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.

February is African American History Month, and at the University of Washington Press Blog, Lorraine McConaghy and Judy Bentley honor the occasion by telling the story behind their account of Charles Mitchell, a slave brought to the Washington Territory in the 1850s. They also discuss the difficulties in solving the “mysteries [that] abound in African American history, especially in the Pacific Northwest,” noting the great disparity in the historical materials documenting the lives of slave owners and the lives of slaves. Meanwhile, at From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, Andra Gillespie takes a critical look at the Republican National Committee’s recent Black History Month advertisements. Gillespie argues that the RNC’s ads attempt to paper over real differences in the types of political views espoused by the Republican party and those commonly held by black Americans.

Many of us in the publishing industry have a special love for bookstores, and AMACOM Managing Editor Andy Ambraziejus is no exception. In a guest post at the AMACOM Books Blog, Ambraziejus explains why “browsing in a bookstore offers some things that online browsing can’t replicate – at least so far.”

The Winter Olympics in Sochi have officially begun, with figure skating prominently featured as one of the events beginning the Games. At the Duke University Press blog, Erica Rand discusses her love of figure skating and her hatred of the way that Olympic athletes generally and figure skaters in particular are expected to conform to race and gender norms.

The Sochi Olympics have put the spotlight on LGBT rights (or the lack thereof) in Russia. At the UNC Press blog, Anne Balay argues that celebrations of gay and lesbian rights victories in select areas can overshadow the very real struggles of people outside of those areas, and can even increase the hardships these people have to live with every day.

President Obama gave his annual State of the Union address last week, and at The Chicago Blog, the blog of the University of Chicago Press, Sandra M. Gustafson analyzes Obama’s speech, “providing thematic context for the president’s speeches and scrutinizing his use of rhetoric within larger social and political frameworks.”

Facebook has just turned ten years old (as Facebook members may have noticed from the many “Facebook look back” videos shared on the social media site), and at the OUPblog, José van Dijck looks at the future of the world’s largest social network. Despite the fact that Facebook is still growing in users and in activity, it is reportedly losing popularity among teenagers. Van Dijck asks whether “this a sign of decline or is it merely a temporary hitch in the company’s extraordinary development—a teenager’s growing pains on its way to adulthood?”

“Why are we so imaginative? What possible use is there in passing through the looking-glass with Alice or supposing that the moon is inhabited by creatures with aerials growing out of their heads?” In a guest post at fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, Clive Gamble discusses the important role that imagination played in the global expansion of the human species.

The Nymphaea thermarum, or pygmy Rwandan water lily, is one of the world’s rarest flowers: originally it only grew in one area in Rwanda, but now only exists in the Kew Gardens in London. However, last month, one of the flowers at Kew was “wrenched or dug out of its shallow pond in the Prince of Wales Conservatory” and stolen. At the Florida Bookshelf, the blog of the University Press of Florida, Craig Pittman describes this most unusual crime.

The MIT Press Blog has begun running a series of posts called “Lunch BITS” in honor of the launch of their new MIT Press BITS ebook program. The Lunch BITS will have excerpts from some of the most popular and important books on the MIT Press book list, like Janet Abbate’s Gender in Academic Computing.

What happens when criminal charges are brought against a major company? In an interview with the Harvard University Press Blog, Brandon L. Garrett breaks down the dizzyingly complex system of corporate crime prosecution in the US, and raises “‘too big to jail’ concerns extending far beyond the Wall Street banks.” He claims that the increasingly popular “deferred prosecution agreements” compromise many of the most important corporate criminal cases in America.

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

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