JHU Press Blog

Print Plus: A Blueprint for Open Access in the Humanities

by eea | Thursday, October 24, 2019 - 9:00 AM

The Modernism/modernity Print Plus platform , winner of the 2019 Prose Award for Innovations in Journal Publishing is a successful and innovative collaboration between the Modernist Studies Association and the Journals division of the Johns Hopkins University Press that, since its launch in January 2016, has advanced the concept of the digital “commons” to become a kind of virtual meeting space for the modernist community. The platform’s intellectual foundation is the JHUP-published journal Modernism/modernity , but Print Plus enhances the print journal by leveraging audio, video, and image files and utilities like the Hypothesis annotation tool that are intended to build added layers of context and interpretation into the content. Modernism/modernity editor Debra Rae Cohen of the University of South Carolina and Matt Huculak, Digital Scholarship Librarian at University of Victoria and current Project Muse Advisory Board member, were the platform’s content architects and JHUP is the ideal development partner because of our relationship with the Modernist Studies Association and our tradition of excellence in digital publishing, as evidenced by Project MUSE.

One of our guiding principles was that Print Plus be developed and viewed first and foremost as a scholarly resource...Read More

Embracing Open Access and Revisiting a Scholar’s First Books

by eea | Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 9:00 AM

Being committed to open access publishing of scholarly works by salaried faculty and having chosen to have five books published in the last decade or so with a pioneering British open access publisher , I am delighted that the Johns Hopkins University Press, the nation’s oldest scholarly publishing house, is moving into this up-to-date, promising field and I am honored that my own earliest publications have been selected for its new open access series . I am particularly pleased because for many of my eighteen intellectually stimulating years teaching at JHU I served on the editorial board of the Press and enjoyed the confidence and friendship of its then-director, the unforgettable Jack Goellner.

The two books of mine that have been selected for republication in the new series could not be more different. The earlier, Men and Masks , on the seventeenth-century French playwright Molière, reflects the influence of the charismatic René Girard, then an associate professor in the Department of Romance Languages. An early advocate of what came to be broadly termed post-modernism, René despised “positivist” scholarship and historical, contextual, and traditional philosophical approaches to literary texts. As a result, my...Read More

Notes from My Year as a Cyber Investigator

by eea | Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 9:00 AM

Much of the creative energy in the University Press world is committed to pushing in new directions, whether they are new directions in research, advanced strategies for marketing and publicizing books, or new scheduling experiments. When I heard of the project—funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation—to create an online repository of JHUP’s out-of-print books , it felt like a different kind of experiment. True, it was an opportunity to continue experimenting with the exciting new mode of publishing Open Access books; but it was also an opportunity to bring back some of JHUP’s most important books that at the time only existed in libraries, used bookstores, and on the shelves of readers. This was a unique project that simultaneously looked forward and backward.

Before this project presented its many unique production and design problems—all handled fabulously by my expert colleagues—it presented one big author relations problem: in order to sign a new contract for each of these books, how does one contact with 200 people (or their living relatives) when so many of them have retired from their professional lives, and when the JHUP editors with whom they...Read More

Happy Open Access Week

by eea | Monday, October 21, 2019 - 9:00 AM

Who doesn’t love something for free? Free speech? Free Wi-Fi? Free beer? In celebration of the Tenth Open Access Week, I’ll throw in free scholarship. Yes, books and journals for free. No catch. Free. Take all you want. At Johns Hopkins University Press, we are committed to delivering impact for ideas, and now we’ll deliver selected content for free.

This might sound too good to be true, but through a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this is exactly what we mean. This fall, we will make two hundred classic backlist books open to the world on Project MUSE. (Earlier this year we also made another hundred titles open access.) These three hundred will join hundreds of other books and journals openly available to discover, explore, download, and read.

The move to open scholarship was first sparked in the world of science journals. Research supported by public funds and performed at public universities, the argument goes, shouldn’t be locked away in journals available only to those who could afford subscriptions. Publicly-funded research should be available to the public. Over time, the OA movement has expanded to some...Read More

City People: Black Baltimore in the Photographs of John Clark Mayden

by eea | Friday, October 18, 2019 - 12:00 PM

It began with a visit, on a calm December day, to a spacious, sunlit farmhouse on the edge of Leakin Park. There I encountered for the first time John Clark Mayden’s Baltimore “street portraits”—photographs set worlds away from that peaceful location … or so you might think.

I was there with Dr. Lawrence Jackson, Bloomberg Professor of History and English at Johns Hopkins, but also a Baltimore native and family friend of the Maydens. We gathered around the dining room table as John turned over his black-and-white prints one by one—a stunning display of luscious tones and deeply satisfying compositions that somehow suggest both spontaneity and thoughtful arrangement.

But, to be honest, my first impressions did not focus on these technical achievements. What I noticed first—more of a feeling than an observation, really—was the pop of connection. Through the interface of the photograph, I saw my fellow citizens, mostly Black, often framed by the doorways and windows of Baltimore’s iconic rowhouses, looking back at me with the full force of their gazes, or going about their business despite my presence. Whatever was happening in any given image, the photographer had opened a passageway through time, space, and race....Read More

Killing for the Republic: What is the Most Important Takeaway?

by eea | Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 12:00 PM

For thousands of years, people have written about the Roman Republic, how it achieved its empire, and why it collapsed. Scholars of each generation have specialized in different aspects of Rome’s republic. Modern scholars tend to focus on laws, institutions, power structures, and the geographical and historical circumstances that made the Roman Republic so successful. In the writing of my book, Killing for the Republic: Citizen-Soldiers and the Roman Way of War , I was indebted to these scholars, many of whom knew far more about their particular topic than I do. However, I have also noticed that it is currently out of fashion to consider the spiritual and moral fabric that bound the Roman Republic together.

This is perhaps part of a broader trend that downplays the public life of the spirit. Eric Voegelin opened his epic, eight-volume History of Political Ideas with the conviction that beliefs create a political people. Political units are evoked when convictions are articulated in language and linguistic symbols. In a modern age obsessed with legal systems, formal declarations, and political institutions, Voegelin argued that such things were secondary. Ideas make laws; myths create nations. A constitutional order does...Read More

The Ethics of Being Collected

by eea | Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - 3:00 PM

When I was writing The Collectors of Lost Souls (2008), the picaresque yet tragic story of investigations of the lethal neurological disorder called kuru, the ethics of this scientific enterprise were much on my mind. As the narrative began to cohere and gather force, however, the dramatic elements and episodic intensity of the disease’s history and the Fore people’s responses to their mysterious affliction took over the book, subordinating any moral tale. The story was a remarkable one, a disturbing one, combining a brain disease previously unknown to medical science, first contact between whites and a remote tribe during the 1950s in the highlands of New Guinea, the threat of extinction of the Fore people, sorcery allegations, cannibalism, slow viruses, infectious proteins, mad cows, two Nobel Prizes in physiology or medicine, and the conviction of the lead scientist, American D. Carleton Gajdusek, for his sexual molestation of an adolescent boy. Altogether, it was a story one couldn’t make up – indeed, there were times when I wondered whether readers would ever believe it. So, while the emphasis on the ethics of research relationships continued to pervade the narrative, the sheer weirdness, even malignity, of the story...Read More

Republic of Numbers: Genesis of the Book

by eea | Friday, October 11, 2019 - 12:00 PM

In 2014 Johns Hopkins Press editor Vince Burke suggested to me an intriguing idea for a unique book on the history of American mathematics. He proposed that I scan the history of the nation, and for each decade find an event of mathematical significance. The wider history of the decade (social, political, economic, military) could then be spun out from this mathematical episode. The book would consist of a series of decade by decade chapters. Vince envisioned this book to be welcoming to the general reader, not a dense scholarly monograph.

I found an ideal mix of constraint and freedom in working on a book that had been suggested by someone else. Right from the beginning there was a structure to my efforts that kept me from aimless wandering. But if it didn’t work out, well, it wasn’t my idea. I could it blame it on Vince and walk away without regrets. Initially I could view the task as a mere technical exercise in historical research: let’s see what can be said about American mathematics in the 1830s, the 1840s, the 1850s, etc. I must admit, however, that at some point I became fully invested in the project,...Read More

Baltimore Lives

by eea | Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 2:00 PM

Photography is my passion and I enjoy the process of bringing stories to life. With each facial expression, setting, or environment in the picture, there is a personal or communal untold story to be shared. The pictures in Baltimore Lives give life to the diverse and complex African-American culture of many people in Baltimore City.

These pictures depict details of urban black people in ordinary life. The images are not meant to demean or stereotype. Warm tone papers and sepia tone uncover their dignity. The lives of many of my subjects are captured going about their daily activities.

Media portrayals of Baltimore center on violence, poor housing, and education. While many of these components are Baltimore’s reality, they don’t represent Baltimore at its core. As people view my photographs, I hope the pictures give the viewers a deeper glimpse and appreciation for African-American life in Baltimore.

I grew up in West Baltimore and attended Union Baptist Church, a civil rights advocacy church. I was heavily influenced by the voting rights and desegregation activities that were spreading throughout the city.

In 1970, two years after the assassinations of Martin Luther King., Jr., and Robert...Read More

Golden Rice: The Imperiled Birth of a GMO Superfood

by eea | Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 12:00 PM

Golden Rice was unusual both in its origin and gestation. I had written an earlier book ( Regenesis , 2012) with the Harvard molecular biologist George Church, who was a man of exceptional intelligence and a wide reach of knowledge. I came to regard him as a person who knew everything. And so in 2016, when I read an interview with Church I believed what he said, which was: (1) that a product called Golden Rice was “ready” in 2002, (2) that the environmentalist organization Greenpeace was responsible for delaying its introduction for 13 years, with the result that (3) millions of people died, and (4) that Greenpeace was therefore guilty of a crime against humanity for this wanton act of mass murder. All this made me so mad that I decided more or less on the spot that I had to write a book about Golden Rice to inform the public of this unspeakable atrocity.

During the course of my research and writing, however, I gradually discovered that except for (3), all the other claims were false!

Golden Rice is form of rice that has been genetically engineered to contain beta carotene,...Read More