English Professor John Simons has published a new book, “Peckinpah’s Tragic Westerns: A Critical Study,” examining the work of filmmaker Sam Peckinpah and placing it within the 2,000-year-old tradition of Western tragedy. The tradition, enfolding the Greeks, Shakespeare, and modern tragedians, is represented in Peckinpah’s art in numerous ways, and the fact that he worked in the mode throughout his career distinguishes him from most American film directors. Films covered include “Ride the High Country,” “Noon Wine,” “The Wild Bunch,” “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” and “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.” Comments on the book jacket by renowned writer, producer, and director Garner Simmons note that the book “provides fresh and, at times, profound insights into how and why Peckinpah’s work touches us in such a deep and visceral way.” The book is co-authored with Robert Merrill, a colleague of Simons’ while in graduate school at the University of Chicago.
Professor of Religion David Weddle has recently published a book on miracles in world religions. The book, “Miracles: Wonder and Meaning in World Religions,” examines the stories of miracles among the gurus, rebbes, bodhisattvas, saints, and imams of Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam through the centuries. Finding a common ground in the definition that “a miracle is an event of transcendent power that arouses wonder and carries religious significance for those who witness it or hear or read about it,” he examines each tradition through the same lens. Weddle explores the mysterious healings in the waters at Lourdes, and those affected by evangelists, and explains why Sunnis, Shiites, and Sufis disagree about the nature of miracles in Islam.