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.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (better known as ISIL), “probably the scariest of the many radical Islamist groups to surface in Iraq since 2003” jumped into headlines this week after the group took Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, this week, putting the Iraqi army to flight and capturing hundreds of millions of dollars in bank deposits as well as a good deal of American-made military equipment. At the Stanford University Press Blog, Ariel I. Ahram has a guest post looking at the current “quasi-statehood” of ISIL. He argues that ISIL’s program of expansion “will likely provoke a re-alignment of political coalitions to resist or even crush it.”

The World Cup began yesterday in Brazil, but resentment against FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, has become widespread in Brazil and elsewhere around the world. At the Duke University Press blog, Bryan McCann explains this growing antipathy towards the organizers of the world’s most popular sporting event in Brazil, starting with the fact that “It has been clear from the start that the games are being put on for international tourists and the executive class.”

At the OUPblog, Dale Jamieson looks at the future of climate change from a worrying angle: are we evolutionarily equipped to cope with the global changes that a warmer climate will bring, or even to be able to understand the problem in a holistic way? Jamieson argues that the answer to both questions is, simply, that we aren’t. In order to “overcome our natural frailties in addressing climate change,” we have to “design institutions and policies” that will allow us to frame the problems convincingly, and to limit our ability to make disastrously short-sighted choices.

TIAA-CREF, a non-profit company that provides retirement planning for many academics and educators, has largely been excluded from debates concerning the 401(k)-type plans run by for-profit companies. However, at Beacon Broadside, James W. Russell asks whether this exclusion from criticism is fair. He points out that TIAA-CREF, despite its non-profit status, runs its business in many of the same ways that the 401(k) for-profit companies do, and that it suffers from many of the same difficulties that prompt the critiques of those for-profit companies.

At the Harvard University Press Blog, HUP Editorial Assistant Shan Wang discusses how a recent HUP title on the Chinese Cultural Revolution explains the confusing events surrounding an episode in Wang’s family’s history. Wang’s grandfather, Wan Laiming, was a director and the head of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio, and his final film was Havoc in Heaven, released in two parts just before the Cultural Revolution. Wang writes that reading The Cultural Revolution at the Marchins, by Yiching Wu, helped to put the film (and the Chinese government’s subsequent closing of the country’s animation industry) into political context.

“Contracts not copyright. That is a key lesson from the history of the international distribution of news.” Jonathan Silberstein-Loeb, writing at the fifteeneightfour blog of Cambridge University Press, examines the history of distributing the news, a trickier task than one might first think. As he points out, “news loses its value as soon as it is published,” which forced newspapers to form professional associations that allowed them to spread the costs of gathering news.

Do we work too much as a society? The deaths over the last few years of several employees working in the banking industry have called into question the culture of celebrating long hours in the office in many industries, claims Peter Fleming at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press. He argues that our inability to “switch-off” our jobs represents “a new configuration of power that is symptomatic of the neo-liberal economic paradigm, which tends to glorify work as the highest virtue.”

The University of Minnesota Blog has a fascinating two-part post up this week about European and American fashion trends and the fashion industry in the nineteenth century. First, Cristina Giorcelli argues that any study of the nineteenth century would do well to reflect on “apparel, in all its social and cultural implications and from a wide variety of disciplines: history, literature, anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, pedagogy, fashion history, etc.” Then, Paula Rabinowitz takes a look more specifically on the effects of industrialization on the constantly evolving fashion industry.

June is Pride month, and From the Square, the blog of NYU Press is running a series of guest posts in honor of the occasion. This week, they have a post from James Joseph Dean, who examines “what straights can do for Pride.” He argues that we need to separate out the concepts of homophobia and straight privilege, and that giving up straight privilege, even in small gestures, “would elevate the status of LGBTQ sexualities and lessen the social hierarchy that privileges heterosexuality over homosexuality in our culture.”

E. O. Wilson is one of the most respected and well-known public intellectuals in America today. At the JHU Press Blog, Whit Gibbons has a guest post looking at the life of the esteemed biologist in celebration of his 85th birthday on June 10. Gibbons concludes his piece emphatically: “His honors are many, and his legacy is lasting.”

Finally, we’ll wrap up this roundup with a post by Alex V. Cook at the LSU Press Blog. In his post, Cook details his experiences while tracking down the grave of Slim Harpo, a famed blues harmonica player from Louisiana, and reflects on the value of visiting graveyards: “Maybe this is why we visit graveyards. They put a thud beat in our song, one that shakes our sense of who we are and who we think other people were.”

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

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