It’s been awhile since I could legitimately sing, “Give me a head with hair/long, beautiful hair.” But the Cowsills, via America’s tribal love-rock musical, expressed the importance of the streamin’, flaxen, waxin’ locks with winning pop harmonies and frequent radio airplay. What more need be said? Plenty, it turns out. Today we open the UIP vaults to let the sun shine in on Press books that address the meaning of the decorative dead (and in some cases dread) cells that grow on our heads.

gillBeauty Shop Politics: African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry, by Tiffany M. Gill
The beauty industry played a crucial role in the creation of the modern black female identity. Indeed, the seemingly frivolous space of a beauty salon actually stimulated social, political, and economic change. With a broad scope that encompasses the role of gossip in salons, ethnic beauty products, lucid portrayals, and the social meanings of African American hair textures, Tiffany M. Gill shows how African American beauty entrepreneurs built and sustained a vibrant culture of activism in beauty salons and schools.

And the phenomenon goes back a long way. As Gill explained to National Public Radio:

We see that it’s around 1820 where there began to be sort of growing discourses about how African-American men were seen as dangerous, should not share spaces with white women, and so African-American women sort of transitioned very nationally to that. So we see African-American women in slavery caring for the beauty needs of those that they were forced to work for.

But also we see that, particularly in urban areas like New Orleans, that some of these enslaved women were able to actually hire themselves out and make some money in the process. So the beauty industry does provide opportunities for African-American women to earn a living.

scandinavian studiesHair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Hair Loss, the Tonsure, and Masculinity in Medieval Iceland,” by Carl Phelpstead
Today we venture into the Journals area of the Press, sampling from the Spring 2013 issue of Scandinavian StudiesLet’s jump ahead in the article to contemplate beardlessness, truly a stigma among the manly and oft-berserk men who peopled Medieval Iceland:

Nevertheless, the most famous association of hair with masculinity in the Icelandic sagas is undoubtedly the inability of the chieftain Njáll Þorgeirsson to grow a beard in Njáls Saga.

A great deal has been written, of course, on gender and sexuality in Njáls saga, and there is no need to do more here than recall that Njáll’s beardlessness is noted as remarkable when he is first introduced; that Hallgerðr mocks him for it on more than one occasion; that he is more than once referred to as “Old Beardless”; that the Njálssons, who are known as taðskegglingar (Dung-beardlings) because of their ability to grow beards despite being Njáll’s descendants, kill Sigmundr Lambason for composing slanderous verses on the subject; and that Flosi makes explicit at the Alþingi that Njáll’s lack of a beard casts doubt on his masculinity: “for there are many who can’t tell by looking at him whether he’s a man or a woman.”

falkWomen for President: Media Bias in Nine Campaigns, 2E, by Erika Falk
Hillary Clinton is running for the White House again, and that guarantees one thing: a lot of foolish coverage of her appearance. Erika Falk goes back to the 1870s to show how women candidates have had to deal with this strain of sexism ever since they got the idea they could run the country. This second edition includes Clinton’s 2008 run, when her hair and everything else about her looks became a topic explored in nauseating detail, as if voters could not conjure a clear mental image of one of the most famous human beings on earth.

No doubt Chuck Todd, Don Lemon, and the rest of the media banalosphere is revving up the objectification machine for next year. In the meantime, let’s listen to Falk as she describes what reporters focused on back in the Ocho:

The most widely cited was a piece in the Washington Post by Robin Givhan, who noted, “There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.” Despite the fact that Clinton was talking about education policy, Givhan reported, “She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance.”

The media watchdog website Media Matters noted that following the Post’s article, broadcast television also focused on Clinton’s appearance. Their researchers analyzed news segments on July 30 on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They found that “MSNBC devoted a total of 23 minutes and 42 seconds to segments discussing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ‘cleavage.’ .?.?. During the same period, CNN devoted 3 minutes and 54 seconds to coverage of Clinton’s cleavage, while Fox News devoted none.”

Her hair is up here, people.

cat for shapiro jpegIt is seldom mentioned that cats are one of the great lawyers of the animal kingdom. Say “no” to a cat and it will look at you with an expression that answers: “Please define ‘no.’” And so on. I don’t think it would surprise any of us if a lawyer ate our food and destroyed our glassware. Maybe the biggest surprise is that we actually go to sleep while these creatures are on the loose in our homes.

Fe-Lines, the new UIP volume of French cat poetry by translator Norman Shapiro, offers cautionary verse on the more legalistic facets of feline personality with “The Cat and the Bat,” by Paul Stevens (1830-1882) :

The traitorous rogue impenitent,
Eager to break his word, or bent
On fouler villainy, will use
Any excuse or wily ruse
To justify his infamy.

Continue reading

NagarF14Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism by Richa Nagar was named as Honorable Mention in the Gloria Anzaldúa Book Prize by the National Women’s Studies Association.

The committee stated that the book was recognized because “it addresses important issues of transnational feminist alliances and praxis, the struggles over translation, and power differentials in scholarly and activist work and coalitions.”

The award was announced at the NWSA’s annual convention in Milwaukee, November 12-15.

FinneganS15Making Photography Matter: A Viewer’s History from the Civil War to the Great Depression by Cara A. Finnegan has won the Outstanding Book of the Year by the National Communication Association’s Visual Communication division.

In Making Photography Matter, Finnegan illustrates how encounters with photography helped viewers negotiate the emergent anxieties and crises of U.S. public life spanning the Lincoln era to the Depression era.

The NCA awards committee chair stated that “reviewers were impressed with the book’s careful historical analysis and its thoughtful and clear prose.”

The award will be presented at the NCA’s annual convention in Las Vegas later this month.


schlosserThe uber-digital generation may think that Internet traditions began with them, or at least no further back than their parents. For example, anyone spending time on political blogs or in the comments sections of people writing on politics eventually comes across Godwin’s Law, that online adage that states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.” But Godwin’s Law actually goes back to before mass participation in the Internet. Nazi refs on ancient Usenet forums, and by ancient we mean in the 1980s and 1990s, prompted author and lawyer Mike Godwin to point out the near ubiquity of the phenomenon.

Yet Godwin’s Law not only predates Usenet, it predates computer networks and Godwin himself.

During the early Cold War, the democratic West and Communist Bloc vied for the soul of East Germany via radio waves. The news UIP title Cold War on the Airwaves explores this struggle. Nicholas J. Schlosser‘s study is a history of a Berlin-based American propaganda broadcaster called Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) and its largely successful efforts to provide an alternative information source for Germans behind the Iron Curtain. How successful? Even the communists running the German Democratic Republic (GDR) became so frustrated with it that they fell straight in Godwin’s Law:

As with many GDR radio broadcasts, the GDR anti-RIAS campaign sought to draw continuities between RIAS and the propaganda of the Nazis. A number of cartoons appeared featuring two grinning caricatures of Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler looking down approvingly on an RIAS reporter. One cartoon featured a man lying in a chair, hand raised in a Nazi salute, yelling through an RIAS and NWDR microphone. From the microphone emerged, in writing, a number of the lies supposedly being broadcast by the two stations: that Christmas is banned in the GDR, that the Rubel will be the new form of currency in the Eastern Zone, and that West Germany was not rearming. The cartoon then entreats its reader, “RIAS and NWDR are war-mongers! Smash the lies of the enemies of the people!” These exact caricatures of Hitler and Goebbels appear in another cartoon, this time behind a growling American soldier speaking into an RIAS microphone and carrying a bomb with a death’s head symbol on it. The cartoon then declares, “RIAS Hounding is War Hounding!” A third example using the same Goebbels-Hitler caricature featured the two looking down upon an American soldier sitting behind a desk. The cartoon is titled “Whom does RIAS serve?” On the desk lies a plan for an invasion of the Soviet Union. In the soldier’s hand is an RIAS microphone. Emitting from the microphone is the word “RIAS” with words and phrases standing in for each of its letters: “R” for “Revanchepolitik” (Revenge Policy), “I” for “Intervention,” “A” for “Antibolschewismus” (Anti-Bolshevism), and “S” for “Spionage Sabotage” (Espionage and Sabotage).

The pamphlets, cartoons, and posters cited above were intended to evoke fear of RIAS. It was not just a radio station, the material declared, but also a dangerous spy center that aimed to plunge Germany into another war. Yet not all anti-RIAS propaganda was aimed at depicting RIAS as a terrifying institution. Some targeted RIAS listeners, characterizing them as individuals whose gullibility and naiveté threatened to destroy the GDR and world peace. One of the clearest depictions of this notion is seen in a cartoon from the February 1, 1956, issue of Eulenspiegel. It depicts a buxom woman, with a bottle of milk under one arm and a jar of honey in the other, standing in the window of a cardboard house, with the RIAS logo overhead. A curious man looks at a sign next to her that reads, “Here flow milk and honey.” Yet it is clear that the house is merely a façade, for behind the woman is an army barracks and nothing else. RIAS’s lies only seduced the naïve and easily manipulated. Another newspaper cartoon from 1952 illustrated this well. Titled “Der RIAS Hörer” (The RIAS Listener), the cartoon depicts a man about to walk off a cliff. At the bottom are skeletons of old soldiers wearing steel helmets adorned with swastikas. The man is walking into a cloud that has “Lügen!” (Lies) and “Kriegshetze!” (War Hounder) written on it.

UPW-Logo-2015University Press Week gives us an opportunity to introduce readers to some of the most interesting scholarship happening not only at the Illinois Press but also the work being published by our colleagues.

Today on the AAUP Press Week blog tour select presses are posting conversations with authors and editors which highlight one aspect of this compelling work.

Feminist Media Studies series editor Carol Stabile is a professor in the School of Journalism and Communication, department of Women’s and Gender Studies, at the University of Oregon.

Series Acquiring Editor Dawn Durante asked Stabile some questions about the current state of Feminist Media Studies.

Q: How would you characterize the evolution of feminist media studies over the last decade?

Carol Stabile: Feminist media studies has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade, fueled by the work of a new generation of scholars doing research on gender that is far more attentive to the ways in which gender combines with race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, ability, religion, and other elements of identity than ever before.

I think it has helped that traditional media—pushed by the increasingly centrality of the internet—have begun to realize that women and people of color are significant audiences and finally are attempting—albeit in uneven and sometimes minor ways—to think about how to address and capitalize on those audiences. The expansion of critical attention within feminist media studies in particular from a focus on representation to audiences and production has also been transforming how we think about media, both historically and in the contemporary moment.

Q: What is the value of studying popular cultural, sometimes seems ephemeral, within a feminist media studies framework?

Stabile: One of my archivist colleagues told me recently that they are in the business of trying to figure out what might be considered culturally important and worthy of preserving for future generations. As someone who has spent a lot of time in the archives, reading materials that were considered ephemeral by most people, I understand all the ways in which what author Elana Levine has described as “feminized popular culture” has been devalued and historically marginalized. I think that the importance of feminist media studies lies in its attention not to that which is considered culturally or aesthetically valuable in the contemporary moment (recognizing as we do that those are historically contingent categories), but to the everyday, to what moves people rather than what arbiters of cultural value deem relevant, and the deep understanding that popular culture provides the warp and the woof from which people create the stories that help them make sense of the world and their places in it. Continue reading

Which came first, the cave painting or the story behind the images? Even anthropologists wonder. Storytelling is at least a contender for Second Human Art, cooking being the agreed-upon first, not that inadequately-cooked mammoth stuffed with termites would make the cover of Everyday with Rachel Ray.

The U. of Illinois Press publishes many works that delve into the stories we relate to others and ourselves. What a happy coincidence that this journey through the UIP archives coincides with the Association of American University Presses’s celebration of University Press Week. Today, the combined might of the AAUP focuses on #TBT, the hashtag that takes us all back into publishing history.

University Press Week 2015 Blog Tour: Thursday – Throwback Thursday

Hitch your wagon to our star and explore the most Homeric of art forms with this collection of tales and truths, this survey of myths and memories.

Continue reading

UPW-Logo-2015University Press Week is celebrated worldwide from November 8-14. The week is designed to draw attention to the great scholarly publishing work that challenges boundaries and stimulates thought.

During Press Week the Association of American University Presses is hosting some online events that can be viewed by anyone, anywhere they have online access. On Friday, November 13th at 11:00 am Central/12:00 pm Eastern scholars can get a primer on what it takes to book their work into print with the online seminar It’s Not Scary: The Art of Getting Published with a University Press.

Moderator: Ada Brunstein, Executive Editor, Oxford University Press

Speakers:  Jennifer Crewe, Director, Columbia University Press, Brian Halley, Senior Editor, University of Massachusetts Press, Christine Henry, Editorial Director, Science, Social Science, and Reference The University of Chicago Press, Ivan Lett, Director of Communications, Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Getting from idea to published book can be tricky to navigate. This panel will discuss tips and strategies for working with scholarly presses on every step of the publication process—from proposal to sales and marketing.

It’s Not Scary: The Art of Getting Published with a University Press
When: November 13th, 11:00 am Central/12:00 pm Eastern

Where: Google+ Hangouts on Air

The inaugural University Press Week was held in November 2012 and was part of AAUP’s 75th anniversary festivities. On the eve of that inaugural event President Jimmy Carter said, “When as president I proclaimed a ‘University Press Week’ in 1978, I did so to honor the important role of university presses in advancing and preserving knowledge. Since then my personal appreciation and understanding of university presses has deepened. I am glad that University Press Week will again be celebrated. The special character and contribution of university presses should be better known and better supported.”


UPW-Logo-2015 It may be National Split Pea Soup Week, but it is time to put the green mash aside and get on the good foot. What foot? University Press Week, 2015, the boldest and ice coldest UPW of them all.

UPs around the world are gathering on campuses. They’re gathering online. They’re gathering in the spirit worlds bathed in the shimmering light of knowledge that emanates from the college.

University Press Week 2015 Blog Tour: Wednesday – Design in University Press and Scholarly Publishing

That’s right. We feed the visual among you as we turn it over and turn it on for the people who bedazzle us all with their fine designs. Hop aboard the night train to see what’s cooking in looking at Northwestern University Press and The Mighty MIT. Click it like you mean it on over to this ivy and that ivy and that one, too. Athabasca University Press tears the roof off the mother, KUP is another, and if you handle the excitement, you want Syracuse, brother. Don’t shirk the Hoyas and never forget Stanford equals “enjoyas.”

You know the score. University presses publish the best scholarship from the foremost thinkers Working It Out today. U. Press Week turns the red hot spotlight on what they do to keep that intellectual popcorn popping. Chase the funk out your head and take a tour of blogs that incite, recite, and excite on the big-time issues in publishing and the major accomplishments in the (Get on) UP universe.


If you’re headed out to Milwaukee to soak up knowledge at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, you’ll want to be prepared.

That’s why we’ve come up with an essential UIP reading list for NWSA. Here are five books and journal articles that are good warm up reads for the conference you can bring along for the plane, on the airport tram, or even in one of Milwaukee’s fine cabs. By the time the conference starts you’ll be ready to dazzle everyone at the Wisconsin Center coffee cart.


1. Latina Lives in Milwaukee by Theresa Delgadillo. Book signing 4pm, Saturday, November 14 at a reception held in the Illinois exhibit.

Latin American communities have a long history in The Mil. Theresa Delgadillo went to the source—Latina women from across the generations—to tell some of the overlooked stories that shaped the city. The women discuss migrations for work and education or away from violence, their struggles at home and in the workplace, their efforts to build community and secure civil rights, and their experiences as pioneers and participants in activities ranging from business to schooling to philanthropy.


2. “Developing a Nonsexist/Nongendered Language Policy at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire”, Erica J. Benson, Theresa D. Kemp, Angela Pirlott, Casey Coughlin, Quinn Forss and Laura Becherer.

This article in the journal Feminist Teacher discusses implementing nongendered language policies at institutions. Its a wonderful portrait of putting theory into practice. And why stop with reading? We’re celebrating Feminist Teacher’s 25th volume year! Join us for the reception at our booth on Friday, November 13, at 4-5 pm.

3. “Multidimensional Approaches to Examining Gender and Racial/Ethnic Stratification in Health”, Tyson H. Brown and Taylor W. Hargrove.

The journal Women, Gender, and Families of Color brings us this piece examining gender and racial disparities in healthcare.

Levine4. Cupcakes, Pinterest, and Ladyporn: Feminized Popular Culture in the Early Twenty-First Century.  Editor Elana Levine will sign copies of her book at the University of Illinois Press Both in the Exhibit Hall, Saturday November 14 at 4pm.

All of us living la vida mainstream have become aware of the increasing power and influence of pop culture aimed at women. Elana Levine spearheads an exploration of the new century’s proliferation, and embrace, of femme-oriented culture. The writers cover the entire waterfront from mommy apps to celebrity branding, from Kardashians and their watchers to Fifty Shades of Grey and its readers. Celebrity gossip. Lifetime. Gospel and R&B performances. Women’s magazines. Cupcakes. Everything is here, and Elana wants to hand you a copy of the signed uber-knowledge that makes sense of it all.

BrandzelS16*5. Against Citizenship: The Violence of the Normative by Amy L. Brandzel.

*Technically, this isn’t a good warmup read for NWSA 2015. The book doesn’t publish until March of 2016, but if you visit the Illinos Press booth during the conference you can sign up to win a copy. If we draw your name, you have the perfect read to get you ready for NWSA 2016.