JHU Press Blog

What Makes Health Care Special?

by bjs | Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 10:00 AM

What makes health care special? That’s the question driving an essay by Chad Horne in a recent issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal . Horne, currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, joined us for a Q&A about his essay .

What is the difficulty of coming to a conclusion on why health care costs should get special treatment?

When I talk about treating health care as special, what I have in mind is just the fact that citizens in most wealthy countries pay very little of their own health care costs out of pocket. Instead, either the government or a very heavily regulated private insurer foots most of the bill. Now of course there are lots of important goods, like food or housing, where the state steps in to provide targeted benefits for the disadvantaged, and that’s very important. But what makes health care unique is that health care programs typically cover all citizens, rich or poor (the U.S. being something of an outlier in this respect). Health care is typically universal program,...Read More

In the Body of a Victorian - with Kathryn Hughes

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

A few years ago it suddenly hit me that, as an historian of the nineteenth century, I hadn’t been doing a very good job. Or rather, I had done only half a job. Because while I had been diligent in finding out everything there was to know about the intellectual, professional and emotional lives of various eminent Victorians, I didn’t have a clue about what it felt like to live in their bodies. Was George Eliot secretly pleased that she managed to stay slender right through her fifties? What steps did Prime Minister William Gladstone take to disguise the fact that the forefinger of his left hand was missing? And how did the poet Elizabeth Barret Browning deal with the experience of being mixed race (her family were Jamaican plantation owners) in a smart residential area of London that was over-whelmingly white?

These are the kinds of the puzzles that I set out to unravel in my new book Victorians Undone . At first my plan was to write about the everyday bodily sensations experienced by unstarry Victorians – toothache, constipation, a graceful neck or slender foot. Almost immediately, though, I hit the buffers. For it...Read More

Dissecting Artificial Hearts with Shelley McKellar

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

Can a mechanical heart replace the human heart? Technically, yes.

Today, artificial hearts are a clinical reality in the form of total artificial hearts and ventricular assist devices (or partial artificial hearts). These are life-sustaining devices that do a remarkable thing: they alter the usual course of events that when a person’s heart failed, that person died.

In doing research for my book, Artificial Hearts: The Allure and Ambivalence of a Controversial Medical Technology , I discovered a range of patient experiences with these devices. Some individuals lived months with an artificial heart, resumed many of their daily activities and underwent successful heart transplants. Others never left hospital, dying from device or disease complications.

Artificial heart devices work to increase blood flow and to sustain life for end-stage heart failure patients. These devices may completely replace or assist the diseased native heart. They may be implanted or reside outside the body, for temporary or permanent mechanical circulatory support. Different heart failure patients require different cardiac devices, depending on their needs.

Artificial heart prototypes, circa late 1950s to 1970s, developed in Dr Willem Kolff's research program. Courtesy of Special Collections, J. Williard Marriott...Read More

Higher Education Accountability with Robert Kelchen

by eea | Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Colleges face pressures from all sides to improve their performance in a wide range of areas. The federal government highlights student outcomes for low-performing colleges and threatens to strip student financial aid eligibility from the worst institutions, while many state governments now tie a portion of appropriations to outcomes such as the number of students who graduate. Accrediting agencies are pushing for more resources to be devoted to particular programs, while faculty and student governments often have different priorities of their own. College rankings providers and media outlets try to shape colleges’ actions to match their own preferences, which could be focused on prestige, social mobility, or ensuring free speech on campus.

The web of accountability pressures can be difficult for colleges to manage, since many of these pressures can be pulling them in different directions. For example, college rankings systems that reward universities for being as selective and prestigious as possible conflict with state performance-based funding systems that pay colleges for each student who graduates. Colleges then have to prioritize which pressure is more important to them and respond accordingly—or try to find a way to game the metric in a way that lets them have their cake...Read More

An Exploration of American Snakes with Sean Graham

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

Books have a way of influencing your life more so even than experiences. They seem to connect directly to your subconscious, change it, and can alter your path. So while I have been enamored with creeping and crawling things ever since I first began catching toads, lizards, and harmless snakes, I’m not sure I would have mounted those backyard expeditions if my grandmother hadn’t given me my first dinosaur book. That book began my childhood obsession with dinosaurs, which soon transferred to amphibians and reptiles when l realized they can actually be found alive. Likewise, my interest in snakes was strong but may never have flowered into a career had it not been for my mother’s gift of Roger Conant’s Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians. I accompanied my mom to Maggie Valley, North Carolina, where, after seeing a snake demonstration at the local zoo, I was allowed to heft an adult boa constrictor on my shoulders. At a local bookstore, I spotted the field guide. My mother told me it was too expensive, and doubtless it was; during those days she was often the sole bread winner for four growing children. Yet when we got back to our...Read More

A Tell-Tale Anniversary: 50 Years of Poe Studies

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

The 2017 volume of the journal Poe Studies marked the 50th publication of the journal dedicated to the author near and dear to our hometown of Baltimore. The annual issue included a cluster of papers on "Poe and Nineteenth-Century Medicine." Washington State University's Jana Argersinger, who edits the journal along with the University of Cincinnati's Leland Person, joined us for a Q&A about the milestone and the journal's place in the field of literary studies.

What does it mean to be in charge of the journal at such a milestone?

In one way, it’s bittersweet—recognizing that the first scholarly journal centered on Edgar Allan Poe has had a longer run than the author himself, whose life spanned only forty years (from 1809 to 1849). While in a sense such milestones, like the century marks of prominent writers’ births, are arbitrary, just round numbers, they give us convenient occasions to take stock. (The Poe Studies Association feted Poe’s bicentennial in 2009 with an international conference in Philadelphia.) In the case of Poe Studies , the progression of five decades says something about both the vitality of the journal and the enduring power of the writer.

This...Read More

The Path for Feminist Formations

by bjs | Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 10:00 AM

A team at Oregon State University took over the editorial duties for the journal Feminist Formations in 2016. Editor Patti Duncan took some time to talk with us about the journal and its innovative work in women's, gender and sexuality studies when she visted Baltimore for the National Women's Studies Association Conference in late 2017.

Audio titled Patti Duncan, Feminist Formations

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The Image of Theatre

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

In her final issue as editor of Theatre Journal , Joanne Tompkins put together a special issue on theatre, performance and visual images . The essays in the issue engage in images in theatre and the image of theater, she writes in her introduction to the special issue. Tompkins, a professor in the School of Communication and the Arts at the University of Queensland, Australia, joined us for a Q&A about the issue and her tenure as editor of the journal.

In your introduction, you mention that visual culture and visual images have been the focus of previous journal issues. What brought about the development of this recent issue on the topic?

I came into the position of co-editor, and subsequently editor, with a range of ideas for special issues. Some of them have come into being, but inevitably, some ideas that initially seemed exciting don’t work out. That is, there’s some distance between an idea and how that idea gets ‘translated’ into what we hope is an appealing call for papers. The topic that I was planning for my final special issue failed to translate cogently...Read More

Sex and the Crucible: A Look into Arthur Miller's Inspiration with Tony Fels

by eea | Friday, January 26, 2018 - 11:07 AM


In doing the research for my book, Switching Sides: How a Generation of Historians Lost Sympathy for the Victims of the Salem Witch Hunt , I came across a surprising realization. Not only did Arthur Miller take nearly the whole story of the Salem witch hunt for his famous play, The Crucible (1953), from his having read Marion Starkey’s The Devil in Massachusetts (1949), but he very likely drew the play’s central dramatic tension, concerning a former affair between the accuser, Abigail Williams, and the accused protagonist, John Procter, from Starkey’s history as well.

Two famous literary archives, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas and Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, are currently jousting over custody of Arthur Miller’s voluminous private papers, including 160 boxes of materials and another 8,000 pages of private journals (see Jennifer Schuessler’s article, “Fight for Arthur Miller’s Archive,” New York Times , January 10, 2018). When scholars gain access to these documents, longstanding mysteries concerning the central plot line of The Crucible may finally be...Read More

Remembering World War I

by bjs | Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 10:07 AM

In March 2017, eight scholars from a variety of disciplines gathered at Texas A&M University for a two-day conference called "1917: A Global Turning Point in History and Memory." The discussions and presentations were later developed into a special issue of the journal South Central Review . Adam R. Seipp, a Professor in the Department of History at Texas A&M and guest editor of the issue, joined us to talk about the project and the important historical and cultural lessons we can learn from 100 years ago.

Audio titled Adam Seipp, South Central Review by JHU Press

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