JHU Press Blog

Observing Evolution: Peppered Moths and the Discovery of Parallel Melanism

by eea | Tuesday, July 27, 2021 - 3:00 PM

I wanted to write the kind of book I'd enjoy reading. And, I intended to follow the time-honored advice to write about what I know. I am happy to report that I did both in Observing Evolution. My hope now is that a broad audience will enjoy my book, and will appreciate that evolution is an ongoing process, not just a history of life on this planet. It is observable in real time. Indeed, we are observing it now with the increase in transmission rates of coronavirus variants. A public understanding about how evolution works would better enable the world to deal with this pandemic.

The case study I develop is the evolution of melanism in peppered moths, the premier example of industrial melanism.  It demonstrates natural selection resulting from differential predation by insectivorous birds on moths having different degrees of pigmentation (darkness) in environments variously disturbed by atmospheric pollution. Nearly all of the early studies were done in England following the onset of the industrial revolution. It became the classic example, in biology classes worldwide, of evolution in...Read More

What Even Is Trauma?

by eea | Friday, July 23, 2021 - 3:00 PM

Trauma was the word of the year in 2018, according to the Oxford Dictionary. That was the same year I decided my tenure working as a communications specialist in the federal government needed to end. I felt I had achieved all I was going to, and that it was time to spend more time teaching a new generation of policy analysts to write public policy stories that matter.

In February 2019, I took over the direction of the writing program (if we can call it that) at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy. One of the many things I quickly found the students wanted help with was figuring out effective ways to talk about traumatic things, whether it's war, natural disaster, police brutality, or whatever else. They wanted help making sense of their stories so that they could hopefully better understand other people's stories, too.

One question I've gotten several times since my latest book, Stories Are What Save Us: A Survivor's...Read More

Victorian Periodicals Review announces 2020 VanArsdel Prize Winner

by may | Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 12:00 AM

Vintage Flower Illustration The VanArsdel Prize is awarded annually to the best graduate student essay investigating Victorian periodicals and newspapers. The prize was established in 1990 to honor Rosemary VanArsdel, a founding member of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, whose groundbreaking research continues to shape the field of nineteenth-century periodical studies. The winner of the VanArsdel Prize receives $500 and publication in Victorian Periodicals Review

The latest issue of Victorian Periodicals Review (VPR) includes the 2020 VanArsdel prize winning essay, “Vegetal Bedfellows: Houseplant Superstitions and Environmental Thought in Nineteenth-Century Periodicals” by University of Wisconsin-Madison PhD candidate Lindsay Wells. We asked the journal’s editor, Dr. Katherine Malone, to reflect on the award selection process, and this year’s winner, Lindsay Wells, to tell us more about her fascinating research. 


Why is the VanArsdel Prize important?

Katherine Malone: Rosemary VanArsdel was not only a founding member of RSVP but also a generous mentor to students and early-career scholars...Read More

Intersex People in the Past and Present: Contemporary Advocacy in Historical Context

by eea | Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - 3:00 PM

When I first published Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex in 2009, not many people had even heard of “intersex” (atypical development of genitals, chromosomes, hormones and gonads), though of course individuals have always been born with these traits. More than a decade later, much has changed. Intersex is now in the public eye, in large part due to the efforts of determined advocates who have been working since the 1990s to change the medical standard of care for intersex children.

Johns Hopkins University Press requested a second edition of my book because of the growing public awareness of intersex issues, which have gradually—in historical time, rapidly—entered the mainstream. Through television, as in the MTV show, Faking It, in new YouTube channels and podcasts by intersex people, and in YA novels that feature intersex characters, more and more people are becoming aware of how people born with intersex have been wronged by the medical community.

In fact, as I was completing the second edition of Bodies...Read More

The Making of "The Making of a Tropical Disease" – The Sequel

by eea | Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - 3:00 PM

I was approached by my editor at the Johns Hopkins University Press about preparing a revised second edition of my book The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria. The book was the first volume in the Johns Hopkins Biographies of Disease series edited by Charles Rosenberg. My editor told me that the Press was interested in publishing a second edition because the first edition had sold well and been widely adopted for course use. That was nice to hear.

But it was not the vision of more royalty checks trickling in that piqued my interest in producing a second edition. It was the realization that the first edition was now badly out of date.  It had, in fact, been out of date from the moment it was published.

Any book on the history of a disease that continues to affect millions of people is going to have a short shelf life. Medical knowledge and the epidemiology of diseases can change rapidly. Imagine publishing a history of...Read More

The Chemistry of Fear: Harvey Wiley's Fight for Pure Food

by eea | Thursday, July 8, 2021 - 2:00 PM

Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley was the head of the Bureau of Chemistry in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the precursor of today’s Food and Drug Administration. He is best remembered today as an important force behind the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (PFDA), which was the first important national legislation of the Progressive Era.  The PFDA was designed to prevent the addition of harmful ingredients into foods (known then and now as food adulteration), as well as the misbranding of packaged food products.  In 1929, Wiley self-published a book called The History of a Crime Against the Food Law, in which he argues that his life’s work had essentially failed. “Under the law the Bureau was the sole judge...as to whether any sample of food or drugs was adulterated or misbranded,” Wiley wrote. “Those who adulterated our foods and drugs foresaw that if they could cripple the activities of the Bureau of Chemistry, they could save themselves from indictments.  They proceeded along successful lines to affect this paralysis.”

Wiley’s interpretation of his own work has become an important...Read More

Essential Documents in the History of American Higher Education, Second Edition – Q&A with author John Thelin

by eea | Tuesday, July 6, 2021 - 3:00 PM

Why did you write Essential Documents in the History of American Higher Education?

JHUP Editorial Director Greg Britton and I discussed this and agreed that our aim was to transform the history of American higher education from a spectator sport into an active pursuit.  We want readers to dig into primary sources and documents – comparable to the materials one finds in college and university archives.

What was the most surprising thing you learned through your writing or research?

Good history of colleges and universities is written from the ground up.   The voices and memoirs of students, staff, spouses and townspeople and by excluded groups provide a healthy supplement to “top down” official histories and presidential memos.

Apart from official reports we tried to capture and convey actual problems facing generations of students, including loan debt, being far from home, facing an uncertain...Read More

KIEJ Takes on Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech

by may | Friday, July 2, 2021 - 1:11 PM

The latest issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal (KIEJ) is a special issue focusing on freedom of speech and academic freedom. The issue’s Guest Editors, Barrett Emerick and Shannon Dea, graciously answered our questions on the issue’s origin and content. The entire issue, "Expressive and Academic Freedom in Context: Rights, Responsibilities, and Harms" has been made freely available on Project MUSE through the month of July. 

How did this special issue on Expressive and Academic Freedom come about?

In 2018 we organized a panel on “Academic Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Equity & Civility” with Alice MacLachlan for the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy (CSWIP) at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia. The topic was prompted by some recent events on campuses in both the U.S. and Canada, with which we had all been involved in one way or another. We saw the CSWIP panel as a good opportunity to explore...Read More

Can Fixing Dinner Fix the Planet? Short answer: Yes!

by eea | Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - 4:00 PM

Two years ago, I embarked on the writing of my very first book. Coming from a field of expertise that values peer-reviewed scientific publications more than books, I did not think it was in the cards to consider authoring a book about my discipline and my experience working in that discipline. But here we are, and today, my JHU Press Wavelengths series trade book, Can Fixing Dinner Fix the Planet? will be released. The pandemic helped, unfortunately. It nudged me to sit still and put pen to paper.

Can Fixing Dinner Fix the Planet? investigates the interactions among food systems, diets, human health, and the climate crisis. It draws on my experiences (along with my team and many colleagues) working and living in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. It describes how food systems must change to slow and reverse the stark trends we see with increased hunger and obesity, catastrophic climate change, and inequities. The book draws attention to the idea that the very nature of food and food systems can...Read More

Anchoring Innovation Districts: The Entrepreneurial University and Urban Change

by eea | Friday, June 11, 2021 - 3:00 PM

In the spring of 2017, I had an opportunity to learn about Technology Square (Tech Square) in Midtown, Atlanta.   I spent a year as part of a fellowship at Georgia Institute of Technology in the Office of the Provost.  Tech Square was a university initiative that opened in 2003, across the highway from the university campus, on the other side of the Fifth Street bridge.  It was a vibrant environment where university activities and corporate research were intersecting, driving economic development.  As an urban affairs scholar and someone interested in the broader issues facing higher education, I was intrigued by the enterprising venture and its impact and implications for the local community.  Furthermore, this part of Midtown was rapidly changing, with construction sprouting everywhere.

Anchoring Innovation Districts examines a recent trend in higher education, as universities are actively investing resources in the establishment of innovations districts. Embedded in the urban environment, the creation of these entities is fueled by the formation of structures to support and attract entrepreneurial activity, primarily emanating from the commercialization of...Read More