5 Questions with Matthew H. Rafalow, author of “Digital Divisions”

August 18, 2020
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It seems that the effects of COVID-19 persist in each and every arena of our lives. With its emergence, the unjust systemic stratifications of resources, distribution, and access became more apparent than ever. One such area is education. With back to school season upon us again, we must think critically about the divides driving education and schools. In his new book, Digital Divisions: How Schools Create Inequality in the Tech Era, Matthew H. Rafalow explores how different student body demographics receive starkly contrasting responses to their interests and implementations of technology. What lead to you this subject? Were there any particular elements that you were drawn to learning more about? I have always been fascinated by how schools work. Since my parents worked in education, dinner table conversations centered on stories about students. But they were also big supporters of my interests in computers, even though a lot of my peers saw it as rather geeky. As an adult, I watched as the world adopted all sorts of new digital technologies. I wondered if kids’ experiences with technology today were similar or different from my own. I also was curious about what school would be like if everyone liked using . . .

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Scott L. Montgomery on the Importance of Communicating Science Today

August 14, 2020
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Scott L. Montgomery, author of The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science, is widely known for his writings on energy matters, intellectual history, language and translation, and history of science. In light of the disparate messaging surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we invited him to share his thoughts with us. Communicating science is more essential today than it has ever been. This means not only among scientists themselves but a range of non-scientific audiences. Such may sound like an opinion donning the mask of fact (forgive the simile). But I wager almost every scientist and a great many others agree with it.   There are several reasons for me to say this. One, of course, is the Covid-19 pandemic. In this case, communicating the science and doing so accurately counts as both an ethical and moral act, as well as a political necessity, due to the near-bacterial spread of misinformation, conspiracy ideas, and outright denials of the disease. Internet technology provides pathways for anti-science to mobilize and proliferate, and it is this same technology (social media) that needs to be employed as a counter such intellectual toxins. Thankfully, a good bit of this is happening. It needs to continue and expand in both relentless and eloquent fashion to counter and contain the appeals it . . .

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Talking sociology with Executive Editor Elizabeth Branch Dyson

July 30, 2020
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Talking sociology with Executive Editor Elizabeth Branch Dyson

The pandemic-driven shift of the American Sociological Association’s annual conference from in-person to online means we’re going to miss out on a lot of things we associate with conferences. Drinking weak coffee from paper cups, sitting on the floor at the back of a too-crowded panel, wandering the book exhibit (and awkwardly bumping into the same person at three or four booths in a row). Most of all, though, we’ll miss the chance to simply meet up and talk–to catch up on what everyone has been doing, been reading, been excited about. To fill that gap, our marketing director, Levi Stahl, sat down for a virtual conversation with Elizabeth Branch Dyson, Executive Editor for sociology. 1. We both started at the University of Chicago Press in 1999-2000–I think I have maybe six months on you? And, like me, you’ve worked in a number of areas at the Press. Can you tell us quickly about your path to being Executive Editor acquiring in sociology? That’s right! After a few years teaching middle school—a job with a guaranteed belly laugh a day—I started at the Press August 31, 2000, the day before my COBRA insurance was due to run out. My foot-in-the-door . . .

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Read an Excerpt from “Crusade for Justice” by Ida B. Wells, Born on This Day in 1862

July 16, 2020
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Read an Excerpt from “Crusade for Justice” by Ida B. Wells, Born on This Day in 1862

Today marks the 158th birthday of journalist, activist, and civil rights icon Ida B. Wells-Barnett, born into slavery in Missouri on July 16, 1862. Wells, posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year for her “outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching,” left a legacy that endures today alongside the continued fight for racial justice. Nearly a century after her death, her work, rather than echoing the past, holds a mirror to contemporary society. She continues to teach us about the hard work of social change and the long road that still lies ahead. As Eve L. Ewing writes in the foreword: “Generations after the passing of Ida B. Wells, her battle continues. We still fight in defense of Black people’s basic humanity, our right to a fair application of the laws of the land, and our right to not be brutally murdered in public. In light of this continued struggle, maybe we don’t need more moving oratory or another inspirational fable about mythological people. Maybe we just need the whole truth.” Today, in celebration of her birthday, we offer “The Tide of Hatred,” an excerpt from Crusade for . . .

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Remembering Cosmas Magaya (1953–2020)

July 15, 2020
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The Press was sad to learn of the passing of Chicago author and master musician Cosmas Magaya this week of COVID-19. Below, ethnomusicologist Paul F. Berliner offers a remembrance of his coauthor, longtime collaborator, and friend. On July 10th, 2020, coronavirus took the life of one of the world’s great musicians, mentors, and cultural ambassadors, Zimbabwean mbira master Cosmas Magaya. In North America, Europe, and Africa where he performed, he was universally loved by his following not only for his inspired virtuosity and expressivity, but for his generosity of spirit. A virtuoso from an early age, Cosmas was a key player in the renowned mbira ensemble, Mhuri yekwaRwizi, led by singer Hakurotwi Mude. He performed both for Shona religious ceremonies and for the concert stage. Initially sponsored to the USA by the Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center (Eugene, OR) in the 1990s, Cosmas subsequently traveled widely and regularly to perform and teach. Countless students and musicians had the privilege of learning from him in university classrooms, at mbira camps and workshops, and in private lessons. His talents were first showcased internationally in the 1970s on the recordings The Soul of Mbira and Shona Mbira Music, and subsequently, on the independently produced . . .

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Carol Kasper Offers Remembrances of Two Former Colleagues

July 13, 2020
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The extended University of Chicago Press family has recently mourned the passing of two former colleagues, Duke Hill and Bob Wallenius. In memoriam, retired Marketing Director Carol Kasper offers her remembrances. One thing I had always appreciated about working at the University of Chicago Press was that my colleagues were like family. I saw them almost every day. We worked and played together. I watched them grow and mature, and I was a little sad but glad for them when they went on to promising new opportunities. Lately, I’ve found myself saying final farewells to more than a few of these folks. Just last week I learned that two of marketing’s extended family members passed on. One was Duke Hill.  Duke was a sales rep when I started as a student worker at UCP back in 1981. He always had a smile and a store of supportive words for a newbie like me. He later became Chicago’s sales manager.  Duke was old school. He hung out at Jimmie’s. Cigarette in hand, he sat at sales meetings, nodded briskly, and said “piece of cake” when asked if one of our scholarly books could sell 2000 copies. And they did, back in . . .

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Can We Fill Our Empty Streets?: Brian Ladd on the Role of Streets in City Life

July 9, 2020
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Can We Fill Our Empty Streets?: Brian Ladd on the Role of Streets in City Life

With social distancing protocols in place and many businesses temporarily closed, the current pandemic has drastically changed the public lives of our cities. Eerie videos of cities like New York show a world with fewer cars, cyclists, and pedestrians, while many of us wonder how and when public interactions might resume. Brian Ladd, author of The Streets of Europe, considers not only our current state of lockdown, but also the history and future of city streets, looking at the ways they have changed from pedestrian hubs to high-speed thoroughfares and how we might reconsider their role in city life. In our coronavirus quarantines, many of us miss not only particular people, but also people in general. Pictures of empty streets remind us that we cannot, like the French poet Charles Baudelaire, “melt into the crowd” to “take a bath of multitude” with its “feverish ecstasies.” Will our current feelings of deprivation renew an enthusiasm for the daily throng? Only if we don’t succumb to fear of city life. This pandemic does make it easy to believe that the proximity of other people is primarily a threat. When will it be safe to gather in public again? Never, say pundits who . . .

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What Does Patriotism Mean in America Today?

July 2, 2020
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July 4th generally conjures images of barbeques, fireworks, and large, billowing flags. But due to large protests against police brutality, concerns of COVID, and an upcoming election that symbolizes both fear and hope for many, the holiday this year looks very different. This Independence Day, instead of a celebration of patriotism, we wanted to dedicate some time to reflecting on it. We invited three of our political science authors to answer the following questions: What does patriotism mean in America today? Given that definition, should Americans be patriotic today? Below are their thoughtful responses. LaFleur Stephens-Dougan author of Race to the Bottom: How Racial Appeals Work in American Politics Reflecting on what patriotism means to me so close to the celebration of our nation’s Independence Day is a weighty endeavor.  In my opinion, patriotism in the United States is fraught with contradiction, especially for Black Americans. Black Americans have made countless contributions to the United States, a country they love, but are still engaged in a centuries-old struggle for economic, political, and social equality.  As the child of Black immigrants, who came to this country voluntarily, I am acutely aware of the sacrifices that African Americans have made on behalf . . .

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An Armchair Traveler’s Reading List

June 30, 2020
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“What did you do on your summer vacation?” For many of us this pandemic year, the answer is going to be: not much. But even if we can’t take the long-distance holiday our wanderlust desires, there’s nothing stopping our imaginations from roaming. To aid you on your journey, we’ve compiled a selection of travel writing from around the globe that can transport you from India to Dollywood to the Hebrides and back again to your own armchair. Bon voyage! Isolarian: A Different Oxford Journey by James Attlee “Attlee grabs our hand and drags us down Cowley Road in Oxford, determined to prove that it is not a stuffy, medieval, Masterpiece Theatre town. All the messy glories of Cowley Road—pubs and porn shops alike—come to life in this work, which becomes a meditation on home and the nature of pilgrimage.” National Geographic Traveler The Appian Way: Ghost Road, Queen of Roads by Robert A. Kaster “A wonderful preface for any traveler planning an outdoorsy day in Rome or, especially, a trip through southern Italy. Kaster’s enthusiasm for the road and the people (past and present) who populate it is contagious.” Library Journal Volcanoes and Wine: From Pompeii to Napa by Charles Frankel . . .

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#SciComm: Suggested Readings for Effective Communication

June 23, 2020
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Summer is upon us, and as cities, states, and nations begin to open up following months of pandemic lockdown, we remain uncertain about what the future holds. The need for clear, informed, and effective communication of science information to the general public has never been greater. For all the scicommers of the world, we’ve put together a #SciComm toolkit of books, many of which appear in our series of Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing. To all the science journalists, writers, video and radio producers, and public information officers: we thank you for your work and hope these suggested readings are of some help! The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science: Second Edition Scott L. Montgomery Writing Science in Plain English Anne E. Greene Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story Randy Olson Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, Eighth Edition Council of Science Editors Also available as Scientific Style and Format Online Ethics and Practice in Science Communication Edited by Susanna Priest, Jean Goodwin, and Michael F. Dahlstrom Handbook for Science Public Information Officers W. Matthew Shipman The Chicago Guide to Writing about Numbers, Second Edition Jane E. Miller The Chicago . . .

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