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Archive for the 'Academia' Category

Friday, September 19th, 2014

University Press Roundup: Zombies, Domestic Violence, Blimps, Big Pharma, David Lynch, and More from UP Blogs!

University Press Roundup

Behind the Book with Ummni Khan: The author of Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary discusses the book and its challenge to the myth of law as an objective adjudicator of sexual truth. (University of Toronto Press)

Your Rugged Preamble: The nation’s founding document, as imagined by the midcentury American imagination. (Stanford University Press)

Under the knife with a zombie: Tim Verstynen and Bradley Voytek authors of Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain explain the nature of the relationship between the brain and emotions in the following video (Princeton University Press):


Friday, August 29th, 2014

University Press Blog Round Up: Ferguson, Social Networking, The Physics of Cocktails, and More!

University Press Round Up

Before heading off to the beach, read up on some of the excellent posts from university press blogs from the week that was:

Jeanne Theoharis explores the connection between the recent protests in Ferguson and the history and legacy of Rosa Parks. (Beacon Broadside)

While, Eric Allen Hall considers the protests in light of the life of Arthur Ashe in his essay Open Tennis and Open Minds: What Arthur Ashe Can Teach Us All. (Johns Hopkins University Press)

Jelani Cobb’s offers an impassioned and thoughtful essay on Ferguson in light of the history of lynching. (NYU Press)

In an interview with Tony Hay, author of The Computing Universe: A Journey Through a Revolution, discusses a variety of issues including artificial intelligence, cyberwarfare, and the uncertain future of our increasingly digital world. (Cambridge University Press)

Five minutes with Branden Hookway, in which he answers questions about his book, Interface and the interfaces we encounter daily. (MIT Press)

Is Facebook for friends or is it for marketers? Robert Gehl, author of Reverse Engineering Social Media, writes about the alternatives to Facebook. (Temple University Press)

Allan Barsky explores the ethics of social networking in social work. (Oxford University Press)

A celebration of the just-announced Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction winners. (University of Georgia Press)


Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Analytic Philosophy’s Fire Alarm, by Santiago Zabala

Santiago Zabala

“I do not believe, as Gary Gutting (a philosopher whom I truly respect) recently pointed out, that the ‘continental-analytic gap will begin to be bridged only when seminal thinkers of the Continent begin to write more clearly,’ but rather that it will happen only when the imperialistic approach of analytic philosophy is left aside to allow other styles to emerge and educate without being attacked, dismissed, and, most of all, marginalized.” — Santiago Zabala, coauthor of Hermeneutic Communism and author of, among other works, The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy

Analytic Philosophy’s Fire Alarm
Santiago Zabala

Anyone who questions or raises doubts over analytic philosophy’s role or significance today indirectly pulls a fire alarm in our framed democracies, our culture, and our universities. The doubter will immediately be attacked theoretically, academically, and probably also personally. This has happened to me (and many other continental philosophers) on several occasions. It does not bother me at all. It’s just a pity things are this way. The books, essays, and articles that set off the alarm are not meant to dismiss analytic philosophy but simply to remind everyone it’s not the only way to philosophize. My concern is educational (given the prevalence of analytic programs in universities), political (given its imperialistic approach), and also professional (for the little space given to continental philosophers in academia). The point is that we are not even allowed to generalize or be ironic, an essential component of philosophy as Gianni Vattimo and Slavoj Zizek show in their practice.

The problem is not that John Searle was honored by George W. Bush in 2004 (with a National Humanities Medal) or that the research of other analytic philosophers is often funded by government grants but rather that these grants are not always distributed among other traditions. After all, philosophers are not supposed to simply analyze concepts in their university offices but also to engage with the political, economic, and cultural environments that surrounds them, as Judith Butler, Peter Sloterdijk, and Simon Critchley have done so well for years. (more…)

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Professor Mom! An Interview with the editors of “Mothers in Academia”

Mothers in AcademiaWith Mother’s Day right around the corner, we thought we would shed some light on those mothers who also toil in academia. The following is an interview with Mari Castañeda and Kirsten Isgro, the editors of Mothers in Academia. The interview was originally published in Inside Higher Ed:

Q: What prompted you to write this book?

A: The proposal for this book was inspired by the increasing number of discussions we were both having with colleagues at all levels (students, faculty and staff) about the simultaneous presence and invisibility of mothers in academia. Behind closed doors, many of us were discussing the issues, challenges, joys and promise of working/learning in an academic environment while also caring for children. Yet these conversations were existing outside of the traditional structures of power within our various universities and colleges. The collection thus became an attempt to bear witness to the multiple realities of mothers in academic contexts while also providing a theoretical and empirical grounding for the experiences of women in higher education. We felt this was especially important since women are increasingly becoming an important part of the academic work force as well as the student body. While the project does not valorize women who are parents, it does attempt to address how we as women who are scholar-mothers balance these two roles on a personal and institutional level.

Q: How do you see academe, compared to other parts of society, in terms of being “family friendly”?

A: There seems to be an idealized notion of academe that it is more family-friendly than other parts of society because in many institutions, faculty get summers “off.” While many faculty are not always required to be at the office during the winter and summer breaks, that’s not the case for college staff who have 12-month contracts, and in some cases for student mothers, who must work through the summer to support their families or take classes part-time in order to finish their degrees. Additionally, the increased expectations for revenue generation and “prestigious” scholarly output, for instance, have placed undue pressure on all staff and faculty, making it harder to create, maintain or expand a family-friendly environment, or one that promotes a culture of care. We believe a culture of care is family-centered. It does not minimize excellence; on the contrary, such a culture understands that folks work better when care responsibilities are acknowledged and policies are developed that align family and personal life and work. One thing that became very clear through the process of this book is that we always think about faculty and administrators with regard to these issues, but rarely staff or undergraduate or graduate students. Thus, some sectors of academe experience a more family-friendly environment than others; the policies and expectations are uneven based on position in the higher education hierarchy. It is important to note that while headway in creating and implementing family-friendly policies has been accomplished, but much more can and should be done if academe will continue to be a leader with regards to this issue.


Monday, February 10th, 2014

Marianne Hirsch on the MLA’s Resolution on Israel and Palestine

“When it comes to the topic of Israel and Palestine, discussion is curtailed before it begins. In a debate that is structured to allow only two clear-cut sides, words lose their meaning.”—Marianne Hirsch

Recent resolutions from the American Studies Association and the Modern Language Association have generated a lot of controversy as well as a lot of misunderstanding. In a recent essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Marianne Hirsch, author of The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust clarifies not only the terms of the debate but what’s at stake.

In her essay, “The Sound of Silencing in American Academe,” Hirsch points out that the MLA’s recent resolution has been mischaracterized and was not a call for a boycott as some have suggested but rather “concerned restrictions on the freedom of travel for American students and faculty members of Palestinian descent to universities in the West Bank. Those restrictions are documented on the U.S. State Department website, and the resolution asked the MLA to urge the State Department to ‘contest’ them.”

Even before the discussion on the resolution at the recent MLA conference, Hirsch, who is the organization’s president, was subject to intimidation and received several e-mails and messages from American Jewish groups and others who (incorrectly) framed the MLA resolution as a boycott of Israel. These critics accused the MLA of being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, even going so far as to evoke the Nazis in their criticism of the organization. As Hirsch points out, this kind of hyperbole, which comes from both supporters and critics of Israel’s policy on Palestine, does little to advance the debate. Hirsch writes:

When it comes to the topic of Israel and Palestine, discussion is curtailed before it begins. In a debate that is structured to allow only two clear-cut sides, words lose their meaning.

Hirsch argues that in such an environment, words like “boycott” become especially inflammatory and their meaning becomes distorted. It is just this type of distortion, Hirsch argues, in which an organization like the MLA can actually help to further such a political debate. In the conclusion to her essay, she explains:

Many people have questioned the MLA’s right to intervene in politics. But isn’t it precisely our linguistic expertise that could help sort out the irreconcilable meanings of words, their irresponsible deployment, and the practices of silencing that ensue?

To create the space for the difficult conversations we need to have now and in the future, we must get beyond the silences imposed in the name of academic freedom. We need our academic leaders, our university presidents, not to condemn our scholarly associations, but rather to protect our right to have and to sponsor those important conversations free from harassment campaigns and pre-emptive threats.

Friday, November 15th, 2013

University Press Roundup: Special UPWeek Edition


Welcome to our University Press Roundup! As many of you know, this week was University Press Week, and many of the blogs we normally cover here participated in the #UPWeek Blog Tour, so we are making this the Special UPWeek Edition of our normal roundup. Each of the days of the UPWeek Blog Tour had a theme for those blogs posting, which is great for a roundup: it allows us to organize the posts both chronologically and thematically. We are highlighting quite a few posts, as one might expect, but all are well worth reading. As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

Monday: Meet the Press
The UP blogs writing on Monday provided staff profiles and interviews in an effort to give a more detailed insight into how UPs do business, as well as to recognize the outstanding contributions to the scholarly process made by press employees.

McGill-Queen’s Press interviewed editors Kyla Madden and Jonathan Crago, Penn State Press interviewed “invisible” manuscript editor John Morris, the University of Illinois Press interviewed Editor-in-Chief Laurie Matheson, the University of Hawai’i Press profiled Journals Manager Joel Bradshaw, the University of Missouri Press introduced new director David Rosenbaum, the University Press of Colorado profiled managing editor Laura Furney, and the University Press of Florida interviewed editor Siam Hunter.


Friday, November 15th, 2013

#UPWeek Blog Tour: Columbia University Press and Global Publishing

It’s the final day ofUniversity Press Week! All week long university presses have been participating in the UP Week Blog Tour. We are thrilled to participate, and excited about today’s blog post theme: The Global Reach of University Presses.

Make sure you check out the other presses posting today: Georgetown University Press, Indiana University Press, JHU Press, NYU Press, Princeton University Press, University of Wisconsin Press, and Yale University Press!


Columbia University Press and Global Publishing

“Recognizing commonality in the midst of diversity, and diversity in the midst of commonality…. There’s no other way human life can be viewed.”—Wm. de Bary, in an interview with Columbia Magazine

Columbia University Press’s commitment to global publishing can be traced back to the late 1950’s, when Columbia University professors began extending the scope of their core courses to include classics of Asian literature alongside Western classics. Under the direction of William Theodore de Bary, one of the scholars responsible for Columbia’s innovative emphasis on non-Western thought, Columbia University Press published a series of four influential anthologies, Sources of Indian Tradition, Sources of Japanese Tradition, Sources of Chinese Tradition, and Sources of Korean Tradition, that form the foundation of our mission to contribute to an understanding of global human concerns.

Since the first of these anthologies was published in 1958, Columbia University Press has been committed to publishing quality scholarship in a variety of global fields. We take great pride in the diversity of our books and our authors. In the first few pages from our recently released Spring 2014 catalog alone we have an insect cookbook translated from Dutch, a discussion of Jacques Lacan and a book of short plays by French philosopher Alain Badiou, and three books from the new Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series, which boast Nobel winners from America and India as authors.

In addition to our own publishing program, we also help to disseminate global scholarship through our distribution services. Our distributed presses are based in Asia, Europe, and the United States; some publish primarily in specific subject areas, others in a variety of fields. However, despite their differences (or maybe because of them), all contribute quality scholarship and literature to the global scholarly conversation.


Friday, November 8th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

Ever wondered what makes a terrific book, a classic for generations to come? Author Ankhi Mukerjee aspires to address that question through his book titled, “What is a Classic?” and Stanford University Press highlights Mukherjee’s new book in a recent post by stating that “Mukherjee’s concise prose doesn’t pull any punches. In her first chapter she asserts that the “classic” can be deployed as a hierarchical apparatus, shoring up power for some while marginalizing the voices of others.”

This week, Yale University Press writes a post about Nigel Simeone’s recently published editorial venture “The Leonard Berstein Letters” which are a compilation of written exchanges between Bernstein and other noted artists as well as his own personal relationships. Yale recognizes the achievements of Mr. Bernstein as “a charismatic and versatile musician – a brilliant conductor who attained international super-star status, a gifted composer of Broadway musicals (West Side Story), symphonies (Age of Anxiety), choral works (Chichester Psalms), film scores (On the Waterfront), and much more. He was also an enthusiastic letter writer, and this book is the first to present a wide-ranging selection of his correspondence.”

Harvard University Press commemorates the centennial anniversary of the passing of Alfred Russel Wallace with a recent post that includes a “beautifully produced facsimile edition of Wallace’s “Species Notebook” of 1855-1859, a never-before-published document that helps to reestablish Wallace as Darwin’s equal among the pioneers of evolution.” Since his death in 1913, Wallace has been recognized as one of the most famous naturalists in the world.

Fan of Hemingway? Cambridge University Press catered to all those who want to know how to write like the acclaimed author with tips from Hemingway himself. As Heminway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 2 (1923-1925) show that Hemingway had quite a few more tips on his craft, and Cambridge has made these tips available in an easily readable and creative format in a recent blog post.

Duke University Press recently published a post about joining hands with the Center for Documentary Studies to celebrate author Gerard H. Gaskin’s success with his forthcoming book “Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene”, which was the 2012 winner of the CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography. According to Duke Press, “The book’s color and black-and-white photographs document the world of house balls, underground pageants where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, celebrate their most vibrant, spectacular selves as they walk, competing for trophies based on costume, attitude, dance moves, and realness.”

Princeton University Press recently posted about the 50th anniversary celebration of the New York Review of Books, which is widely recognized as a premier source of articles and reviews of the best books by the best critics in the industry. Princeton noted that all in attendance received a wonderful parting gift–a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of the magazine and a facsimile of the very first issue and mentioned that “it was delightful to thumb through Issue #1 with articles by W.H. Auden, Nathan Glazer, Elizabeth Hardwick, Irving Howe, Normal Mailer, Adrienne Rich, Susan Sontag, and Gore Vidal, to mention just a few of the illustrious contributors.”

MIT Press rounds up its Classic Reissue series with Roger Lewis’s well-loved “Architect?: A Candid Guide to the Profession”, now in its third edition. In their recent post, MIT Press shares the thoughts of Executive Editor Roger Conover “on the need for such a book in the market and the careful considerations for the revision.”

Finally, we’ll wrap things up this week with a post by Harvard University Press. HUP paid a special tribute to Norman Mailer who is described as the “most celebrated and most reviled” of American writers, even years after his death. To highlight Mailer’s recent limelight with a new biography and special edition of selected essays, Harvard has posted “a most Mailerish of excerpts from his “First Advertisement for Myself,” from his 1959 book.

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Sera Young, author of Craving Earth, wins 2013 Margaret Mead Award

Craving Earth, Sera Young

Columbia University Press is pleased to announce that Sera Young, a research scientist in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, is the recipient of the prestigious Margaret Mead award for her book, Craving Earth: Understanding Pica–the Urge to Eat Clay, Starch, Ice, and Chalk.

This year, Young was selected as the winner for addressing a unique topic of pica which revolves around the consumption of atypical foods such as clay, chalk and ice and how this affects our bodies. Through Young’s multidisciplinary research, she discovered that eating such earthy foods transcends borders and cultures. In addition, these foods may aid the body in some respects of detoxification but also lead to problems such as anemia.

Apart from writing about pica, Young is currently researching the effects of food insecurity among HIV-infected families in sub-Saharan Africa. The Cornell Chronicle also highlights the significance of this award with respect to its namesake, Margaret Mead. “The award celebrates skills similar to those displayed by Margaret Mead, who had a talent for fine scholarship and for making anthropology accessible to a wider general audience.”

Monday, September 30th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! These are just a few of our favorite posts from last week, since we didn’t have a chance to fill you in on Friday (sorry if you missed us!). As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

Since we’ve seen the conclusion of Banned Books Week, we look first to Beacon Broadside, where they’ve surveyed and interviewed members of their staff to compile a brief list of recommendations for those who’ve got a taste for historically subversive or disruptive texts.

University of Texas Press keeps the dialogue of banned books alive with a roundup of their own, cataloging 11 links to informational blogs, sites, videos, and social media elements aimed at generating awareness of the ongoing issue of banned books.

But of course, it’s not only the banning of books that hinders public learning and academic pursuit. Wilfrid Laurier University Press discusses the implications surrounding a recent “breaking point reached after years of funding cuts” to scientific research facilities in Canada. After protests on Parliament Hill and a New York Times op-ed on the growing difficulties in Canada for “publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists,” WLU weighs in on the problem and remarks, “There’s more than one way to burn a book, after all.”

On an unrelated note, we couldn’t help but include Princeton University Press’s Raptor Round-Up, in which they provide a rundown of their titles specializing in migrant raptors. From identification guides to full-color photographic books, PUP boasts a backlist replete with raptors. “[T]he sight of a raptor in the sky is an impressive image.” We couldn’t agree more.

After the recent–and needless–controversy regarding race in selecting a Miss America of Indian descent, NYU Press author Megan Seely questions the notion that crowning a Miss America is beneficial for woman in the first place. Examining the perhaps tacit requirements for success in the pageant–among them being thinness, tallness, heteronormativity, and, historically, whiteness–Seely argues that despite the good such pageants engender, they also do harm in alienating those individuals whose “races, ethnicities, cultural identities, body sizes, genders, sexualities, ages and abilities” are consistently not represented in what is a culturally accepted assertion of what it means to be an American woman.

And lastly, now that we’ve reached the denouement of Walter White’s transformation into sinister drug kingpin, the University of Minnesota Press features a rigorous blog post by author Curtis Marez on the role and treatment of Latinos on the hit television series Breaking Bad, both within the fictional narrative and the development of the show itself. Marez argues that the show demonstrates well “racial capitalism,” a theory positing that the fabrication of racial inferiority was “integral to the historical development of capitalism.” The discussion begins with the perceived symbolism of protagonist Walter White’s initial decision to shave his head. Be sure to read the original post here.

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

Friday, September 13th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

Do words matter? And if so, how do they shape our world? In this Cambridge University Press post titled Language of Contention, Sidney Tarrow discovers that “new words for contention diffuse across social and territorial boundaries, they affect how people behave as well as how they describe what they do. Take the recent evolution of the term ‘occupy’: it not only described what a group of protesters did near Wall Street in 2011; it also inspired people around the United States and abroad to imitate what they had done, to innovate new forms of occupation, and to force the concept of ‘the 99 percent’ onto the political agenda.”

Enjoy watching Sherlock Holmes and his unique detective skills? Oxford University Press published a post by James O’s Brien, author of The Scientific Sherlock Holmes. Brien writes an interesting take on the methods of detection used in Sherlock Holmes, ranging from fingerprint evidence to handwriting to footprints and even dogs.

Remember the Chilean Coup of 1973? Duke University Press published a post to mark the 40th anniversary the coup that took place on Sept 11th, 1973. “Before 9/11 (2001), September 11 was remembered most often as the day of the Chilean coup of 1973. Today marks the fortieth anniversary of that day. On September 11, 1973, Chile’s three armies launched an attack on the government of President Salvador Allende, the first democratically-elected socialist president of Chile.”

MIT Press talks about a new age of protest in two rising economies, namely Brazil and Turkey, in their post titled Turkey and Brazil: A New Age of Protest?. What do protests in both countries have in common. New age communication. “An ocean apart, what did the protests in Brazil have in common with the outcry in Turkey? Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and other online platforms, which enable speedy communication at very low costs, potential allies were reached and mobilized quickly.”


Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Peter Rabins: “Widespread Power Failures: Programmatic and Emergent Causality”

The Why of Things, by Peter Rabins

This week our featured book is The Why of Things: Causality in Science, Medicine, and Life, by Peter Rabins. This is the fifth article in a series of six articles by Peter Rabins.

And, don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Why of Things.

Widespread Power Failures: Programmatic and Emergent Causality
By Peter Rabins

In a Commentary in the11 July 2013 edition of the journal Nature, electrical engineer Massoud Amin outlines an approach to avoiding massive power failures. He advocates a “resilient” power system that is a “self-healing” power grid. His recommendations mirror the discussion of power failures in my recent book The Why of Things. He writes that the principles underlying his recommendations are the same for a range of complex systems, including fighter jets and telecommunication systems, in which sudden or emergent failure is the result of interactions among multiple units of a system.

Specifically, he recommends interventions at the local nodes of programmatic networks that make them secure and smart. This will require replacement of electromechanical switches with solid state circuits that can carry higher voltages than now possible. At the level of interconnections among systems, he recommends the installation of systems that would foster self-sufficiency at the local subsystem level. These are examples of programmatic network analysis operating at the individual and node level. At the next higher level of analysis, individual highly connected hubs (regional distribution systems, for example) will require solutions that vary by the needs and design of that hubs power resources. His example is that coastal systems have different design needs than inland systems. At a broader system level of analysis and intervention, Amin recommends flow-direction technologies that will even out differences between supply and demand and customer feedback inputs that will allow ongoing monitoring needs and improved coordination among users.

Amin’s commentary illustrates how a systems or network analysis (what I refer to as analysis at the programmatic level) can identify interventions at multiple levels. Emergent phenomena, such as widespread power failures may not have single predisposing or precipitating causal elements; rather it is interactions among elements of the system at multiple levels i.e. local, regional, and system-wide that best explain a range of network failures

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Peter Rabins: Douthat, Pinker and “Scientism”

“[Steven] Pinker has failed to recognize the limits of empirical scientific reasoning, just as those who rely predominantly on ecclesiastic or empathic reasoning mistakenly reject scientific results because they do not fit with their values.”—Peter Rabins

The Why of Things, by Peter Rabins

This week our featured book is The Why of Things: Causality in Science, Medicine, and Life, by Peter Rabins. Today, we are featuring the fourth article in a series of six by Peter Rabins.

And, don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Why of Things.

In the August 7, 2013 New York Times, conservative columnist Ross Douthat responded to Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker’s recent article urging advocates to embrace the label of “scientism” rather than perceive it as a dismissive taunt. Pinker’s argument was that the methods of science now provide the kinds of data which can inform rational policy recommendations on many topics. The term scientism describes this approach to public policy. Douthat’s rejoinder was that Pinker, and others who make similar claims such as Richard Dawkins, are inappropriately applying the findings of scientific studies to moral, ethical, and policy debates. Douthat’s claim is that these advocates of scientism are misattributing to well-designed scientific studies the status of a “proof” of the values that their (liberal) opinions reflect.

I admire Pinker’s contributions in books such as The Language Instinct, Blank Slate, and Fallen Angels. In each he pulls together a wide range of studies to bolster his views on important topics ranging from the innate basis of language, the genesis of human personality and behavior, and the changing prevalence of violence over the centuries. These are important, “big” questions. The breadth of Pinker’s data sources and his use of counterfactuals to identify counter arguments that confirm or refute alternative explanations are impressive.

I also agree with Douthat, though, that Pinker tends to misattribute, to the studies he cites, causal inferences that do not follow from the science. In my recent book The Why of Things, I identify three logics of causal reasoning, empirical (which relies primarily on methods that would be considered scientific), empathic (which relies on the narrative methods of the historian), and ecclesiastic (which derives from the methods of religion and ethics).

Pinker cites empirically based data from (often) well-designed studies, but he applies narrative logic (linking ideas in a comprehensive, coherent fashion) when he applies them to ethical questions. His claim that this is scientism is incorrect, in my opinion. Scientism can be used to address controversial questions, for example whether global warming is occurring and how much of it is attributable to human activity, but not to questions or moral right and wrong. Starting with one’s beliefs and using them to examine moral or ethical questions is more accurately an application of ecclesiastic logic, and I believe Pinker is making an error in not recognizing this. Scientism has its place but it can be misused, as can all methods and logics.


Friday, April 5th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

This week, Beacon Broadside celebrated the start of Poetry Month with a collection of videos of poets reading their poems! Mary Oliver, Sonia Sanchez, Craig Teicher, C.D. Wright, Kevin Young, and Dobby Gibson all make appearances. (Poetry lovers: stay tuned for our poetry feature here at the CUP blog next week!)

There are many reasons for scholars to write for an academic audience rather than a popular one, particularly when the topic is a controversial one. At the JHU Press Blog, Mark A. Largent explains why he decided to write a book for a popular audience on vaccinations, despite all of the disincentives. Writing for a popular audience is a “duty” for scholars, Largent claims: “we ought to find ways to do extension work that applies our expertise to broader public problems and appeals to broader audiences.”

This week From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, ran a post about a unique approach the press took to publishing their new book, Two Presidents are Better Than One. In order to draw more attention to the books unique argument (that a bipartisan executive branch might be the best way to break our cycle of political gridlock), the design team for the book decided to print two versions of the book’s cover, one with a Republican elephant, one with a Democrat donkey.

April 4th was the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and at the UNC Press Blog, Gordon K. Mantler has a guest post arguing that, while everyone remembers (and should remember) King’s work for racial justice, we would be well served to remember his other major march in Washington D.C.: the Poor People’s Campaign.

“[T]he U.S. housing crisis that began in 2008 is not behind us.” At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Dianne Harris argues that not only is the housing crisis very much alive, but that we shouldn’t forget that, for many, housing difficulties have their roots in the racially troubled past of the US: “housing segregation, the seeming ineffability of white privilege and its connections to home ownership, and the cultural work performed by representations of houses and housing issues” all come into play.

Are challenging projects that ask students to “make arguments backed by evidence, to analyze the arguments of their peers, to communicate what they learned to experts, and to work together” more effective than standardized, knowledge-based tests in preparing students for college? At Voices in Education, the blog of Harvard Education Publishing, Robert Rothman claims that these types of assignments, part of what he calls “deeper learning” should be a major part of US education in the future.

On a similar note, at An Akronism, the blog of the University of Akron Press, Thomas Bacher discusses the role that MOOCs and online learning more generally should play in the process of higher education. Bacher believes that online pedagogy has an important role to play, but also believes that face-to-face interaction is crucial. Finding a useful balance between the two will be a crucial part of the development of education in the near future.

Edward Luttwak’s concept of “great state autism” refers to “a collective national lack of situational awareness that reduces a country’s ability to perceive international realities with clarity.” This week, the Harvard University Press Blog has a post explaining Luttwak’s ideas and how they relate to major world powers, Russia, China, India, and the US, and expanding the idea through the work of Diana Pinto to a much smaller country in land area and population: Israel.

The case of Jack the Ripper, the famous serial killer from late 19th century London, has inspired a whole discipline: “ripperology.” At the OUPblog, Paul J. Ennis has a post explaining the attractions of studying the case of Jack the Ripper and delving into the specific case of Emma Smith’s murder.

Finally, we’ll wrap things up this week with a March Madness post from the University of Michigan Press blog. The Michigan basketball team is getting set to play in the Final Four this weekend, and in a guest post, Mike Rosenbaum details the rise of this specific version of the Michigan team, starting in 2009 and running up to the team’s present-day success.

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

Friday, March 29th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

Chinua Achebe passed away last week, and at the OUPblog, Richard Dowden has written a post in memory of Achebe, looking back at Achebe’s life and works, discussing his massive and continuing influence, and telling the story of Dowden’s own interactions with the great author. “A conversation with Chinua Achebe was a deep, slow and gracious matter. He was exceedingly courteous and always listened and reflected before answering. In his later years he talked even more slowly and softly, savouring the paradoxes of life and history. He spoke in long, clear, simple sentences which often ended in a profound and sad paradox. Then those extraordinary eyes twinkled, his usually very solemn face would break into a huge smile and he would chuckle.”

The NYU Press blog, From the Square, continued their month-long focus on Women’s History Month this week with a post by Melissa R. Klapper examining why we are still apparently “disconcerted by women in positions of authority.” In her post, Klapper delves into at the history of women working in her attempt to come up with an answer.

March Madness is in full swing, and at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Gregory Kaliss takes a break from this year’s action to look back at an infamous NCAA tournament regional final weekend in Dallas in 1957. The Kansas University Jayhawks rolled to two convincing victories to advance to the Final Four, that weekend, but because the team was integrated (and in fact featured Wilt Chamberlain, one of the greatest basketball players of all time), they faced discrimination and racial violence both on and off the court.

What exactly is “craft” and how is it different (if it differs at all) from art? At the UNC Press Blog, Howard Risatti digs into these and other thorny questions in a guest post. Along the way, he also discusses how crafts and art can raise our awareness of ecological issues.

“Julius Caesar shows us two different kinds of political love, in tragic opposition. Brutus is principled, but he is not cold. He loves the institutions of the Roman Republic, and he tells us that this abstract love has driven out his personal love of Caesar, as fire drives out fire…. Brutus’s antitype is Antony, who can understand no kind of love other than the personal, who cannot refrain from calling the dead man “Julius” even in the presence of the conspirators.” This week, The Chicago Blog has a fascinating excerpt from Martha Nussbaum’s Shakespeare and the Law.

Since late 2008, North Dakota has been experiencing an “economic boom and rapid population growth” as the result of the discovery of oil and natural gas underneath the state. At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Dean Hulse warns that, while the boom has brought some good, it’s important to pay attention to the possible long-term consequences of the new uses of the land in the state.

At the JHU Press Blog this week, Valerie Weaver-Zercher discusses her decision to present her academic research in “what literary theorist Scott Slovic calls ‘narrative scholarship,’ in which writers do not strive to absent themselves from the text.” In her post, Weaver-Zercher looks at the positives and negatives of attempting to write objectively and of acknowledging the subjectivity of one’s perspective in an academic work.

In an interview with Beacon Broadside, Kim E. Nielsen thinks about the similarities and differences in approaching history through different lenses, in particular, through the lenses of women’s history and disability history. While there are clear differences, particularly in the “slipperiness” over time in the definitions of “woman” and “disabled,” she notes a number of important similarities, as well, in particular that “women, children, enslaved people, and people with disabilities have tended to share a similar legal status, having a limited legal identity and having their legal ability to act covered by somebody else.

The fate of Florida’s famed springs is an ongoing concern for the state, which recently announced that it will reclaim Silver Springs in an “attempt to prevent further environmental degradation of the natural wonder.” At the Florida Bookshelf, the blog of the University Press of Florida, Gary Monroe discusses this move by the state and looks at the historical importance of Florida’s springs.

The popular version of the history of tanning is a relatively simple one, involving the evolution of paleness being a sign of wealth to the Industrial Revolution’s reversal of this idea, with Coco Chanel playing a crucial role somewhere along the line. At the Penn Press Log, however, Catherine Cocks argues that this version simply isn’t true, and, more worryingly, ignores the important role that race played in establishing norms of skin color.

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Katerina Kolozova on The Real in Contemporary Philosophy

The Philosopher in Meditation by Rembrandt

This week we are featuring the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series, edited by Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey Robbins, and Slavoj Zizek. Remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win FREE copies of The Incident at Antioch by Alain Badiou, Rage and Time by Peter Sloterdijk, and Hermeneutic Communism by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala. Also check out Insurrections on Pinterest!

Today, we have a guest post from Professor Katerina Kolozova, in which she discusses what she sees as the state of The Real today and outlines some ideas in her forthcoming book Cut of the Real, to be published by Columbia University Press in the Fall:

What Baudrillard called the perfect crime has become the malaise of the global(ized) intellectual of the beginning of the 21’st century. The “perfect crime” in question is the murder of the real, carried out in such way as to create the conviction it never existed and that the traces of its erased existence were mere symptom of its implacable originary absence. The era of postmodernism has been one of oversaturation with signification as a reality in its own right and also as the only possible reality. In 1995, with the publication of The Perfect Crime, Baudrillard declared full realization of the danger he warned against as early as in 1976 in his book The Symbolic Exchange and Death. The latter book centered on the plea to affirm reality in its form of negativity, i.e., as death and the trauma of interrupted life. And he did not write of some static idea of the “Negative,” of “the constitutive lack” or “absence” as conceived by postmodernism and epistemological poststructuralism. The fact that, within the poststructuralist theoretical tradition, the real has been treated as the “inaccessible” and “the unthinkable” has caused “freezing” of the category (of the real) as immutable, univocal and bracketed out of discursiveness as an unspoken axiom.


Monday, March 25th, 2013

Clayton Crockett: The Conception of Insurrections

Deleuze Beyond Badiou

This week we are featuring the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series, edited by Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey Robbins, and Slavoj Zizek. Remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win FREE copies of The Incident at Antioch by Alain Badiou, Rage and Time by Peter Sloterdijk, and Hermeneutic Communism by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala. Also check out Insurrections on Pinterest!

Today, we have a guest post from Professor Clayton Crockett, in which he discusses how the series began, and where it may be going in the future.

1. In the Beginning

The idea for a book series that became Insurrections began in Philadelphia in December 2005 at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Creston Davis was telling me that a Christian publisher approached him about editing a book series with Slavoj Žižek, and he asked if I was interested in participating in such a series. I told him that I was currently working with Jeff Robbins on a series for a small publisher in Colorado, so what if we both came on board? Creston set up a breakfast with Jeff and I and Slavoj to talk about this possibility. We quickly realized that any book series we could co-edit would exceed traditional theological boundaries, and so we brainstormed about potential publishers. Jeff had just submitted a book he was editing to Columbia University Press, on the recommendation of Santiago Zabala. This book, published as After the Death of God, featured John D. Caputo and Gianni Vattimo, and it became the first book in the series. We contacted Wendy Lochner and she encouraged us, asking to see a proposal. This series proposal was approved in summer 2006 at the same editorial board meeting that approved the book manuscript After the Death of God. Even though having four co-editors seemed a bit unconventional and perhaps even unwieldy, in practice it has worked incredibly well because we all trust each other, and have a great working relationship with Wendy and Christine Dunbar (and previously Christine Mortlock).

2. A Body of Work

As of this writing, we have published 16 titles in the series, and we are extremely proud of all of our books, not only in themselves but in terms of the kinds of interconnections they make and the kinds of energies they unleash together. We seem to have a friendly rivalry with Amy Allen’s great series “New Directions in Critical Theory,” that started around the same time and has published about the same number of titles. We share some overlapping theoretical interests but of course Insurrections is more explicitly focused on issues and questions of religion. We have published works by and featuring major European philosophers, including Slavoj Žižek, Gianni Vattimo, Alain Badiou, Catherine Malabou, and Peter Sloterdijk. We have published major American philosophers of religion such as John D. Caputo and Richard Kearney, and we have published religious theorists engaging important postcolonial themes like Arvind Mandair and Ananda Abeysekara. It’s about creating an intersection around religion as a void or an empty space where themes of Continental philosophy, political theology and critical theory converge and amplify each other, opening up new ways of thinking about religion and politics understood in broad terms. Later this spring, we have three more books appearing in the series: a translation of Jacob Taubes, To Carl Schmitt, with an introduction by New Zealand scholar of religion Mike Grimshaw; a translation of another book by Peter Sloterdijk, Philosophical Temperaments: From Plato to Foucault, with an introduction by Creston Davis; and a book co-authored by Catherine Malabou and Adrian Johnston on Self and Emotional Life. Finally, we have books forthcoming by Ward Blanton, Katerina Kolozova and Tyler Roberts, as well as translations of books by Alain Badiou, Antonio Negri and François Laruelle.


Friday, March 22nd, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

Today, March 22, is World Water Day, and in honor of the occasion, the MIT Press blog has a post from Joanna Robinson on water cooperation. In her post, Robinson argues that, while “[w]ater has increasingly become a source of conflict globally,” “because water is a shared resource and a source of life, it has the potential to unite individuals and societies through increased cooperation over water governance as well as a commitment to equity and sustainability.”

From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, continued their celebration and examination of Women’s History Month with a post by Leela Fernandes in which she asks us to consider how we gain our impressions of women from around the world. Thinking about the origins of what we know about the world, she argues, “allows us to grapple with the challenges of “knowing” the world in ways that are ethical.”

What is “the brain supremacy”? In an interview with the OUPblog, Kathleen Taylor explains the “increasing relevance of neuroscience” and tries to imagine where brain research will take us in the future. “At present, we know of no such limitation. We also know that ideas which, two decades ago, would have been derided as impossible are now being calmly considered in the research literature.”

Feel underpaid? At the AMACOM Books Blog, Shoya Zichy argues that being underpaid is often the result of an under-assertive employee rather than an uncaring boss. In her post, she provides a step-by-step approach to negotiating a better compensation package at work.

“On any given day, more than 81,000 youth are confined to residential facilities in the juvenile justice system.” At Voices in Education, the blog of Harvard Education Publishing, Joanne Karger asks how best we can provide the education that will help reintegrate these youths into society. In her post, Karger claims that Universal Design for Learning (UDL) “has the potential to bring about fundamental improvements in the education provided to incarcerated youth.”

In a thoughtful post at the Yale Press Log, Fania Oz-Salzberger discusses two themes that she and her father address in their recent book: “How did the Jews remain Jews? and, How can books keep families and generations together?”

A video on the level of wealth inequality in the US recently went viral on Youtube, racking up over five million views to date. At the Stanford University Press Blog, Angelique Haugerud discusses why the video’s reception matters, and how it links the twenty-first century back with “earlier wealth bubbles–such as the late-nineteenth-century era Mark Twain popularized as a Gilded Age of surface glitter and vast underlying corruption, when the very rich sparkled while many went hungry.”

At Beacon Broadside, sociologist Laurie Essig denounces the practice of politically motivated “bad sociology.” In particular, she takes aim at a recent study by sociologist Mark Regnerus designed to measure the happiness of children of gay parents. She claims that Regnerus and the funders of his study “were assuming that the results would show gay families are worse than straight families.”

The Pan American Union on the National Mall in Washington D.C. became the home of an ambitious program of visual arts in the Cold War period. At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Claire F. Fox takes a look at the the history of the PAU, and contemplates the role of art in forging positive international relations between nations.


Friday, March 15th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to this special Ides of March edition of our weekly University Press Roundup. We’ve collected the best posts of the week from the blogs of academic publishers. As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

March 14 (3-14) is widely known as Pi Day. Several publishers ran posts this week in honor of the occasion. The MIT Press blog has a mathematics-centric interview with Sanjoy Mahajan on how the proliferation of technology has affected how we teach and learn math. Meanwhile, the University Press of Kentucky blog and the Penn Press Log took a very different approach to Pi(e) Day: the Kentucky Press blog provides a delicious recipe for a “Kentucky Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie,” while the Penn Press Log provides a delicious recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie. Bring on the pie!

What, exactly, is the role that scholarly publishers play in the creation of scholarship? And more importantly, what is the role that scholarly publishers SHOULD play in the creation of scholarship? These are the questions that University of Minnesota Press senior acquisitions editor Jason Weidemann asks in “What do university presses do?,” a post at the University of Minnesota Press Blog. Weidemann takes issue with “rhetoric about scholarly publishers these days, rhetoric which paints us as parasites sucking profit and capital out of the work of scholars, structured around a ‘conflict’ between publishers, libraries, and scholars often oversimplified into a binary,” and uses the journey of a new UMP book by Matthew Wolf-Meyer to argue against this oversimplification.

“Commas are extremely useful but, to my mind, they are the most singularly misunderstood punctuation mark.” At the JHU Press Blog, manuscript editor Michele Callaghan has a post delving into the many uses (and far too frequent misuses) of the comma. She focuses particular attention on the way people often want to add a comma before conjunctions, “possibly from a misguided sense of drama.”

In the latest entry in their “Director Dish” series of posts, the University of Nebraska Press Blog has a discussion of how book titling works differently in different book genres. The discussion brings up an age-old debate that’s recently been given additional fuel by the rise of search engine optimization as an important consideration in titling (particularly nonfiction) books: is it better to have a descriptive title or a flashy creative title? And what role should the subtitle play?

MOOCs have (once again) been a contentious topic of numerous op-eds recently, largely spurred by an article in the NYTimes by Thomas Friedman. An Akronism, the University of Akron Press blog, dove into the fray this week with a post looking at MOOCs and the phenomenon of MOOCH (MOOC Hysteria).

On March 26, the US Supreme Court will for the first time address the legality of bans on same sex marriage by hearing Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case based on California’s recent state ban on gay marriage. At This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, six experts debate the coming case and what the 14th Amendment actually means.

The generation born between 2000 and 2020 is likely to be significantly smaller than the Millennial Generation now entering the work force. At the AMACOM Books Blog, Claire Raines has a guest post offering a quick overview of recent generational history and ten quick predictions for this new generation, which she’s dubbed Generation Z for the purposes of the post. Interestingly enough, she argues that, “In just the way Gen Xers felt they grew up in the shadow of the Baby Boom, Z’s will feel like they’re coming of age in the shadow of Millennials.”

A book can be one of the most powerful gifts. At the LSU Press Blog, author Michael Downs tells the story of a gifted book that helped clarify what “writing fiction” actually meant to him. As he succinctly puts it: “My writing career started with the gift of a book.”

Hugo Chávez passed away earlier this week, and while the former leader of Venezuela has something of a bad reputation here in the US media, at From the Square, the NYU Press blog, Michael D. Yates argues that Chávez “was a great champion of the impoverished workers and peasants of both Venezuela and the world.”

At the OUPblog, Fiona Cox and Elena Theodorakopoulos have a fascinating guest post looking at female responses to Homer. They argue that “[i]n the last twenty years there has been an extraordinarily vital and widespread response to Homer by women writers,” and they cite a wide variety of works from Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate (published in 1989) to last year’s The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, as evidence.

Finally, The University of Georgia Press blog has been continuing their “30 Days of the Flannery O’Connor Award” series this week. All the posts in this series are well worth reading, but Tony Ardizzone’s examination of Salvatore La Puma’s The Boys of Bensonhurst is particularly engaging.

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

Friday, March 8th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

We’ll start out this week with a couple of excellent posts this week considering the history and role of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8). At the Stanford University Press Blog, Myra Marx Ferree has a guest post looking at the roots of International Women’s Day. And at From the Square, the NYU Press blog, Alison Piepmeier explains why she’s “a bit skeptical” of Women’s History Month.’

It’s now been over a month since US Secretary of State for Defense Leon Panetta announced that in 2016, combat roles in the US military would be open to female service personnel. At the OUPblog, Anthony King looks at the question that has been raised by critics of the decision to open combat roles to women: Can women fight? Using examples from the Canadian Army and the UK, he argues that “[i]t is empirically false to claim that women cannot serve on the frontline or that they necessarily undermine cohesion.”

Throughout the month of March, the University of Georgia Press blog will be hosting “30 Days of the Flannery O’Connor Award,” a series of guest posts from winners of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. The first of these posts, by Jessica Treadway, discusses Hester Kaplan’s The Edge of Marriage.

Meanwhile, the JHU Press Blog is running a series of posts called “Kill Your Darlings,” in which authors are asked “What poem, line, stanza, or piece of brilliant work have you sacrificed for the greater good?” So far, X. J. Kennedy and Peter Filkins have written very interesting posts attempting to answer that question.

Michael Sadowski made a couple of appearances in the blogs of academic presses this week. First, at Voices in Education, the blog of Harvard Education Publishing, Sadowski discusses the powerful role parents can play in setting goals for students. Then, at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Sadowski delves into the experiences that went into his new book, In a Queer Voice.

This week, Beacon Broadside, the blog of Beacon Press, has a Q&A with David Chura, author of I Don’t Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine. Over the course of the interview Chura explains what inspired him to write about incarcerated youth, why he decide to ask other teachers to tell stories from their careers, and how he and other teachers find the strength to deal with the additional challenges involved in teaching at-risk kids.

In honor of their centennial year, the Harvard University Press Blog is running a series of posts on 100 significant HUP titles. This week, Executive Editor-at-large Elizabeth Knoll looks back at Jerome Bruner’s The Process of Education, originally published in 1960. In her post, Knoll discusses how spectacular best-sellers from academic publishers often come from unexpected sources, and how, “in 1960, no one expected the report of a Woods Hole conference of eminent scientists and psychologists, spurred by the political shock of Sputnik to imagine reforms in American schools, to fascinate and inspire book reviewers, university students, neighborhood book groups, and school teachers for decades.”

While a majority of the time and effort spent on editing a book focuses on what goes between the covers (and rightfully so), at the University of Nebraska Press blog, UNP marketing manager Martyn Beeny argues that the value of the marketing copy written about the book should not be underrated: “Writing copy for a catalog or the back cover of a book is not to be confused with writing the book in the first place or editing it into shape in the second, but it is an authorial and editorial challenge in its own right.”

This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, has recently been posting a series of fascinating essays on paternalism. This week, Sarah Conley has a guest post arguing that, while paternalism has a bad name, “[m]uch of our traditional dislike of paternalism is based on a false picture of human nature.” She asks why we accept so readily paternalistic interventions in a few cases (like being required by law to wear a seatbelt) and not in others with similar effects.

Finally, we’ll wrap things up for this week’s Roundup with a Q&A with Patrick McGilligan at the University of Minnesota Press Blog about the Hollywood Blacklist of 1947. In a story that is often forgotten today, 36 members of the Hollywood community were blacklisted due to their alleged involvement with the Communist Party.

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!