JHU Press Blog

Behind the Book: Peter Charles Hoffer Discusses his Motivations for Writing "John Quincy Adams and the Gag Rule"

by eea | Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 5:00 PM

I wrote this book because I wanted to teach how slavery infected every part of the national government. The term, the "slave power," was not just anti-southern rhetoric; it was the description of something very real. The most surprising thing I learned during the research for this book was how much of the national legislature's time was taken up in the attempt to suppress what was, at the time, a relatively minor political movement. Abolitionism was loud but few in the North and fewer in the South really believed that slavery could be ended in their lifetimes. But southern members of Congress and their allies in the North were petrified by the prospect. Their effort to prevent the reading of anti-slavery petitions was more vituperative than I had imagined. What this book brings to the scholarly discussion of slavery that is new, I hope, is the way that the gag-rule debates turned national politics from party to section; that is, from political party alignments that stretched across the North and the South to alignments that were almost entirely sectional--and this over a decade earlier than we thought. One could almost see secession approaching in the late 1830s. I hope my...Read More

Reformation History Comes Alive

by bjs | Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 6:00 AM

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on Oct. 31, 2017, the journal Lutheran Quarterly has created a virtual timeline to highlight seminal works from the journal’s pages on significant events in the history of the Lutheran Church worldwide. The Rev. Dr. Martin Lohrmann from Wartburg Theological Seminary - also the webmaster for the journal - talked to us about the creation of the timeline and how it can be used by scholars worldwide.

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Journal Celebrates Reformation Anniversary

by bjs | Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 2:33 PM

At the end of October, Lutherans around the world will mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Lutheran Quarterly will commemorate this milestone with a look back at the importance of Luther's actions and what has followed.

First, the journal has created a historical timeline of important events since Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Articles from the journal over the years help provide context to the significance of these events. Please explore the timeline to see the impact that rippled throughout over the past 500 years.

The journal has also released a video interview (below) with The Reverend Dr. Timothy J. Wengert, Professor Emeritus at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, where he shares insights on the Protestant Reformation.

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Explaining Civil Society Development: What are the “Social Origins of Civil Society?”

by krm | Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Over the past 25 years, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project generated a powerful body of new systematic comparative data on the scope and structure of the nonprofit, or civil society, sector in more than 40 countries scattered widely around the world. Now, in a new book entitled Explaining Civil Society Development: A Social Origins Approach , authors Lester Salamon, Wojciech Sokolowski, and Megan Haddock draw on this sizable body of new data to test a variety of theories about what causes what turn out to be a number of intriguing puzzles that this research surfaced.

Why is it, for example, that the paid workforce of the civil society sector in Belgium stands at a whopping 10% of the country’s effective workforce but only 2.5% in Sweden, even though these two countries are at roughly similar levels of development? Why does government account for 65% of nonprofit revenue in Germany and only 36% in nearby Italy? And how is it that the overall size and shape of the civil society sector in Mexico is virtually...Read More

Behind the Book: Playboys and Mayfair Men

by krm | Monday, October 9, 2017 - 6:00 AM

At about 4:20 on the afternoon of December 20, 1937, Henrietta Gordon, a housemaid at the luxurious Hyde Park Hotel in London’s West End, heard some unusual noises—like something being smashed—coming from room 305. She alerted Enrico Laurenti, a waiter, who detected what he thought sounded like “muffled laughing.” Concerned that something was amiss, they knocked. When they received no response Laurenti used his master key to get in. He was shocked to find a large man lying on his back in a pool of blood. The maid thought he was dead, but he soon revived, crying out, with a distinct French accent, “Help, help! They’ve got my rings.”

I came across this dramatic scene several years ago when trolling through the British tabloids of the 1930s in search of a new research topic. I was initially puzzled to read that a gang of playboys had attacked a jeweler with a “life preserver.” For Americans, a life preserver (or life jacket) was a floatation device. In 1930s Britain it also meant a truncheon or what North Americans called a “blackjack” — a short club, heavily loaded with a lead weight at one end and a strap or lanyard at...Read More

Examining the International Standard Book Number

by krm | Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 6:00 AM

We use ISBNs daily, but did you know that just looking at one will tell you where a book was published and by whom? This is a simple look at the International Standard Book Number (ISBN). This global system works for publishers from Australia to Zimbabwe.

Dissecting an ISBN There are five parts to an ISBN:

Prefix: 978 is the prefix that came into use when the standard switched from 10 digits to 13 digits in 2005. When 978s run out, the prefix will become 979.

Registration group element: The second part is a group or country identifier. For example, English-speaking countries start with 0 or 1, French-speaking areas start with 2, German-speaking areas start with 3, Japan starts with 4, and so on. There is a complete list of country identifiers here: http://www.isbn-international.org/en/identifiers/allidentifiers.html .

Registrant element: This set of numbers identifies the publisher who purchased the block of ISBNs.

Publication element: This group of numbers identifies a specific book.

Check digit: Finally there is a single check digit, which validates the ISBN.

ISBN FUN FACTS The first ISBNs were...Read More

Children's Literature and 'Fitting In'

by bjs | Monday, October 2, 2017 - 10:47 AM

When the 2017 issue of Children's Literature came out earlier this year, a familiar name appeared at the top of the masthead. Hollins University's Julie Pfeiffer returned as editor after a five-year hiatus. She joined us for apodcast where she talked about the issue, which features essays about the idea of "fitting in" for children's literature characters as well as what lies in store for the coming years for the journal.

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Exploring Consequences

by bjs | Friday, September 29, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Earlier this year, MFS Modern Fiction Studies released a special issue titled “Enduring Operations: The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Co-edited by Aaron DeRosa (Cal Poly Pamona) and Stacey Peebles (Centre College), the issue featured eight articles “within a nascent critical engagement with contemporary war narratives,” according to the introduction.

DeRosa and Peebles joined us for a Q&A on the special issue.

How was this special issue conceived and put together?

Nothing good comes out of violence, save maybe art. And art commemorates, it abrogates, and it forces a different kind of awareness of the violence committed by us or upon us.

Literary scholarship on the contemporary is very much stuck on the idea of identifying the new. It’s an oddly prophetic impulse to anticipate what we’ll be talking about five or ten years from now. What’s the thing that will have recast the world, made it different, reframed the ways we understand our lives? The September 11 attacks? The 2008 recession? The Presidential election of 2000—or 2016? But it’s always possible to see the changes that war brings, even if some of those changes aren’t immediately...Read More

Folgers and Nantucket in an Anniversary Year

by krm | Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 6:00 AM

The first Folgers to immigrate to the New World came from the village of Diss, 20 miles southwest of the town of Norwich, in East Anglia, England. Part of the Great Puritan Migration, they crossed the North Atlantic on the Abigail in 1635 and landed in Boston. Living initially in Dedham and Watertown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they settled on Martha’s Vineyard. By “first Folgers” I am referring to the illiterate hog-reeve John Folger (1593?–1660) and his son, the “pious and learned Englishman,” Peter Folger (1617–1690). The colorful and talented Peter Folger married an indentured maid he had met on the crossing, Mary Morrell. Peter moved his family of eight children to Nantucket in 1663. Their last child, Abiah, was born on Nantucket. Abiah married a soapmaker from Boston named Josiah Franklin and they had a child named Benjamin.

Benjamin Franklin’s mother was Abiah Folger Franklin, and his grandfather, Peter Folger.

Folgers have lived on Nantucket ever since. Many left their mark. Whaling captain Timothy Folger gave his first cousin Benjamin Franklin his early chart of the Gulf Stream. Walter Folger Jr. was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives...Read More

From Reconstruction to Jim Crow: A Pioneering Black Scholar and Activist in a Struggle for Identity and Impact

by krm | Friday, September 22, 2017 - 11:15 AM

The heated arguments, protests and acts of violence related to the fate of statues honoring the Confederate cause during the Civil War are now well known. Decisions to move those memorials, remove them, or leave them in place are increasingly contentious and provocative throughout the South. In Columbia, South Carolina, however, a different response is afoot: Rather than focus on monuments erected long ago, why not add some new ones to celebrate significant contributors on the positive side of the struggle for racial equality?

One of the first of these will happen later this year when a statue of Richard T. Greener (1844-1922) is installed in a prominent location on the campus of the University of South Carolina. The idea for that statue sparked my interest in the life of the scholar and activist who was the first black graduate of Harvard College, the first black professor at a southern university, the first black U.S. diplomat to a majority white country (Russia), a law school dean, and much more. Graduate students in a College of Education history class I taught were stumped as to why Greener was relatively unknown on their University of South Carolina campus—the very place he...Read More