Commentary

2015 PROSE Awards

February 20, 2015
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2015 PROSE Awards

Now in their 39th year, the PROSE Awards honor “the very best in professional and scholarly publishing by bringing attention to distinguished books, journals, and electronic content in over 40 categories,” as determined by a jury of peer publishers, librarians, and medical professionals.

As is the usual case with this kind of acknowledgement, we are honored and delighted to share several University of Chicago Press books that were singled-out in their respective categories as winners or runners-up for the 2015 PROSE Awards.

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Kurt Schwitters: Space, Image, Exile

By Megan R. Luke

Art History, Honorable Mention

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House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again

By Atif Mian and Amir Sufi

Economics, Honorable Mention

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American School Reform: What Works, What Fails, and Why

By Joseph P. McDonald

Winner, Education Practice

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The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools

By Christopher A. Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski

Winner, Education Theory

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Earth’s Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters

By Martin J. S. . . .

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Alice Kaplan on Patrick Modiano

January 7, 2015
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Alice Kaplan on Patrick Modiano

 

Below follows, in full, an interview with Alice Kaplan on the career of recent Nobel Laureate Patrick Modiano. The interview was originally published online via the French-language journal Libération, shortly after the Nobel announcement.

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The American academic Alice Kaplan, author of the outstanding The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach, and more recently, Dreaming in French, teaches Modiano at Yale University, where she chairs the Department of French. She evokes for us the particular aura of the French Nobel Laureate in the United States.

Is Patrick Modiano well known in American universities?

There have been sixteen PhD dissertations on Modiano in American universities since 1987, a significant number, given that he is a both foreigner and a contemporary novelist. Yale University Press has just published a trilogy of novels originally published by the Editions du Seuil under the title Suspended Sentences. Modiano’s attraction comes from his style, which is laconic and beautiful but also quite accessible, in English as well as in French. Then there is the particular genre he invented, inspired by detective fiction, familiar to American readers. The obstacle is obviously the number of references to specific places in Paris that are . . .

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#UPWeek: FF is really TBT

November 14, 2014
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#UPWeek: FF is really TBT

Today is the last day of #UPWeek—so goes with it another successful tour of university press blogs. On that note, Friday’s theme is one of following: What are your must reads on the internet? Whom do you follow on social media? Which venues and scholars are doing right? University of Illinois Press tracks the geopolitics of imagination, University of Minnesota Press (hi, Maggie!) author John Hartigan explains the foibles of scholars on social media, University of Nebraska Press delivers another social media primer, NYU Press teaches us Key Words in Cultural Studies, Island Press tracks the interests of its editors, and Columbia University Press talks their University Press Round-Up.

Us? We’re running with the idea that history and progress aren’t synonymously bound. The way forward with media is often the way back or through, or at least a trip to the past demonstrates that the seed for new forms of mediation are (apologies for this) always already planted. I realize this makes Follow Friday a bit of Throwback Thursday, but here’s a great photo from UCP author Alan Thomas that has been making the rounds on Twitter of the very first e-book we published. Richard A. Lanham’s The Electronic Word required 2 MB of . . .

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Philosophy in a Time of Terror

July 22, 2014
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Philosophy in a Time of Terror

Giovanna Borradori conceived Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida shortly following the attacks on September 11, 2001; through it, he was able engage in separate interviews with two of the most profound—and mutually antagonistic—philosophers of the era. The work they labor here unravels the social and political rhetoric surrounding the nature of “the event,” examines the contexts of good versus evil, and considers the repercussions such acts of terror levy against our assessment of humanity’s potential for vulnerability and dismissal. All of this, of course, prescient and relevant to ongoing matters today.

Below follows an excerpt published on Berfrois. In it, Jacques Derrida responds to one of Borradori’s questions, which asked if the initial impression of US citizens to 9/11, “as a major event, one of the most important historical events we will witness in our lifetime, especially for those of us who never lived through a world war,” was testifiable:

Whether this “impression” is justified or not, it is in itself an event, let us never forget it, especially when it is, though in quite different ways, a properly global effect. The “impression” cannot be dissociated from all the affects, interpretations, and rhetoric . . .

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In praise of Eva Illouz

July 17, 2014
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In praise of Eva Illouz

Let’s begin with a personal aside: during our sessions, my therapist invokes Eva Illouz more often than any other writer. At first I was largely deaf to this phenomenon, though eventually I acknowledged that excerpts from her work had come to function as a sort of Greek chorus alongside my own rambling metastasization of anecdotes from my early thirties. After weeks of failing to make the connection, I recognized her as one of our authors, read her book, and spent some hours poking around the corners of the internet digesting interviews and think pieces—later I picked up a few more books, and finally reflected on how and why a sociologist who studies changing emotional patterns under capitalism might elucidate my own benign/not benign driftlessness and failure to thrive.

The conclusion I reached is one that has been rattling around the zeitgeist—I tend to think of these pronouncements of grand-mal cultural tendencies as wheezing parakeets: often they are the equivalent of a clicking sound you can’t quite place, one insistently audible because it’s both so foreign and so obvious.

The background to Illouz’s ideas is a mainstream media that produces this (a now well-circulated blog post at . . .

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The university press and library sales

July 10, 2014
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The university press and library sales

 

 

Last month, the Scholarly Kitchen published a post on the decreasing percentage of overall university press sales represented by academic libraries, coauthored by Rick Anderson and UCP’s Dean Blobaum. The post was actually a response-to-a-response piece, picking up on a discussion first initiated by “University Presses under Fire,” a controversial write-up in the Nation which prognosticated future scenarios for scholarly publishing based on a shifting-if-unpredictable current climate. Anderson, responding in an initial post at the Scholarly Kitchen, furthered questions raised by the Nation:

In other words, there’s no question that university presses face a real and probably existential challenge. But the challenge is deeper than any posed by a changing environment and it is more complicated than any posed by uncertain institutional funding. To a significant degree it lies in the fact that, unlike most publishers, university presses provide a vital, high-demand service to authors and a marginal, low-demand one to most readers.

Needless to say, this generated activity in the comments section, where Anderson eventually posed the following hypothesis:

It’s a commonplace assertion that, contrary to longstanding popular belief, libraries are not in fact the primary customers of university presses . . .

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Gary S. Becker (1930–2014)

May 6, 2014
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Gary S. Becker (1930–2014)

Gary S. Becker (1930–2014), a Nobel Prize–winning economist and longtime professor at the University of Chicago, who in later years became a noted columnist and blogger, died this past Saturday, May 3, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, following a long illness.

Born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, Becker earned in MA (1953) and PhD (1955) from the University of Chicago, where he studied with the economist Milton Friedman, and began teaching as an assistant professor in 1954, leaving Chicago in 1957 for Columbia University, where he conducted research at the National Bureau for Economic Research, and returning to Chicago in 1970, where he would spend the rest of his career.

Becker, who held a joint appointment as University Professor in the the Departments of Economics and Sociology, remained active well into his eighties, where his acute stance on the role of human capital in labor economics, free-market orientation, and commentator on the economic dimensions of social phenomena helped earn his reputation as “an original, prolific, and sometimes provocative” scholar.

As a columnist for Business Week from 1985 to 2004, Becker “was forced to learn how to write about economic and social issues without using technical jargon, and in about 800 words . . .

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Sergio De La Pava’s Personae: A New Year

December 30, 2013
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Sergio De La Pava’s Personae: A New Year

The second half of 2013 has been good to Sergio De La Pava. In August, he took  home the $25,000 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for his self-published (and then, ahem, republished) novel A Naked Singularity, awarded to “an exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work—a novel or collection of short stories—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.” In September, he followed-up with Personae, a slim, inventive take on the detective novel, which features psychics, ekphrasis, a short play, and the same experimental and morally astute take on justice and responsibility as his previous, maximalist work of fiction. In case you missed it, the book was acclaimed here, here, here, here, over here, here, and here, among other places.

For our last post of the year, we thought we’d point out something else about De La Pava: as many already know, in addition to his literary pursuits, he works as a full-time public defender (though, of course, he is also “a writer who does not live in Brooklyn.”). Over at the Millions, as part of their series “A Year in Reading,” they asked De La Pava for his recommendations. And, as usual, De . . .

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Michael Kammen (1936–2013)

December 19, 2013
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Michael Kammen (1936–2013)

Michael Kammen (1936–2013)

“Underpinned by exhaustive research and abundant documentation, Professor Kammen’s books, essays and criticism—he was a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review and other publications—were noteworthy for remaining accessible to the general reader. His work, which stood at the nexus of history, folklore, psychology and sociology, helped cast the form of the modern scholarly field known as memory studies.”

This clip, culled from the New York Times obituary, helps contextualize the prolific contributions of Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, American culture scholar, and longtime Cornell University professor Michael Kammen, who passed away earlier this month after a long illness.

The Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture emeritus at Cornell University, Kammen authored more than a dozen volumes situated between history, remembrance, and the composition of American character, including People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization, which won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for history. In addition to his frequent scholarship and journalistic contributions,  Kammen also served as past president of the Organization of American Historians (1995–96) and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His final book Digging Up the . . .

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Carol Kasper on the history of Chicago’s distribution program

November 13, 2013
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Carol Kasper on the history of Chicago’s distribution program

To continue the themes of University Press Week, which include “celebrat of the role of university presses in our intellectual, cultural, and civic life,” we asked our Sales and Marketing Director Carol Kasper to give us an insider’s perspective on the history of Chicago’s distribution program, which currently works with over one hundred individual publishers. Her thoughts on how the program has helped to facilitate “community and commerce” among university presses follow below:

November. Cold winds. Rain. The last bursts of fall color. Thanksgiving. And, now, University Press Week! A nice thing to see after thirty-plus years at the University of Chicago Press and a recent three-year stint on the board of the Association of American University Presses. Some of the things we talked about during my recent tenure are still ongoing—for instance, the effort to reach out to scholarly presses that aren’t attached to universities and to presses outside North America. These causes were two that I felt most strongly about, no doubt because of my experiences with Chicago’s distribution programs. So, a little meditation here on the nature of community and commerce in the scholarly publishing world in honor of University Press . . .

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