University Press Roundup

… And we’re back! We are terribly sorry that we missed last week, but we are refreshed and ready to dive into the best posts from the past TWO weeks in the blogs of academic publishers. We’ve given precedence to posts from this week, but there were some excellent posts from last week that were just too interesting to pass over. Accordingly, the list of links will be a little longer than normal this week. Enjoy!

We’ll start things off this week with a fascinating idea courtesy of Michael Branch at Island Press Field Notes. In a guestpost and a linked article, Branch takes a hard look at a startling project originally suggested in 2006: “Pleistocene Rewilding.” As Branch explains things, “‘rewilding’ is the process of reintroducing species to ecosystems from which they have been extirpated,” and the Pleistocene version involves doing exactly what it sounds like: rewilding animals from the Pleistocene era in order to enhance the health of various ecosystems. Imagine extinct animals (he mentions, among others, the American cheetah, the pronghorn, North American Mammoths, tapirs, and American camels) reintroduced into carefully controlled wildlife areas!

When he first read Homer’s Iliad, Edward McCrorie claims at the JHU Press Blog, he was not particularly moved. “So much of it struck me as gore—the build-up to often overlapping and extremely graphic gore.” However, in his post, McCrorie, who has since translated the Iliad into English, explains how his growing understanding of the music of the verse led to a growing appreciation for the ways in which the violence of the poem contribute to Homer’s “vast verbal orchestration.” McCrorie explains in loving detail the Iliad‘s dramatization of the values that came to dominate Greek moral thought.

Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, his story of the education of the Persian King Cyrus the Great, is another highly influential (though obviously much more recent) ancient Greek text that wrestles with questions about the values associated with effective leadership. This week, the Harvard University Press Blog has a Q&A post with Norman B. Sandridge discussing the Cyropaedia. Of particular relevance is a section surmising lessons Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could learn from Xenophon: “leadership is a lifetime intellectual and ethical pursuit—not something learned as an afterthought to other previous ambitions.”

Unsurprisingly, HUP does not have the only presidential-themed blog post of the past two weeks. The MITPressLog has started an Election Tuesday series of posts focusing on the upcoming election. Both of the past two posts in this series are worth highlighting. First, Ian Bogost discusses how confused and interrupted communication between candidates and the public affects elections. In the latest Election Tuesday post, Michael P. Lynch explains how differing “standards of reason” render attempts at compromise or honest political discussion impossible.

It’s been a while since the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, but MaryAnne Borrelli’s post at the Texas A&M Press blog on the gender ideologies espoused in the speeches at the conventions is just as interesting today as it was two weeks ago. Borrelli claims that both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney had the unenviable task of “humanizing” their (widely disliked) husbands in their respective convention speeches. The way these two women went about this “humanizing” project speaks to the way that the two parties they represent see the ideal role of women, according to Borrelli.

Whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the election in November, the newly-elected President will be confronted with crucial foreign policy decisions early in the next four years. While the growing tensions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program have received the most media focus of late, at the OUPblog, Andrew J. Polsky argues that the situation in Afghanistan requires a great deal of attention as well. Polsky sees the “repeated attacks by Afghanistan government soldiers and police on American and other NATO troops” as the most concerning new development in Afghanistan.

Political challenges abound closer to home, as well. With the number of unemployed in America still quite high, the issue of unemployment benefits remains a “hot-button topic.” At the UNC Press Blog, Beth Thompkins Bates looks back at debates from 1931 between Frank Murphy and Henry Ford over unemployment benefits. It’s both surprising and somewhat worrying to see how relevant the arguments between the two sides are today.

On a completely different note but also on the UNC Press Blog, Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey (both CUP authors as well!) have an interview in which they discuss their new book on the ways that depictions of Jesus’s racial characteristics have impacted and been impacted by racial struggles in American history. Since, as Blum and Harvey claim, “Gospel narratives of the Bible say nothing about the physical appearance of Jesus,” racial politics play as big a role as religious concerns in Christ’s portrayal in America.

Moving back to politics, at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Sherry Cable takes issue with the fact that neither presidential campaign has taken on a very important issue: she’s “tired of not hearing anything realistic, thoughtful, long-range, or detailed about energy policy and our energy future.” In her post, she discusses some of the problems with our current energy problem and offers ways that we can go about fixing things.

Few topics are more divisive or more difficult to come to terms with than the politics of race in the American educational system. The Princeton University Press Blog has been running a series based around the problems posed by so-called “exam schools,” some of the most elite public schools in the country that offer admission based on exams. The NAACP plans to file a complaint that exam schools in NYC create effective discrimination against black and Latino students, so the excerpt that the PUPblog has this week featuring racial demographics of these types of schools is particularly timely.

The sleep habits of students and schools’ role in promoting a healthy night’s sleep is another important issue in debates about modern education. At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer claims that in view of the growing body of evidence emphasizing the developmental importance of sleep, we should reconsider school start times. After all, Wolf-Meyer asks, “[i]f changing the start time to slightly later in the day leads to more engaged citizens and more capable workers, shouldn’t we change our school days?”

At This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, the topic last week was the most recent findings of James R. Flynn: that women are catching up or surpassing men in terms of average IQ scores. In a guestpost, Frances B. (a publicist at Cambridge UP), asks whether society is adequately reflecting these changes in IQ score. Frances worries that in both academia and the business world women are not only less likely to reach the pinnacles of success, when they do get there their abilities are more likely to be questioned than are those of their male counterparts.

While newspaper and book publishing are frequently confused in the public mind, there are a large number of differences between the two professions. At the AMACOM Books Blog, editor Barry Richardson, a former newspaper reporter and editor, discusses his time in the newspaper business, and offers a fascinating compare/contrast piece that lays out his experience in the faster- and slower-moving publishing industries.

Over the last few weeks, Beacon Broadside, the blog of Beacon Press, has been offering as series of posts on “Gaga feminism” written by J. Jack Halberstam. In the most recent of these posts, “Pronouns Go Gaga,” Halberstam discusses the importance and ambiguity of pronoun usage in establishing gender norms. Halberstam does not insist on the use of “he” or “she,” claiming, “I think my floating gender pronouns capture well the refusal to resolve my gender ambiguity that has become a kind of identity for me.”

We’ll wrap things up this week with an inspirational speech from Frank Oppenheimer, excerpted courtesy of the The Chicago Blog, the blog of the University of Chicago Press. Originally written for the 1960 graduating class of Pagosa Springs High School, Oppenheimer’s speech discusses what makes a life “full and rich.”

Thanks for reading (and for forgiving our absence last week). Have a great weekend! As always, if you particularly liked something or felt that we left an important post out, please let us know in the comments.

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