JHU Press Blog

Cork Wars: Films Introduce a Story of Nature and Business in War

by eea | Friday, December 14, 2018 - 12:00 PM

As a writer, it’s rare to feel that a story is destined for you. I felt that way with my first book, Ginseng, the Divine Root , about forests and a secretive subculture around a medicinal plant from American forests that for over two centuries has been exported to Asia.

Years later in a library, I stumbled on an article about a tree-planting campaign during World War II. Americans were planting millions of cork oak trees from coast to coast, with the idea they could save the country. Cork wasn’t native to North America, but people considered it important. How could tree-planting help win a war?

What really stuck with me was when I talked with a person involved in the campaign. Charles McManus Jr. was 96 years old when we met, very sharp. We sat in the empty ballroom of his retirement community outside Baltimore and he said two things that captivated me. First, he described an otherworldly scene of cork harvests in Portugal. Back in his 20s, McManus had visited Portugal with his father, and the traditional harvest – the skilled workers peeling the thick cork bark from the trees -- was magical.

The second...Read More

Before and After Loss: A Neurologist’s Perspective on Loss, Grief and the Brain

by eea | Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Loss is traumatic.

It wasn’t until I experienced my husband’s death that I learned how disorienting, harrowing and perilous it is to lose people close to us. To lose something that is simply basic to who we are and how we make sense of our lives.

As a practicing neurologist, I thought I was prepared. But instead, I struggled. It took many months until I had a flash of insight- for the first time I saw my experience through the eyes of a neurologist. I realized that the problem wasn’t sorrow, it was a fog of confusion , disorientation , and delusions of magical thinking. This insight spurred me to study how loss affects the brain, and what I learned about emotional trauma became the basis for Before and After Loss: A Neurologist’s Perspective on Loss, Grief and Our Brain .

For people experiencing loss, I believe demystifying the experience is an important step toward healing. When we think about brain trauma, we usually think about physical injury. But we now understand that the emotional trauma of loss has profound effects on the mind, brain, and body. An especially pronounced example...Read More

A Legacy of Usable Scholarship

by bjs | Monday, December 10, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Since 1938, the College English Association has served academics who seek to keep teaching college students as the focus of the profession. Its official publication, The CEA Critic , recently published a double issue commemorating its 80th anniversary with content from the history of the journal.

The issue includes essays from Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken, Pearl Buck, Wallace Stevens, Phillip K. Dick, Margaret Atwood, John Updike and many others. Editor Jeri Craver joined us for a lively discussion about the double issue and the journal's place in the field.

Audio titled Jeri Kraver, The CEA Critic

Since 1938, the College English Association has served academics who seek to keep teaching college students as the focus of the profession. Its official publication, the CEA Critic, recently published a double issue commemorating its 80th anniversary with content from the history of the journal.

The issue includes essays from Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken, Pearl Buck, Wallace Stevens, Phillip K. Dick, Margaret Atwood, John Updike and many others. Editor Jeri Craver joined us for a lively discussion about the social issue and the journal's place in the field.

Read More

A New Angle on Asian Social Mobility

by bjs | Wednesday, December 5, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Scholars have studied the topic of social mobility for Asian Americans for years. But a collection of essays in the most recent issue of the Journal of Asian American Studies took a special look at the topic, said journal editor Rick Bonus. He joined us for a quick Q&A on the issue , which wrapped up the journal's 21st volume.

How did this collection of essays come together?

This collection of essays came together quite serendipitously. Like all other incoming editors, I presume, I had several submissions already brewing on the burner, so to speak, when I stepped on board. So when the staff and I were putting things together, there was no grand design that was on our minds. We put them together, and then, after I read them over and over, certain themes come up. And “social mobility” rose to the top so unquestionably and rather clearly. I was quite delighted!

What surprised you the most from the submissions you received?

“Social mobility” as a topic in Asian American studies is as old as the field itself. But the essays in this volume...Read More

Adapting to the Importance of the Student Misconduct Investigation

by eea | Friday, November 30, 2018 - 12:00 PM

For colleges and universities, investigating discrimination, harassment, academic dishonesty, and other forms of wrongdoing that undermine the institution’s mission and academic programs has become nothing less than a critical preliminary step in support of disciplinary and/or corrective action. Whether campus leaders are confronted with managing the aftermath of an active shooter incident, sorting through allegations regarding a student-on-student sexual assault, or determining the extent to which provisions within the student handbook or code of conduct may have been violated, post-secondary institutions are subject to increasing scrutiny through a range of lawsuits in state and federal courts and in the court of public opinion. In the face of such scrutiny, the challenge for student misconduct investigations center on executing sound and reliable processes that separate fact from fiction, and truth from falsehoods, without ignoring the legitimate opportunities to restore students in favor of punitive action.

On almost a weekly basis, the systems and processes used among institutions of higher education to investigate troubling incidents regarding student conduct are being tested. For instance, consider the plight of a black student at Yale University who may have been subjected to racial profiling by a report from a white student to police that...Read More

Take One Step Forward – Building Local and Regional Food Systems

by eea | Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Wendell Berry has inspired millions of farmers and farm advocates with his assertion that “eating is an agricultural act.” Food advocates and activists today are taking that further and showing that eating is also a political act. We can reclaim personal agency and power from the dominant system of corporate food production, by building and supporting local and regional food systems that give us choices about the kind of food we eat, where it comes from, and whose prosperity our food dollars help to create.

It is well-documented that local sales put more money in the farmer’s pocket. When farmers and food producers do well, they create local jobs, generate local taxes, and reinvest their proceeds in services they buy from others in our community. Local money recirculating in local communities contributes to both community self-reliance and sustainability. It’s kind of like the old rural tradition of barn-raising or the not-quite-so-old urban tradition of rent parties, except easier and with more in it for us.

Surveys and studies show that farmers selling directly to consumers retain from 40 percent to as much as 75 percent of the food dollar, versus just 15.6 percent in the corporate food chain....Read More

Freedom's Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science

by eea | Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - 12:00 PM

I never intended to write a history of psychological warfare.

The project that ultimately became Freedom’s Laboratory started out as a fairly standard investigation into the life and work of Johns Hopkins geneticist H. Bentley Glass. Glass originally attracted my attention because his reputation as an outspoken champion of scientific freedom simply did not line up with historians’ existing narrative of science and the Cold War. In a context in which American institutions seemed to be more interested in enforcing political consensus that advancing justice, Glass stood out as a low-key hero who defended his colleagues against McCarthyism, spoke out against the dangers of fallout, and participated in civil rights campaigns.

And yet—and this is the fact I found surprising—his career flourished. Glass’s research received generous funding from the Atomic Energy Commission, even as he roundly criticized the agency’s position on fallout and the FBI launched a series of investigations into his political views. In 1959, he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. Starting in 1954, he assumed the presidency of one professional group after another, culminating in the presidency of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1969. His...Read More

Ecology and Conservation of the Diamond-backed Terrapin

by eea | Monday, November 26, 2018 - 12:00 PM

The Diamond-backed Terrapin has a long and illustrious history, first as a culinary plight to satiate the masses and then becoming an epicurean fad for the well-heeled. The fad faded in the early 20 th century because populations declined and the demand for terrapin flesh could no longer be met. Populations are thought to have recovered somewhat thereafter, but in the meantime, crab pots were invented and began drowning terrapins, their habitat declined due to development and urban sprawl, and a demand for turtle flesh and pets in the Far East resurrected their harvest. This combination again threatens terrapins throughout their geographic range and the precipitous decline in many populations has alarmed researchers, conservationists, and resource managers. The need for an amalgamation of the past and present of terrapin biology, history, and management dilemmas motivated our book.

Terrapins have a coastal geographic range from Massachusetts to Texas and are the only true estuarine turtle. The variation in environmental conditions experienced throughout their range (semi-tropical to fully temperate) have resulted in broad geographic differences in activity season, life history phenotypes, and coloration; interestingly terrapins remain genetically very similar throughout their extensive range. The estuarine habitat also creates interesting physiological challenges...Read More

Reading Disability in a Pair of Eighteenth Century Shoes: Mary Wise Farley, 1764

by eea | Wednesday, November 21, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Everyday life for many in early America involved endless rounds of backbreaking labor, grueling travel into dense forests, across frozen rivers, or through putrid swamps, and the ever-present risk of illness, accident, and injury. How did early Americans cope with physical disability? The research for my recent book, Treasures Afoot , led to the examination of dozens of pairs of shoes, many that revealed a variety of difficulties associated with feet-bunions, overpronation, hammer toes, and the accommodation of expanding feet due to pregnancy or illness. [i] The records and account books of New England cordwainers even report the use of cork shoes to relieve gout, which frequently begins in the foot.

A rare surviving example of how one woman addressed her disability may be found in the nuptial footwear of an eighteenth-century New England bride. Mary Wise Farley’s wedding shoes reveal that she was “lame.” [ii] It appears that she never wrote down her story, but her extant shoes give her a voice—if we can take the time to listen. Indeed, were it not for the survival of her shoes, very little would be...Read More

In Search of Russian Modernism

by eea | Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 12:00 PM

The disintegration of the Soviet empire brought about a Copernican revolution in Russian cultural historiography. Paradoxically, the post-Soviet documentary deluge and the collapse of the ideological coordinates hitherto guiding the writing of cultural history have left Russian modernist studies fundamentally unchanged. My book, In Search of Russian Modernism , interrogates the field’s methodological assumptions, removing the aura of certainty surrounding the analytical tools at our disposal and suggesting alternatives to the conventional ways of thinking about Russian and transnational modernism. I have found validation for my epistemological doubt, as well as fruitful analytical approaches, in Anglo-American “new modernist studies” which are driven by the same frustration with the established canon, chronology, geography, taxonomy, and sociology of modernism that informs my inquiry.

My book advocates for a methodological shift in the ways we think and write about Russian and transnational modernism. I explore the idea of modernism as a minority culture that coexists and interacts with other cultural formations in a given historical time and geographic space. Looking beyond artistic and philosophical expression, in order to account for modernism’s socioeconomic and institutional life, and broadening the academic field’s purview to include not only cultural producers but also...Read More