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 and reproduced here with permission from the author.]

Theatre and/as Adaptation

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.

Although he was savvy enough to warn his French publisher of “this adaptation business” as requests for English language rights for En attendant Godot began to arrive in Paris in mid-1953, Samuel Beckett seems to have had only the scantest idea of how completely commercial theatre was imbricated in “this adaptation business” (The Letters of Samuel Beckett [hereafter LSB], 1941-1956, Volume II, 2011, 379). By early May 1953, Beckett was responding to a specific proposition from American writer and director, Garson Kanin, who was already working with his Broadway colleague, Thornton Wilder, to adapt En attendant Godot. After Beckett’s warning, his French publisher, Jérôme Lindon, communicating through French producer and intermediary, Denise Tual, acknowledged that English language performance rights were still available (LSB, 2011, p. 380n1). Two days later he received another inquiry, this time, directly from London agent Rosica Colin, asking about the English language rights to all of his work and, further, proposing a club performance of Godot. Beckett replied on 19 May:

Re English and American rights to my work in French I think you would be well advised to get in touch with my editor [i.e., publisher] Monsieur Jérôme Lindon [. . . ]. He knows better than I how things stand. I am not even sure that they are still available (LSB, 2011, p. 380, 381n1).

785px-Waiting_For_Godot_2016The strictures he would subsequently impose on performances of his theatre works were one response to such reservations about adaptation as he was beginning to be drawn into the world of commercial theater where adaptation was the norm, although he would be less than consistent, even whimsical at times in enforcing those strictures. In 1953, however, Beckett’s response to the possibility of “adaptation” now seems mild, understated. He seems to have intuited, at least, that theatre works always have something of a flexibility, an elasticity — in short, an adaptability — to the point of multiple configurations. Producers, theater directors, actors, and translators have been theatre’s chief re-configurers, but the author himself would finally enter “this adaptation business” to recast his work through his various and multiple creative roles, and he understood, finally, that theater by its nature is malleable; all performance is adaptation. Beckett himself plunged into the “adaptation business” by 1962 as he re-rendered, perhaps even re-authored, Robert Pinget’s radio play “La Manivelle” as “The Old Tune,” both versions published by one of his British publishers, John Calder. Beckett’s rendition is acknowledged thus: “English adaptation by Samuel Beckett.” We might say the same of his directorial debut, re-rendering Pinget’s “L’Hypothese,” which he directed with actor Pierre Chabert in 1962, the work described by its publisher as follows:

C’est la conférence improvisée, bafouillante, coléreuse, très drôle d’un écrivain qui raconte l’histoire on ne peut plus fumeuse d’un manuscrit qui aurait été jeté dans un puits, mais rien n’est moins sûr, car il n’y a alentour aucun puits et il se pourrait bien que le manuscrit soit surtout fait de pages blanches.

[It is the improvised, babbling, screwy, angry, very funny lecture by a writer who tells the vague, implausible story of a manuscript that ought to have been thrown into a well, but nothing is less certain, because there are no wells around and it could be that the manuscript is mostly made of blank pages.]

One direct parallel of “this [theatrical] adaptation business” may be with the world of film where the issues are often posed in terms of contrasting theories. On the one hand, the auteur theory of filmmaking, coined by Andrew Sarris, refers principally, or at least initially, to French New Wave filmmakers. Associated with the journal Cahiers du Cinéma in the late 1950s and 1960s, the auteur theory views the director as the author, “auteur,” of the work and so in control of the entire process from earliest notes to final editing and showing. Such a tradition continues through a new New Wave of contemporary French filmmakers; through the critically acclaimed films of Olivier Assayas, Jacques Audiard, the Dardenne brothers, Michael Haneke and Francois Ozon. On the other hand, Pauline Kael, one of Sarris’s most ardent critics, advocated for a more collective and collaborative mode of real word filmmaking. That is, the work of art is not the product of a single individual’s inspired efforts but the result of myriad collaborators and a cultural confluence of economic, political and a plurality of creative forces of which the generating artist is only a part.

A collateral question arises concerning the reproduction of the cultural artifact, and in theatre, which entails frequent, if not nightly, reconfigurations. Amid broad cultural assumptions of originality and authenticity, an issue often related to cultural property, is the nagging issue of whether reproduction is, necessarily and by definition, a second order of creation, inferior, a fake, or whatever the antonym of authentic is. Is it a copy, merely a simulation of something deemed original — or, itself, a new original, a new creation, entity or event, the position advocated by Orson Welles, particularly for his Shakespeare films? Welles often refused to call his film of Franz Kafka’s The Trial an adaptation, as he told BBC interviewer Huw Wheldon shortly after completing the film:

WHELDON: Do you have any compunction about changing a masterpiece?

WELLES: Not at all, because film is quite a different medium. Film should not be a fully illustrated, all talking, all moving version of a printed work, but should be itself, a thing of itself. In that way it uses a novel in the same way that a playwright might use a novel — as a jumping off point from which he will create a completely new work. So no, I have no compunction about changing a book. If you take a serious view of filmmaking, you have to consider that films are not an illustration or an interpretation of a work, but quite as worthwhile as the original.

WHELDON: So it’s not a film of the book, it’s a film based on the book?

WELLES: Not even based on. It’s a film inspired by the book, in which my collaborator and partner is Kafka. That may sound like a pompous thing to say, but I’m afraid that it does remain a Welles film and although I have tried to be faithful to what I take to be the spirit of Kafka, the novel was written in the early twenties, and this is now 1962, and we’ve made the film in 1962, and I’ve tried to make it my film because I think that it will have more validity if it’s mine.

Such issues are at root Platonic, or at least they reach back to and have been framed by Plato’s ethics of representation. Plato was not, however, so simple a dualist. He distinguished between the worlds of essences and that of appearances noting degrees of appearances, reproduction or representation, wherein some icons or images approach the transcendent Idea or essences, and others, notably simulacra, are false or inauthentic appearances.Is theatre then, like all art, always fake, a re-presentation, a re-production of some, often remote, authentic original; the work only and always already a copy, a reproduction, a simulation, a theatrical script itself, a framework for interpretations and so of adaptations — or is there no phenomenal original, the work as presented itself iconic and so its own essence?

As an aesthetician and a hands-on, practical man of the theatre, Beckett would wrestle with such theoretical and philosophical issues as he immersed himself further and further into the world of practical performance, and he would learn over a 30-year theatrical career that the elasticity of texts, subject to a myriad of cultural forces and the collaborative nature of performance itself, the intercession of multiple artists into the process of its creation that is “this adaptation business,” are theatre’s common currency, unavoidably part of its ecology, and so adaptation is the currency of performative art, not its exception. Perhaps even more so in the hands of commercial theater managers, the pros, the adepts of Broadway and the West End, who are explicitly driven by economic and political forces. Authors are generally not part of that ecology. A case in point involves playwright Tennessee Williams. Writing in The New York Times on 2 November 2003, Jason Zinoman cites Kenneth Tynan’s comments on the original New York production of Williams’s play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:


When the legendary theater critic Kenneth Tynan saw the 1955 Broadway premiere of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” directed by Elia Kazan, he thought something was amiss. “[. . .] there were moments of unaccountable wrongness, as if a kazoo had intruded into a string quartet,” he wrote in an essay for Mademoiselle magazine.

Tynan discovered the source of his discontent when he compared Tennessee Williams’s original 1954 script with the Broadway version, which included a revamped third act, with changes recommended by Kazan. “The kazoo,” Tynan wrote, “was Kazan.”

Kazan had encouraged Williams to soften the play’s bleak conclusion for a Broadway audience.

The published record of this collaboration suggests almost two different plays, a situation that rankled Williams. (More forthcoming in Tennessee Williams, T-shirt Modernism and the Refashionings of Theater. London: Anthem Books [Anthem Impact Series]. April 2021).

In the world of performance then, questions of production and reproduction, of originals and copies, of essences and simulacra, of purity and corruption, are questions of adaptation and so matters of degree rather than of kind.

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.

University Press Roundup: Students and the 21st Century Job Search, Remembering Hiroshima and Cultural Canons

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. How to prepare students for jobs in the 21st century


After analyzing 142,000 job advertisements, the Educational Testing Service has identified the following highly requested “21st century skills”: oral communication (28%), written communication (23%), collaboration (22%), and problem solving (19%). How can higher education incorporate these cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills into their courses? (Oxford University Press).

2. Independent Publishing in India – The Story of Tulika Books

Columbia University Press celebrates Tulika Books’s 25 years of independent publishing from a broad left and democratic perspective and producing cutting-edge scholarship. As an influential member of India’s growing publishing scene, Tulika is committed to innovation and believes in taking risks.

3. What Does a Strong Book Proposal Look Like? Editor Maura Roessner Takes Out the Guesswork

Need help constructing your book proposal? There’s resources here! In this video, UC Press Senior Editor Maura Roessner offers guidance that is invaluable for authors at any stage of their careers. Here she demystifies the academic publishing process, revealing what kind of manuscripts academic presses are looking for (University of California Press).

hiroshima4. Remembering Hiroshima

James L. Nolan, Jr. remembers the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in this excerpt from his book Atomic Doctors: Conscience and Complicity at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age, an unflinching examination of the moral and professional dilemmas faced by physicians who took part in the project (Harvard University Press).

5. What Is the Point of Literary Criticism?

There are many ongoing debates on how one should engage in literary interpretation. However, Patrick Fessenbecker moves to a more fundamental question: What is the point of literary criticism? Why does this practice merit the sustained intellectual energy so many scholars have devoted to it? (Edinburgh University Press).

quarantine6. What Kind of Life Are We Saving?

Bernard-Henri Lévy considers how quarantine and global stay-at-home orders have changed the meaning of life in this excerpt of his new book, The Virus in the Age of Madness (2020) and quotes Little Red Riding Hood: “Beware the open road; there lie big, bad wolves—stay home” (Yale University Press).

7. How we decide on cultural canons

Many different canons exist, from literary, film, art, music, and religion; and they change over time as humanity attempts to preserve and transmit its cultural memory. But who chooses what will be included in the canon? When is this selection made? What is valued in order to make something canonical? Theodora A. Hadjimichael looks for answers from the most stable of the literary canons of ancient Greece (Oxford University Press).

indigenous8. International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Duke University Press celebrates International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9 with a roundup of recent scholarship in Indigenous studies, from speculative fiction to reinvented travel guides.

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

In July 2020, the world has seemed to have adjusted to the new normal, allowing us to start having conversations around the question, “Where do we go from here?”

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.

800px-Oxford_-_Oxford_University_Press 1. University Presses in the Age of COVID-19 How Press Directors are Navigating the Challenges of the Pandemic

Ithaka S+R conducted conversations with university press directors regarding their transition to a remote workforce. They found that most presses were coping well by putting health and safety of employees first, staying connected, maintaining productivity, and embracing change. However, the financial outlook of FY 2020-2021 seems to be pessimistic.

2. 2019 was the biggest year ever for UK publishing

The statistics are in: the value of UK publisher sales of books, journals and rights/coeditions combined rose to £6.3bn in 2019, 4% higher than in 2018 and 20% higher than in 2015. Both print and digital sales income has grown and exports remain crucial to the industry’s success. Are the numbers still optimistic during and post-pandemic?


3. How technology literally changes our brains 

Speaking, reading, and now the internet have each changed our brains in different ways. The internet allows us to access lots of information very quickly — the more, the better and the fast, the better. What we lost sight of was how we actually take that information in. Instead of having a rich base of information, our brains only process and remember just bits of information.

4. 10 Principles of Simplifying Access to Keep Libraries at the Center of the Research Process

Digital content and the technology to support information retrieval opened up an unparalleled opportunity for research. However, getting from the point of discovery to the digital full text has never been straightforward. Publishers, libraries and technology companies are developing new initiatives to simplify and expedite access to authoritative content, including Third Iron and LibKey.

5. Ask The Interns: What Is The Value Of Internships?

Internships can either help people from diverse backgrounds to enter the publishing industry, or exclude them from doing so, depending on how they are set up. Former interns answer, “How do internships add value for the individual, the organization, and our industry?”

6. Freedom of expression is complex, challenging – and crucial

Amidst discussion of free expression in the UK and the US, #cancelculture on social media, a letter signed by literary figures warning of ‘rising censoriousness,’ Daniel Gorman, director of English PEN, discusses how to navigate freedom of expression in a way that recognises the human rights of others and encourages mutual respect and social intercourse.

800px-Toby_Morris_at_book_launch7. Book Launches Get More Creative

Authors, shut out of holding in-person events at bookstores, are getting more creative and collaborative when it comes to promoting their books, from drive-in book launches to virtual events. Barbara Peters discovers, “It’s crucial to step outside our comfort and experience zone.”

8. Wimbledon BookFest to hold physical event in September

Wimbledon BookFest is running a live, physical event, called Last Days of Summer, in September, featuring a keynote speech from Matthew Syed. It will run from 12th to 13th September in an open marquee on Wimbledon Common (at reduced capacity) featuring inspiring speakers and bestselling adult and children’s authors.