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.

With the second installment to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy opening this weekend, Oxford University Press author Brian Attebery reflects on the appeal of Tolkien’s fiction, both in terms of its insight into our selves as hobbits–“small, ridiculous, incomplete, and interconnected”–and also its naturalistic meditative qualities that, despite being rooted in a fantastic world, help us to better understand and appreciate our own.

In what ways will technology continue to reshape our familiar, longstanding institutions? The Canada Post announced this week that it will be halting door-to-door delivery in urban homes within the next five years. To some, this news may seem utterly expected, and to others, a jarring indicator of the systemic changes we might expect as the digital revolution marches forward. McGill-Queen’s University Press author Robert M. Campbell briefly delineates the history and cultural importance of Canada Post, one of the country’s first federal departments, in an excerpt from his book, The Politics of Postal Transformation.

Mandela was not a Hallmark card,” asserts From the Square. But despite the complexity of Mandela’s character, politics, and history, individuals around the world may perhaps feel inclined to sentimentalize the gravity of his remarkable struggles and accomplishments. NYU Press author Alan Wieder examines Mandela not only as a politician and humanitarian, but also as a revolutionary whose message was not always “peace and love.”

Beacon Broadside offers up a similar sentiment with author Jeanne Theoharis, who compares the legacies of Rosa Park and Nelson Mandela. And her book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, “sought to…rescue Rosa Parks from the narrow pedestal she exists upon.” Such sentimentalization, as some worry might become the case with Mandela, “paradoxically diminished the scope and importance of her political work and functions, across the political spectrum, to make us feel good about ourselves as a nation. It misses the lifelong activist who worked against injustice in both the North and South and paid a heavy price for her political work but kept struggling to address contemporary racial and social inequalities until her death in 2005.”

Cambridge University Press, which publishes The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, has collected and posted on fifteeneightyfour a few pithy excerpts from Hemingway’s correspondences that they hope will both inspire and inform us on “how to make it in the publishing industry.” Thanks, fifteeneightyfour! One choice snippet includes:

“You have to keep absolutely on a printers tail–not just in general–because a general publication date means nothing to them.”

“Is online porn really at the center of modern life? And what effect does this have on real sexual relations?” Margaret Grebowicz, Stanford University Press author of Why Porn Matters and Columbia University Press author of Beyond the Cyborg, explores just this question, explaining: “Just as Google Maps changes the way human inhabit space, internet porn changes the way they inhabit sex.” She argues that, by occupying the same space as our social media accounts, photo albums, and other equally innocuous and personal digital artifacts, Internet porn becomes “just another vehicle for ‘honest’ sexual expression for and by the masses.”

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

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