JHU Press Blog

A Q&A with Stephen Gavazzi: Author of Land-Grant Universities for the Future

by eea | Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 12:00 PM

What is the book about?

Most simply, it’s about the past, present, and possible futures of the land-grant university in twenty-first century America.

So why write a book about land-grant universities now?

My co-author and I, West Virginia University president Gordon Gee, both felt strongly that certain core aspects of the land-grant mission were being threatened by a variety of pressures placed upon higher education today. As a result, we both believed that these institutions were at significant risk of losing portions of their core identity. It dismayed us to think that the historical roots of America’s first public universities were being forgotten, or at least downplayed. Among other things, land-grant universities were intended to provide access to a practical college degree that was affordable to the working classes, generate research to help solve pressing problems, and remain closely connected to the needs of the communities they were designed to serve.

In short, they were founded as the people’s universities. So, we decided to conduct a study to find out what the leaders of these universities were thinking about when it came to the twenty-first century application of the land-grant mission....Read More

Campus Activism and Going to College in the 60's with John Thelin

by eea | Monday, November 12, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Writing about “ Going to College in the Sixties ” has encouraged me to think a lot about “Going to College” today. Connecting past and present in American higher education is a fascinating and serious game because a lot is at stake for applicants and their families. I cannot think of any nation where the excitement and energy devoted to college is so intense. Going to College in the Sixties is timely because this is the 50 th anniversary of landmark events involving campus life and student activism. Making comparisons across time is interesting but exasperating because there are both similarities and differences between the two eras. The most interesting finding I came across was that college in the 1960s was relatively inexpensive by today’s standards – but the trade off was that students faced over-crowding, long lines, large lecture classes, and very few academic support services. Many college presidents and deans were rather aloof and indifferent to the campus as experienced by students. There also were no federal student aid programs such as Pell Grants or student loans. Women represented a growing number and percentage of undergraduates nationwide, but this was dampened by the fact that...Read More

A Study of Twentieth-Century American Nightclub Culture with Stephen Duncan

by eea | Friday, November 9, 2018 - 12:00 PM

My interest in the subject of twentieth-century American nightclub culture and its intersection with political activism began as both highly theoretical and mundane. It started with a conversation I was having with a colleague about whether critical theorist Jürgen Habermas’s conception of “the public” held up to scrutiny. But, probably because I spent so much time in bars and clubs when I worked as a musician in my twenties, I was struck by the simple idea that postwar nightclub audiences were examples of newly-forming publics which Habermas had overlooked. In particular, Lenny Bruce’s comedy act in the 1950s came to mind, with its ability to raise controversy that traversed its way from underground clubs through mass media and back again. I quickly realized that an interesting and important question was how the nightclubs themselves played a role in this discourse. And as I traced the network of connections from clubs where Bruce performed, such as New York’s Village Vanguard or San Francisco’s hungry i, what I found surprised me. These clubs were part of a much deeper milieu, as well as a socially-conscious cultural genealogy that stretched from the earliest Parisian cabarets in the 1880s, through American jazz clubs of...Read More

An Environmental History of the Chesapeake Bay with Victor Kennedy

by eea | Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Chesapeake Bay is viewed these days as a rich fisheries and hunting environment, but few know that it was even more productive than now. Once described as an immense protein factory, the Bay, along with its fisheries and waterfowl harvests, has changed radically over the past 150 years. If we are unfamiliar with the extent of these changes, our reference point, or baseline, for restoring the Bay may be set too low.

A baseline tells us how things used to be, but ecosystems can deteriorate so gradually that each human generation affected by the changes takes its present situation as the norm. Thus the baseline for the present generation is different from the baseline for the preceding generation, and so on back in time. The baseline--our perception--has shifted.

Understanding the shift involves understanding the historical ecology of the Bay, both to appreciate what has been lost in the harvest abundances and to help us think about what baselines to use in restoring the system. This book will illustrate the rise and fall of the Bay’s fisheries and waterfowl harvests, beginning in colonial times but especially focusing on the 19 th century.

From the time of...Read More

Journal Shares Difficult Stories

by bjs | Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Since its inaugural issue in 2011, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics has sought to bring the stories of real people to the forefront of the discussion on important issues in medical ethics today. Now halfway through Volume 8, the journal continues this mission with two different looks at access to medical information and dealing with atypical medical encounters. Heidi Walsh , NIB's managing editor, and Mary Click , the journal's communications coordinator, joined us for a Q&A about these two recent issues as well as trends in publication and plans for the future.

The first two issues of the most recent volume have covered a wide variety of topics. What stands out to you the most from these issues?

The first issue of volume eight “ Doctor in the Family: Stories and Dilemmas Surrounding Illness in Relatives ,” details physicians’ experiences navigating both their personal and professional roles when family members or close friends have been ill. The authors describe various ways they’ve helped loved ones through an illness or diagnosis, ranging from supporting the loved one emotionally to going with them to appointments, to treating family members—something they are...Read More

Does literature have a public role? by Trevor Ross

by eea | Monday, November 5, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Does literature have a public role?

During the later eighteenth century, people in Britain began to use “literature” as the collective term for imaginative works, including poems, plays and prose fiction. Though the name was new, the category wasn't. Since antiquity, works of verse, drama, and eloquent prose had all come under the designation of “poetry.” Nor was the category redefined. Critics before and since the eighteenth century have treated literature as a distinct art employing either beautiful words or engaging fictions. Philosophers from Plato to the deconstructionists have equated literature with the expressive use of language. Others, from Aristotle to speech-act theorists, have emphasized literature’s power to imitate or reimagine experience. The rise of the novel over the past three centuries has led many readers to equate literature with fiction, though the ascendancy of the lyric during the same period has prompted some critics to think that we can identify a special category of literary language.

The focus of my work is on the idea of literature and what happened to the idea during the eighteenth century to warrant a change in how it was identified. In an earlier book, The Making of the English...Read More

Native American Revolutions with Kate Fullagar and Michael McDonnell

by eea | Friday, November 2, 2018 - 12:00 PM

By Kate Fullagar and Michael A. McDonnell

To close this roundtable on Native American Revolutions , we’d like to flag a forthcoming collection that argues for an extension of our analysis to other Indigenous peoples facing other revolutions through our shared era.

The “Age of Revolution” is most often characterised by the intense political struggles that took place in Europe, Asia and the Americas. But another revolutionary dimension of this era was the profound acceleration in encounters and contacts between new peoples around the globe. As historian C.A. Bayly long ago noted, European imperial expansion was one of the main drivers of this phenomenon, but so too were indigenous peoples, especially in thickening and complicating relations between different societies. [1]

While many scholars have looked at the expansion of imperialism and noted its links with globalisation, they have usually done so from European perspectives. Even as an increasing number of historians recognise the crucial roles indigenous people played in this process, few have tried to think comparatively about indigenous experiences within and across expanding imperial borders over the course of the revolutionary age. Granted, one reason...Read More

The Cold War Mom in 'The Americans'

by bjs | Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Earlier this year, the television show The Americans ended its five-season run on the FX network. The Cold War-era drama followed two Soviet KGB officers posing as a married American couple. Smita Rahman , the Frank L. Hall Professor of Political Science at DePauw University (and a 2007 JHU grad), published " Honor Among Spies: The Cold War ‘Mom’, Family, and Identity in The Americans " in the journal Theory & Event . The essay examined the conceptual nexus between honor, espionage, and the formation of identity in the show, particularly in the show’s portrayal of motherhood. Rahman joined us for a Q&A about her article and the presence of television critique in academic.

What was the process of developing the article?

I am working on a book on the politics of honor in contemporary visual and literary culture. I'm interested in exploring the enduring significance of the seemingly archaic concept of honor in popular culture and our political discourse. Often, honor serves as a kind of aspirational ideal, but more often it serves as a kind of anesthetic to...Read More

The St. Bernard: Alpine Rescue Dog or Manchester Manufacture?

by eea | Monday, October 29, 2018 - 12:00 PM

The much-loved St. Bernard dog we know today was created by Victorian dog fanciers. It bears little semblance to the rescue dogs said to have been kept by Swiss monks on the St. Bernard Pass in the early nineteenth century. The leading champion of the new St. Bernard, defining its form and introducing it at dog shows, was the John Cumming Macdona, the colourful vicar Cheadle, now in Greater Manchester. Not only was the dog’s physical form changed and standardized when it became a show dog, but the preoccupation of Victorian breeders with fancy features and pure blood led to inbreeding and health problems.

Photo: The St. Bernard today

Our new book, The Invention of the Modern Dog , demonstrates that all types of dog, previously kept for work, sport, or companionship, were refashioned over the Victorian era. These changes were the product of the coming of fancy dog shows, which were pioneered Britain and then copied around the world, with consequences for dogs everywhere. The Victorian dog fancy radically changed the way we see and breed dogs; from types defined principally by function to breeds defined by form. The...Read More

Educating the Mammalogists of Tomorrow

by eea | Friday, October 26, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Mammals inhabit nearly every continent and every sea. They have adapted to life underground, in the frozen Arctic, in the hottest deserts, the coldest oceans, and every habitat in between. Some are terrestrial, while others are arboreal, fossorial, or aquatic, and bats are even aerial. Many mammals eat plants, many others are carnivorous or omnivorous, but a few species have specialized diets, dining on termites and ants, or even blood meals. A few mammals lay eggs, others house their young in marsupial pouches, and many (like us) use a placenta to nourish the fetus. In sum, mammals are a diverse and fascinating group. Mammalogists (those who study mammals) are understandably captivated by the group. We are drawn to mammals out of a curiosity for the diversity of behaviors and ecology they exhibit.

The main purpose of writing Mammalogy Techniques Lab Manual is to provide those who wish to study mammals an opportunity to practice the techniques used by today’s mammalogists. An additional goal is to get these students outdoors, where they can hone their observation skills and practice the essential tools of the trade.

Why is this important? Many species of mammals are threatened or...Read More