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.)

Recently, The University of Chicago Press’ blog shared a National Geographic article on animal grief, which makes a compelling case for the importance of the scholarship of Barbara J. King, the author of How Animals Grieve. Animal grief, which can be defined as emotional stress coupled with a disruption of unusual behavior, explains why elephants return again and again to the body of a dead companion, or why orcas will carry the body of a dead relative or podmate with them for an extended amount of time.

The University of California Press’ blog shared a guest post by Adam B. Seligman about religious diversity in China and how its government is adapting certain policies to accommodate a growing Muslim population. The author of Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World, Seligman explains how China is searching for a manageable, “middle-of-the-road” policy that allows for religious expression without leading to religious separatism. Like many other countries, China is learning to engage with difference and shift their focus on how they view the “other and the unfamiliar.”

Last week, Steven M. Nolt, author of A History of the Amish, wrote a guest post for Johns Hopkins University Press’ blog about the nuances and diversity in modern American Amish communities. Among the 300,000 Amish living in more than 500 communities across 31 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces, local contexts and different Amish traditions ensure that no two communities are the same. For example, the Nappanee community in northern Indiana drives horse and buggy, dresses in distinctive Amish clothing, and only send their children to school until eighth grade, in accordance with general characteristics shared by most Amish communities. However, looks can be deceiving, as almost 60 percent of Amish men work factory jobs, producing large mobile homes and other mechanical and electric goods that they themselves do not use in their daily lives. Conversely, the Amish community in Mackinac County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan recently relocated there from southern Michigan and are facing joblessness and economic insecurity. They typically engaged in dairy farming, but their new location, which does not offer work in that industry, has led the Amish community to turn to raising sheep or pursuing work in freelance carpentry.

Stanford University Press’ blog recently shared a post by Susanne Bregnbæk, author of Fragile Elite: The Dilemmas of China’s Top University Students, which discusses the extreme pressure Chinese students face to perform well and score high on standardized tests, which directly correlates to obtaining a high-paying job. According to the author, Chinese young people experience a pressure to be both self-sacrificial by working hard and performing well, while also embracing newer demands to be self-affirming, or to pursue individual interests and self-fulfillment and realization. These contrasting motives create tension and create a double standard, which often creates over-worked youth who crack under the pressure.

This week, Godfrey Hodgson, White House correspondent during the Kennedy and Johnson years, wrote a guest post on Yale University Press’ Yale Books Unbound blog about how the Kennedys were able to pull of an impressive political trick: to present themselves as the friend of the working class while at the same time impressing the country with their wealth, amassed through various commercial corporate endeavors. They are exemplary of a brief moment of residual post-war prosperity between the 1950s and 1970s when Americans were able to convince themselves that there was no such thing as social class in America. In the Great Depression, the working class was at the center of political debate and policy, and after Kennedy and Johnson, it would return. But for a brief intermission, “liberal intellectuals went to rather extraordinary lengths to persuade Americans that there was no such thing as class consciousness in America.

In an interview with Princeton University Press, Mary Jacobus, author of Reading Cy Twombly, discusses how Cy Twombly turned to poetry as a way to expand his painting’s depth of abstraction. Jacobus’s book discusses the extent that line in both drawing as well as poetry, both “abstracted and non-referential”, play a key role in his work, from his early lyrical series Poems to the Sea (1959) to the large-scale “blackboard” paintings at the end of the 1960s. In poetry as in drawing, the use of line connotes a sense of repetition and rhythm in a body of work, concepts that became integral to the definition of his work.

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

Leave a Reply