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’ll kick things off this week with some romantic Valentine’s Day advice, courtesy of Glenn Geher and Gökçe Sancak at the OUPblog: “This Valentines’ Day, display some of the core elements of human mating intelligence.” If you are looking for the science behind romance, this is the post for you. Geher and Sancak claim that “[b]ased on extensive past research on the nature of human mating, it turns out that the sexes are more similar than portrayals of the recent research in this area often suggests. So in thinking about how to woo your partner this year, you may first want to think about what people across the globe want in long-term mates.” Meanwhile, the MIT Press blog offers a more romantic (or Romantic) take on love in celebration of Valentine’s day. They’ve provided an excerpt from Irving Singer’s Philosophy of Love, in which Singer discusses love as “the idea of merging with another person.” He claims that “[n]owadays when people treat Romantic love as the only kind of love, they tend to assume that passionate attachment alone makes life worth living. That is a wholly Romantic idea.”

The Winter Olympics in Sochi are in full swing this week, and a couple of academic blogs have excellent posts looking at different aspects of the Games. First, at the Indiana University Press blog, Stephen M. Norris points out that, while “everyone who watched the London opening ceremony knew that Danny Boyle was behind it, just as NBC highlighted Zhang Yimou’s widely-praised direction in Beijing, no one watching NBC’s coverage learned that Sochi also had a director and that he too was involved with the film industry.” Norris describes the film career of director Konstantin Ernst leading up to his direction of the Opening Ceremonies. While Norris is interested in the Games as an event, the science behind the sports themselves come under the microscope in Mark Denny’s post at the JHU Press Blog. He claims that, “unlike summer sports, the physics of athlete movement in winter sports is actually quite simple…. There are three basic forces that dominate the movement of athletes: the force of gravity acting down; aerodynamic drag, which acts opposite to the direction in which the athlete is heading; and, in many sports, the centrifugal force that acts on athletes, such as bobsledders, who are moving around a curve.”

February is Black History Month, and several presses are continuing series of posts in honor of the occasion. From the Square, the NYU Press blog, kept their Black History Month series this week with a couple of fascinating posts. First, Dorceta E. Taylor argues that industrial pollution and other environmental issues in cities have combined with the displacement of African Americans to create a system in American urban areas where African American communities end up in “the most hazard-prone areas of cities.” Second, Catherine R. Squires believes that we should move past the study of just the “Firsts” of Black History. She claims that by focusing on milestones and ignoring gaps between them, “we fail to see the ways that other individuals, institutions, and social practices worked—often quite deliberately—to crush the spirit of those Firsts, and to make it plain that Black people who wanted to follow in their footsteps would be met with massive resistance.” Stephen Colbert often jokes that he doesn’t see color when looking at people. And at the Stanford University Press Blog, Osagie K. Obasogie examines race and “color-blindness” from a unique angle: how do people who are actually blind think about race and skin color? It turns out that blind people “see” race “[j]ust like everybody else. More often than not, blind respondents talked about race in terms of skin color, facial features, and other visual cues—just like sighted people.”

Last week, Ken Ham and Bill Nye took part in a much publicized and widely viewed debate on creationism and evolution. At the University of Illinois Press blog, Edward Caudill looks at the phenomenon of creationism in 21st century America, and argues that “[t]he only way to make sense of the phenomenon is to understand creationism not as a science issue—for it is not—but as a political movement.”

At the OUPblog, psychologist Anne Campbell argues that the field of evolutionary psychology has been the target of misguided attacks from feminist theorists who claim that “[e]volutionary theory, they argue, implies an ‘essential’ (read biological) difference between the sexes.” Cambell, however, believes that feminism and evolutionary psychology can go hand in hand: “Feminism has opened opportunities for women to enjoy and use that intelligence in a public forum. Gender equality liberates women’s abilities and makes them visible to society. What reasonable person would object to that? Certainly not evolutionary psychologists.”

Two cases involving the “right to die” have been in the news recently, and at the Chicago Blog of the University of Chicago Press, Scott Cutler Shershow has a guest post in which he “contextualizes [these] two cases that generated recent headlines about how—and to which extents—we define life, especially in light of its termination.” He finds the accusations on both sides of each case that the opposing side is motivated by money particularly troubling, and sees ideological state laws as a major cause of difficulty in the cases.

Some of the words and deeds of Pope Francis have been “interpreted as a preference for decentralizing the Church and allowing for more diversity of form and opinion within the ranks.” However, at fifteeneightyfour, the blog of Cambridge University Press, Ken Kollman believes that Francis won’t succeed in his attempt at decentralization, as, even if a large organization is willing to decentralize (which doesn’t seem to be the case in the Vatican), practically, it’s incredibly difficult for them to do so.

Finally, we’ll wrap up this week’s Roundup with a post from Laura Micheletti Puaca at the UNC Press Blog, in which she discusses the recent identity theft incident that affected millions of Target customers. Puaca uses this incident to show how cybersecurity is necessarily the next big frontier in national security policy, and delves into the implications of this shift in focus in national security matters.

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

Leave a Reply