An image of 3 books over a bright sky: What's the Worst that Could Happen? Sex Ecologies

November and December books: What’s the Worst that Could Happen?, Sex Ecologies, Discriminating Data, and more

Explore a selection of our most anticipated new releases of the coming months

Out soon: Andrew Leigh’s powerful book on how the rise of populism is exacerbating existential risks; an investigation of mathematics as it was drawn, encoded, imagined, and interpreted by architects; a volume exposing the discriminating nature of big data and machine learning; and more. Explore these and other new books from the MIT Press below, and discover all of our forthcoming books here.

Sex Ecologies edited by Stefanie Hessler

"Sex Ecologies"

Sex Ecologies explores pleasure, affect, and the powers of the erotic in the human and more-than-human worlds. Arguing for the positive and constructive role of sex in ecology and art practice, these texts and artistic research projects attempt nothing short of reclaiming the sexual from Western erotophobia and heteronormative narratives of nature and reproduction. The artists and writers set out to examine queer ecology through the lens of environmental humanities, investigating the fluid boundaries between bodies (both human and nonhuman), between binary conceptions of nature as separate from culture, and between disciplines.

You might also like Banksy: Completed by Carol Diehl

Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun

"Discriminating Data"

In Discriminating Data, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun reveals how polarization is a goal—not an error—within big data and machine learning. These methods, she argues, encode segregation, eugenics, and identity politics through their default assumptions and conditions. Correlation, which grounds big data’s predictive potential, stems from twentieth-century eugenic attempts to “breed” a better future. Recommender systems foster angry clusters of sameness through homophily. Machine learning and data analytics thus seek to disrupt the future by making disruption impossible.

“A shattering book! Chun unveils and dispels many lazy ideas that we—data and network scientists—heedlessly adopted. Her book opens questions critical to our disciplines. We urgently need new methodological tools to tackle them.” —Giulio Dalla Riva, Senior Lecturer in Data Science, University of Canterbury

You might also like Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto by Julia Lane

Formulations: Architecture, Mathematics, Culture by Andrew Witt


In Formulations, Andrew Witt examines the visual, methodological, and cultural intersections between architecture and mathematics. The linkages Witt explores involve not the mystic transcendence of numbers invoked throughout architectural history, but rather architecture’s encounters with a range of calculational systems—techniques that architects inventively retooled for design. Witt offers a catalog of mid-twentieth-century practices of mathematical drawing and calculation in design that preceded and anticipated digitization as well as an account of the formal compendia that became a cultural currency shared between modern mathematicians and modern architects.

You might also like Sandfuture by Justin Beal

Since 1839…: Eleven Essays on Photography by Clément Chéroux

"Since 1839..."

This volume offers a selection of essays by the renowned photography historian Clément Chéroux. Chéroux, appointed chief curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 2020, takes on a variety of topics, from the history of vernacular photography to the influence of documentary photography on Surrealism. The texts, published together in one volume for the first time and newly translated into English, reflect the breadth of Chéroux’s thinking, the rigor of his approach, and his endless curiosity about photographs. In this strikingly designed and generously illustrated volume, Chéroux presents unique case studies and untold stories. Widely ranging, erudite, and engaging, these essays present Chéroux’s innovative investigations of the histories of photography.

You might also like Carrie Mae Weems edited by Sarah Elizabeth Lewis

WBCN and the American Revolution: How a Radio Station Defined Politics, Counterculture, and Rock and Roll by Bill Lichtenstein


While San Francisco was celebrating a psychedelic Summer of Love in 1967, Boston stayed buttoned up and battened down. But that changed the following year, when a Harvard Law School graduate student named Ray Riepen founded a radio station that played music that young people, including the hundreds of thousands at Boston-area colleges, actually wanted to hear. WBCN-FM featured album cuts by such artists as the Mothers of Invention, Aretha Franklin, and Cream, played by announcers who felt free to express their opinions on subjects that ranged from recreational drugs to the war in Vietnam. In this engaging and generously illustrated chronicle, Peabody Award–winning journalist and one-time WBCN announcer Bill Lichtenstein tells the story of how a radio station became part of a revolution in youth culture.

You might also like From the Basement to the Dome: How MIT’s Unique Culture Created a Thriving Entrepreneurial Community by Jean-Jacques Degroof

New in paperback: The Contamination of the Earth: A History of Pollutions in the Industrial Age by François Jarrige and Thomas Le Roux

Through the centuries, the march of economic progress has been accompanied by the spread of industrial pollution. As our capacities for production and our aptitude for consumption have increased, so have their byproducts—chemical contamination from fertilizers and pesticides, diesel emissions, oil spills, a vast “plastic continent” found floating in the ocean. The Contamination of the Earth offers a social and political history of industrial pollution, mapping its trajectories over three centuries, from the toxic wastes of early tanneries to the fossil fuel energy regime of the twentieth century.

The Contamination of the Earth is an essential corrective to how pollution(s)—fittingly pluralized—have been studied age by age, case by case, sector by sector. Few have attempted such a sweeping synthesis of pollutions’ myriad drivers and consequences.” —Rebecca Gasior Altman, writer and environmental sociologist

Read an excerpt from the book on the MIT Press Reader: New Chemistry and the Birth of Public Hygiene

You might also like Conflicted American Landscapes by David E. Nye

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?: Existential Risk and Extreme Politics by Andrew Leigh

Did you know that you’re more likely to die from a catastrophe than in a car crash? The odds that a typical US resident will die from a catastrophic event—for example, nuclear war, bioterrorism, or out-of-control artificial intelligence—have been estimated at 1 in 6. That’s fifteen times more likely than a fatal car crash and thirty-one times more likely than being murdered. In What’s the Worst That Could Happen?, Andrew Leigh looks at catastrophic risks and how to mitigate them, arguing provocatively that the rise of populist politics makes catastrophe more likely. Leigh explains that pervasive short-term thinking leaves us unprepared for long-term risks. Politicians sweat the small stuff—granular policy details of legislation and regulation—but rarely devote much attention to reducing long-term risks. Populist movements thrive on short-termism because they focus on their followers’ immediate grievances. Leigh argues that we should be long-termers: broaden our thinking and give big threats the attention and resources they need.

“This book makes the powerful case that we need to replace populism with clear-headed thinking that takes a long view; it’s in our own interest, and the interest of all the generations that we hope will follow.” —Bill McKibben, author of Falter

You might also like The Handbook of Rationality edited by Markus Knauff and Wolfgang Spohn

Reality Media: Augmented and Virtual Reality by Jay David Bolter, Maria Engberg and Blair MacIntyre

This book positions augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) firmly in contemporary media culture. The authors view AR and VR not as the latest hyped technologies but as media—the latest in a series of what they term “reality media,” taking their place alongside film and television. Reality media inserts a layer of media between us and our perception of the world; AR and VR do not replace reality but refashion a reality for us. Each reality medium mediates and remediates; each offers a new representation that we implicitly compare to our experience of the world in itself but also through other media.

“It’s interesting that we still need the old medium of text to help interpret the new, but Bolter, Engberg, and MacIntyre’s new book is a great example of why. Reality Media is an excellent tour of virtual reality and its kin.” —Jaron Lanier, author of Dawn of the New Everything

You might also like Virtual Reality by Samuel Greengard

The Evidence Liberal Arts Needs: Lives of Consequence, Inquiry, and Accomplishment by Richard A. Detweiler

In ongoing debates over the value of a college education, the role of the liberal arts in higher education has been blamed by some for making college expensive, impractical, and even worthless. Defenders argue that liberal arts education makes society innovative, creative, and civic-minded. But these qualities are hard to quantify, and many critics of higher education call for courses of study to be strictly job-specific. In this groundbreaking book, Richard Detweiler, drawing on interviews with more than 1,000 college graduates aged 25 to 65, offers empirical evidence for the value of a liberal arts education. Detweiler finds that a liberal arts education has a lasting impact on success, leadership, altruism, learning, and fulfillment over a lifetime.

“Richard Detweiler weaves together a rich historical context, insights from contemporary global institutions, and a unique set of original research data into a compelling case for the value of liberal arts education to both individuals and societies.” —Sean M. Decatur, President, Kenyon College

You might also like Open Knowledge Institutions: Reinventing Universities

Hub-and-Spoke Cartels: Why They Form, How They Operate, and How to Prosecute Them by Luke Garrod, Joseph E. Harrington, Jr. and Matthew Olczak

A cartel forms when competitors conspire to limit competition through coordinated actions. Most cartels are composed exclusively of firms that would otherwise be in competition, but in a hub-and-spoke cartel, those competitors (“spokes”) conspire with the assistance of an upstream supplier or a downstream buyer (“hub”). This book provides the first comprehensive economic and legal analysis of hub-and-spoke cartels, explaining their formation and how they operate to create and sustain a collusive environment. Sixteen detailed case studies, including cases brought against toy manufacturer Hasbro and the Apple ebook case, illustrate the economic framework and legal strategies discussed.

“This important and original study reveals the complex motivations and activities of hub-and-spoke conspiracies, incorporating both lucid theoretical analysis and detailed applications to a variety of modern cases.” —William H. Page, Levin College of Law, University of Florida

You might also like Anticorruption by Robert I. Rotberg

Teaching Computational Thinking: An Integrative Approach for Middle and High School Learning by Maureen D. Neumann and Lisa Dion

Computational thinking—a set of mental and cognitive tools applied to problem solving—is a fundamental skill that all of us (and not just computer scientists) draw on. Educators have found that computational thinking enhances learning across a range of subjects and reinforces students’ abilities in reading, writing, and arithmetic. This book offers a guide for incorporating computational thinking into middle school and high school classrooms, presenting a series of activities, projects, and tasks that employ a range of pedagogical practices and cross a variety of content areas.

“A must-read for incorporating foundational concepts of computing across a range of class levels, learning styles, and disciplinary applications.” —Valerie Barr, Mount Holyoke College

You might also like Techno-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation: Culturally Relevant Making Inside and Outside of the Classroom by Nettrice R. Gaskins

Discover more of the MIT Press’s new releases