the nature of truth, knowledge, predication, ethics, and logic all are best served by scholastic realism. Within this framework Peterson also expounds on the scholastic conception of each of these areas.

 

Unlike many books, not only is the introduction of Realism worth reading, but it is worthwhile reading first. Peterson does not attempt a condensed summary of his project here, but instead provides a highly readable outline of what realism is, how scholastic realism is distinct from related realistic views, what intuitions scholastic realism attempts to affirm, and finally outlines the distinctive features of the alternatives to realism. Peterson's exposition here is clear for those unfamiliar with medieval philosophy and a good summary for those who are. Only toward the end of the introduction does Peterson sketch out a road map of how he will proceed. It is also here where he introduces the pivotal concept of formal identity.

 

The introduction to Realism begins with three related but distinct notions of realism, (a) the doctrine that there is a real world that exists independent of minds, (b) that the constituents of the real world are capable of being known in themselves and (c) even if there were no minds, universals or ideal forms would exist. It is this third concept that is the focus of _Realism_--the reality of universal and ideal forms. As Peterson notes, this third notion is a way of affirming that we know that there is a real world and to know its constituents. For simplicity sake "realism" will henceforth refer only to this third concept.

 

Realism divides into two basic kinds, extreme (Platonic) and moderate (Aristotelian). While scholastic realism borrows from both, its character is more the latter than the former. Realism in turn can be contrasted with nominalism, which itself has two basic flavors, nominalism per se and conceptualism. Moderate realism and extreme realism agree that the ideal forms are things; however, moderate realism denies that these ideal forms are things independent from particulars. This may sound like nominalism, and insofar as both deny the existence of independently existing ideal forms, moderate realism and nominalism are in agreement. Nominalism, however, would deny that particulars really have anything in common while scholastic realism would insist on an objective ground of commonality. This objective ground is called "formal identity."

 

Between full-fledged nominalism and moderate realism is conceptualism. Like, nominalism, conceptualism would deny that the two objects *really* have anything in common in themselves but that the mind imposes a relation between them. Scholastic realism is like conceptualism in that the relations of similarity exist primordially in the mind, but it is not just any mind. Instead, the ideal forms exist first in the mind of God and because these form exist in the mind, they also in particular things. As such, scholastic realism would state that universal exist in human minds because they exist in the particulars and forms exist in particulars because those particulars conform to the ideas that God has.

 

Chapter One outlines what Peterson means by truth being a conformity to a standard. He starts with a subtle critique of the correspondence theory of truth; subtle because he repeatedly says that truth is a conformity to a standard, and one would think that this is in line with what many proponents of the correspondence theory have to say. Many theorists see truth as a relation between two things. For instance, if one believes the sky is blue, one's belief is true because the sky *is* in fact blue. If one held no belief about the sky, there would be no truth-bearing relationship. Peterson, however, finds this analysis to be a confusion between the effect of truth (namely that one's beliefs are conformed to reality) and definition of truth. What is true is that which conforms statements, beliefs, dispositions, actions, etc. Those things which are so conformed are then called true in a derivative sense. At this stage, Peterson states his objection more than he defends it. Later he defends his distinction between definition of truth and effect of truth in chapter three, particularly when looking at the coherence theory of truth.

 

Peterson then moves to characterize the proposition view of truth. That is to say that "true" applies primarily to statement and somewhat metaphorically to everything else. This is called the reductive view (RV). There are, of course many things we call "true." A person can act "true to form," a bicycle wheel can be trued, and so on. Under RV, these sense of "true" would be seen as metaphorical or at best derivative. Peterson defines derivative predication on page 13 as follows:

 

DP:

For a predicate G, G is attributed to something derivatively or *pros hen*   just when the sense of G is different from, but nonetheless includes, both  the primary sense and referent of G.

 

Remembering that "true" is primarily a property of propositions and derivatively of things themselves we arrive at two definitions of truth, sentential (ST)for propositions and ontological (OT) for things themselves. Peterson defines them on page 14 as follows.

 

 ST:

 A statement t is true just when t corresponds to reality.

 

 OT:

 A nature thing or process n is called true only because n is the ground of the  correspondence of a statement about n to reality.

 

These two might seem exhaustive, but Peterson asks about how one acts in accordance to one's belief? Certainly one can affirm a statement that one believes to be false. What about the act of creating something in correspondence to one's goal or expectation? People can also behave more or less in accordance to social custom or objective law. This last statement requires some explanation. Objective law can be seen as natural law (such as chemistry or physics) or moral law. The latter is very controversial and it is not a contention which Peterson defends with the same rigor as the others. These remaining four--Moral (MT), Productive (PT), Cultural (CT), and Lawful (LT)--types of truth can be defined as:

 

 MT:

 A statement t of a person is called true only because t expresses belief

 that t corresponds to reality. (p. 16)

 

 PT:

 A product or performance r of an artisan s is called true only because r is the ground of the correspondence of the statement 'r conforms to s's ideal  model', to reality. (pp. 16-17)

 

 CT:

 An action c of a person s is called true only because c is the ground of the correspondence of the statement “c conforms to a law or custom of the society to which s belongs” to reality. (p. 17)

 

 LT:

 An activity y is called true only because y is the ground of the correspondence of the statement, “y conforms to an objective law” to  reality (p. 18)

 

Peterson notes that all but (ST) are "noticeably contrived," (p. 18), and proposes to replace them with the more straightforward:

 

MT':

One's statement is true just when it conforms with one's beliefs (p. 18)

 

PT':

A human product or performance is true just when it conforms to the maker's or doer's ideal. (p. 18)

 

CT':

One's action is true just when it conforms to a custom or a law of one's

society. (p. 18)

 

ST':

A statement is true just when it conforms to a fact. (p. 19)

 

OT':

A natural thing or process is true just because it conforms to its model. (p. 19)

 

LT':

An activity is true when it conforms to objective law. (p. 19)

 

At this point one might rightly ask just what exactly is being contrived. Certainly OT/LT look convoluted, but if that were a criticism of philosophical or analytic definition, the entire project would have ended long ago. It is normal for a simple and straightforward definition to become more complex as one is forced to deal with counter examples. Moreover, if the definitions of OT/LT are a bit cumbersome, the model from which they are derived is quite elegant, namely one accessible notion of truth with a number of metaphorical cognates. Besides, if OT/LT are metaphorical, one would expect their definitions to be somewhat convoluted.

 

Also, the distinction between OT and LT, on the one hand, and OT' and LT' on the other hand, seem artificial. It is the difference between things themselves and their processes. Note, also, that OT and LT and OT' and LT' mean very different things. OT and LT simply talk about things as they are; while OT' and LT' compares how things are to how they should be. Save for the disputed moral sense in natural law theory and the yet, unargued doctrine of privation it is hard to see why one should be talking about models at all.

 

Peterson, however, needs both because scholastic realism includes ideal forms (OT') and natural law (LT'). Peterson notes on page 24 that MT', PT', and CT' are essentially human activity or grounded in human minds while ST',OT', and LT' are objective but cannot be grounded in "reality," because they all use correspondences to models. The universe, cosmos, or actual world, does not have a model, only minds have models in anything other than a metaphorical sense. The only mind to qualify as far as Peterson is concerned is God, more particularly a notion of deity that Thomas Aquinas would recognize. This not to say scholastic realism is a failed project from the start, only that the attempt to draw a strict parallel between it and RV is not convincing.

 

Leaving aside the above criticism, as OT-LT were grounded ST so that some sense of the word "true," could be made in each case, as with MT'-LT'. It is clear, however, that under DP, no one type of truth is "reducible" to another.  It is here that Peterson introduces the medieval principles of analogy (PA) and (PA').

 

 PA:

 For any predicate G, G is analogically predicated of a and b only because  G is derivatively predicated of a and b by reference to c, of which G is  primarily predicated, and which is the measure of G in a and b. (p. 21)

 

 PA':

 When G is predicated analogically of a and b, there is a thing c such  that, i), c is the primary referent of G, ii), c is the measure of G in a and b  and iii), a and b really and logically depend on c. (p. 23)

 

PA states objects a and b have some property G in a secondary sense in reference to some third object c. A classic example would be that food and medicine are said to be healthy because they promote health in a human being. In other words, human beings are either healthy or not, and insofar as food and medicine promote health, they may also be said to be healthy; but for food to be healthy is not the same thing as for medicine to be healthy. PA' goes a bit further to state for medicine and food to be healthy, there must be some object (in this case humans) which make them so.

 

Here again the parallel of MT', PT' and CT' on one side, and ST', OT', and LT' on the other, is so obviously necessary for Peterson. The former three can be said to be true insofar as they conform to some human mind whether it is beliefs, (MT') plans or goals (PT') or societal conventions (CT'). In short, these three types of things can be said to be true insofar as they conform to the human mind. It is also obvious that MT', PT' and CT' are special cases of ST', OT' and LT'. To satisfy PA and PA' the only thing that will do is another mind, but a mind in this case is capable of creating a model for this and any other possible universe. In short, the mind of God. Now, for those of us who believe in God, there is something elegant and satisfying about seeing the universe so dependent on God. However, the price of this elegance for those who do not believe in God is simply too high.

 

In the next two chapters, Peterson deals with sentential truth, the sort of truth most analytical thinkers would think of as primary and whose subject would be propositions.  Peterson’s assertion that statements, not propositions, are the bearers of truth might at first glance be seen as a bit curious. The reason Peterson makes the distinction is because he seems to be taking aim at a particular theory of predication. Scholastic realism would accept person “A” stating that John loves Mary, as meaning,

 

 [T]hat A's statement is true just because it corresponds to a fact, whereby 'fact'  is meant a state of affairs that exists independent of minds. . . What statement and fact share is the selfsame state of affairs of John loving Mary. It is one

 and the same state of affairs that is expressed by A's statement and found in  reality. (pp. 36-7).

 

Some theories of correspondence treat propositions in just this way. The notable exception would be Frege, who maintains that propositions are bearers of the properties, true or false. Frege had a reason for this move.  He saw correspondence as inviting an infinite regress, much like the old "third man" argument where the definition of correspondence itself must correspond to something.  Peterson defends his view against such attacks in chapter three; in the meantime, as far as Peterson is concerned, Frege just doesn't “do” the commonsense view of truth justice.

 

Peterson focuses more attention on the issue of skepticism. He argues that if what is true and false are propositions and not statements that share a formal identity with facts, then facts become inaccessible. We don't know actual states of affairs, but without knowing states of affairs, there is no way to know that the propositions have any correspondence to those states.

 

Peterson pushes his theory further with another objection to the notion that statements are bearers of truth. Let us say that true statements do correspond to facts. We must then be able to compare the statement to the fact. However we don't have access to facts, only our interpretation of facts. Peterson replies that (a) the objection confuses the definition of truth with the test for truth and (b) the objection that facts are not available to us must be proven. Peterson would have done well to have expanded on this latter point. Human beings have a limited view on the world. That we see grass as being green says as much about the spectrum of light available to us and how that spectrum is presented to us. While saying that grass is green may be a fact about grass, just what that fact is, is not as obvious as Peterson would like for us to think.

 

The coherence theory of truth has a reply to (a). If correspondence is not a test for truth, something else must be. If that something else is the coherence of a proposition of a set of propositions, then the proposition that truth consists of a correspondence (or formal identity) between statements and reality must be tested accordingly. Since it cannot be so tested (as already admitted since it is a definition), the correspondence theory is incoherent. Peterson's response, at this stage, is to suggest that the advocates of the coherence theory have confused ST' truth (truth of statements) with OT' truth.  Such a response would not impress the advocate of the coherence theory, but then again, it doesn't have to impress; all Peterson has to do is show that scholastic realism is coherent.

 

Peterson then takes aim at the coherence theory of truth. First, some truths are evidently known without reference to the whole, truths of mathematics for instance. Second, the theory seems to be self-referentially vicious--either the theory is true in the OT' sense (in which case it is false) or one cannot make a judgment about its’ truth value. As long as a set of statements is consistent, these statements are true, even if competing sets of statements are incompatible with each other. To the latter, a reply can be made that the bigger the set, the more complete and therefore it would be preferred. Peterson responds that there is no compelling reason within the theory to prefer a bigger system to a smaller one. Peterson then takes on pragmatism, the semantic theory, the redundancy theory, and the performative theory, which nowadays, is like beating a dead horse.

 

Although Peterson has used OT' to support his view of ST' and the status of sentential truth, chapter four moves from ST' to OT' proper. In particular, he is looking at the status of facts. For example: the statement that John Kennedy was elected President in 1960 is a fact, although it is no longer 1960 and John Kennedy is dead.  It would seem that either facts come and go (e.g., it was a fact that John Kennedy is elected in 1960); or that John Kennedy is now (and always has been) alive and that it is now (and always has been) 1960; or that facts refer not to events themselves, but are eternal objects of some sort whose events have a some sort of formal identity.  As one cannot make sense of the first alternative (note the impossibility to have tenses agree), and the evident absurdity of the second (although some theorists who maintain that time is basically a relationship between before and after would see nothing wrong with this statement), we are left with the third.  It is only now that we really see Peterson's preference of OT' over OT. It can also be seen that given OT' we are left with either self-subsisting ideal forms or forms that are mind dependent. Peterson's preference is the latter and since our minds can't account for OT', we are left again with God. What is of interest here is that Peterson does not discuss whether contingent true facts existed before God created the world.  If it has always been true that John Kennedy was elected President in 1960, prior to God creating the world, how can this fact be contingent, or how is that God can be said to create the world freely? Afterall, Kennedy being elected in 1960 was true prior to God's decision to create a world, thereby making this fact unsubstantiated.

 

Peterson moves on to the other senses of true in much the same fashion as the above and so further discussionis unnecessary.  The one exception would be to note his treatment of MT'.  It is this reviewer’s impression that Peterson does not so much argue for natural law and an Aristotelian view of ethics, but rather assumes it. This may be because unlike the other aspects of scholastic realism, Aristotelian or Virtue ethics have generated a great deal of interest in recent years and there are many fine introductions to it. Unfortunately, for those who have not read the likes of Alasdair MacIntyre, there is little in the way of justification, particularly when tying ethics to the same objective standard as say particle physics when it comes to lawful truth.  Instead, Peterson goes into the sort of exposition (in what seems to be a large catalog of particulars, rather than a system of ideas) that modern thinkers rejected as messy and unwieldy. It is not that Peterson's assessment is wrong, only that unlike the rest of the book, there is no place for an analytical philosopher to hang his hat, and this is unfortunate since it hurts an otherwise readable and clear exposition.

 

There are some minor flaws with _Realism_, but these mostly concern the limits imposed on any volume that bills itself as an introduction. For instance, the principle of analogy, to which Peterson appeals to early on, disguises the fact that one must argue how it is that analogy can maintain some middle ground between equivocal and unequivocal language, and not be seen as a species of one or the other. Another would be that there are modern discussions that have many aspects of scholastic realism, which would not be considered scholastic as such. There is, however, no place where such a dialog takes place.

 

Despite the flaws and the criticisms, I would recommend this book to anyone who has experienced the basic history of philosophy regime, who is very familiar with the problems and procedures of analytic philosophy, and who has an interest in exploring alternatives to analytical.  This would be appropriate for most upper-level undergraduates and any graduate student of philosophy.  Peterson's analysis is both remarkably clear and thoughtful and a fine introduction to what may turn out to be a very important area of philosophical exploration in the coming years.

 

Jimm Wetherbee

Information Systems Librarian

Wingate University

jimm@wingate.edu

 

Top


Return to Contents Page
Return to Libres Home Page


 

CRICOS provider code: 00301J