University Press Roundup

It’s time again for our weekly roundup of the best articles from the academic publishing blogosphere. As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

The University of Minnesota had a few really fascinating posts this week, and we couldn’t choose just one to feature. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they ran a two-part piece by historian Amy Bass on the contentious history of gender in the modern Olympics and the many gender issues that will come to the forefront in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Then, on Thursday, anthropologist Matthew Wolf-Meyer had a blog post asking whether a good night’s sleep is actually possible.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is out in movie theaters around the world right now. However, at the University of Toronto Press blog, Andrew Walsh wonders whether outsiders really understand much at all about the real-life Madagascar or about the Malagasy people who live there.

Interested in how being a historian has changed over the last half-century? At This Side of the Pond, the Cambridge University Press blog, James M. Banner Jr. talks about the ways that the study of history has changed in the academic and professional worlds.

With the constant discussions of the definition of marriage, there has been a lot of talk about the ways that different family structures affect child development. Beacon Broadside has a guest post by law professor Nancy Polikoff explaining some of the important recent research on the topic.

Meanwhile, From the Square, the NYU Press blog, approaches the same topic from a different angle with a guest post from Abbie Goldberg. Goldberg discusses what it’s like to be a gay father, using the omnipresent Neil Patrick Harris and his recent appearance with Oprah as an example.

Another political hot topic in recent days has been the complicated situation with Wisconsin’s state government and the recall election that happened earlier this week. The Chicago Blog of the University of Chicago Press responds to the controversy with an excerpt from Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro’s Politicians Don’t Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness.

Just in case any of these recent political controversies have you feeling cynical about the state of democracy, the Princeton University Press Blog has an Election 101 interview with political scientist Hélène Landemore in which she explains how people make “smarter” political decisions as a group than we would or could individually.

It’s been more than twenty years since the demonstrations in China’s Tiananmen Square, but the events of the 1989 protests and massacre still echo today. North Philly Notes, the Temple University Press blog, has a guest post from Belinda Kong looking back on the demonstrations and on the worldwide literary reactions to them.

On the other side of the world, the UK is celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the 60th year of her rule. A key component of the celebration will be the original music composed for the occasion. The OUPblog has a couple of great posts looking at Will Todd and William Walton, the composers commissioned to write music for the Diamond Jubilee and for the Queens coronation 60 years ago respectively.

While the OUPblog looked at distinctly British music this week, the UNC Press blog has a fantastic excerpt from Françoise Hamlin’s Crossroads at Clarksdale in which she discusses one of the distinctly American musical genres: the blues. Clarksdale, Mississippi, is often cited as the home of the blues, and the famous Crossroads is the site “where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil in exchange for mastery over his music.”

We’ll wrap things up this week with a very helpful post from AMACOM books Executive Editor Christina Parisi at the AMACOM books blog in which she discusses the value of getting endorsements for books. She’s not the biggest fan of the practice: “My biggest argument against endorsements is opportunity cost. If an author asks his or her contacts to give endorsements, it becomes awkward to later ask them to support a book in other ways that carry more weight in terms of driving sales.”

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