As we move towards our new season of books (those publishing between March and August this year), we asked our acquiring editors to give us a little preview of their list. Here’s the second entry in the series, from Executive Editor Roger Haydon.
As we move towards our new season of books (those publishing between March and August this year), we asked our acquiring editors to give us a little preview of their list. Here’s the second entry in the series, from Executive Editor Roger Haydon.
Because it’s our 150th anniversary and we’re excited about it, we’re offering a special deal for anyone who wishes to subscribe to our 1869 Book of the Month Club.
Starting in March, and running until the end of 2019, we’ll send you one new surprise book each month for just $15 each.
So, for $150 you get 10 front list books, shipped to you for free.
All you have to do is subscribe to the 1869 Book of the Month Club and send us your payment before March 15th. We’ll take care of the rest. We’ll even throw in a special little 150th anniversary gift from time to time throughout the year.That’s how excited we are, and how much we value our 1869 members.
(The 1869 Book Club is only available to subscribers in the US.)
As we move towards our new season of books (those publishing between March and August this year), we asked our acquiring editors to give us a little preview of their list. Here’s the first in the series, from Editor-in-Chief Mahinder Kingra.
Last year, the critically acclaimed filmmaker Wes Anderson released “Isle of Dogs.” The stop-motion animated movie tells the story of a young boy Atari who goes in search for his dog after the evil mayoral administration banishes the entire species to a trash island following an outbreak of the canine flu. Critics praised the film humans and canines flocked to see it.
Around the time “Isle of Dogs” opened, several people asked me if it was based on my book, Empire of Dogs: Canines, Japan, and the Making of the Modern Imperial World, which was published by Cornell UP in 2011 (and will be issued in paperback in a few months).
Okay, I am happy to admit it up-front: before I was invited to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival – JLF – (note: not ‘literary’, not ‘writers’) in India I had never even heard of it. I assumed that it was probably some modest local event, spiced up a little by bringing in some foreign authors to add a bit of breadth. The reality was shocking in exposing my limited and pathetically Western perspective. The Festival has just concluded and I am compelled to try and provide some glimpse of what an extraordinary experience this was.
Continue reading “Inspiration and humility in the middle of India”
As part of our celebrations of our 150th anniversary, we’ve compiled a series of short biographies of our esteemed directors. Here is the first entry, about the first director, in this series.
When Cornell University Press was established in 1869, the board of trustees appointed Daniel Willard Fiske (usually known as Willard Fiske) as its first director. Fiske’s background was well suited to running the press, he was already the university librarian and held a chair in North European languages at Cornell. Earlier in his career he was an assistant librarian at the Astor Library in New York City, founder of the Chess Monthly journal, editor of the Syracuse Journal, partner in a bookstore, and a former editor of the Hartford Courant in Connecticut.
University founder A. D. White and Fiske were boyhood friends and Fiske was an important adviser to White in the early stages of planning the university, which included plans for a university press from the beginning. Once the press was up and running, with student labor recruited and Benjamin Hermon Smith appointed as manager, White was not as closely involved. He was officially replaced as director by Smith in 1871 but kept a close watch over its affairs until his retirement in 1883.
My sister kindly gave me Becoming by Michelle Obama as a Christmas present, and I finished reading it on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Unsurprisingly, it really got me thinking…
Why do books matter?
Continue reading “Becoming by Michelle Obama (or why books matter to me)”
As we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., recently, my mind went back to where I was fifty years ago. An angry young man in my senior year at Cornell University. There was no King holiday then, as King had been assassinated just the previous year. Mentally and emotionally I was prepared to be one of those African Americans who would meet my destiny in a struggle against oppression and injustice that was much bigger than any one of us, and even much bigger than all of us. I thought we were the generation fingered by history to draw the line on America’s ill treatment of African Americans. It had to stop with us, in our time.
Fifty years ago, America was still in the midst of a battle to secure equal treatment for African Americans in public accommodations, employment, housing, voting, and other civil rights. I remember as a child traveling with my family through southern states like Virginia and North Carolina, and my father stopping at gas stations where, before purchasing gas, he asked if we would be allowed to use the restrooms. Many Americans today forget that this country practiced that kind of segregation. Similarly, at that time African Americans were routinely denied employment opportunities simply because of race. Qualifications did not matter. Many Americans today forget that this country practiced that kind of discrimination. De jure segregation was enshrined in the law, and de facto institutional discrimination was the social norm in America.
The petty discrimination of being denied access to public facilities was intended to dehumanize African Americans, and to proclaim every day that we were different and inferior. And the systemic institutional denial of economic opportunities was intended to ensure that African Americans remained poor and powerless. And each previous decade as you step back through American history was typically more brutal towards African Americans.
But the purpose of reciting this history is not just to remind us of where we have been, but also to focus on how far we have come. It is important to know history, and to understand how the world we live in has been shaped by the past, but it is equally important not to be a prisoner of history. By that I mean there is no point in suffocating our potential for today and tomorrow with ongoing animosity over the grievances of the past. The burden is too heavy. Many racial, ethnic or religious groups have some plausible basis for resentment and animosity about some historical injustice. The historical injustices are not all morally equivalent, but it’s unlikely that we will ever achieve societal consensus on their relative hierarchy. So just as a family cannot heal unless it lets go of yesterday’s anger, so all Americans of every race and creed and ethnicity must be open to reconciliation and healing. If we don’t let go of our racial and social resentments, America will not achieve its potential as a multiracial, multiethnic, and religiously diverse democracy wherein all citizens live in freedom and civic equality.
It seems to me undeniable that African Americans, other minorities, women, and the LGBT community have educational, economic, and social opportunities available today which are unprecedented in American history. Does this mean that our country has overcome all its problems? Of course not! The legacy of hundreds of years of slavery, and physical as well as psychological abuse and neglect, created a scale of human misery and dysfunctionality which cannot be reversed in just fifty years. But is America moving in the direction of becoming the country envisioned in its noble founding documents – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights – unequivocally yes!
When I left Cornell in 1972 after completing a graduate degree, I committed to living in accordance with Dr. King’s creed – I would choose my friends and associates based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. That’s a decision I’ve never regretted.
Thomas W. Jones is author of the forthcoming, From Willard Straight to Wall Street: A Memoir. He is the founder and senior partner of venture capital investment firm TWJ Capital. He previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Global Investment Management at Citigroup; Vice Chairman, President, and COO at TIAA-CREF; ad Senior Vice-President and Treasurer at John Hancock Insurance Company.
Cornell University Press, University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago Press, Northwestern University Press, and the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) join forces to expand the University Press Diversity Fellowship Program.
A four-year, $1,205,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been awarded to the University of Washington Press to support the continued development and expansion of the pipeline program designed to diversify academic publishing by offering apprenticeships in acquisitions departments. This new grant will provide for three annual cycles of editorial fellows at six university presses: Cornell University Press, University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, the Ohio State University Press, University of Chicago Press, and Northwestern University Press.
This new grant builds on the success of the initial 2016 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which funded the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the United States to address the marked lack of diversity in the academic publishing industry. Graduates of the first fellowship program hold professional positions at university presses across the country, including at Columbia University Press, the MIT Press, University of Virginia Press, the Ohio State University Press, and the University of Washington Press. Additionally, for the four participating presses, the initial grant expanded applicant pools, improved outreach to underrepresented communities, created more equitable preliminary screening practices in hiring, and enabled dedicated attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion overall.
The 2016 grant also served as a catalyst for broader changes at the partner presses and within the AUPresses as a larger organization. “Diversity is one of AUPresses’ core values. As such, we are proud to partner in the expansion of this significant program,” says AUPresses Executive Director Peter Berkery. “Our participation in the original initiative over the last three years has led, not only to more inclusive programming choices at our annual conferences and webinars, but also to the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which will evolve into a Standing Committee to help us sustain momentum in this area of vital importance to our community, higher education, and the entire publishing industry.”
This new grant offers opportunities for more sustained engagement with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion among the new partner presses and the university press community more broadly. “Continuing the fellowship program will enable us to focus on longer-term issues of retention and leadership development among the program’s participants,” says Larin McLaughlin, Editor in Chief of the University of Washington Press and principal investigator on the grant. “With this new grant, we want to provide the opportunity for new presses to participate in the program while benefitting from the experience of the original partner presses.”
Gita Manaktala, Editorial Director of the MIT Press, commented, “The fellows have inspired a strong sense of responsibility among partner presses, which have demonstrated this in several ways: by developing more inclusive press environments, by opening processes to welcome the fellows’ perspectives and input into the daily work of acquisitions, and by providing fellows with focused career advice for job placement and professional development.”
The first and second grants combined provide for a total of thirty fellows in six years, which will generate marked shifts in acquisitions staff across university presses not possible without this kind of dedicated funding.
Gerald R. Beasley, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University said, “I am very grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for giving Cornell this opportunity to add a Diversity Fellow to the outstanding team at Cornell University Press. The Cornell University Library currently has three Diversity Fellows in its professional ranks; I am excited to know that we will now be adding a fourth in the Press’s acquisitions department.”
Dean Smith, Director of Cornell University Press said, “We are delighted to be included in this grant and to address the issue of diversity in academic publishing. This aligns us with efforts already underway in the Cornell Library and with Cornell University’s campus-wide diversity initiatives.”
In the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump ran and posed as a populist, inveighing against Wall Street, Washington swamp creatures, and the corruption of the elites. He championed and rode the wave of angst experienced by ordinary working Americans, while also feeding their darkest recesses of fear. As a majority of Americans continue to bemoan and mourn the Trump presidency on its third anniversary, it is a good time to take stock of how American workers have fared under its strain. Continue reading “The Workers’ President Unmasked”
This year’s meeting was in Chicago, but we were spared the worst of the winds (and denied the pleasures of daylight) in the Book Exhibit, located in the subterranean level of the Hilton Hotel. Had I been wiser about creating some personal time, I’d have taken a break to walk the fabulous waterfront, envy of North American cities everywhere; to visit local museums; to practice the fine art of being a flanneur for an afternoon.
That said, there were memorable moments of site-seeing. An author took me to the incredible landmark deli, Manny’s, for breakfast, where we shared smoked meat (which, at that hour of the morning, had an effect akin to caffeine) and talked about modern Japanese history. Another colleague, Eric Zuelow, editor of our newly launched series, The Histories & Cultures of Tourism, took me for dinner at a world-class Spanish tapas bar, Café Iberico, where we enjoyed one marvelous garlicky dish after another. Between bites, we discussed upcoming author meetings and how best to position Cornell University Press, and our series, with respect to their work.
I cemented existing author relations in the most enjoyable way. Now that the anxieties of peer review were a distant memory, the back-and-forth of committee approvals and revisions were no more, and actual publication dates were assigned for books, we could partake in civilized drinks in a too-loud hotel lobby to reminisce about the process and strategize about promotion, or to discuss future projects. One of my authors, Jay Geller, did a “Live at the Event” podcast with our Marketing and Sales Director Martyn Beeny, about his forthcoming book, The Scholems, and then we had a Mexican dinner, where I found out about his next research question. (I was so impressed that he truly had just the question, not even the suggestion of an answer.) At moments like these, this editor’s saturated mind found room she did not even know existed.
I had hourly meetings with prospective authors. Conversations encompassed everything from the essentials of thesis revision, to the way in the evaluation process works, to the key features distinguishing Cornell University Press as a publisher. Every now and then, I would excuse myself from the meeting to sell books – highly rewarding to get the fruits of our collective labor into customers’ hands – but I heard about many fascinating potential manuscripts.
I also took time to be, à la Jonathan Lethem, a feral booth detective (getting a sense of the shape of other publishers’ current lists, seeing books I would love to have acquired, taking note of interesting cover designs, discovering newly launched book series), and to speak to those colleagues at other presses. We are living in interesting times, as the old expression goes, and it’s informative to get a sense of how others are navigating them.
I got back to the office and committed to kale shakes, low carbs, and a healthy dose of fiction. I am now renewed for the next conference!
Emily Andrew is a senior editor, acquiring manuscripts in the fields of European History, military history, Asian history, and tourism studies. Next time in Chicago, she plans to visit The Green Mill, a staple of the city’s live jazz scene, which has been slinging drinks since before Prohibition.
Most Democrats want their party to emerge from the impending primaries united in its effort to defeat President Trump in the 2020 presidential election. This is certainly understandable, especially since many of them assume that Trump’s unexpected Electoral College victory in 2016 partly owes to the divisions sowed by the race for the Democratic nomination, when Hillary Clinton’s path to nomination was slowed by the surprising socialist sensation Bernie Sanders. Another bruising primary season, so the wisdom goes, will doom Democratic solidarity, making it easier for Trump to win reelection.
Dreams of unity notwithstanding, it seems likely that the Democratic primaries will be yet another bitter slog.
Dreams of unity notwithstanding, it seems likely that the Democratic primaries will be yet another bitter slog. This is especially true if Sanders chooses to run again, since many of those who opposed his bid for the nomination remain angry about the role he played in 2016. But it’s likely the forthcoming primaries will be nasty even if Sanders decides not to run, and instead hands the socialist mantle off to another candidate. Continue reading “Left vs. Liberal: How Intellectual History Can Help Make Sense of the Divide”
[We’re starting a new short series of blog posts today that we’re calling, “Acquiring a Point of View.” Each post is written by one of our acquiring editors and is inspired, in some way or other, by one (or more) of the books they signed that’s coming out between March and August this year.]
I get most of the vaccines my doctors recommend. Long ago I approved vaccines for my child without a second thought. I shudder at the media reports about disease outbreaks exacerbated by people who refuse to vaccinate themselves or their children. And yet. I understand the whole controversy differently now that I have read Bernice Hausman’s forthcoming book Anti/Vax, which, as the subtitle explains, reframes the vaccination controversy.
Continue reading “I Get Most of the Vaccines My Doctor Recommends”
Like many Americans, I watched Lifetime’s six-hour Surviving R. Kelly docuseries earlier this month. The series painstakingly narrates how Kelly leveraged his multiple advantages—of gender, wealth, fame, and age—to victimize teenage black women, whose intersecting inequalities have long been exploited by perpetrators of all races. My recent book, Obscene Pedagogies: Transgressive Talk and Sexual Education in Late Medieval Britain, argues that this racialized sexual disadvantage has its cultural roots in medieval attitudes toward young low-income women. The popular stereotype of the sexually available servant girl responsible for her own exploitation was later racialized so the medieval “wanton wench” became the stereotyped “likely [attractive] Negro wench, about seventeen years of age” advertised for sale in 1781 and the “fast little girl” cited several times in Surviving R. Kelly by those who chose to deny Kelly’s abuse.
We can see the traumatic real-life effects of sexualizing socially disadvantaged young women not only in Surviving R. Kelly but also in premodern legal cases. In Canterbury in 1574, a fifteen-year-old servant named Joan Bellinger appeared before two town officials. She testified that her master, the tailor Stephen Jeffrey, had ordered her to come to him one evening when his wife was out enjoying supper with a neighbor. He grabbed her by the arm and threw her down on a bed before exposing himself to her, pulling up her dress, and raping her. Joan reported that “she did tell him that he did hurte her, and he said, ‘No, Joane, I do not hurte the, for this dothe me good and thee no harme.’” He forced her to swear that she would not tell her parents or anyone else what he had done. Similarly, Jerhonda Pace broke a nondisclosure agreement to say of Kelly’s sexual predation when she was sixteen, “I told him it was a bit uncomfortable…It was painful.”
John Petrean, one of the jurors in Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial, explained why he had voted to acquit Kelly. “I just didn’t believe them, the women,” he said regarding the young black women who had testified about Kelly’s abuse. “The way they dressed, the way they acted…I didn’t like them…I disregarded all what they say [sic].” In other words, his deep-seated misogynoir prevented him from believing their experiences. Similarly, one of Kelly’s former employees said, “I thought, These bitches are crazy.” In contrast, the sixteenth-century witnesses in Joan’s case believed her: three women appointed by the town alderman examined Joan and affirmed “that she…is very sore hurt in her prevy partes, by suche meanes as she hathe confessed.”
Both R. Kelly and Stephen Jeffrey used various forms of power at their disposal—including gender, age, and socio-economic status—to victimize young women disadvantaged by intersecting inequalities. Just as young black women are disproportionately victims of sexual violence, with between forty and sixty percent reporting coercive sexual contact before the age of eighteen, young servant women in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century England were similarly vulnerable. Living in urban areas far from their families, sharing close quarters with their employers, and subject to stereotypes that portrayed them as perpetually sexually available, servant girls appear repeatedly in premodern legal records as victims of abuse and exploitation. Katherine Bronyng’s master and mistress forced her to sleep in their son’s bed, resulting in her pregnancy and legal punishment in 1505. Margaret Haburgh’s master impregnated her and killed her baby by throwing it into the sea in 1519.
Both Surviving R. Kelly and these premodern cases remind us how social inequalities have intersected for centuries to produce violence that falls more heavily than some bodies than others. And they remind us, echoing #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, that movements to end sexual violence cannot ignore poor women and women of color, who have borne the disproportionate burdens of victimization and survival for far too long.
Carissa M. Harris is Assistant Professor of English at Temple University and author of the recently published Obscene Pedagogies: Transgressive Talk and Sexual Education in Late Medieval Britain.
We were the first. Not many get to say that. Well, we do! CUP is 150 years old. So we were around before all the other university presses.
From a marketing perspective this should be a dream. Easy hook, lots of promotion, and so on. But do readers even care? Do they know or want to know that we’ve been doing this publishing thing since 1869? Do authors? What about vendors and other stakeholders? Somehow, I struggle to believe Amazon is going to see we’re 150 years old and immediately order thousands more books!
Regardless, over the past year or so, the marketing team has been brainstorming and planning how to make people take notice of the fact that CUP is the first university press to the sesquicentennial mark. Colleagues from other departments have joined in and we’ve enlisted help from a variety of people on campus. We’ve got the main stuff covered: parties, events, logos, etc. We’ll use those things to let influencers on campus and in the University Press world know about the amazing things we’re doing. But what about the outsiders? Those who might not care so much? Time to get creative. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell people our story and, perhaps most importantly sell some more books.
Being 150 years old is also an excuse to experiment, to push out some wild and wacky marketing campaigns that perhaps only tangentially use the 150th as their foundation. Videos, podcasts, blogs—content, in other words—will revolve around the 150th but won’t be consumed by it. This catalogue is full of 150th stuff but it’s not the main purpose of the catalogue, obviously! Our new website launched just in time for the 150th and we’ll use the confluence of these two things to move boldly into a content-marketing strategy more suited to the next 150 years (Weeks? Hours?) rather than what’s been done by book publishers for the past 150.
So, we’re 150! Yay, us. And we’re telling you all about it. Lucky you. But, really, from the marketing side of things, this milestone anniversary is all about being the first again. First to try new things. First to change. First to experiment. First to tear it all up and start again. And again. And again. We’re going to the be first to try a whole bunch of crazy things in scholarly book marketing and we hope you enjoy at least one or two of them.
Martyn Beeny is Marketing and Sales Director. He likes coming first; it’s a winning thing. This post was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 Cornell University Press Catalog.
Philip Rathgeb, author of the recently published Strong Governments, Precarious Workers: Labor Market Policy in the Era of Liberalization, chatted with our publicity manager Cheryl Quimba. Here’s their conversation:
What is Strong Governments, Precarious Workers about?
It examines why some European welfare states protect unemployed and ‘atypically’ employed workers better than others. While all countries faced the emergence of such precarious workers, some compensated them with better protection and training, whereas others reinforced new divisions within the workforce. The question is, why? Looking at the cases of Austria, Denmark, and Sweden in particular, I find that trade unions are the most consistent force in resisting precarious employment and welfare. What is most striking, however, is that left-right differences between political parties matter less for trade unions – and thus precarious workers – than differences between weak and strong governments. Only when governments are weak can trade unions enforce greater social solidarity in the interest of precarious workers. The book therefore challenges theories that attribute precarity to union clientelism.
Can you explain this relationship between strong governments and precarious workers?
The gradual stages of the liberalization era shifted the balance of class power from labor to capital, which created opportunities for employer associations to push governments in their preferred direction. Governments of the right as well as the left therefore stimulated job creation by liberalizing the labour market. Strong governments are unrestrained in this regard, because they are internally united and have enough seats in parliament. As a result, they can marginalize trade unions to prevent lengthy and costly negotiations. Weak governments, by contrast, need trade unions for consensus mobilization, which creates opportunities for trade unions to strike policy deals for precarious workers. Variations in government strength best explain why trade unions in Social Democratic countries like Denmark and especially Sweden faced remarkable defeats in labor market reform, whereas their counterparts in a Conservative country like Austria remained influential and could thus enhance the protection of precarious workers.
What motivated you to write this book?
What I find striking is the gradual breakdown of the long-term employment relationship in favour of flexible short-term jobs. Among the middle classes of my generation – the so-called “millennials” – this shift is often welcomed, because it can create greater autonomy in working life. You can switch jobs and adapt working hours according to your current life situation or desire for self-realization. This is certainly a great progress for well-educated people without problems in making ends meet or reconciling work-family life.
But I care more about the other side of this story: in-work poverty, unpredictable income, low protection when unemployed or retired. While “flexibility” means greater autonomy for some, it means greater insecurity for others. I wanted to understand when political actors respond to the social demands of workers that are unemployed or on temporary ‘atypical’ contracts, as they face the costs of growing flexibility on contemporary labour markets.
Why do you think this is important?
Precarity is associated with several trends that are detrimental to democracy and society. First, we know that precarious workers are less likely to vote, because they gradually lose faith in the political system. This refers to a process of political resignation so impressively captured by Marie Jahoda, Paul Lazarsfeld, and Hans Zeissel in their seminal study Die Arbeitslosen von Marienthal. I vividly remember reading this book when I was in high school, as it has shaped my way of thinking about unemployment ever since. Second, it is clear that precarious workers are more likely to face economic poverty, unequal life chances, poor health, and even an increased relative risk of suicide. Understanding how political actors respond to precarity is thus of great political and social significance in contemporary capitalism.
Philip Rathgeb is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Konstanz.
Every press has to start somewhere and produce its very first book. Tracking this book down for Cornell University Press, however, is an impossible task. In late 1869, America’s first university press was mainly a printing house. We produced lecture notes for professors, university documents, and student newspapers on a large steam-driven Hoe printing press. Most of these items were short, ephemeral, and any records vanished long ago. We do not know the name of the first item to roll off the press.
The publication chosen to represent the first book by Cornell University Press, and to be the first entry on our list of 150 notable books, is the 1869-70 University Register. This annual publication contained much of the information you would find on a modern university website. It was a directory of staff and students, a listing of fields of study and graduation requirements, and a description of the university’s founding, mission, and many fine amenities.
The director of the press, Willard Fiske, wrote a letter to President A. D. White in August 1869 about his work on the register. He described the contents, gave an estimate for completion of proof pages, and explained his plans for raising money to pay for the publication by including a page of advertising—just as most of the British university presses were doing. Despite all the trappings of modern technology that surround publishing today, these basic elements have remained the same: develop the best possible book, produce it on deadline, and figure out how to pay for it!
In contrast to the unknown first publication from CUP, Comstock Publishing was formed in 1892 for the specific purpose of publishing a particular book. As the twenty-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the university approached, two professors, John Henry Comstock and Simon Henry Gage, felt this would be a good opportunity to honor their former professor and mentor, Burt Green Wilder. Wilder, a Harvard medical school graduate and former Civil War surgeon, had been a professor of neurology and vertebrate zoology at Cornell since its earliest days.
Comstock and Gage contacted several of Wilder’s former students and asked them to contribute to a Festschrift, a contributed volume of essays meant to honor a respected academic—and the first such book published in the United States. The result was the Wilder Quarter-Century Book, a book of nearly 500 pages, with many plates and engravings. Contributors, in addition to Comstock and Gage, included Anna Botsford Comstock (naturalist and first woman professor at Cornell), David Starr Jordan (first president of Stanford University), Leland Ossian Howard (USDA entomologist), Theobald Smith (pioneering bacteriologist), John Caspar Branner (geologist and discoverer of bauxite), and William Russell Dudley (head of the botany department at Stanford).
These two first publications bookend (if I may) the educational journey at Cornell. The first CUP book introduced prospective students to the university and its many opportunities. And the first Comstock book showcased the many achievements of former Cornell students, out in the world, discovering and disseminating knowledge.
Karen Laun is the self-proclaimed press historian and an enthusiast of all things old and dusty. In her spare time she is a Senior Production Editor and also works in the ultramodern world of e-books as Digital Publishing Editor.
French wine is invariably associated with France’s diverse terroirs, or “sense of place.” Such wines evoke images of medieval castles or bucolic landscapes, time-honored traditions of happy peasants crushing grapes, and artisanship and quality. The French fascination with place is said to be centuries-old, unaffected by upheaval and change. My new book, The Sober Revolution: Appellation Wine and the Transformation of France, tells a different story, showing that the link between wine and place was not an inherent part of French wine traditions but instead gained widespread appeal as a result of some of the most turbulent moments in twentieth-century France: the Great Depression, the racist Vichy regime, the decolonization of Algeria, and France’s entry into the Europe Economic Community.
Except for the small amount of luxury wine that was sold to international elites and upon which the French built their reputation for excellence, for much of the twentieth century, the bulk of French wine came from vineyards of mass production in the Languedoc region of southern France and in French Algeria. Between 1830 and 1962, French imperialists had governed over Algeria, seizing land from the indigenous population and turning the colony into the world’s largest wine exporter. These wines were shipped nearly entirely to France where they competed with a glutted market of French wine. Impoverished peasants and Algerians churned out wine for companies like Gévéor and Margnat. These cheap, standardized wines—not unlike Coca-Cola today—were deemed unfit for foreign markets and sold largely within France to thirsty workers. At a time when piped water was not assured in the countryside and when exhausted workers needed extra calories, Frenchmen reportedly drank over a liter of the stuff a day. The wine industry contributed to a system of land expropriation, economic inequality, racism, hunger, and alcoholism.
Trouble in wine country led to periodic outbursts of discontent and stirred the growing independence movements in Algeria, creating a serious public relations problem for the wine industry. To defend their reputation, industry leaders collaborated with state officials to develop an institution called the National Institute of Appellations of Origin (INAO). The INAO set about classifying France’s regional terroirs, regulating the methods of production of each region’s wines, making these production methods transparent to consumers, and preserving a French tradition of quality that they were creating more than preserving. Through its most prestigious label—the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC)—the INAO championed “quality” and “authenticity,” by which it meant wines from mainland France.
The loss of Algeria, rising disposable incomes, and a public health campaign that blamed alcoholism on cheap wine gradually led consumers to turn toward wines with an appellation of origin. In doing so, they unwittingly became complicit in a state project to reconstruct France’s image as historically European instead of imperial. The appellation system excluded peasant and Algerian wine from its elite club and drove up prices, which limited who could participate in the community of appellation consumers—i.e. good-bye to much of the working class and the postcolonial migrants who might have taken an interest in belonging to that community, hello to the pastoral images of the French countryside lapped up by mostly affluent white men.
As markets globalized in the late twentieth century, this sense of place mattered more and more, expanding into other agricultural products and reaching around the world. Instead of threatening the notion of place, globalization created opportunities for producers to give it greater definition. Locavores and food activists have adopted the French appellation model without realizing just how contentious its rise was in France. Stilton cheese, balsamic vinegar from Modena, Mexican Tequila, and Darjeeling Tea are just a few examples of foods and beverages that carry place-based labels. Plans are afoot even to expand the appellation system into the emerging legal cannabis industry in the United States. Big food conglomerates have followed the appellation fad by appropriating these labels. Lactalis, the world’s largest dairy corporation, invests in appellation cheeses. Samuel Adams, owned by Boston Beer Company, the ninth largest beer manufacturer in the United States, now markets a “terroir lager.” To be sure, not all cases of locally-sourced foods conceal some big story of oppression, but we should be wary of the triumphalist narrative of good-versus-evil that prevails in discussions of locavorism and instead pose ethical questions that dig deeper than a given food’s place of production. Who wins and who loses in local food systems?
Joseph Bohling is assistant professor of history at Portland State University
You might also enjoy this Sam Adams ad for “Terroir Lager,” and this Forbes article on appellations of luxury cannabis.
A recent report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that we are headed for a global warming crisis much sooner than previously predicted. Prior to this new report, environmental scientists considered the threshold for code-red climate change to be a temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, the IPCC has found that the threshold is more accurately 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. If we carry on as we are without rapid and large-scale changes to protect the environment, scientists give the year 2040 as the benchmark for a global warming crisis. This would mean a widespread death of most coral reefs, more frequent wildfires, worsening food shortages, rising sea levels threatening coastal cities, increased rates of poverty and decreased access to natural resources.
During times like these, we can feel powerless in making a difference regarding these issues that seem so much larger than what’s in our control. The first step, and one we can all take, is getting educated on this pressing matter. Cornell University Press’ motto is, “Changing the World One Book at a Time.” In applying this attitude to the growing climate change problem, we’ve compiled this list of environmentally conscious must-reads.
It is not a question of whether the planet is sustainable; the challenge facing life on Earth—and the life of the Earth—is whether an expanding and high-consumption species like ours is sustainable. Only new resources, new priorities, new policies and, most of all, new knowledge, can reverse the damage that humanity is doing to our home—and ourselves. A sustainable human future, Rhodes concludes in this eloquent, sobering, but ultimately optimistic book, will require a sense of responsible stewardship, for we are not owners of this planet; we are tenants.
“It’s impossible to grasp the whole planet or integrate all the descriptions of it. But because we live here, we have to try. This is not just an artistic compulsion or an existential yearning, still less an academic exercise. It’s a survival issue. This is the only planet we have. We’re stuck here, and we don’t own the place—it would be the height of arrogance to assume that we do. We’re tenants here, not owners, but we’re tenants with hope for a long-term tenancy. We want to extend our lease just as far as we can.”—from Earth
Addressing participatory, transdisciplinary approaches to local stewardship of the environment, Grassroots to Global features scholars and stewards exploring the broad impacts of civic engagement with the environment. Chapters focus on questions that include: How might faith-based institutions in Chicago expand the work of church-community gardens? How do volunteer “nature cleaners” in Tehran attempt to change Iranian social norms? How does an international community in Baltimore engage local people in nature restoration while fostering social equity? How does a child in an impoverished coal mining region become a local and national leader in abandoned mine restoration? And can a loose coalition that transforms blighted areas in Indian cities into pocket parks become a social movement? From the findings of the authors’ diverse case studies, editor Marianne Krasny provides a way to help readers understand the greater implications of civic ecology practices through the lens of multiple disciplines.
In Citizen Science, experts from a variety of disciplines—including scientists and education specialists working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, where many large citizen science programs use birds as proxies for biodiversity—share their experiences of creating and implementing successful citizen science projects, primarily those that use massive data sets gathered by citizen scientists to better understand the impact of environmental change.
In a speech delivered in Japanese at Cornell University, Naoto Kan describes the harrowing days after a cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami led to the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In vivid language, he tells how he struggled with the possibility that tens of millions of people would need to be evacuated. Cornell Global Perspectives is an imprint of Cornell University’s Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. The works examine critical global challenges, often from an interdisciplinary perspective, and are intended for a non-specialist audience. The Distinguished Speaker series presents edited transcripts of talks delivered at Cornell, both in the original language and in translation.
Throughout the twentieth century, despite compelling evidence that some pesticides posed a threat to human and environmental health, growers and the USDA continued to favor agricultural chemicals over cultural and biological forms of pest control. In Ghostworkers and Greens, Adam Tompkins reveals a history of unexpected cooperation between farmworker groups and environmental organizations. Environmental organizations and farmworker groups also acted as watchdogs, monitoring the activity of regulatory agencies and bringing suit when necessary to ensure that they fulfilled their responsibilities to the public. These groups served as not only lobbyists but also essential components of successful democratic governance, ensuring public participation and more effective policy implementation.
City of Forests, City of Farms is a history of recent urban forestry and agriculture policy and programs in New York City. Centered on the 2007 initiative PlaNYC, this account tracks the development of policies that increased sustainability efforts in the city and dedicated more than $400 million dollars to trees via the MillionTreesNYC campaign. Lindsay K. Campbell uses PlaNYC to consider how and why nature is constructed in New York City. Campbell regards sustainability planning as a process that unfolds through the strategic interplay of actors, the deployment of different narrative frames, and the mobilizing and manipulation of the physical environment, which affects nonhuman animals and plants as well as the city’s residents.
Brenna O’Donnell is a publicity intern in the marketing department of Cornell University Press and strong advocate for environmental policy reform.
According to the United Nations’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, there are more people displaced by conflict in the world today than at any point since the second world war. An estimated 66 million people are currently displaced, either within their home countries or abroad. Since the 1951 United Nations Convention, a refugee has been defined as a person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” Although this has been the word’s standard legal definition after its adoption in the post-war period, the 1951 refugee convention has been subsequently expanded to come to terms with the new scenarios created by the Cold War and decolonization. More recently, the challenges posed by globalization have led to a further reappraisal of the 1951 convention, which no longer seems adequate for the reality of twenty-first-century international politics.
Precisely when the 1951 convention inserted the refugee into international law, Hannah Arendt—who had fled to the United States to escape Nazi persecution—situated refugees at the center of political philosophy. In her classic work The Origins of Totalitarianism, published for the first time in English in 1951, Arendt carefully examined the condition of “stateless” people who, in losing their nationality status, were denied the very “right to have rights.” Since then, political philosophers have debated at length the moral obligations sovereign states have toward refugees, discussing whether political communities require closure to preserve the distinctiveness of cultures, or whether it is necessary to rethink the distinction between citizens and aliens as well as the relationship between sovereignty and human rights.
While political philosophy and international relations have been at the forefront of the growing field of refugee studies, history has remained at the fringe of scholarly debate and is often accused of ignoring refugee movements. As a result, refugee studies has largely developed as an ahistorical field that lacks a historical understanding of the many questions it confronts. In reality, our epoch is not the first to struggle with how to define the status of the refugee or how to treat and manage refugee flows. Refugees shaped European and global history well before the modern age; it was only that the “methodological nationalism” of nineteenth-and twentieth-century historians and social scientists failed to see it. In fact, the term “refugee” appears in English in the late seventeenth century as a translation from the French réfugié, to indicate the Huguenots who had been expelled from France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Already in the previous century the Reformation had provoked a long-term process of religious migration, forcing Christian, Jewish and Muslim minorities to flee and relocate to escape persecution.
My forthcoming book, The Refugee-Diplomat. Venice, England and the Reformation, opens a new chapter in the historical study of refugees by recovering the agency of refugees in early modern diplomacy and showing that even as they were forced into exile they also contributed to shaping the new emerging system of international relations. During the early modern period, when diplomatic practices were not yet uniform or standardized, religious refugees served many different diplomatic functions and were employed as intelligencers, cultural brokers, translators, propagandists, and, at times, even as representatives and negotiators. As I show with a series of case studies, refugees were not merely intermediaries between states or carriers of information for their patrons. On the contrary, in early modern Europe they functioned as a parallel and alternative diplomatic network outside of formal channels, reproducing the authority of states while also subverting it “through their appropriation of diplomatic practices for their own purposes.”
Diego Pirillo is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at UC Berkeley. He specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of early modern Europe and the Atlantic world, with an emphasis on Italy, England and early America.
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