University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best articles 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 is National Poetry Month, and a number of university press blogs have been putting up excellent poetry-themed posts in honor of the occasion. Wake Forest University Press has been taking advantage of their wonderful backlist of Irish poetry to post a poem a day throughout the month of April at their blog, Wake: Up to Poetry, including “Be Someone,” by Rita Ann Higgins. At Beacon Broadside, you can watch a video of Mary Oliver reading her poem “Night and the River.” The UPNEblog introduces the Sestina Arena, as Tom Haushalter challenges Adam L. Dressler to a sestina writing contest (providing some good information on what a sestina is and how you can write one along the way). And, if you are interested in reading about poetry as well as reading it, Andrew Epstein has a fascinating article at the OUPblog on one of Roberto Bolaño’s major influences: the New York School of poetry.

After nearly eight years spent pursuing individual projects, Big Boi and Andre 3000 are reuniting as Outkast at this year’s Coachella festival. From Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, their 1994 debut, until the duo’s hiatus following their film/soundtrack Idlewild in 2006, Outkast helped to redefine the sound of hip-hop and helped to bring rap music from the South into the mainstream music industry. At the UNC Press Blog, Zandria F. Robinson discusses Outkast’s colorful history and explains why Big Boi and Andre’s rise into national prominence was such a big deal in the late 1990s. Go on and marinate on that for a minute.

Members of the Northwestern University football team recently made headlines with their push to unionize, a move that gained serious momentum when Judge Peter Sung Ohr ruled that the players did, in fact, have the right to form a union. The NCAA has been contesting the team, as it seems apparent that unions of college athletes in football and basketball, in particular, would likely lead to a “pay for play” system in major college athletics. This week, the Stanford University Press Blog asked author Rodney Fort about the Northwestern decision and it’s potential implications.

Why haven’t investigators been able to find floating debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? At the JHU Press Blog, George Bibel uses the case of Air France Flight 447, which was lost in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, to show why so few parts of an airplane float, and why those few are difficult to find in the open ocean.

The decision made in December by the American Studies Association to endorse the academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions has generated a good deal of controversy and media attention. Sunaina Maira is one of the scholars who helped to organize the boycott resolution, and, in a guest post at the University of Minnesota Press blog, she explains the process behind the boycott decision, discusses the arguments that the boycott silences academic freedom, and talks about what the ASA is trying to accomplish through the academic boycott.

Does the 24-hour news cycle lead to a harmful relationship between the public and the news media? Peter Laufer argues that it does, that our current relationship with the news is “the intellectual equivalent of consuming an empty-calorie diet.” In a guest post at the Oregon State University Press blog, Laufer makes his case, claiming that we should “ration” our intake of news, and that “such rationing is mandatory for our mental health.”

There have been many articles, books, and blog posts written about the way that women and femininity are portrayed on television and in movies, but, as Amanda D. Lotz claims in a post at From the Square, the NYU Press blog, there isn’t much written about men in television because “although the dominant and widely known version of American history is full of men, it never considers the key figures as men.”

In a post at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Liberty Walther Barnes argues that, while sociologists think of gender as “flexible and fluid,” and the common conception of science is that it’s a solid social category, gender beliefs actually shape how and what we think about science. She claims that “[h]ow we think about men and women, masculinity and femininity, channels the direction of scientific thought and shapes medical practices.”

On April 27, popes John XXIII and John Paul II will be canonized as saints. Writing at the Yale Books Unbound blog, Michael Coogan notes that canonization, once a rare and slow process, has become more common and much quicker, particularly for former popes. Coogan believes that at least part of the reason behind this change is political: “[t]he haste to canonize the last five deceased popes is an effort to shore up the diminished spiritual authority of the papacy.”

Epigenetics, the idea that gene expression can be altered by environment and passed on to subsequent generations, is one the most fascinating recent developments in the biological sciences (as we learned from Nessa Carey here on the Columbia UP blog). At Island Press Field Notes, Emily Monosson discusses some of the exciting implications of the new discoveries, but also argues that “until we know more about the process we ought to proceed with some caution.”

Finally, we’ll wrap things up this week with a post from the Harvard University Press blog on recent reinterpretations of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, particularly two focusing on telling the story from the point of view of Mammy, the slave character made famous by Hattie McDaniel in the movie version of Gone with the Wind. The post traces the evolution of the “Mammy” trope, that of the “loyal and maternal” slave, in American literature and public thought from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to conceptions the “welfare queen” that still persist today.

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

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