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. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

Does research into medieval history serve any useful purpose other than the pursuit of scholarship for its own sake? This question serves as an introduction to a recent post on Cambridge University Press’ blog by Bruce M.S. Campbell, author of The Great Transition: Climate, Disease and Society in the Late-Medieval World. Campbell sets the scene for an interdisciplinary approach to considering today’s ecological problems through integrating the study of medieval history, biology, and climatology. In order to understand climate change, for example, it is important to understand what is known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly which around 1000 CE presented the last period of significant northern hemisphere warmth prior to today, which consisted of small changes in global temperatures that resulted in big changes in atmospheric circulation patterns.

This week, University of California Press’ blog shared a post highlighting the increasing popularity of the artist Agnes Martin. Always seen as an “artist’s artist,” Martin had declined for years to have an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art because she did not want a scholarly catalog produced about her work. Now, she has come out of obscurity with a retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which closes on September 11th, and opens at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York on October 7th. This first traveling retrospective of Martin’s work since the early 1990s is, according to Christina Bryan Rosenberger, author of Drawing the Line: The Early Work of Agnes Martin, a part of a critical re-evaluation of Martin’s work and her legacy within the history of art.

In a guest post on The University of North Carolina’s blog, Emily Suzanne Clark, author of A Luminous Brotherhood: Afro-Creole Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans, discusses white-on-black violence in the South and commemorates the anniversary of one of the Reconstruction period’s most notorious massacres. July 30, 2016, marks the 150-year anniversary of the Mechanics’ Institute Riot in New Orleans, Louisiana, which saw the massacre of forty black men who were rallying for suffrage. The reconstruction period was an extremely violent time, and frequently the victims were black. Just three months prior to the Mechanic’s Institute Riot was the Memphis Massacre, in which white mobs, aided by the police, attacked black men, women, and children, leaving 46 African Americans dead and another 75 injured.

Recently, a post on Stanford University Press’ blog questions how business can help reduce income inequality. While conservatives blame inequality on “excessive government” and progressives see capitalist greed as the culprit, Jody Hoffer Gittell, author of Transforming Relationships for High Performance , and Thomas Kochan argue that although capitalist countries experience inequality, we see less inequality and more democratic participation in capitalist economies that are performing the best and have a more “respectful dialogue across business, government, labor, and education sectors.” According to the authors, these countries, including Denmark, are able to work across multiple sectors to produce high quality, innovate solutions to meet their customers’ needs within a capitalist model, while using the same model to support the middle class and democracy.

North Philly Notes, the blog run by Temple University Press, shared a guest post by Philip Evanson, co-author of Living in the Crossfire about what life is like in Rio de Janeiro right as the Olympics are about to begin. In late July, the first delegations of athletes from several countries refused to occupy their apartments, citing apartments where “pipes leaked, toilets might not flush, and electric wires were exposed.” In a rush to be fully prepared for the opening ceremony on August 5th, Rio hastily hired 630 workers to complete these apartment and various other building projects, generally ignoring Brazilian labor law in the process. According to Evanson, workers had not been hired according to the rules of formal sector employment, they were working longer hours than permitted, in one case 23 hours straight, and were not allowed enough time for meals.

New York University’s On the Square blog shared a post by Jennifer A. Reich, author of Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines , about the similarities between the Zika virus and rubella, also known as German measles, which infected twelve million people in the United States between 1964 and 1965. Like Zika, rubella was a virus with relatively minor effects on adults who contracted it, such as a low fever and a distinctive red rash, but most heavily affected fetuses, resulting in birth defects. A vaccine against rubella was developed in 1969 and the virus has since been eradicated in the US; something that cannot be said for Zika nor can be said for the foreseeable near future. Reich analyzes the climate of “a shared responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in a community” that surrounded rubella in contrast with today’s increasing number of parents who are opposed to vaccinations that provide protection to the community, who instead “focus on the risks and benefits to their own children, even as those decisions may place others at greater risk.”

Thanks for reading! As always, we hope that you enjoyed the links. Please let us know what you think in the comments!

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