"Seamount fisheries have often been described as mining operations rather than sustainable fisheries. They typically collapse within a few years of the start of fishing and the trawlers then move on to other unexploited seamounts to maintain the fishery."  

Philip Mladenov, author of Marine Biology: A Very Short Introduction, explores the future of seamount ecosystems on the OUPblog.

Image credit: By NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

As editor of the OUPblog, I’m probably one of only a handful who read everything we publish over the course of the year. Even those posts which are coded and edited by our Deputy Editors I carefully read through in the hopes of catching any errors (some always make it through). So it’s wonderful to reflect on the amazing work that our authors, editors, and staff have created in 2013. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorites from the past year…


There were several important records released in 1959, but no event or recording matches the importance of the release of the new Miles Davis album Kind of Blue on 17 August 1959. There were people waiting in line at record stores to buy it on the day it appeared. It sold very well from its first day, and it has sold increasingly well ever since. It is the best-selling jazz album in the Columbia Records catalogue, and at the end of the twentieth century it was voted one of the ten best albums ever produced.

Jeremy Yudkin writes about the classic album over on the OUPblog. Above, you find his bibliography and a great selection of books about the great American jazz musician. 

  • Chambers, Jack. Milestones: The Music and Times of Miles Davis.  Reprint: 2 vols. in one. New York: Da Capo, 1998.
  • Davis, Miles with Quincy Troupe. Miles: The Autobiography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989.
  • Gridley, Mark. Jazz Styles: History and Analysis. 7th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.
  • Szwed, John. So What: The Life of Miles Davis.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.
  • Yudkin, Jeremy. Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, and the Birth of Postbop. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2007.

via @brainpicker: Fantastic guide to free jazz online from NPR’s Fresh Air

Kevin Whitehead is the longtime jazz critic for National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” and has written about jazz for many publications, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Down Beat, and the Village Voice. He is most recently the author of Why Jazz? A Concise Guide. Listen to his interview on The Oxford Comment.

Early Modern Porn Wars (via OUPblog)

One day in 1668, the English diarist Samuel Pepys went shopping for a book to give his young French-speaking wife. He saw a book he thought she might enjoy, L’École des femmes or The School of Women, “but when I came to look into it, it is the most bawdy, lewd book that ever I saw,” he wrote, “so that I was ashamed of reading in it.” Not so ashamed, however, that he didn’t return to buy it for himself three weeks later — but “in plain binding…because I resolve, as soon as I have read it, to burn it, that it may not stand in the list of books, nor among them, to disgrace them if it should be found.” The next night he stole off to his room to read it, judging it to be “a lewd book, but what doth me no wrong to read for information sake (but it did hazer my prick para stand all the while, and una vez to decharger); and after I had done it, I burned it, that it might not be among my books to my shame.” Pepys’s coy detours into mock-Spanish or Franglais fail to conceal the orgasmic effect the lewd book had on him, and his is the earliest and most candid report we have of one reader’s bodily response to the reading of pornography. But what is “pornography”? What is its history? Was there even such a thing as “pornography” before the word was coined in the nineteenth century?

See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2014/08/early-modern-porn-wars/#sthash.HUGvF8Al.dpuf


Oxford University Press celebrates Doctor Who’s Fiftieth Anniversary! Are any of you really surprised that we employ a fair number of Whovians around the globe? From our Oxford office (it’s bigger on the inside), to Cary, North Carolina (seat of the High Council of Gallifrey), to (Dalek-terrorised!) New York, many of us will be spending this Saturday hiding behind the sofa, sonic screwdriver in hand, and with U.N.I.T. on standby. 

For those of you who have yet to discover the joys of travelling with a Time Lord, we have a few resources for you.  

And you can always follow the official Doctor Who Tumblr

Metaphor may not tell us anything that couldn’t be expressed by other means. But good metaphors have many other effects on readers than making them grasp some bit of information, and these are often precisely the effects the metaphor-user wants to have. There is far more to the effective use of language than transmitting information.

[T]he utterly commonplace nature of examples like [Islamic State head Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi’s clumsy claim to be caliph suggest that Islamic history today is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

This is not because Islamic history has no bearing upon the present Islamic world, but because present-day agendas that make use of that history prefer to cherry-pick, deform, and obliterate the complicated bits to provide easy narratives for their own ends. Al-Baghdadi’s claim, for example, leaps over 1400 years of more nuanced Islamic history in which the institution of the caliphate shaped Muslim lives in diverse ways, and in which regional upstarts had little legitimate claim. But he is hardly alone in avoiding inconvenient truths — contemporary comment on Middle Eastern affairs routinely employs the same strategy.

We can see just such a history-shy approach in coverage of the sectarian conflicts between Shi’i and Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Pakistan, and elsewhere. The struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites, we are usually told, has its origins in a contest over religious authority in the seventh century between the partisans of the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali and those Muslims who believed the incumbent caliphs of the day were better guides and leaders for the community. And so Shi’ites and Sunnis, we are led to believe, have been fighting ever since. It is as if the past fourteen centuries of history, with its record of coexistence, migrations, imperial designs, and nation-building have no part in the matter, to say nothing of the past century or less of authoritarian regimes, identity-politics, and colonial mischief.

We see the inconvenient truths of Islamic history also being ignored in the widespread discourse of crusading and counter-crusading that occasionally infects comment on contemporary conflicts, as if holy war is the default mode for Muslims fighting non-Muslims or vice-versa. When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi can wrap himself in black robes and proclaim himself Caliph Ibrahim of the Islamic State, when seventh-century conflicts seem like thorough explanations for twenty-first century struggles, or when a terrorist and mass-murderer like the Norwegian Anders Breivik can see himself as a latter-day Knight Templar, then we are sadly living in a world in which the medieval is allowed to seep uncritically into the contemporary as a way to provide easy answers to very complicated problems.

But we should be wary of such easy answers. [emphasis mine]

Bravo to Paul Cobb. It’s good to see that Robert Kaplan's “ancient hatreds” thesis is alive, well, and essentializing, and as full of s*** as always. And it's good to see that it has thoughtful and eloquent challengers, as I hope it always will.

History properly appreciated should instead lead us to acknowledge the specificity, and indeed oddness, of our modern contexts and the complexity of our contemporary motivations. It should, one hopes, lead to that conclusion reached famously by Mark Twain: that history doesn’t repeat itself, even if sometimes it rhymes.

Paul Cobb, “Is Islamic history in danger of becoming irrelevant?,” OUPblog*

*Academic publishing is the devil, but at least Oxford University Press has done this one good thing?

Ways to be Autism aware

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and over on the OUPblog, Alice Hammel and Ryan Hourigan, authors of Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Label-Free Approach and the forthcoming Teaching Music to Students with Autism, have shared their ways to be Autism aware.

  1. Be aware that people with autism can usually understand more than they can express.
  2. Be aware that people with autism can be sensitive.
  3. Be aware that people with autism think differently.
  4. Be aware that people with autism probably have a specific interest or topic that may help with communication.
  5. Be aware that people with autism tend to focus on the trees rather than the forest.
  6. Be aware that a child (or adult) with autism may be having a moment in public that seems confusing to you.
  7. Be aware that people with autism may need help with social circumstances.
  8. Be aware that a family that includes a person with autism may be tired and stressed.
  9. Be aware that a child with autism may have siblings that get less attention than they do.
  10. Be aware that a person with autism is a person and not a label.

Read the full blog post for the complete listing.