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The Reluctant Spiritualist
The Life of Maggie Fox
Nancy Rubin Stuart, J66

In the winter of 1848, sisters Maggie and Katy Fox convinced their parents that the spirit of a peddler who had been murdered in their upstate New York farmhouse was contacting them from the great beyond via a series of knocking sounds. News of the girls’ alleged ability to communicate with the dead soon spread and the spiritualism movement was born. Nancy Rubin Stuart, J66 (Nancy Zimman while at Tufts), the award-winning biographer of other notable women such as Marjorie Merriweather Post and Isabella of Castille, examines the life of Maggie Fox in her latest book, The Reluctant Spiritualist: The Life of Maggie Fox. Here, the author talks about Fox’s popularity in the 1800s and why she is still important today.

For decades the tiny upstate New York farmhouse on the corner of Parker and Hydesville roads in Newark was known as the ‘spook house’ because of the mysterious rappings heard there in 1848 that introduced Americans to spiritualism—the belief that certain individuals called mediums could communicate with the dead.

“Fifteen-year-old Maggie Fox and her eleven-year-old sister, Katy, were the first to interpret the raps that winter, insisting that they were signals from the spirit of a murdered peddler buried in the farmhouse basement. Within two years, Maggie, Katy, and a third sister, Leah, were conducting séances that stunned prominent New Yorkers like author James Fenimore Cooper and New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley and transformed the Fox sisters or the ‘Rochester Rappers,’ as they were dubbed, into national celebrities.

“Before long, the Fox sisters’ claim to talk to the dead inspired thousands of young women to become mediums and prompted a fad affecting over a million Americans. So powerfully did spiritualism stir the nation that 15,000 citizens signed a petition asking the U.S. Congress to create an investigative commission.

“Four decades later, in an October 1888 story headlined in the New York World, Maggie explained that she and her sister had created the raps by secretly manipulating their toe joints. They had done so, Maggie reported, as a juvenile prank upon their superstitious mother who, to their consternation, promptly told the neighbors about her daughters’ ‘gift.’ Rather than confessing their secret, Maggie and Katy proceeded to give séances for their neighbors. Within a matter of months, spiritualism spread so rapidly and became so profitable that the Fox sisters promoted the movement.

“Whether Maggie and her sister Katy actually reached spirits remains a matter of heated controversy. Less debatable was the message that they delivered to audiences about the existence of a joyous and benevolent afterlife—a message that gave solace to grieving Victorian mourners.

“Today, in an era dominated by science, technology, and medical advances, interest in spiritualism persists, as witnessed by the prevalence of psychics, channelers, reporters of near-death experiences, and celebrity mediums like James Van Praagh and Sylvia Browne. According to a 2003 New York Times poll, half of all Americans believe in the paranormal. Yet should you or I claim that we believe in spirit existence, we would likely be considered mad.

“As it was nearly 140 years ago when Maggie and her sister first announced their call into spirit communication, today definitive proof of the postmortem existence of the human personality remains elusive, tantalizingly just beyond our grasp. It is for that reason that Maggie Fox and her sisters remain theoretical touchstones, just as they were a century and a half ago.

Waddle, Waddle, Quack, Quack, Quack
Barbara Anne Skalak, J85
Sylvia Long, illustrator
Chronicle Books
Barbara Anne Skalak has teamed up for her debut book with award-winning artist Sylvia Long to create a heartwarming story about a very curious little duckling. The simple, rhyming text makes this a dramatic read-aloud. A little duckling becomes separated from his mother and siblings and the story traces his adventures through a meadow and a lake as he goes in search of his family.

The Saint of Lost Things
Christopher Castellani, G96
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
In his new novel, Christopher Castellani examines the lives of a small group of Italian immigrants in 1950s America. Maddalena Grasso has lost her country, her family, and the man she loved by coming to America. Her mercurial husband, Antonio, has lost his opportunity to realize the American Dream, and their friend, Guilio Fabbri, a shy accordion player, has lost his beloved parents. In the shadow of St. Anthony’s Church, named for the patron saint of lost things, fate and circumstances conspire to answer their prayers in unforeseeable ways.

No Fortunes
Peter Anastas, G67
Set in a small New England college in 1959, No Fortunes tells the story of four friends on the threshold of adulthood. Though it resembles a memoir in shape and content, No Fortunes is both a novel of sentimental education and the story of a young couple driven to love each other while compelled to grow apart. Narrated by its protagonist, Jason Makrides, son of a Greek immigrant, the novel is also the record of an aspiring writer’s struggle to achieve artistic and political integrity. Looking back to the Cold War era and the Beat rebellion, the book documents the seismic social and cultural shifts that defined the late 20th and early 21st centuries in America.

The Race of Her Life
Len Cohen, E57
The Race of Her Life, the sequel to Len Cohen’s first novel, Madam Chairman, once again places political leader Micki Feldsher into a life-threatening predicament. Unaware of the personal risk, she competes for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and becomes the target of terrorists. The American branch of al-Qaeda, scheming to build their influence in Congress, has co-opted her opponent, and is prepared to “remove” Micki to ensure his election. To camouflage their many removals as accidents, the terrorists employ unusual murder weapons, such as disease-carrying insects and flesh-eating microbes. With Micki’s husband, Ben, alerted to the imminent danger, the race to save Micki’s life is under way.

Dog in the Dunes – Revisited
Barbara E. Cohen, Museum 72
Fields Publishing
When artist and author Barbara E. Cohen received a two-week artist’s residency to paint in a dune shack on Cape Cod’s National Seashore, she intended to continue her work on a series of abstract paintings. Instead, she found new inspiration in the antics of her 11-year-old black Labrador retriever, Gabe. Her need to photograph and paint Gabe as he followed her every step inspired the original Dog in the Dunes, which in this new, enlarged version, captures the love between a woman and her dog in the natural light and warm blue skies of Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Raymond Carver in the Classroom: “A Small, Good Thing”
Susanne Rubenstein, J76
National Council of Teachers of English
Featuring biographical information, detailed discussion of short stories and poems, critical analysis, and innovative activities for teaching literature and writing, Raymond Carver in the Classroom: “A Small, Good Thing” takes you into the world and work of Raymond Carver, known as the “father of minimalism.” With his straight-forward, stripped-down style, Carver reaches readers of all levels, and his writing inspires thoughtful reflection on what it means to be a human being in contemporary times.

Born in the USA: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition
Jim Cullen, A85
Wesleyan University Press
The work and ideals of American artists are vital in helping to define historical context and understand the nation’s culture. Like many before him, Bruce Springsteen has become a key part of America’s cultural identity. In Born in the U.S.A., author and historian Jim Cullen argues for Springsteen’s place in the broad sweep of American history. Through cogent examinations of Springsteen’s work and personal life, Cullen explores how Springsteen shapes the ideals of “good conservatism” to best fit uncertain times. As his life and lyrics repeatedly reveal, there are ways to retain our dignity and ethics in a world where our very foundations—family, religion, job security, gender roles—quake beneath our feet.

As They See It: The Development of the African AIDS Discourse
Dr. Raymond Downing, A71
Adonis & Abbey
Dr. Raymond Downing has practiced medicine in the Sudan, Tanzania, and Kenya for more than 15 years. In the West, African AIDS is often associated with media images of skeletal and dying Africans, inviting the sympathy of the viewer. But how do Africans themselves see AIDS? What do they believe causes the disease and how has it affected the Africans’ sense of who they are? Dr. Downing charts the African AIDS discourse through interviews, readings, and personal observations, and invites readers to look beyond the AIDS epidemic to see how Africans view health and disease in general.

Pictorial Narrative in the Romanesque Cloister: Cloister Imagery and Religious Life in Medieval Spain
Pamela A. Patton, J85
Peter Lang Publishing USA
Praised as paradisiacal or denounced as impious fantasy, the sculpture of Romanesque cloisters played a powerful role in medieval monastic life. Pamela A. Patton, associate professor of art history at Southern Methodist University, demonstrates how sculpture in the cloister, the physical and spiritual heart of the religious foundation, could be shrewdly configured to articulate the most influential ideals and experiences of its individual community. Taking as its focus the visually rich, highly organized narrative programs of three 12th-century Spanish cloisters, this book reveals the power of such imagery to reflect and reinforce the social and spiritual preoccupations of its age.

Finding Our Way: Jewish Texts and the Lives We Live Today
Barry W. Holtz, A68
The Jewish Publication Society
The ancient rabbis believed that the world rests on three pillars: study, worship, and good deeds. It is said that the greatest of these is study, for it leads to the other two. But exactly how does the modern Jewish reader go about studying the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash —ancient and often hard-to-comprehend texts? Barry Holtz, the Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Society, provides a framework for exploring our thinking about God, prayer, and ritual, as well as social issues such as charity, friendship, and justice.

Find Your Career Path: A Revolutionary Guide to Career Satisfaction
Jeanine Tanner O’Donnell, J90
Blue Tree
In Find Your Career Path, career coach J. T. O’Donnell unlocks the mystery behind finding career satisfaction on your own terms. Using her own innovative coaching process, she shows readers how they can learn to identify their best career options. This thorough approach to career selection and development seeks to empower readers to reach new levels of career success, and to inspire and motivate them to go out and obtain the career of their dreams. Find Your Career Path is written for those just starting out in a career and workforce veterans alike.

Morton’s College Student Dictionary
Carl E. Morton, A90
Carl Morton’s dictionary is a reference book that defines the college experience in a whole new way. This edition offers a witty and informative perspective of college life and the English language. In it readers will find more than 700 words and their new definitions as they relate specifically to college life. Suited for college-bound high school graduates as well as present and past college students.

Signing Smart with Babies and Toddlers: A Parent’s Strategy and Activity Guide
Michelle E. Anthony, G93, and Reyna Lindert
St. Martin’s Griffin
Babies can communicate with their hands long before they can speak. Using American Sign Language (ASL), Dr. Michelle Anthony and Dr. Reyna Lindert, founders of Wide-Eyed Learning, have created the simple and successful Signing Smart system to teach parents how to integrate signing into everyday life with their hearing children. Through the more than 70 activities presented in this book, parents will learn the tools and strategies they need to understand how to introduce signing and build their child’s sign and word vocabulary.

Raw Food/Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow
Matthew Kenney, Sarma Melngailis, and Jen Karetnick, J90
Regan Books
Food critic and writer Jen Karetnick, J90, has teamed up with Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis, owners of Pure Food and Wine, a New York raw food restaurant, to produce a lavish cookbook based on recipes from the restaurant. With dishes such as zucchini and green zebra tomato lasagne, golden squash pasta with black summer truffles, and dark chocolate ganache tart with vanilla cream, the authors show that preparing and eating raw does not mean bland, unsatisfying, or impossibly time-consuming meals. Using dehydrating, Vita-Mix blending, a nuanced understanding of spices, and creativity, they explore a whole new outlook on raw food that transfers easily from their kitchen to the reader’s.

Deep Smarts: How to Cultivate and Transfer Enduring Business Wisdom
Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap
Harvard Business School Press
“Deep smarts” are the engine of any organization, as well as the essential value that individuals build over their careers. Distinct from I.Q., this expertise consists of practical wisdom acquired from accumulated knowledge and know-how, and intuition gained through extensive experience. How do deep smarts develop? And what happens when people with deep smarts leave a particular job or organization? Can any of their smarts be transferred? Basing their conclusions on a multi-year research project, Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap, former dean of the colleges and professor of psychology at Tufts, argue that cultivating and managing deep smarts are critical parts of any leader’s job. The authors draw on examples from firms of all sizes and types to illustrate the connection between deep smarts and organizational viability and continuous innovation.

Community Research in Environmental Health: Studies in Science, Advocacy and Ethics
Doug Brugge and H. Patricia Hynes, editors
Ashgate Publishing
Interest in environmental health research conducted with community participation has increased dramatically in recent years. Editors Doug Brugge, associate professor of public health and family medicine at Tufts School of Medicine, and H. Patricia Hynes relate the experience of multiple community collaborations across the United States and highlight the lessons to be learned for those involved in or embarking on community-collaborative research. The volume brings together a variety of cases, examining the nature and form that the colla-boration took, the scientific findings from the work, and the ethical issues that needed to be addressed.

The Economic Life of Refugees
Karen Jacobson
Kumarian Press
In The Economic Life of Refugees, Karen Jacobson, visiting associate professor at the Fletcher School and director of the Refugee & Forces Migration program at the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts, provides an introduction to the subject of human displacement. She explores how some of the innovative ideas influencing migration theory can be applied to the study of refugees, and the ways in which humanitarian programs can support their efforts to pursue their livelihoods. This book is intended for undergraduates and graduate students, practitioners in the field, libraries, non-governmental organizations, and anyone seeking to learn more about understanding refugees and the response of the organizations trying to help them.