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See Our New Blog Site

The JHU Press Blog has moved to our newly redesigned website.

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Tiffany Gasbarrini to Join Johns Hopkins University Press

We are pleased to announce that Tiffany Gasbarrini will join Johns Hopkins University Press as senior acquisitions editor for Life Sciences. Ms. Gasbarrini comes to the press with notable publishing experience and an impressive record of book acquisitions in STEM fields.


Tiffany was Senior Acquisitions Editor at Elsevier Science & Technology, Inc., where she founded their Renewable Energy publishing program. After 13 years with Elsevier, she took on the role of Senior Acquisitions Editor, Energy and Sustainability, for Springer Nature Group, where she built a diverse portfolio of trade titles, professional references, textbooks, scientific journals, and research monographs. Her expertise focuses on creating impactful Science and Technology book lists through market research-driven analysis of content assets, the development of strategic business plans, and thoughtful collaborations with world-class authors.

Tiffany will take on the Hopkins list in Life Sciences, with special focus on mammalogy, ornithology, ichthyology, herpetology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, wildlife science, and systems ecology.

Ms. Gasbarrini has a degree in literature from Mount Holyoke College, with coursework in publishing at Emerson College and the Publishing Training Centre in Oxford, UK. In her spare time, she enjoys botany, twentieth-century poetry, fantasy/sci-fi, kayaking, scuba diving, and big dogs.

Established in 1878, Johns Hopkins University Press is America’s oldest university press and one of the world’s largest, publishing 90 scholarly journals and nearly 175 new books each year. The Press also manages Project MUSE, the acclaimed online collection of scholarly journals and books.

Tiffany replaces Vincent Burke, long-time executive editor, who retired from the Press earlier this year. Tiffany resides with her family in Massachusetts.

Johns Hopkins University Press is very pleased to welcome a senior editor with the energy, professionalism, and entrepreneurial spirit that Tiffany Gasbarrini has shown.

Please join us in welcoming Tiffany to the Press and to the wider university community.


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The Hopkins Review Enters New Era

John Irwin, who led The Hopkins Review from its rebirth in 2008, will retire from teaching at Johns Hopkins University this spring. David Yezzi took over the reins of the journal in 2015. A well-known poet, actor and editor, Yezzi joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2013. Yezzi joined us to talk about his new position and the special issue devoted to Irwin’s impact on the field.

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A Closer Look at the German Studies Association

A group of scholars in the western United States got together 40 years ago to celebrate their shared interest in German studies. Now, the German Studies Association continues to grow in size and influence. An interview with GSA Executive Director David E. Barclay, Ph.D. about the organization’s current state.

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An Equation for Every Occasion: Pi Day

Happy Pi Day, readers! In between celebratory pie samplings, get an inside look at the historical context of this famous Greek letter as told by John M. Henshaw, author of An Equation for Every Occasion: 52 Formulas and Why They Matter, coming in paperback this summer.

Click here for pi goodness.


Looking for more historical context from “Equationland”? Use promo code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount when you order your copy of An Equation for Every Occasion.

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Killing King Caucus

Guest post by Mark G. Schmeller

In this seemingly endless presidential primary season, each and every candidate has claimed “outsider” status, and attacked nearly every other rival as a creature of the party “establishment.” No title or distinction – Senator, Governor, First Lady, Secretary of State, sibling/brother of former presidents, celebrity billionaire – has been too great to discourage presidential aspirants from presenting their campaigns as bold insurgencies against the complacency and corruption of the powers that be.

While there is nothing especially novel about such populist self-fashioning, the extraordinary volume of groaning about “the establishment” in this campaign cycle has led some political observers to ask if the establishment is in fact in decline. Are the elected officials, elites, big donors, and special interests that have traditionally steered the party nomination process losing their influence? Have new forms of social media and activism trumped (sorry for that) the conventional reliance on grassroots electioneering and penthouse fundraising? Can party structures no longer contain the intensifying anger wrought by “negative partisanship” – in which positive support for the principles and policies of a party weigh less in the mind of the voter than loathing for the other party and its partisans?

Needless to say, these questions will have to wait for answers. But in the meantime, we can entertain some historical analogies. One especially dramatic example of a party establishment defeated comes to us from the presidential election of 1824, when anger over the nomination process shattered the Democratic-Republican Party. During President James Monroe’s two terms in office (1817-1825), national party competition had all but disappeared. The Federalist Party, discredited by its seeming disloyalty during the War of 1812, had been reduced to a small band of New England reactionaries, leaving Democratic-Republicans as the only viable national party. While the absence of partisan competition may have allowed for a brief “era of good feelings,” one-party rule raised a number of thorny political and constitutional questions. A party congressional caucus had traditionally selected party nominees for President and Vice-President. But with only one party caucus remaining, the Democratic-Republican “King Caucus” now appeared to have the uncontested and arguably unconstitutional power to select Monroe’s successor.


James Akin, Caucus curs in full yell, or a war whoop, to saddle on the people, a pappoose president (1824). General Andrew Jackson stands tall amidst a pack of dogs representing newspapers who supported the Congressional Caucus nominee William Crawford. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

King Caucus had been attacked before. When it chose Monroe over William Crawford of Georgia in 1816, Crawford supporters and many northerners complained that Virginians used it to maintain their lock on the White House. But King Caucus had its share of defenders, who maintained that congressmen could best ascertain the preferences of partisans in their districts and states. John Taylor of Caroline, the prolific theorist of Jeffersonian democracy, argued that the caucus discouraged faction. But should it “ever attempt to control public opinion instead of expressing it, their doings would have little influence in the nation other than to embitter party animosity and to sharpen the edge of political strife.”

In 1824, King Caucus appeared to be doing just that. Monroe had identified no clear successor (his Vice-President, Daniel Tompkins of New York, was an insolvent alcoholic). Three eminent national figures – General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, and Henry Clay of Kentucky intended to run regardless of what the caucus did, and their supporters assailed King Caucus as a vast conspiracy against the sovereignty of the people. Senator Rufus King, an Adams supporter, called it “a self-created central power … regulated by a sort of freemasonry, the sign and password of each at once placing the initiated in full confidence and communion with each other in all parts of the union.” Publisher Hezekiah Niles of Maryland, a Clay man, declared that “he would rather learn that the halls of Congress were converted into common brothels” than to see King Caucus convene within them.

Not surprisingly, the most intense attacks on King Caucus came from Jackson supporters, who began to organize popular local “conventions” for Old Hickory. Conventioneers carefully distinguished the caucus, a small and exclusive meeting of elites designed to direct public opinion, from the convention, an open meeting of the people designed to concentrate public opinion. The “period has surely arrived,” a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania convention declared, “when a president should be elected from the ranks of the people,” a president like Jackson, who came “pure, untrammeled, and unpledged, from the bosom of the people.” Such rhetoric solidified the outsider image of Jackson, a frontier military hero riding a wave of populist discontent unleashed by the financial panic of 1819.

All of this persuaded the great majority of congressmen to steer clear of the caucus. When it eventually met to nominate William Crawford, only 66 of 216 eligible members attended. King Caucus was dead.

Some observers heralded the killing of King Caucus as a triumph of public opinion over party machinery. But to more discerning political minds, it suggested that there could be no effective public opinion without party mechanisms that involved the ordinary voter, flattered his judgment, and fired his enthusiasm. The election of 1824 – and Jackson’s eventual triumph in 1828 – laid the groundwork for a “second party system” built upon precinct-by-precinct organization, popular conventions, and intense partisan feeling. Party establishments can be defeated; partisanship, not so much.

schmellerMark G. Schmeller is an associate professor of history at Syracuse University. His latest book, Invisible Sovereign: Imagining Public Opinion from the Revolution to Reconstructionexamines the idea of public opinion and its transformation since the Revolutionary War.

Use promo code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount when you order your copy of Invisible Sovereign.





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A checkup of Late Antiquity

In late 2015, the Journal of Late Antiquity published a special issue on the intersections of religion, medicine, health, healing and disability in Late Antiquity. Guest edited by Kristi Upson-Saia and Heidi Marx-Wolf, the issue featured 10 essays on this growing area of research. Upson-Saia and Marx-Wolf joined us for a Q&A about the special issue.

JHUP: How did the issue come about?

Eds: This special issue is an outgrowth of ReMeDHe, the working group for Religion, Medicine, Disability, and Health in Late Antiquity, that we co-founded in 2013 and have co-directed since.  Both of us were starting new projects in these research areas. And we were also both looking to work collaboratively in order to figure out how to address gaps in the scholarship and  to overcome some of the more isolating aspects of academic life. We wanted to work in a more dialogic way right from the start of these new projects and we soon encountered a number of other scholars who felt the same way. We began by proposing a series of four panels at the 2014 meeting of the North American Patristics Society, as well as a pre-conference workshop. Some of the papers in this special issue were originally presented in those inaugural sessions. Since then, we meet regularly at NAPS. We have also created a listserv, website, and Facebook page to communicate with each other, and we have created a Zotero group to share our primary and secondary source bibliographies. We now have over 130 members, and we believe this signals how important and vibrant these research areas are right now, as well as a desire for cooperative modes of research.

JHUP: What drew you to this area of research?

Marx-Wolf: I was drawn to this area by way of my work on late Roman philosophy. In antiquity, the lines between religion, philosophy, and medicine are difficult to draw. So it wasn’t surprising that I kept encountering doctors when studying late ancient philosophers. I thought the connections warranted a closer look. I’ve also taught pre-modern cosmology and history of science for a number of years, and I so enjoy teaching the history of ancient medicine. So I knew that this was a direction I wanted to head in my research.

Upson-Saia: I began reading Greco-Roman medical sources in graduate school and was hooked right away. I was particularly fascinated with discussions of wounds and scars, which seemed to me to have been understudied. In addition to my research, I have enjoyed teaching courses like “Magic, Miracle, and Medicine in Antiquity” and “Health and Humanity,” a course I’ve team-taught with a health care economist and bioethicist.

We were both surprised to find that, despite robust interest in earlier and later epochs in the history of medicine and the history of disability, few scholars were focused on these topics in Late Antiquity. And yet, it is one of the most interesting and dynamic historical periods when it comes to social, cultural, and religious change. This dynamism is also apparent when one looks at topics related to health, illness, healing, and so forth. However, as we hypothesize in our co-authored essay on the “State of the Question,” this period has often been viewed using an outdated lens of decline and devolution when it comes to medicine. The aim of the ReMeDHe working group is to look at this period with a different lens, one that focuses on the aforementioned dynamism. Hopefully, readers will catch more than just a glimpse of that when they explore the essays in the volume.

JHUP: What does it mean to take these discussions from smaller groups to a larger stage in this journal?

Eds: We are very excited to continue the kinds of conversations and collaborations characteristic of the working group with an even larger group of scholars whose interests intersect with our own, even if but peripherally. We’re also hoping to entice more people to consider working in these areas and strongly encourage them to join the ReMeDHe working group (

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Communicating Reproduction

The Fall 2015 issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine is a special issue, “Communicating Reproduction,” that sets an agenda for a long-term vision in this field. Tackling topics from medieval fertility charms to home birth activism, the five essays give a rich sense of current research.

bhm.89.3_frontThe issue is edited and introduced by a group from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge: Nick Hopwood, Peter Murray Jones, Lauren Kassell, and Jim Secord. Hopwood and Jones participated in a Q&A about the issue.

JHUP: What’s the idea behind this special issue?

NH: Reproduction became very prominent and controversial in the 1970s. Especially since then, historians have contributed much excellent research to the debates. Topics have included childbirth, contraception and abortion, genetics and embryology, and population control. But, not unusually, these studies are too often fragmented between historical periods. The main frameworks, which were also set up in the 1970s, are showing their age. We need some long-term perspectives to draw together and revitalize the field.

PMJ: Communication is key because controlling reproduction and controlling communication about reproduction have always gone together. That very fact has meant that communication tends to be taken for granted. Taking it seriously means reconstructing the conditions for communication, and how it did or didn’t succeed. And this approach lends itself to thinking over the long term. People have asked some very similar questions for centuries, such as “What do male and female contribute?” and “How can we produce healthy children?” But the form of the questions and their audiences have changed dramatically. We’re interested in how that has mattered.

JHUP: How did you approach tackling such a long period of time?

NH: That’s been the biggest challenge. We’re involved in a Wellcome Trust-funded research programme, “Generation to Reproduction,” that goes from antiquity to the present day. Some of us worked together on an exhibition, Books and Babies, that covers the same timespan. So we’ve become used to pooling knowledge in an effort to see beyond our own period expertise. It was an obvious move to invite international colleagues with interests in this approach to join us for the conference that led to the special issue.

PMJ: The issue showcases work from medieval Europe to the late twentieth-century United States. My own article with Lea Olsan shows how medieval men as well as women were involved in rituals for conception and childbirth. Jennifer Richards reconstructs how women read, wrote about, and critiqued one of the most popular midwifery books in early modern England. Alicia Puglionesi investigates how sellers of books on sex and contraception in late nineteenth-century America evaded the Comstock Laws. Solveig Jülich provides insight into the making of the best-selling advice book, A Child Is Born, at a key moment in the history of medicine and the media. Her article reproduces some striking photographs that place Lennart Nilsson’s fetal photographs in context. We put one on the cover. And Wendy Kline explores the relations between countercultural print and the home birth movement in the 1970s.

JHUP: How do the articles work off each other—are there linking themes?

NH: The issue brings these various topics into dialogue through a common concern with technology. The relations between the introduction of new communication technologies and changes in reproduction have been more complex and subtle than is usually realized. This applies to the shift from an older, broader framework of generation to the modern reproduction in the decades around 1800. It also helps us appreciate the paradox that the rise of mass communication did not make everything the same, but rendered meanings even more contested and unstable than before.

PMJ: Our introduction picks out three more specific themes. From the Bible to Brave New World, stories have helped people make sense of the complexities of generation and reproduction. There are also important issues of expertise: who could say what and on what authority? And since knowledge in these areas was often passed over in silence or kept secret, we need to consider relations between knowledge and ignorance. This matters, because communicating reproduction is a story of gaps, misunderstandings, and misreadings—even, perhaps especially, in the seemingly homogenized world of the digital media today.

JHUP: What do you hope happens from here?

NH: Great work has been coming out regularly and there’s more in the pipeline. For example, here in Cambridge, Jesse Olszynko-Gryn, Caitjan Gainty, and Patrick Ellis recently organized an exciting conference on “Reproduction on Film.” But ironically, even those of us who study communication would benefit from communicating more broadly among ourselves. We’d like to think that this special issue will assist colleagues in placing studies of particular periods, media, and genres within longer and broader histories. This will add depth and multiply points of comparison, while opening up the conversation—among historians and other scholars, and hopefully with practitioners too.

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William Jay Smith, 1918–2015

William Jay SmithJHU Press was proud to publish two collections of William Jay Smith’s poetry, The World below the Window: Poems 1937–1997 (1998) and Words by the Water (2008). Both books appeared in our series John Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction, edited by JHU’s John T. Irwin. Two poems from The World below the Window were featured in Smith’s recent obituary in the New York Times. We are pleased to reprint one of them here, the title poem from his first collection with Johns Hopkins.


The World below the Window

The geraniums I left last night on the windowsill,

To the best of my knowledge now, are out there still,

And will be there as long as I think they will.

And will be there as long as I think that I

Can throw the window open on the sky,

A touch of geranium pink in the tail of my eye;

As long as I think I see, past leaves green-growing,

Barges moving down a river, water flowing,

Fulfillment in the thought of thought outgoing,

Fulfillment in the sight of sight replying,

Of sound in the sound of small birds southward flying,

In life life-giving, and in death undying.

William Jay Smith (1918–2015) was the author of more than fifty books of poetry, children’s verse, literary criticism, translation, and memoirs. He served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position now called Poet Laureate) from 1968 to 1970. 


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Reflections on a great group project with the Modern Greek Studies Association

By Janet Gilbert, JHUP Staff

Journal MGSA_Double_Postcard_SPR15-3I learned to work in groups in Mr. Stephens’s fourth-grade class in public elementary school, where such projects were often assigned by a random call-out from the classroom seating chart. I’ll admit that often, my first reaction to learning my group assignment was to cringe, because doing things with others meant, well, not doing them entirely “my” way. I was shocked and keenly disappointed early—at age nine or ten—to discover that not everyone wants to do a good job on an assigned task. Sometimes people don’t even show up. And frequently, two or three individuals end up shouldering the work of five or six. How discouraging!

But every once in a while I’d experience a stellar group—one that’s organized, creative, responsive, and dedicated. A group wherein everyone improves everyone else’s work, and I gladly say bye-bye to “my way” because I know the end result will be far superior to anything I could imagine on my own. Today, I seek out these groups socially, and can’t help but be thrilled when they occur serendipitously in the workplace. That just happened with the Modern Greek Studies Association—an organization we serve in the journals publishing division.

Journal MGS_33 1_rgbA team from the journal and its association collaborated with a team here in journals marketing to create a communication timed with the association’s upcoming symposium registration. We put our heads together and brainstormed an amazing group of Greek contacts across academia and art, economics and government. We even decided on a “bridge” theme together after considering several visual options—the metaphor articulated the association’s and the journal’s mission so beautifully, and the inside photo reinforced the past-present connection with a striking urban scene wherein the classic and contemporary collide. In the end, the multifarious objectives of the association and its journal were neatly packaged into a direct response piece, below, and landing web page, here.

Groups that work create great work. I’m grateful to the MGSA, and, of course, to Mr. Stephens, who knew this all along.

Janet Gilbert is a writer and senior coordinator for direct mail and renewals in the Journals Division at Johns Hopkins University Press.

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