University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts 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.

Chinua Achebe passed away last week, and at the OUPblog, Richard Dowden has written a post in memory of Achebe, looking back at Achebe’s life and works, discussing his massive and continuing influence, and telling the story of Dowden’s own interactions with the great author. “A conversation with Chinua Achebe was a deep, slow and gracious matter. He was exceedingly courteous and always listened and reflected before answering. In his later years he talked even more slowly and softly, savouring the paradoxes of life and history. He spoke in long, clear, simple sentences which often ended in a profound and sad paradox. Then those extraordinary eyes twinkled, his usually very solemn face would break into a huge smile and he would chuckle.”

The NYU Press blog, From the Square, continued their month-long focus on Women’s History Month this week with a post by Melissa R. Klapper examining why we are still apparently “disconcerted by women in positions of authority.” In her post, Klapper delves into at the history of women working in her attempt to come up with an answer.

March Madness is in full swing, and at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Gregory Kaliss takes a break from this year’s action to look back at an infamous NCAA tournament regional final weekend in Dallas in 1957. The Kansas University Jayhawks rolled to two convincing victories to advance to the Final Four, that weekend, but because the team was integrated (and in fact featured Wilt Chamberlain, one of the greatest basketball players of all time), they faced discrimination and racial violence both on and off the court.

What exactly is “craft” and how is it different (if it differs at all) from art? At the UNC Press Blog, Howard Risatti digs into these and other thorny questions in a guest post. Along the way, he also discusses how crafts and art can raise our awareness of ecological issues.

“Julius Caesar shows us two different kinds of political love, in tragic opposition. Brutus is principled, but he is not cold. He loves the institutions of the Roman Republic, and he tells us that this abstract love has driven out his personal love of Caesar, as fire drives out fire…. Brutus’s antitype is Antony, who can understand no kind of love other than the personal, who cannot refrain from calling the dead man “Julius” even in the presence of the conspirators.” This week, The Chicago Blog has a fascinating excerpt from Martha Nussbaum’s Shakespeare and the Law.

Since late 2008, North Dakota has been experiencing an “economic boom and rapid population growth” as the result of the discovery of oil and natural gas underneath the state. At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Dean Hulse warns that, while the boom has brought some good, it’s important to pay attention to the possible long-term consequences of the new uses of the land in the state.

At the JHU Press Blog this week, Valerie Weaver-Zercher discusses her decision to present her academic research in “what literary theorist Scott Slovic calls ‘narrative scholarship,’ in which writers do not strive to absent themselves from the text.” In her post, Weaver-Zercher looks at the positives and negatives of attempting to write objectively and of acknowledging the subjectivity of one’s perspective in an academic work.

In an interview with Beacon Broadside, Kim E. Nielsen thinks about the similarities and differences in approaching history through different lenses, in particular, through the lenses of women’s history and disability history. While there are clear differences, particularly in the “slipperiness” over time in the definitions of “woman” and “disabled,” she notes a number of important similarities, as well, in particular that “women, children, enslaved people, and people with disabilities have tended to share a similar legal status, having a limited legal identity and having their legal ability to act covered by somebody else.

The fate of Florida’s famed springs is an ongoing concern for the state, which recently announced that it will reclaim Silver Springs in an “attempt to prevent further environmental degradation of the natural wonder.” At the Florida Bookshelf, the blog of the University Press of Florida, Gary Monroe discusses this move by the state and looks at the historical importance of Florida’s springs.

The popular version of the history of tanning is a relatively simple one, involving the evolution of paleness being a sign of wealth to the Industrial Revolution’s reversal of this idea, with Coco Chanel playing a crucial role somewhere along the line. At the Penn Press Log, however, Catherine Cocks argues that this version simply isn’t true, and, more worryingly, ignores the important role that race played in establishing norms of skin color.

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

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