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. (And look back at our University Press Roundup Manifesto to see why we do this post every Friday.)

At Yale University Press’ blog, James Q. Whitman reconsiders two pillars of the American criminal justice system—“due process” and “beyond reasonable doubt.” He argues that the “beyond reasonable doubt” principle was invented for Christian jurors who wanted to be ensured that if they wrongfully convicted someone as guilty, they would not be condemned. The principle encouraged swift decisions and even promoted convictions. “Due process,” while ostensibly protecting defendant’s rights, made bringing someone to court so time and cost-effective that 95% of criminal cases result in a plea conviction. Ultimately, says Whiteman, we must re-examine the aspects of our justice system that we consider so indispensable.

This week on the Stanford University Press blog, Charles O’Reilly and Michael Tushman discuss the rise of Amazon as the “Everything Store.” After founder Jeff Bezos incorporated Amazon in 1994, it began its rise, surpassing bookselling staples Barnes and Noble and Borders. Bezos leveraged consumer choice and also made sure to make reviews and customer feedback integral to the company. With a physical bookstore in the works, what will future innovation spurred by Amazon entail?

This week, University of Georgia Press’ Walter Biggins discusses the genesis of Charleston Syllabus. Almost a year ago, Dylann Roof walked into Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and after being invited in, opened fire. This tragedy reinvigorated national debates about white supremacy and, on June 19, three Professors decided to put it in conversation with America’s history with race by creating the #CharlestonSyllabus hashtag. Now, in book form, the Charleston Syllabus speaks to the necessity of scholarship in grappling with pressing societal issues.

Recently, The University of Pennsylvania Press featured a post by Robert Deam Tobin about the television show Transparent—in particular, its second season, in which the subplot of Maura’s mother and grandmother fleeing Nazi Germany is introduced by director Jill Solloway. Maura’s daughter, Ali, researches Berlin’s little-known history of homosexual and transsexual subculture. Touching on the notion of “epigenetics,” or how historical trauma is inherited across generations and the historical implications of queer Germany, Transparent reveals an important aspect of 20th century gender and sexuality studies.

The Panama Papers and the various shell companies (and other financial ploys) they reveal have been everywhere in the news lately. But what actually are shell companies? In a timely post, Sage House News, the Cornell University Press blog, has posted an excerpt from J. C. Sharman’s The Money Laundry, in which Sharman explains the concept, purpose, and uses of anonymous shell companies in a global economic context.

How much does it cost to publish a monograph, and where should that money come from? At the UNC Press Blog, Press Director John Sherer claims that, while the recently released Ithaka S&R study does an admirable job of estimating the answer to the first question, the way people are interpreting these estimates and answering the second worry him. Argues Sherer: “The danger with the numbers in this report is that they describe how much it costs presses to put a book into the marketplace using our conventional model. But in order to produce an edition that is openly available in digital format, our activities would look very different. Or they should look very different.”

At the Harvard University Press Blog, Nadia Urbinati (author of our forthcoming The Antiegalitarian Mutation!) looks closely at the idea of populism, which she does not see as the kind of necessarily positive, transformative political force that it’s often portrayed as in the U.S. media, particularly. She warns that “a populist movement that succeeds in securing an electoral majority of a democratic society tends to move toward institutional forms that change, and even shatter, constitutional democracy for the sake of a further, more intense majority.”

As November draws ever closer, the Princeton University Press Blog is running a series of posts on the presidential election: “PUP Authors on Election 2016 Hot Button Issues.” In the latest installment, George C. Edwards III examines what we actually want in a President. While it’s easy enough to come up with a laundry list of vague qualities that an ideal President would have, breaking down what specific knowledge and personality traits a President should have is much more difficult. In his post, Edwards delves into the potential effects of different decision-making styles, temperaments, and general worldviews in a POTUS.

Roger Ebert passed away three years ago on April 4, and in memory of the film critic, The Chicago Blog of the University of Chicago Press asked their film studies editor, Rodney Powell, to consider Ebert’s legacy. Powell hopes that, “as the celebrity status [Ebert] attained fades from memory, he will be recognized for the brilliant writer he was. Within the confines of the shorter forms in which he wrote, he was an absolute master.”

Who are Nones? As Elizabeth Drescher, writing at the OUPblog, puts it, they are “people who answer ‘none’ when asked with what religious group they most identify or to which they belong.” In her post, Drescher challenges three common misconceptions about Nones. She argues that most of them actually aren’t “unbelievers,” that many are looking for spiritual community, and that they are far from inarticulate about religion and spirituality. (For additional proof of all three of Drescher’s points, read A None’s Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam, by Corinna Nicolaou!)

Thanks for reading! As always, we hope that you enjoyed the links. Please let us know what you think in the comments!

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