JHU Press Blog

Chapter & Verse: The Iliad's Civic Community

by cmt | Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 8:30 AM

Chapter and Verse is a series where JHU Press authors and editors discuss the literary landscape of poetry and prose, whether their own creative work or the literature of others.

Guest post by David F. Elmer

When I first had the idea for my new book, The Poetics of Consent: Collective Decision Making and the Iliad , the United States was in the midst of the worst phase of the war in Iraq. In hindsight I can see more clearly than ever how the politics of those years shaped my view of the ancient Greeks’ great martial epic.

I took as my subject the ways in which the Iliad depicts politics, which I understand broadly as the project of collectively determining common values, goals, and actions. I became fascinated by the ways in which a poem that focuses so relentlessly on the competition for prestige among powerful individuals (Agamemnon, Achilles) simultaneously projects consensus as the ultimate political ideal. The tension that emerged from my readings resonated, for me, with my misgivings about what I perceived as the unchecked growth of executive power in the American polity. Presidential signing statements and military...Read More

It’s all in how you ask the question

by cmt | Friday, February 22, 2013 - 12:19 PM

By Michele Callaghan, manuscript editor

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.


The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers, he’s one who asks the right questions.

―Claude Lévi-Strauss

Anyone who raises kids, lives with a spouse or a roommate, or reads pop psych books knows that the response you get is directly related to how you ask the question. “Do you want to go to the mall looking like trash?” might not get the same reaction as “Your red top is so much more flattering to your figure. How do you feel about wearing it instead?” It is similar when you are trying to tell someone that what he has written doesn’t make sense to anyone but himself or that she has repeated the same idea four times already. In editing, this is called the art of the query. Queries can point out mundane issues, such as unintentional repetition of words or ideas. Here’s an example: “I deleted this because it repeats language on page 3. Let me know if you would rather delete there.” Queries can tease out details...Read More

February news and new books

by cmt | Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 3:01 PM

News and Notes

JHU Press Publications Recognized for Excellence by AAP’s PROSE Awards Four JHU Press publications were honored recently at the prestigious Association of American Publishers’ Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (the PROSE Awards). In the category of science, technology, and medicine, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics: A Journal of Qualitative Research garnered an honorable mention for best new journal. Joseph Manca’s George Washington’s Eye: Landscape, Architecture, and Design at Mount Vernon and Martin Treu’s Signs, Streets, and Storefronts: A History of Architecture and Graphics along America’s Commercial Corridors were each recognized with an honorable mention in architecture and urban planning. In biological science, Theodore W. Pietsch’s Trees of Life: A Visual History of Evolution also earned an honorable mention.

Jane Austen Fans Take Note

The Times Literary Supplement says of Janine Barchas’ Matters of Fact in Jane Austen , “ This is a book whose charm and clarity easily overcome any initial resistance one might have to its central claim that...Read More

National Condom Day

by cmt | Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 8:30 AM

guest post by Alexandra M. Lord In 1937, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) took its most daring step forward to date. In a short pamphlet aimed at all Americans, the nation’s foremost public health organization gravely informed readers that “the use of the rubber (condom) during sexual intercourse . . . protects both the man and the woman.” In just two short sentences buried at the back of a public health pamphlet, the PHS had broken one of the greatest taboos in discussions about sexually transmitted diseases. Although the Public Health Service had been aggressively engaged in fighting what it saw as a nation-wide epidemic of venereal disease since 1918, agency officials had focused primarily on discouraging Americans from having sex outside of wedlock and from having sex with an untested partner. But in 1937, frustrated by the failure of their sex education campaign to eradicate venereal disease, public health officials decided to do the unthinkable. They would now provide Americans with the information they needed to avoid sexually transmitted diseases—even if they had sex with an untested partner. Dittrick Museum http://dittrick.blogspot.com/2011_01_01_archive.html

There was nothing new...Read More

When a poet dies

by cmt | Monday, February 11, 2013 - 11:12 AM

Guest post by Peter Filkins The 50 th anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s suicide on February 11, 1963, will no doubt cause many to pause and think what might have been if she had lived to write beyond the age of thirty. Many will reflect on the patriarchal forces she struggled against, or the role of her father’s early death or her mother’s controlling nature. Then there is Ted Hughes and his betrayal, as well as how she had to manage alone through the coldest winter in London in a hundred years as she tried to bottle the white heat of those final poems while taking care of two small children on a meager income. All of these seem part of the sad, insurmountable odds stacked against her, pulling her down into the abyss that now seems as inevitable as it was final. However, what always seems at risk of being lost in discussions of Plath’s life and work is the sheer brilliance and power (and, yes, at times, the unevenness) of her poems. Just this week, writing in the New York Times Book Review , Adam Kirsch notes, “With Plath, biography...Read More

Super Bowl XLVII and the legacy of Baltimore football

by cmt | Friday, February 1, 2013 - 1:24 PM

By Claire Tamberino It’s a good time to be in Baltimore. It’s an even better time to be in New Orleans, where the Baltimore Ravens will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl whatever (sorry, I never did get the hang of Roman numerals). I can imagine that the French Quarter is teeming with die-hard fans of both teams (I’d bet there’s more purple and black on the streets, though, than red and gold). Celebrities and corporate execs are jetting in to the Big Easy for all of the pre-game festivities, and television networks and sports journalists are busy playing up what has got to be one of the more heavily story-lined Super Bowls: brother vs. brother in The Harbowl; the retirement of Ray Lewis , arguably the best linebacker to play the game; and the outstanding play of rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick (Sunday's game will be only his tenth NFL start). Back in Baltimore, where we bleed purple, the city is buzzing with excitement. We erupted from bars and restaurants and living rooms to celebrate on the streets when the Ravens beat the...Read More

Wild Thing: Human Teeth vs. Other Mammalian Teeth

by cmt | Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 8:30 AM

Wild Thing is an occasional series where JHU Press authors write about the flora and fauna of the natural world—from the rarest flower to the most magnificent beast.

Guest post by Peter S. Ungar

Open your mouth and look in a mirror. Millions of us suffer fillings, crowns, wisdom tooth extractions, and braces each year. Most other mammals don’t have widespread dental disease and orthodontic disorders. Why are we so different? The answer is rooted in our evolutionary history. In effect, our diet is changing too fast for our teeth and jaws to keep up. It’s natural selection in action, at least for those unlucky enough to lack proper oral care or access to dental practitioners.

When plaque bacteria break down carbohydrates, they produce acid. This leads to dental caries, or progressive decay of enamel and dentin. While about 90% of young adults in the US develop caries, only a handful of human ancestor teeth have them. Few early modern human foragers did either, less than 2% by some estimates. And rates of caries are also low in peoples that hunt and gather wild foods for a living today.

Carbohydrate consumption surged...Read More

On writing about the remarkable intersection of literature and science

by cmt | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 11:09 AM

guest post by Theresa M. Kelley

Writing Clandestine Marriage was fascinating for me. It was challenging, too, but above all, working on this book sharpened my interest in how literature meets, or sidles up to, science. Here I want to talk about two examples from the book that present literature at work in ways that tell a good deal about the permeability between forms of thought, even those that seem so evidently distinct, like literature and science.

The first of these examples comes from Chapter 3, provocatively titled “Botany’s Publics and Privates.” This chapter ends with Erasmus Darwin’s The Botanic Garden (published in 1789 and 1791, and often reprinted afterward), a poem that delivers a wily mix of public science by toggling between the Linnaean taxonomic system and persistent reflections on the private loves between and affinities among plants. It is nearly impossible, after reading this poem, not to imagine plants as living beings. Just as remarkable is the way the poem creates a cascading slide of differences and similarities that works across its taxonomic argument and within the formal separation between the poem’s verse...Read More

A Feminist Examination of Global Conferences

by bjs | Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 8:57 AM

Guest post by Jean Quataert and Benita Roth, special guest editors The Journal of Women’s History recently published a special issue (24, 4 Winter 2012) on “ Human Rights, Global Conferences, and the Making of Postwar Transnational Feminisms .” The collection of essays and the reminiscences by global feminist activists shows the importance of United Nations-sponsored world conferences and related international gatherings for feminist thought and action worldwide. With few exceptions, the topic of the impact of global conferences has been unexamined in women’s history, despite its undeniable importance in shaping the vibrant new patterns of transnational advocacy networks that began to emerge in the 1970s. In the last few decades, we have witnessed a huge growth of feminist NGOs worldwide; the invention of innovative gatherings like the World Social Forums, which feature impressive participation by feminist activists; and the creation of UN People’s Forums, which give voice and visibility to the NGOs as well as to local feminist leaders and activists generally marginal to governmental authority and power. While feminist social scientists have explored the subject of the UN’s importance for making women’s rights into human rights, most historians...Read More

January news and new books

by rr | Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 12:37 PM

News and Notes

Johns Hopkins University hosts Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America: On January 14-15, the Johns Hopkins University convened more than 20 global leaders in gun policy and violence for the Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America . On January 28 th , the Johns Hopkins University Press will publish the proceedings of this summit as well as the resulting policy recommendations in Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis . To order a copy of this book at a discounted, tax-inclusive price of $8.00 with free domestic shipping (regular price $9.95), call 800-537-5487 and provide our fulfillment representatives with discount code HGUN.

Praise, Reviews, and Awards

The Wall Street Journal says of The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht , “ Aside from the literary light it sheds, Hecht’s correspondence is just plain fun to read—witty and learned, warm and humane .”

...Read More