History

Six Questions with Sujit Sivasundaram, author of “Waves Across the South”

May 27, 2021
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This is a story of tides and coastlines, winds and waves, islands and beaches. In Waves Across the South, Sujit Sivasundaram offers a fresh history of revolution and empire which centers on island nations and ocean-facing communities, turning the familiar narrative of the Age of Revolutions and the origins of the British Empire on its head. Waves Across the South has been praised for the awe-inspiring depth of its research, as well as its captivating storytelling. We asked Sujit Sivasundaram a few questions about his work. To start us off, what is the Age of Revolutions? How does Waves Across the South reconceptualize it? Usually, the Age of Revolutions is an Atlantic story, encompassing for instance the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and other uprisings in the Caribbean and Latin America. These events are taken as a pivotal origin point for our modern condition: for ideas of rights and belonging, a system of nation states as well as the application of reason and reform, for instance with respect to labor or governance. Waves Across the South moves this story to the Indian and Pacific oceans. In this vast oceanic zone, there was a pattern of indigenous creativity, unrest, revolt, and association; this was a first wave. There was then a response . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “White Market Drugs” Our Winter #ReadUCP Book Club Pick

January 20, 2021
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We’re excited to share that our winter Twitter Book Club pick is David Herzberg’s White Market Drugs: Big Pharma and The Hidden History of Addiction in America. To get you started, we’ve included a short excerpt from the Introduction below. Then, order the book for 30% off with the code READUCP on our website, and join us on Twitter for a conversation with David on February 23 at 2:00 PM Central. Follow the hashtag #ReadUCP for updates. Thinking past the medicine-drug divide White markets are an open secret of American history, widely ac- knowledged but rarely examined in depth. This is, in part, because they fall into a scholarly gap between historians who study medicines and historians who study drugs. These are different people, who belong to different scholarly societies, each with their own journals and conferences, and who organize their research around their own distinctive questions. Addictive medicines sit directly in the gap between these groups and fit only awkwardly into either. Not all historians respect this boundary between medicines and drugs; a number of excellent works tell key parts of the story.11 Yet much of the story has not been told. Pharmaceutical opioids do not yet have their . . .

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Six Questions with Rachel Hope Cleves, author of “Unspeakable”

December 8, 2020
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What do we do with the life of a person who was celebrated in their own time, but whose actions, violating what are now seen as firm moral and legal boundaries, appall us today? The life of once-renowned twentieth-century author Norman Douglas raises this question in a particularly stark form. In her new book, Unspeakable: A Life beyond Sexual Morality, Rachel Hope Cleves takes a clear-eyed look at Douglas’s life, what it can tell us how societal standards change with time, and what we can learn from a better understanding of those shifts. We asked her a few questions about the book. Norman Douglas is far less famous now than he was in his lifetime. How did you first learn about him? Believe it or not, this very serious book began with a little light vacation reading. In 2013-2014 I spent a sabbatical year in Paris with my family and we bought discount airline tickets to Naples for the kids’ spring break. A friend recommended that we visit Capri while we were there. I didn’t know anything about the island, so in my typical nerdy fashion I looked for books to read and discovered that there was a 1917 bestseller . . .

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RaiseUP: Read an Excerpt from “Hearing Happiness” by Jaipreet Virdi

November 13, 2020
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Emphasizing the role that university presses play in elevating authors, subjects, and whole disciplines that bring new perspectives, ideas, and voices to readers around the globe, the Association of University Presses has chosen “Raise UP” as the theme for this year’s University Press Week, which runs through November 15. “Raise UP” is a particularly apt theme in a time when information moves at faster speeds than ever before across all platforms. It’s critical that scholarship about the most important ideas of the day is nurtured, championed, and made widely available.  We’re proud to participate in the UP Week blog tour, along with our colleagues at the University of Notre Dame Press, the University of Alberta Press, the University Press of Florida, University of South Carolina Press, Bristol University Press, Amsterdam University Press, University of Toronto Press, Bucknell University Press, Vanderbilt University Press, University of Minnesota Press, Harvard University Press, and Columbia University Press, to honor today’s theme of “Active Voices.” What follows is a powerful excerpt from the Introduction to Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History by Jaipreet Virdi, a historian and truly inspiring and active voice for disability rights and awareness. At the age of four, Virdi’s world went . . .

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How What We Eat Has Shaped Our World

November 9, 2020
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How What We Eat Has Shaped Our World

As we enter the holiday season, many of us are beginning to plan festive meals to share with our family and friends (virtual turkey-carving, anyone?). Visions of roasted meats, fresh breads, heirloom vegetables, herbs, spices, and sweet sweet pies abound. But what shaped our modern diets? Why do we eat what we eat, and what does the cultivation of our menus look like? We checked in with the authors of a range of foodie tomes to hear their response to a central question: how has food production and consumption shaped our modern world? Carolyn Cobbold, author of A Rainbow Palate: How Chemical Dyes Changed the West’s Relationship with Food “Man-made chemical additives and industrialization have democratized food consumption by bringing cheaper products with a longer shelf life to more people. At the same time, our trust in food, producers, and science has diminished. We fret about not knowing the provenance of our food while forgetting that billions of people can now eat like kings in cities devoid of farms. We worry about the long-term impact of consuming food filled with synthetic chemicals, but we forget that modern preservatives help to kill the bacteria that rots food and makes us ill. . . .

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Meet Mary Al-Sayed, Our New Editor for Anthropology & History

October 30, 2020
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We’re excited to welcome Mary Al-Sayed, who recently joined the Press as editor in the Books Division, acquiring new titles in anthropology and history. Mary comes to us from Palgrave Macmillan, where she was senior editor for anthropology, sociology, and migration studies. Ordinarily, we would look forward to introducing Mary in person at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), where you’d have the opportunity to chat with her directly about her interests. Alas, here we are. AAA will be virtual, as will our booth. But we didn’t want you all to miss the chance to get to know Mary, so we’ve put together this little Q & A. Enjoy the interview, and then click through to our Virtual AAA booth to browse the latest, best books in the field, which are available for 40% off with free shipping. We’ll look forward to seeing you in person at next year’s AAA! What are you looking for in a book, and what kind of project gets you excited? I approach most proposals with a really rude question in mind, one that my mother forbade me from asking around second grade: “So what?” (Yes, I was an obnoxious child.) Most proposals an . . .

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A “Louder than Bombs” Playlist

September 28, 2020
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Ed Vulliamy’s memoir Louder than Bombs: A Life with War, Music, and Peace, tells the stories of the artists, songs, and concerts that influenced him most. In his career as a journalist and war correspondent, Vulliamy has traveled the globe, bearing witness to many of the most important political and musical moments of the past fifty years. This playlist plays tribute to just a few of the many songs mentioned in Louder than Bombs. It follows some of Vulliamy’s favorite musical memories: Buying blues records in Chicago, working as an extra in the Vienna State Opera’s production of Aida, drinking coffee with Joan Baez, listening to Jimi Hendrix playing “Machine Gun” at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, and seeing B. B. King perform live in his hometown of Indianola, Mississippi in 2013. Listen below or at Spotify Read an excerpt from Literary Hub: Everybody’s Here for Mr. B.B. King in Indianola, Mississippi: Ed Vulliamy Feels the Love for the King of the Blues Ed Vulliamy is a former reporter for the Guardian and Observer. He is the author of Amexica: War Along the Borderline and The War is Dead, Long Live the War—Bosnia: The Reckoning. Louder than Bombs is available now from our website or your . . .

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5 Questions with Alexander Wragge-Morley, author of “Aesthetic Science: Representing Nature in the Royal Society of London, 1650–1720”

September 10, 2020
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In his new book, Aesthetic Science, Alexander Wragge-Morley explores scientific representation in the early modern period and shows us how vital the role of subjective experience is to the communication of knowledge about nature. It’s a fascinating, groundbreaking reconsideration of the role of aesthetic experience in the history of the empirical sciences, and we sent him a few questions about it. In Aesthetic Science, you explore the relationship between sensory experience and the production of knowledge. What drew you to the topic? What do you like about it? I’d say that there’s a lot to like when you think about the relationship between sensory experience and the production of knowledge. To start, the issue is obviously fundamental—and I like fundamental issues. I don’t think you can give a good account of knowledge production unless you think hard about how the senses—with all the feelings they provoke—give us access to the external world. What’s more, that fundamental question allows you to think about the history of science in new ways. By focusing on how the scientists of seventeenth-century England related to sensory experience, I was able to pull a wide range of disciplines together—disciplines that are usually studied separately. In Aesthetic . . .

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Six Questions with Thomas Milan Konda, author of “Conspiracies of Conspiracies”

September 3, 2020
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The viral spread and increasing normalization of incendiary conspiracy theories have been one of the most dismaying and dangerous trends in recent American political life. The QAnon conspiracy is most prominent of today’s Internet-borne fringe theories: its influence has even reached the seats of national governmental power, with at least ten current Republican Congressional candidates expressing support for it. We spoke at length with Thomas Milan Konda, author of Conspiracies of Conspiracies: How Delusional Thinking Has Overrun America—called “the most detailed genealogy of American conspiracy theories yet written” by the American Historical Review—to gain some perspective on our current conspiracy crisis. The QAnon conspiracy is increasingly in the news these days—a formerly fringe phenomena that has now wormed its way into the mainstream. How does its rise fit in with what we know about how conspiracy theories work? How conspiracy theories “work” is really two questions: what is their appeal and how are they spread? Their appeal is always the same, and in this regard QAnon works the same way its predecessors did. Its three-part argument is the one that has always shored up conspiracy theories: (1) An insidious, powerful elite (2) secretly manipulates our various institutions from behind the . . .

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Read Excerpts from “The Province of Affliction” by Ben Mutschler

August 31, 2020
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The following are two excerpts from Ben Mutschler’s recent publication, The Province of Affliction: Illness and the Making of Early New England.  The book explores the place of illness in everyday life—the ways in which it shaped families and households and became bound up in governance at all levels. The passages below draw from the introduction to a chapter on smallpox and the politics of contagion, followed by a small portion of a case study based on the diary of Ashley Bowen.  The sailor, ship rigger, painter, poet, husband, and father chronicled the ravages of smallpox as it burned through his town of Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1773—an event at once terrifying and all-too-common in early New England. Perhaps no other affliction in eighteenth-century New England received the attention given to smallpox. Even the most laconic of diarists noted its presence and charted its approach; others devoted entire journals to its rages. Letters written from infected areas to relatives, friends, and business partners survive despite authors’ pleas to burn such material lest the virulent distemper spread further. Newspapers reported on outbreaks throughout the Atlantic world. Chronologies of significant events compiled at the end of almanacs memorialized serious epidemics. Legislative records reveal extensive . . .

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