November books: Collective Wisdom, Rethinking Gender, What It All Means, and more

Explore some of our most anticipated new releases for November

New books this month: an exploration of media co-creation as concept and practice; a lively and informative illustrated guide to gender; and an investigation of how meaning works—and how it is connected to the truth. Explore these books and a selection of our other new and soon-to-be-published titles below.

The cover of Collective Wisdom, featuring the title, subtitle, and coauthors' names in bold black font. Several images sit amongst the letters of the title, including a picture of a sunflower with gold leaves; a dolphin; and children climbing up a ladder.

Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media for Equity and Justice by Katerina Cizek and William Uricchio

Co-creation is everywhere: It’s how the internet was built; it generated massive prehistoric rock carvings; it powered the development of vaccines for COVID-19 in record time. Co-creation offers alternatives to the idea of the solitary author privileged by top-down media. But co-creation is easy to miss, as individuals often take credit for—and profit from—collective forms of authorship, erasing whole cultures and narratives as they do so. Collective Wisdom offers the first guide to co-creation as a concept and as a practice, tracing co-creation in a media-making that ranges from collaborative journalism to human–AI partnerships.

“The myth of the single author is beautifully exposed with the bright light of co-creation, which gives us our power as collective storytellers and makers fueled by care, responsibility and humility.” —Sarah Polley, Academy Award nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay

You might also like Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice edited by Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis

The cover of Ecological By Design, showing the title and author name against a sage green background.

Ecological by Design: A History from Scandinavia by Kjetil Fallan

Scandinavia is famous for its design culture, and for its pioneering efforts toward a sustainable future. In Ecological by Design, Kjetil Fallan shows how these two forces came together in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Scandinavian designers began to question the endless cycle in which designed objects are produced, consumed, discarded, and replaced in quick succession. The emergence of ecological design in Scandinavia at the height of the popular environmental movement, Fallan suggests, illuminates a little-known reciprocity between environmentalism and design: not only did design play a role in the rise of modern environmentalism, but ecological thinking influenced the transformation in design culture in Scandinavia and beyond that began as the modernist faith in progress and prosperity waned.

“One of the most concrete efforts yet made to track the real historical entanglements of design and environment in the postwar period.” —Larry Busbea, University of Arizona; author of Proxemics and the Architecture of Social Interaction and The Responsive Environment

You might also like Spatializing Justice: Building Blocks by Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman

The cover of Kara Walker, showing the title and author's name in a black box on top of a red background. Halfway down the cover is an image of a black-outlined sphynx-like creature in repose, facing the righthand side of the cover.

Kara Walker edited by Vanina Géré

Kara Walker’s work and its borrowings from an iconography linked to the fantasized and travestied history of American chattel slavery has been theorized and critiqued in countless texts throughout her career. Critical interpretations of her work have been shaped by the numerous debates on the very discussions it generated. How, then, do we approach a work that has been covered by such “thick theoretical layers”? This collection is unique in emphasizing Walker’s work itself rather than the controversies surrounding it. These essays and interviews survey Walker’s artistic practice from her early works in the 1990s through her most recent ones, from her famous silhouette projects to her lesser-known drawings and lantern shows, stressing the full range and depth of her remarkable body of work.

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

The cover of Optimal Motherhood and Other Lies Facebook Told Us, showing the title, subtitle, and authors' names against a royal blue background.

Optimal Motherhood and Other Lies Facebook Told Us: Assembling the Networked Ethos of Contemporary Maternity Advice by Jessica Clements and Kari Nixon

Many mothers today turn to social media for parenting advice, joining online mothers’ groups on Facebook and elsewhere. But the communities they find in these supposed safe havens can be rife with aggression, peer pressure, and groupthink—insisting that only certain practices are “best,” “healthiest,” “safest” (and mandatory). In this book, Jessica Clements and Kari Nixon debunk the myth of “optimal motherhood”—the idea that there is only one right answer to parenting dilemmas, and that optimal mothers must pursue perfection. In fact, Clements and Nixon write, parenting choices are not binaries, and the scientific findings touted by mommy groups are neither clear-cut nor prescriptive.

“Clements and Nixon fill a void in the literature with this intriguing and original examination of contemporary motherhood through the lens of postmodern discourse.” —Mary K. Trigg, Rutgers University

You might also like Behind Their Screens: What Teens Are Facing (and Adults Are Missing) by Emily Weinstein and Carrie James

The cover of Rethinking Gender, with the title and subtitle in a yellow thought bubble at the top of the cover. In the center of the cover is the main character of the book, Louie, standing looking toward the righthand side, wearing a pair of jeans and a dark blue shirt and holding a happy orange cat. In lighter yellow speech bubbles surrounding Louie are several other characters from the book, and objects like a shirt and bra; a heart; a stuffed unicorn and a robot toy; a black fist; and a gender symbol combining both male and female spokes.

Rethinking Gender: An Illustrated Exploration by Louie Läuger

Queer, cisgender, transgender, nonbinary, androgynous, maverique, intergender, genderfluid. Louie and their cat (a.k.a. “Cat”) take you on a journey through the world of gender—without claiming to have it all figured out or knowing the perfect definition for this widely complex subject. Gender is tricky to understand because it’s a social construct intersecting with many other parts of our identity, including class, race, age, religion. For a long time, people thought of gender as binary: male/female, pirate/princess, sports/shopping. Now, we’re starting to understand it’s not that simple. That’s what this book is about: figuring out what gender means, one human being at a time, and giving us new ways to let the world know who we are.

“A perfect book for anybody who wants to explore their own gender, or to explain gender to others.” —Meg-John Barker, author of Gender: A Graphic Guide

You might also like A Brief History of Feminism by Patu and Antje Schrupp

The cover of Richard Riemerschmid's Extraordinary Living Things, showing a dark wood midcentury modern dining chair. The background of the cover is lime and sage green pattern of sunbursts.

Richard Riemerschmid’s Extraordinary Living Things by Freyja Hartzell

At the beginning of the twentieth century, German artist Richard Riemerschmid (1868–1957) was known as a symbolist painter and, by the advent of World War I, had become an important modern architect. This, however, the first English-language book on Riemerschmid, celebrates his understudied legacy as a designer of everyday objects—furniture, tableware, clothing—that were imbued with an extraordinary sense of vitality and even personality. Freyja Hartzell makes a case for the importance of Riemerschmid’s designed objects in the development of modern design—and for the power of everyday things to change the way we live our lives, understand history, and design our future. Hartzell offers for the first time an interpretive history of Riemerschmid’s design practice embedded in a fresh examination of modernism told by the objects themselves.

“In her lyrical examination of Richard Riemerschmid’s beautiful, lively, and prescient objects, Freyja Hartzell restores to history a titan of modern design.” —Elizabeth Otto, The University at Buffalo, State University of New York; author of Haunted Bauhaus

You might also like The Design of Everyday Things, Revised And Expanded Edition by Don Norman

The cover of There Are No Facts, depicting the title, subtitle, and author name on a dark blue background with lightly contrasting lines and spokes.

There Are No Facts: Attentive Algorithms, Extractive Data Practices, and the Quantification of Everyday Life by Mark Shepard

With the emergence of a post-truth world, we have witnessed the dissolution of the common ground on which truth claims were negotiated, individual agency enacted, and public spheres shaped. What happens when, as Nietzsche claimed, there are no facts, but only interpretations? In this book, Mark Shepard examines the entanglements of people and data, code and space, knowledge and power that have produced an uncommon ground—a disaggregated public sphere where the extraction of behavioral data and their subsequent processing and sale have led to the emergence of micropublics of ever-finer granularity.

“Essential reading for anyone interested in how knowledge production is contextualized, corrupted, and used in pernicious ways.” —Rob Kitchin, Maynooth University; author of The Data Revolution

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

The cover of What It All Means by Philippe Schlenker, featuring a whimsical drawing of several multi-story buildings down a narrow street. Each of the buildings have multiple balconies with people standing and leaning over the railings. Some are singing or playing instruments, and others are clapping joyously. The hands of the clapping figures extend up toward the sky.

What It All Means: Semantics for (Almost) Everything by Philippe Schlenker

We communicate through language, connecting what we mean to the words we say. But humans convey meaning in other ways as well, with facial expressions, hand gestures, and other methods. Animals, too, can get their meanings across without words. In What It All Means, linguist Philippe Schlenker explains how meaning works, from monkey calls to human language, from spoken language to sign language, from gestures to music. He shows that these extraordinarily diverse types of meaning can be studied and compared within a unified approach—one in which the notion of truth plays a central role.

“An exciting tour of the many ways meaning can be communicated without and within language. Obligatory reading for all language enthusiasts.” —Uli Sauerland, Vice Director, Leibniz Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS), Berlin

You might also like Semantics as Science by Richard K. Larson

Explore more new and forthcoming MIT Press books