JHU Press Blog

Modernist Literature and Communist Ideology: A Look into Red Modernism with Mark Steven

by eea | Friday, December 1, 2017 - 12:00 PM

I first started writing Red Modernism for the same reason I write most things: to work through a problem whose answer, tantalizing as it might be, just doesn’t come easily. The problem, in this case, evolved from a contradiction between my enthusiasm for certain types of modernist literature and my commitment to a certain kind of politics. To put things starkly, I’m a communist that spends way too much time reading poetry written by a fascist – namely Ezra Pound, who is the first of Red Modernism’s three major case studies, followed by William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky.

My intuition, going into this book, was that even if a poet might be from the enemy camp, maybe their poetry would have other things to say about the matter. It has been argued elsewhere that there is an essential link between poetry and communism, because poets deal in language and because language is common property. I’m not entirely sure that’s the case – it’s all a bit too abstract for my liking – but there remain numerous good reasons to think the two as related, and with specifically modernist poetry there is also a relatively unique historical...Read More

Letting Go of Results: The Education of William James and My Own Medical Crisis

by krm | Friday, December 1, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Life is a soul school, and some classes are harder than others.

For decades after his death in 1910, William James served as the genial uncle figure of American philosophy. He was famous as a popularizer, even though his tendencies to offer insights connecting disparate parts of life and contrasting outlooks reinforced his reputation for lack of rigor. Recently, research on the relations of dual contrasts between religion and science, mind and body, and philosophical thinking and lived experience has increased appreciation for James’s ways of thinking. My book, Young William James Thinking , tells the story of James’s evolution toward his mediating postures, and writing the book brought home to me the significance of connecting theory and life.

In December 2003, I was working on chapter 2, “Between Scientific and Sectarian Medicine.” However, in previous weeks, blurry vision in my left eye was making reading increasingly difficult. My eye doctor conducted some tests, including an MRI, “just to rule some things out.” A few days later, the doctor called to say that the MRI results explained my blurry vision: I had a brain tumor growing on my pituitary gland...Read More

The Tragedy of Eugenic Sterilization with Molly Ladd-Taylor

by eea | Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 12:00 PM

Fixing the Poor: Molly Ladd-Taylor’s new take on eugenic sterilization

Even in these polarized times, everyone can agree that the sterilization of more than 63,000 Americans under state eugenics laws was wrong. Most Americans recoil from the idea of improving human society by limiting the reproduction of the “unfit.” The 1927 Supreme Court decision allowing the sterilization of Carrie Buck, a white “feebleminded” unwed mother, is now seen as one of the Court’s worst mistakes. Yet the national consensus against eugenics does little to explain how state sterilization policies developed or how to prevent them from developing again.

Eugenics laws are typically blamed on scientific hubris and the arrogance of elites. My research, however, shows that state sterilization policies reflected many worldviews and political agendas. Eugenic sterilization was driven as much by state and county welfare politics as by crude theories of genetic improvement.

Thirty-two states passed sterilization laws between 1907 and 1937, but who was targeted and the number of people sterilized varied. Fixing the Poor explores one state’s policy, focusing on how it was implemented and how it affected ordinary people. Instead of examining a state with the...Read More

Writing in the Digital Age: A Tour from Blog to Book with Carolyn Thomas

by eea | Monday, November 27, 2017 - 10:36 AM

A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease : my blog-turned-book project! :By Carolyn Thomas

Part One: The Pitch

"Have you considered writing a book based on your excellent Heart Sisters blog ? I would love to explore the possibility with you."

The date was September 9, 2015, and this was the message that was about to change the next two years of my life. It came from Jacqueline Wehmueller, then Executive Editor at Johns Hopkins University Press.

After many subsequent conversations, Jackie asked me to submit a standard proposal package including a sample chapter and a draft outline of a 10-chapter table of contents. She also sent me a multi-page author questionnaire, essentially asking "Why this book? Why now? And why are you the person to write this book?"--to which I answered (but only to myself): "Ahem. You called ME, remember?”

Another important question that Jackie and I had explored was this one: why would anybody buy a book when they could read much of the same content free on...Read More

Race and the Urban Landscape: The Historical and Social Impact of Skyscrapers with Adrienne Brown

by eea | Monday, November 20, 2017 - 4:26 PM

The skyscraper is certainly not an understudied building typology. It has received plenty of scholarly attention in the century-and-a-half of its existence. A recent search for skyscrapers in the Library of Congress catalog resulted in 391 listings, which includes scholarship that situates this architecture in relationship to capitalism, gender, engineering, construction, economics, façade design, the fine arts, and cinema. So you might be wondering, as I did at almost every stage of writing this book: What new is there to stay about this very very well-studied building type?

Although saying something new about the skyscraper was an admittedly daunting task given the many amazing and brilliant books that have been written about this structure, my book works to forge new ground by focusing on its relationship with race. Moreover, that race is one of the few neglected aspects of the skyscraper’s well-studied historiography suggests something broader about all the things we don’t yet know about both race and architecture. By studying how writers described and engaged the skyscraper, I argue that we get a new story about the skyscraper as both a fount of racial anxiety but also a site of major experimentation for considering how...Read More

Singing with Specific Detail: The Art of the Short Story with Lee Conell

by eea | Friday, November 17, 2017 - 9:00 AM

The story I sometimes tell about why I write stories begins like this: The summer after second grade I was having an imaginary pie fight with my imaginary brothers and sisters. I’m an only child and I’d never been in a pie fight, but I had watched many, many hours of cartoons and I knew what to do. I jumped around on my bed, ducking from imaginary pies, darting around pillows. My room was small and my bed was low down, not even a real bed, but a big box in which our apartment building’s new elevator doors had been delivered. My mom had asked my dad to bring the box in from the garbage room, and reimagined it: Now the elevator box had a mattress on it, had many pillows on it had, had many stuffed animals on it. As I jumped on the elevator box I swerved to avoid the stuffed animals and, while I pretended to throw an imaginary pie, landed weirdly on my ankle.

I screamed out. I couldn’t walk.

When my foot wasn’t better the next day, my mom took me to the doctor, and my ankle got put in a cast. I’d...Read More

The Two Sides of Virgil

by bjs | Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 11:00 AM

The first issue of Classical World's 111th volume takes a wide-ranging look at the 50th anniversary of the so-called "Harvard School" of Vergilian interpretation. Guest editor Julia Hejduk of Baylor University put together a series of articles by rising and established Vergilian scholars as well as 22 short essays by some of the most eminent Vergilian scholars of the past half century. She joins us to talk about the importance of these essays in the context of Vergilian scholarship as well as the academic community at large.

Audio titled Julia Hejduk, Classical World

Read More

Challenges of Early Modern Women

by bjs | Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 11:00 AM

A recent special issue of L'Esprit Createur honored Régine Reynolds-Cornell , professor emerita of French at Agnes Scott College, whose research focused on women writers in the Renaissance, especially Marguerite de Navarre. Judy Kem , associate professor in the Department of Romance Languages at Wake Forest University, guest edited the issue, which developed from two sessions at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in October 2013. The essays focused on Marguerite’s role in the Querelle des femmes, an early modern debate on the status of women. Kem joined us for a Q&A on the issue.

How important is it to develop conference sessions into issues of a print journal?

Developing conference sessions helps to draw people from different institutions to exchange ideas on a single theme, and it gives potential contributors initial feedback from fellow scholars in order to revise and expand their papers into higher quality articles. It’s a good way to advertise a special issue as well. Most of the contributors presented on Marguerite de Navarre at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference in Puerto Rico in October...Read More

The Best Laid Plans: A Discussion of American Grand Strategy with Ionut Popescu

by eea | Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 2:31 PM

Henry Kissinger once wrote, “In retrospect all successful policies seem preordained. Leaders like to claim prescience for what has worked, ascribing to planning what usually starts as a series of improvisations.” And yet, discussions of American Grand Strategy, both in Washington and in academia, often take for granted that following a long-term design is a key to success. Policymakers are usually criticized when they take seemingly incremental actions based on short-term considerations. But could such actions actually converge into a successful emergent strategy over time? Such a view is prevalent in the business world, where the idea of a successful Emergent Strategy is not as uncommon as it is in the field of security studies. When one examines key policies and strategies adopted by US presidents over the past seventy years, as I do in this book, the relation between following a coherent long-term grand strategy and achieving success in foreign policy is much more tenuous than commonly assumed.

There is a narrative inside Washington that credits American diplomat George Kennan with designing a Containment grand strategy that successfully guided America to victory in the Cold War, but this view is grounded more on myth than historical evidence....Read More

Make Your Voice Heard in 2017's Town Square: Tips to Effectively Participate in the Twitter Conversation

by eea | Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 10:22 AM

Johns Hopkins University Press is excited to continue participating in the AAUP's #UPWeek. Today JHUP's Editorial Director, Greg Britton, writes about the most effective use of Twitter in the scholarly sphere #ReadUP.

Few social media platforms have had the moment Twitter seems to be having. It has become our town square, street corner, or Roman forum. For those new to Twitter, it can seem cacophonous, a schizophrenic news crawl. Everyone declaims. With a sitting president so willing to use it in the early morning hours to issue offhanded comments and policy pronouncements, watching Twitter has become essential.

For scholars, however, Twitter offers a unique chance to connect with your peers, other readers, and a larger public audience. It can be a conduit to work being done in your field and an informal way to communicate with each other. As an acquisitions editor, I look at Twitter as one of the ways I stay connected with hundreds of scholars. It is also a place I watch for potential authors. In addition to other qualities, I know that writers who are engaged with their communities, ones who have a platform for promoting their ideas, will succeed. As a...Read More