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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…)

Friday, March 14th, 2014

“Do you believe in fate, Neo?” Law, Freedom, Representation, and Identity in THE MATRIX

Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation, Paul W. Kahn

Happy Friday, everyone! But before we continue on with the University Press Roundup, we’d like to conclude our week-long feature of Paul W. Kahn’s Finding Ourselves at the Movies. In the except below, Kahn illuminates the underlying philosophies of the Wachowski siblings’ The Matrix. Drawing from Kant’s delineation of the noumenal and phenomenal worlds, Kahn examines the ways in which the matrix, as an absolute manifestation of representation through law and code, separates itself from identity. This act eradicates any opportunity to “freely give the law to ourselves,” prompting violence, here the sole remaining performance of human freedom.

And of course, don’t miss Morpheus’s explanation of the matrix–troubled with the same issues that disturbed Descartes almost four hundred years ago.

Here’s your last chance to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Finding Ourselves at the Movies!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Philosophy in Film, Between Science and Opinion

Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation, Paul W. Kahn

Continuing our week-long feature of Paul W. Kahn’s Finding Ourselves at the Movies, we present today an excerpt from the opening chapter of the book, titled “Philosophy, Democracy, and the Turn to Film.” In it, Kahn grapples with the idea that philosophy has lost much of its mainstream acceptance, often viewed as immaterial, inaccessible, or esoteric by many. But defending philosophy from such criticism, Kahn argues, is the act of practicing philosophy itself. “We learn philosophy by engaging with each other in a critical examination of our own beliefs and practices.”

And what better place to begin such a discourse than with popular movies?

Also, don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Finding Ourselves at the Movies!

Friday, March 7th, 2014

University Press Roundup

And we’re back! 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.

With the current crisis in Ukraine and Crimea at the forefront of the international community’s thoughts, Sage House News, the Cornell University Press Blog, has some in-depth reading suggestions for a more comprehensive understanding of the historical bases for the region’s political tensions, issues, and possible outcomes. Author Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, also contributes with advice to President Obama in helping to diffuse the situation as published in NYMag.

After the implosion of Mt. Gox, the subsequent suicide of a Bitcoin exchange’s CEO, the rising number of national governments ruling Bitcoin as illegitimate, and finally the revelation (and later denial) of the identity of Bitcoin’s enigmatic creator, the cryptocurrency, despite its esoteric origins and supporters, has remained in the spotlight these last few weeks. Harvard University Press author and self-proclaimed “cyber skeptic” David Golumbia raises a dialogue protesting the feasibility of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as sustainable alternatives to fiat currencies. Citing “incredible volatility and lack of regulation” as insidious traits detrimental to Bitcoin’s mainstream acceptance, even among the most risk-tolerant, Golumbia concludes that only regulation–antithetical to the philosophies of cryptocurrency’s most outspoken proponents–would save Bitcoin from the boom and bust cycles that have plagued it.

Displeased with the unflinching barrage of historical inaccuracies throughout 300: Rise of an Empire, a follow-up to Zach Snyder’s grandiloquent retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, historian and OUP author Paul Cartledge speaks out to set the record straight with five things the film gets wrong. We’re not sure that the creators of the film intended for its events to align Herodotus’s The Histories with archaeological findings (indeed, the first film comports itself as a frame narrative in which a soldier with a penchant for exaggeration and story-telling attempts to rile up his brothers in arms), but Cartledge’s expertise on the Graeco-Persian wars, displayed more fully in his book After Thermopylae, is a more than welcome complement to what will likely be an over-the-top Spring flick.

Yale Press author Laura DeNardis wants to know, “How do we solve the problem of the Internet?” Describing the all-pervading quality of the Internet in our personal and professional lives, DeNardis, in her book The Global War for Internet Governance, looks to understand ways in which the Internet is already being governed, as well as the how, why, and who behind those seeking to govern it in the future. From privacy concerns over social media, to net neutrality and online surveillance, the Internet is a complex and technical landscape for governments and individuals alike to navigate in our increasingly digital world. You can watch DeNardis speak more on the subject here.

Happy belated Mardi Gras! To honor the Louisianian period of revelry culminating the day prior to Ash Wednesday, NYU Press’s From the Square shares an excerpt from Kevin Fox Gotham’s award-winning book, Authentic New Orleans, which touches on the celebration’s religious and cultural roots in history.

That’s it for this week. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

The Middle East in the Eye of the Global Storm, by Joel Migdal

Shifting Sands

This week our featured book is Shifting Sands: The United States in the Middle East by Joel S. Migdal. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have an excerpt from Migdal’s first chapter, “The Middle East in the Eye of the Global Storm.”

Enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Shifting Sands!

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Michael Yogg — Investment Profession Should Learn from Industry Pioneer who Spoke Out

“The investment profession must do a better job of policing its own or face the loss of public trust and ever more draconian regulation.”—Michael Yogg

The following post is by Michael Yogg, author of Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot:

Passion for Reality: The Extraordinary Life of the Investing Pioneer Paul Cabot“The manager was a horse’s ass of the first order. The most responsible job I ever had was going out and getting him a box of cigars.” Paul Cabot, the legendary investor and mutual fund pioneer, was recalling his first job after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1923, at an American bank in London. It was undemanding and left him time to pursue a personal interest, the study of British investment trusts. Cabot came from a well connected family, and he contacted a friend, Junius Morgan, grandson of J.P. Morgan, who introduced him to Robert Fleming, a bond investor and investment trust entrepreneur who had teamed up with the elder Morgan to help finance American railroads.

Fleming tutored Cabot on every aspect of his business; but Cabot had his own ideas. He was the son of a Boston trustee and, unlike Fleming, was comfortable investing in stocks, which he believed had superior long-term return prospects. He returned to Boston in late 1923 as stocks, in his words, “were just coming into fashion to be considered respectable moneymaking investments….I wasn’t a damn bit interested in bonds.”

The next year Cabot, and two others, founded a mutual fund. They established an extraordinary investment record, primarily because—taking a cue from J.P. Morgan—they were among the very few in the 1920’s to regularly visit the companies they invested in. As the bull market grew into a mania, Cabot’s London training really began to pay off. He had studied the scandals as well as the successes of the British trusts. When he saw the same abuses occurring in the U.S.—price manipulation, dumping of unwanted securities into mutual funds, deliberately complicated and confusing capital structures—he was among the first to recognize them, certainly the first to publicize them.

In 1928 he addressed a group of bankers and identified these abuses, without identifying the abusers. But one of them correctly concluded it was a target and threatened to remove its deposits from National Shawmut Bank, where Cabot was a director, unless the bank silenced him. As Cabot remembered it, “I flamed up. I got so goddamn mad I said, why the sons of bitches, ….I’ll show them how I’m going to be shut up. I trotted up to the Atlantic Monthly, the editor of which happened to be my uncle, and gave him this speech and he published it.” When the market crashed and more scandals surfaced, Cabot became well known for his prescience, integrity, and investment acumen, a reputation that endured and deepened over the years.

(more…)

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Economic Struggle and Political Struggle, by Antonio Negri

Factory of Strategy

This week our featured book is Factory of Strategy: Thirty-Three Lessons on Lenin by Antonio Negri, translated by Arianna Bove. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have excerpted “From the Theory of Capital to the Theory of Organization: Economic Struggle and Political Struggle,” the second chapter of Factory of Strategy.

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of Factory of Strategy!

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Read the prefaces to Factory of Strategy, by Antonio Negri

Factory of Strategy

This week our featured book is Factory of Strategy: Thirty-Three Lessons on Lenin by Antonio Negri, translated by Arianna Bove. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page. Today, we have excerpted the “Preface to the English Translation” and the “Preface to the Second Edition” of Factory of Strategy, both by Antonio Negri.

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of Factory of Strategy!

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Read the first chapter of The Call of Character, by Mari Ruti!

The Call of Character

This week our featured book is The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living by Mari Ruti. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Enter our book giveaway to win a free copy of The Call of Character!

Friday, January 10th, 2014

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.

Contrary to the saying, you can judge a book by its cover. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into designs for book covers, Angelica Calderon at the University of Texas Press has an in-depth look at the design process, from idea to execution.

Oxford University Press has a fascinating collection of 2013′s most important words, as determined by dictionaries, linguists, and enthusiasts. At the top (for English): “selfie,” “privacy,” and “bitcoin.” The list isn’t limited to English, though. For the sinophiles out there, a Chinese poll determined “dream” was the most popular Chinese word and “reform” its most popular phrase.

Poet, playwright, and firebrand Amiri Baraka died yesterday at the age of 79. “‘Find the self, then kill it’: such was Baraka’s prescription for a more vibrant black music and a more vital black community, and he began with himself. ” writes Scott Saul in an excerpt from “Freedom is, Freedom Ain’t: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties” from Harvard University Press. The excerpt discusses how Baraka celebrated John Coltrane’s music as a major shift in black consciousness. For more Baraka, you can read his essay “Jazz and the White Critic” in “The Jazz Cadence of American Culture” edited by Robert G. O’Meally.

University of Chicago Press is giving away an ebook in the month of January as part of their “Chicago Shorts” program. “Murder in Ancient China” features two short stories by Robert van Gulik, a historian and diplomat. Both feature van Gulik’s most enduring creation: the mystery-solving Judge Dee, as he attempts to restore order to the Tang Dynasty.

Are you keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions? It’s only been as week and a half, but getting out to exercise in this weather is getting more and more difficult. Luckily, AMACOM has a list of resolutions for the bibliophile, which are certainly easier than going to the gym or putting down the junk food.

“The credit crunch which continues to affect families and businesses in Europe—and now also China and other emerging economies—threatens the economic recovery, and with it the reduction of unemployment in Europe and the resumption of wealth-creating growth in the emerging world. Never so few (in the financial sector) did so much to damage the many. The issue is that the many now need a well-functioning financial system more than ever.” 2014 hasn’t started with very good news on the economic front—just 74,000 jobs were added in December—and fifteeneightyfour has an interesting discussion on the prognosis for the world economy.

The University of Nebraska press recently published the first biography of Pulitzer Prize-winning former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. “To earn the love of just about anyone is as high an honor as we are permitted in this life, though nothing is ever quite so fine as to offer somebody a poem that they look at for a minute or two, then fold into a pocket and carry away,” he writes in a dispatch about life, love, and the importance of place in poetry on the University of Nebraska Press blog.

“The onset of the industrial age has liberated many persons from terrible physical labor but it has also resulted in terrible environmental degradation which could have catastrophic effects that linger for centuries,” writes Chris Anderson in a year-end list like no other. At Yale University Press, Anderson compiles the sins committed in 2013 that still linger into the new year, as well as some historical sins that we still feel to this day. And on that note, that will wrap things up for today!

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

Friday, December 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.

With the second installment to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy opening this weekend, Oxford University Press author Brian Attebery reflects on the appeal of Tolkien’s fiction, both in terms of its insight into our selves as hobbits–”small, ridiculous, incomplete, and interconnected”–and also its naturalistic meditative qualities that, despite being rooted in a fantastic world, help us to better understand and appreciate our own.

In what ways will technology continue to reshape our familiar, longstanding institutions? The Canada Post announced this week that it will be halting door-to-door delivery in urban homes within the next five years. To some, this news may seem utterly expected, and to others, a jarring indicator of the systemic changes we might expect as the digital revolution marches forward. McGill-Queen’s University Press author Robert M. Campbell briefly delineates the history and cultural importance of Canada Post, one of the country’s first federal departments, in an excerpt from his book, The Politics of Postal Transformation.

Mandela was not a Hallmark card,” asserts From the Square. But despite the complexity of Mandela’s character, politics, and history, individuals around the world may perhaps feel inclined to sentimentalize the gravity of his remarkable struggles and accomplishments. NYU Press author Alan Wieder examines Mandela not only as a politician and humanitarian, but also as a revolutionary whose message was not always “peace and love.”

Beacon Broadside offers up a similar sentiment with author Jeanne Theoharis, who compares the legacies of Rosa Park and Nelson Mandela. And her book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, “sought to…rescue Rosa Parks from the narrow pedestal she exists upon.” Such sentimentalization, as some worry might become the case with Mandela, “paradoxically diminished the scope and importance of her political work and functions, across the political spectrum, to make us feel good about ourselves as a nation. It misses the lifelong activist who worked against injustice in both the North and South and paid a heavy price for her political work but kept struggling to address contemporary racial and social inequalities until her death in 2005.”

Cambridge University Press, which publishes The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, has collected and posted on fifteeneightyfour a few pithy excerpts from Hemingway’s correspondences that they hope will both inspire and inform us on “how to make it in the publishing industry.” Thanks, fifteeneightyfour! One choice snippet includes:

“You have to keep absolutely on a printers tail–not just in general–because a general publication date means nothing to them.”

“Is online porn really at the center of modern life? And what effect does this have on real sexual relations?” Margaret Grebowicz, Stanford University Press author of Why Porn Matters and Columbia University Press author of Beyond the Cyborg, explores just this question, explaining: “Just as Google Maps changes the way human inhabit space, internet porn changes the way they inhabit sex.” She argues that, by occupying the same space as our social media accounts, photo albums, and other equally innocuous and personal digital artifacts, Internet porn becomes “just another vehicle for ‘honest’ sexual expression for and by the masses.”

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

Friday, December 6th, 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.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela passed away last night. At the OUPblog, Elleke Boehmer has a thoughtful post looking at Mandela’s status as a world icon, and discussing how “‘Mandela the icon’ tells us little to nothing of Nelson Mandela’s remarkable story: his complicated political legacy, his radiant magic as a leader, and his strength of character in surviving 27.5 years of incarceration.” Nor does treating Mandela as an icon “capture the complicated nature of the man and the interesting contradictions that cut across and disturb our sense of his political legacy.”

Meanwhile, the Duke University Press blog provides an excerpt from Mandela’s moving 1964 “Statement from the Dock,” given to a South African court before his conviction on charges of sabotage and treason. In his speech, Mandela lays out his understanding of his struggle against the South African government: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Amazon was in the news this week as Jeff Bezos revealed a plan to employ drones in delivering packages ordered online. The Harvard Press Blog examines the differences between the increasingly automated system of purchasing embraced by Amazon and the way that “small businesses stubbornly persist in their embrace of a more human touch,” exemplified in the recent campaign for authors to help sell books at independent bookstores on “Small Business Saturday.”

In a recent interview, comedian Russell Brand called attention to a growing disengagement with politics among the public (particularly among young people) in the UK and around the world. At the OUPblog, Matthew Flinders takes a deeper look at this disengagement, and proposes a few practical solutions that could have big long-term effects. Also at the OUPblog, psychologists Zaira Cattaneo and Marcos Nadal discuss the unique aesthetic capacities of human beings through the lens of our neural mechanisms. Are there specific neurons in our brain that deal with aesthetic experience? And if so, can judgments of beauty be artificially enhanced by brain stimulation? (more…)

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

University Press Roundup

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

Following Typhoon Haiyan’s tragic and devastating collision with the Philippine archipelago two weeks ago, From the Square features Filipino-American NYU author Catherine Ceniza Choy as she discusses the impact of the disaster here in the United States, where Filipinos constitute the fourth largest immigrant group, as well as the focus on international recovery efforts. Her hope, she imparts, is that “all of us partake in these efforts to give back to the Philippines, a country that has given and sacrificed so much for our own.”

And as great fans of Doris Lessing here at Columbia University Press, we must continue our roundup with the University of Michigan Press’s brief remembrance of the Nobel Prize-winning author. Gayle Greene, author of Doris Lessing: The Poetics of Change, writes that “I’ve no doubt that if there is a future, Lessing will be one of the writers by whom we’ll be remembered—one of the writers who will be seen as expressing what we were about.”

To mark today’s occasion as the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, long considered an historic turning point in U.S. history, this week Harvard University Press provides us with a fantastic excerpt from David Kaiser’s The Road to Dallas. Praised as “[o]ne of the most compelling passages in a book quite full of them,” the piece works to unravel the series of events that took place as a result of the presidential assassination. Perhaps more interestingly, however, the author goes on to expound on the varying outcomes, both political and social, that could have resulted had JFK’s assassination never happened at all.

Putting aside briefly the solemnity of this week’s more serious events and concerns, Oxford University Press celebrates the addition of the word “selfie” to the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as its ongoing proclamation of the word’s lexical supremacy over 2013. Said celebration is made appropriately manifest in a retooling of Macbeth’s “Is this a [selfie] which I see before me?” monologue, complete with an illustration of the guilt-ridden Scottish Thane indulging in a bit of electronic self-portraiture.

We return to From the Square as NYU author Joan C. Williams touches upon the perennial issue of gender bias in the workplace. Focusing on stats that attempt to answer the question, “Who wants to work for a woman?”, Williams remarks upon some of the more impressive elements of her research (such as her finding that 41% of people have no preference toward working for either a man or a woman), as well as some of the more distressing ones (“a much higher percentage (40%) of women than men (29%) prefer to work for a man.”). While her findings clearly demonstrate progressive professional attitudes over previous decades, Williams worries that gender stereotypes continue to inform employees’ perspectives regarding their superiors, and vice versa.

And lastly, for a bit of fun, Cambridge University Press’s fifteeneightyfour published the results of their contest in which participants submitted what they imagine might have constituted Hemingway’s famous “lost suitcase.” The winning pitch? “It was the end of the day and the Sherpas were burning the base camp farther down the mountain.” We think Papa would be proud.

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

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!

Friday, October 18th, 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.

In case you didn’t know, last week saw the conclusion of the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, where publishers and book industry professionals from around the world convene to promote their products, buy and sell translation rights, discuss new strategies and developing trends, and just generally get a feel for the industry climate as it varies from country to country. This week, the University of Toronto Press writes about their own experiences there, reflecting on both the event itself and some takeaways on the state of publishing in Latin American, Asian, and Arab markets.

The University of Texas Press has a few thoughts on the Frankfurter Buchmesse as well, particularly Latin American markets, which, by most accounts, are currently thriving, and which UT Press considers “some of the most important…not only for ebooks in Spanish and Portuguese, but in English, as well.” The post goes on to discuss the growing profusion of opportunities for English language publishers in other emerging markets and poses important questions for those looking to pursue them.

R.K. Ramazani, University of Virgina Press author and the “dean of Iranian foreign policy,” examines the United States’s relations with Iran over the P5+1 meeting, in which representatives for the program’s six members–the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany–assembled to diplomatically negotiate the future of Iran’s nuclear program.

Over at Island Press Field Notes, Alison Springer from the Worldwatch Institute argues one jarring point: Sustainable consumption is a myth. Environmental problems, Springer says, should not rest on consumers, but on the institutions and policymakers, both private and governmental, that promote a paradigm of unfettered consumption. Be sure to read the whole article here.

Instructors and students alike have argued for years that formal education should be more engaging for students while promoting critical thinking, rather than the historical and often criticized pedagogical model of informational retention and regurgitation. George Greenstein, a Cambridge University Press author of science textbooks, adds his voice to mix of dissenting opinions that challenge the ways in which science is delineated in textbooks.

Beacon Press author Rafia Zakaria discusses the impact of Malala Yousafzai, co-author of recent Nobel-hopeful biography I Am Malala, as well as the efforts of progressive Muslim feminists everywhere toward improving the situations of millions of women in Islamic cultures. Malala was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in 2012 for deciding to continue her education despite threats from the Islamic fundamentalist movement. She continues to push for women’s rights today.

“No author’s use of autobiography has been more powerful than that of the early slave narrators.” African American history and literature scholar Mitch Kachun is pleased to relate his excitement and concerns over the upcoming film 12 Years a Slave, a slave narrative based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup. One of many individuals whose life story was collected and disseminated to promote the abolitionist movement, Northup was a free black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery at 31 years old. And while some critics have already begun criticizing the historical accuracy of both the film and memoir, Kachun states that questions over the authenticity of slave narratives are nothing new, and, more importantly, do not detract from the fact that such stories “represent one of the earliest and most profound genres of African American literary expression.”

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

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Lynne Huffer on a Queer Feminist Ethics of Eros from “Are the Lips a Grave?”

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This week our featured book is Are the Lips a Grave? by Lynne Huffer. In the following excerpt from the book, Huffer delves into the associations between sexuality and morality and the perspectives of queers and feminists on the ethics of eros.

(And don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of the book!)