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.

Authors, read this post! The AMACOM Books Blog has a great post this week on how authors can have a great relationship with their publicists. Among many other pieces of advice, the post asks that authors, quite simply, be available: “They check e-mail and voicemail frequently, and get back quickly with all the information requested. They don’t go on vacation the week their book is published. If they take a short vacation in the months leading to pub date, they let their publicist know, and they make sure they are reachable for interviews.”

Last week, the Harvard University Press Blog ran the first of a pair of essays by John Burt on the historical allusions (particularly to Abraham Lincoln) in President Obama’s second inaugural address. This week, they have the second of the pair, in which Burt takes a closer look at what Obama’s historical allusions say about the ever-changing ideal of freedom in America.

Pope Benedict XVI abdicated earlier this week. At the OUPblog, Gerald O’Collins has a guest post arguing that the Pope’s decision to step down to allow a younger person to take his place is a brave one, and is, in fact, “the defining moment of his papacy.”

Martin Luther King Jr. is often seen as a uniquely American hero, but at Beacon Broadside, Lewis V. Baldwin claims that MLK described himself as “a citizen of the world” and should get more credit for his global thought and influence. Baldwin claims that we must look at King as “a leader who moved beyond the particularities of the African American and the American experiences to speak and act on behalf of a world fragmented by bigotry, injustice, intolerance, and war.”

Tuesday (the twelfth of February) was the two hundred fourth birthday of Charles Darwin. In honor of the occasion, This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, asked a number of experts on Darwin the following question: “For over 150 years, Charles Darwin and his work have influenced the fields of science, religion, politics, gender, literature, philosophy, and medicine. With a view in 2013 of the innumerable changes he has sparked across a number of disciplines, what should be considered Darwin’s most important contribution?” The answers are well worth a read.

There was another notable anniversary this week of a far more tragic event: Monday marked the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s suicide. At the JHU Press Blog, Peter Filkins looks back at Plath’s poetry and life, quoting Adam Kirsch’s claim that “With Plath, biography is a kind of criticism, and vice versa.” However, Filkins argues that “what Plath’s poems should command us to do is to celebrate their life, not just replay her death, for a poem should not be just a secret door opening onto the poet’s biography.”

King Richard III of England has been in the headlines recently after his skeletal remains were found under a parking lot in Leicester, England. At the LSU Press Blog, Mary H. Manhein has a guest post explaining just why the discovery and identification of Richard’s remains were a dream come true for forensic anthropologists.

We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Ronald Dworkin yesterday. Dworkin was a brilliant philosopher who made important contributions in philosophy of law and political philosophy. The Stanford University Press Blog has an excerpt on “The Importance of an Authentic Life” from Stephen Guest’s Ronald Dworkin commemorating Dworkin’s life and works.

Bullying is increasingly gaining attention in the mainstream media, and at Voices in Education, the blog of Harvard Education Publishing, Silvia Diazgranados Ferráns and Robert L. Selman have a post asking why, exactly, this is the case: “Is bullying worse now than ever before? Or is it just more visible to the outside world—more pervasive in the new digital era?”

Part one of Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit was released earlier this year, and much of the talk surrounding the film focused on the technical innovations Jackson made in the filming process, and, in particular, on his use of cameras that shot at 48 fps instead of the 24 fps rate normally used in film. At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Alice Maurice has a guest post looking at the criticism and praise that Jackson’s cinematography received, and placing The Hobbit in the context of other innovative films.

From the Square, the NYU Press blog, is beginning a series of posts by Charlene Mires looking at the history of the UN. Fittingly, the first post in this series is a NYC-themed one in which Mires explains how New York became the “capital of the world,” the home of the UN. It’s strange to consider today, but there were many offers for the UN to be housed in other cities, and even from “such seemingly out-of-the-way places as the Black Hills of South Dakota.”

How does one track down the life and works of one Robert Beck, better known to the world as Iceberg Slim? At North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Justin Gifford has a post in which he details his search to find information on Beck. One important breakthrough came in 2004, when Gifford “met Robert Beck’s second wife, Diane Millman. She was selling all of Beck’s old pimp suits, alligator shoes, and silk shirts on ebay to raise money for charity.”

Finally, we’ll wrap things up this week with a fascinating post from the UNC Press Blog on “Jesus Jokes and Racial Pain,” by Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey. Naturally, Blum and Harvey begin by recounting a South Park episode in which Jesus boxes Satan on live TV, and move from there to a discussion of the use of “white Jesus” and humor in racial debates in the 1990s and 2000s.

Well, that will do it for this week! We hope that you enjoyed this edition of our UP Roundup. As always, please post any thoughts in the comments.

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