Archives for July 2013

Interview with John Sides and Lynn Vavreck on the challenges of real-time political science and the publication of The Gamble

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John Sides is associate professor of political science at George Washington University and the coauthor of Campaigns and Elections (Norton). He cofounded and contributes to The Monkey Cage, a politics blog. Lynn Vavreck is associate professor of political science and communications at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her books include The Message Matters: The Economy and Presidential Campaigns (Princeton). She cofounded and contributes to the Model Politics blog. Together they are the authors of The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election

In July 2013, they answered some questions about this ambitious writing project, their analysis of the outcomes and happenings of the 2012 Presidential Election, and what’s up next for each of them.


Q: Why did you write THE GAMBLE?

John Sides: During every election, there is an ongoing conversation among journalists, politicos, and others about what is happening, what it means, and, ultimately, why the winner won. Political scientists typically enter that conversation only much later, given how slowly we work. By that point the conventional wisdom is hardened and it is much harder for us to have any impact. Lynn and I wanted THE GAMBLE to be part of that conversation as it was actually happening.

Lynn Vavreck: Yes, too often the day to day reporting from the campaign trail is mistaken for assessments of what is pivotal in elections, when, in reality, it is just a reflection of what is going on on any given day in a particular place and time. We wanted to separate the “what are campaigns doing and saying today” reporting from a real analysis of what is likely to make a difference to voters on election day by demonstrating that much of what happens on the campaign trail will not be relevant to most voters.

This is not a new observation—political scientists have known this for more than 60 years; but saying it out loud during the campaign was new. THE GAMBLE ultimately gives political science a voice in the ongoing narrative about what mattered in 2012 and demonstrates that what we do as a field is valuable to understanding elections and partisan politics generally.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced during the writing process?

LV: Science usually takes a lot of time—you test, retest, poke, and prod until you are sure of your findings. In this case, we were trying to do science in real time, which was really hard. We had an entire discipline of robust findings to draw upon, which gave us a pretty good sense of where we expected to find things that mattered as we looked at 2012 in real time, but still, the pressure to get the data, analyze it, understand it, try to break the results every way you can think of, and then write about the conclusions—on a weekly basis—was both stressful and exhausting. There were days, being on two separate coasts, that we literally worked every hour of the day because John would stay up working in DC until I got up in LA and then I would stay up until he woke up the next day. At times it seemed like an insane undertaking.

JMS: We were trying to do two things simultaneously. One was write a serialized account of the campaign, which allowed us to release e-chapters about the campaign and to finish the entire book in a timely fashion. The other was to follow the day’s events and use our data to write blog posts and op-eds. At times, saying something about what was happening at that moment made it hard to write chapters about what had happened six months beforehand.

Q: You mention the serialization of the book. Several of the book’s chapters were written as the election was unfolding and released as short e-books. When you were assembling the complete book, did you have to go back and revisit those chapters? Did subsequent events change what you wanted to say in those chapters?

JMS: I think we were pleased at how well the e-chapters held up after the election was over. I think one reason is that our analysis was guided by decades of political science research and the election ultimately ended up bearing out that research nicely.

LV: One of the challenges of writing a book like this, serially, is keeping the narrative consistent and whole when you don’t know how it is going to end. We had to do some very hard thinking early on about what we thought was going to happen and how we could show the key parts of that story with data and evidence; and then we had to hope that we were right, not only because we were out there writing about it in real time, but because the book would have been a little schizophrenic if the framework or arguments were changing week to week! We put in the hours in the beginning to develop a frame for the book that was flexible enough to encompass all the things we thought might happen, but specific enough to be interesting and distinctive.

Q: How did your models perform through the election? Were they accurate? Did you find any big surprises or disappointments?

JMS: Lynn and I had an early sense—informed in part by our trips to the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary—that Romney was the clear favorite to get the Republican nomination, and we said as much in blog posts in January. That proved correct. Then, together with Seth Hill, Lynn and I developed a simple forecasting model for the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, which we published in June. That model turned out to be very accurate as well, forecasting Obama’s share of the vote within a percentage point. In short, our message was that even in a slowly growing economy, the incumbent was favored to win—and that proved true.

Two things that did surprise me were, first, that Gingrich and Santorum managed to surge again after Romney’s victory in New Hampshire. I probably expected Romney to wrap up the nomination a little faster. A second thing was the first debate in October. I was surprised that Obama’s performance was judged so harshly by many in the media—even liberal commentators. This may have helped the polls shift so sharply in Romney’s favor.

Q: The media called the first debate a “game changer.” In fact, the media wrote about a lot of “game changers” throughout the election. Were there any actual “game changers”? What was the most over-hyped part of the Presidential Election?

JMS: There were two moments that did appear to move the polls appreciably: the Democratic National Convention and the first debate. I’d say those two moments were important, although “game changer” always strikes me as hyperbole. Perhaps the most overhyped moment was the release of the “47% video.” At most, this cost Romney a couple points—almost entirely among Republicans who quickly rallied to Romney again after the first debate. For an event that commentators were quick to call “devastating” to Romney’s campaign, the effects of the video seemed to wear off awfully quickly.

Q: You have a section of the book that talks about a misguided portrayal of the undecided voter. Can you describe your findings?

LV: Since the race was so stable for so long, the media picked up on the fact that about 3-5% of likely voters were undecided. It was actually a bit more than that in our data, but the focus of course turned to questions like, “Who ARE these people? Do they live under a rock?” and things suggesting they were dumb or in some way ill-equipped to be good citizens. We had more data on undecided voters than anyone and a lot of what we could say about them based on the data countered the caricatures that were being presented in the media.

Yes, undecided voters are less interested in politics, of course they are; and truthfully, about half of them end up staying home on Election Day. But, they are not so disengaged from politics that they don’t identify with a party—a lot of them do! Mainly, they seem to be people who are otherwise busy, somewhat interested in politics, but not yet ready to pay attention to how they will vote on Election Day. They were less enamored with their party’s nominees, to be sure, but they also just knew less about the nominees in general and had fewer opinions at all about policies. Not dumb. Just not as interested as political junkies, I would say. Politics is not a hobby for them the way it is for a lot of people who are glued to cable news and the Huffington Post. It also ended up not being true, as so many “analysts” insisted, that undecided voters always break for the challenger.

Q: Another running theme of the election coverage was the Obama camp’s flawless campaign. Is this substantiated by the data?

LV: Flawless? Probably not. But innovative? Absolutely. Innovative in terms of the way they fed all the information the campaign was gathering across efforts into one database every day. They leveraged information better than any presidential campaign in history, of that I am quite sure. On data infrastructure they were pioneers.

JMS: Too often what happens after the election is that the winner’s campaign gets too much credit and the loser’s campaign too much blame. Our data shows that the Obama campaign was able to gain a small advantage when it beat Romney on the airwaves and by having a more sophisticated operation on the ground. But it was unlikely this advantage was the determining factor in this race. Obama won by a margin larger than what his campaign alone could be expected to have produced.

LV: Counter to what a lot of people have written about the Romney campaign, John and I actually conclude in THE GAMBLE that he did just about as well as he could have done There were no major strategic errors, he just was disadvantaged by the structural conditions from the start and couldn’t overcome that disadvantage. To put this in perspective, only 4 presidential candidates in the last 60 years have been able to do this.

Q: So, let’s talk campaign strategies—ads, field offices, message. What does your analysis reveal about effectiveness of the core parts of the presidential campaigns?

LV: Political ads are always interesting in real time, and they provide so much material for journalists and analysts to talk about; but in terms of their impact, it is quite fleeting. Most of the effects of political ads decay within a day for presidential races and 3-4 days for down-ballot races. Some of the effect persists and accumulates over time, but not much. There is very little doubt in our minds that the ads Obama aired during the last week of the campaign had a much larger effect on his vote share than those ads he ran in the summer about Bain Capital.

JMS: We did find temporary, but noticeable shifts when one candidate was able to air more advertisements than the other. The problem, however, was that it was hard for either Obama or Romney to do so very often, or for very long. We also found that the number of field offices in a county was associated with increased vote share, though more for Obama than Romney. But, again, the apparent effects of field offices were not large enough to constitute the winning margin in the battleground states.

LV: From my perspective, what worked for Obama was sticking to his message about the economy—that he never wavered, never tried to disown the economy—that was his key strategic choice that led to victory. I know people think he should have lost because of the economy, but they are wrong. The economy was growing, albeit slowly, but it was growing. And incumbent party presidents in growing economies, even slowly growing ones, typically win—and more so when they talk about the economy in their campaigns. Obama did this—good strategic choice.

Q: It seems like there is a lot of unsubstantiated information in political and, in particular, election rhetoric. Where can voters find out what is really happening and what really matters?

LV: The problem is that reporters are not supposed to do this kind of digesting—they are meant to report. Opinion columnists are meant to share their thoughts, which is also different. This brings us to analysts. Analysts are the answer to your question, but the problem is that the major TV networks have turned to getting retired partisan consultants as “analysts” instead of people who are trained in quantitative analysis—and that means that what passes for analysis is stumping for their side. I think these types of guests have a role to play on 24 hour TV news—they are interesting and have done things few people have done; but to identify them as experts on elections writ large is a grave mistake.

JMS: The good news for voters is that there is an increasing amount of data-driven reporting and commentary during elections. I think about not only what Lynn and I were writing at The Monkey Cage, Model Politics, and elsewhere, but about the work of Nate Silver at 538, Mark Blumenthal and Simon Jackman at the Huffington Post, and Drew Linzer at Votamatic. If you followed what we were all writing, I think it gave you a very solid sense of which events were important and where the race ultimately stood along the way, including on the eve of the election.

Q: How have more traditional journalists responded to your work?

JMS: We have been quite pleased by the number of people who followed and responded to our work—even if they didn’t always agree. We had ongoing conversations with reporters during the campaign itself—people like Ryan Lizza, Sasha Issenberg, Dan Balz, and others—and were able both to learn from them and to convey our understanding to them.

LV: As a whole, the entire journalistic community was amazing. From day one they welcomed us in to their bunker—sharing drinks with us in Des Moines, Iowa, sitting down with us to talk at length about past campaigns and the lessons they bring to understanding 2012, and even unexpectedly giving us prime outlets for our work. Our ideas and our work ended up on cable news outlets, in major national newspapers, and in news magazines. We were overwhelmed by the response from the journalistic community and the seriousness with which they took our work. It vastly exceeded our expectations.

Q: One of the big stories following the election was the accuracy of data-crunchers like Nate Silver, Drew Linzer and Simon Jackman and the “rise of political data science.” Do you think this will change the way elections are covered or will we return to status quo for the next election?

JMS: I think they showed us that you can use data in ways that actually make the story of an election more interesting, not less interesting. You don’t have to be a reporter with great inside gossip to attract readers. Geeks can do it too. My hope is that when 2014 or 2016 rolls around, at least a few of the people who were so wrong about 2012 will be chastened, and in general there will be far less tolerance for hyperbole about game-changers or predictions that aren’t borne out by hard data.

LV: The data revolution is upon us—that battle is won. There is a huge appetite for numbers, not just in politics, but also in other places, like sports, dating and music preferences. The next step in political data analytics is something that we are actually both working on advancing right now. I think the future probably holds less pure forecasting or aggregating of polls like Nate Silver, Simon Jackman, and Drew Linzer did in 2012 and more analysis of the actual information in polls—but in a big data sort of way.

Q: This was an ambitious project. Do you think we’ll see more political scientists follow suit?

JMS: There were features of this project that would be hard to emulate. We were very fortunate to have access to incredible data—polling data from YouGov, media data from General Sentiment, advertising data via the Washington Post. It would be hard to put that together again. At the same time, writing this book has made me feel that there is real room for innovation in aspects of scholarly publishing. Thanks to the cooperation and leadership of Princeton University Press, I think THE GAMBLE shows that there is value in non-traditional forms of publishing, like the serialized e-chapters we produced. Ultimately, I think THE GAMBLE shows that scholars, and a scholarly press, can produce a book that is both rigorous and timely.

Q: The 2012 election is behind us. Will you attempt to do this type of research during the 2016 elections? Without an incumbent president, it seems like that might provide a terrific opportunity to crunch numbers and create new models.

JMS: I’m not sure that I’m ready to do this again in 2016, even though it is shaping up to be a fascinating election. I think Lynn and I will always be interested in elections and will continue to research and write about them, in addition to our work on other topics. But we’re both committed to the idea motivating THE GAMBLE—which was to bring academic ideas to a broader audience—and we will certainly continue to do that going forward.

LV: The project was so exhausting it is hard to imagine saying I would do it again; however, we accomplished so much and were taken so seriously by the people writing about the campaign and reporting on it in real time, that it would feel like an opportunity lost not to continue to have that role filled. So yes, I suspect you will see more from us in popular outlets over the next couple of years. As for 2016, who knows. I would love to think we could do it again, but that would depend on more than just our willingness to make sacrifices—all those generous data providers would have to line up again with us or someone would have to fund the data collection, and that is a pretty big ask. THE GAMBLE’s analysis relies on over a million dollars’ worth of survey data—I’m not sure we’re ever going to be able to do that again.

Q: So, what’s next for both of you? What are you currently working on?

JMS: Lynn and I have a paper under review about the effects of field offices in 2012, and another in the early stages questioning the conventional wisdom that voters in primary elections are much more ideologically extreme than voters as a whole. I’m contemplating a second book project on a completely different topic: the federal budget—how the public reasons about budgets and deficits, how budgets get made in Congress, and what could make the budgeting process better.

LV: I have spent the weeks since THE GAMBLE shipped finishing up a round of papers on a basic science project I started in 2011 that is funded by the National Science Foundation. The work examines the possibilities of moving federally funded survey work away from in-person, in the home interviews and to a computer-assisted interview mode. There is an innovative sampling framework that I tested and an experiment done in Las Vegas, Nevada on how the mode of interview affects the answers people give. Hopefully, the work will help the federal government save tens of millions of dollars on survey research.

Other than that, I’m thinking generally about how to advance the analysis of political data in the public space. John and I have a few irons in the fire and hopefully one or two of them will pan out. Stay tuned for our next adventure.

Princeton University Press’s best-selling titles for the week

These are the best-selling books for the past week.

 

jacket Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
jacket Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman by Jeremy Adelman
jacket The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle
jacket The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
jacket
No Joke: Making Jewish Humor
by Ruth R. Wisse
jacket QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter by Richard P. Feynman
jacket The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson
jacket The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order by Benn Steil
jacket The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig
jacket On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3: Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle are signing books at Wild Birds Unlimited!

Wild Birds Unlimited -- Paramus, NJ

Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle will be at Wild Birds Unlimited for a short talk on “Overlooked Warbler ID Points.”

Following the discussion, Tom and Scott will sign books and chat.

“Fantastic and, yes, ground-breaking. . . . There will be no birder north of the Rio Grande who would turn down this book. There will be few who intend to visit North America that would not want to spend time familiarising themselves with the Wood Warblers, and there is no better way for them than to open these pages and get lost in their cornucopia of detail. . . . Everything from sonograms to seasonal variations, confusion species to aging and sexing and with pretty detailed distribution maps as well. The term ‘tour de force’ sits well upon its wide shoulders.”–Fatbirder

This event will take place in the Wild Birds Unlimited store on Saturday, August 3 at 11:00 am. The store is located at 189 New Jersey 17 Paramus, NJ 07652. Both Tom and Scott will be there; so bring your Warbler ID questions and photos!


The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle
The Warbler Guide is a fine book crammed with photographs, tips, expert advice, innovation and information designed to help identify a unique and beautiful set of birds.”–Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog

“The Warbler Bible has come forth! This is easily the most comprehensive and fantastic warbler specific guide covering North American Warblers. I am amazed and impressed with each of its features. . . . [A] must-have book.”–Robert Mortensen, Birding is Fun

The Warbler Guide
Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle
Drawings by Catherine Hamilton

Warblers are among the most challenging birds to identify. They exhibit an array of seasonal plumages and have distinctive yet oft-confused calls and songs. The Warbler Guide enables you to quickly identify any of the 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada. This groundbreaking guide features more than 1,000 stunning color photos, extensive species accounts with multiple viewing angles, and an entirely new system of vocalization analysis that helps you effectively learn songs and calls.

The Warbler Guide revolutionizes birdwatching, making warbler identification easier than ever before. For more information, please see the author videos on the Princeton University Press website.

Covers all 56 species of warblers in the United States and Canada
Visual quick finders help you identify warblers from any angle
Song and call finders make identification easy using a few simple questions
Uses sonograms to teach a new system of song identification that makes it easier to understand and hear differences between similar species
Detailed species accounts show multiple views with diagnostic points, direct comparisons of plumage and vocalizations with similar species, and complete aging and sexing descriptions
New aids to identification include song mnemonics and icons for undertail pattern, color impression, habitat, and behavior
Includes field exercises, flight shots, general identification strategies, and quizzes
A complete, page-by-page audio companion to all of the 1,000-plus songs and calls covered by the book is available for purchase and download from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (links to the audio companion are available at http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9968.html)

Tom Stephenson’s articles and photos have appeared in Birding and Bird Watcher’s Digest, at Surfbirds.com, and in the Handbook of the Birds of the World. He has guided groups across the United States and Asia. A musician, he has had several Grammy and Academy Award winners as clients, and was director of technology at Roland Corporation. Scott Whittle lives in Cape May, New Jersey, and has twenty years of experience as a professional photographer and educator. He holds an MFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York, is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, and is a onetime New York State Big Year record holder.

“Europe and the Islamic World” offers a crucial and poised evaluation of a momentous meeting

Europe and the Islamic World: A History is commended in a review by Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s first English-language newspaper founded in 1975:

Understanding complex ties between Muslim states, Europe

Lisa Kaaki
Wednesday 17 July 2013

This detailed history of Europe and the Islamic world is the latest of a series of attempts to understand the complex relations between Muslim countries and Europe. Co-authored by a trio of French historians, this book not only highlights the common roots between Islamic and Western cultures but it also maintains an impartial profile until the very end.

This history of Europe and the Islamic world is divided in three distinct parts. In the first five chapters, John Tolan tackles, “Saracens and Ifranj: Rivalries, Emulation, and Convergences.” In the second part, Gilles Veinstein introduces us to “The Great Turk and Europe” and Henry Laurens in the last part focuses on “Europe and the Muslim World in the Contemporary Period.”

John Esposito sets the tone of this scholarly work in his excellent foreword. Known for his objective and unbiased thinking, the American scholar presents a remarkable and clear summary of the book’s main points.

He is quick to underline the common political and religious struggle for power, waged by both, the West and Islam. The Muslims claim to have the final revelation threatened directly the role of Christianity to be: the only means to salvation. Moreover, Christendom also saw the rapid expansion of Islam as a “political and civilizational challenge to its religious and political hegemony.”

To view the rest of this article, head over to ArabNews.com:
http://www.arabnews.com/news/458230


Europe and the Islamic World: A History by John Tolan, Henry Laurens & Gilles VeinsteinEurope and the Islamic World sheds much-needed light on the shared roots of Islamic and Western cultures and on the richness of their inextricably intertwined histories, refuting once and for all the misguided notion of a “clash of civilizations” between the Muslim world and Europe. In this landmark book, three eminent historians bring to life the complex and tumultuous relations between Genoans and Tunisians, Alexandrians and the people of Constantinople, Catalans and Maghrebis–the myriad groups and individuals whose stories reflect the common cultural, intellectual, and religious heritage of Europe and Islam.

Since the seventh century, when the armies of Constantinople and Medina fought for control of Syria and Palestine, there has been ongoing contact between the Muslim world and the West. This sweeping history vividly recounts the wars and the crusades, the alliances and diplomacy, commerce and the slave trade, technology transfers, and the intellectual and artistic exchanges. Here readers are given an unparalleled introduction to key periods and events, including the Muslim conquests, the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, the commercial revolution of the medieval Mediterranean, the intellectual and cultural achievements of Muslim Spain, the crusades and Spanish reconquest, the rise of the Ottomans and their conquest of a third of Europe, European colonization and decolonization, and the challenges and promise of this entwined legacy today.

As provocative as it is groundbreaking, this book describes this shared history in all its richness and diversity, revealing how ongoing encounters between Europe and Islam have profoundly shaped both.

John Tolan is professor of history at the Université de Nantes. His books include Saracens and Saint Francis and the Sultan. Gilles Veinstein (1945-2013) was professor of history at the Collège de France. He is the author of Merchants in the Ottoman Empire. Henry Laurens is professor of history at the Collège de France. He is the author of L’empire et ses ennemis: La question impériale dans l’histoire.

Tasty Tuesday: What’s Cookin’ With Princeton University Press

Cooked Books:

Dish - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff  of Princeton University Press
Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University Press

includes eighty-two recipes contributed by current and former members of the Princeton University Press staff. In 115 pages, it draws on the best culinary inspiration of our extended publishing community, their families, and their friends.

We marry the cultures of cooking and publishing a level deeper by tying the names of many of our favorite dishes to titles of our favorite books and, in some cases, names from the Press’s glorious past. And so we have “The Barrington Atlas of of Greek and Roman Chicken,” the “Copywriters’ Crutch Casserole,” and “Scribner’s Scrumptious Stuffed-Shell Tacos,” to go along with many other distinctive PUP offerings. While the Press-specific epithets may be mysterious to some readers, we trust the quality of the recipes and the liveliness of their presentation will compensate for any confusion.

Spoon - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University PressSpoon - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University PressSpoon - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University Press

Each Tuesday, PUP wants to share a recipe from our book for our blog readers to try. Tasty Tuesday is somewhat of a departure from our everyday content. We believe that cooking and cookbooks are a legitimate part of scholarly activity. Scholars like to eat, and many do not eat well enough. “Mens sana in corpore sano,” we always say. We hope the recipes in this book will nourish thought.

TODAY’S TASTY TUESDAY RECIPE:

Recent Hits on Creamy Pumpkin Soup
by Andrew DeSio
Plate - Cooked Books: Recipes from the Staff of Princeton University Press

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • a pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 16-ounce can pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup half-and-half

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion and garlic in hot butter, stirring continually, until tender—about 2 minutes. Add curry, salt, coriander, and red pepper flakes to onion mixture; mix well. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Stir broth into onion mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 10–15 minutes. Add pumpkin and half-and-half to broth mixture and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes. Pour soup into a blender. Process until creamy.

Serve warm, or reheat to desired temperature. Ladle into soup bowls. Top with green onion curls, if desired.

Preparation time: 12 minutes; cooking time: 23 minutes.

Serves 4–6.

The Illustrations
The images of food, tableware, and cooking implements that figure prominently in this book are from Menu Designs, published by The Pepin Press, Agile Rabbit Editions, © 1999 and 2005 Pepin Van Roojen, www.pepinpress.com. These images are used with permission. Other incidental images of books and animals are taken from two Dover Electronic Clip Art Publications, Books, Reading and Writing Illustrations (CD-Rom and book © 1992) and 1565 Spot Illustrations and Motifs (CD-Rom and book © 2007) and are used in compliance with terms of use for materials from Dover Publications, Inc.

Leah Price explains how immortalizing Caroline Bingley on a bank note may make sense

Last year we published Leah Price’s How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain in which she described the myriad ways books, journals, and paper were put to use. We asked her to explain the kerfuffle over the Jane Austen 10 pound note, and of course, the discussion took an Austen-like turn toward marriage…


 

chapter2_figure8_wretchFeminists were relieved when the Bank of England caved in to a petition demanding a woman’s face on at least one of its many banknotes. And novel-lovers were even more elated when the face chosen was Jane Austen’s. But jeers are now greeting the Bank’s decision to caption Austen’s portrait with a quotable quote from Pride and Prejudice, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

What’s not to like? Well, for one thing that quotation emerges from the mouth of the novel’s least likeable character, Elizabeth Bennet’s dim-witted would-be rival Caroline Bingley. When Darcy picks up Volume I of an unnamed book, Caroline immediately sticks her nose in Volume II; her “attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy’s progress through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page.” Darcy ignores her attempts to read over his shoulder (he’s not up for one set of Buddhist marriage vows, recently chronicled in the pages of the New York Times, which included a promise never to read alone and never to turn the page without waiting for the other partner to finish). Bored by her book and stymied by his absorption in his, she declares with a yawn, “How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!”

John Mullan is surely right to complain that this is the kind of quotation a Bank of England governor (or some overeducated and underpaid intern) would have found if they google-searched “reading” without bothering to read the novel. They might not even have needed to do that; the line appears in countless online and offline quotation dictionaries, of the kind over which Elizabeth’s schoolmarmish sister Mary likes to pore and from which Elizabeth’s repulsive suitor Mr. Collins cribs his commonplaces. But does this really mean that the quotation is wrong for a banknote?

Maybe. But it’s also possible that the quotation tells us something important about the relation between books and money. Miss Bingley adds that “When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” Talking about books functions as a way to drag marriage into the conversation (for “having a house of my own” is nothing of not a modest euphemism for “getting someone to marry me”)—as it does, too, when she professes herself astonished “that my father should have left so small a collection of books. What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr Darcy!”

Books, in short, are what rich husbands own. More specifically, like the gallery of family portraits that Elizabeth later ogles in Darcy’s house, a private library is a sign of old money. Nouveaux riches like the Bingleys can rent a house, but they can’t buy up first editions simply by handing over Bank of England notes, any more than they could buy up nonexistent portraits of their ancestors. And a shared library means a shared life: it’s safe to interfile books when you move in with your lover, but don’t put your duplicates out on the curb unless you’re game for covenant marriage.

More fundamentally, books are a player in the marriage market. Reading different volumes of the same novel gives Miss Bingley and Darcy something in common, just as anyone reading Sense and Sensibility can guess Marianne Dashwood’s fate once she reflects that “Our own library is too well known to me, to be resorted to for anything beyond mere amusement. But … there are others of more modern production which I know I can borrow of Colonel Brandon.” In a culture that placed strict limits on young women’s interactions with young men, lending books and borrowing books gave a convenient excuse to send parcels back and forth: “Gentlemen, as a rule, do not offer ladies presents,” one 1893 etiquette handbook explains. “Should the conversation, however, turn upon some new book or musical composition, which the lady has not seen, the gentleman may, with perfect propriety, say, “I wish that you could see such or such a work and, if you will permit, I should be pleased to send you a copy.”

That books can matchmake shouldn’t surprise users of dating sites like alikewise.com, who are matched with one another by favorite title rather than by body-mass index: who needs Mrs. Bennet when a book can perform the introduction? But the book can also chaperone: a different Victorian etiquette manual explains that in railway carriages, while “civilities should be politely acknowledged,” “a book is the safest resource for an ‘unprotected female’.” Or, as when Darcy buries himself in the pages of Volume I to avoid making conversation with the persistent Miss Bingley, an unprotected male.

Perhaps Darcy is afraid of ending up in a marriage like the one described by the great Victorian humorist Douglas Jerrold: “Why, what have you got there, Mr. Caudle ? A book? What! If you ar’n’t allowed to sleep you’ll read? Well, now it is come to something! If that isn’t insulting a wife to bring a book to bed, I don’t know what wedlock is. But you sha’n’t read, Caudle ; no you sha’n’t; not while I’ve strength to get up and put out a candle.” When Charles Darwin drew up a balance-sheet to help him decide whether to marry, one of the entries in the “not marry” column suggested that a man needed to choose between marrying and reading: “Loss of time—cannot read in the evenings—less money for books.” One more reason that it may make sense to immortalize Caroline Bingley on a banknote: she knew that books aren’t free, any more than the time that it takes to read them.

Leah Price is professor of English at Harvard University. She is the author of The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel and How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain.

 

 

 

BOOK FACT FRIDAY – He Runs, She Runs

From chapter one of Deborah Jordan Brooks’ He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates:

The 2012 elections increased the number of women in national office further, with a record number of both women House members (81) and women senators (20) sworn into office the following January. Several states (Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Wisconsin) elected women Senators for the first time ever, while New Hampshire elected the first-ever all women congressional delegation, along with a woman governor to boot. Describing the 2012 results, Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post claimed that, “Twenty years after the election that was heralded as the ‘year of the woman’ comes another one that could be called that.” While representing significant progress over a relatively short time, the ratios of female to male political leaders are still nowhere near gender parity at any level of American government.

k10033
We are pleased to announce the publication of
He Runs, She Runs: Why Gender Stereotypes Do Not Harm Women Candidates
by Deborah Jordan Brooks.

We invite you to read chapter one at: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s10033.pdf

While there are far more women in public office today than in previous eras, women are still vastly underrepresented in this area relative to men. Conventional wisdom suggests that a key reason is because female candidates start out at a disadvantage with the public, compared to male candidates, and then face higher standards for their behavior and qualifications as they campaign. He Runs, She Runs is the first comprehensive study of these dynamics and demonstrates that the conventional wisdom is wrong.

With rich contextual background and a wealth of findings, Deborah Jordan Brooks examines whether various behaviors–such as crying, acting tough, displays of anger, or knowledge gaffes–by male and female political candidates are regarded differently by the public. Refuting the idea of double standards in campaigns, Brooks’s overall analysis indicates that female candidates do not get penalized disproportionately for various behaviors, nor do they face any double bind regarding femininity and toughness. Brooks also reveals that before campaigning begins, women do not start out at a disadvantage due to gender stereotypes. In fact, Brooks shows that people only make gendered assumptions about candidates who are new to politics, and those stereotypes benefit, rather than hurt, women candidates.

Proving that it is no more challenging for female political candidates today to win over the public than it is for their male counterparts, He Runs, She Runs makes clear that we need to look beyond public attitudes to understand why more women are not in office.

Deborah Jordan Brooks is associate professor of government at Dartmouth College. Previously, she was a senior research director at the Gallup Organization. For more information about this new book, please visit: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10033.html

Win a copy of The Warbler Guide, a pair of TERRA ED Binoculars, and an EcoClean Bird Feeder

Update: This contest is closer. Thank you so much for entering our sweepstakes!

 

Get ready for fall birding and warbler migration by entering our sweepstakes to win a copy of The Warbler Guide, a free download of the The Warbler Guide Song and Call Audio Companion, a WildBirds Unlimited EcoClean Feeder, and a pair of ZEISS, TERRA ED 8×42 binoculars. There are 5 easy ways to enter the raffle (and some can be done each day!)– see the details below.

We are very grateful to ZEISS for providing a prize for our sweepstakes. WildBirds Unlimited of Paramus, NJ is also supporting this sweepstakes by providing a terrific EcoClean bird feeder. Available exclusively at Wild Birds Unlimited, EcoClean bird feeders protect themselves against the surface growth of bacteria, mold, mildew, fungus and other microbes.

WBU Paramus is also hosting an event with Tom Stephenson at 11:00 AM on August 3.  Please support our sponsor and join in the event if you are in the Northern Jersey area.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Downloadable Quick Finders from The Warbler Guide

You asked, we listened.

The minute people got their hands on The Warbler Guide by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, they started asking if we might provide downloadable versions of the Quick Finder section. Thank you for all the great suggestions!

We are very pleased to offer these image files for people to download, laminate, and keep in their backpack. They are incredibly useful in the field because they present a quick snapshot of every North American species of warbler for side-by-side comparison.

So pick your favorite format below — JPG or PDF — and make sure you pick up a copy of The Warbler Guide to confirm your field IDs.

Update: You can also download a complete set of the PDFs in a zip file or as a zip file of JPGs if you prefer.

Update: Take your Warbler ID skills to the next level with this free tip sheet on aging and sexing warblers. [added 10-4-2013]

Update: This free tip sheet will help you age and sex fall West Coast Warblers. [added 9-8-2014]

 

Face Quick Finder Face Quick Finder PDF | JPG
45 Degree Quick Finder 45 Degree Quick Finder PDF | JPG
East Fall Quick Finder East Fall Quick Finder PDF | JPG
East Spring Quick Finder East Spring Quick Finder PDF | JPG
Side Quick Finder Side Quick Finder PDF | JPG
Undertails Quick Finder Undertails Quick Finder PDF | JPG
Underview Quick Finder Underview Quick Finder PDF | JPG
West Quick Finder Western Quick Finder PDF | JPG

Want to score an internship with Princeton University Press? Our interns offer some advice on maximizing your chances.

Two students interning with Princeton University Press have agreed to answer a few questions about their experiences as interns during the summer 2013 term. Are you interested in becoming an intern with Princeton University Press? Read on for tips and tricks to maximize your success – Brought to you by our Editorial Intern, Anna, and our Social Networking Intern, Holly.

Anna Olkovsky (Smith College)

Title: Editorial Intern
Department: Editorial
College Major: American Studies
Year: Senior

Holly Jennings (Rider University)

Title: Social Networking Intern
Department: Publicity
College Major: Public Relations
Year: Senior

1.) What does your list of duties for the Princeton University Press include?

Anna: “I help the Editorial Assistants in any way I can. Some of my regular assignments include: sending copies of our books to authors, professors, and other scholars in the field; contacting museums and organizations to start the process of getting the rights to use one of their images; and helping with administrative tasks such as photocopying, scanning, and fetching books from the University Library.”

Holly: “I assist the Publicity Director and Assistant Publicity Director/ePublicity Manager. Some of my regular assignments include: Utilizing HTML, CSS, and other variations of code to create content, researching online blogs for specific topics to obtain information for marketing and publicity, adding events to the Princeton University Press facebook site and individual book sites, setting up Facebook pages for each PUP title, watching author interviews/reviews and selecting excerpts to be placed on the blog, posting articles and creating features on the blog, attending departmental meetings to get an overall view of the function of the publicity department, and conducting research related to various books for marketing purposes.”

2.) Are there any special qualifications, skills, or training that you have brought with you to the internship?

Anna: “I have previously completed two other internships, so I am comfortable in an office setting and have had some experience with copyediting, proofreading, and writing blog posts. I have worked as a Writing Tutor at my college for two years now, which has taught me how important it is for academic work to be well-structured, clear, and legible to a general audience. Also, although it hasn’t impacted my work in this internship directly so far, I have always found in interviews that employers are interested in my fluency in another language, so I am proud of the work I have done to achieve that.”

Holly: “I’ve interned with Princeton University Press twice – once as a general Publicity Intern, and now twice as a Social Media Intern. I’ve also interned with Princeton AlumniCorps. Both internships have given me invaluable lessons that have been added to my skill set. I have been doing web design and HTML since I was fairly young – I’ve been self-taught since about 6th grade. My best friend and I used to build HTML/CSS layouts for Xanga, which is an online journal community. Having the skill set to build websites and become familiar with different types of coding is vital to the Social Media Intern position because this is a position heavily based around creativity and putting your own unique touch on things.”

3.) What aspect(s) do you enjoy most about your internship with the Princeton University Press?

Anna: “My favorite part of my internship is the Project Review meeting I get to attend every Thursday. During this meeting, editors who have been in touch with authors and agents about potential books give the rest of the Editorial Department a summary of the project, and then other editors weigh in with their comments about the project. Since a lot of the work I do on a daily basis is pretty administrative, it’s great to be able to see The Press’ work from a more top-down perspective. Plus, most of the new book topics sound fascinating to me!”

Holly: “The aspects I enjoy most about my internship is the freedom to make what you do all your own. In my department, I’m given a lot of freedom to show off my creativity. I’m allowed to create my own projects and am autonomous in making a lot of decisions. This is excellent for building up my portfolio. Since I’ve interned here a few times, I have a endless collection of examples of my own work that I can show to future employers at interviews. All samples of work that I have created at The Press can apply to various job functions – whether they fall under social media, marketing, advertising, public relations, or other occupational areas.”

4.) In what ways do you think this internship will help you in future job endeavors?

Anna: “I applied for this internship because I became interested in academic publishing as a potential career, and wanted to get some hands-on experience to see if I really liked the work and field. This internship has only cemented my desire to work as an editor at an academic press, and it has been a great experience to finally figure out a potential career path and have some sort of clarity about what I’m doing after college. And I’m sure that when I apply to future jobs in publishing, this internship will stand out for the Press’ well-known leadership in the field of academic publishing.”

Holly: “Building off of the previous question, I think being responsible for my own projects has taught me a lot about responsibility and self initiation. It’s easy to mess around when you have little guidelines on exactly how your work should be done. In a Social Media Intern position, you’re your own boss, in a sense – it is real sense of accomplishment knowing that your work comes from your own successes. Future employers want to hire people that know how to step up to the plate and be leaders.”

5.) What job skill(s) learned at the Press do you feel are most vital to your overall career success?

Anna: “There are some more technical skills I have practiced here, such as using the particular software we use to ship orders from our warehouse, but I have also learned a lot about how different departments within the Press work together to support the ultimate goals of publishing great work. Sitting in on meetings with not only the Editorial department, but also with Publicity and Permissions, has given me a good sense of what kinds of work are necessary to get a book published and sold.”

Holly: “The job skills I’ve learned at the Press that I feel are most vital to my overall career success would definitely be the social media postings. I’ve become very savvy with what types of language you should use in Facebook and blog posts. When you learn how to communicate to your company’s specific key publics in a way that resonates with them, you obtain a priceless skill that is transferable to any type of business you may venture into.”

6.) Would you recommend this internship to others?

Anna: “Definitely! It has been a great experience so far, and I have learned a lot about the field of academic publishing. Plus, everyone in the office is really nice, and there’s usually free food in the kitchen.”

Holly: “I would absolutely recommend this internship to others. The Princeton University Press is a very friendly environment. I always feel comfortable asking any of my coworkers for help. There are an unlimited number of projects that greatly benefit your resume for future employers.”

7.) Is there any advice you can give to those applying for internships, looking for jobs in your field, or ways to maximize one’s chance of getting an internship with the Princeton University Press?

Anna: “One piece of advice is definitely to start early when you’re applying for summer internships. The people I know who started looking in December or January ended up having more options, and had their plans figured out earlier, than those who didn’t start applying until March or April. And also, don’t be worried if you don’t have previous experience that’s completely relevant to the publishing world; during my interview, I was able to talk about how my different experiences with research and tutoring have taught me the importance of good written organization. You probably have more relevant skills and experiences than you think you do, and it’s important to emphasize those in your resume and interview.”

Holly: “If there is any advice I can give to those looking to be chosen for an internship at PUP, I would have to say that building your resume is paramount. Play up your strengths, and try to keep job descriptions to the point while highlighting the important duties and accomplishments that apply to the department you are looking to work for. For me, I made it a point to play up my previous employment in retail on my resume. Although one might not think retail relates directly to social media, the interactions with customers and fellow coworkers have taught me a lot about communicating with others, whether it be in person or through the internet. Another strength on my resume is my GPA. I work hard to maintain a very high GPA, because although a GPA may not be everything to employers, it does help you appear to be a promising employee with a steadfast work ethic.”


Apply for one of the internships listed above or any of PUP’s other opportunities:

 

Hello Earth — a photograph from the Cassini probe

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Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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This image has been circulating around the internet this week. It shows the view from Saturn’s rings, looking homeward to Earth (that tiny, fuzzy blue dot in the lower right corner of the photograph).

On the NASA site, they write:

In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn’s rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. It is only one footprint in a mosaic of 33 footprints covering the entire Saturn ring system (including Saturn itself).  At each footprint, images were taken in different spectral filters for a total of 323 images: some were taken for scientific purposes and some to produce a natural color mosaic.  This is the only wide-angle footprint that has the Earth-moon system in it.

We have images like this and tremendous amounts of scientific data about the far reaches of our solar system and universe thanks to unmanned space expeditions like Cassini, Voyager, the Viking and Mars Exploration Rovers, and telescopes like Spitzer, Chandra, and Hubble.

I spite of our fascination with astronauts and manned expeditions, the heavy lifting these days is done via remote by unmanned missions and technology. To get the soup-to-nuts history of how unmanned exploratory missions have expanded our knowledge of the universe and our place in it, please check out the forthcoming book Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration by Chris Impey and Holly Henry.

Two for Tuesday – Britain’s Freshwater Fishes & England’s Rare Mosses

From our WildGuides selection, we are introducing two new beautifully illustrated books for your personal library.

j9973Britain’s Freshwater Fishes
by Mark Everard

Britain hosts a diversity of freshwater environments, from torrential hill streams and lowland rivers to lakes, reservoirs, ponds, canals, ditches, and upper reaches of estuaries. Britain’s Freshwater Fishes covers the 53 species of freshwater and brackish water fishes that are native or have been introduced and become naturalized. This beautifully illustrated guide features high-quality in-the-water or on-the-bank photographs throughout. Detailed species accounts describe the key identification features and provide information on status, size and weight, habitat, ecology, and conservation. Written in an accessible style, the book also contains introductory sections on fish biology, fish habitats, how to identify fishes, and conservation and legislation.

 

 

 

j9975England’s Rare Mosses and Liverworts:
Their History, Ecology, and Conservation
by Ron D. Porley

This is the first book to cover England’s rare and threatened mosses and liverworts, collectively known as bryophytes. As a group, they are the most ancient land plants and occupy a unique position in the colonization of the Earth by plant life. However, many are at risk from habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and other factors. Britain is one of the world’s best bryologically recorded areas, yet its mosses and liverworts are not well known outside a small band of experts. This has meant that conservation action has tended to lag behind that of more charismatic groups such as birds and mammals. Of the 918 different types of bryophyte in England, 87 are on the British Red List and are regarded as threatened under the strict criteria of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

This book aims to raise awareness by providing stunning photographs–many never before published–of each threatened species, as well as up-to-date profiles of 84 of them, including status, distribution, history, and conservation measures. The book looks at what bryophytes are, why they are important and useful, and what makes them rare; it also examines threats, extinctions, ex situ conservation techniques, legislation, and the impact of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity.

For more selections from WildGuides, please visit:
http://press.princeton.edu/wildguides/