Hot Off Penn Press: Welcome to 2020!

Happy New Year to all of our readers, customers, and followers! As we turn the page and begin a new year and a new decade, Penn Press continues our commitment to sharing the very best in scholarship in a wide range of disciplines spanning the humanities and social sciences. Our newest slate of titles highlights topics from the global drug trade to the American labor movement to medieval French farce. Check out the round-up below.

Jump to: Featured Titles | American History | Ancient Studies | Anthropology | Medieval Studies | Political Science and Human Rights

To receive email announcements about new books—which include a 30% discount on all titles—sign up here.


The Age of IntoxicationThe Age of Intoxication: Origins of the Global Drug Trade
Benjamin Breen

“Everybody must get stoned: That’s the great lesson of history, driven home by this elucidating survey . . . Breen makes a fine case for his title, which he suggests is more appropriate than the Age of Reason—and for reasons good and true . . . A provocative examination of the history of exploration as a quest for new and improved ways to change our minds.”—Kirkus Reviews

From the sickly sweet tobacco that helped finance the Atlantic slave trade to the inebriating cannabis that East Indies merchants sold in coffeehouses, drugs have been entangled with science and commodification for five centuries. The Age of Intoxication explores the origins, and continuing impact, of the first global era of drugs.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

304 pages | 6 x 9 | 35 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5178-4 | $34.95a | £28.99
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9662-4 | $34.95s | £29.00
A volume in the Early Modern Americas series

Laid Waste!Laid Waste!: The Culture of Exploitation in Early America
John Lauritz Larson

“John Lauritz Larson’s Laid Waste! is extraordinary for its erudition, literary power, moral passion, and, most of all, its sweeping historical analysis of America’s ‘culture of exploitation’ and its disposition to treat the natural world as nothing more than a source of wealth to be stripped for private gain. It is an outstanding example of the unique value of good history in diagnosing the root causes of a contemporary problem and sketching the outlines of what must change to address it.”—Harry Watson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

How did we come to endanger the very future of life on Earth in our heedless pursuit of wealth and happiness? Laid Waste! answers that question with a 350-year review of the roots of an American culture of exploitation that has left us free, rich, and without an honest sense of how this came to be.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

312 pages | 6 x 9
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5184-5 | $39.95a | £34.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9667-9 | $39.95s | £33.00
A volume in the Early American Studies series


Spiritual SocialistsSpiritual Socialists: Religion and the American Left
Vaneesa Cook

“[I]n her thought-provoking new book . . . Cook finds in the past ample evidence that the intersection of Christianity and radicalism in the modern United States has been quite bustling . . . Cook has done . . . a tremendous service . . . in lifting up a spiritual-socialist tradition that has languished too long in obscurity.”—Christianity Today

Profiling an eclectic group of activists such as Sherwood Eddy, Dorothy Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Vaneesa Cook argues that “spiritual socialists” held that the most basic expression of religious values—caring for the sick, tired, hungry, and exploited members of one’s community—created a firm footing for a new society.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

272 pages | 6 x 9
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5165-4 | $49.95s | £43.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9650-1 | $49.95s | £41.00

Beyond the New Deal OrderBeyond the New Deal Order: U.S. Politics from the Great Depression to the Great Recession
Edited by Gary Gerstle, Nelson Lichtenstein, and Alice O’Connor

“As both a historical and historiographical marker of persistence and transformation, this outstanding volume invites readers to consider anew the New Deal’s legacies and successors. Offering inventive analytical reflections that illuminate recent decades of the American experience, the book’s bracing essays prompt fresh thought about periodization, historical causation, the scope of possibility, and a good deal more.”—Ira Katznelson, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time

In Beyond the New Deal Order, contributors bring fresh perspectives to the historic meaning and significance of the New Deal coalition from the standpoint of the early twenty-first century. The volume asks if a new order will emerge from the economic, ideological, institutional, and electoral currents shaping politics today.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

416 pages | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 | 2 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5173-9 | $49.95s | £43.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9658-7 | $49.95s | £41.00
A volume in the Politics and Culture in Modern America series

The Medical MetropolisThe Medical Metropolis: Health Care and Economic Transformation in Pittsburgh and Houston
Andrew T. Simpson

“Access to health care remains near the center of American political discourse. Based on two local studies, Andrew T. Simpson deftly explains the economic imperatives of postwar urban sprawl in molding the shifting relationship between medical centers and the communities they serve.”—Guenter B. Risse, author of Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals

The Medical Metropolis offers the first comparative, historical account of how big medicine shaped American cities in the postindustrial era. Taking Pittsburgh and Houston as case studies, Andrew T. Simpson traces the effects the changing business of American health care had on policy, privatization, and technological innovation.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

288 pages | 6 x 9 | 11 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5167-8 | $49.95s | £43.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9651-8 | $49.95s | £41.00
A volume in the American Business, Politics, and Society series


The Politics of Roman MemoryThe Politics of Roman Memory: From the Fall of the Western Empire to the Age of Justinian
Marion Kruse

The Politics of Roman Memory is an exciting addition to the scholarship about the intellectual and literary directions of both Justinian’s Constantinople and the wider sixth-century Mediterranean world.”—Edward Watts, University of California, San Diego

In The Politics of Roman Memory, Marion Kruse explores the process by which the emperors, historians, jurists, antiquarians, and poets of the eastern Roman Empire employed both history and mythologized versions of the same to come to terms with the political realities of the late fifth and sixth centuries.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

304 pages | 6 x 9
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5162-3 | $65.00s | £56.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9647-1 | $65.00s | £53.50
A volume in the Empire and After series


States of DispossessionStates of Dispossession: Violence and Precarious Coexistence in Southeast Turkey
Zerrin Özlem Biner

States of Dispossession is a highly original and rich ethnographic and theoretical work on violence in the Kurdish region of Turkey. It fills a pressing need.”—Lale Yalçin-Heckmann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

States of Dispossession highlights everyday experiences in an attempt to understand the persistent and intangible effects of dispossession and the ways people of differing religious and ethnic backgrounds remember, experience, and live with the remains of a violence that is still unfolding.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

264 pages | 6 x 9 | 2 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5175-3 | $69.95s | £60.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9659-4 | $69.95s | £57.50
A volume in the Ethnography of Political Violence series

Shiptown: Between Rural and Urban North India
Ann Grodzins Gold

“Gold provides a rich, textured account of ethnographic practice, deeply situated in the peculiarities of Jahazpur. . . . Shiptown is a book filled with juicy vignettes, captivating narratives, and colourful conversations as Gold documents, analyses, and produces knowledge about life in Jahazpur. . . . Gold has been able to bring Jahazpur to life on the pages through lucid prose and a seamless flow of the text.”—Economic & Political Weekly

Ann Grodzins Gold weaves together an integrated series of ethnographic sketches depicting the distinctive nature of non-urban, non-rural places; the impact locality has on belonging; the negotiations of difference required in a pluralistic society; and the ways a changing environment permeates experiences of self and place.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

346 pages | 6 x 9 | 30 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-4925-5 | $65.00s | £56.00
Paperback | ISBN 978-0-8122-2457-3 | $29.95s | £24.99
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9412-5 | $65.00s | £53.50
A volume in the Contemporary Ethnography series


Pure FilthPure Filth: Ethics, Politics, and Religion in Early French Farce
Noah D. Guynn

“Employing a sensitive multilayered methodology comprised of literary close reading, contemporary theory, examination of material conditions of theater production and performance, and historical contextualization, Pure Filth successfully extracts us from the subversive versus conservative impasse that plagues scholarship on humor.”—Lisa Perfetti, Whitman College

In Pure Filth, Noah D. Guynn argues that the superficial crudeness and predictability of late medieval French farce conceal finely drawn, and sometimes quite radical, perspectives on ethics, politics, and religion.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

272 pages | 6 x 9 | 2 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5168-5 | $69.95s | £60.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9649-5 | $69.95s | £57.50
A volume in the Middle Ages Series

Conversion, Circumcision, and Ritual Murder in Medieval EuropeConversion, Circumcision, and Ritual Murder in Medieval Europe
Paola Tartakoff

“In her original and impressively researched investigation of medieval Jewish and Christian understandings of religious identity, Paola Tartakoff shows how a single conversion could affect families and entire communities in unpredictable ways. Specialists will welcome the volume of evidence she brings from both archival and published sources, as well as her elegant and persuasive exposition of the critical role of conversion in worsening relationships between Christians and Jews across thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Europe. Non-specialists will find this study entirely accessible.”—Robert Stacey, University of Washington

Inspired by one fascinating and unusual historical case, Conversion, Circumcision, and Ritual Murder in Medieval Europe explores the ways religious conversion fueled Jewish-Christian tensions. In the process, it elucidates how the interplay of fact and fantasy shaped Christian views of Jews as agents of Christian apostasy to Judaism.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

304 pages | 6 x 9 | 3 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5187-6 | $65.00s | £56.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9673-0 | $65.00s | £53.50
A volume in the Middle Ages Series


Human Rights EducationHuman Rights Education: Forging an Academic Discipline
Sarita Cargas

“Saritas Cargas makes a convincing case for an academic discipline in human rights that can and should be adapted to local contexts, contemporary issues, and the needs of faculty and students. Her call for the adoption of critical pedagogy has the potential to impact significantly how human rights is taught in the United States.”—William Paul Simmons, University of Arizona

Sarita Cargas contends that the field of human rights should be treated as an academic discipline in higher education contexts, possessing as it does a canon of literature, a community of scholars, and a methodology. Her book offers practical recommendations for creating human-rights programs at the university level in the United States.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

224 pages | 6 x 9 | 1 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5179-1 | $69.95s | £60.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9663-1 | $69.95s | £57.50
A volume in the Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights series

The Music of ReasonThe Music of Reason: Rousseau, Nietzsche, Plato
Michael Davis

The Music of Reason is beautifully written and lucidly argued. Michael Davis is truly an original thinker who leads readers to understand what philosophy is, not by merely describing it or its results but by inviting them to engage in it along with him.”—Catherine Zuckert, University of Notre Dame

Michael Davis explores the “musical” quality of thinking in the work of Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Plato, revealing the complex and profound ways in which they each plumbed the depths of reason’s prerational foundations.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

272 pages | 6 x 9
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5171-5 | $75.00s | £65.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9660-0 | $75.00s | £61.50
A volume in the Haney Foundation Series

Divided UnionsDivided Unions: The Wagner Act, Federalism, and Organized Labor
Alexis N. Walker

“Well-researched and convincingly argued, Divided Unions is timely in its coverage of private- and public-sector labor over a period of nearly eighty years. I can think of no other book that comes close to accomplishing what Alexis N. Walker has accomplished.”—Joseph E. Slater, University of Toledo College of Law

In Divided Unions, Alexis N. Walker argues that excluding public sector workers from the foundation of U.S. labor law, the Wagner Act of 1935, created divisions within the labor movement that have had lasting consequences for the size, strength, and influence of organized labor in American politics.

Full Description, Table of Contents, and More

200 pages | 6 x 9 | 8 illus.
Hardcover | ISBN 978-0-8122-5182-1 | $59.95s | £52.00
Ebook | ISBN 978-0-8122-9666-2 | $59.95s | £49.00
A volume in the American Governance: Politics, Policy, and Public Law series

Book reviewers: To request a press copy of a Penn Press book, send your name, shipping address, and the title of your publication to

Educators: To request an exam copy for course use consideration, click here.

Forthcoming Events