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.

This past Tuesday, March 11, marked the third anniversary of the Sendai earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in Japan. At the JHU Press Blog, Donald R. Prothero (also a CUP author!) looks back at the earthquake and tsunami, explains why they were so devastating, and discusses the damage done to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. “The Sendai quake taught us a lot about building safety, the best ways to cope with earthquakes and tsunamis, nuclear reactor safety, ocean currents, and even about plate tectonics. Let’s hope those hard-won lessons are not lost when the next great earthquake occurs.”

What is the difference between solitude and loneliness? Is time alone necessary? Is too much time alone harmful? At the Harvard University Press Blog, Robert A. Ferguson has a thoughtful essay on the widely seen value of time spent alone and one of the most common punishments in the American prison system, solitary confinement. Starting from Joseph Conrad’s famously complex quote from Heart of Darkness, “We live as we dream—alone,” Ferguson runs through the effects of solitary, the important place of solitude in American literature, and “the ultimate loneliness… a life degraded without engagement.”

PBS recently aired The Rise and Fall of Penn Station, a documentary that reminded Steven Cassedy of his youth as a train enthusiast in New York City. In a post at the Stanford University Press Blog, Cassedy compares his memories of the original Penn Station and of Grand Central Terminal, and explains why, even had the original Penn Station remained standing, he believes that Grand Central would still be more iconic today.

At fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, Ludwig Siep takes on the tallest of tasks: making Hegel’s writing seem likable. Joking aside, Siep presents a passionate and intriguing description of The Phenomenology of Spirit, elucidating the depth of Hegel’s “philosophical novel,” looking at the innovations in the way that Hegel dealt with history in a truly interdisciplinary way, and discussing how his disappointments with Hegel’s thought have not wholly diminished his admiration for the Phenomenology.

At the UNC Press Blog, Anne Balay continues her series of posts on the uneven expansion of LGBT rights with a discussion of the practical consequences that marriage inequality has for LGBT people working in areas and industries where LGBT rights are not a high priority. The gay marriage debate is often discussed in abstract, theoretical language, but as Balay claims in her article, “[f]or my narrators—the forty transgender, lesbian, and gay steelworkers I interviewed—marriage is complicated. Insurance and survival benefits are not just theoretical issues for them.”

Kelly Cogswell, writing about her memoir Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger, begins her guest post at the University of Minnesota Press blog with an important disclaimer: “I didn’t mean to write a memoir.” Over the course of her deeply personal post, Cogswell explains the difficulties and triumphs she encountered in the course of writing her experiences with the Lesbian Avengers, and claims that being able to insert her life into the “bigger narrative of America” freed her to write more powerfully about an important subject than she had thought possible.

While watching the feats of skill and physical prowess in the Sochi Olympic Games, Sam M. Intrator and Don Siegel consistently asked one question: “how did they get so good?” In a post at Voices in Education, the blog of Harvard Education Publishing, Intrator and Siegel look at our national network of “SBYDs,” or sports-based youth development programs. While the allure of sports often draws children into these programs, when run correctly, SBYDs provides these children with important tools, in particular “the core processes that lead to mastery.”

Immigration, racial, and religious issues often dominate the political scene in France, and the recent controversy surrounding French president François Hollande’s gestures of respect at a memorial dedicated to the “100,000 Muslim soldiers who gave their lives for France during the First World War” is no exception. Writing at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Jennifer Fredette looks in particular at the reactions of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front party, to Hollande’s actions. Fredette argues that Le Pen’s comments show “the power of political omission.”

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

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