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Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

New Book Tuesday: Preventive Engagement, Chinese Script, Garden Variety

Our weekly listing of new books now available:

Preventive Engagement
How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong, and Keep the Peace
Paul B. Stares

Chinese Script: History, Characters, Calligraphy
Thomas O. Höllmann. Translated by Maximiliane Donicht

Garden Variety
The American Tomato from Corporate to Heirloom
John Hoenig

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Russian Literature Week, May 1-6 2017


Next week is Russian Literature Week, 2017, and a big week for the Russian Library series as well! Our new book Rapture by Iliazd and translated by Thomas J. Kitson is hot off the press. Tom will be discussing his translation at the Art of Translation roundtable at the Harriman Institute at Columbia on Tuesday at 4:30 pm with Russian translation superstars Marion Schwartz, Antonina W. Bouis, and Lisa Hayden. Ruth Franklin, book critic and author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, will moderate. The event is co-sponsored by the Columbia Department of Slavic Languages, the Harriman Institute, Read Russia, and Columbia University Press.

Then on Thursday at 5:00 pm Tom will discuss the novel with Russian literature scholar Jennifer Wilson at an event called What’s Old in New: Gender and Power in Iliazd’s Neglected Rapture at the Jordan Center at NYU. This event has been organized in association with the Jordan Center, Read Russia’s Russian Literature Week and the PEN World Voices Festival.

You can find more information and RSVP for these and all of the other great Russian Literature Week events here.

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

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.)

In current affairs news, the Beacon Broadside Press cross-posted a piece by Jonathan Rosenblum, the author of the forthcoming Beyond $15: Immigrant Workers, Faith Activists, and the Revival of the Labor Movement, on how it has been the politics of resistance, rather than necessarily the power of judiciary, which has obstructed President Trump’s travel ban. At the Yale University Press blog Amalia D. Kessler, author of A Revolution in Commerce: The Parisian Merchant Court and the Rise of Commercial Society in Eighteenth-Century France, asked whether we can equate adversarial politics with the pursuit of justice and inclusion. The Temple University Press cross-posted a Huffington Post piece by their author Crystal Marie Fleming (Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France) on the complicated state of racial-political discourse in France, which is characterized by what she calls “pretty words and magical thinking.”

To wrap up Black History Month, the University of Chicago Press blog hosted a fun resource: a list of black restauranteurs who worked in Charleston between 1880 and 1920, drawn from the research of David S. Shields, whose book The Culinarians: Lives and Careers from the First Age of American Fine Dining, is forthcoming in fall 2017. To celebrate the start of Women’s History Month in March, the NYU Press blog featured a guest post by Jill Norgren, author of Rebels at the Bar: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America’s First Women Lawyers (2013), about Lavinia Goodell, the first woman to officially practice law in the state of Wisconsin.

For the theme of women’s history and coinciding with last weekend’s Academy Awards, the Cambridge University Press had a post by Michael J. Hogan, author of The Afterlife of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, about the building of the Kennedy brand and the surprisingly unfavorable view of the famous First Couple portrayed in Pablo Larraín’s recent film Jackie. There were also a few more anniversaries celebrated this week: the University Press of Kentucky commemorated the birthday of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) by sharing some wonderful Appalachian nursery rhymes, and the Oxford University Press unpacked why no-one tends to celebrate Michelangelo’s birthday.

From the grab-bag of the eye-catching and the odd: the University of Washington Press hosted a photo essay of how polar bears have been kept in zoos over the last two centuries. The Princeton University Press announced a trailer for their forthcoming translation of Andrea Carandini’s Atlas of Ancient Rome. And if you’re in Georgia (or, indeed, anywhere else), the University of Georgia Press posted an announcement of their new effort with Georgia Public Broadcasting: the Innovative Virtual Book Club.

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

Friday, October 14th, 2016

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.)

MIT Press’s blog features an interview with David Sarokin, an environmental scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency, and Jay Schulkin, Research Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Georgetown University (and author of Sport: A Biological, Philosophical, and Cultural Perspective!). Sarokin and Schulkin are the authors of the recently published, Missed Information, a book that examines the power of information and its ability to shape some of the world’s leading industries. This interview tackles a range of issues, from the role of information and technology in health care to the relationship between social media and law enforcement. According to Sarokin and Schulkin, there is a direct correlation between the dissemination of efficient information and sustainability. “If we add information to that system about human values—information about child labor, environmental protection, worker safety, and more—then those same invisible forces can steer the marketplace, and the world at large, towards a more sustainable future.”

This week, University of Michigan Press’s blog honors author Anne McGuire, winner of the inaugural Tobin Siebers Prize for Disability Studies. This blog post focuses on the field of disability studies, featuring a reflection by David Mitchell, Georgetown University professor and co-editor of the book series Corporealities: Discourses of Disability. This book series, otherwise known as “the longest running academic book series devoted exclusively to disability studies,” has greatly influenced the growth of disability studies in education and its prevalence in the humanities as a whole. “The series has not only been a beacon but also a staple source of research materials for libraries, the general public, teachers, and scholars.”

Will e-books and digital reading overtake print? Naomi S. Baron, professor of Linguistics and Executive Director of the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning at American University, examines this question in a post on Oxford University Press’s blog. The rise of digital reading can be attributed to multiple factors, as e-books are not only more convenient in transportation, but are also generally cheaper than print versions. According to Baron’s research, however, “92% [of university students] said they concentrated best when reading in print.” Even kids from ages 6-17, who tend to be frequent users of digital devices, are in line with this sentiment. “Scholastic found that 71% of 12-14 year-olds agreed with the statement ‘I’ll always want to read books printed on paper even though there are e-books available,’” references Baron. The verdict? “The jury remains out on the future mix of print and digital media. My bet is that for some time to come, readers will have the chance to follow their own preferences.”

A post by Stephen Kendrick, author of The Lively Place: Mount Auburn, America’s First Garden Cemetery, and its Revolutionary and Literary Residents, is currently featured on Beacon Press’s blog. In this post, readers can enjoy a scientific analysis of New England’s “residing glory,” or in other words, the vibrant hue of autumn leaves. The post focuses on the effects of fall on Mount Auburn, a garden cemetery with an ecological approach to horticulture. “The reason the colors are so intense here in New England? It’s all a natural process. The shorter day triggers the reduction of chlorophyll, which produces the green, and when this happens, the yellow pigments that have been there all along are revealed,” says Dr. David Barnett, horticultural specialist and president of Mount Auburn.

An interview with Elizabeth Ann Bartlett, author of Making Waves: Grassroots Feminism in Duluth and Superior, is available on Minnesota Historical Society Press’s blog. Bartlett’s book analyzes the impact of feminist organizing in Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin during the late 1970’s. In her interview, Bartlett speaks about the process behind writing her book in addition to the personal connection she shares with Duluth and its relationship to feminism. “Duluth was coming into its feminist awareness and activism at the same time I was. It was the perfect place to be as a budding feminist,” reflects Bartlett.

With Michel Foucault’s 90th birthday on the horizon, Stanford University Press’s blog celebrates with a compilation of 5 books that “tussle with Foucault’s legacy.” The post delves into Foucault’s accomplishments and his many contributions to multiple academic fields. “Across the humanities and social sciences his work continues to be among the most cited, a distinction proportionate to the number of scholarly hats Foucault wore in life—including that of the philosopher, the historian, the social theorist, the philologist, and the literary critic.” Each book recommendation includes a paragraph on content and context, in addition to a quotation, reflecting praise for each publication.

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

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Weekly Feature and Book Giveaway: World Literature Week

World Literature Week

This week, in conjunction with the PEN World Voices Festival, we will be highlighting our wide range of books of and about world literature here on the Columbia University Press blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Here’s a quick summary of books we’ll have posts for this week (we’ll add the posts, as well, as they arrive!):


  • An interview with M. A. Orthofer, highlighting his thorough and fascinating new guide to contemporary fiction around the world, The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction
  • Tuesday

  • An interview with translator Julia Lovell and “The Apprentice,” an excerpted short story from The Matchmaker, the Apprentice, and the Football Fan, a collection of short stories about everyday life in China in the late 1980s by Zhu Wen (following up his previous collection, I Love Dollars)
  • An excerpt on writing a book composed from notes in the margins of history, from Hideo Furukawa’s novel/history/memoir of the 3/11 disaster at Fukushima, Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure, translated by Doug Slaymaker with Akiko Takenaka. Hideo Furukawa will be in New York for the PEN World Voices festival! For more details, click here.
  • Wednesday

  • “The Disappearance of M,” the first story in Ng Kim Chew’s collection of short fiction, Slow Boat to China and Other Stories, translated and edited by Carlos Rojas
  • Watch novelist Li Ang discuss The Lost Garden, her eloquent and beautiful exploration of contemporary Taiwan, with translators Sylvia Li-chun Lin and Howard Goldblatt, and Columbia University Press Director Jennifer Crewe, and then read “When the Incident Occurred,” an excerpt from Part 1
  • Thursday

  • A quick critical look at the dominance of English and its effect on world literature from Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature, by Rebecca L. Walkowitz, and The Fall of Language in the Age of English, by Minae Mizumura, translated by Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter
  • Editor Christine Dunbar introduces our new Russian Library series, with a particular focus on its first three books: Between Dog and Wolf, by Sasha Sokolov, translated by Alexander Boguslawski; Fourteen Little Red Huts and Other Plays, by Andrei Platonov, edited by Robert Chandler, translated by Robert Chandler, Jesse Irwin, and Susan Larsen; and Strolls with Pushkin, by Andrei Sinyavsky, translated by Catherine Theimer Nepomnyashchy and Slava I. Yastremski
  • Friday

  • Take a closer look at Chinese University Press’s extensive collection of drama from Nobel Prize for Literature winner Gao Xingjian, including, among others, The Other Shore, Snow in August, and, most recently, City of the Dead and Ballade Nocturne
  • A wonderful selection of poetry from Chinese University Press’s series of International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong anthologies, particularly the most recent installment, Poetry and Conflict, Edited by Bei Dao, Shelby K. Y. Chan, Gilbert C. F. Fong, Lucas Klein, Christopher Mattison, and Chris Song
  • Book Giveaway

    We are also offering a FREE selection of titles discussed in the feature: The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction, by M. A. Orthofer; Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure, by Hideo Furukawa; The Lost Garden, by Li Ang; and The Matchmaker, the Apprentice, and the Football Fan, by Zhu Wen. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, April 29th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

    Friday, March 11th, 2016

    Five Aftershocks in Japan: Five Years After the Fukushima Disaster

    Today, in memory of the Fukushima disaster, marketing intern Kalle Mattila has delved into five aftershocks as described by Hideo Furukawa, author of a recent Columbia UP book: Horses, Horses in the End the Light Remains Pure.

    Hideo Furukawa is a novelist from Fukushima, the center of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown that devastated northeast Japan on March 11, 2011. His new book, Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure: A Tale that Begins with Fukushima, is a fusion of fiction, history, and memoir in post-3/11 Japan.


    “When someone from Fukushima tries to make a reservation at a hotel in a different prefecture, they’re told they can’t stay there. When they try to go to a gas station in another prefecture, they’re told that cars with Fukushima plates can’t fill up there. I’ve heard people say that women from Fukushima will have trouble getting married because of the belief that the radiation might affect their future children. The people who think this way might represent a minuscule minority of the whole country, but for me the saddest part is that because of the radiation leak we have lost that sense of unity that we had after the earthquake. As the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami, the people of Japan had the world’s sympathy. I still believed that if we joined together we could bring things back to the way they used to be.” (The Nation)


    “All of the electric output from the Fukushima Nuclear plant was destined for Tokyo—indeed, the power plant is administered not by any local entity but by Tokyo Electric Power Company, which means that the most insidious changes from the radiation, which affect every aspect of the living beings of Fukushima, are caused solely by and for Tokyo.”


    “I didn’t expect these sorts of horses: refugee horses, horses that had been driven out by the tsunami, injured horses. Some were in the pasture, some were in stables. The stables were being managed by an NPO. Young S had heard that volunteers were taking care of the horses. I realized only later that the horses being cared for here had been temporarily evacuated to a separate prefecture in a forced immigration, probably one step toward becoming permanent evacuees, outside Fukushima Prefecture.

    “Hair loss. Easy to deduce that this was a symptom of stress. From fear, I assume. There was hair there on the tip of its muzzle. There was, of course, hair covering its body, and bangs, but also transparent hairs sticking out from its chin, like cat whiskers. Ten or so. I didn’t know that horses had hair like that, like whiskers.

    “I assume he was frightened. I looked down at his feet. I could see that he was not using all the available area. He stayed in one space, the area right near the entrance, the space, that is, where he could be petted, where he could be in contact with those who came to visit. Back and forth, endlessly, in the confined space no larger than two square meters, kicking the ground with his hooves.”


    “Twenty-eight elementary and preschools within the Kōriyama city limits would have the surfaces of their open schoolyards removed. They were going to remove of the top layer of soil on the playgrounds because they had become repositories of radioactive material. Although I didn’t hear about this through newspaper reports, I later learned that heavy machinery also entered the grounds of the elementary school where I had spent six years. I imagined what it must look like. A bulldozer is scraping the open spaces of my school. Layer upon layer.” (The Nation)

    “One of the rituals of grade school in Japan is for the students to fill up a time capsule at graduation and bury it in the ground at school. They are supposed to dig it up in twenty years, but in my school the ground that held our memories was contaminated by radiation. The bulldozers carted it all away.”


    “One positive, unexpected outcome of the 3.11 disaster was that it promoted another, or new, image of Japanese people to other countries. I think this was due simply to the fact that the disaster hit no other region but Tohoku, whose people are known for characteristics that surprised the foreign media: they are patient, extremely well-mannered, unselfish, cooperative, and so forth. Those virtues might not be the first image people in other countries have of ‘Japanese’ people before 3.11, though these are very Japanese in my view.” (Asymptote)

    The Nation

    Read an excerpt here.
    See Furukawa’s NY author tour schedule here.

    Thursday, March 10th, 2016

    The American Prism

    Why America Misunderstands the World

    “A nation’s culture—which itself has been shaped by all of the physical, political, and historical circumstances that have made that nation what it is—powerfully influences its citizens’ perceptions. A culture determines much of what the people who are part of that culture take to be factual knowledge. American culture and everything that has gone into it constitute a prism that slants, distorts, and colors how Americans see what is around them. Sometimes the distortion is so great that they fail to see some things at all.” — Paul Pillar

    This week, our featured book is Why America Misunderstand the World: National Experience and Roots of Misperception, by Paul R. Pillar. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from the first chapter, “The American Prism,” in which Pillar discusses how “the distorting and coloring prismatic effects of being an American … extend to how [Americans] perceive the world outside their national borders.”

    Thursday, February 11th, 2016

    Thursday Fiction Corner: Li Ang and her “Lost Garden”

    The Lost Garden

    On Wednesday, January 20, 2016, Author Li Ang, arguably Taiwan’s most controversial feminist writer, discussed her newly translated novel The Lost Garden with a panel that included her translators Sylvia Li-chun Lin and Howard Goldblatt as well as her editor Jennifer Crewe.

    Her fiction is known for her frank depictions of female sexuality and violence. In the video below, she discusses her motivation for writing The Lost Garden, Taiwan’s national identity, and the decadence of capitalism. Goldblatt and Lin discuss the problems of translations and the censorship of the White Terror Period.

    Thanks goes to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of New York and Columbia University’s C.V. Starr East Asian Library Reading Room for sponsoring the event. Please enjoy!

    Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

    A Picture is Worth a Thousand Years: Striking Images From Richard W. Bulliet’s THE WHEEL

    The Wheel

    “Tracking the wheel from 4000 B.C.E to the present, Bulliet argues that the traditional myth falsifies history by melding three kinds of wheel into one. Rather than a “viral” tool that changed the world, different wheels serviced particular niches–mine-cars, children’s toys, parade floats, furniture casters–before emerging as the means by which today’s trains, automobiles, and shopping carts move.”

    Visualizing the spectacles, particularities, and innovations that pepper human history can be difficult–especially when we are sometimes forced to recognize our own points of visual reference as being utterly foreign to those historical snapshots we’d like to imagine. Throw out, for good measure, the basic assumptions that frame our modern understanding of how both people and things function and relate to the world, and the picture falls further out of focus.

    And so today we’d like to thank art, archaeology, and mechanical design for helping to illuminate the myth of a singular “Eureka!” moment for the wheel with just the kind of visual aid modern reader’s need: an imgur page created by Richard W. Bulliet (so thanks to him, too!) showcasing some of the most compelling photographs, renderings, and artwork from his book The Wheel: Inventions and Reinventions.

    Here’s a quick look:

    Olmec toy
    Potters in southern Mexico produced wheeled toys, but the Western Hemisphere never developed large-scale wheeled transport.

    1885 Benz Automobile
    Tricycle design indicates that Ackermann steering was still not understood to be the best design for a motor vehicle.

    Ancient mining operation Basket being used to collect ore prompter miners in the Carpathian Mountains to design baskets on wheels.

    That's it for today! Be sure to take a look at the rest of the pictures here. Throughout the week, we will continue to feature content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

    We are also offering a FREE copy of Short Selling. To enter our book giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select our winners on Friday, February 12th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

    Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

    Mysterious Molecules: The Sacred Knowledge of Entheogens

    Sacred Knowledge

    “How can we not explore this, if it can recalibrate how we die?”

    This week, our featured book is Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences, by William A. Richards. Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Sacred Knowledge!

    In Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences, William A. Richards argues that, if used responsibly and legally, psychedelics have incredible potential to assuage human suffering and constructively contribute to the quality of life on our planet. Richards’ book comes at a time when many are questioning the blanket prohibition on and demonization of such substances. In the New Yorker this February, Michael Pollan’s article “The Trip Treatment” delved into the ongoing second wave of psychedelics research, with an assist from Richards. And in an interview with Noah Berlatsky in The Guardian, Richards explains the promise of his research.

    As the drug war subsides, scientists are eager to reconsider the therapeutic potential of these drugs, beginning with psilocybin… The effects of psilocybin resemble those of LSD, but, as one researcher explained, “it carries none of the political and cultural baggage of those three letters.” LSD is also stronger and longer-lasting in its effects, and is considered more likely to produce adverse reactions. Researchers are using or planning to use psilocybin not only to treat anxiety, addiction (to smoking and alcohol), and depression but also to study the neurobiology of mystical experience, which the drug, at high doses, can reliably occasion. Forty years after the Nixon Administration effectively shut down most psychedelic research, the government is gingerly allowing a small number of scientists to resume working with these powerful and still somewhat mysterious molecules.

    As I chatted with Tony Bossis and Stephen Ross in the treatment room at N.Y.U., their excitement about the results was evident. According to Ross, cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months. The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review, but the researchers expect to publish later this year.

    “I thought the first ten or twenty people were plants—that they must be faking it,” Ross told me. “They were saying things like ‘I understand love is the most powerful force on the planet,’ or ‘I had an encounter with my cancer, this black cloud of smoke.’ People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field.” (more…)

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

    Sebald’s “Air War and Literature”

    Sebald's Vision, Carol Jacobs

    “Sebald demands a language that closely follows upon the events of destruction and brings them into our memory … Sebald calls for a language that makes one see.”—Carol Jacobs

    In the following excerpt from Sebald’s Vision, Carol Jacobs discusses Sebald’s controversial “Air War and Literature,” and his call to remember German victims of the allied bombing:

    Five years after the first publication of The Emigrants in 1992, Sebald gives a series of lectures entitled “Air War and Literature” (“Luftkrieg und Literatur”). The Emigrants closed with the judgment of Genewein, the would-be documentarian of the Lódz Ghetto who imagined, no doubt, he was fixing reality in place. “Air War and Lit­erature,” as it opens, demands an aesthetic (or anti-aesthetic) that turns that suspicion of the documentary on its head. It sets us up for a theory and practice of “concrete memory.” Representation is clearly called upon to serve reality. Still, the shift from the earlier prose fiction to the “Air War” lectures is no symmetrical displace­ment, no difference as extreme or easy to grasp as that between night and day. It is no move, say, from the frivolities of art to the gravity of history. Sebald’s ultimate refusal to be the vehicle of a déjà vu, the writer’s fundamental skepticism by the end of the lectures with regard to what has been seen, establishes a kinship between his commentary on German postwar literature and his earlier liter­ary publication. And yet this is hardly evident at the outset of those lectures.

    In 1997 Sebald holds forth from the other side of the German bor­der, from that no-man’s-land of what is, from a certain geopolitical viewpoint, regarded as Swiss neutrality. With his two lectures deliv­ered in Zurich, Sebald drops something of a bomb. What he ostensi­bly speaks of is literature—literature of a particular historical place and time. “Air War and Literature” castigates the failure of a genera­tion of German writers “for their incapacity to record and bring into our memory that which they had seen.” He dreams of a language of immediacy that unproblemati­cally names the experience of the observer, which then, somewhat magically, might become that of the reader as well. Sebald writes of an aesthetic imperative arising out of a “moral imperative,” imposed, in turn, by the particular object to be portrayed: in this case the utter destruction of the German cities by the Allied bombing attacks in the late years of World War II. But here, already, lies something of the well-recognized scandal of his text. The au­thor of those genre-bending volumes about (and yet not always quite about) the Holocaust—The Emigrants and Austerlitz, to name those now most familiar to Sebald’s audi­ence, came to Switzerland in the name of another, the other victim. It is no longer the murdered and expatriated victims of European his­tory and the Third Reich in the thirties and forties, both Jews and non-Jews, but those who by choice or fate remained on German soil. What would they, could they, have to say for themselves, of them­selves? How does their speech or silence relate to their particular po­litical and (thus) moral position and to the more generalizable situa­tion of trauma?


    Friday, May 22nd, 2015

    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.)

    In the wake of Charlie Hebdo, how should a liberal society deal with religious fanaticism? At Yale University Press’s blog, Stephen Eric Bronner, author of Modernism at the Barricades, discusses fanaticism and free speech and wrestles with the question of tolerating intolerance. Bronner notes that consistent application of freedom of speech means that a society that allows defamation of Allah or the Prophet must also permit defamation of the Holocaust. A society must permit or prohibit both.

    UT Austin blog highlights their heavy hitter for the season We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in Space Program. The book has rightfully been featured everywhere. A thoughtful blogpost by Elizabeth Hodge Freeman, sociologist and author of The Color of Love, muses on Toni Morrison’s newly published novel God Help the Child. She writes about the dialogue of ideas about race between Morrison’s work of fiction and her own scholarship.

    MIT Press commemorates the fourth anniversary of the deadly tornado that struck Joplin, MO and how the community embraced civic ecological principles in the aftermath. The effects of civic ecological principles are heartening. The city of Joplin repurposed debarked trees into public art, recreated their community, and more. Leslie Knope couldn’t have done better in Pawnee.

    Today, Ireland is voting on a referendum to legalize same-sex marriage. At the OUP blog, Lorenzo Zucca covers how this will set a historic precedent by this culturally Catholic country. How will things change if the referendum passes? “If ‘Yes‘ wins, the following new wording will be added to the Constitution: ‘Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex’.” Zucca argues in favor. Read his points here.

    Can graduate students live by ramen alone? Harvard University Press’ blog features a blogpost by Leonard Casuto, author of The Graduate School Mess. Higher education is in flux in the US, and the main thrust of Casuto’s critique is about the hodgepodge selection of courses. Because the course offerings in today’s universities are specialized inquiries, the onus too often falls on graduate students to create a coherent and comprehensive program of study. Ramen is delicious but not quite nutritious (alone).

    That’s all folks for the weekly round up! Thanks for reading! Do make the most of your Memorial Day weekend.

    Thursday, March 26th, 2015

    Two Early Chicago Films Heading to Blu-Ray

    The following post is by Michael Smith, co-author with Adam Selzer of Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry

    In the introduction to Flickering Empire, Adam Selzer and I quote film scholar Susan Doll who said that it is Chicago’s “best kept secret” that it served as the nation’s filmmaking capital prior to the rise of Hollywood. That the vast majority of the films made in Chicago prior to 1920 have been either lost, destroyed or are otherwise difficult to see partly accounts for Chicago’s neglected status in the official film histories. Fortunately, the two most important Chicago-made silent films discussed in our book have both been recently restored and will receive re-releases on home video in HD in the next year. These releases will hopefully go some way towards giving Chicago the credit it deserves for the important role it played in our nation’s film history. The two films in question are:

    His New Job—The one and only film Charlie Chaplin made in Chicago is this delightful 20-minute comedy short, the first he made for Essanay Studios (before fulfilling the rest of his contract at the company’s California branch). The plot sees Chaplin’s familiar “Little Tramp” character showing up to audition for a part in a movie at “Lodestone Studios.” The interior stages at Essanay in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood essentially play themselves as Lodestone and the movie thus becomes a fascinating peak into the process of silent moviemaking, at times achieving a near-documentary quality. The Tramp gets a job first as Production Assistant, then as a carpenter and finally as an extra in what appears to be a prestigious “period” film set in 19th century Russia. Of course, he wreaks havoc on the set and the entire production soon devolves into a state of slapstick anarchy. His New Job will be released on Blu-ray by Flicker Alley in Summer 2015. In the meantime, you can watch an unrestored version of the film here:

    Within Our Gates—The earliest surviving feature film directed by an African American is this incendiary drama by the legendary Oscar Micheaux. Evelyn Preer plays Sylvia Landry, a young black woman from Chicago who tries to raise money to save a school for black children in the rural south. Micheaux’s story alternates between scenes taking place in the north and south as well as the past and the present in order to generate a suspenseful climax — a lengthy flashback to the events that led to Sylvia’s adoptive parents being lynched by an angry mob. This lynching scene is intercut with an equally horrifying scene where a villainous middle-aged white man attempts to rape the young Sylvia before recognizing a scar on her chest that identifies her as his own illegitimate daughter. The clever intercutting of this climax intentionally unpacks the racist ideology of the climax of D.W. Griffith’s similarly constructed The Birth of a Nation. Within Our Gates will be released on Blu-ray by Kino/Lorber in February 2016. In the meantime, you can watch an unrestored version of the film here:

    Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

    New Book Tuesday: Intimate Rivals, The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China, and More New Books!

    Intimate Rivals, Sheila SmithOur weekly listing of new titles:

    Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China
    Sheila A. Smith

    The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation
    Peter Schwieger

    Studying Early and Silent Cinema
    Keith Withall

    U.S.-Latin American Relations
    Karol Derwich

    2012 U.S. Presidential Election: Challenges and Expectations
    Edited by Pawel Laidler and Maciej Turek

    Europe in the Time of Crisis
    Stanislaw Konopacki

    The Art of Literature, Art in Literature
    Edited by Magdalena Bleinert, Izabela Curyllo-Klag, and Bozena Kucala

    A Polyvalent Media Policy in the Enlarged European Union
    Beata Klimkiewicz

    Standard Turkic C-Type Reduplications
    Kamil Stachowski

    Friday, October 31st, 2014

    University Press Roundup: Halloween Edition

    Welcome to our Friday roundup of this week’s spookiest university press blog posts. As usual, feel free to stop by the comments if there’s anything you find particularly ghoulish!

    We begin by embracing John Hopkins University Press’s call for a “Return of the Scary.” As part of an ongoing blog series that discusses current trends in poetry and literature, author Jerry Griswold observes that in recent years, children’s literature and media have perhaps been de-fanged. Recalling recent explorations of horror aimed at young audiences, such as Shrek or Monsters, Inc., it may be difficult to contextualize the success of Tim Burton’s twisted imaginings, or even the Gothic styling of Lemony Snicket. But rest assured, Griswold argues–despite our fond memories of sweeter childhood fairy tales–what we’re seeing is instead a return to the morbidity that has always characterized children’s stories. Just remember what happened to poor Ichabod Crane.

    Speaking of horror in literature, Cambridge University Press author Andrew McCann touches on the popular idea of consciousness (or the partial surrender of consciousness) as relating to authorship and the occult. That is, for some the creative process remains a mystery even to the creators themselves, where origins of artistic expression seem to defy rational explanation and are instead credited to external–sometimes paranormal–means of inception and transmittance.

    And who, if anyone, might embody the archetypal writer driven by some force beyond rationality, if not Poe? Kevin J. Hayes, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allen Poe and Edgar Allen Poe in Context, discusses the literary grotesqueries of Poe’s legacy and his associations in American culture with Halloween. But Poe’s no one-trick pony, asserts Hayes–the godfather of Goth also invented the detective story, experimented with science fiction, and could counterbalance the truly shocking with humor. “So, read some Poe this Halloween for a good scare. Read Poe the rest of the year for fascinating insights into his world—and ours.”

    Apparently the University Press of Mississippi has Film Friday (!), and this one, of course, happens to fall on Halloween. So “what’s even scarier than watching a horror movie?”, they ask. Reading about them! As the press has recently begun growing its Film Studies list to include horror, we encourage readers and film buffs alike to take a look at some of their featured books here.

    And lastly, we’d like to briefly join our university press friends in presenting some Halloween-appropriate academic texts. Fordham University Press today features Scare Tactics: Supernatural Fiction by American Women, which looks at the rise of “disturbing and uncanny tales” from American women authors between the Civil War and the 1930s.

    McGill-Queen’s University Press features today Children into Swans: Fairy Tales and the Pagan Imagination, which examines the underlying religious, pagan, mythological, and cultural beliefs and anxieties that present themselves as common motifs in fairy tales. Sweeping across a broad scope of Western literature–from pre-Christian European folk literature to the nineteenth century–author Jan Beveridge offers a compelling insight into “some of the most extraordinary worlds ever portrayed in literature.”

    That’s it for this week’s university press roundup. Happy Halloween, everyone, and thanks for stopping by!

    Friday, August 8th, 2014

    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.

    First up, over at the Chicago Blog, author and popular science journalist Carl Zimmer helps us to examine the realistic implications of our current so-called Ebolapocalypse.

    OUP author Daniel Romer wants to know: What’s next for youth and the emergence of new media? From online ads to video games, the way in which younger people have approached the proliferation of media has changed drastically in the last twenty years. One massive study undertaken in the UK sheds some light on the effects–both positive and negative–that have surfaced amid this transition.

    While we’re at the OUP Blog, take a look at some artwork featuring the gods, heroes, and mythological creatures of Greek antiquity, taken from author Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of Homer’s The Odyssey.

    69 years ago this week, history’s first nuclear attack devastated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yale Press author Keiko Hirata discusses the circumstances surrounding these monumental events, as well as the complicated and resounding impacts they’ve carried for Japan’s subsequent outlook and regrowth in the following decades.

    This week, Penn Press covered a History News Network blog post by one of their authors, Jeffrey Glover, discussing America’s first interracial marriage. Can you guess who was involved?

    Lastly, we head over to Beacon Broadside, where the environmental effects of fracking on U.S. aquifers are examined alongside Michelle Bamberger’s and Robert Oswald’s book, The Real Cost of Fracking.

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

    Monday, July 7th, 2014

    The Nature of Value Allocation

    The Nature of Value

    “We organize our lives and resources “economically”, but what does that mean? Where is it all heading and how can one allocate those resources better? These are big questions, on which The Nature of Value seeks to provide perspective.” — Nick Gogerty

    Last week our featured book was The Nature of Value: How to Invest in the Adaptive Economy, by Nick Gogerty, and, since last week was a short one with the July 4th holiday, we are keeping things rolling today with one final post. Today, we have an excerpt from the fifteenth chapter of The Nature of Value, “The Nature of Value Allocation,” as well as a list of the six things Nick Gogerty hopes that you will get out of his book:

    New ideas. The Nature of Value should provide fresh ways to consider how innovation, economies, and investing work.

    We organize our lives and resources “economically”, but what does that mean? Where is it all heading and how can one allocate those resources better? These are big questions, on which The Nature of Value seeks to provide perspective. Areas of exploration include but aren’t limited to:

    -New economic concepts (panarchies, possibility spaces, inos, value based diversification, and much more)
    -The dangers of price/value confusion
    -Mental models of how economies work like nature, evolving and adapting
    -A theory of portfolio allocation based on the credit money cycle to value flow relationship
    -Sustainable value creation: who wins and why?
    -The role of energy and information in ecology and economics

    Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for The Nature of Value by 1 PM Monday, July 7th (today)!

    Thursday, June 19th, 2014

    Atheists in Love

    Atheists in America

    “My mother was right. It has been difficult for me to navigate my romantic relationships. I also believe that my father was right; I should not apologize for who I am and what I believe.” — Ethan Sahker

    This week our featured book is Atheists in America, edited by Melanie E. Brewster. Today, we have an excerpt from Part 4 of Atheists in America: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Navigating Romantic Relationships as an Atheist,” including chapters by Ethan Sahker and Kristen Rurouni. Sahker and Rurouni describe their experiences with the complexities involved when religion and atheism become important issues in romantic relationships.

    Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Atheists in America! Note: For readers in the Northeast, there will be a book release party for Atheists in America on June 25th at the Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan from 7pm-10pm. Authors from across the country will be flying in to read their works. Open to the public. Email Melanie Brewster for more details.

    Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

    The Other Closet: An Introduction to Atheism and Coming Out Processes

    Atheists in America

    “[R]esearch suggests that this notable decrease in sectarianism and increase in overall tolerance of other religions is not extended to atheists. To put it mildly, attitudes toward atheists are wary and unaffirming. Survey data consistently find that atheists are regarded as “more troubling” than other groups of individuals on a long list of historically oppressed populations.” — Melanie E. Brewster

    This week our featured book is Atheists in America, edited by Melanie E. Brewster. Today, we are happy to present “The Other Closet: An Introduction to Atheism and Coming Out Processes,” the introduction to Atheists in America, written by editor Melanie Brewster. In this introduction, Brewster discusses the rise of New Atheism in America, takes a look at who atheists in the U.S. actually are (demographically speaking), and looks at the phenomenon of “closeting” as it relates to atheism.

    Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Atheists in America!

    Monday, April 28th, 2014

    A Q&A with Matthew Akester, translator of Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule

    Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule

    “The main gift of Khetsun’s book, however, is its vivid depiction of the banal horrors; how prisoners were forced to denude the hills around Lhasa to provide their captors with firewood, or carry them piggy-back across icy rivers in winter, or how prisoners’ lives were casually wasted in work accidents, how political campaigns crushed resistance cells inside prisons during the 1962 war, and so on.” – Matthew Akester

    Today, we have a Q&A with Matthew Akester, the translator of Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule, Tibetan Tubten Khétsun’s autobiographical account of his time spent in Tibet after the Tibetan people’s uprising of March 10, 1959. In his answers below, Akester describes his history with the project and explains exactly why Khetsun’s book is so important.

    Why Khetsun’s book?

    It is widely recognised that published accounts of Tibet’s history under Chinese Communist occupation tend to be skewed by the dominant narratives promoted by the CCP and Tibet’s government in exile, both of which are by nature polemical and inadequate. Chinese language accounts are constrained by the ideological rigidity and censorship that prevails within the PRC, while Tibetan language accounts, at least of the period 1958-79, are limited to the memoirs of survivors. Those that have appeared in English have typically been ghost written by sympathetic collaborators seeking to promote the Tibetan cause (with just a few exceptions). As someone who works on modern history primarily from Tibetan language sources, I have tried to review as much of the memoir literature as I can, and that is how I came upon Khetsun’s book. It was first published in the rather drab format used by the exile government press in Dharmshala (1998), under the title ‘A testament of suffering’, suggesting another iteration of the maudlin lament in which exiled survivors of Maoism often frame their stories. Soon after opening the cover, however, I was drawn into an exceptionally detailed and evocative memoir, refreshingly free of self-pity and black-and-white hyperbole. Most of the accounts published by Khetsun’s generation are actually prison memoirs, since that is where the majority of educated Tibetan men spent the years 1959-79, but he was released early and thus in a position to describe the condition of civil society in Lhasa in those years. His language is clear and sympathetic, a pleasure to translate.

    How representative is his account?

    Khetsun’s family belonged to the minor nobility, and he was groomed to serve the Lhasa government, so he was by Chinese Communist norms a prima facie ‘class enemy’ and prime target of the ‘class struggle’ through which they sought to transform Tibetan society. The quotidien persecution and oppression he describes, however, will be familiar to Tibetans from all social classes and regions who lived through the Maoist era. Khetsun’s anecdotal assertion that two thirds of all adult males were incarcerated during and after the suppression of the 1959 uprising awaits conclusive corroboration, but he also reminds us that Tibetan society was divided into nine social classes by the Communist bureaucracy, of which only the bottom two or three were considered reliable supporters of the Party. This can be readily corroborated, but it raises a question that virtually no Tibetan account of the period has confronted frankly: who were the Tibetan footsoldiers of the occupation, and what motivated them to inflict ‘class struggle’ on their countrymen with such apparent readiness? Khetsun does not confront the question head-on, but offers some fascinating psychological sketches of individuals with conflicted loyalties.

    What does it tell us that we did not already know?

    Even seasoned and specialist readers will collect new information here. The Hui agitation of 1961, the abandoned proposal to establish the TAR capital in the more temperate climate of Powo in the south-east, the 1968 Tsuklakhang massacre, the mass executions of 1969-70, and the political campaigns of 1973 and ’74 have not been written about before, at least from an eyewitness viewpoint. The main gift of Khetsun’s book, however, is its vivid depiction of the banal horrors; how prisoners were forced to denude the hills around Lhasa to provide their captors with firewood, or carry them piggy-back across icy rivers in winter, or how prisoners’ lives were casually wasted in work accidents, how political campaigns crushed resistance cells inside prisons during the 1962 war, and so on. His images of soldiers destroying harvested swamp grass or hounding invalids from their beds in the middle of the night are in their own way as poignant as the headline images of the Cultural Revolution already known to many readers. (more…)