A Message from University of Chicago Press Director Garrett Kiely

March 31, 2020
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As of April 13, the Chicago Distribution Center (CDC) has reopened and is processing and fulfilling orders normally. The decision to reopen the CDC was made after close consultation with Press and University leadership to find a solution that puts concerns for the health and safety of CDC staff at the center. The CDC will be operating for as long as necessary with a reduced staff and in adherence to strict safety guidelines. We are glad to be able to return to the work of supporting our community of readers and our partners, including students, booksellers, libraries, and scholarly institutions. We appreciate your patience and support during this challenging time.  The coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented changes to our lives. But what has not changed during this challenging time is our belief in the power of books and scholarship to both inform and comfort, and our dedication to the many constituencies—authors, students, professors, client publishers, libraries, society partners, and bookstores—who share this publishing landscape with us.   While our distribution center is temporarily closed out of concern for the health of our staff and community, we are working closely with libraries and universities to expand student access to vital digital course books and journal articles (an updated list of resources is available here). We are also making as many of our books as . . .

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Voting by Mail? Read an Excerpt from “Democracy in America?: What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It”

March 31, 2020
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Voting by Mail? Read an Excerpt from “Democracy in America?: What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It”

With fears of COVID-19 keeping some away from in-person polling areas, is it time for all elections to be held by mail? Would this increase overall voter turnout even during times that aren’t faced with a pandemic? Could it make voter turnout more representative? In Democracy in America?: What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It Benjamin I. Page and Martin Gilens examine how, even though mail-in voting can increase turnout in currently registered voters, it is not enough on its own to handle low, and often unrepresentative, voter turnout. REFORMS TO FACILITATE VOTING. It is easy to come up with reforms that would lower individuals’ costs of voting and thereby increase voter turnout. The best single reform would be universal, government-administered registration, about which we will have more to say in a moment. Short of universal registration, we could at least allow same-day registration at polling places when people show up to vote. Online registration and registration updating were shown in the 2012 California election to increase the number of voters, especially among young people. After more (preferably all) Americans are registered, we could make it much easier to vote by holding elections on a holiday . . .

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Five Questions with Chad Zimmerman, Executive Editor for Economics

March 26, 2020
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Chad Zimmerman recently joined the Press as executive editor in the Books Division, acquiring new titles in economics, business, and public policy. Chad came to us from Oxford University Press, where he worked most recently as a senior editor building a robust list in public health, including books in health economics and policy. We’ve been excited to welcome him not only to the Press but to Chicago, and by way of introduction, we put together some questions about his interests. What are you looking for in a book, and what kind of project gets you excited? Voice. That is a terribly nonspecific answer, but hear me out: Most people who write books are experts in what they’re writing about. Whether their book is any good depends on how they express (and in many cases, limit) their knowledge for the good of the reader. That expression takes the form of their writing voice. And writing voice comprises not just narration, but also how the work is structured.    Reading is a “what’s in it for me?” activity. It is the author’s job to respect their reader and meet them on their level, whether that’s expert or non-expert. Very few authors have the . . .

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Five Questions with D. Vance Smith, author of “The Arts of Dying”

March 23, 2020
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Five Questions with D. Vance Smith, author of “The Arts of Dying”

How do we talk about one of life’s most persistently hard to describe events: death? Poets, musicians, playwrights, philosophers, theologians, and artists have tried to describe death for centuries, but this question still puzzles us today. With his new book, The Arts of Dying: Literature and Finitude in Medieval England, D. Vance Smith goes back to consider the ways that medieval people thought and wrote about death. We talked with Vance about the book, how people in the Middle Ages thought about dying, the problems of language when it comes to death, and how ideas about death and dying are presented now. He also touches on the particular relevance of these questions today as we face the tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic. How do you come to this subject? Was there a particular piece of literature that sparked your interest? I wrote a book a while ago (The Book of the Incipit) about the many ways medieval people thought about beginnings and shaped them in literature, and I started thinking about endings and what Foucault called the “analytic of finitude” then. Dying is the ultimate ending, and I found the intellectual and emotional challenge of writing about it important, but . . .

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Chicago Distribution Center Temporarily Closed

March 21, 2020
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In response to the Illinois Stay-at-Home Order and with the greatest concern for the health and welfare of our staff and the greater community, we have decided to temporarily close the Chicago Distribution Center (CDC) effective Monday, March 23. The CDC will remain closed for the duration that the Stay-at-Home order is in effect, until April 7 or longer if required.  Though print book orders for our titles are delayed, all e-books published by the University of Chicago Press are available and on sale at 30% off using code EBOOK30 at checkout through our website.  In the last two weeks, many members of the Press staff have worked to ensure that parts of our business can continue unimpeded in case of a shutdown, including increased use of print-on-demand resources and increased availability of e-books. We are also considering relationships with other suppliers that would allow a portion of orders to be filled if they cannot be filled at the CDC. We will continue to work on all of these efforts.  Meanwhile, we recognize that this has been a challenging time for many in the publishing industry, including our partners at many booksellers around the country. You can still continue to order our books and those of our distributed client publishers directly from many independent bookstores through their websites and indiebound.org as well as through major online retailers.  . . .

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Thank You to the Phenomenal Women Who Continue to Inspire Us

March 19, 2020
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Thank You to the Phenomenal Women Who Continue to Inspire Us

In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate the power of women helping women and the incredible community that results when we support and mentor each other along the way. We invited several recent authors to share their stories and to offer thanks to the phenomenal women who have been inspirations and friends in their careers. Thank you to all of the awesome women in publishing and academia who have paved the way. We don’t say thanks nearly enough for the work you do for all of us. . . .

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Expanded E-Book Access and Virtual Bookfairs

March 18, 2020
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As many of us transition to a remote teaching and working environment in response to COVID-19, we are trying to respond as quickly as possible to ensure that you continue to have access to the books that you need. We are a community of readers, and books should be one thing we can all rely on in this unprecedented time of uncertainty. We’re working with many partners in e-book delivery to ensure that students have access to coursebooks. Many providers are also offering free access for online learning for qualifying schools during the pandemic. Your institution may qualify. Here is a current list of our partner initiatives, which we will continue to update: Expanded access to e-books for course use ProQuest (library): Immediate upgrades for all purchased e-books at a library to unlimited concurrent multi-user status through mid-June. VitalSource (e-textbook): Free access to e-books for students who are finishing the semester at verified 2-4yr schools that have moved to online courses through May 25th. RedShelf (e-textbook): Free access to e-books for students who are finishing the semester at schools that have moved to online courses through May 25th. UPSO (library): Gratis trial access to all of UPSO + all Oxford platforms . . .

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5 Questions for Ellen Prager, author of “Dangerous Earth: What We Wish We Knew about Volcanoes, Hurricanes, Climate Change, Earthquakes, and More”

March 3, 2020
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As news of earthquake swarms in Puerto Rico, bushfires in Australia, volcanic eruptions in New Zealand, and the calamitous impacts of climate change fills the headlines, it would seem easy to despair, to feel that the Earth is somehow out to get us. In Dangerous Earth, marine scientist and brilliant science communicator Ellen Prager cuts through the noise of fear and misunderstanding that surrounds disasters—both natural and unnatural. Drawing on the latest science, highlighting the questions and characters that push this research forward, and celebrating the hope that ongoing discoveries give for our future, Dangerous Earth is far from a gloomy end-of-days geoscience treatise. It is an exhilarating tour of some of the most awesome forces on our planet—many tragic, yet nonetheless awe-inspiring—and an illuminating journey through the undiscovered, unresolved, and in some cases unimagined mysteries that continue to inspire the world’s leading scientists: the “wish-we-knews” that ignite both our curiosity and global change. We sent Prager a few questions recently to learn more about her motivations for writing the book. How did you wind up in your field, and what do you love about it? As a child, I loved nature and was particularly fond of Jacque Cousteau specials . . .

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Six Questions with Abigail Gillman, author of “A History of German Jewish Bible Translation”

February 25, 2020
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Between 1780 and 1937, Jews in Germany produced numerous new translations of the Hebrew Bible into German. Intended for Jews who were trilingual, reading Yiddish, Hebrew, and German, these translations gave Jews access to their scripture without Christian intervention, and they also helped showcase the Hebrew Bible as a work of literature and the foundational text of modern Jewish identity. In A History of German Jewish Bible Translation, Abigail Gillman examines the history of these translations as a larger cultural project. Your book discusses the remarkable history of the Hebrew Bible’s translations into German. Why were these new translations so important to the Jewish community, and what innovations did each new wave of translation offer? German Jewish rabbis and intellectuals produced works of philosophy, fiction, and poetry, as well as exegetical texts, sermons, essays, and textbooks. They also saw that a translation of the Hebrew Bible into German could accomplish a number of important goals.  In most cases, they followed models from Christian society. But Jewish translators maintained that their projects were continuous with the tradition of transmitting and interpreting the Torah going all the back to Moses. They also affiliated translation to the discourse of exegesis, which is the . . .

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An Unflinching Excerpt from ‘The Torture Letters’ by Laurence Ralph

February 20, 2020
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This week on the blog, we're highlighting one of our most timely and important new releases—The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence . . .

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