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.)

This week, Washington University Press’s blog posted an excerpt from Defending Giants: The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics, by Darren F. Speece, a history teacher and assistant dean of students at Sidwell Friends School. In this book, Speece examines the historical roots of environmental activism, in addition to the redwood tree’s ability to consistently captivate and inspire individuals of various professions. Scientists, hikers, timber companies, and environmentalists alike, were united by a common interest in one of America’s most valued trees. “The Redwood Wars would determine the fate of the last stands of ancient redwoods: whether they would be turned into quick profits for multinational corporations and short-term wages for workers or remain for humans to enjoy for the long run, for fauna to occupy, and for future ancient redwoods to sprout beneath.”

Princeton University Press’s blog features an interview with Michèle Lamont, author of Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel. In this book, Lamont seeks to investigate, “’everyday’ conceptions of racial inequality,” in addition to examining varying perceptions of racism in different parts of the world. In her interview, she discusses her inspiration behind writing this book and the methods she used to survey the responses of a wide range of different communities. Lamont advises us to, “redefine rules,” in order to bring about social change. “I believe we can create inclusion in the context of the law, through narratives, through social policy, and by using institutional tools and cultural repertoires together to create shared notions of solidarity. In some ways it starts at the top, but then change is also produced by ordinary people responding to racism.”

Ian Burney, director of the University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine and Neil Pemperton, a senior Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at CHSTM recently composed a post on Johns Hopkins University Press’s blog, based on their recent publication, Murder and the Making of English CSI. This book focuses on the history of forensic evidence and its role in murder investigations. With few existing publications on this topic, Burney and Pemperton consulted historical evidence from 20th century murder cases, focusing on “details of the investigations themselves, and how they were represented and understood.” The authors challenge readers to examine crime scenes in a new light and to understand the relationship between investigations and forensic evidence. “Murder and the Making of English CSI reveals the compelling and untold story of how one of the most iconic features of our present-day forensic landscape came into being.”

Oxford University Press’s blog features a conversation with Evangeline Benedetti, “one of the few female performers in the New York Philharmonic in the 1960’s.” This post focuses on Benedetti’s recently published book, Cello, Bow and You: Putting it All Together. In her interview, Benedetti discusses the challenges she faced in her early career as a musician, in addition to some of her most meaningful memories from her experience in the New York Philharmonic. Benedetti’s inspiration for her book stemmed from her studies as an Alexander Technique student where she “began to revamp [her] playing to be more in tune with the principles of the technique.” According to Benedetti, “it began a quest for freedom of playing that I so longed for, and it afforded me answers that traditional teaching did not.” When asked about her time at the New York City Philharmonic, Benedetti talks about her experience as one of the few female members. “Finally after a few years and more women came aboard, they built a dressing room for us. I suppose they realised women were here to stay.”

In light of Bob Dylan’s recent Nobel Prize win, University of California Press’s blog features a post on the historical relationship between music and literature. While many individuals question the legitimacy behind a musician winning a Nobel Prize, this blog post encourages readers to examine the role of literature in Ancient Greece, where foundational texts were heavily intertwined with musical performance. “Greek tragedy was essentially musical theater (closer to, say, Hamilton than Strindberg), and it had all the hallmarks we associate with musical performance: meter, rhythm, melody, and instrumental accompaniment. Even dancing,” states the post, later referencing Peter Green’s preservation of Homer’s “fantastic, varied sounds” in his translation of The Iliad. This merging of literature and musical expression is not limited to Greek scholarly tradition; the post includes examples of other regions where text evolved from musical roots. Regardless of one’s views on Bob Dylan, we are left with words of advice. “If you’ve only ever thought of literature as words on a page, maybe it’s time you gave it another listen.”

Yale University Press’s blog features a post by Sasha Handley, senior lecturer in early modern history at the University of Manchester and the author of the recently published, Sleep in Early Modern England. In this post, Handley discusses the history of sleep and its evolving implications, in addition to external features that affect sleeping habits. According to Handley, “In early modern Europe, sleep’s critical importance was deeply rooted within a widely-accepted set of good Christian behaviors and within a preventative culture of healthcare that was dominated by the principles of the six non-natural things – a set of environmental and dietary rules in which well-regulated sleeping and waking patterns were central to long-term physical and mental health.” Handley goes on to trace sleep’s evolution from an essential factor in preserving health and well-being to a limitation that humans seek to overcome. “Sleeping for eight hours each night has become, in the estimation of some, for wimps.”

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