JHU Press Blog

Let There Be Enlightenment

by eea | Thursday, October 11, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Most people think that the Enlightenment was the “age of reason,” characterized by the emergence of rational approaches to socio-political problems, the rise of religious toleration, and the decline of devout fanaticism. In describing the learned culture of the eighteenth century to students, it would be hard not to conjure up Voltaire’s attack against superstition and religious intolerance, encapsulated by his famous signature: “ écrasez l’infâme! ” (“crush the infamous thing!”) David Hume’s critique of not only all revelation but also of natural religion might also come to mind, as might the irreverent salon of the atheist baron d’Holbach, and the de-Christianization policies of the French Revolutionaries. Indeed, the Manichean struggle between the parti philosophique and the parti dévot continues to be central to almost all accounts of the Enlightenment. The story of a contest between conservative theologians and radical philosophers offers a simple explanation about secularization and the emergence of modernity. Depending on which side one takes in this contest, the bifurcation also allows for an oversimplified narrative about either the progress of human reason or the decline of traditional morality.

Recent scholarship has complicated these neat narratives of secularization. Throughout the early modern period, natural...Read More

Misconceptions in Nuclear History: ICBMs

by eea | Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 12:00 PM

The creation of the intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, in the 1950s is an important event in both the history of nuclear weapons and in that of space exploration. Until recent years, however, the real stories behind the first ICBMs were concealed or misunderstood.

The Soviet Union’s first ICBM, the R-7, shot into the headlines in October 1957, when it was used to launch the first artificial satellite of the Earth, Sputnik. The surprise and consternation Sputnik caused around the world, and especially in the United States, led to major misunderstandings over the history of ICBMs that persist to the present day.

The R-7 was developed in secret, and once it began to fly, its story was distorted as part of larger Soviet propaganda narratives. The openness that followed the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s allowed the real history of the R-7 to be told.

The creation of America’s first ICBM, the Atlas, has also been shrouded in myth. My new book, The Bomb and America’s Missile Age, deals with those myths as it explains how marrying long range ballistic missiles to nuclear weapons went from an idea at the end of World War...Read More

Trials of Psychedelic Therapy

by eea | Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 12:00 PM

When I began exploring the history of LSD psychotherapy research in 2008, I had little idea that the momentum was in fact building on a new era of psychedelic research. In the 1950s and 60s, researchers reported impressive results using LSD in conjunction with psychotherapy to treat a range of psychiatric conditions, and an astounding 50% success rate treating chronic, treatment-resistant alcoholics. From my initial research, two narratives quickly emerged explaining the drug’s medical downfall: either LSD’s significant therapeutic potential fell victim the moral panic and government crackdown following its rising recreational use in the 1960s, or, by contrast, that the research had had little scientific rigor, had since been largely debunked, and had been spearheaded by enthusiasts such as Timothy Leary whose objectivity was significantly skewed by their own use of the drug.

The new era of research, underway at prominent institutions including Johns Hopkins University, New York University, and the University of New Mexico, has largely picked up from where the previous era left off, exploring the effectiveness of the same treatment methods developed in the 1950s and 1960s. This research has therefore naturally been in close conversation with the past, as researchers attempt to...Read More

Navigating the Waters of the Teacher Preparation Debate: Lessons from the Recent Past

by eea | Wednesday, October 3, 2018 - 12:00 PM

In 1980, if one wanted to become a K-12 public school teacher in the United States, he or she needed to attend an accredited degree program. Fast forward to the present, and roughly one-third of our nation’s teachers enter through alternative, non-education school routes. Prospective teachers are confronted with a dizzying array of options, from online programs (both for- and not-for-profit), district residencies, quick-prep programs with a few weeks of summer training, in-house charter-school certification, or more traditional university-based pathways, at both the undergraduate and master’s level. How to explain this dramatic transformation? And what to make of it?

As two historians with public school teaching and university-based teacher education experience—and much concern about how this change has impacted students—we aimed to write a history that answers these questions while transcending much of the acrimony that often occupies the discussion. On one side of the debate, you often find ardent ed school defenders, those who write off any alternative route as irresponsible. On the other side are the ed school bashers, who claim that teachers do not need time in what they see as ineffective departments teaching “irrelevant” theory classes. We aimed to approach the recent and...Read More

Behind Closed Doors: Researching the Secret Work of Lobbyists

by eea | Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - 12:00 PM

It’s not easy to write a book on lobbying when lobbyists don’t like to talk about what they do. And it’s particularly difficult when the lobbyists you’re writing about have been dead for one hundred and fifty years. This was the challenge I found myself confronting when I set out to research Lobbyists and the Making of US Tariff Policy, 1816-1861 . In researching a previous book on American democratic practices in the early republic, I had become fascinated by fleeting references to lobbyists operating behind the scenes, way-laying Congressmen behind the closed doors of the committee room or in the privacy of their boarding-house parlors. But how to bring these practices out into the open, when by their very nature they were never intended to be made public?

Answering that question involved some old-fashioned detective work. I began by digging through the records of the many meetings and conventions held during the first half of the nineteenth century to express their support either for protectionism or free trade, a debate that was just as divisive then as it is today. These records sometimes contained explicit mention of the appointment of a “delegate” to make their case to Congress,...Read More

10 Myths About Digital Literary Culture

by eea | Monday, September 24, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Predictions have an uncanny tendency to come true, just not in the way predicted. Take the early 1990s mantra of ‘the death of the book’---the existentially-laden theme of many a brow-furrowed academic conference, journal special issue, or edited collection. For someone who started a PhD about book publishing slap-bang in the middle of that fin-de-siècle decade, it seemed almost preternaturally bad timing. By the time Amazon had come to spectacular public prominence in the late 1990s, it appeared the die was well and truly cast. And yet, with the wisdom of a quarter-century hindsight, it’s now possible to see that, despite the incursions of eBooks, especially in genre publishing, the codex book remains very much alive. It is just created, edited, marketed, publicized, retailed, profiled, evaluated, and discussed within a thoroughly digital web of stakeholders. It’s time then to take stock of the state of bookish play with a list of the top 10 myths about digital literary culture: Digital media will kill paper books Oh, please. Is this 1995 still? Even a cursory glance at the literary internet shows how print and digital technologies have brokered a truce, coexisting and even becoming increasingly interdependent. Just as earlier...Read More

Project MUSE offers nearly 300 “HTML5” open access books on re-designed platform

by eea | Friday, September 21, 2018 - 10:19 AM

Project MUSE offers nearly 300 “HTML5” open access books on re-designed platform

More searchable and discoverable than PDFs, the improved new format represents the “next chapter” in OA publishing in the humanities and social sciences

(Baltimore, MD) Nearly 300 open access (OA) books are now available from Project MUSE, the highly-acclaimed online collection of humanities and social science scholarship, on a newly designed platform that represents a major step forward in OA publishing in these fields. The books will be delivered in a highly-discoverable and adaptable format using user-friendly HTML5, rather than static PDFs, and will include titles from Johns Hopkins University Press, Cornell University Press, Duke University Press, University of Hawai’i Press, University of Michigan Press, Syracuse University Press, The MIT Press, and Temple University Press. “This really represents the next chapter in OA publishing for MUSE and our university press collaborators,” said Wendy Queen, Director of Project MUSE, “and we’re thrilled to have so many important works available open access on MUSE in such a flexible, useful format. Thanks to the ‘MUSE Open’ grant from the Mellon Foundation these titles are now available on a much improved MUSE platform and...Read More

Maryland: A History

by eea | Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 6:00 AM

In William Faulkner’s well-known aphorism “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Faulkner’s understanding of history forcefully applies to the story of Maryland during the Civil War. If we had forgotten his point, the recent controversy over the future of Baltimore’s Confederate monuments sharply reminds us of the immediacy of the Civil War and the various ways it is remembered in the 21 st century.

As I set out to write my chapter for Maryland: A History, I was animated by a desire to tell the story of the Maryland’s Civil War fairly and factually so that one of the most riveting events in our state history would be remembered by a new millennial generation in ways that limit the excesses of the past. In my view, having lost the war, the state’s southern sympathizers promptly turned their attention to winning the war in the history books. In this they were successful. The collective memory of the past as imposed by former Confederates and southern sympathizers created a collective memory that emerged as a powerful social tool useful in the establishment of white supremacy by the end of the 19 th...Read More

The Importance of Conversation to End-of-Life Care in Dementia

by eea | Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 12:00 PM

"There are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet."—William Frederick Halsey, Jr.

Making decisions for another person at the end of their life is indeed a significant challenge. The challenge is even more poignant when the person has lost their voice to the progression of dementia. As a geriatrician specializing in end-of-life care in dementia, most of the people I encounter in my work lament that they would gladly make these decisions for themselves. Yet, it is unbearable to make similar arrangements for their mother, father, or spouse when they don’t entirely know what their family member would choose.

After learning that they have a range of care options from which to choose, and being introduced to the natural course of dementia (understanding that dementia is, in fact, a terminal disease), many family members feel the burden of decision-making lifted, or, at least, diminished. Taking the time to pause, imagine, and discuss what their family member may have chosen for themselves may at first seem challenging, but ultimately provides the decision maker with a sense of comfort. Leaning into the tough conversations is a first step toward managing the tough...Read More

Five Lessons in College Planning

by eea | Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 3:23 AM

Dear Parents,

As we walked to our car with our first-born in arms on an icy Minnesota morning in November 1996, nothing could have been further from my wife’s or my mind than college. We were more interested in answering “now what?” than thinking forward eighteen years. During those early days and years, fuzzy pajamas demanded more attention than a fuzzy, seemingly far-off future. We quickly learned that there is no precise definition of parenting or parenthood. Like all parents, we learned in real-time, mostly through trial and error. Three more children and years later, my wife and I have learned much about parenting – and about ourselves – though we still have not discovered either an owner’s manual or a magic eight-ball that conjures all the right answers.

In fall 2015, we sent the first of our four children off to college, an odyssey that will not end until spring 2027. We’ll have at least one child in college over that entire period, and two in college from fall 2018 to spring 2022. That timeline, which I typically choose to describe casually, almost always draws a gasp. What were we thinking?

I have spent nearly my...Read More