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Angus Phillips

The Materiality of Textbooks

From black-and-white textbooks to the digital textbook

Alenka Kepic Mohar

This article discusses changes in the materiality of textbooks by examining several examples of primarily Slovene textbooks from various periods. By focusing on their spread design rather than technical aspects (e.g., length, weight, and format), one may infer that their materiality changed with the development of printing technologies and publishing skills. Based on the assumption that textbook visuality is a field of meaning that requires different bodily movements, postures, and engagement with the physical environment to produce cognitive processing, this article sheds light on how the body adapts to the changed materiality of digital textbooks. Numerous micro-movements in a long string of procedures are required in a digital textbook ecosystem. All the participants should be aware of the different demands and properties of the digital textbook ecosystem. Therefore, further empirical research is needed.

The Role of Literary Prizes in Inciting Change

The Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Booker Prize

Zoë Chatfield

Originally, literary prizes were restricted to the world of academia, but since the 19th century they have grown to become commercial events in the publishing calendar. This article looks at the role of the literary prize as an agent of change by focusing on two prominent prizes in the United Kingdom: the Booker and the Women’s Prize for Fiction. By analysing data from archive material held at Oxford Brookes University, this article argues that the founding of the Women’s Prize highlighted an issue with the Booker and promoted discussion around that issue, and that the Booker reacted positively in the years after the introduction of a competing literary prize.

Thanks for Typing

The invisible wives, daughters, mothers, and other women behind famous men

Karen Christensen

In this paper, I review the Thanks for Typing conference held at Oxford University in March 2019, which explored the experiences of women who worked as literary helpmeets for famous men. I also give some details from the papers presented there. In my paper ‘“Jumped-up Typists”: Two secretaries who became guardians of the flame’, I discussed how two literary wives, Sophia Mumford (1899–1997), wife of the American historian and philosopher Lewis Mumford, and Valerie Eliot (1926–2012), second wife of T. S. Eliot, found their identities in supporting, and later defending, their husbands’ work. I also looked at the consequences of their devotion as they grew older. It was clear from the papers presented at Thanks for Typing that the contributions of the women who surround powerful or influential men—not only as typists but as assistants, muses, and even managers of their husbands’ affairs—are often hidden and suppressed. The full acknowledgment of those who contribute to creative and intellectual work is a subject that needs further attention from both men and women.

Alison Baverstock and Jackie Steinitz

To explore the reason why some biographies by or about politicians are more successful than others, and to help publishers consider the range of factors that may impact on their commissioning decisions, we sought to establish a range of likely influencing factors and to combine them in a formula. This is not a magic prediction tool, but rather a range of considerations that need to be worked through for various publishing propositions before decisions are made. As an exercise, and a starting point for wider discussions, it may benefit a group of individuals preparing for an editorial meeting at which commissioning is to be considered.

Camille Corti-Georgiou

The Pioneers of Social Research, 1996–2018 is a rich qualitative collection of life story interviews with over fifty pioneering academics, who are regarded as having played a significant role in developing the practices of social research across key disciplines. The project was directed by Paul Thompson, himself a pioneer of oral history in Europe. The interviewees are essentially British pioneers, all but six born within what was then the British Empire, but they worked worldwide in Europe, Africa, Australasia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States. The collection includes full interview transcripts and detailed summaries, YouTube playlists, thematic highlights and associated teaching resources, all openly accessible through the UK Data Service. The following data paper provides an overview of Thompson’s data collection approach, the archiving and publishing of the data materials, and a discussion of the resources available. It also highlights opportunities of this unique research data for future use.

Chengzhi Yin

North Vietnam announced its intention to unify its country with armed struggle in 1959. Thereafter, Hanoi consistently requested military assistance from the People’s Republic of China (prc). However, Beijing did not grant Hanoi’s request until 1962. Why did the prc agree to provide military assistance to North Vietnam? This article argues that China did so because the United States greatly increased its military presence in South Vietnam in late 1961 and 1962. Therefore, Beijing provided military assistance to Hanoi to secure China’s southern border. Employing primary sources, this study traces changes in Beijing’s attitude toward its Vietnam policy from 1958 to 1962. It shows that when U.S. military presence was limited, Beijing paid more attention to the avoidance of war with the United States and maintaining a hospitable environment in neighboring Indochina. However, when the prc perceived the U.S. presence as a threat to its security, the objective of seeking security overwhelmed other objectives.

James I. Matray