About

Twitter

Facebook

CUP Web site

RSS Feed

New Books

Author Interviews

Author Events

Keep track of new CUP book releases:
e-newsletters

For media inquiries, please contact our
publicity department

CUP Authors Blogs and Sites

American Society of Magazine Editors

Roy Harris / Pulitzer's Gold

Natalie Berkowitz / Winealicious

Leonard Cassuto

Mike Chasar / Poetry and Popular Culture

Erica Chenoweth / "Rational Insurgent"

Juan Cole

Jenny Davidson / "Light Reading"

Faisal Devji

William Duggan

James Fleming / Atmosphere: Air, Weather, and Climate History Blog

David Harvey

Paul Harvey / "Religion in American History"

Bruce Hoffman

Alexander Huang

David K. Hurst / The New Ecology of Leadership

Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh

Geoffrey Kabat / "Hyping Health Risks"

Grzegorz W. Kolodko / "Truth, Errors, and Lies"

Jerelle Kraus

Julia Kristeva

Michael LaSala / Gay and Lesbian Well-Being (Psychology Today)

David Leibow / The College Shrink

Marc Lynch / "Abu Aardvark"

S. J. Marshall

Michael Mauboussin

Noelle McAfee

The Measure of America

Philip Napoli / Audience Evolution

Paul Offit

Frederick Douglass Opie / Food as a Lens

Jeffrey Perry

Mari Ruti / The Juicy Bits

Marian Ronan

Michael Sledge

Jacqueline Stevens / States without Nations

Ted Striphas / The Late Age of Print

Charles Strozier / 9/11 after Ten Years

Hervé This

Alan Wallace

James Igoe Walsh / Back Channels

Xiaoming Wang

Santiago Zabala

Press Blogs

AAUP

University of Akron

University of Alberta

American Management Association

Baylor University

Beacon Broadside

University of California

Cambridge University Press

University of Chicago

Cork University

Duke University

University of Florida

Fordham University Press

Georgetown University

University of Georgia

Harvard University

Harvard Educational Publishing Group

University of Hawaii

Hyperbole Books

University of Illinois

Island Press

Indiana University

Johns Hopkins University

University of Kentucky

Louisiana State University

McGill-Queens University Press

Mercer University

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society

University of Mississippi

University of Missouri

MIT

University of Nebraska

University Press of New England

University of North Carolina

University Press of North Georgia

NYU / From the Square

University of Oklahoma

Oregon State University

University of Ottawa

Oxford University

Penn State University

University of Pennsylvania

Princeton University

Stanford University

University of Sydney

University of Syracuse

Temple University

University of Texas

Texas A&M University

University of Toronto

University of Virginia

Wilfrid Laurier University

Yale University

Archive for July, 2013

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

World Literature Today Interviews Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky, Editors of In Translation

Esther Allen, Susan Bernofsky

“Translators in the anglophone world are sometimes perceived as being on a ‘lower rung.’ The essays in our book certainly don’t subscribe to that view. Would we say that an actor is on a lower rung than the screenwriter who wrote the lines the actor delivers? Or that the literary critic is on a lower rung than the writers whose works she analyzes?”—Esther Allen

World Literature Today just published the second part of their excellent interview with Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky, the editors of In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means.

The interview discusses essays in the book from the likes of Haruki Murakami, Eliot Weinberger, Alice Kaplan, Forrest Gander, and David Bellos, and explores some of the issues relating to the status of translation in an increasingly globalized world where English is becoming the dominant language. Allen and Bernofsky also consider a range of issues relating to the technique of translation, including how and whether to preserve the sense of the original language, how to incorporate dialect, and the relationship that develops between author and translator. Susan Bernofsky comments on how some translators become inextricably linked to authors, for better and worse:

It wouldn’t make sense to say we’d only ever want one translator’s version of a given author (imagine if the only Thomas Mann we had was by Helen Lowe Porter and the only Chekhov by Constance Garnett). On the other hand, it can be useful to have the work of an author, particularly a contemporary one, translated consistently by a single translator. Think of William Weaver’s relationship with Italo Calvino—he translated the bulk of Calvino’s work and became his “English voice.” In time, as Calvino becomes a classic author of an earlier age, there might be room for other translations of key works of his, but I know that I for one will probably never want to read the books Weaver translated in any other translation, since I love how Calvino sounds filtered through him. And translators who work for years with an author’s books develop their own specialized vocabulary for that author’s work and particular ways of dealing with certain key stylistic traits, not to mention intertextuality between the books.

(more…)

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Dickson D. Despommier on How Parasites Can Prevent Disease

In following excerpt from People, Parasites, and Plowshares: Learning from Our Body’s Most Terrifying Invaders, Dickson D. Despommier examines how some parasites might reduce the chance to suffer from other diseases:

People, Parasites, and Plowshares, by Dickson D. DespommierSome of the most interesting findings with regard to intestinal parasitic worms are their connection with the hygiene hypothesis. This recently conceived notion is based on the observation that, worldwide, people living within high-transmission areas for these worm infections have dramatically fewer allergies to common things such as ragweed pol­len, grasses, and foods such as shellfish and peanuts, and have greatly reduced rates of asthma and other even more serious autoimmune dis­eases, for example, Crohn’s disease. In addition, many people suffering from these ailments apparently are less ill or not ill at all after purposely being given an infection with a small number of hookworms….

Trichuris suis, the pig version of whipworm, has also been tried with some success in treating patients suffering from Crohn’s disease. This approach was predicated on the unusual finding that almost no one suffers from that disease anywhere throughout sub-Saharan Africa, whereas their parasite-free relatives, now living for several generations in the United States, have rates of this disorder similar for those people who have no genealogical connection to Africa. Thus a hypothesis arose suggesting that the true targets of that disabling immune disorder were our old nemesis, the intestinal worms. Proof of concept was difficult to obtain, as most institutional review boards at every research-oriented medical school remained understandably skeptical regarding the risks and benefits of such an approach and predictably denied numerous researchers’ requests to be the first to conduct such a study. Finally, enough data accumulated from the epidemiology literature to warrant a full-scale test of the hypothesis, and like so many other far-out ideas, this one struck pay dirt. The following is an abstract of a peer-reviewed and published set of studies produced by two gastroenterologists who championed this approach. They based their conclusions not only on epidemiological evidence but also on solid laboratory experimental re­sults using mice and their worm infections to modify diseases such as type 1 diabetes, colitis, and asthma.

(more…)

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Dickson D. Despommier on What We Can Learn from Parasites

“Despite all our efforts, the parasites still have the upper hand. The question is: Do we have to sit there and take it like all the other hapless host species on our planet? Or can we use our ingenuity and creativity to find ways of taking advantage of their molecular survival tactics?”—Dickson Despommier

Dickson D. Despommier, People, Parasites, and PlowsharesIn the following excerpt from the preface to People, Parasites, and Plowshares: Learning From Our Body’s Most Terrifying Invaders, Dickson D. Despommier argues that despite all the misery they bring, we have much to learn from parasites:

Hollywood has picked up on the parasite theme from time to time. Alien is one of my all-time favorite examples of this. Everyone who has seen it remembers the showstopper: it comes early on in the film, when the “embryo” of the beast, in a torrent of blood and guts, bursts right out of the chest of John Hurt, then slithers off and raises havoc with the crew of that hapless spaceship. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, that “birthing” scene always freaks me out. But that was science fiction, and with some obvious inconsistencies in the parasitic life cycle, I might add. Trust me, the lives of real parasites are far more riveting.

Ever since we became a species, some 200,000 years ago, parasites have been responsible for untold amounts of human suffering and countless deaths. For instance, some experts believe that Homo sapi­ens almost became extinct as the result of epidemics caused by malaria that coincided with a time when our numbers were perhaps as low as 400,000 individuals. The worst part is that this killer is still with us. In just over the past one hundred years, as many people have died from malaria worldwide as now live in the United States. While the number of people dying from this one parasite is high, consider the fact that ma­laria in all its forms (there are four) infects some two billion individuals each year. This reduces the mortality rate to around 1 percent, making this group of infectious agents some of the most successful parasites on the planet. There are other evolutionary winners out there, too. For example, the number of humans currently infected with intestinal hel­minths (worms) is also in the billions. Tragically, what this really means is that there are a lot of people harboring more than one parasite….

Despite all our efforts, the parasites still have the upper hand. The question is: Do we have to sit there and take it like all the other hapless host species on our planet? Or can we use our ingenuity and creativity to find ways of taking advantage of their molecular survival tactics? That is one of the main themes of this book. I am aware of many pieces of half-finished research on parasites that, if developed further, could benefit our species in some totally unexpected ways: breakthrough treatments of those suffering from type 1 diabetes, for example, or the successful transplantation of organs obtained from nonhuman animal sources, such as pigs. I also highlight the amazing ways in which these body snatchers succeed in carrying out their complex lives at our expense.

(more…)

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

New Book Tuesday: Plane Crashes, Design Thinking, the Newest from Donald Keene, and More New Titles!

The following books are now available:

Mortal Rituals, Matt RosanoMortal Rituals: What the Story of the Andes Survivors Tells Us About Human Evolution
Matt J. Rossano

The Why of Things: Causality in Science, Medicine, and Life
Peter Rabins

Solving Problems with Design Thinking: Ten Stories of What Works
Jeanne Liedtka, Andrew King, and Kevin Bennett

The Winter Sun Shines In: A Life of Masaoka Shiki
Donald Keene

The Southern Garden Poetry Society: Literary Culture and Social Memory in Guangdong
David B. Honey

Democracy on Trial: Social Movements and Cultural Politics in Post-authoritarian Taiwan
Ya-Chung Chuang

Ethics Unbound: Some Chinese and Western Perspectives on Morality
Katrin Froese

Daoist Philosophy and Literati Writings in Late Imperial China: A Case Study of The Story of the Stone
Zuyan Zhou

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Between Sunrise and Sunless — Film by Rob Stone, Author of The Cinema of Richard Linklater

In this beautiful short film, Rob Stone, author of The Cinema of Richard Linklater: Walk, Don’t Run, searches for Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) in Vienna on Bloomsday, 16 June 2013. As their absence reveals the city, so this pilgrimage to places they have been becomes lost in time, and an homage to three films of flânerie: Before Sunrise, Sans soleil and En la ciudad de Sylvia.

Between Sunrise and Sunless from Rob Stone on Vimeo.

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Book of the Week: People, Parasites, and Plowshares, by Dickson D. Despommier

“There’s a lot to learn from a tapeworm…. Drawing on his long career as a parasitologist, Dickson D. Despommier explores the lessons we can gain from our passengers, creating a fascinating tour of the parasitic world.” — Carl Zimmer

People, Parasites, and Plowshares: Learning From Our Body's Most Terrifying Invaders

Dickson D. Despommier’s vivid, visceral account of the biology, behavior, and history of parasites follows the interplay between these fascinating life forms and human society over thousands of years.

Throughout the week, we will be featuring People, Parasites, and Plowshares: Learning From Our Body’s Most Terrifying Invaders.

We are also offering a FREE copy of the book to a lucky winner.

To enter our Book Giveaway, simply e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on August 2 at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, July 26th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! There were a ton of great posts this week, so as always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

At the AMACOM Books Blog, Associate Editor Michael Sivilli talks about the process of creating an index, and argues that authors are better off using a professional indexer to create an index for their books.

Beacon Press Blog Editor Jessie Bennett has a post up on Beacon Broadside this week saying farewell as she moves on to other endeavors. We wish both her and the Beacon Broadside blog the best of luck moving forward!

At the newly renamed and beautifully redesigned fifteen eightyfour blog, the blog of Cambridge University Press, Colin Howson discusses his new book, Objecting to God, and talks about various arguments against the existence of God.

Why does the University of Chicago campus look like the University of Chicago campus? The Chicago Blog of the University of Chicago Press has an excerpt from Building Ideas: An Architectural Guide to the University of Chicago that explains the goals behind the design of their campus.

If you are an okra fan, the “Making the Case for Okra” post this week on the University of Georgia Press blog is a must-read. Complete with information about the okra plant and recipes, the post has everything an okra lover could want.

Anthony Weiner has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, and the Harvard University Press Blog offers the former Congressman some tongue-in-cheek advice pulled from a book on impulses.

The titan arum, or corpse flower, is famously smelly when it blooms once a year, and at Island Press Field Notes, Eric Dinerstein discusses plants known for their smell, drawing parallels between the stench of the the titan arum and the sweet aroma of honeysuckle.

Jenny McCarthy is a leader of the anti-vaccine movement, and has drawn attention from another couple of academic publishing blogs this week. First, at the Indiana University Press blog, Donald R. Prothero has a guest post in which he criticizes McCarthy’s public stance on scientific issues. Then, at the JHU Press Blog, Mark A Largent takes a look at McCarthy and the media’s reaction to her appointment on The View.

The Apple eBook verdict has ruffled a lot of feathers in the publishing industry this summer, but at the UNC Press Blog, UNC Press Director John Sherer claims he’s not disappointed at all by the verdict, and lays out the reasons for this lack of disappointment.

At From the Square, the NYU Press blog, Victor Rios argues that “George Zimmerman is not just an outlying overzealous rogue vigilante that hunted down an innocent Black American boy. He very much represents mainstream America.”

HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born last week, and is now third in line to the British throne. At the OUPblog, two posts look at the choice and the history of the names given to the new prince.

At the Are You Loving Publishing Today? blog, the blog of Penn State University Press, the topic of discussion this week was Harrisburg’s “Wild West auction,” the sad end of the Old West Museum.

Finally, at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Athan Theoharis has a guest post looking at the ongoing Edward Snowden saga, and what his story forces us to confront about secrecy and accountability in government.

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

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Frederick Cooper: How Global Do We Want Our Intellectual History to Be?

Global Intellectual History

This week our featured book is Global Intellectual History, edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori. Today, the final day of this week’s feature, we have an excerpt from Frederick Cooper’s chapter in Global Intellectual History: “How Global Do We Want Our Intellectual History to Be?” Cooper argues that “the concepts of ‘global’ and ‘modern’ are two-edged swords when it comes to understanding the world.”

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for Global Intellectual History!

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Julia Lovell Discusses Zhu Wen with the Los Angeles Review of Books

Zhu Wen, The Matchmaker, the Apprentice, and the Football Fan: More Stories of ChinaThere is certainly no shortage of writing about contemporary China by historians, journalists, and political scientists. While their work and analysis undoubtedly deepens our understanding of China, it is often left to fiction to fill in some of the gaps and provide a richer appreciation of the impact of the changes in contemporary China on individuals. One of the authors most frequently cited for his depiction of the grittier side of today’s China has been Zhu Wen.

Recently in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jeffrey Wasserstrom talked with Julia Lovell, the translator of Zhu Wen’s The Matchmaker, the Apprentice, and the Football Fan: More Stories of China. In their discussion, Lovell, who also translated Zhu Wen’s earlier novel, I Love Dollars and Other Stories of China, talks about the ways in which Zhu Wen’s novels capture both the amorality of contemporary China and the impact of political pressures on day-to-day life in China.

The interview ranges over a variety of subjects including the influence of foreign writers such as Borges and Kafka on Zhu Wen’s work; new developments in contemporary Chinese fiction; and the distinctiveness of Zhu Wen’s style and thematic treatment of contemporary Chinese society. Returning to the notion of the political implications of Zhu Wen’s stories, Lovell comments:

When we were planning this collection, I think that Zhu Wen wanted me to include some stories that showed a greater political engagement than those in the previous book, and I believe that the context does come through more strongly in this volume: in particular the moral vacuum resulting principally from the protests and bloody suppression of 1989, but more broadly from post-Mao disillusionment with the Communist political experiment…. Zhu Wen has no pretensions to diagnosing the state of the nation here, but his work does compel the reader to engage with a highly personal, maverick and critical response to China’s present and recent past. He forces us to acknowledge the complexity and individuality of contemporary Chinese experiences and perspectives. I think this is particularly valuable when approaching a country like China, whose sheer vastness can sometimes obscure individual detail.

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Cemil Aydin: Globalizing the Intellectual History of the Idea of the “Muslim World”

Global Intellectual History

This week our featured book is Global Intellectual History, edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori. Today, we have an excerpt from Cemil Aydin’s chapter in Global Intellectual History: “Globalizing the Intellectual History of the Idea of the ‘Muslim World.’” In his essay, Aydin “revisit[s] the period from the 1880s to the 1920s that was retrospectively characterized as the high age of both global Westernization and Muslim intellectual modernism and Pan-Islamic nationalism, to discuss global ideas and values, such as the caliphate, that did not originate in Europe.”

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for Global Intellectual History!

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Kenneth Goldsmith on The Colbert Report

Kenneth Goldsmith, author of Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age, has read at the White House, been the poet laureate at the Museum of Modern Art, is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and can now add to his list of accomplishments being a guest on The Colbert Report (video below).

In the interest of full disclosure, he was asked to be on the show to talk about his new book Seven American Deaths and Disasters, published by the great Brooklyn press powerHouse Books. However, the book’s transcription of radio and television accounts of such events as the Kennedy assassination, the shooting of John Lennon, and the attacks of 9/11 exemplify the kind of creative, or “uncreative” techniques, he explores in Uncreative Writing.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Samuel Moyn: Global Intellectual Life Past and Present

Global Intellectual History

This week our featured book is Global Intellectual History, edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori. Today, we are cross-posting a short article by Samuel Moyn, originally published on Interdisciplines, which uses David Mitchell’s novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet as an interesting portrayal of global intellectual relationships.

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for Global Intellectual History!

Global Intellectual Life Past and Present
Samuel Moyn

Adam Smith in Nagasaki

In his bestselling recent novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell provides a vignette of global intellectual history, as he imagines it took place in the last years of the eighteenth century at Dejima, the manmade island in Nagasaki’s harbor, which was the sole contact point between Japan and “the West” for more than two hundred years.

In Mitchell’s portrait, however, the intended isolation of the country that Dejima is supposed to secure is not working perfectly. The novel begins with the title character’s success in smuggling in his Bible – which in spite of a wave of Japanese conversion long before is now banned. He has help in doing so, thanks to the connivance of a young Japanese translator, Ogawa, with whom he strikes up a nervous friendship.

When the two first meet, instead of calling de Zoet on his illegal smuggling, the Japanese translator asks him about another book in his chest, “book of Mr. … Adamu Sumissu.” Jacob de Zoet replies: “Adam Smith?” It turns out that he is carrying a Dutch translation of Smith’s 1776 Wealth of Nations, a copy of which Ogawa had borrowed from someone else four years ago. But he had had to return it to its owner in the midst of translating it. Now he has a new copy at hand, and can finish the job.

The presence of Smith at the outset of the novel seems right, for it reminds the reader of the history of capitalism that Smith portrayed, one of whose effects was the creation of new global relationships, such as those Mitchell imagines in his depiction of Dutch commerce.
(more…)

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori: Approaches to Global Intellectual History

Global Intellectual History

This week our featured book is Global Intellectual History, edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori. Today, we have an excerpt from Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori’s first chapter of Global Intellectual History: “Approaches to Global Intellectual History.” In their essay, Moyn and Sartori discuss the turn toward “global history” among historians generally, and among intellectual historians in particular, as well as discussing the things a global intellectual history might be concerned with.

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for Global Intellectual History!

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

New Book Tuesday: A Little Gay History, Al Qaeda’s Strategy and More!

A Little Gay History, R. B. ParkinsonThe following books are now available. For more recent titles click here:

A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity Across the World
R. B. Parkinson

Decoding Al-Qaeda’s Strategy: The Deep Battle Against America
Michael W. S. Ryan

Robert N. Butler, MD: Visionary of Healthy Aging
W. Andrew Achenbaum

The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking (Now available in paper)
Edited by César Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden

The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Carl Van Vechten, 1913-1946 (Now available in paper)
Edited by Edward Burns

A Catalogue of the Comparative Kangyur (bka’ ‘gyur dpe bsdur ma)
Paul G. Hackett

London’s Underground Spaces: Representing the Victorian City, 1840–1915
Haewon Hwang

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Laura Frost Names the 10 Best Modernist Novels in English

Laura Frost, Problem with PleasurePublishers Weekly recently asked Laura Frost, author of The Problem with Pleasure: Modernism and Its Discontents to name The 10 Best Modernist Books (in English).

For the more ambitious readers the list provides a kind of alternate beach-reading list. Frost explains: “It’s going to be a long, hot summer. Why unwind with the latest mystery or light comic novel when you can grapple with some of the most demanding works ever written in English? Think of it as Pilates–or rock climbing–for your brain.” Frost also provides some tips for reading these works:

1. Take your time: you’re not just reading for plot here; you’re reading for the play of the words on the page, the structure, the overall effect. 2. Be curious: if something is daunting or disorienting, ask yourself what makes it so. 3. Play the game: each book has different principles. The more you figure them out, the more you’ll enjoy reading. 4. Don’t get bogged down: when you come across something like the notoriously difficult “Oxen of the Sun” episode of Ulysses, do your best but keep going until something clicks for you. 5. Finally, re-read. Joyce once claimed, “The demand that I make of my reader is that he [sic] should devote his whole life to reading my works.” That kind of commitment is not required, but it helps.

Here’s the list, arranged chronologically, and you can read the article for Frost’s commentary on each work:

1. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
2. Blast: Review of the Great English Vortex
3. T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
4. James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)
5. Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse
6. William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
7. Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
8. Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight
9. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
10. Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Book Giveaway: Global Intellectual History, edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori

Global Intellectual History

This week our featured book is Global Intellectual History, edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content from and about the book and its editors here on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Global Intellectual History. To enter our Book Giveaway, simply fill out the form below with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on July 26th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, July 19th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! There were a ton of great posts this week, so as always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

The verdict in the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman case, resulting from the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012, dominated the headlines of academic publishing blogs this week, and different blogs looked at the result in a variety of different ways. The UNC Press Blog has a roundup of responses from historians across the web, including Anthea Butler, Minkah Makalani, and Robin Kelley. This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, features an article by Elizabeth K., an intern, on online protests in the wake of the trial. The Harvard University Press Blog connects Trayvon Martin’s shooting with the death in 1984 of Eleanor Bumpurs, and has an excerpt from Patricia Williams’ book on the Bumpurs case. And finally, at the JHU Press Blog, Neil Roberts has an article discussing the difficulties and necessity of talking about an ongoing or recent event in a measured and scholarly manner.

The Zimmerman case was not the only high-profile legal issue discussed this week, though. At the OUPblog, Geoff Gilbert looks at Edward Snowden’s pursuit of asylum. International law concerning asylum is, as one might guess, quite complicated and fairly ambiguous, but Gilbert makes the general law and Snowden’s particular case quite understandable.

In a more publishing-specific vein, the Indiana University Press blog has a great post breaking down eight highlights from the AAUP 2013 annual meeting. And for those who haven’t already seen them, the 28 pages of notes on the AAUP meeting provided on Scribd by IUP are an excellent resource!
(more…)

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Further reading on the problem with God from Peter J. Steinberger

The Problem with God

This week our featured book is The Problem with God: Why Atheists, True Believers, and Even Agnostics Must All Be Wrong, by Peter J. Steinberger. In the Afterword of his book, Professor Steinberger provides a list of further reading for those who want to know more about the problem with God. Today, we have a selection of this list, with excerpts from Steinberger’s commentary.

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of The Problem with God!

Reading List

Aristotle: Metaphysics, Book Lambda (L)
“Where we encounter, I believe for the very first time, the notion of an Unmoved Mover ….”

Lucretius: On the Nature of Things
“He—Lucretius—was a kind of ‘atomist.’ Like us, he believed that the world is basically composed of atoms. He also believed that the world was originally created not by the gods but by the mixing up and combination of atoms, perhaps a kind of proto—Big Bang.”

Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica, First Part, Question 2, Article 3
“It’s [here] that we actually find Thomas’s famous five arguments for—or ‘five ways’ to prove—the existence of God. The five ways include the ontological argument and the so-called argument from design as well as the cosmological argument.”

Anthony Kenney: The Five Ways
“For an extremely important and deeply intelligent criticism of St. Thomas, you should look at Anthony Kenney’s The Five Ways ….”
(more…)

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

A Q&A with Peter J. Steinberger

The Problem with God

This week our featured book is The Problem with God: Why Atheists, True Believers, and Even Agnostics Must All Be Wrong, by Peter J. Steinberger. Today, we have a Q&A with Professor Steinberger, in which he addresses objections to his argument, discusses the “reassurance” offered at the end of his book, and explains why his conclusion should be as troubling to atheists and agnostics as to theists.

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of The Problem with God!

Question: In The Problem with God, you seek to understand the psychology of god-belief, and, in doing so, you explore the beliefs of ordinary folk. But is that the best approach? If we want to ask questions about god’s existence, why should we rely on ordinary folk? The question of God’s existence may seem unanswerable to me, but, then, so do questions about theoretical physics. Just as questions of physics are best decided by experts, by physicists, why shouldn’t we look to relevant experts when addressing questions of ontology?

Peter Steinberger: For the most part, in questions of science, the problem is not simply or primarily, or not really, conceptual/logical. The problem is largely a lack of information. So we do experiments or field investigations or calculations in order to get more and more information about how things operate in the world. The problem with God is not like this at all. The problem is not that we lack information. The problem is that our thinking is confused, in the sense of being self-contradictory.
(more…)

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Peter Steinberger: “An Exercise in Chutzpah”

The Problem with God

This week our featured book is The Problem with God: Why Atheists, True Believers, and Even Agnostics Must All Be Wrong, by Peter J. Steinberger. In today’s post, we have the introduction to The Problem with God, in which Steinberger explains his claim that the question of God’s existence is “literally a non-question,” that it is “it is literally, utterly, completely, entirely and eternally impossible even to conceive of what a meaningful answer would look like.”

Be sure to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of The Problem with God!

An Exercise in Chutzpah
Peter J. Steinberger

My book is, one would have to say, an exercise in chutzpah – and not in a good sense.

At one level, the argument is pretty simple. Humans – by which I mean all humans, and always – think of the world as a structure of cause and effect according to which everything that exists must have been caused to exist by something other than itself. Of course, since the world itself exists, this means that the world must have been caused to exist in the first place. There must have been a First Cause, something or someone to get the ball rolling. A Creator. An Unmoved Mover. God. Trouble is, if the First Cause exists – and remember, everything that exists must have been caused to exist by something other than itself – then something must have caused the First Cause to exist, in which case the First Cause is not the First Cause. And so on, ad infinitum. So to talk about God is to invoke the “concept” of something that cannot have been caused to exist by something other than itself and must have been caused to exist by something other than itself. That’s not a concept. It’s nonsense, gobbledygook, mumbo-jumbo. It is, to quote Thomas Hobbes from a slightly different context, “mere sound.” As such, it cannot be an intelligible topic for conversation. The existence of God can be neither affirmed, nor denied, nor even doubted.
(more…)