University Press Roundup

Welcome to this special Ides of March edition of our weekly University Press Roundup. We’ve collected the best posts of the week 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.

March 14 (3-14) is widely known as Pi Day. Several publishers ran posts this week in honor of the occasion. The MIT Press blog has a mathematics-centric interview with Sanjoy Mahajan on how the proliferation of technology has affected how we teach and learn math. Meanwhile, the University Press of Kentucky blog and the Penn Press Log took a very different approach to Pi(e) Day: the Kentucky Press blog provides a delicious recipe for a “Kentucky Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie,” while the Penn Press Log provides a delicious recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie. Bring on the pie!

What, exactly, is the role that scholarly publishers play in the creation of scholarship? And more importantly, what is the role that scholarly publishers SHOULD play in the creation of scholarship? These are the questions that University of Minnesota Press senior acquisitions editor Jason Weidemann asks in “What do university presses do?,” a post at the University of Minnesota Press Blog. Weidemann takes issue with “rhetoric about scholarly publishers these days, rhetoric which paints us as parasites sucking profit and capital out of the work of scholars, structured around a ‘conflict’ between publishers, libraries, and scholars often oversimplified into a binary,” and uses the journey of a new UMP book by Matthew Wolf-Meyer to argue against this oversimplification.

“Commas are extremely useful but, to my mind, they are the most singularly misunderstood punctuation mark.” At the JHU Press Blog, manuscript editor Michele Callaghan has a post delving into the many uses (and far too frequent misuses) of the comma. She focuses particular attention on the way people often want to add a comma before conjunctions, “possibly from a misguided sense of drama.”

In the latest entry in their “Director Dish” series of posts, the University of Nebraska Press Blog has a discussion of how book titling works differently in different book genres. The discussion brings up an age-old debate that’s recently been given additional fuel by the rise of search engine optimization as an important consideration in titling (particularly nonfiction) books: is it better to have a descriptive title or a flashy creative title? And what role should the subtitle play?

MOOCs have (once again) been a contentious topic of numerous op-eds recently, largely spurred by an article in the NYTimes by Thomas Friedman. An Akronism, the University of Akron Press blog, dove into the fray this week with a post looking at MOOCs and the phenomenon of MOOCH (MOOC Hysteria).

On March 26, the US Supreme Court will for the first time address the legality of bans on same sex marriage by hearing Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case based on California’s recent state ban on gay marriage. At This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, six experts debate the coming case and what the 14th Amendment actually means.

The generation born between 2000 and 2020 is likely to be significantly smaller than the Millennial Generation now entering the work force. At the AMACOM Books Blog, Claire Raines has a guest post offering a quick overview of recent generational history and ten quick predictions for this new generation, which she’s dubbed Generation Z for the purposes of the post. Interestingly enough, she argues that, “In just the way Gen Xers felt they grew up in the shadow of the Baby Boom, Z’s will feel like they’re coming of age in the shadow of Millennials.”

A book can be one of the most powerful gifts. At the LSU Press Blog, author Michael Downs tells the story of a gifted book that helped clarify what “writing fiction” actually meant to him. As he succinctly puts it: “My writing career started with the gift of a book.”

Hugo Chávez passed away earlier this week, and while the former leader of Venezuela has something of a bad reputation here in the US media, at From the Square, the NYU Press blog, Michael D. Yates argues that Chávez “was a great champion of the impoverished workers and peasants of both Venezuela and the world.”

At the OUPblog, Fiona Cox and Elena Theodorakopoulos have a fascinating guest post looking at female responses to Homer. They argue that “[i]n the last twenty years there has been an extraordinarily vital and widespread response to Homer by women writers,” and they cite a wide variety of works from Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate (published in 1989) to last year’s The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, as evidence.

Finally, The University of Georgia Press blog has been continuing their “30 Days of the Flannery O’Connor Award” series this week. All the posts in this series are well worth reading, but Tony Ardizzone’s examination of Salvatore La Puma’s The Boys of Bensonhurst is particularly engaging.

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

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