JHU Press Blog

Writing to the World

by eea | Monday, July 2, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Since the 2016 presidential election, we have had almost daily reminders of the prevalence of “fake news” in our new, Facebook and Twitter-reliant media landscape. Frequently, the blame for this phenomenon falls on the media themselves, as commentators contrast the ephemerality and speed of digital technologies with the stability and fact-checking of print. But none of these features are inherent in the media—the difficulty of eliminating an unwanted search hit, for example, upends the idea of “ephemerality.” In the eighteenth century, print was the suspect medium, as the very qualities now attributed to the Internet—impermanence, anonymity, and partisanship—were sources of concern in the developing news industry. English readers were seen as having a particular “itch” for news, but they had to devise new methods for authenticating information and putting it into context with their existing systems of news distribution—just as we are doing today.

When I started graduate school in 2009 I was coming off of several years as a professional journalist, and I thought that my dissertation would be a literary history of journalism— The Spectator through David Foster Wallace, or something like that. I first learned that those kinds of cross-period dissertations are very difficult to...Read More

Accreditation on the Edge

by eea | Friday, June 29, 2018 - 12:00 PM

No one is happy with accreditation: Institutions feel burdened, policymakers are frustrated, consumers are unprotected, employer needs are unmet, and accreditors are under fire. Because of this, there is no shortage of recommendations for how to get it right. And, with the reauthorization of the Higher Ed Act coming up in Congress, there’s the perfect opportunity to reform accreditation on a system-wide scale.

With this as a point of departure – agreement that things need to change, a lot of possible changes being proposed, and a timely policy vehicle to implement selected changes – it would seem a simple task to map a better path forward. However, with over $120 billion in federal funds at stake annually, it turns out that accreditation reform is more challenging than meets the eye. Indeed, even while most agree that accreditation needs reform, there are many valid perspectives – and little agreement – on what is wrong and how to fix it. Instead of consensus, we see a complex and contested space in which some view accreditation as an invaluable resource to ensure the quality of the system, and others look at it as a barrier to needed reform.

Furthermore,...Read More

Solving the Mystery of Submission and Revision

by bjs | Thursday, June 28, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Earlier this year, the Journal of Asian American Studies published an article by Miami University graduate student Nicolyn Woodcock . The essay "Tasting the 'Forgotten War' Korean/American Memory and Military Base Stew" focused on the role of gastronomical narratives in constructing the Korean War as “forgotten” by examining competing discourses about budae jjigae , a soup dish of American military base leftovers such as Spam, hot dogs, and American cheese and Korean food staples such as kimchi and ramen noodles. Woodcock joined us for a Q&A about her essay as well as helpful tips for graduate students and young scholars looking to publish journal articles.

How did you end up focusing on this topic?

by LWY at flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwy/2184707139/

In December 2014, I first heard about budae jjigae while listening to an interview Grace Cho did for the Los Angeles-based radio show “Good Food” (KCRW). Just a few months later I saw the trailer for the “Korea” episode of Parts Unknown which mentioned budae jjigae as well. What I heard/saw in these narratives peaked my interest at first from a...Read More

Pandemics, Pills, and Politics

by eea | Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - 12:00 PM

En-Capsulating Security: Could a Pill Strengthen National Security?

Hardly a year goes by of late in which a new infectious disease outbreak does not capture the world’s fears and imagination – from HIV/AIDS, SARS and pandemic flu, through to Ebola and Zika. Even as I write, another Ebola outbreak in Africa is threatening to spread into a dense urban area, thereby putting the world on an ‘epidemiological knife edge’ according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And every time there is such a new outbreak, one of the first questions we instinctively ask is: Is a safe medicine or vaccine against this deadly disease available?

This reaction is only natural. Who, after all, would not wish to have access to safe and effective medicines when faced with potential exposure to a lethal pathogen. Unfortunately, however, such ‘medical countermeasures’ were not readily available to the world during the vast majority of recent outbreaks. No doubt that limited the number of lives that could be saved, and the public reassurances that might have been given in order to stem the debilitating epidemic of fear accompanying such outbreaks. In many cases, governments and communities had to rely instead on much more...Read More

The New Keywords?

by eea | Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Humanists love words, and with good reason. Studying the history of a word like culture reveals an enormous amount about how we make the world meaningful, who we are, and how we got this way. Scholars of literature, culture, and intellectual history have largely followed Ferdinand de Saussure and his structuralist successors in conceiving of language as “rather like a dictionary of which each individual has an identical copy.” In studying words and their histories, they have been able to rely on the alphabetical finding tools of print media, including concordances, indexes, and card catalogs, not to mention actual dictionaries.

Cyberformalism makes the case for expanding our concept of the Saussurean sign, and with it the domain of philological inquiry, beyond the words in dictionaries. Building on the work of Cognitive and Construction Grammar, it argues that in addition to words we learn a structured repertoire of linguistic forms – variously abstract, idiomatic, and complex pairings of signifier and signified.

Most of the book is devoted to telling stories about socially, intellectually, and poetically consequential linguistic forms over long stretches of time. Milton and Shakespeare get considerable attention, but the book is no...Read More

Proving Ground: Expertise and Appalachian Landscapes

by eea | Monday, June 25, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Proving Ground: Expertise and Appalachian Landscapes is a book about people who were on the move, a long way from home, and wanted everyone to know it. They yearned for affirmation, and the Appalachian Mountains were the venue through which they found it. I wrote the book to connect a set of questions that have been swirling in my head for more than a decade.

First, I wanted to understand why people traveled (for enjoyment) to dangerous, derelict places. The project began in my thinking about Centralia, PA—the “ town on fire ”—as a site of abandonment and disaster which attracted increasing numbers of tourists in the Internet age. I drove 50 minutes from my house to get there, and I was far more interested in the three visitors I found when I arrived than in the place itself. They were taking pictures of each other in front of cracked asphalt and weeds. What did they get out of it? What would they tell others about their experience of that middle-of-nowhere landscape?

Second, I tried to figure out how the region of Appalachia functioned for those who were geographically adjacent to the...Read More

Algorithmic Criticism and Barthes: Two Perspectives on the Sentence

by eea | Friday, June 22, 2018 - 1:00 PM

Literary criticism, magpie discipline, has long benefitted from borrowing techniques from other fields--philosophy, history, linguistics. In recent years, criticism adopted methods for dealing with aggregate data and text analysis originally developed to manage large amounts of data--more poetically, the “wine-dark sea” of texts. Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library used Homer’s epithet to foreground the size and mystery of looking at many texts at once in the title of his blog, (created almost exactly nine years ago on June 22, 2018) dedicated to the study of “literary and cultural history at the level of the sentence . ” The sentence, as the largest unit of syntax, seems simultaneously to be the smallest unit to start investigating syntactic patterns, a trace of the literary critic’s commitment to organized units of meaning.

Many of the models most closely associated with algorithmic criticism, however, don’t work at the level of the sentence. Rather, many descriptive and predictive models look at feature sets--a range of lexical and grammatical features--instead. Even when I was involved in a project studying the sentence in the Stanford Literary Lab, we looked at relations among smaller grammatical units within each sentence in texts that...Read More

HHT Awareness Month

by eea | Thursday, June 21, 2018 - 2:24 PM

Did you know that June is HHT Awareness Month? You’re probably wondering, what is HHT ? That’s because most people, including many doctors, have never heard of Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT), a rare genetic blood vessel disorder. In fact, most people who have HHT don’t know that they have it! Which is precisely why awareness is so critical to identifying and treating people who have HHT. As someone with HHT and the author of Living with HHT , I’m happy to be part of this special month devoted to HHT awareness—and I hope my book will contribute to HHT awareness all year round.

In my last blog post, “When a Nosebleed is More than a Nosebleed: Understanding HHT,” I introduced you to HHT, describing its symptoms and complications and how to tell if you or your family should be tested for HHT. Today I’ll describe the primary screening tests recommended for people who are diagnosed with HHT (or are at risk for HHT) and give an overview of currently available treatments for common symptoms and complications of HHT.

Why are Screening Tests Needed ? As discussed in my prior post,...Read More

Walker's Mammals of the World

by eea | Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 12:00 PM

The history of Walker’s Mammals of the World goes back to the 1930s, when Ernest P. Walker, assistant director of the National Zoological Park in Washington, began assembling data and imagery. First published in 1964, it became a Johns Hopkins University Press classic, with editions in 1968 and 1975 edited by John L. Paradiso. John asked me to join the project in 1976, and we co-authored the 1983 edition, setting major new standards of content and organization. Overall text length increased by 50 percent and approximately 90 percent of generic accounts received substantive modification, many being completely rewritten and greatly expanded. We began an effort to list the name and distribution of every species of every genus, to cover all genera and species that lived in historical time (approximately the last 5,000 years), and to provide extensive bioconservation information. I went on to author the 1991 and 1999 editions. Together with renowned authorities, I also authored five “spin-offs” from 1994 to 2005, covering particular groups of mammals.

I thought that would be the end of my participation, but Vincent J. Burke, now JHU Press Editor Emeritus, persuaded me to begin a new phase, in which...Read More

American Civil-Military Relations

by eea | Monday, June 18, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Why does the world’s strongest military willingly take orders from unarmed politicians who are unschooled in the logic of professional violence? In a world where “might makes right,” why doesn’t the American military insist on getting its own way in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill? Americans have become so comfortable with our exceptional norm that we fail to appreciate—or even recognize—the political puzzle we inhabit.

As Plato considered the design of a political community, he wrestled with the paradox of guarding the guardians. How can a community keep its protective force disciplined for the common good—“fierce to its enemies, but gentle to its friends?” In the United States, the guardians tend to guard themselves pretty well. Americans enjoy the luxury of a powerful and effective military that has no desire to involve itself in political rule. A strong sense of non-partisan subordination underwrites American military culture; it’s a point of pride among military members to serve whomever the people elect.

A noble professionalism therefore keeps the US military out of politics, but the practical expression of this professionalism takes varied forms in the daily grind of civil-military interaction. These varying expressions of professionalism are rooted in...Read More