JHU Press Blog

Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University

by eea | Friday, February 15, 2019 - 12:00 PM

Generous Thinking began for me with the nagging sense that something is off-kilter in much of scholarly life. That something is having profound effects not just on the ways that we as individual scholars are able to live out the values that we bring to our work but also on the ways that we work together, in groups, as departments, as institutions. And perhaps most importantly, it is affecting the ways that we connect and communicate with — or fail to connect and communicate with — the world off-campus. A talk I heard by David Scobey some years ago gave me the title for this book; Scobey argued that critical thinking in the humanities was completely out of balance with generous thinking, which oriented toward a form of public engagement designed to reconnect the university with the world. I was thrilled to hear someone name the thing that I’d been circling around, and yet I had two points of concern: first, was critical thinking necessarily on the opposite end of the intellectual see-saw from generous thinking? And second, if we are to engage generously with the world, do we need to begin closer to...Read More

Ellen N. La Motte and The Backwash of War: The “Lost” Author of a “Lost” Classic

by eea | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 - 4:00 PM

My fascination with The Backwash of War , by Ellen N. La Motte, began twenty-five years ago, when I was a graduate student tracing the untold history of American antiwar writing for what would become my first book, War No More . I knew immediately that this long-forgotten collection of interrelated stories written during World War I by an American nurse was an extraordinary work.

What I did not realize until twenty years later, when I began intensively researching the book, is quite how extraordinary its author was. Not only did La Motte boldly breach decorum in writing The Backwash of War , but she also forcefully challenged societal norms in other equally daring ways.

In Backwash , La Motte masterfully highlights the senselessness of war and the suffering of those caught up in it. Midway through the work, she explains, “Well, there are many people to write you of the noble side, the heroic side, the exalted side of war. I must write you of what I have seen, the other side, the backwash.” Bravely rejecting the staid conventions of wartime writing of her time, she invented a new way of...Read More

Postcolonial Theory Is Alive and Well

by bjs | Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 10:00 AM

In the first issue of the 2018-19 volume of Eighteenth Century Studies , Editor Sean Moore brought together a collection of papers focused on postcolonial theory and empire studies, a field which has been prematurely eulogized, according to Moore's introduction to the issue. The essays cover a wide range of subjects, including slavery and the Atlantic system, espionage and the American Revolution, and diplomatic exchanges of art between Europe and South Asia. Moore joined us for a Q&A on the issue , his use of analytics in the introduction and how scholars should approach a submission to the journal.

How important is it to occasionally put useage of the journal into context like you did in your introduction?

As far as I know, this issue contains the first discussion of usage of the journal. While it is important to understand this data for figures on royalities, its far greater purpose is to show us who the audience for the journal is and their tastes in articles. We were surprised to find that the top users of the journal were faculty and students outside the U.S. at U. Toronto,...Read More

Borders, Victorian Style

by bjs | Tuesday, February 5, 2019 - 10:00 AM

The issue of borders can sometimes dominate modern headlines. However, a special issue of Victorian Periodicals Review in Fall 2018 demonstrated that the topic has a rich and complicated history. Guest edited by University of Freiburg (Germany) colleagues Barbara Korte (English Literature) and Stefanie Lethbridge (English Literature and Cultural Studies), the issue addressed the diversity of Victorian encounters with borders and border crossings, investigating how they represented and negotiated these encounters in a medium that was deeply embedded in their lives. Korte and Lethbridge shared some more thoughts on the issue, which sprung from the 2017 Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) Conference, in this Q&A.

What was the process of bringing together papers from the 2017 RSVP Conference to this print issue?

The 2017 RSVP conference was held in Freiburg, a town located in border country in the south-west corner of Germany – both France and Switzerland are just round the corner. Given this setting, we thought that ‘borders’ would be a fitting theme to explore. However, the border theme has many facets because borders are central in ordering all kinds of human...Read More

Assessing Natural Shakespeare

by bjs | Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - 10:00 AM

How does Shakespeare relate to the environment? That's the question which a special issue of Shakespeare Bulletin last year tried to address. Guest editors Randall Martin from the University of New Brunswick and Evelyn O'Malley from the University of Exeter worked to put together a collection of essays examining how Shakespeare scholars and theater practitioners can make ecological relations and environmental politics a motivating concern of twenty-first century productions. Martin and O'Malley joined us for a Q&A on this special issue.

How did this collection of papers come together?

This collection developed first out of the need for a break-out. For the past dozen years or so, Shakespeare ecocritics have been showing how the playwright’s work represents and questions new exploitative uses of the natural world which emerged in the early modern period. These uses included technological advances, capitalized production, and consumer-oriented growth. They created environmental deficits that surged during the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution and exploded in the twentieth century. In works such as The Tempest , Shakespeare also glimpses the future of imperialism’s world-wide degradation of material, human, and animal resources.

Shakespeare...Read More

Timelines of American Literature

by eea | Tuesday, January 29, 2019 - 12:00 PM

When did the twenty-first century begin? There may briefly have been a temptation to say it began at 12:01 on the first day of January in the year 2000, in that burst of elation and relief when everyone discovered that the dreaded “Y2K bug,” instead of unleashing havoc on the world’s computer networks, turned out to be nothing at all. But the kind of story to which that moment seems to belong—about a wondrous era of global peace whose perils the world’s software engineers can ably avert—would soon sound like a fairy tale.

As literalists will point out, the twenty-first century “actually” began in 2001, not 2000. But the stories of human history and culture—what defines an era, a chapter of time—do not follow clocks and calendars. “The twentieth century” arguably did not start to mean what it now means until the shocks and ravages World War I. Or it started much earlier: Gertrude Stein wrote, “by the methods of the civil war and the commercial conceptions that followed it, America created the twentieth century.” The twenty-first century is of course a contested, unfolding story that only future historians will have a shot at telling. But one good way...Read More

To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign of 1862, Sept. 3-16

by eea | Friday, January 25, 2019 - 12:00 PM

The Maryland Campaign of 1862 was one of the pivotal moments of our Civil War. It resulted in the bloodiest single day of the war, with the Battle of Antietam on September 17, the largest surrender of U.S. soldiers until World War II, at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (not yet West Virginia) on September 15, and the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, which transformed the war into one to both save the Union and destroy slavery. Yet, for all its importance the campaign resulted in few books. Francis Palfrey, a Union veteran of the battle, published The Antietam and Fredericksburg in 1883 and James Murfin wrote A Gleam of Bayonets in 1964. In 1983 Stephen Sears produced his superbly written Landscape Turned Red . It was this overall dearth of scholarly studies of the campaign and battle that prompted me to write about it. When I embarked on this project I was somewhat naïve about just how massive it was. I did not want to duplicate Palfrey, Murfin or Sears and write a book covering the whole campaign that focused primarily on the decisions of the opposing commanders and the Battle of Antietam,...Read More

Analyzing Merle Haggard

by bjs | Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - 10:00 AM

The Fall 2018 issue of American Imago featured a pair of articles with a unique focus for the renowned psychoanalysis journal – country musician Merle Haggard.

Richard Wheeler , a retired Shakespeare scholar from University of Illinois who currently serves as Senior Advisor with Academic Analytics, submitted an essay for the Silberger Paper Prize at our Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. The essay “ A Place to Fall Apart: Merle Haggard's Music ” won the award, which includes publication in American Imago.

Journal editor Murray Schwartz was part of a team which awarded the prize, and Howard M. Katz agreed to respond to Wheeler’s paper due to his interest in music and human development. Katz, who is a Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and Lecturer in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, published “ Music, Bonding, and Personal Growth: Merle Haggard's Musical Journey toward Wholeness. Discussion of "A Place to Fall Apart, A Reading of Merle Haggard's Music " by Richard P. Wheeler.”

With coordination from Schwartz, Wheeler and Katz agreed to participate in a Q&A about their articles on...Read More

Under the Big Tree: Extraordinary Stories from the Movement to End Neglected Tropical Diseases

by eea | Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Under the Big Tree: Extraordinary Stories from the Movement to End Neglected Tropical Diseases is a collection of stories about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a group of bacterial and parasitic diseases that affect the world’s 1.5 billion poorest people. Previously, literature on NTDs consisted largely of textbooks, academic papers, and research articles. But engaging more people, from a greater variety of sectors, is helping to lift the burden of NTDs. The book’s purpose is to raise awareness—and to highlight some surprising, inspiring stories about this pivotal moment in which global collaboration, together with greater funding, technological advancements, and historic drug donations, are bringing an end to these diseases. Many countries have eliminated NTDs as a public health problem. However, many more disease-endemic countries remain, primarily in Africa. These countries and the five most prevalent NTDs , (trachoma, schistosomiasis, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, and intestinal worms, e.g., hookworm), are the focus of Under the Big Tree . At the heart of the book are stories, drawn from hundreds of conversations and interviews with men and women engaged on every side of this monumental worldwide movement.

The reader meets Mwele Malecela, who launched...Read More

The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation: Q&A with author Trevor Owens

by eea | Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - 4:00 PM

Why did you decide to write The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation ?

I’ve spent the last decade working on ensuring long-term access to digital information. Over that time I’ve been frustrated by the ways that digital preservation is conceived of discussed. It often sounds like digital preservation is somehow a technical problem that we can just solve with some new app. Or similarly that digital preservation is some kind of sophisticated technical issue for experts. I decided to write this book because I wanted to lay out how anyone can get started in digital preservation today and how doing digital preservation work is a direct continuation of the professional practices in history, folklore, libraries, archives, and museums which provides us with access to our cultural heritage.

What were some of the most surprising things you learned while writing and researching the book?

We often think of a dichotomy between digital media and an analog past. In reviewing work on the history of preservation I’ve been struck by the extent to which libraries, archives, and museums have been leaders in managing the results of media innovation throughout their history....Read More