“Whistling Vivaldi – How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do” by Claude M. Steele

I’m introducing a new category of books – books I haven’t read, but that I know something about. They may be interesting or important to some of you. (Or maybe we should call this “books I should have read, but didn’t”.)

Whistling Vivaldi was published in 2010, and soon after that Richard Stockton College (now Stockton University) chose it for its annual Common Reading, a book chosen for emphasis by first year seminars and related programs, but optimistically pitched to the entire campus community. (I can’t find a historical list of common readings, so I’m working from memory here. Selections have included both fiction and non-fiction.) If Claude Steele was invited to speak at Stockton, I’m unable to find a record of the event. Author presentations are a big event.

So here’s a book from ten years ago about TODAY’S very hot topic, racial justice. Interestingly, Steele uses a term/concept which is no longer seen, “stereotype threat”. What I see in the Contents is an emphasis on IDENTITY. Identity is controversial in academia. Are “identity studies” intellectually valid? How should “identity politics” be studied? The book ends with a chapter titled “Conclusion – Identity as a Bridge Between Us”. This sounds hopeful.

I may yet read this book. Or loan it to the first person who requests it!


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