University of Houston Libraries Exhibits

2016

Heather Anderson, Associate Professor
Clinical Sciences, College of Optometry

Angel Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers

In the 1950s, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans' daughter, Robin, was born with Down syndrome. It was customary at the time for medical professionals to encourage parents to give up their children with disabilities, but the Rogers family insisted upon raising Robin at home. This story chronicles Robin's short two years of life and the impact she had on her parents' faith in God and philanthropy toward other children with special needs. I was fortunate enough to know Roy and Dale myself in the 1980s when I was battling childhood cancer. As an adult, I share their passion for helping children with special needs, particularly Down syndrome. In reading this book, I am encouraged to see how far we have come in the way children with special needs are viewed and supported in society, and I hope to contribute to those continued efforts through my research to optimize vision for patients with Down syndrome.

 

Haleh Ardebili, Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering, Cullen College of Engineering

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

I read this book when I was very young, and it inspired me toward science, innovation and technology. The combination of murder-mystery in a futuristic world and the partnership between a human detective and a humanoid robot made the book very intriguing and enjoyable.

 

Jeremy Bailey, Professor
Political Science, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Taming the Prince by Harvey Mansfield

Mansfield's Taming the Prince revealed to me how executive power remains a confusing part of our constitutional politics. In addition to showing the principles behind the creation of the executive, Mansfield offers an unrivaled account of the executive in the history of political philosophy. This book continues to shock, challenge, and teach me.

 

Bernhard Bodmann, Associate Professor
Mathematics, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

Finite Frames: theory and applications by P. Casazza and G. Kutyniok

This book contains many results on the current state of the art in frame theory, I found it to be a great reference!

 

Matt Clavin, Professor
History, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia by Edmund Morgan

When I first read Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom during the first semester of my doctoral studies, I knew instantly that I had made the right decision to pursue my passion. Though other historians had tried to explain the proliferation of slavery in a nation dedicated to liberty – what Morgan called the American Paradox – before, no one had done it so brilliantly and with such eloquence. As an historian of race in early America and the world, I consider Morgan my intellectual mentor and in all my teaching and writing continue to strive for the excellence he so successfully achieved.

 

Sally Connolly, Associate Professor
English, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Robert Lowell: Collected Poems by Robert Lowell, edited by Frank Bidart

Robert Lowell is the reason I am a professor at the University of Houston. It was while studying for my PhD at University College London that I started to conduct research into Lowell's elegies. This research brought me across the Atlantic in 2003 (the same year this magnificent Collected Poems was published) in pursuit of poetry and to the Lowell archive held at the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Frank Bidart, this collection's editor and a brilliant poet in his own right, was kind enough to let me interview him about Lowell who was his former teacher and mentor while I was in Boston. The experience led me to pursue an academic career in America in earnest and take up a position as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard so I could conduct further work on the Lowell archive. During those years Lowell also brought me to Texas for the very first time when I went to Austin to the Harry Ransom Center to work on the Lowell papers held there. Robert Lowell opened up America to me and I shall be forever grateful.

 

Jacinta Conrad, Associate Professor
Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, Cullen College of Engineering

The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) by Herman Hesse

The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) is one of my favorite novels, and I chose to highlight it at tenure for two reasons. First, it addresses a wonderfully relevant topic for a professor: how we think about what we know. Second, it particularly resonates with me as I look back on my own path. I first read Hesse’s novel at the very outset of my academic career, just before I started my undergraduate degree at a university known for its emphasis on abstraction. Paralleling Joseph Knecht’s journey, I’ve moved from abstract fields of study (mathematics, physics) towards one that seeks to have impact on the world (chemical engineering).

 

Emran El-Badawi, Associate Professor
Modern & Classical Languages, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Who Rules the World?: Reframings by Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is truly a lifelong inspiration. He sets a model for how an academic can undertake rigorous research while having an active voice in the public. His latest book Who Rules the World?: Reframings is but the latest installment discussing hot button issues in our increasingly stormy world. For myself and many other academics Chomsky is a scholar of the highest caliber, and one of the world's few moral compasses.

 

Marta Fairclough, Professor
Hispanic Studies, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

La enseñanza del español a hispanohablantes: praxis y teoría edited by M. Cecilia Colombi and Francisco X. Alarcón

As a graduate student I read this book on my quest for a research area for my dissertation. When I read the volume, especially the chapter by Guadalupe Valdés (Stanford University), I knew I had found my niche in academia. There was so much to be done in this new field! Teaching professionals had little or no guidance about how to work with a growing Hispanic student population. There were few textbooks or tests, and what was available was far from ideal since it did not meet the needs of these learners. Empirical research in Heritage Languages was scarce but it has grown exponentially over the last few decades. The volume edited by Colombi and Alarcón has been one of the milestones in the field and an inspiration that lead me to the focus of my academic career.

 

C. Elizabeth Goodin-Mayeda, Associate Professor
Hispanic Studies, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way by Bill Bryson

As a child I was always interested in language and why certain words as opposed to others were used to refer to things. Why does 'dog' mean dog and not tree? This was the first book I read that gave me an inkling that other people thought about language and linguistics as much as I did. Previously, I had no idea that linguistics was an area of inquiry, and that one could actually dedicate their lives to studying questions like why the English word 'dog' describes a four-legged animal and not something entirely different like a plant with branches and leaves. It answered many of my childhood questions and set the stage for many more questions to come.

 

J. Kastely, Professor
English, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

City and Soul in Plato’s Republic by G. R. F. Ferrari

In this fairly brief book, G. R. F. Ferrari did something remarkable: he demolished the two most authoritative readings of this central analogy in Plato’s most important work, and he demonstrated how this analogy functioned rhetorically. Through rigorous attention to the text in its particularity, he challenged a deeply established tradition of reading this foundational text for Western thought. To counter a pervasive and sedimented understanding, he relocated the text in its historical setting showing how it was a response to a particular cultural crisis, developed an interpretation that was nuanced and responsive to the formal organization of the text, and, because of the rigor of his reading, pointed to the larger issues raised by the analogy. His reading of the analogy freed me to think of the Republic in new ways and to pay serious attention to Plato’s work as a rhetorical inquiry into justice as an enduring philosophical problem. This, in turn, allowed me to rethink Plato’s relation to both democracy and poetry. For me, Ferrari’s book exemplified how a reader who can see beyond the scholarly truisms that domesticate a text can make that text’s insights a fresh source for revolutionary intellectual work.

 

Milena Keller-Margulis, Associate Professor
Psychological, Health, and Learning Sciences, College of Education

Academic Motherhood: How Faculty Manage Work and Family by Kelly Ward and Lisa Wolf-Wendel

The demands of academia can often seem incompatible with a balanced life and certainly with becoming a mother. This book details a longitudinal study of many women at various career stages as they manage a professional life in academia and motherhood. I discovered this book while on maternity leave with my first child and found validation in reading about how other female faculty experienced the same highs and lows that I was encountering as a new mother. I am reading this book again now as a newly tenured mother of two. It is so important to talk about the challenges, rewards, and complexities of this experience, and how they shift and change over time. This book both inspires me to share my experience with others and reminds me to focus on how incredibly rewarding and fulfilling it is to be both a mother and an academic.

 

Tracey Ledoux, Associate Professor
Health and Human Performance, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

I read this book this past summer and loved it! Dr. Jahren is a plant biologist, which is much different from what I do, but her experiences in science were inspirational as a woman in academia.

 

Jessica Mantel, Associate Professor
UH Law Center

The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr

Although written almost 25 years ago, Paul Starr’s book continues to be a must read for anyone who wants to understand the U.S. health care system. Winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, this landmark book traces the evolution of American medicine over the 19th and 20th centuries. I was introduced to the book during law school by one of my professors, and I too incorporate Starr’s analysis into my teaching. Starr helps readers understand the underlying values, political forces, and historical events that shaped the U.S. health care system. In doing so, he pushes readers to step back and examine long-standing tenets of American medicine that most accept without question.

 

Lyle McKinney, Associate Professor
Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, College of Education

The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, & Effectiveness by Epictetus

This short manual contains more wisdom and practical instruction on how to live a ‘good life’ than any book I’ve ever read. “Personal merit cannot be derived from an external source. Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. Never suppress a generous impulse.” I’ve strived to apply the sage advice from this book in both my professional and personal life, often as a way to discern the right course of action among life’s seemingly never-ending plethora of choices, trials, and opportunities. I find it encouraging with every re-read that Epictetus’ instructions for living a virtuous, happy, and effective life are just as relevant today as they were when the book was written 2,000 years ago.

 

Cristian Morosan, Associate Professor
Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management

The Google Story by David A. Vise

This book is very inspirational for me, as it described a successful entrepreneurial story. It was inspirational because it showed how vision, innovation, creativity and perseverance are amazing tools to move the boundary of knowledge forward.

 

Daniel P. O’Connor, Professor
Health and Human Performance, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This compelling and powerful story of Henrietta Lacks and her family puts a very real, human face on complex issues in biomedical research. It reviews topics such as how race and poverty relate to inequities in medical care and medical research, both historically and currently; philosophical views on individual sacrifice and loss vs. societal benefit and the “greater good”; legal and ethical concerns about research using tissue samples collected during medical treatment; and the commercialization of discoveries made through research involving volunteers and public resources. Using a balanced and fair presentation of many perspectives, it raises questions about how such research is performed, who pays the various prices involved, and who benefits. Above all, it reminded me that human research necessarily involves real people whose dignity must be protected and who may be affected in many unpredictable ways for better or for worse, despite our best intentions.

 

David Politzer, Associate Professor
School of Art, College of the Arts

Pastoralia by George Saunders

I discovered George Saunders while getting my MFA at Syracuse University. I was writing memoirs and making short videos rooted in personal experience and a professor recommended him. She thought that I would appreciate his tone and ability to mix tragedy and humor. I had no idea at the time that Saunders taught across campus. The next semester I enrolled in “Forms,” Saunders’ course on the short story. It was a transformative experience that introduced me to storytelling concepts that related directly to what I was trying to do with my photographs and videos. I also learned a great deal about teaching. Saunders is generous, incredibly insightful and hilarious. I chose Pastoralia because it was the first of Saunders’ books I read and because “The End of FIRPO in the World,” included in this collection, exemplifies what I appreciate most about his work.

 

Bernhard Rappenglueck, Professor
Earth and Atmospheric Science, College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

To have or to be? by Erich Fromm

I read this book together with Fromm's book The Art of Loving and Jung's book Man and His Symbols around the time when I was finishing my military duty and started to study physics at college in the 80s in what was called West-Germany at that time. It was an exciting time as communism started to crumble away and we experienced something we would never have thought about it: societies can change in freedom in a positive way. And it is about people wanting and achieving to overcome systems which control everyday life. Fromm's book To have or to be may address "unrealistic" goals as it advertises a less materialistic world, less selfishness, less greed of the people, less "having" and more "being." Is it worth a try? I would think so. It is still a topic, maybe more than ever, given the background of limited natural resources.

 

Debora Rodrigues, Associate Professor
Civil & Environmental Engineering, Cullen College of Engineering

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson

I read this book a while back when I was trying to understand whether to study biology was the right choice for me. The lessons from this book were several in my point of view. It goes from how the scientific process works, until what is the work dynamic in a research laboratory, which is sometimes really difficult. This book gave me the inspiration about research. It also showed me that being a researcher has several hardships, but when done with love and perseverance it can be extremely fulfilling.

 

Sujit Sansgiry, Professor
Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes & Policy, College of Pharmacy

Asterix Comics by Rene Goscinny

I believe that students should be involved in what they do, to learn what they want. As they acquire knowledge I want them to also enjoy doing it. These cartoon books kept me at the best of spirit during the worst of times. I hope students take a break and enjoy them as I did. Study Hard but Enjoy it!

 

Ronnie Self, Professor
Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina died on a sunny Saturday morning last summer after a week of rain. She was carrying a red bag that day. Some books become a part of your life. Besides the beauty of Tolstoy’s writing and the beauty of the translation by Pevear and Volokhonsky, I was moved by the enduring relevance of the psychological struggles portrayed in the book, almost 150 years after the first publication, and even more so, by the attention to all manner of detail, both emotional and physical. As an architect, many of the qualities I appreciate in Anna Karenina are the same as those I appreciate in a building: engaging details, emotion, the ability to transcend time, and the capacity to engage with life.

 

Nathan Shepley, Associate Professor
English, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Washington Square by Henry James

Although a novel about privileged residents of late-nineteenth-century New York City, this book spoke to me as a college student in the southern United States who spent years discovering his position on topics from the social and political to the aesthetic and cultural. The struggle of the book’s protagonist, Catherine Sloper, to shrug off people who try to control her is a struggle that many people, including myself, have faced as we entered adulthood intellectually, and not just occupationally. Versions of the struggle continue for college students today. For this reason, I think the book’s message remains important.

 

Rob Smith, Professor
Moores School of Music, College of the Arts

Symphony of Modern Objects by Matthew Hindson and Fantasia on a Theme by Vaughan Williams by Paul Stanhope

One of the most substantial and formative times of my career was in 1997 while I was on a Fulbright Grant to study with the legendary composer Peter Sculthorpe in Sydney, Australia. While his tutelage and support were extremely influential in my development as a composer, it was no more so than my interaction with two of my generational peers, Paul Stanhope and Matthew Hindson. Matthew’s music inspired me to truly think out of the box and avoid limiting my expression. He is one of the leading international figures of his generation and this score represents one of his finest works. “A Symphony of Modern Objects, Symphony No. 1” deals with the “silicon revolution”, continuing Matthew’s interest in writing music about and influenced by the culture and society of today. The high level of craft in Paul’s music served as an ideal model. He is one of the leading international figures of his generation and this score represents one of his finest works. The winner of the prestigious Toru Takemitsu Prize in 2004, “Fantasia on a Theme by Vaughan Williams” pays homage to the famous “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and demonstrates Paul’s highly skilled counterpoint and orchestration.

 

Amy Sun, Associate Professor
Accounting & Taxation, C.T. Bauer College of Business

The Financial Shenanigans by Howard Schilit and Jeremy Perler

I received The Financial Shenanigans by Howard Schilit and Jeremy Perler as a gift when I was a graduate student. The book has an appealing title and is well written. In fact, BusinessWeek refers to the book as from the "Sherlock Holmes of Accounting." It opened my eyes to various gimmicks played by corporations to trick investors, and my understanding of this field was very much enhanced by reading this book. I became more and more interested in empirical accounting research in general and earnings management in particular. Given the severe economic consequences of accounting scandals over the past two decades, the book is a must-read for anyone interested in detecting accounting gimmicks and frauds in financial statements.

 

Sissy Wong, Associate Professor
Curriculum & Instruction, College of Education

Handbook of Research on Science Education edited by Sandra K. Abell and Norman G. Lederman

This book was instrumental during my doctoral studies because it helped inform my thinking regarding science education. It facilitated my understanding of the major areas of study in science education by providing rich information from well-respected researchers in the field. As I composed my dissertation, I worked with Dr. Sandra K. Abell who became an inspirational mentor of mine. She taught me the importance of meaningful and relevant research, and how to frame my work in the context of the field. As an early career scholar, Dr. Norman G. Lederman also became a mentor to me and helped shaped the way I think about the nature of science and research frameworks. I treasure this book because it has helped me form foundational knowledge in the multiple areas of science education. This book, and the editors, continues to impact the way I approach, design and disseminate my research work.

 

Jill Yamasaki, Associate Professor
The Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton’s ongoing Humans of New York project embodies the creative engagement, lived stories, narrative reciprocity, and healthy citizenry at the heart of my work. I chose his most recent collection, Humans of New York: Stories, in celebration of the collective voices of empowered strangers and in recognition of the profound responsibility to bear witness to the struggles of others. It is a testament to both the power of community connections and the resilience of the human spirit.

 

Sandra Zalman, Associate Professor
School of Art, College of the Arts

Gordon Matta-Clark by Thomas Crow

My very first seminar in graduate school was on the artist Gordon Matta-Clark, then not very well known, taught by Thomas Crow, who was working on this book. Professor Crow had assembled an archive of unpublished documents for student research and guided us through the process of working on a new body of work, while taking into account the social historical, political, and personal dimension of the period. This book – the result of his research – is one of the finest examples of the art history I hope to produce.

 

2016