Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jennifer M. Randles

Jennifer M. Randles, author of Proposing Prosperity?: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America, is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at California State University, Fresno. Her research explores how inequalities affect American family life and how policies address family formation trends.

Recently I asked Randles about what she was reading. Her reply:
Queering Families: The Postmodern Partnerships of Cisgender Women and Transgender Men by Carla A. Pfeffer

Based on 50 in-depth interviews with cisgender women partnered with transgender men, Pfeffer brilliantly analyzes the impacts of partners’ transitions on women’s identities, relationships, families, and communities. After a transition, others often read them as straight couples, which for many directly challenged their lesbian and queer identities. Entire chapters on couples’ negotiations around public misrecognition, housework, sex lives, and other family relationships illuminate how the connections between sex, gender, and sexuality are not always static. The book reveals in vivid detail the stigma and unique challenges respondents faced in forging and maintaining these postmodern partnerships. It made me completely rethink what it what it means to be a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship or family, and shows how, just as for all couples, compassion and recognition go a long way in addressing interpersonal challenges.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Currently on my third read, I never tire of peeking into the creative processes of history’s most prolific writers, scholars, painters, playwrights, and scientists—ranging from Charles Darwin and Maya Angelou, to Georgia O’Keeffe and James Joyce. Drawing from diaries, letters, biographies, and other secondary source material, Currey details the daily habits that generated some of our culture’s greatest artistic and scientific works. What emerges is a powerful statement on the creative process and its varied rhythms. I have many of my own ritualistic writing quirks and habits. I always write to a timer in 10-minute increments, with a candle burning, sipping a hot cup of tea. Currey accomplishes a great feat by showing how the diverse permutations of the creative process have no one shared requirement other than the (almost) daily commitment to make oneself sit down and get at it—whether or not inspiration strikes.
Learn more about Proposing Prosperity? at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue