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Archive for March, 2014

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Book Giveaway! Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives, by Laura T. Murphy

Survivors of Slavery

This week our featured book is Survivors of Slavery: Modern-Day Slave Narratives by Laura T. Murphy. 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.

We are also offering a FREE copy of Survivors of Slavery. 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 Friday, April 4th at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, March 28th, 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.

We’ll start the Roundup off this week with an excellent article at the University of Wisconsin Press Blog by UWP Editorial Director Gwen Walker. In her post, Walker describes ways that scholars can help the editors at academic presses “discover” their work. She points out the crucial role of conferences and conference papers in the academic book business, argues that professors need a robust faculty page, and gives helpful advice on what to do when an editor expresses interest in a project.

The JHU Press Blog has been running a series on the constantly rising cost of higher education, and, in the most recent post, John V. Lombardi argues that the popular narrative of “college as an out-of-control expense machine” is not backed up by a close examination of data. Instead, he ties the rising costs to changes in the sources of funding for public higher education. “Government, from Washington to the state houses across the country, want to shift the conversation to the campuses and demand that they provide a cheaper education that does not require as much expenditure of either public money or personal income.”

“Who owns a country?” With the debates over the fate of Crimea dominating the media over the past few weeks, Cecil Foster, writing at the McGill-Queen’s University Press blog, believes that this is a perfect moment to discuss a question that rarely gets airtime, even though “[i]t is a question that is never far below the surface in any discussion, among others, about Quebec, Scotland, Catalonia, Sri Lanka, England, Germany….” He argues that consideration of this question should lead us to what he calls “Genuine Multiculturalism,” which will create space for true democracy. (more…)

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Insects: A Sustainable Alternative to Meat

The following news report (see video below) includes interviews with coauthors of The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet, scientist Arnolds Van Huis and chef Henk Van Gurp, in which they consider some of the environmental benefits of eating insects. Unlike raising livestock for food, which contributes to rising levels of greenhouse gas (see excerpt below), insects and using them for food has minimal impact.

In the following excerpt from The Insect Cookbook, the authors provide further detail about why insects are a sustainable alternative to meat:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that livestock is responsible for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and is, as such, an important contributor to global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions include methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Simply by burping and passing gas, cattle release more than one-third of all methane emissions worldwide. Methane contributes twenty-three times more to global warming than does carbon dioxide (CO2), the most important greenhouse gas emitted by cars. Livestock generates close to two-thirds of all nitrous oxide released; this gas is 289 times more damaging than CO2. Some insects, such as termites, also produce methane, releasing 4 percent of all emissions of this gas worldwide. By contrast, the edible insects mentioned in this cookbook, such as mealworms
and migratory locusts, produce far less greenhouse gas per kilogram of product than do cows or pigs.

Livestock also produces more than two-thirds of the world’s ammonia emissions, which are one of the main causes of acid rain. Per kilogram of body weight produced, pigs produce fifty times more ammonia than do locusts.

(more…)

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Cooking with Insects — Recipes for Hopper Kebabs and Buglava

Hopper Kebabs

In addition to explaining the nutritional and environmental value of eating insects, the authors of The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet, also provide dozens of great recipes. Below are two such recipes. Hopper Kebabs (see image above) use grasshoppers with their legs and wings removed. As the authors explain, grasshoppers are considered a delicacy in parts of Africa and clever entrepreneurs in Australia are now marketing them as “sky prawns” to help increase their popularity.

The other recipe is buglava which uses mealworms, which is rich in potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins and minerals and is also enjoyed throughout the world. Both these insects are now increasingly available for purchase in the United States and can be bought from World Entomophagy.

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Alfred Kadushin, 1916-2014

Recently, longtime Columbia University Press author Alfred Kadushin passed away. We will mourn his loss and his contribution both to the press and to the field of social work. The following is his obituary:

Alfred KadushinProfessor Alfred Kadushin, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, beloved father of Goldie and Raphael Kadushin, beloved husband of Sylvia Kadushin, died at UW Hospital on Feb. 5, 2014, after a very brief and unexpected illness, at the age of 97.

Alfred was born on Sept. 19, 1916, to Celia and Philip Kadushin, Jewish émigrés from Lithuania who settled in New York City. Alfred grew up above the family grocery store in the Bronx and then, demonstrating the determination, courage, and intelligence that would define his life, earned his master’s degree from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from New York University, partially funding his education by working as a postal carrier in Harlem.

Before beginning his long and pioneering career as a seminal scholar in the field of social work and child welfare, he served in the South Pacific during World War II, volunteered to help resettle Holocaust refugees, with Sylvia, in post-war Europe, and worked as a caseworker in New York. In 1950, he accepted a professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work and began his distinguished scholarly career. Alfred was a central figure in an early cohort of social work scholars who defined the methods and content of the field’s initial knowledge base. Through his research, globally recognized scholarship and teaching he also contributed to the professionalization of the field of child welfare.

(more…)

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

TED Talk from Marcel Dicke on the Nutritional and Environmental Impact of Eating Insects

In the following video taken from a TED Talk , Marcel Dicke, coauthor of The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet, discusses the environmental and nutritional importance of eating insects:

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Jeffrey Bennett on the Recent Discovery of Inflation in the Early Universe

In the video/slideshow below, Jeffrey Bennett, author of What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter, provides some context about the recent discovery of evidence for “inflation” in the early universe. He explains what it means and why it is important.

Starting with a brief explanation of what we mean by an “expanding universe” and how we know we live in one, he offers an explanation of the Big Bang theory and the idea of inflation, and finally discuss the new discovery.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t be eating insects. They’re much better for you than regular meat.”

The Insect Cookbook, Arnold van Huis, Henk van Gurp, and Marcel Dicke

In recent interview with the Boston Globe , Marcel Dicke, one of the coauthors of The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet, discussed his new book and the benefits of eating insects.

Dicke concedes that there continue to be those in the media that see his work promoting eating insects in a less than serious light. However, as he points out, eating insects can play an important role in food sustainability:

The world is facing a food security problem. We hope to make people aware, to show them there are good reasons for eating insects. We’re not telling anyone to stop eating meat completely, but about 70 percent of all agricultural land is used to produce livestock, and we’re going to have to increase food production by 70 percent by 2050. There’s no way we’re going to be able to do this.

Moreover, eating insects, which is done throughout the world, is good for you:

[Insects are] rich in minerals; they’re high in protein. In terms of nutrition, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be eating insects. They’re much better for you than regular meat.

Dicke also discusses which insects are best to eat and the ways in which people in the West are slowly coming around to the idea of eating them. Much of the challenge is in the presentation of dishes prepared with insects and marketing the notion of insects as palatable. As Dicke points out, contemporary Western resistance to eating insects is somewhat anomaly :

It’s in our genes to eat insects; humanoids have always done this. Around the world, 2 billion people eat them on a daily basis—there’s nothing strange about this…. In our culture, we’ve always been taught that insects are disgusting. We try to live in an insect-free world, a sterile world where everything is clean. On the other hand, this world wouldn’t be here if not for insects—without them there would be no pollination of plants.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

New Book Tuesday: Lady in the Dark, Crowded Orbits, A Semite, and More New Books!

The following books are now available:

Lady in the Dark, Robert SittonLady in the Dark: Iris Barry and the Art of Film
Robert Sitton

Crowded Orbits: Conflict and Cooperation in Space
James Clay Moltz

A Semite: A Memoir of Algeria
Denis Guénoun. Foreword by Judith Butler

Unearthing the Changes: Recently Discovered Manuscripts of the Yi Jing (I Ching) and Related Texts
Edward L. Shaughnessy

Christ Without Adam: Subjectivity and Sexual Difference in the Philosophers’ Paul
Benjamin H. Dunning

Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations (Now available in paper)
Zheng Wang

Rapids
Patrick Boltshauser; Translated by Peter O. Arnds

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Book Giveaway! Win a Free Copy of The Insect Cookbook

The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet,  Arnold van Huis, Henk van Gurp, and Marcel Dicke

This week we will be featuring The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet, by Arnold van Huis, Henk van Gurp, and Marcel Dicke on our blog, twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet to a lucky winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and indicate your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, March 28st at 3:00 pm.

In The Insect Cookbook, two entomologists and a chef make the case for insects as a sustainable source of protein for humans and a necessary part of our future diet.

For more on the book, learn how to make Hopper Kebabs and Buglava or watch a video of Marcel Dicke’s Ted Talk.

Friday, March 21st, 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.

University Presses in Space! Before we get started with blog posts, we just want to point out the brand new UP in Space website, devoted to showcasing books on space and space exploration published by university presses. It’s an excellent list, and features two Columbia UP books: Crowded Orbits: Conflict and Cooperation in Space, by James Clay Moltz, and Mankind Beyond Earth: The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration, by Claude A. Piantadosi!

Moving back to earth, we’ll get the Roundup rolling with an interview with Jeff Williamson and Larry Neal on the long, complicated history of capitalism, posted on fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press. Williamson and Neal discuss ancient economic records from Babylon, claim that the the corporation started to appear in medieval Italy, consider the role of wars in 20th-century capitalism, and wonder if recent levels of economic growth can be sustained throughout the 21st century.

The national dialogue on gun violence that followed the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary last year seems to have faded into the background without any major changes in gun policy. At the JHU Press Blog, Beth McGinty and Colleen Barry have a guest post examining why, despite “polls [that] showed that the overwhelming majority of Americans supported many gun policy options,” Congress did not end up passing any relevant legislation. In particular, they are interested in why “Congress failed to strengthen the background check system for gun sales, despite our polling data showing that 89% of Americans overall, 86% of Republicans, 84% of gun owners, and 74% of National Rifle Association members supported requiring background checks for all gun sales.”

The US invasion of Iraq began eleven years ago this month, and at the OUP blog, Geoffrey S. Corn looks back at “the most significant strategic debacle of the war”: the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. Corn emphasizes that the repeated emphasis from US leaders, both civilian and military, that the enemy in Iraq and more broadly in the Middle East was made up of “‘unlawful’ combatants” played a significant role in the scandal by creating a double-standard for how prisoners should be seen by their guards: “lawful” combatants one way and “unlawful” combatants another. (more…)

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Thursday Fiction Corner: An Excerpt from From Out of the City, by John Kelly

From Out of the City

We are proud to be distributing Dalkey Archive Press, one of the leading publishers of avant-garde fiction and literature in translation! In today’s Thursday Fiction Corner, we have an excerpt from John Kelly’s From Out of the City, which launched this past weekend at Irrgrønn, the Oslo festival of Irish literature! Kjersti Skomsvald, author of The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am (also published recently by Dalkey Archive) helped to launch the book.

John Kelly and Kjersti A. Skomsvold

In honor of the occasion, we’d like to share the prologue and first chapter of From Out of the City:

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Relativity in Education — Jeffrey Bennett

The following post is by Jeffrey Bennett, author of What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter

Jeffrey Bennett, What Is Relativity?Black holes don’t suck. It’s a point I’ve emphasized to students for decades, and I even considered it as a possible title for my book at one point. So why, then, do so many people assume that a spaceship passing near a black hole would get “sucked in,” or that transforming the Sun into a black hole would cause Earth and the other planets to be sucked in?

It’s an interesting question, because the answer tells us something about our system of science education. Society and public knowledge have changed dramatically in many ways since Einstein published his general theory of relativity in 1915. Consider, for example, that in 1915: Flight was only a few years old, automobiles were still rare, antibiotics were decades from discovery, life expectancy was decades shorter than today, and women still did not have the right to vote in U.S. national elections. But at least one thing has not changed: Most people today still assume space and time to be just as fixed and independent as did our ancestors, even though we are approaching the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory that showed otherwise.

It may seem that no one is harmed by this lack of public understanding, but I’d argue otherwise. For example, I believe that all human beings live their lives according to a world view with which they see their place in the world and universe, and this in turn makes it seem important to have a world view that is consistent with reality. And reality, as it turns out, is the real topic of Einstein’s theory of relativity, because it is the theory that describes our current understanding of space, time, and gravity. As such, it provides the foundation of almost all of modern physics and astronomy, which means it tells us how the universe — our reality — actually works. I’d be exaggerating only slightly if I said that knowing something about relativity is as important to having a true “cosmic perspective” as recognizing that Earth is a planet going around the Sun rather than the center of the universe.

Relativity is also a great way to introduce students (and the public) to the way in which science works, and to the real meaning of a scientific theory. In fact, relativity is arguably our best example of how one theory (in this case Newton’s theory of gravity) can be replaced by another (Einstein’s general theory of relativity) without the first one being “wrong.” In this case, relativity expanded the range of situations in which we can calculate gravitational effects, but still gives essentially the same answers as Newton’s earlier theory of gravity for most situations. In my opinion, there’s no better way to explain the nature of scientific evidence and the means by which we test hypotheses until the evidence becomes strong enough to consider them theories. I suspect that if we taught this example in schools, we’d be able to build upon it to quiet much of the public debate that arises over other scientific topics, including evolution and climate change.

(more…)

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Interview with Jeffrey Bennett, author of “What Is Relativity,” Part 2

The following is the second part of an interview with Jeffrey Bennett, author of What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter. You can read part one of the interview here.

What Is Relativity? Jeffrey BennettQuestion: You said above that relativity has “basic simplicity.” But relativity has a reputation for being very difficult. Which is it?

Jeffrey Bennett: The conceptual ideas of relativity are somewhat counterintuitive, but they are not difficult to understand. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to follow some simple “thought experiments” through to their logical conclusions, and then to consider the evidence that shows these conclusions to be correct. As to why relativity has a reputation for being difficult: For the most part, it’s an undeserved reputation coming from the fact that it seems weird when you first study it. However, if you want to go beyond understanding the concepts and actually use relativity to test scientific ideas or design new technologies, then you need to work with the mathematics of relativity as well as with the concepts. The mathematics can become quite involved, especially for general relativity, and I certainly hope that some of my younger readers will be inspired to learn this mathematics — but don’t worry, you won’t find any of this mathematics in my book, which focuses only on the conceptual ideas.

Q: Following up on that, you say that relativity can seem counterintuitive, but in the book you say it does not violate “common sense.” What do you mean?

JB: By definition, we can only have “common sense” about things that we commonly experience, and the surprising effects of relativity are not noticeable under the conditions of our everyday lives. Instead, they become noticeable only at speeds much faster than we ever travel, or in gravity far stronger than Earth’s. In the book I use an analogy to “up” and “down.” In our daily lives, common sense tells us that “up” is over our heads and “down” is below our feet, and this common sense works fine for things like basketball games. But if that was all there was to it, then people on the other side of Earth would fall off. The fact that they don’t fall of therefore tells us that our common sense isn’t telling us the whole story. In a similar way, the fact that relativity tells us that we’d measure space and time differently at high speeds means that our common sense about motion must not be the whole story either, even though it works fine for most things in our daily lives.

Q: You start the book with a chapter in which you take readers on an imaginary future voyage to a black hole, and in the process you say that “black holes don’t suck.” What do you mean by that?

Jeffrey Bennett: For some reason, it’s commonly assumed that if you went anywhere near a black hole, you’d be sucked in, or that if the Sun turned into a black hole then Earth would get sucked in. But it’s not true. At a distance, the gravity of a black hole is no different than the gravity of a more ordinary star, and you’d have to get extremely close to the black hole before you noticed any difference. Because black holes are so well known in popular culture, I decided that an imaginary journey in which we learned what would really happen on a voyage to a black hole would be a good way to introduce Einstein’s amazing ideas.

(more…)

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Interview with Jeffrey Bennett, author of “What Is Relativity?,” Part 1

The following is part one of an interview with Jeffrey Bennett, author of What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter

What Is Relativity?,  Jeffrey BennettQuestion: Your book is titled What is Relativity? Ok, then, so what is it?

Jeffrey Bennett: Nearly everyone has heard of Einstein’s theory of relativity, perhaps because it is so prevalent in popular culture. For example, relativity lies behind real science ideas like black holes and the expanding universe, and also behind science fiction ideas of things like warp drive, hyperspace, and worm holes. The reason it comes up in these contexts is that the theory of relativity represents our current understanding of the nature of space, time, and gravity. As such, it provides the foundation of almost all of modern physics and astronomy, which means it also plays a critical role in modern technology. To sum up, relativity tells us how the universe actually works, and through technology it comes up in nearly everything we do in our daily lives.

Q: How does it gets its name? That is, what is “relative” about relativity?

JB: Let’s start by dispelling a common misconception: Einstein’s theory does not say that “everything is relative.” Rather, the theory refers specifically to the relativity of motion. You can think of it like running on a treadmill: If the display says you are running 6 miles per hour, it means that is your speed relative to the rubber mat on the treadmill. Your speed is different if you measure relative to something else. For example, your speed relative to the exercise room is zero, because you’re running in place; your speed relative to the Moon is nearly 1000 miles per hour, because that is the speed at which Earth’s rotation carries you in a circle around Earth’s axis each day; and your speed relative to the Sun is about 60,000 miles per hour, because that’s how fast Earth moves in its orbit. Einstein’s theory gets its name because it describes how measurements of space and time differ for observers moving relative to one another.

Q: You also say that “relativity” is in some sense a misnomer for Einstein’s theory, because the theory rests on foundations built from two absolutes. What are these absolutes?

JB: The theory gets its name from the relativity of motion, but the fact that motion is relative had already been known for centuries. So the real foundations of Einstein’s theory lie in his assertion that two particular things in nature are absolute: (1) The laws of nature are the same for everyone; and (2) the speed of light is the same for everyone. All the astonishing consequences of relativity can be derived from these two absolutes, both of which have been verified by countless observations and experiments.

(more…)

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

New Book Tuesday: Restaurants, the Blacklist, the Dirty Art of Poetry, and More New Books!

The following books are now available:

Fashioning Appetite, Joanne FinkelsteinFashioning Appetite: Restaurants and the Making of Modern Identity
Joanne Finkelstein

The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s
Mary Helen Washington

Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure: The Dirty Art of Poetry
William Logan

Sources of Indian Traditions: Modern India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, Volume 2
Edited by Rachel Fell McDermott, Leonard A. Gordon, Ainslie T. Embree, Frances W. Pritchett, and Dennis Dalton

Indie 2.0: Change and Continuity in Contemporary American Indie Film
Geoff King

Taking It Big: C. Wright Mills and the Making of Political Intellectuals (Now available in paper)
Stanley Aronowitz

Globalized Arts: The Entertainment Economy and Cultural Identity (Now available in paper)
J. P. Singh

Balthus: A Biography
Nicholas Fox Weber

Mirror Gazing
Warren Motte

The Maya Pill
German Sadulaev

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Book Giveaway! Win a Free Copy of What Is Relativity?

What Is Relativity?, Jeffrey Bennet

This week we will be featuring What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter, by Jeffrey Bennett on our blog, twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter to a lucky winner. To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and indicate your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, March 21st at 3:00 pm.

Amply illustrated and written in clear, accessible prose, Bennett’s book proves anyone can grasp the basics of Einstein’s ideas. His intuitive, nonmathematical approach gives a wide audience its first real taste of how relativity works and why it is so important to science and the way we view ourselves as human beings.

For more on the book, you can also read the chapter Voyage to a Black Hole or preview the book.

Monday, March 17th, 2014

When Was the First St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City?

St. Patrick's Day Parade

An increasingly controversial event, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has nevertheless been a staple of New York City life. But just how much of a staple is it? To answer that question, we turn to When Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green?: And 101 Other Questions About New York City, edited by The Staff of the New-York Historical Society Library, Nina Nazionale, and Jean Ashton:

When was the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City?

This is a tough question, since a definitive answer hinges on whether a record of the event has actually survived. Addition­ally, the sources that do exist are not particularly explicit about the form the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations took.

That aside, the first allusion to something resembling a pa­rade appears in the March 20, 1766, issue of the New-York Gazette, or Weekly Post-Boy. The newspaper account notes the playing of fifes and drums at dawn—which we can reasonably interpret as a parade—and festivities later in the evening, both organized by Irishmen serving in the British army. Still, the first known reference to any commemoration of St. Patrick’s Day in New York City is a full decade earlier, in 1756. There is no specific mention of a parade or procession, but according to a brief notice in the New-York Gazette, or Weekly Post-Boy, the event was worthy of the governor’s attendance.

Regardless of the exact date of the first parade, these cele­brations differed notably from those of later generations. In this early period, organizers were Loyalists, proposing toasts not only to “The Day; and Prosperity of Ireland” but also to “the King and Royal House of Hanover,” “the glorious memory of King William,” and “the Protestant Interest.” The influx of Irish Catholics into New York in the nineteenth century, along with the appointment of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (an Irish Catholic fraternal organization) as the parade’s chief sponsor in the 1850s, signaled a swing to a more Catholic, na­tionalist tone.

Friday, March 14th, 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.

We’ll start things off this week with a great article by Alice Northover in the OUPblog on the use of video marketing in academic publishing. Northover claims that it’s misleading to consider videos in isolation. Instead, she explains that by putting in a great deal of effort in designing the videos to be interesting, enlightening, and easily found, OUP and their authors see a variety of benefits that more than make up for the time involved in creating the videos, and “most importantly, these videos disseminate Oxford scholarship around the globe, and even help the occasional student pass their final exam.”

Albert Einstein was born on the 14th of March in 1879, and in honor of his birth the Princeton University Press Blog featured a great “Pi Day” excerpt from Charles Adler’s Wizards, Aliens, and Starships. In the excerpt, Adler looks at popular conceptions of one of the weirder aspects of Einstein’s famous theory of relativity–the prediction that “clocks run more slowly when traveling close to light speed”–and asks whether this idea of Einstein’s was crazy.

The situation in Ukraine has been on the front pages of news websites for months, now, and at the Indiana University Press blog, cultural anthropologist Sarah D. Phillips tries to provide a view of the ongoing events from the perspective of “regular people” in Ukraine. She has been running an informal project on Facebook, where she encourages people in Ukraine and Russia to complete the sentence, “I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW….” While she “makes no claims to a representative sample,” her answers do provide a number of interesting common threads that she shares in her post.

March is Women’s History Month, and both the University of Illinois Press blog and From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, ran excellent posts in honor of the occasion this week. First, Trisha Franzen, writing at the University of Illinois Press blog, looks back at the life of Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, a suffragette in the early twentieth century. Shaw, a leader in the National American Woman Suffrage, raised money to support the Susan B. Anthony amendment by asking married women to donate their wedding rings and other personal jewelry items to the cause. As Franzen explains, “exploring who Shaw was, how she lived her life, and what arguments she made for women’s rights, challenge much what we think we know about women in this era and the suffrage movement.” Meanwhile, at From the Square, Priscilla Pope-Levison notes and discusses the lack of coverage of women in conventional histories of the evangelical movements in the Americas, despite the fact that letters and papers by women who played critical roles in many of the most important religious movements in American history exist in great profusion in dusty archives around the country. (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!