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.

The trial of Russian punk band Pussy Riot has been the subject of a great deal of coverage in the Western media (as well as backlash against the coverage, and backlash against the backlash of the coverage, etc.). The Harvard University Press Blog sees similarities between the Pussy Riot trials and the “trial of the Plastic People” in Czechoslovakia in 1976. They are featuring an excerpt from Jonathan Bolton’s Worlds of Dissent explaining what the “trial of the Plastic People” actually refers to.

We love blog posts that give detailed explanations of the publishing process, and this week the JHU Press Blog has not one, but two excellent posts about academic publishing. First, Jennifer Malat, an Acquisitions Assistant, explains the importance of peer review from an acquisitions standpoint. Then Nova J. Silvy tells us just how many people it takes to write a textbook (spoiler alert: in the example she uses, the answer is 119!).

Thursday was the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor in the United States. At the Texas A&M University Press Consortium, historian Stephen Ochs looks back at the history of the award, given to a member of the Army who distinguishes himself conspicuously ‘by gallantry and intrepidity’ in battle with an enemy ‘at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.'” Ochs focuses on World War II and a soldier named Stephen Daly in particular in his post.

A number of blogs had posts this week with a focus on the 2012 presidential election here in the US (a trend which seems likely to continue as we get closer to November). In a post at From the Square, the NYU Press blog, Justin Wilford wonders why there seems to be less of a public Evangelical Christian political voice than there has been in the last few elections. Meanwhile the OUPblog delves into the confused and confusing world of campaign finances, with a post by Andrew J. Polsky giving an overview of “the great 2012 campaign spending spree” and Kristin Kanthak explaining five things about those frequent topics of complaints, leadership PACs. Finally, the Princeton University Press blog, in their Election 101 series, has a post by Rasmus Kleis Nielsen detailing the “ground wars” involved in political elections. He claims that “Political campaigns today are won or lost in the so-called ground war—the strategic deployment of teams of staffers, volunteers, and paid part-timers who work the phones and canvass block by block, house by house, voter by voter.”

UNC Press has a new series of southern ingredient-focused cookbooks, and this week the UNC Press Blog features a guest post from Kathleen Purvis, the author of a cookbook focusing on a particularly delicious southern staple: pecans. In her post, Purvis explains the challenges and joys of writing a cookbook while trying to balance other responsibilities.

At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, sociologist John (Jay) Arena has fascinating post about “Uncle Lionel” Batiste, a bass drummer and icon of the New Orleans cultural scene, who passed away in July. Arena is disturbed by the way that Batiste was feted when he was brought to public attention in the last few years (and in particular after his death), but was “kicked … to the curb after Hurricane Katrina hit the city in late August 2005.”

It’s now been just over a year since Steve Jobs stepped down as the CEO of Apple. At Beacon Broadside, business journalist Fran Hawthorne asks whether and how Apple today is different from Apple under Jobs’ control. While customers and investors have focused on Apple products, Hawthorne points out that Jobs’ successor Timothy Cook has quietly “made some important changes in the area of corporate social responsibility.”

The 2012 London Olympic Games were a watershed event for women’s sports in America. The American Olympic team featured more female athletes than male athletes for the first time ever, the female athletes won more medals than the male athletes, and, perhaps most importantly, more than half of those watching at home were women. At North Philly Notes, the Temple University Press blog, Andy Markovits discusses how women have become such an important fanbase at sporting events.

At the Oregon State University Press blog, they have a number of excerpts from The Wet Engine, Brian Doyle’s book of reflections (scientific, spiritual, and personal) on the human heart. The moving excerpts focus on the birth of Doyle’s son Liam: “He looked like a cucumber on steroids. He was fat and bald and round. He looked healthy as a horse. He wasn’t. He was missing a chamber in his heart, which is a bit of a problem, as you need four chambers for smooth conduct through this vale of fears and tears, and he only had three chambers, so pretty soon he had an open heart surgery, during which doctors cut him open and iced down his heart and shut it down for an hour or so while they worked on repair.”

At the University Press of North Georgia blog, Matt Pardue’s series on webcomics continues this week with an examination of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a comic he describes as feeling “like what you’d get if you spliced Jonathan Swift with the average YouTube commenter.”

While we are fond of bemoaning today’s political struggles as extremely bitter and divisive, it is worth remembering just how unsettled and contentious the political climate was in the early days of the United States. At This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, R. Kent Newmyer has an post about the treason trial of Aaron Burr, fresh off his term as Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President. Burr was accused of “levying war against the United States as part of a plan to separate the western states from the Union” by Jefferson himself.

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

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