Prince From Minneapolis

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I am soon to head to Minneapolis in my capacity as a consultant and speaker at the Prince From Minneapolis Symposium.

The event will take place in the city that Prince was proud to hail from. Continuing to live and work there, he put the city firmly on the map of the music industry through the Minneapolis Sound. Until his unexpected death on April 21, 2016, he hosted parties for local fans at his Paisley Park studio. Prince is probably the only global megastar who has remained so embedded in the cultural life of his hometown.

The symposium will investigate Prince’s unique relation to Minneapolis and Minnesota. It will ask what demographic, cultural, and economic conditions were in place for Prince to emerge as a musical genius? How was a new sound born from a small African American population in a largely white and segregated state? Why did Prince stay there? How did he reinvent the aesthetics and politics of blackness? How did he simultaneously cross over to white and international audiences? How did Minnesotans, both queer and straight, react to Prince’s ambivalent black male sexuality? How is Minneapolis represented in Purple Rain? How do we interpret his spiritual explorations? What kind of utopia did Paisley Park embody? What was Prince’s mode of operation in the studio? How did the Minneapolis sound affect hiphop, jazz, rock, and electronic dance music? Why do music tourists flock to this city from Europe and Australia?

Appreciating Prince’s cultural impact will provide a window on fundamental questions in US and Minnesotan society. At a time when the political achievements of the 1960s are under threat, we hope understanding where Prince comes from will make some room for reimagining social change.

​I am proud to join an interdisciplinary team of scholars, artists, and music industry professionals with a passion for studying Prince’s significance to the world of music and to the Twin Cities.

Organising team

As well as a range of diverse academic papers, we have a number of sessions taking place that will engage fans, the local community and the music industry including from some of Prince’s closest collaborators including Dr Fink, Mayte Garcia and Shelby J.

 

 

Our opening keynote is by Jeff Chang in discussion with Daphne Brooks,

Jeff Chang is Social Historian at the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Stanford University
who has written extensively on the intersection of race, art, and civil rights, and the socio-political forces that guided the hip-hop generation. As a speaker, he brings fresh energy and sweep to the essential American story, offering an invaluable interpretation at a time when race defines the national conversation. His latest book, We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, questions why we keep talking about diversity even as American society is resegregating, both racially and economically.

Daphne A. Brooks is Professor of African American Studies, Theater Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. She is the author of two books: Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850-1910 (Duke University Press, 2006) and Jeff Buckley’s Grace (Continuum, 2005). She has published numerous articles on the intersectional politics of popular music culture. Brooks is currently working on a three-volume study of black women and popular music culture entitled Subterranean Blues: Black Women Sound Modernity. The first volume in the trilogy, Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Archive, the Critic, and Black Feminist Musicking is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Brooks is also the author of the liner notes for The Complete Tammi Terrell (Universal A&R, 2010) and Take a Look: Aretha Franklin Complete on Columbia (Sony, 2011). In 2017, Brooks served as the chief conference coordinator of the conference “Blackstar Rising and the Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince” at Yale University.

More information on our range of speakers can be found here:

Speakers

The full schedule of papers and events is published here:

Schedule

I am delighted to be presenting work with Professor Mike Alleyne on Prince and visual identity: post-Purple Rain. Mike Alleyne co-organised Purple Reign: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Life and Legacy of Prince The University of Salford, UK with me in May 2017,

Professor Mike Alleyne

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My participation in the symposium is a part of a larger academic and public engagement project on the life and legacy of Prince from the School of Arts and Media at The University of Salford, UK.

More information  will be released soon.

NME LifeHacks. November 23rd 2017, Islington Metalworks, London.

In quite a diversion from my normal academic life, next week I’ll be speaking at the NME Flagship LIFEHACKS event at Islington Metalworks in London. The event, in partnership with The University of Salford and Create Jobs is a series of talks and panels designed to help young people kick-start their careers in the creative industries.

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Hip-hop artist Loyle Carner and Chelsea footballer Eniola Aluko will headline and I’ll be on the “What I wish I knew at 18” panel with Kanya King (founder of the MOBO Awards)  Jonathan Badyal (Head of Communications at Universal Music UK) and Liv Little (Gal-dem), which will focus on giving young adults confidence in terms of starting out in their career, or looking for a career change.

The event sees NME joining forces with youth charity Create Jobs  supported by University of Salford.  The line up is excellent (with a yet to be announced headline gig) consisting of:

Headline – NME In conversation with Loyle Carner & Eniola Aluko (Chelsea FC)

How to effect positive change panel

Alex Manzi (Dreamer’s Disease / Radio 1Xtra)

Paula Akpan (The “I’m Tired” Project / Black Girl Festival)

Paris Lees

Josie Naughton (Help Refugees)

Skills to succeed in a digital age panel

Niran Vinod (Instagram)

Lauren Thomas (General Assembly

Ibrahim Kamara (GUAP)

Lyndon Saunders (University of Salford)

What I wish I knew at 18 panel

Jonathan Badyal (Universal Music UK)

Dr Kirsty Fairclough (University of Salford)

Kanya King (MOBO Awards)

Liv Little (gal-dem)

For tickets and booking information follow this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nme-lifehacks-islington-metal-works-london-tickets-38271979521

 

 

 

Prince From Minneapolis: April 16th-18th 2018

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I  am delighted to announce my involvement, alongside my Purple Reign Conference co-organiser Professor Mike Alleyne, in the upcoming Prince From Minneapolis symposium in April 2018.

Mike and I will act as consultants to the event which will investigate Prince’s unique relation to Minneapolis and Minnesota and will explore what demographic, cultural, and economic conditions were in place for Prince to emerge as a musical genius and examine how was a new sound born from a small African American population in a largely white and segregated state.

Other key questions include:

Why did Prince stay in Minneapolis?

How did he reinvent the aesthetics and politics of blackness? How did he at the same time win over white and international audiences?

How did Minnesotans, both queer and straight, react to Prince’s ambivalent black male sexuality?

How is Minneapolis represented in Purple Rain?

How do we interpret his spiritual explorations? What kind of utopia did Paisley Park embody?

What was Prince’s mode of operation in the studio?

How did the Minneapolis sound affect hiphop, jazz, rock, and electronic dance music?

Why do music tourists flock to this city from Europe and Australia?

Appreciating Prince’s impact will provide a window on fundamental questions in US and Minnesotan society. At a time when the political achievements of the 1960s are under grave threat, we hope understanding where Prince comes from will make some room for reimagining social change.

The Prince From Minneapolis team is an interdisciplinary team of scholars, mostly based at the University of Minnesota.

Arun Saldanha (Department of Geography, Environment, and Society)
Zenzele Isoke (Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies)
Elliot Powell (Department of American Studies)
Sumanth Gopinath (School of Music)
Emma Balazs (Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, Australia)
More information is available here: Prince From Minneapolis

Purple Reign.

0666-twitter-banner-postI am so pleased to finally share news on The University of Salford’s forthcoming Prince conference, this idea has been bubbling away for a while now and I am thrilled that we are only two months away from its realistion.

Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince is a three day international academic conference hosted by the School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK and the Department of Recording Industry, Middle Tennessee State University, USA.

The conference, taking place between 24th-26th May 2017, will provide fresh perspectives on the creative and commercial dimensions of Prince’s career, re-examining the meanings of his work in the context of his unexpected death.

Purple Reign presents a timely consideration of the cultural impact, iconic status of Prince and his global legacies across many media platforms. It will examine all aspects of his creative output and the ways in which it intersects with video, performance, literature, theatre, film, digital culture, design and fashion.

We will address the issue of Prince’s significant influence and lasting appeal from a number of multi-disciplinary perspectives. We have welcomed scholars form across the globe, covering study fields of popular music and sound, gender and culture, television, film and celebrity studies, visual arts, performance studies, and digital media.

Our keynote address will be delivered by Dez Dickerson, Prince’s guitarist from The Revolution, and Professor Sarah Niblock, co-author of Prince: the Making of a Pop Music Phenomenon.

We have an amazing array of speakers from all over the world, covering a vast range of topics.

HOME will also mark the event by screening the 1986 musical drama Under the Cherry Moon, which Prince directed and starred in, alongside Kristin Scott Thomas and Steven Berkoff.

To close the conference, students from the University’s Music programmes will perform music in homage to Prince to delegates, while art and design students will create branding and exhibit their art for the event.

Click here to book your attendance now.Prince conference registration

For enquiries please contact me on 0161 295 6060, or email purplereignconference@gmail.com.

This conference has been organised in partnership with http://www.mtsu.edu

Call for Papers “Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince”, Media City UK, University of Salford, Uk May 2017

I’m very pleased to announce the following call for papers:

“Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince”

A two-day international conference hosted by The School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK and the Department of Recording Industry, Middle Tennessee State University, USA 24th- – 26th May 2017 Media City UK, University of Salford, UK.

Convenors:

Dr Mike Alleyne, Dept of Recording Industry, College of Media & Entertainment, Middle Tennessee State University

Dr Kirsty Fairclough, School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK

Tim France, School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK

Proposals are invited for a two-day international conference on the life and legacy of Prince.

This conference aims to provide fresh perspectives on the creative and commercial dimensions of Prince’s career, re-examining the meanings of his work in the context of his unexpected death.

This conference seeks to address the issue of Prince’s significant influence and lasting appeal from a number of multi-disciplinary perspectives.  We welcome proposals from scholars in the fields of popular music studies, sound studies, gender studies, cultural studies, television studies, celebrity studies, film studies, visual arts, performance studies, digital and social media and related disciplines.

The conference presents a timely consideration of the cultural impact, iconic status of Prince and his global legacies across many media platforms. It will examine all aspects of his creative output and the ways in which it intersects with video, performance, literature, theatre, film, digital culture. design and fashion.

Single and panel proposals are invited on, but are not limited to, the following:

Prince as musician.

Prince as songwriter.

Prince and fandom.

Prince and racial representations.

Prince, feminism and gender relations.

Prince as actor.

Prince and performance style.

Prince’s music videos.

Prince and fashion.

Prince as star/celebrity.

Prince’s death.

Prince and media representations.

Prince as enigma.

Submission guidelines:

Deadline for abstracts: 31st January, 2017

Panel proposals should consist of a 500word abstract plus a 100word biography from each participant. Proposals should be sent to: purplereignconference@gmail.com

Individual submissions should consist of 300 word abstracts plus a 100word biography and should be sent to:

purplereignconference@gmail.com

 

 

 

My take on why Frank Ocean is driving his fans crazy.

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Fans of R&B superstar Frank Ocean have been whipped into a frenzy. The release of Boys Don’t Cry, the follow-up album to 2012’s critically acclaimed Channel Orange, has been a long time coming. And after a series of cryptic clues hinted that the album was to be released on Friday August 5 turned out to be baseless and no verified release date announced, frustration is high. But Ocean’s methods demonstrate just how far the use of mystery goes in today’s cluttered music market.

Last summer, Ocean promised the new album would be released in 2016. But no hint of a date appeared. On July 2 he posted an image of a punch card littered with missed deadlines for Boys Don’t Cry. The singer songwriter has gently toyed with his fan base since the new album was initially expected to be released in 2015, but its delay has contributed to mass frustration among his fans.
The public commentary by those in the know has exacerbated this frustration. In March 2016, Ocean’s producer Malay said that the album was “maybe a month away”. Artist James Blake worked on the album and has called it “better” than Channel Orange. In February this year new Ocean music was leaked online, supposedly after a secret listening party. The untitled snippets were later removed due to copyright issues.

Given this context, fans and the wider media alike were fixated on Ocean’s website when it began streaming mysterious footage early on August 1. It appeared that all was due to be revealed, the album finally released. But frustration quickly mounted – instead of the expected new tracks viewers were treated to a 48-hour livestream of a warehouse equipped with carpentry workbenches and speakers.

After a number of hours, a person who appeared to be Ocean became visible and proceeded to saw wooden boards into pieces. Later, the individual drilled holes and sliced metal poles. Intermittently, the person stopped work to check their phone. Throughout the footage, instrumental music played and the camera cut to alternate angles. It began to be believed that Ocean’s album would be released on Friday August 5. The day passed and no album appeared. But the enigma that is Frank Ocean was cemented.

Holding the limelight

Ocean is by no means the first to attempt to curate a sense of mystery, but in an age of oversharing, constructing anticipation on this level is difficult to achieve. There are few mainstream artists that can create such a feverish buzz on a mass scale. We see “buzz” being generated around artists through social media so often that it loses its power.

Ocean clearly knows this. Despite driving many crazy, the strategy he is adopting is a way of maintaining integrity and constructing an enigma in a culture that moves at a frenetic pace. The cryptic release strategy has of course created a spike in traffic to his website and his presence across almost all social media platforms has increased. According to Forbes, Ocean saw a near doubling of video views on both YouTube and Vevo – all without actually releasing any new music. Page views on Wikipedia are up more than 300%. On August 4, Ocean was a top trending search on Google, at more than half a million searches.
There are few artists that can find themselves in the spotlight, creating this kind of attention, by doing so little. This is, of course, an ideal position to be in when the long-awaited album finally arrives. His emphasis on a slowed down approach to the construction of the work and the labour involved presents Ocean as an artist who values the quality of the work – as a personal statement – over prolific output. Ocean, who has no official Twitter or Instagram account, has developed a sense of artistic integrity in an era where the concept is increasingly elusive.

This behaviour attracts both admiration and frustration, often in equal measure. Since the video footage was released, fans have dedicated an intense amount of energy to deconstructing its meaning. Images of the singer have been discovered in the code of the website. The footage deconstructed in minute detail – down to the type of saw Ocean held and the type of work for which it is commonly used. Apple employees, whose logo appeared in the video, were reportedly bombarded by eager fans demanding more information.

Frank the enigma

Another star who built his career on curated mystery was Prince, who Ocean has attested to being a fan of. Rarely giving interviews, allowing the music to be its own voice and a dedication to maintaining his privacy, he constructed a shimmering indeterminacy that lasted his entire career.

Yet Prince was famous long before the digital era dawned. In the contemporary social media driven music industry, artists must share and engage to maintain their fan base. Ocean’s careful disengagement with the main form of promotion available to artists presents a rebellious streak which is in keeping with his elegantly elusive music, the complex and knowing sensibility of which belies his entrance into the music industry via the controversial Los Angeles rap collective Odd Future.
Back when he entered the scene, Ocean’s music appeared challenging in a context where R&B was dominated by the slick, polished material of artists such as Chris Brown and Usher. Ocean wrote of familiar topics in the trope of the genre, but also of gay marriage, Islam, suicide and his absent father, topics that mainstream R&B rarely addressed. At the same time, the songs borrowed elements of popular songs from Coldplay and The Eagles, demonstrating the breadth of Ocean’s influences. After Channel Orange was released, Ocean became the epitome of a new R&B, arguably influencing the likes of Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo.

Ocean stands for artistic integrity and freedom of expression. He elegantly cultivates an elusive quality that has become his trademark and which has allowed him to remain in the spotlight in an era of over-saturation. Whenever the album is finally released (current rumours suggest November) this protracted period of seeming inactivity has proven that entrance into the inner life of Frank Ocean must be respected. And that, in and of itself, is worth waiting for.

First published by The Conversation UK https://theconversation.com/frank-ocean-is-driving-his-fans-crazy-and-hes-a-genius-for-doing-so-63463

Funding bid success! Brazil beckons!

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My colleague Dr Michael Goddard, Reader in Media at the School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK and I have been awarded a grant from Santander Universities, for our scoping visit to Brazil in July, to develop an international research network (UK, Brazil and other countries) on the audiovisual mediation of popular music.

Building on the research networking Michael has already developed in Brazil in both media and popular music, as well as our previous joint and independent successful published research in related fields, we plan in this visit to present our research into music videos, arena performance, music documentaries and other audiovisual mediations of popular music, while at the same time networking with Brazilian academics and planning a future bid for an externally funded international research network in this area.

Here’s a selection of the work we have published so far:

 

We are both looking forward to the beginning of an exciting international research project.

If you are interested in more information, please contact me at K.Fairclough@salford.ac.uk

More updates soon!

The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment just published

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Given the recent spotlight on Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance, I thought why not remind folks that our recently published The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015)  presents research and findings in relation to expanded critical approaches to popular music, in the context of, and as prompted by the need to evolve new approaches to, the arena concert. Its one of the first academic texts to tackle this subject and  proposes that the arena concert represents a sizeable aspect of the near-future of popular music consumption and live music cultures, and that methodologies associated with popular musicology are effectively “stress tested” by this relatively new paradigm. Blended and recalibrated critical approaches are deemed necessary in order to assemble a critical apparatus capable of engaging with such enormous events. The question of creativity now stretches across many artistic disciplines and practices (dance, music, lighting, video design, sound mixing, social media, expectations management, merchandise, event creation), which all contribute to the arena concert experience.

As well as co-editor, I wrote a chapter  that tackles Beyoncé’s Celebrity Feminism and Performances of Female Empowerment in the Arena Concert. It is concerned with performances of female empowerment by pop and R and B stars, who use it as part of their brand including Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Pink and Nicki Minaj. I argue that Beyoncé’s engagement  was considerably more pronounced. The oscillation between spectacle and intimacy which appears to be the foundation of a successful arena concert, as combined with themes of empowerment, has become part of the expected package for many star female artists in performance. It examines Beyoncé and her 2013-2014 arena concert tour, The Mrs Carter Show, to explore the ways in which she employs the tropes of what appear to be female empowerment and celebrity feminism in order to maintain and develop her position in popular music and pop culture more widely. It considers her attempts to promote her status as celebrity feminist through her arena concerts and assesses how Beyoncé calls on her fans to use her music and imagery to engage with what can be read as a rather simplistic notion of female empowerment.

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Of course theres much more to be said given her recent performances. Thats  in my forthcoming book…Fairclough, K (2016) Beyoncé: Celebrity, Feminism and Pop Culture. London, I.B Tauris

 

Call for Papers: Call for Papers: Fame-inism: Feminism and Global Celebrity Culture Special Issue of Celebrity Studies

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Call for Papers: Fame-inism: Feminism and Global Celebrity Culture

Special Issue of Celebrity Studies

 Guest Editors:

Kirsty Fairclough-Isaacs, University of Salford, UK

Natasha Patterson, University of Northern British Columbia, Canada

Camilla A. Sears, Thompson Rivers University, Canada

For this special issue of Celebrity Studies, the editors are seeking proposals on the topic of feminism and celebrity culture. In recent years, contemporary celebrity culture has broached the topic of feminism, and increasingly, celebrities – men and women – are expected to make very public subscriptions to or rejections of a feminist identity. For instance, popular magazines like Cosmopolitan, provides “A Handy Guide to Celebrity Feminists” – and ask questions like, Where do our favourite celebrities stand on feminism? Without question, celebrity culture has become an important site for the production of meaning or understanding about feminism, especially in light of the commonly held belief that the struggles of the feminist movement – gender equality, equal pay, and so on – have been achieved, rendering it outdated or not in tune with the concerns of young women in contemporary society. In this way, the concept of “postfeminism” has been a useful tool for thinking about how feminism is framed within popular culture. Yet, these ongoing debates about what feminism is, or is not, or who can claim membership, as writ large in celebrity culture and through celebrities, clearly demonstrates that the movement still carries importance and resonates with audiences. And in such a way, it seems key for scholars to attend to the question, what does feminism look like in this culture?

While we welcome proposals that attend to these issues from a Western perspective, our goal for this special issue is to reflect a diverse array of perspectives in terms of content and location. Therefore, this special issue aims to explore discursive struggles over the meaning of feminism and celebrity culture in both Western and non-Western contexts.

Suggested paper topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Thinking beyond Western borders – what can studies of celebrities cross-culturally, tell us about the state of feminism globally?
  • How do feminist theories/frameworks help us to understand or critically interrogate celebrity culture? What inequalities or power dynamics invite feminist critiques of celebrity culture?
  • The concept of (white) celebrity feminism and how this idea has gained ground globally via social media, particularly through the politics of the feminist celebrity philanthropist (e.g. #HeforShe/Emma Watson).
  • The relationship between surveillance culture and female celebrities; the policing of public figures
  • The rise of “ordinary” celebrities through the global circulation of reality TV formats and social media such as “localebrities” or “micro-celebrities”
  • Intersectional analyses of celebrity feminists/feminism
  • The rise of the “male celebrity feminist”
  • How does celebrity and sexuality intersect globally? Explore the rising fame and star quality of female actors within the adult pornographic genre – and their connections to a feminist identity

Interested authors should send a 500 word proposal and 200-word biography to fameinism@gmail.com by January 15, 2016. Please direct general enquiries to this email address as well. Acceptance notices will be sent out by February 15 2015. For accepted proposals, completed essays of 6000-8000 words will be due no later than June 1, 2016. Final publication of the special issue is expected late 2017. Only previously unpublished essays will be considered.

References:

Cobb, Shelley. (2015). “Is this what a feminist looks like? Male celebrity feminists and the postfeminist politics of ‘equality’.” Celebrity Studies 6. 1: 136-139.

Hamad, Hannah and Taylor Anthea. (2015). “Feminism and Contemporary Celebrity Culture.” Celebrity Studies Forum Special 6. 1: 126-127.

Holmes, Su and Diane Negra, eds. (2011). In the Limelight and Under the Microscope: Forms and functions of female celebrity. NY: Continuum.

McElroy, Ruth and Rebecca Williams. (2011). “Remembering Ourselves, Viewing the Others: Historical Reality Television and Celebrity in the Small Nation.” Television & New Media, 12 (3), 187-206.

Meyers, Erin. (2014). “The ‘Ordinary’ Celebrity and Postfeminist Media Culture. Flow: A Critical Forum on Television & Media Culture. Available from: http://flowtv.org/2014/03/the-ordinary-celebrity-and-postfeminist-media-culture/

Redmond, Sean and Su Holmes, eds. (2007). Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader. London: Sage.

 

 

 

 

“The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment” just published by Bloomsbury Academic

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I’m really pleased to announce the publication of the first comprehensive academic study of arena concerts, “The Arena Concert: Music, Media and Mass Entertainment”. I co-edited with a great team;  Ben Halligan, Robert Edgar, Nicola Spelman. The book has chapters and contributions from: Sunil Manghani, Erich Hertz; Jon Stewart, Kimi Kärki, Kevin Holm-Hudson and many others. The book is dedicated to the late, great Sheila Whiteley.

It is the first such study of arena concerts and has a number of key features,
* interdisciplinary, taking in a number of academic fields, as befitting this contemporary subject,
* extensive interviews with key insiders who have worked with Miley Cyrus, Peter Gabriel, Spice Girls, Justin Timberlake, Keane, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue etc
* international list of notable contributors from the US, UK and Europe.
http://www.bloomsbury.com/…/the-arena-concert-9781628925555/