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.)
Let’s start with some history. The University of Michigan Press continues their series of posts commemorating the 1967 Detroit Riot; this week, Brian Matzke discusses the failures of Detroit’s public institutions. Picking up on the themes of public education and racial justice, Kay Whitlock at Beacon Broadside reminds us of the connections between school privatization and criminal justice reform. Over at NYU, Stanley I. Thangaraj urges us to “Say Her Name”—to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of women of color to everything from professional sports to civil rights movements.
Several posts this week explore the ways in which scientific discovery and innovation intersect with social concerns. At Stanford Press, Londa Schiebinger traces flows of medical knowledge between European, Amerindian, and slave communities in the Atlantic World and identifies points of rupture. Bernd Brunner at Yale Books investigates the origins and legacy of the Apollo program, questioning whether a trip to the moon really benefitted American society and speculating on the future of space travel. Denis Alexander at Cambridge argues that science and religion have always been more closely intertwined than we tend to think, and Bonnie L. Keeler at Oxford lays out a plan for restructuring academic institutions so that future scientific innovation more directly benefits society and the planet.
Science has already given us answers to some of the most pressing questions of our time—for example, the urgent question of what wine to pair with dessert. At Yale Books, Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle provide a lively introduction to the science of taste, debunking myths about taste buds and explaining why the shape of a wineglass matters. I would recommend pairing that article with Mack McCormick’s enticing exploration of regional American stews over at Kentucky Press, or the University of Illinois Press’s brief history of the humble hot dog.
At the intersection of politics and aesthetics, Erin Greer, of Indiana University Press, examines the philosophy of conversation through the lens of Virginia Woolf. David Ebony of Yale Books criticizes the Venice Biennale, a major international art show, for lacking depth and incisiveness, though he highlights several works of art that amuse, provoke, and unsettle.
The poetic inversion of art in a sinking city might well be floating junk: Beacon Broadside interviews Marcus Eriksen, who crossed the ocean on a raft made out of garbage in order to raise awareness about plastic pollution. If, unlike Eriksen, you’re not building your own seaworthy vessels out of garbage, you probably don’t know much about the sophisticated machines you use every day—but Dennis Tenen at Stanford argues that you should have the right to tinker with, interpret, and understand your technology.
From the grab-bag of the eye-catching and the odd: To celebrate the return of Game of Thrones this week, Greg Garrett at Oxford asks what the abundance of zombie apocalypses on TV reveals about modern society. For more family-friendly entertainment, Travis D. Stimeling says, go enjoy a local bluegrass festival and learn about this uniquely American music genre.
Have a great week.