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Ritivoi publishes book on political discourse

Carnegie Mellon’s Andreea Deciu Ritivoi recently published a new book, published by Columbia University Press and titled Intimate Strangers in American Political Discourse, which examines American politics from the eyes of foreigners.

The book looks at the experiences of four well-known intellectuals — Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Herbert Marcuse, Edward Said, and Hannah Arendt — who shared outsider status.

Ritivoi, professor of English in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, noted in a press release, “Arendt, Marcuse, Solzhenitsyn, and Said had a love-hate relationship with American society but wanted to make it better.”

Her publication suggests that there were benefits to the criticism offered by exiles, all of whom were at the helms of influential schools of thought in American politics following World War II.

As Ritivoi pointed out in the release, these individuals adopted a rhetoric of persuasion because they sought to establish themselves as “American enough,” and in doing so challenged nautral born Americans to step back and examine problems rather than accept the status quo.

In researching and writing this book, Ritivoi was startled to discover that even highly educated people were reluctant to accept the political views of outsiders, while almost too eagerly embracing the notion that only native-born Americans truly know what is best for America.

Vladimir Tismaneanu, professor of politics at the University of Maryland remarked that Ritivoi’s new book “is not only a major achievement in intellectual history but also a vibrant invitation to empathy, lucidity, and moral clarity.”

Alumnus Putney publishes WWI photo album

Inspired by history department adjunct professor Linda Benedict-Jones’ History of Photography class while a student at Carnegie Mellon, Dean Putney (DC ’11) took what his mother assumed was simply a family memento and turned it into a book and photography exhibit.

Putney’s great-grandfather was a German Army lieutenant during World War I who carried a camera with him as he served. Realizing that the photo album, which had been stashed in his grandmother’s closet for decades, had the potential to tell a remarkable story, Putney reproduced it into a book, Walter Koessler 1914–1918: The personal photo journal of a German officer in World War I. Presently, a corresponding exhibit, “Photography in the Trenches, 1914–1918,” can be seen at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

When Putney first examined his great-grandfather’s photo album, he sought the expertise of Benedict-Jones, who advised and assisted him with his project. Benedict-Jones was particularly pleased to see that an elective course for a student studying information systems had led to what she termed “a passionate project.”

Putney raised almost $115,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, a number he partially attributes to World War I’s upcoming centennial. The book, consisting of nearly 670 photographs, is a stark view of the ups and downs of a soldier’s existence.

Adam Ryan, curatorial assistant at the Carnegie Museum of Art, described the album as “remarkable” in a recent press release, saying that the book “includes formal portraits of officers, but most are spontaneous snapshots.”