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.

We were all saddened by the recent death of Roger Ebert, who passed away last week at the age of 70. The Chicago Blog, the blog of the University of Chicago Press, paid tribute to his “professionalism and good humor” and his “passionate advocacy of the printed word—as a voracious reader, as well as an enthusiastic film-lover.” At the OUPblog, James Tweedie looks back at Ebert’s illustrious career as a critic, explaining that “Ebert’s success was due in large part to his ability and willingness to approach films with a seriousness commensurate with their ambition.”

(By the way, we’d be remiss not to congratulate the OUPblog for being honored as one of nine 2013 “Webby Honorees” in the Blog-Cultural category! A well-deserved recognition for one of the best blogs out there!)

National Poetry Month continues throughout April, and this week the Syracuse University Press blog offered up the beautiful “home,” a poem by Laila Halaby, in honor of the celebration. Happy National Poetry Month!

This week was also National Robotics Week, and the MIT Press blog is offering a series of posts on the current state of robotics. Of particular interest is a two-part Q&A with William Clancey on the Mars Exploration rover. In part one, Clancey explains how “programmed, mobile laboratories like MER (Mars Exploration Rover)” have changed space exploration. In part two, explains how innovations in space exploration benefit us here on Earth, and looks into the future of space exploration.

42, a Jackie Robinson biopic coming out soon, takes a look back at the impact Robinson’s integration of baseball had on the country in 1947. At the University of Virginia Press blog, Bruce Adelson explains how baseball teams in the still-segregated South followed the Dodgers’ lead in hiring and playing black ballplayers.

As anyone who works in marketing in any industry can tell you, getting concrete data that tells exactly how effective marketing campaigns are can be all but impossible. At the AMACOM Books Blog, David Scott breaks down “an easy way to conduct a clear, accurate analysis in spite of these complications.”

Does an emphasis on standardized test scores in evaluating teacher and school performance lead to cheating by both teachers and administrators? At Beacon Broadside, the blog of Beacon Press, William Ayers argues that recent studies make it clear that the answer to this question is yes. The recent and massive cheating scandal in Atlanta, where the former superintendent and her subordinates face criminal charges, is a prime example for Ayers.

The JHU Press Blog ran a fascinating three-part feature this week on a trip to spend a few days immersed in the Amish way of life in Lancaster, PA. JHUP author Karen Johnson-Weiner, JHUP head publicist Kathy Alexander, and JHUP acquisitions editor Greg Nicholl all wrote blog posts about their experiences with the “Amish immersion,” and together they paint a fascinating picture of Amish life in the 21st century.

The line between advertisement and actual content was once a very clear one, as newspapers were careful to distinguish their articles from space paid for by external sources. However, as Michael Serazio argues at From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, in the internet age, the rise of “advertainment,” or “brand-backed articles,” has blurred this line to the point where it barely exists any longer.

Looking for a post that explains what fracking is and why it’s so controversial? At This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, Peter Grossman has you covered. As he explains, while fracking proponents claim that the natural gas accessible through fracking will “lower consumer energy costs, provide greater energy security while at the same time reducing carbon emissions,” fracking remains controversial, as it may pose a number of environmental harms, including chemical leaks into water supplies and emissions of natural gas into the atmosphere.

At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua looks at the Idle No More protest movement and its influence in Hawaii. “INM has gathered Indigenous and settler peoples to stand up for the health of lands and the communities that rely on them, and it has brought the importance of teaching people about Indigenous nationhood to the fore.” A recent INM-inspired rally showed the power of the message behind INM, but also showed “the fissures and need for dialogue between the various constituent groups was plainly apparent.”

Finally, we’ll wrap things up for this week by considering the cuttlefish. The Harvard University Press Blog has an excerpt from Concealing Coloration in Animals in which authors Judy Diamond and Alan B. Bond explain the impressive adaptive camouflage of the cuttlefish.

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

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