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Archive for the 'Academia' Category

Friday, December 19th, 2014

University Press Roundup

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles 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. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

Wilfred Laurier University Press has recently been told that WLU will be withdrawing the support that the press had previously received from the university, as WLUP is “not essential to the vision and mission of the University. There’s a Hole in the Bucket, the blog of the University of Alberta Press, has more information on this situation, and provides a link to a petition to reverse the decision.

Hunting for a job is always frightening, and writing résumés and cover letters is a particularly intimidating part of the process. At the AMACOM Books Blog, Scott Bennett has a two part interview in which he offers his expertise in résumé styling in order to make this one part of finding a job a bit more palatable.

The “Swedish model” of reducing prostitution, sex trafficking, and violence against sex workers has been much discussed recently online. However, at Beacon Broadside, Melinda Chateauvert is less than sanguine about the often-lauded strategies that Sweden has employed. She argues that “the violence and stigma against people in the sex industry must be understood from sex workers’ points of view, not a “female POV,” whatever that is.”

A great deal of information concerning the use of torture by United States military and intelligence organizations has come out recently with releasing of the Feinstein Report. At fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, David P. Forsythe attempts to use the new data to add details to the general story of the US actions following September 11, 2001.

When Amy L. Stone wrote Gay Rights at the Ballot Box, which discussed the period between 1974 and 2009, it seemed that there would continue to be marriage bans voted into law for some time. In a post at the University of Minnesota Blog, however, she writes about the flurry of court cases overturning these laws that have happened over the past several years, and about the future of gay rights at the ballot box.

The UNC Press Blog has posted a fascinating excerpt from Shabana Mir’s Muslim American Women on Campus, in which Mir looks at Muslim American students engage in various types of leisure practices common at colleges around the US, particularly those involving the consumption of alcohol.

Should different ways of giving birth (in this case, C-sections and vaginal births) be treated as “being the same”? Theresa Morris argues that, while she understands the urge to do so, these two methods of giving birth should absolutely not be treated as being equivalent, as doing so can reinforce the mistaken notion that women are in control of their birth process in today’s world.

The aforementioned Feinstein report was not the only recently released report on the United States’ use of torture. At the OUPblog, Rebecca Gordon discusses the report issued by the UN Committee Against Torture, explaining some key points and arguing that a large part of the problem lies in American law, rather than just in the action of military and intelligence agencies.

In celebration of the holidays, the Princeton University Press Blog is running a 12-post series of The Twelve Grimm Days of Christmas, in which they are posting a story a day from their new translation of the first edition of the famous fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. One fun example: the seventh story is the story of a farmer’s son who happens to be born as a hedgehog rather than a human.

Finally, the University of Washington Press Blog has a interesting post up by David B. Williams about Bertha, the tunnel-borer that has been stuck under Seattle for a year. As the blog describes the problem at hand: “New reports indicate that Pioneer Square has sunk an inch since Thanksgiving and that a number of historic buildings and roadways are newly compromised by the beleaguered tunnel project.”

Thanks for reading! As always, we hope that you enjoyed the links. Please let us know what you think in the comments!

Friday, December 12th, 2014

University Press Roundup

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles 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. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

December 10th was Human Rights Day. In honor of the occasion, the Stanford University Press Blog and the OUPblog both have great posts looking at the history and current status of the idea of “human rights” around the world. At the SUP blog, Mark Goodale looks at the history of what it means to have a “right to rights,” while Boaventura de Sousa Santos finds troubling problems in the history of human rights thinking and advocates “a counter-hegemonic conception of human rights.” At the OUPblog, Kenneth Roth identifies the difficulties in instituting changes to combat human rights abuses carried out by governments.

Questions about the rights and limitations of both people interacting with police officers and the police themselves have been widely discussed recently, following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. At Beacon Broadside, Noliwe M. Rooks attempts to bring the Kerner Commission Report, first published in 1968 in response to clashes between the civil rights movement and police, into the conversation. She argues that it’s hard to imagine that any new report “will be more prescient than the Kerner Commission, which ends its report by acknowledging, ‘We have provided an honest beginning. We have learned much. But we have uncovered no startling truths, no unique insights, no simple solutions. The destruction and the bitterness of racial disorder, the harsh polemics of black revolt and white repression have been seen and heard before in this country. It is time now to end the destruction and the violence, not only in the streets of the ghetto but in the lives of people.’” Meanwhile, at fifteeneightyfour, David Krugler takes the opportunity of the current protests to take a detailed look at the history of racial tension and violence in America. By placing today’s situation side by side with racial issues from the past hundred years, he hopes to provide new insight into the sources of recent events. (more…)

Friday, November 21st, 2014

University Press Roundup

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles 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. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

While there were two high-profile accidents in the private space industry over the past few months, Chris Dubbs and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, writing at the University of Nebraska Press Blog, argue that “private industry can operate space services better and more cheaply than a government agency.” They believe that NASA would do better to focus on the parts of space exploration for which there is no commercial market, leaving typical launch services to private companies like Virgin Galactic, Orbital Sciences, and SpaceX.

One of the most difficult parts of academic publishing is knowing how to classify, market, and price different book projects. At the Sydney Publishing blog of The University of Sydney Press, Agata Mrva-Montoya has a post in which she takes on difficult issues publishing issues, from commissioning trade nonfiction to distinguishing between monographs and trade books.

At the JHU Press Blog, Annemarie Goldstein Jutel claims that one of the most important parts of combating a disease like Ebola is generating reasonable and informed discourse. She points out that discussions of Ebola have often used military language: “We have a war to win against Ebola and an Ebola Czar to help us do so. We try to bring the outbreak under full control to neutralize the virus,” and argues that this way of talking about the disease actually hurts the public goal of eradicating the virus.

It’s now been over two years since Hurricane Sandy came through New Jersey, New York, and other Eastern seaboard states, doing a stupendous amount of damage. At the Princeton University Press Blog, Stuart Schwartz writes that in the course of looking back at public reaction to the storm, he found something both interesting and unexpected: in his post-storm public speeches over the past two years, NJ Governor Chris Christie has been echoing those of Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the aftermath of Hurricane Flora, which devastated Cuba in 1963.

Ancient libraries, and the Library of Alexandria in particular, have long occupied near-mythic places in the public imagination as repositories of lost knowledge. However, as George W. Houston notes at the UNC Press Blog, only recently have there been serious scholarly attempts to discover traces of that lost knowledge and to reconstruct what an ancient library might have actually contained.

One of the biggest problems in regions that have been struck by disasters of any kind is reestablishing (or establishing for the first time) clean and effective systems of sanitation, a problem exacerbated in regions that are already struggling with poverty. At From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, Sara Fanning and Rob Curran discuss a possible solution to the sanitation problem in Haiti in a post honoring World Toilet Day.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and at the OSU Press Blog, Penelope S. Easton has a moving guest post in which she looks back at her time visiting remote hospitals in Alaska. In particular, she talks about her discovery of the mismanagement of the food supply to the Kanakanak Hospital, and how the staff and patients had to be creative in coming up with a Thanksgiving meal.

In more temperate parts of the United States, the approach of Thanksgiving means the onset of Christmas decorations, Christmas music, and Christmas sales. In a post at the Florida Bookshelf of the University Press of Florida, Ronald D. Lankford, Jr. talks about the ever-lengthening Christmas season and wonders whether the whole process is a good or a bad thing.

There have been a number of high-profile cases in which athletes have committed crimes involving domestic violence on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years. At the OUPblog, Mike Cronin looks at the case of Ched Evans, who was convicted of rape, served a prison term, and is now looking to get back into professional football (soccer), prompting widespread debate about whether teams should offer him a contract. Cronin argues that “[t]hose who govern the world of male professional sport have to realise that they administer not simply their games, but they are also responsible for the meaningful creation of men with positive values who can act, in the best ways, as role models.”

Ever wonder who had the idea for creating a Top 40 radio station? Want to learn more about how the Top 40 has changed over time? The Chicago Blog of the University of Chicago Press has a fascinating excerpt from Eric Weisbard’s Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music in which Weisbard takes a closer look at what “Top 40″ has actually meant over the years.

John Brown’s attempt to try to violently overthrow the institution of slavery in 1859 has long been a hot topic in American history. As Ted Smith points out at the Stanford University Press Blog, Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry has been used by such diverse figures as Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Eugene V. Debs, the Weather Underground, Timothy McVeigh, Christopher Hitchens, and Cornel West in comparisons for good or bad with current events.

Finally, wine is commonly associated with France; sugar, perhaps not so much. However, at fifteeneightfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, Elizabeth Heath argues that the way that both commodities have been treated over the years by French government officials can tell us a great deal about French domestic and colonial policy. Heath looks at recently discovered documents from colonial Guadaloupe to reach some surprising conclusions about what the French thought about citizenship and colony in the Third Republic.

Friday, November 14th, 2014

The University Press Roundup Manifesto: A #UPWeek 2014 Blog Tour Post

It’s the final day of University Press Week 2014! 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: Follow Friday.

Make sure you check out the other presses posting today: University of Illinois Press, University of Minnesota Press, University of Nebraska Press, NYU Press, and Island Press!

The University Press Roundup Manifesto

One of the most popular and longest-running series of posts on the Columbia University Press blog is our weekly University Press Roundup, a list of links to interesting posts from the blogs of other academic publishers. The Roundup is also an exceptionally enjoyable post to write. It’s hard to go wrong with a morning spent reading through articles from our ever-growing list of scholarly publishing blogs and explaining the most interesting ones. But in addition to the fun we have writing it (and, we hope, that others have reading it), the Roundup has a more serious raison d’etre: by showing the diversity and quality of posts on academic publishing blogs, we hope to help demonstrate the role of university presses in bringing scholarly conversations into the public sphere, and to show that this facilitation happens through the blogs of scholarly publishers as well as through our books. (more…)

Monday, November 10th, 2014

University Press Week Begins!

University Press Week

Today kicks off the beginning of University Press Week! The slogan for this year’s celebration is “Great Minds Don’t Think Alike,” and the week-long focus on university presses includes book giveaways; an online discussion about the future of scholarly publishing; a collaborative projects gallery featuring 79 fascinating examples of how collaboration can succeed in scholarly communications; and a blog tour.

Today’s blog posts focus on the theme of collaboration and include posts from the following university presses: University of California Press, University of Chicago Press, University Press of Colorado, Duke University Press, University of Georgia Press, Project MUSE/Johns Hopkins University Press, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Texas A&M University Press, University of Virginia Press, Yale University Press.

Friday, November 7th, 2014

University Press Roundup

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles 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.

Ebola has dominated the public discourse about public health of late, but as Emily Monosson explains in a post at Island Press Field Notes, we shouldn’t let immediate concerns about that particular virus blind us to the lessons that other illnesses can teach us about vaccination and disease control.

The claim that a country must defend itself from an enemy using mercenary troops is one of the most effective ways to take the moral high ground and to win popular support for military action, as we’ve seen in the recent conflict in Ukraine, where both sides have accused the other of employing mercenaries. In a fascinating post at the OUPblog, James Pattison takes a close look at the morality of employing mercenaries and of actually being a mercenary.

At the UNC Press Blog, Michael Barkun discusses “reverse transparency” in America. He argues that, due primarily to “the pressure of homeland security concerns,” transparency increasingly applies to individuals rather than to large organizations.

Are the very wealthy wielding an undue amount of influence in today’s political landscape? In an Election Day post at Beacon Broadside, Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks claim that, through campaign financing, lobbying groups, and media campaigns, billionaires have dictated a large portion of American domestic policies in recent years.

At the University of Nebraska Press Blog, Yaakov Lappin discusses the importance of the internet to the continuation, organization, and growth of the Islamist-jihad movement in the 21st century. In particular, he claims that the internet played a crucial role in “[t]he dramatic and rapid takeover of large swaths of Iraq and Syria by Islamic State forces.”

Cindy I-Fen Cheng argues in a post at From the Square, the blog of NYU Press that, while much has been made of the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley, much less has been written about one of the most troubling aspects of this problem: “wage disparities [in the tech industry] based on race and gender.” Though Asian Americans are well-represented in most tech firms, they are paid significantly less on average for doing similar jobs.

“Empty labor,” according to Roland Paulsen, refers to the hours each day modern office workers spend on private internet use during working hours. In a Q&A at fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, Paulsen discusses different kinds of empty labor, talks about why he studies it, and claims that “empty labor should be analyzed in the light of the enormous gains in productivity that we’ve seen since the industrialization.”

“Understanding criticism, whether as a giver or receiver, can become a significant asset toward your personal success as a manager or an employee in just about any field or organization.” At the AMACOM Books Blog, Deb Bright has a helpful two-part post on the best ways to give and take criticism in a work environment.

Going to the beach is a much-loved summer pastime in America, but, as Orrin Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper explain in a Q&A at the Duke University Press Blog, the very existence of beaches in many parts of the country (particularly in Florida) is threatened by a combination of pollution, beach mining and coastal engineering, and climate change.

“In only four decades, Phoenix, Arizona, grew from a town of sixty-five thousand to the sixth largest city in America.” At the Princeton University Press Blog, Andrew Needham tells the story of how his book on changes in the electric and natural resource needs of Phoenix during that period of growth turned into a story of the underlying history of climate change.

Finally, we’ll wrap things up this week with a fun post from the Stanford University Press Blog: “7 Things You Didn’t Know About ¡Tequila!” Marie Sarita Gaytán explains that worms do not belong in tequila bottles, that Pancho Villa did not drink tequila, and that salt and lime were originally used to mask the taste of bad tequila, among other fun facts.

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

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):

(more…)

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)

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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

#UPWeek

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.

(more…)

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!

#UPWeek

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.

(more…)

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.”

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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.

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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!