University Press Roundup: Colonial Legacy, the Post-Fact Age and Election Season Books

Check out this collection of 8 of the most interesting university press blog posts for this week. We aim to keep you informed, engaged, and part of the ongoing scholarly conversations.

1. Statues are falling but their colonial legacy is killing the planet clay-banks-Pcg6X4QG63M-unsplash

This summer, the Black Lives Matter protests drew attention to key colonial figures, and the business models that they represent. Whilst Coulston’s statue may be at the bottom of Bristol Dock, the joint-stock model of the corporation he ran is still very much alive, and it’s threatening all life on earth. (Manchester University Press)

2. What it’s like to be a black republican in 2020 

In the run up to the presidential election, Corey D. Fields, author of ‘Black Elephants in the Room’, reflects on how the face of black conservatives has shifted under the Trump administration. Read more about the ‘sellout critique’ and the ‘skeptical embrace’ here. (University of California Press)

3. Why Business Strategy needs to be Flexible Now More Than Ever

In these very unusual times, a traditional business strategy approach becomes difficult to maintain. David MacKay explores the benefits of a flexible process and the way in which it “offers new means by which the relevance and completeness of strategic decisions might be maintained, and the organisation readied for implementation work”. (Oxford University Press)

4. Visual Culture and the Climate Crisis

Lucas Hilderbrand and James Nisbet discuss the intersections of visual culture and the climate crisis. In an interesting and timely conversation they ask how you sustain scholarship in a field which is responding to climate emergency? Find out more about the visual work they’re excited about here. (University of California Press)

5. The Slippery Slope of the Human Gene Editing Debate national-cancer-institute-GcrSgHDrniY-unsplash

The human gene editing debate began sixty years ago, when eugenicist scientists wanted to use altered genes to “perfect the human species”. The debate is a slippery slope – at what point does morally ethical work, such as removing diseases, turn into an attempt to alter the human race? (Oxford University Press).

6. The post-fact age: How to teach news literacy

Kirsten Sutton provides practical tips on how to help children differentiate between fact and fiction in the FAKE NEWS era. Ensuring they understand the importance of checking for the source, the author, references and other tell-tale signs is key. Read about it here. (Cambridge University Press)

7. Noelle McAfee on our paranoid politics 

In a guest post for Columbia University Press, Noelle McAfee, author of ‘Fear of Breakdown’, analyses the current state of US politics, describing how the problem lies in “a mindset that is predisposed to latch on to delusions of persecution”. (Columbia University Press)

8. Election Season Books element5-digital-ThjUa4yYeX8-unsplash

In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election Stanford University Press have collated a list of must-read books which focus on voting, politics, history, rights, law, and social movements. Find out what should be on your bookshelf this month here. (Stanford University Press)

The Canon of European Theater / Canone teatrale europeo

The guest author of this post is S. E. Gontarski. He is the editor of “On Beckett: Essays and Criticism” published in 2014, and the Series Editor of Anthem Studies in Theatre and Performance.

The idea of a literary canon is generally anathema to most Anglo-American scholars, at least since the critical and theoretical revolutions of the 1960’s. A canon has tended to reify current hegemonies and to assume and enforce hierarchies. Historically, the consequences of this have been more exclusionary than inclusionary, operating as a means of solidifying power structures already in place and so denying a voice to others: ethnic, religious, and racial minorities, as well as women. It was the means of creating something akin to the holy writ of literature. But the idea of a literary canon in this series, particularly for theatrical works, is based on substantially different premises, none of which are exclusionary. It simply assumes that some works of art, culturally, even sociologically and anthropologically, have more impact and generate more commentary, tending to be more influential than others. Much of that impact can be the assertion of common ground but not such that everyone necessarily agrees with its premises, themes, and values. Often it is quite the contrary, since some works generate considerable cultural resistance. A culture may indeed gravitate toward works that reflect the current values of its members, but a work’s influence can be negative as well, at least at first, and so can also provide something of a point of shared resistance.

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The theatrical canon as a concept retains deep social implications in contemporary Europe. As the editors write in their preface to their book series, titled A Canon of European Drama?: “The canon is a way for us to be aware of what has united or could unite Europe, of what could be discarded or exchanged with other cultures in this world of globalization.” In this regard then, this book series, Canone teatrale europeo / Canon of European Drama, is an integral part of the larger issues of European unity and part of the development of Europe’s future. In his study, Penser l’Europe, Edgard Morin writes:

What is important about European culture is not just the main ideas (Christianity, humanism, reason, science) but rather these ideas and their opposites. The European spirit lies not just in plurality and change, but in dialogue between pluralities which bring about change. […] In other words, what matters in the life and Evolution of European culture is the fertilizing encounter between diversities, antagonisms, competitions and complementarities, that is to say their dialogic. [. . .] It is this dialogic that lies at the heart of European cultural identity, not any particular element or moment in it.

Furthermore, in his controversial study The End of History Francis Fukuyama insisted that his vision of liberal democracy was never linked to a specifically American model of social or political organization:

I believe that the European Union more accurately reflects what the world will look like at the end of history than the contemporary United States. The EU’s attempt to transcend sovereignty and traditional power politics by establishing a transnational rule of law is much more in line with a “post-historical” world than the Americans’ continuing belief in God, national sovereignty, and their military.

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In its broadest sense the study of an American theatrical text within the European Union allows us to examine the unfolding of such issues. Tennessee Williams’ second major play, A Streetcar Named Desire, was met with substantial resistance in both the U.S.A. and Europe throughout its initial years. The 1951 film version was subjected to substantial censorship imposed by the self-proclaimed guardians of American public morality. Likewise, Britain’s official censor, the Lord Chamberlain (still operating in 1949), demanded extensive cuts to the play – predominantly of sexually suggestive material – before licensing a British production. Additionally, the American film was restricted to audience members 16 years of age or older in Italy. Despite this, audiences flocked to performances and showings nonetheless, perhaps in some measure because of such resistance, and so attendance was a means of overcoming official opposition. The international draw of A Streetcar Named Desire has been, finally, nothing short of astonishing – despite its subject matter being raw and for some even considered crude, at least for its day.

In its first 50 years, for example, from 1947 to 1997, more than 20,000 productions of A Streetcar Named Desire were staged internationally, and the centenary celebrations of Williams’ birth have renewed international interest on that scale. Somehow, a play about familial sexual tensions in a southern American city, New Orleans, just after the Second World War, has resonated with international cultures and their audiences. It is in this cultural sense that we speak of A Streetcar Named Desire as a canonical work of American theater, of European theater, and of international theater.

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S. E. Gontarski is a writer, scholar and director, at whose request Samuel Beckett wrote the short play “Ohio Impromptu” (1981). Gontarski is the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University, where he specializes in twentieth-century Irish studies, in British, US and European modernism, and in performance theory. He is General Editor of the Anthem Studies in Theatre and Performance book series, and his Tennessee Williams, T-Shirt Modernism and the Refashionings of Theatre is forthcoming from Anthem Press in April 2021.

 

Talk of the Town: 8 Things that Happened in the Publishing Industry in September 2020

In September 2020, the world is still getting to grips with ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions, whilst schools and universities attempt to adjust to the ‘new normal’ as they begin an uncertain academic year.

That’s why Anthem Press has curated 8 note-worthy articles that contribute to a glimpse of the current state and future trajectory of the publishing industry. Whether data, news or commentary, we aim to keep you informed.

1. What are academic book publishers for?

Richard Fisher asks the ever-resonant question as to what, exactly, academic book publishers are for? In these troubled times, his think-piece aims to go beyond questioning the functionality of academic publishers, and instead focus on their purpose – the mission and not the role.

2. FT/ McKinsey business book of the year shortlist announced

There are six books competing for the £30,000 prize offered by FT/ McKinsey – each of them offering “insights into corporate culture and a post-pandemic world”. Vivian Hunt announced the shortlist earlier this month: find out which six made the pick here.

3. London library offer e-book loans for the first time pexels-ivo-rainha-1290141

In an increasingly online world, how can libraries adapt to offer the fast, remote access necessary – especially since the COVID-19 crisis? The London Library has begun to offer e-book loans for the first time – could this be the answer? Find out more here.

4. The high cost of academic publishing leaves Africa behind

Researchers are urging for reform in the accessibility of high-cost academic and scientific journals in order for scientists in under-funded countries, such as Africa, to be able to access information. Is there a “human right to science which is currently behind a paywall”?

5. NPD book cites a ‘switching of gears’ in the US market

In an analysis of the US book market, Kristen McClean has promising news for publishers: the market is seeing impressive growth since COVID-19 restrictions hindered the trading of physical retailers. Find out the statistics here.

6. The Frankfurt Bookfair heads into this year’s event with a virtual focus books-5053740_1920

Despite promising a hybrid fair earlier in the year, The Frankfurt Bookfair has had no choice but to switch to a fully digital event for October 2020. What does this mean for publishers, agents and authors? Tom Tivan questions what this means for the industry and the future of physical book fairs.

7. Academic Publishing in September 2020 – What’s the latest?

Featured in The London Book Fair’s Blog, academic publishing has taken the Independent Publishing Awards by storm! Read about new innovations in publishing, the launch of Association of University Press’s new website, and more here.

8. Gaps in academic communication network-3537401_1920

In an ever more global world, it can be surprising that we are still facing issues in communication between the global East and the global West – especially surrounding academic publishers and libraries. Tao Tao asks why, sometimes, do these different groups seem like two parallel worlds?

 

University Press Roundup: Protecting Living Waters, Post-9/11 Wars, and Why Culture is Bad For You

Check out this collection of 8 of the most interesting university press blog posts for this week. We aim to keep you informed, engaged, and part of the ongoing scholarly conversations.

1. Bring living waters back to our planet

photo-1563054694-9ec9edd6a3eaRivers, lakes, and wetlands support extraordinary diversity. Yet they are losing this biodiversity two to three times faster than forests and oceans. Accompanying these declines are severe losses in the services that freshwater ecosystems provide to billions of people, including impoverished and vulnerable communities. Despite irrefutable evidence of an ongoing collapse, coordinated action to reverse the decline of freshwater biodiversity remains weak or lacking, at local, regional, and global levels (Oxford University Press).

2. Observations on the anniversary of the Partition of India

What do the Google commercial “Reunion,” the Bollywood film Raazi (Agree), Shauna Singh Baldwin’s award-winning novel What The Body Remembers  and the oral history project 1947 Partition Archive all have in common? Kavita Daiya writes that they all do transnational memory work and remember the mass migrations of the 1947 Partition of India (Temple University Press).

3. The Chilling Truth: Post-9/11 Wars Have Displaced 37 Million People

photo-1565476533307-68eda05cd76dThis week, in recognition of the nineteenth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and  the twentieth consecutive year of U.S. war, a team of students from the American University Public Anthropology Clinic and author David Vine released a major report with chilling finding: They estimate that the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars have displaced at least 37 million people (University of California Press).

4. Translation Month! Celebrating Works of Literature and History from Japan, Korea, and Russia

September is National Translation Month, and Columbia University Press is celebrating by featuring books in Japan, Korea, and Russia. Peruse the book excerpts and enter a drawing for your chance to win one of the featured titles (Columbia University Press).

5. The Ethics and Politics of Space

How do we navigate space ethically in the midst of two national emergencies? The pandemic requires us to be distanced, keeping largely to our private spaces. The other emergency, enduring structural racism, prompts the collective occupation of public space. Read an essay on the ethics and politics of space and how the former is fundamentally ethical while the latter is fundamentally political (Stanford University Press).

6. Culture is bad for you: inequality in the cultural and creative industries

photo-1503095396549-807759245b35Across the world we can see lockdown and reopening presenting significant challenges to those parts of the cultural sector dependent on visitors and on audiences. However, this is not the whole story. COVID-19 has exposed and reinforced the longstanding, embedded, structural inequalities that characterise the cultural sector (Manchester University Press).

7. Why Containment Works: Power, Proliferation and Preventive War

Why Containment Works by Wallace J. Thies examines the conduct of American foreign policy during and after the Cold War through the lens of applied policy analysis. Check out this Q&A that the author responded to at the time of the #ISA2020 convention (Cornell University Press).

8. Feeling Flat: London Housing in Times of Change and Crisis

Lisa C. Robertson examines in detail model dwellings, gender-segregated housing, settlement housing, and the garden city in 19th century London. These forms of housing were radical in the sense that each attempted to understand and interpret changing social patterns and social relationships, and as such these new forms of domestic architecture played a significant role in shaping both individual and collective identity (Edinburgh University Press).

Talk of the Town: 7 Things that Happened in the Publishing Industry in August 2020

In August 2020, the world continues to grapple with social unrest alongside reckoning with uncertainties of the upcoming school year.

That’s why Anthem Press has curated 7 note-worthy articles that contribute to a glimpse of the current state and future trajectory of the publishing industry. Whether data, news or commentary, we aim to keep you informed.

1. Reading across the generations

The reading habits of people in the UK can provide golden insight for publishers. Recent research has found that millennials read more books than any other generation but the silent generation read for the longest! Check out the full report of each generation’s preferred genres and reading habits here.

photo-1570546388681-fc9690c81a512. Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day This Saturday

Independent Bookstore Day was this past Saturday, August 29. The event was administered by the American Booksellers Association and more than 600 stores participated, up from 580 last year. Typically, bookstores hold in-store promotions and readings, but this year the celebration featured a series of virtual events. How did you celebrate or support indie bookstores this year?

3. Sustainable Open Access – What’s Next?

Several factors appear to be converging to accelerate the move toward Open Access. To start, as many publishers made their COVID-related content freely available, participants in the scholarly publishing ecosystem began to question why this content was not open from its inception, adding perceived pressure to move to OA publishing.

4. Why Organizing Workers in the Book Industry Is So Damn Hard

Workers in the book industry often suffer poor conditions and low pay, but are supposed to feel grateful for the privilege of working near books. Casting off such illusions is the first step to organizing publishers and booksellers, and fighting the exploitation that thrives in the hallowed culture industry. Why is organizing the book industry such hard work?

photo-1523474253046-8cd2748b5fd25. US Publishers, Authors, Booksellers Call Out Amazon’s ‘Concentrated Power’ in the Market

The leading American professional associations for authors, publishers, and booksellers wrote to the House Antitrust Subcommittee about what they call Amazon’s ‘scale of operation’ and ‘share of the market’ and proposed four ‘concerns and recommendations’ for the subcommittee.

6. How book publishing has filled the coronavirus entertainment void

August is known in the book industry as the “dead zone,” when agents and editors take their vacations ahead of one of the busiest months of the publishing calendar, September. But there are no summer doldrums this year: books have remained one of the few forms of entertainment able to proceed relatively unaffected — and they’re successfully filling the void.

photo-1588912914017-923900a347107. In Praise of Textbooks

When schools closed this spring, many parents felt overwhelmed trying to help their children participate in distance learning. But it doesn’t have to be that hard with the help of textbooks. After all, textbooks were designed to distribute essential curriculum under any circumstances and a global pandemic certainly fits into the category of “any circumstances.”

 

Back to Normal?

This is a guest post by Dr David Krieger and Dr Andréa Belliger, authors of the forthcoming title Hacking Digital Ethics.

Under the title, “There will be no ‘back to normal“ NESTA, the UK’s innovation think tank, published their views on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. They admit that speculations about what the future will bring are only speculations but point out that it is important to predict what is coming to be better prepared. This is precisely the lesson that the pandemic teaches. Already in 2014, Bill Gates held a TED talk in which he prophesied everything that is happening today. But no one was prepared. So we should make an effort to look into the crystal ball and see what could come out of all this.

One of the results of the pandemic is that it is finally obvious to everyone that we are global. Not only did global connectivity and flows of people spread the virus throughout the world in a matter of weeks, but subsequent shortages of protective materials and medical equipment showed international dependencies. The nationalist reaction of closing borders and blocking flows of people and materials represents a “lockdown” mentality aimed to disrupt connectivity and stop the flow of the virus, but at the cost of disrupting the economic, social, and political foundations of the global network society. Politically, anti-globalist factions see themselves justified, whereas those who see the nation-state and its populist supporters as outdated point to the need to strengthen international organizations, such as the WHO and the United Nations. Following these two possible trajectories into the economic realm, some expect a reorganization of supply chains and production favoring national independence under the regime of stronger centralized control and regulation even to the point of nationalizing some industries, while others look to decentralized and networked organizations that alone are capable of dealing with the complexity of the situation. The left is calling for a universal basic income and increased government support for those who have lost jobs and income, while the right is calling for deregulation to spur innovation and the quick development and deployment of new business models and new products and services.

More interesting than the rehearsal of well-known political mythologies is the role of science and technology in the post-pandemic world. Some see the growing dependence of politics on science as a trend toward technocracy, whereas others see how science is unable to deal with the pressing moral and social concerns that the pandemic raises. On the one hand, society must be guided by scientific evidence and not political ideology, while on the other hand, scientists cannot tell us what values and visions for the future society should follow. Is it right to “sacrifice” lives to “preserve” economic prosperity? How much money is a human life worth? When is life no longer “worth” living? Calls for economic sacrifices in the name of generational solidarity no longer go unquestioned. And these are questions that cannot be answered by science. The growing need for a viable vision of a global future will (hopefully) shift political discourse away from traditional ideologies toward new horizons.

Even if the impact of medical science on politics may be short-lived and ambiguous, the impact of digital technologies on society is enormous and will continue. Both in the private and the public sectors, in education, healthcare, research, and other areas, organizations of all kinds have realized that home office, virtual delivery of services and products, virtual collaborative work, new work, and decentralization function very well and reduce costs as well as solve pressing environmental problems. Many digital immigrants have been quickly and even forcibly “naturalized” into the digital world, and traditional top-down, command and control management has received perhaps a death blow. There is a clear need to reduce bureaucracy and cut red tape, not only in healthcare but in all areas of society. The virus has disabled not only many people, but also many traditional convictions about social and economic order, about the way things have to be done.

A further impact of the pandemic will probably lead to increasing demands for transparency and open information. Already many accuse China of dangerous censorship and secrecy with regard to information about the outbreak. Scientists have joined in a worldwide exchange of data and research. Publishers have torn down paywalls. Open access to information of all kinds is considered a priority. Intellectual property claims are becoming suspect. In addition to this, governments are deploying tracking apps, and citizens are accepting more disclosure of so-called “personal information.” In the trade-off between liberty and security/health, security seems to have better cards. This becomes even more apparent when we consider that the shift of more governmental and business activities into the cyber realm will bring greater dangers of cyber criminality and cyber warfare, which in turn demand much greater investments in cybersecurity, or indeed, entirely new concepts of security and accompanying social and organizational changes.

Taken together, it appears that in the wake of the pandemic, we are moving faster towards the data-driven global network society than ever before. Some have predicted that the pandemic will end the “techlash,” since what we need to survive is more information and not less about everyone and everything. This information needs to be analyzed and used as quickly as possible, which spurs on investments in AI and Big Data analytics. Calls for privacy, for regulation of tech giants, and for moratoriums on the deployment of tracking, surveillance, and AI are becoming weaker and losing support throughout the world. Perhaps traditional notions of civil liberties need to be revised and updated for a world in which connectivity, flow, transparency, and participation are the major values.

 

Dr. David J. Krieger is an American/Swiss philosopher and social scientist. He is currently co-director of the Institute for Communication & Leadership, Lucerne, Switzerland. His work focuses on communication theory, actor-network theory, social systems theory, new media, semiotics, hermeneutics, intercultural communication and associated fields.

Dr. Andréa Belliger is prorector of the Teachers’ Training University of Lucerne, Switzerland. She is also co-director of the Institute for Communication & Leadership in Lucerne. Her work focuses on communication science, new media, actor-network theory, eHealth, eSociety, and social media.

[Originally posted on http://interpretingnetworks.ch/ and reproduced here with permission from the author.]