JHU Press Blog

Humanism and Science as a Window into the Culture Wars in America

by eea | Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 3:00 PM

America’s relationship to science is fraught with turmoil. Images of science have long held an ambiguous place in our collective psyche: from Frankenstein’s monster to the moon landing, people have characterized it in both nefarious and glowing terms.

Our current moment, however, seems unusual. In America, where everything is now subject to political spin, science has become a partisan shibboleth. Consider that President-elect Joe Biden felt compelled to defend the authority of science more than once in his recent acceptance speech.

Anyone who follows the news can see why: evolution, climate change, and even public health measures are strongly fought partisan battles. The reason for this conflict around science is clearly something that we need to understand better.

In my book, The Scientific Spirit of American Humanism, I look back at the historical roots of this culture war and show where it comes from and why it is so significant. I suggest...Read More

Inscriptions of Nature: Geology and the Naturalization of Antiquity

by eea | Monday, November 16, 2020 - 4:00 PM

I wrote Inscriptions of Nature because I felt the need to write a political history of deep time, geohistory, and nature. Deep history, that is the history of the evolution of the earth, is often represented as a purely natural phenomenon; of movements of tectonic plates, earthquakes, the formation of strata and fossils, and in terms of human genomics. This representation is derived entirely from European intellectual traditions from the eighteenth century, which traced the geohistory of the earth. While researching the book, I found the entrenchment of the geohistorical mode of thinking in the Indian subcontinent in both its contemporary politics and its intellectual traditions; for example, in modern Hindu antiquarianism, in debates of sacred geographies, conflicts around mining rights, and in questions of tribal aboriginality. I concluded that these historical processes could not be appreciated or discussed fully within either the naturalistic frame or the Eurocentric intellectual traditions. Therefore, I have tried to define an alternative frame of deep history in this book. The book sees the evolution of...Read More

When Statistics Won’t Suffice: How University Presses Can Act to Support Women in Science

by eea | Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 3:00 PM

Part of the #RaiseUP 2020 University Press Week Blog Tour: Scientific Voices.

That women in science must confront disproportionately significant obstacles to succeed is old news – thousands of years old.  Gatekeepers (sometimes self-appointed) of scientific canon have been refusing to acknowledge the contributions of women since at least c.1500 BC, when the massive accrual of botanical knowledge spurred by Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s interest in plant-based medicine was first attributed to her male co-regent. Hardly surprising, given that she had to resort to commissioning depictions of herself with a false beard in order to appease the masses who did not believe a woman could be intelligent enough to rule.

When I speak to individuals or groups about the inequities faced by women in science, I often focus on peer-reviewed quantitative analysis, because you can’t argue with numbers, right? (Americans, insert your preferred sarcastic emoji here.) But operating from a place that requires proving over and over the existence of a problem can become just another barrier to solving it. The steady accumulation of both statistical and anecdotal information...Read More

Serpent in the Garden: Amish Sexuality in a Changing World

by eea | Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - 4:00 PM

Writing about another culture is never easy. Writing about sexuality and another culture? That takes a bold pen. Serpent in the Garden was not an easy book to write for that reason. In the end, though, those who have read it agree. It delivers a perspective that has been lacking on this aspect of Amish life.

Serving the Amish, my first book on this Plain people, was published in 2014. It included a chapter on sexuality, and a friend suggested that I could amplify those comments and offer another, much-needed book. The first challenge was a framework. Amish sexuality was embedded in their culture, and many talented authors had already offered models to describe the social glue that held them together. I needed a different perspective. Something that would upend the reader familiar with the Amish. Something that would acknowledge Amish sexuality as culturally unique, but also universal.

The Amish were not always a postmodern paradox. Once upon a time they separated from their...Read More

Thinking Geographically about Science and Knowledge—and Why It Matters

by eea | Monday, November 9, 2020 - 4:00 PM

It is hard to distil any work and its implications to an essence. But, often, we have to: time may be pressing; audiences (and funders) need convincing—and sometimes quickly. One common feature of graduate training in UK universities in recent years, for example, has been the rise of the ‘Three Minute Thesis’ competition. To a mixed audience (experts and non-experts, peers and not) PhD students present their research, their principal findings, the implications of their work. Three minutes and not a second more.

It is equally difficult to compress the arguments of a book—not into three minutes, but into three sentences. But here goes. Geographies of Knowledge is about the spatial dimensions of science, principally in the nineteenth century. Science (as do all forms of knowledge actually), has a geography—it is situated and shaped somewhere, and, in its moving from one place and audience to another, may be transformed, ‘read’ and so understood differently in different places. Because this is so, it is important when explaining both the content of the science in question...Read More

The Lives of Amish Women

by eea | Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 4:00 PM

The Lives of Amish Women explores how religion, tradition, and social practice come together to shape what it means to be a woman in Amish society. In writing this book, I wanted to understand better how the religiously defined roles of Amish women have changed as Amish churches have evolved, to look at women’s lives and activities at different ages and in different communities, and to explore the relationship between changing patterns of social and economic interaction with mainstream society and women’s family, community, and church roles. What I learned was that Amish females become Amish women in different contexts, in different ways, and with different expectations.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my research was talking and working with women and watching their children.  In fact, I’ve learned much from children who are growing up to be Amish.  Just this week, I visited with a mother with three-year-old twin boys (also six older children and one-year-old twin daughters!).  I was wearing a white long-sleeved tee-shirt and an open, dark-colored cardigan, and one...Read More

Literature and Medicine welcomes Comics Editor MK Czerwiec

by may | Monday, November 2, 2020 - 11:42 AM

Taking Turns

The journal Literature and Medicine recently welcomed its new editorial board, including MK Czerwiec, who has been named the journal’s first Comics Editor.  MK Czerwiec is a nurse, educator, author, comic creator, and one of the co-creators of the field of “Graphic Medicine” - the intersection of the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare. She co-manages the website, podcast, annual conferences, and online community of GraphicMedicine.org. MK teaches graphic medicine at Northwestern Medical School, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Illinois Medical School, and the University of Chicago. She is an Artist-in-Residence at Northwestern’s Center for Medical Humanities and Bioethics. 

JHU Press recently had the privilege of joining MK in a conversation about her work developing the field of Graphic Medicine and her new role at Literature and Medicine.  


Your first book, Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371 is a graphic memoir that chronicles your time...Read More

On Time: A History of Western Timekeeping

by eea | Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 4:00 PM

It was fencing that led me to my interest in the history and philosophy of timekeeping.

Forget what you think you know about fencing—what you’ve seen in TV shows and movies and such. The reality is both less visually exciting and intellectually more engaging.

In a choreographed stage combat, I want to show a third party—the audience—the impression of a sword fight to further the plot, while at the same time not actually striking the other person, who is, in the end, my partner in presenting a work of theater. The action must be legible: Your turn, my turn, your turn, my turn. In actual fencing bout, however, I’m faced with an uncooperative opponent who is trying to defeat me by striking me with their weapon. Showing an audience what is happening is not important at all. The game is thus one of preempting, countering, and interrupting one another’s actions. In other words, I must time my actions to those of my adversary: Parry before the attack arrives, and you’re hit; parry after it arrives, you’re also hit.

...Read More

Lizards of the World

by eea | Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 4:00 PM

Herpetologists have no idea how many lizard species there are. When I started planning Lizards of the World there were about 3000 species known worldwide. When I finished my data collection there were 6528; now there are over 7100. Is the true number 10,000 or 50,000? We are gaining about one formally described lizard species a day; taxonomic discoveries have never been faster. But how many lizard species are we losing at the same time?

About half of all lizard species are imperiled by some criterion. Extinction estimates of 30% or more this century have been predicted in high-credibility journals. Invasive species, habitat loss, and climate change are the usual culprits. In general, the dire climate change predictions of the scientific community have not been met, but rather surpassed. In 2020, for example, the predicted 2050 annual acreage lost to wildfires in California was surpassed, 30 years sooner than expected. Given the physics of climate change, our best near-term hope is that the rate of temperature increase will decelerate. We can hope that humanity will suddenly embrace radical shifts in the global economy to preserve a...Read More

JHU Press Journals Celebrate Open Access Week

by may | Monday, October 19, 2020 - 1:00 PM

Open Access Week 2020 In our recent strategic planning engagement, JHU Press revised its vision statement to: "We envision a future where knowledge enriches the life of every person." This vision of scholarship available to all is a goal we strive for all year long, but is specifically celebrated every year during Open Access Week.  

Open Access week, now in its thirteenth year, is a global event meant to increase participation and progress to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research. Publishers, libraries, academic institutions, and scholars across the globe use this week to share ideas, advocate, and inspire more open and emerging forms of scholarship.    

The JHU Press Journals Division has a long history of working with our publishing partners to create new and innovative models for removing barriers to scholarly content. We are not a one-size-fits-all publisher, and as such, we work creatively and adaptably with our journals to create spaces and programs for their research to be freely accessed by all....Read More