JHU Press Blog

Professor Sums Up Dickinson's Math

by bjs | Monday, July 30, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Five years ago, Grinnell College professor Thomas L. Moore audited an English class on Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson at his institution. A Professor, Emeritus in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Grinnell, Moore worked over several years on a paper for that class. Earlier this year, the Emily Dickinson Journal published the final product, " Q.E.D.: What Emily Dickinson Did With Her Mathematics Books ." Moore joined us for a Q&A to talk about how an accomplished math scholar ended up publishing in a literary criticism journal studying the work of just one author.

What is it like to see a topic from a seminar you audited turn into a published essay?

It was like a series of small steps over five years, each accompanied by its own little surprise. I asked Steve Andrews to audit his Whitman-Dickinson seminar because I had been daunted by Dickinson poems and yet intrigued by them. All along the way it was Steve’s support and encouragement that brought me through those small steps: learning how to read an ED poem, creating a classroom environment where all...Read More

Information and the Body

by bjs | Monday, July 23, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Libraries and librarians don't just worry about the mind. A special double issue of Library Trends takes a look at “Information and the Body.” Guest edited by Andrew M. Cox, Brian Griffin , and Jenna Hartel , the issues bring together researchers interested in embodied information, including in how we receive information through the senses, what the body “knows,” and the way the body is a sign that can be interpreted by others.

Cox is a senior lecturer at the Information School, University of Sheffield, where he is also head of the Digital Societies Research Group. Griffin is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto, Canada. Hartel is an associate professor at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.

The trio worked together to participate in a Q&A about the double issue. The issues are now available on Project MUSE.

Issue 1: Winter 2018 Issue 2: Spring 2018 a>

How did this double issue come about? The idea for the issue came from working together on two previous articles related to information and serious leisure. Reflecting...Read More

'Bonus' Time with New Editor

by bjs | Monday, July 9, 2018 - 10:00 AM

Earlier this year, the Journal of Asian American Studies turned over the editorial reins to University of Washington professor Rick Bonus . An associate professor of American Ethnic Studies at UW, Bonus will lead the journal for the next three years. He joined us for a Q&A about the journal's place in the field and what readers and contributors can expect to see.

What does it mean to lead JAAS at a time like this, politically and socially?

I’m excited to be editor of JAAS in so many ways and on so many fronts! The year 2018 marks our 20th year of publication with JHUP and, looking back all the way into our first issue in 1998, it’s quite breathtaking to see where we came from, how we started, and how we’ve matured over the years. There’s tremendous enthusiasm within our editorial collective and our association in general! I feel that most especially within our ranks of reviewers who read submissions with such vitality, vision, and deep intellect, all signaling to me and our readers that we’re taking on scholarship that is so robust now and...Read More

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