faithThe morning dispatches bring the unwelcome news that chemical weapons may have been deployed this week in the Mideast, a reminder that the weapons, though long held considered beyond the pale, remain a threat. And, truth to tell, it was not long ago that gas warfare had its advocates even in the U.S. defense establishment.

Behind the Gas Mask offers a history of the Chemical Warfare Service, the department tasked with improving the Army’s ability to use and defend against chemical weapons. After the war, the CWS lobbied hard to include chemical weapons in the U.S. arsenal, arguing that international treaties wouldn’t prevent use of poison gas, and that for all the related horrors, chemical weapons were more humane that artillery and other projectiles.

As author Thomas Faith writes, the arguments fell on mostly deaf ears:

Like all public relations campaigns, however, the CWS’s advertisements did not always reflect reality, and its methods were not always commendable. CWS officers falsely claimed that exposure to poison gas could cure respiratory ailments and insinuated that pacifist and women’s organizations were communist bulwarks. Fries hoped that gas troops would one day fight as part of every army and division in the military, predicting, “Chemical Warfare will endure in the future, despite all opposition.” But while the CWS’s accomplishments during the First World War and the postwar period were significant, the organization and its allies in the domestic chemical industry and Congress failed to mobilize public opinion to support the use of chemical weapons in future wars. The American people remained skeptical that poison gasses were humane weapons, and U.S. foreign policymakers worked to ensure that they would not be used in future conflicts. In the 1920s, U.S. negotiators secured international agreements that outlawed the use of chemical weapons. It took time for the United States and other nations to ratify formal international prohibitions of chemical weapons but, in the interim, strong international norms against their use mostly prevented their employment. The story of the CWS suggests that the autonomy of the national defense partnership known as the military-industrial complex can be limited when policymakers confront pervasive, hostile public opinion.

murphyHenry03Murphy Hicks Henry, author of Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass, has been given a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Musical Association (IBMA). The award is given to artists and organizations that have made significant contributions to bluegrass music.

Other 2015 recipients of the award are Alison Brown, “Bashful Brother” Oswald Kirby, Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin), and the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

The awards will be given at The IBMA Awards Show, held on October 1 during the World of Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh, N.C. The awards show will be broadcast live on SiriusXM Satellite Radio (Bluegrass Junction) and syndicated to more than 300 U.S. markets and 14 foreign networks.

Eighty-five years ago today, out where the warm trade winds blow, Don Ho began life in Hawai’i, one of the nicer outposts of our current reality. In time, his mellow singing entertained so many people that Don became synonymous with the Islands. His trademark tune “Tiny Bubbles” put him on the pop charts and, indirectly, The Brady Bunch. During the Seventies, network television gifted him with the highest tribute to celebrity/genius that our mob culture can offer: a daytime talk show. The program only lasted a season or two but Don proved nigh-immortal, entertaining crowds at his Waikiki club until ill-health took its toll in the Oughts.

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Meet the UI Press is a recurring feature that delves into issues affecting publishing. Today, industry advice columnist The Bolshevik answers your questions.


Dear Bolshevik,
I have a scholarly monograph I wish to submit to an academic press, in the hopes that it will be bought by toilers and workers everywhere. Yet when I tell people of my plans they look confused or their eyes glaze over. Clearly I’m in danger of making the kind of bone-headed mistake that will vex an editor and diminish my chances. Help! Signed, Tenureless in Tashkent

Tenureless: Thank you for writing. Note first that one should only use monograph when talking to one’s colleagues or to an acquisitions editor. Why? The word monograph, though an accurate description of a specific kind of written work, is easily mistaken by the layman for (1) an order of egg-laying mammals native to Australia and New Guinea; (2) a primitive record-playing device only capable of emitting the sound of a single instrument or, as we used to say in the USSR, a modern record-playing device; (3) a geometric drawing toy with plastic rings that never seems to work properly. Thus, the confused expressions you’re seeing may be because the listener is trying to work out why you now own a platypus. That said, research shows the word monograph also belongs to a still-unclassified suite of terms—colloquially termed Casus ennui by linguists and educators—that for unknown reasons make a majority of humans want to put a fork in their eye. Steer clear of the word outside of professional circles and you should be fine.

Dear Bolshevik,
At present, my book is making its way through the marketing department at a university press. I have given it the tentative but straightforward title, Feminist Nose-Flutists of the Pir Panjal. Yet the marketers have pressured me to make the work more “accessible,” starting with the title. Their suggestion: Harlequin Hotties of the Himalayas. I resist, for obvious reasons. Can you provide me with fodder for a convincing counter-argument? Signed, Ethnoconfuseiologist

Ethno: Thank you for writing. You are encountering a phenomenon brought about by the noble clash of scholarly ideals against the always-ravenous hunger of the Capitalist System. The answer to your conundrum lies in your expectations for your book. Do you wish to reach just the small circle of experts in your field? Or do you dream of injecting the exotic musics of nose-flutists into the mainstream? I advise attempting to find a middle ground with your publisher. For example, using Feminist Nose-Flutists of the Pir Panjal as the sub-title, while conceding to Market Forces with an accessible main title that uses evocative but proven nouns like “blood,” “sexuality,” “explosion,” “cats,” or “ungodly amounts of money.” Good luck.

cresapAndy Warhol, of all the famous figures out there, might mind least that we use his birthday as an opportunity to push a book. His cultivated public persona as a naif obscured an artist and, let’s face it, an entertainer possessed of an uncanny savvy for attracting attention. From soup cans to Wayne Gretzky portraits to the Velvet Underground, Warhol inverted and subverted and perverted and just plain verted pop culture like a maestro.

In the UIP book Pop, Trickster, Fool, Kelly M. Cresap performs a nearly impossible task: accounting for the far-ranging implications of Warhol’s sustained performance as a naif. This book is as much for those who despise Warhol as those who admire him, a good thing, as even in this era of Warhol calendars and coffee cups the former still outnumber the latter, with those baffled by him perhaps most numerous of all. Cresap approaches the Warholverse from many directions, offering a vigorous account of the search for Warhol’s brain, a polemic on camp taste, and a town-hall forum representing four decades of intense debate about the artist.

Isn’t it time to dig on what all the fuss is about? Pop, Trickster, Fool shines the light on Warhol’s place at the nexus of postmodernism and queer identity politics, and on his pioneering the persona of the confused simpleton who is not only in on the joke, but telling it in about eleven different ways.

This month brings a number of new in paperback releases from the Fall 2015 season including four titles that delve into the deep well of of American music.

Rimler-GershwinGeorge Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait by Walter Rimler

Legendary composer George Gershwin was a man of ambitious craft and an unsettled personal life.

In George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait, Walter Rimler makes use of fresh sources, including newly discovered letters by the composer’s lover and musical confidante Kay Swift as well as correspondence between and interviews with intimates of Ira and Leonore Gershwin. It is written with spirited prose and contains more than two dozen photographs.

The Jerusalem Post says of George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait, “Rimler shines in weaving together anecdotes, correspondence and a wealth of interviews with the composer and his contemporaries to create a vibrant, flesh-and-blood picture of the man and his music.”

CapsManciniHenry Mancini:
Reinventing Film Music 
by John Caps

The man behind slinky sound of The Pink Panther and the staccato sound noir of Peter Gunn changed the way the movies sounded and captured multiple Oscars, Grammys and millions of album sales along the way.

In Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music, John Caps traces Mancini’s collaborations with important directors and shows how he homed in on specific dramatic or comic aspects of each film to create musical effects through clever instrumentation, eloquent melodies, and the strong narrative qualities of his scores. Accessible and engaging, this fresh view of Mancini’s oeuvre and influence will delight and inform fans of film and popular music.

Library Journal raves the book “will satisfy musically experienced readers as well as laypeople. It deserves a place in every film and popular music collection.”


Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins by Diane Diekman

Singer, songwriter and race car driver Marty Robbins was a restless seeker.  In the award-winning Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life Marty Robbins, Diane Diekman reveals the life of a man who went to extremes to fill his restless spirit.

Drawing from personal interviews and in-depth research, biographer Diekman explains how Robbins saw himself as a drifter, a man always searching for self-fulfillment and inner peace. Born Martin David Robinson to a hardworking mother and an abusive alcoholic father, he never fully escaped the insecurities burned into him by a poverty-stricken nomadic childhood in the Arizona desert. Even a music career that saw over 90 of his songs place on the Billboard charts wouldn’t satisfy Robbins, who became a serious NASCAR driver.

KaufmanWoody Guthrie, American Radical by Will Kaufman

With his face emblazoned on a U.S. postage stamp and his song “This Land is Your Land” taught in elementary schools for decades, Woody Guthrie is entrenched in the mainstream of American culture.  Yet, Guthrie’s politics were far afield from the mainstream of his time.

Utilizing a wealth of previously unseen archival materials such as letters, song lyrics, essays, personal reflections, photos, and other manuscripts, Woody Guthrie, American Radical introduces a heretofore unknown Woody Guthrie: the canny political strategist, fitful thinker, and cultural front activist practically buried in the general public’s romantic celebration of the “Dust Bowl Troubadour.” 


We like to joke about financial problems here at the UIP blog, in part because most of our sibling presses can relate, in part because the gods created comedy to allow humans to express pain in socially acceptable ways. But on occasion the money issue fights its way into the frontal lobe of the AAUP collective and must be taken seriously.

On Wednesday, August 12, trustees at the University of Akron will discuss the fate of the school’s award-winning university press. The Akron staff and its allies are mobilizing to lobby the trustees with signs, music, and love; meanwhile, social media is already on the job and lays out the brief on what’s going on:

The actions by the University of Akron administration in laying off the UA Press director and staff and proposing to transfer operations to an already-understaffed library would mean the end of the Press as a legitimate academic publisher.

Dora Malech at the Kenyon Review adds:

I have known and worked with, and I continue to know and work with, administrators who work toward the greater good and serve as true stewards. But as is so often the case, the facts of this situation include the usual bloated salaries at the top of the university food chain, alongside a troubling lack of clarity as to where the university’s money is being allocated.

Anyone who follows what’s happening in academia is familiar with the stakes, the adversaries, and the motivations behind this brand of budget cutting. It’s hard to believe that closing a university press—in all but a few cases a small number buried in a gigantic budget—will make any difference to a school’s bottom line. Actually, “hard to believe” gives administrators too much credit. It won’t make any difference.

Fortunately, there are ways to help:

To coincide with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) annual meeting August 6-9, 2015, in San Francisco we are offering eBook versions of four University of Illinois Press communication titles on sale for $2.99. The sale will run through August 31.

Cover for Moscowitz: The Battle over Marriage: Gay Rights Activism through the Media. Click for larger imageThe Battle over Marriage: Gay Rights Activism through the Media by Leigh Moscowitz
Over the past decade, the controversial issue of gay marriage has emerged as a primary battle in the culture wars and a definitive social issue of our time. The subject moved to the forefront of mainstream public debate in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began authorizing same-sex marriage licenses, and it has remained in the forefront through three presidential campaigns and numerous state ballot initiatives. In this thorough analysis, Leigh Moscowitz examines how prominent news outlets presented this issue from 2003 to 2012, a time when intense news coverage focused unprecedented attention on gay and lesbian life. Ultimately, The Battle over Marriage reveals both the promises and the limitations of commercial media as a route to social change. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for underwood: Chronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss. Click for larger imageChronicling Trauma: Journalists and Writers on Violence and Loss by Doug Underwood
To attract readers, journalists have long trafficked in the causes of trauma–crime, violence, warfare–as well as psychological profiling of deviance and aberrational personalities. Novelists, in turn, have explored these same subjects in developing their characters and by borrowing from their own traumatic life stories to shape the themes and psychological terrain of their fiction. Grounded in the latest research in the fields of trauma studies, literary biography, and the history of journalism, this study draws upon the lively and sometimes breathtaking accounts of popular writers such as Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Graham Greene, and Truman Capote, exploring the role that trauma has played in shaping their literary works. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for HILLS: The Struggle for Control of Global Communication: The Formative Century. Click for larger imageThe Struggle for Control of Global Communication: The Formative Century by Jill Hills
Tracing the development of communication markets and the regulation of international communications from the 1840s through World War I, Jill Hills examines the political, technological, and economic forces at work during the formative century of global communication. The Struggle for Control of Global Communication analyzes power relations within the arena of global communications from the inception of the telegraph through the successive technologies of submarine telegraph cables, ship-to-shore wireless, broadcast radio, shortwave wireless, the telephone, and movies with sound. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

Cover for UNDERWOOD: From Yahweh to Yahoo!: The Religious Roots of the Secular Press. Click for larger imageFrom Yahweh to Yahoo! The Religious Roots of the Secular Press by Doug Underwood
Presenting religion as journalism’s silent partner, From Yahweh to Yahoo! provides a fresh and surprising view of the religious impulses at work in the typical newsroom by delving into the largely unexamined parallels between religion and journalism, from the “media” of antiquity to the electronic idolatry of the Internet. Focusing on how the history of religion in the United States has been entwined with the growth of the media, Doug Underwood makes the case that American journalists are rooted in the nation’s moral and religious heritage and operate, in important ways, as personifications of the old religious virtues. Buy the Kindle version here. Buy the Kobo version here. Buy the Google Play version here. Buy the Nook version here.

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McNallyToday our 1915: Whatta Year! series turns to pop culture colossus Frank Sinatra, born on December 12 of that storied year in Hoboken, New Jersey. “Ol Blue Eyes” made his name with his voice, but he was a fixture on the silver screen beginning with the 1944 film Higher and Higher. Karen McNally’s When Frankie Went to Hollywood takes a look at the cinematic career of the pop icon. Recently, McNally answered a few questions about Sinatra’s movie roles and public persona for the UIP blog.

Q: As you note in When Frankie Went to Hollywood, the postwar era saw an ongoing negotiation of what it meant to be an American Man. While it’s easy to how Sinatra’s Danny Ocean-esque roles appealed to audiences, how did he influence that negotiation in other directions through his emotionally nuanced portrayals of vulnerability—say, in Some Came Running and even The Manchurian Candidate?

Karen McNally: Emotional vulnerability is something that’s essential to Sinatra’s post-war image. It’s very clearly evident in a number of the concept albums he recorded with Nelson Riddle and Capitol Records in the 1950s, for example In the Wee Small Hours (1955) and Only the Lonely (1958), through which Sinatra masters what he terms the ‘saloon song’. The album covers are a visual representation of the male loss and vulnerability Sinatra expresses musically and are also extremely cinematic. The cover for In the Wee Small Hours, for example, presents an image of Sinatra alone in a dark urban street with a lamppost in the background, cigarette in hand, as though he were in a 1940s film noir. So Sinatra develops an image across a variety of performances and characterizations which conveys a highly masculine sense of vulnerability. Continue reading

Monday marked the 75th anniversary of Bugs Bunny’s first appearance. Icon and Coyote-level mischief maker, tormentor of ducks and Fudds and violent cowboys, Bugs tapped into all kinds of pop culture in search of plots and laffs (as we spell it in the business). It takes true genius to mine laughs from Richard Wagner:

John Philip Sousa, subject of Patrick Warfield’s Making the March King, made it a point to introduce Wagner’s towering works to his American audiences. The Marine Band he led could draw on one of the deepest repertoires of any then-touring band, and Sousa loved to program both contemporary and well-known European pieces. Not that even he didn’t have missteps:

Sousa later wrote that he had been warned of the highbrow tastes that permeated Pittsburgh and so had programmed the best works of Brahms, Bach, Wagner, and Strauss. Expecting wild applause after the first number (the overture to Rossini’s William Tell), Sousa turned to the audience but was greeted with only silence.

After several repetitions of this cold reception, the bandmaster ordered his men to pull up “Annie Rooney,” and suddenly “strong men wept with delight, husbands threw their arms about their astonished wives and the rest of the evening was, without question, Annie Rooney’s!” This story might be taken for an exaggeration had it not been substantially confirmed by the press, one paper noting that the audience was so delighted to hear “Annie Rooney” just as the First Lady “hears it every time the band plays at the White House . . . that they had to have ‘Annie’ over again.”

Thus did Sousa learn a valuable lesson: as much as the band may want to play the new stuff, the audience will just want the hits.