JHU Press Blog

In the Beginning: A Story of World Domination

by krm | Monday, April 17, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Silence deafened the laboratory. The raging spring storm outside finally penetrated the transformers powering the west side of campus, stealing life from inside the science complex. In one instance, the monotonous sounds of motors, fans, and compressors were hushed. The professor rose from his slumped form, his laptop screen now blank. The incubators serving as nurseries to his beloved flies were quiet but still warm. “Any minute,” he thought, “the emergency generators should kick in.” But there was no sound on the roof, other than the muffled cries of wind racing across the flat surface, to indicate that backup power was imminent. The room was silent. Only the storm outside provided relief from the denseness of the dark, eerily silent, laboratory. Scrittle scrattle . “What was that?” Scrittle scrattle . There it is again. And closer this time. “Is someone there,” the professor said as he moved slowly toward the open laboratory door leading to the hallway. No response. Maybe it was just a tree branch scraping against the side of the building. Of course he immediately knew that was impossible. All of the nearby trees were still just infants; none were tall enough to...Read More

Changing World of Children's Literature

by bjs | Friday, April 14, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Four times a year, Children's Literature Association Quarterly publishes first-rate scholarship in children's literature studies. Two recent issues have taken on questions of genre in children's and young adult literature. Editor Claudia Nelson , Professor of English at Texas A&M University, joined us for a Q&A on these issues as well as what the journal has in store for upcoming issues.

Two straight issues of the journal have focused on questions of genre. What makes this the topic to discuss at this time? Genre makes a great lens through which to consider children's literature because all texts belong to some genre, which gives readers a starting point from which to understand them. Karen Chandler and Sara Austin's recent guest-edited issue on genre in African American children's literature offered fascinating articles, I thought, and got me thinking about how genre helps to structure texts. So when I was writing the introduction to issue 42.1 , it occurred to me that an interesting facet of the issue was that each article focused on a different kind of text, produced over a wide timespan and in a wide variety...Read More

Public Policy Writing That Matters

by krm | Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 6:00 AM

A lawmaker with conviction is a difficult person to persuade. It’s tempting to think that the reason they don’t do what you think they should is simply that they don’t know enough. They don’t know what you know. So you research a topic, live with it for months, and write a report or a memo with the goal of educating them. Facts. Figures. Regression Analyses. Case studies. Literature reviews.

But then they still don’t listen. They still don’t do what you think they should. And maybe you blame them for not realizing how ignorant they are. You read about public attitudes and compare those against public policy, and you see that about 70 percent of the general population has no concrete way to influence the policy that affects their everyday lives. Eventually, you grow cynical about the entire process. Maybe even a little helpless.

Here’s the thing. Ignorance is rarely the problem.

The reason lawmakers don’t do what you think they should is they don’t believe what you believe. When you present facts and figures, they don’t believe, so they question your sources or methodology. When you lay out a logical argument, they don’t...Read More

Practical Lessons in Psychological First Aid

by krm | Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Most of us have directly observed another human in psychological distress, whether it was a friend, a family member, a co-worker, or perhaps a complete stranger. Similarly, those of us who have observed someone in distress have usually been motivated to offer some form of support in an attempt to ease the suffering we witnessed. Indeed, it appears to be a natural human instinct to offer support to those in acute distress. Whether the psychological distress was caused by a personal failure, loss of a loved one, a medical emergency, a dwelling fire, a crime, or acts of violence or even disasters, we were compelled to offer words of support. Sometimes our efforts were effective and sometimes they were not. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our words actually appeared to make matters worse, seeming to intensify acute distress. At times such as these we lamented the absence of a psychological “magic bullet,” a verbal “Hail Mary” that would immediately end the suffering and lead to the realization of the promise we made that “everything will be ok.” Consistent with our own intuitions, a recommendation in the American Journal of Psychiatry stated that ‘‘shortly after a traumatic event, it is...Read More

On Dementia Patients and Air Travel

by krm | Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 5:00 AM

Raising dementia awareness can assist caregivers and airlines to meet the challenges of traveling with dementia.

In light of the recent video showing a passenger on an airplane presenting dementia symptoms, and the disastrous outcome when asked to leave, I wanted to share insights on ways to better manage air travel with dementia.

Someone who is presenting dementia symptoms may be challenged by new environments, new people, any change in routine, a change of time zone, noise and fatigue. Also, people with behavioral challenges will likely have difficulty. There are a number of dementia signs and symptoms that may indicate that travel is not a good idea. These include:

Consistent disorientation, confusion, or agitation even in familiar settings Asking to go home when away from home Delusional, paranoid, or disinhibited behavior Problems managing continence Teary, anxious, or withdrawn behavior in crowded, noisy settings Agitated or wandering behavior Physical or verbal aggression Yelling, screaming, or crying spontaneously High risk of falling Unstable medical conditions

Whether the trip will be a success depends on the individual with dementia symptoms, how far the dementia symptoms have progressed, and how easily they become agitated or anxious with all...Read More

Why did a fisheries scientist write a book about climate change?

by krm | Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Photo courtesy of Phillip Meintzer.

I've gotten this question many times since people first heard about The Carbon Code: How You Can Become a Climate Change Hero . The answer is simple: nothing makes sense in conservation, except in light of climate change (apologies to Dobzhansky) .

The consensus understanding of the climate crisis is that it is affecting everything. Oceans will get warmer and more acidic. Species will flee for the poles, and many will go extinct. Crops will fail. Rivers and lakes will vanish, and vast reserves of fossil fuels will become unburnable . Refugees will flee climate wars, and societies will shift as they accommodate – or resist – the coming wave of fleeing humans, as our planet becomes less able to support civilization.

To make matters worse, the United States now has a federal government whose leaders seem to be doing everything in their power to undermine efforts to save ourselves from the worst parts of climate change. They are eliminating environmental protections, attacking scientists, deleting data, and defunding anything that could inform...Read More

Wherever I am, a library is my home

by krm | Monday, April 10, 2017 - 6:00 AM

ONE of my car accessories is a dead giveaway. My license plate cover reads “LIBRARIES ARE ESSENTIAL––I LOVE MY LIBRARY.”

Stephen Grant speaking in Folger Shakespeare Library with Henry Folger looking over his shoulder, Shakespeare’s birthday 2014.

As children, after school, we scampered past the duck pond up the hill to the Wellesley Free Library in eastern Massachusetts, paused to swing open a large heavy door, and entered a cavernous turreted building built of granite and red sandstone. We were warmly welcomed by the Children’s Librarian. The heavily powdered Miss Sturgis, in hushed tones, with an engaging lisp, always had suggestions for our next passionate reading adventure.

I could not have guessed then that over a half-century later I would receive a fellowship from the Folger Shakespeare Library to begin research on writing the biography of a Brooklyn couple who founded said library on Capitol Hill. I am speaking of the white marble neo-classical greco-deco structure catty-cornered from the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, the Folger Shakespeare Library, which contains the largest collection of Shakespeare in the world. Although the private research library was dedicated in 1932, surprisingly no one had written a...Read More

Between medicine, business and politics: Silicosis, a promising 21st century scourge from the remote past

by krm | Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 6:00 AM

In October 2006, two Chinese victims of silicosis paid a visit to the village of Shakarpur, 80 kilometers from Baroda, an Indian city in the state of Gujarat where regional NGOs had organized a meeting devoted to this disease. The event was a memorable one. Two victims of the new and wild forms of industrialization in the emerging countries were meeting local “traditional” workers having contracted silicosis by polishing agates. It also symbolized how silicosis has become a global burden, and leads to new forms of mobilization against occupational and environmental hazards caused by so-called “industrial diseases”.

Silicosis (the progressive scarring of lungs due to inhalation of crystalline silica dust over a long period of time) is by no way an out-of-date disease, a pathology from the remote past when America, Europe and Australia depended on coal to deliver energy to their factories and heating to their citizens. On the contrary silicosis is, if one dare say, one of the most promising social and environmental diseases of the 21 st century. It can only progress at fast pace, in relationship with the industrialization of emerging countries.

A forgotten trade: the coal man ...Read More

OAH: Universities and Their Cities

by krm | Friday, April 7, 2017 - 6:00 AM

As scholars of American history meeting in New Orleans, we certainly do not need to be reminded of this city’s dynamic history. Nor do we need to be reminded of the complex history of America’s urbanization and the growth of its cities. Yet historians of American higher education have devoted remarkably little attention to the role of universities in American urban life, and to the way in which cities helped to shape the evolution of America’s colleges and universities at which most of us teach, study and write.

Having lived in cities all of my life and having studied, taught and led universities in cities for most of my adult years, I decided, after completing ten years as chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, to write a history of the relationship between universities and cities in America. The publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press, will have some advance copies of Universities and Their Cities: Urban Higher Education in America at its OAH booth (#221).

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, college education was seen as a way to build character in young men, and this could not be done in a city with its evil...Read More

Monumental Failure

by krm | Thursday, April 6, 2017 - 5:00 AM

On the Centennial of United States Entry Into World War I, the Proposal for a Pending National Memorial in Washington, D. C. Falls Short

The Korean conflict of the 1950s is often referred to as the nation’s “forgotten war,” yet how many Americans recall the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War or the four-year Philippine-American War?

World War I is another momentous historical event whose details and impact are lost in the mists of history. Today marks the centennial of the declaration of war against Germany, a decision that President Woodrow Wilson rightly predicted would unleash “days that are to try men’s souls.”

Helping consign the conflict to the cobwebs of memory, there is no fitting national monument to the crusade in Washington, D. C., which is a disgrace.

In 1931, dignitaries in D. C. dedicated a modest marble structure on the National Mall to honor local veterans (situated in a grove of trees 500 feet southwest of the massive national World War II Memorial).

Pershing Square, which opened in 1981 a block from the White House and honors Gen. John J. Pershing, who turned the tide against Germany, is the capital’s de facto ...Read More