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.

April 16th was the 50th anniversary of the famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written by Martin Luther King Jr. In honor of the occasion, Beacon Broadside, the blog of Beacon Press, has a post explaining the contents of the letter and MLK’s reasons for writing it, complete with an excerpt from Why We Can’t Wait, written by King in 1963. And at the UNC Press Blog, Randal Maurice Jelks has a guest post reminding us “of the lasting importance of King’s message in that document.”

This week, the MIT Press blog celebrated National Library Week (April 14-20) with a guest post from R. David Lankes. In his post, Lankes looks at the National Library Week theme this year–“Communities matter @ your library”–and explains that the most important collection of every library is not made up of books, but rather comes from the community that the library serves.

Do historians approach research subjects with preconceived expectations? At the JHU Press Blog, Daniel Kilbride tells the story of how his expectations for his most recent project were proven false over the course of his research, and how the actual results of his project were far more interesting and complex than he would have guessed that they could be.

“But why do we have such faith in creativity? What does creativity promise that we are so anxious get? … Why, then, is there so much effort to lay claim to something so ill-defined and elusive?” At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Amy F. Ogata takes a look at the idea of creativity and the hold it has on recent conceptions of positive education.

This week was a great week for literature posts at the OUPblog. John Carlos Row has a great post on the importance of and continued interest in the difficult and subtle fiction of Henry James. “Of course, I love Henry James and have spent much of my scholarly career reading, teaching, and writing about his works, but I also understand that they are aesthetically and intellectually difficult, lack “action” if not plot, deal with the wealthy classes, and depend on subtle psychological ambiguities many readers miss completely.” And Kirsty Martin has a fascinating post on the role of sympathy in modernist literature, using novels by Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, Ford Madox Ford, and Joseph Conrad as her examples. “Modernist writing like Woolf’s provides a way of thinking about ongoing debate over how we relate to each other, and it also simply draws attention to the particularities of human connection, addressing the reader: “But look”, and recognising how one might feel for such gestures.”

The authorship debate about the works of Shakespeare has involved many prominent artists and thinkers over the past few centuries. This week, This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, put the arguments of some of the most famous doubters (Charlie Chaplin, Mark Twain, Henry James, and Walt Whitman among them) in conversation with contributors to the new Cambridge UP title Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, as a way to put to rest some of the most commonly repeated arguments against the identity of the Bard.

Philadelphia has a rich history of basketball, much of which has been forgotten in today’s glitz-and-glamour sports culture. At North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Larry Needle delves into this history to tell the little-known story of the SPHAS (South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) basketball league; the first competitive all-Jewish basketball teams in professional basketball.

This week at From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, Howard Ball has a guest post comparing Supreme Court cases on marriage equality: the two major cases from this year (US v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry), concerned with the legality of LGBT marriage, and the 1967 case Loving v. Virginia, concerned with the legality of interracial marriage. Ball thinks that it’s paradoxical that “unlike public opposition to racial intermarriage in 1967 rejected by a unanimous Court, in 2013, although 58% of Americans support same-sex marriage, it may be rejected by a five person majority.”

In 1971, Harvard University Press published John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, a highly influential work in political philosophy. The Harvard University Press Blog is taking a look back at some of their most significant titles published in the hundred-year history of HUP, and this week it’s Rawls’ classic that’s under the microscope.

Finally, we’ll wrap things up this week with a post at the University of Nebraska Press blog by Susan Blackwell Ramsey, winner of the 2012 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. In her post, Ramsey explains the process behind the first poem in her prize-winning collection, “Pickled Heads, Saint Petersburg.” As she explains, “I’ve always had a brain like a lint-roller, with the qualifier that only nonessential information sticks to it.”

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

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