Editor Spotlight: Jeffrey McNairn

by cmacmillan on April 14, 2014

The Editor Spotlight is a monthly feature which introduces readers to the forces behind our journals. Based on their own experience, editors answer questions which provide insight into their background, responsibilities, and the process of editing an academic journal.

Our Editor Spotlight for the month of April will be Jeffrey McNairn, co-editor of Canadian Historical Review (CHR).

Jeffrey McNairn

Co-editor of Canadian Historical Review


1. As the co-editor of Canadian Historical Review, what are your main roles and responsibilities?
Our main responsibility is to publish some of the best scholarship in every field of Canadian history and to ensure what we publish is as thoughtful and polished as we can help make it. We are constantly looking for quality submissions, experimenting with new features, and working with our contributors, peer reviewers, and the Press to enhance and promote Canadian historical scholarship.

The co-editors read and evaluate each submission, guide the best through peer-review and the editorial process, suggest revisions at multiple stages, and help put each issue together: everything from correcting proofs to setting the table of contents to choosing a cover image. We also work closely with our Editorial Board on questions concerning the general direction of the journal.

It’s a lot of responsibility and work, but it’s also a tremendous privilege and a unique vantage point from which to view our profession and the production and dissemination of the scholarship that helps define it.

2. What are your current research interests?
My own work is on the first half of the nineteenth century. I used to call myself an intellectual historian, but I’ve published on topics that might just as easily be labeled economic, political, and legal history. I think the Canadian Historical Review reflects a similar fluidity in disciplinary categories and themes. Lots of what we publish is more about answering a question than adhering to particular labels.

I’m particularly interested in the history of liberalism and how ideas, interests, values, and emotions interacted in the past. My two current projects concern how the law regulated individual economic failure, especially imprisonment for debt and early notions of bankruptcy, and how collective public goods, especially roads, were financed and regulated. Anyone else living in Toronto will be familiar with debates about how to pay for improved transit!

3. How would you describe your journal’s mission and editorial objectives?
One of the great things about the Canadian Historical Review is how catholic its mission truly is. It strives to speak to historians and history students at different career stages, from different backgrounds and regions, with different research interests, and skilled in different methodologies. If we can find ways to publish good scholarship that reflects that diversity while promoting academic exchange across those differences, we are doing our job.

4. What are the qualities you look for in an article and how do you maintain quality?
One of the things you quickly learn in this job is that despite all the diversity in the profession and the range of topics and approaches, there is actually considerable agreement about what makes sound scholarship and a good article. Will our readers learn something they didn’t know or be forced to rethink something they thought they already knew? Those are the two key questions.

The journal is entirely dependent on the submissions it attracts and the good will, voluntary labour, and expertise of its peer reviewers. We want peer reviewers who aren’t just gatekeepers, crucial though that role is, but people who will engage with us and the authors in a scholarly conversation about how to make each submission as good as it can be and as accessible to as many readers as possible.

5. What are some of the main changes that the journal has seen over its lifespan?
The Canadian Historical Review has been published since 1920. The history of the journal is the history of the writing and teaching of Canadian history and of the historical profession more generally. While we are all reading, writing, and teaching about the past, we do so in the present. Our pages reflect this. It’s what defines us as a scholarly community.

For the past couple of years we have published a series, ‘Life in History,’ where retired scholars reflect on their careers and the profession; we recently published a bibliography of the nearly 40 articles that have appeared in the CHR on World War One and made each open access; and we will follow up later this year with a forum on Canadian historians and the war to mark the centenary, one of a series of special features and scholarly forums in our pages. At the same time, new peer-reviewed scholarship, the review of the latest books in Canadian history, and a bibliography of recent publications and theses in the field remain the staple of the CHR.

And we have the best covers of any academic journal published in the country. Thanks UTP!


Cover of Canadian Historical Review 95.1. Contains a photo of a man playing at a piano.

Among the western nations that have played a substantive role in the making of twentieth-century history, Canada enjoys the questionable distinction of being perhaps the least known. Yet there are good reasons for everyone – Canadians included – to know more about Canada’s history. Good reasons that are apparent to regular readers of the Canadian Historical Review. The CHR offers an analysis of the ideas, people, and events that have molded Canadian society and its institutions into their present state. Canada’s past is examined from a vast and multicultural perspective to provide a thorough assessment of all influences. As a source for authoritative scholarship, giving the sort of in-depth background necessary for understanding the course of daily events – both for Canadians themselves and for others with an interest in the nation’s affairs – the CHR is without rival. The Canadian Historical Review provides comprehensive reviews of books to interest all levels of Canadian historians. Each issue also offers an extensive bibliography of recently published historical writings (including CD and video media) in all areas of Canadian history, conveniently arranged by subject.

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Cap'n Crunch Berries cereal in milk.We all know their names: Trix the Rabbit. Tony the Tiger. Lucky the Leprechaun. They’re the colourful cartoon mascots that adorn the boxes of brand name cereals marketed specifically to children. But what is it about them exactly that makes them so appealing? According to a recent study, when it comes to the supermarket aisle, it’s all about the eyes.

The two-part study, conducted by researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, looked at the way in which the eyes of cereal box characters are drawn—specifically, the angle of their gaze. They examined 86 different cereal box characters in 10 grocery stores, measuring the angle of their gaze from 4 feet away—the standard distance from which people stand in a grocery store. They found that cereal boxes marketed to children were typically found on the bottom two shelves and that the characters on these boxes had a downward gaze at an angle of about 9.6 degrees. Likewise, cereals marketed towards adults were found at about mid-shelf level and characters on those boxes had a gaze directed straight ahead. In other words, cereal box characters are drawn specifically to make eye contact with their targeted audience.

In the second part of the study, the researchers wanted to determine the extent to which such eye contact influences people’s feelings of trust and connection toward a brand. To achieve this, they presented 63 adults with either one of two different versions of a Trix cereal box: one with the rabbit looking straight at them, the other with the rabbit looking down. The results showed that those who were shown the rabbit looking at them reported 16% higher levels of trust and 28% higher feelings of connection towards the Trix brand than those who were shown the rabbit looking down.

The implications of this study, of course, are that if these characters can elicit positive feelings in people toward a brand, this may in turn increase the likelihood that people will buy that brand’s products. Such is the power of marketing: By tapping into innate aspects of human psychology—in this case, our tendency to trust someone who is looking us straight in the eye as opposed to looking down—marketers can employ simple triggers we are not even consciously aware of to get us to buy their products.

This may invoke a sense of unease as one thinks of being manipulated by profit-hungry corporations; however, it is important to remember that marketing is not inherently good or bad. The psychological tactics revealed in this study can be used to encourage people to buy foods that are good for them as equally as it can for those that are not.

If you want to read more about marketing foods to children, UTP Journals has two great articles by Charlene Elliott, published in Canadian Public Policy:

In “Marketing Fun Foods: A Profile and Analysis of Supermarket Food Messages Targeted at Children” (CPP 34.2), Elliott provides a content analysis of “fun” foods marketed to children and argues that policy makers need to focus more on the messages targeted to children in the supermarket.

In “Packaging Health: Examining “Better-for-You” Foods Targeted at Children” (CPP 38.2), Elliott examines 354 supermarket foods targeted at children in Canada, assessing nutritional quality and marketing approaches of “better-for-you” packaged foods compared to regular food.

What are your thoughts on how food is marketed to children? Tweet us @utpjournals

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Press News: April 7, 2014

by cmacmillan on April 7, 2014

UTP Journals has just released new issues for several of our journals. Check them out:

Eighteenth-Century Fiction 26.3
Canadian Review of American Studies 44.1
Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 26.1
Cartographica 49.1

The Champlain Society has a new post on their Pen & Paddle blog — “2012 Chalmers Award Winner Remembers the History of Women at Hart House.” They also have a fascinating new Findings/Trouvailles post, “World’s Series Hockey Game Knocked Out by Influenza,” which describes the 1918 influenza pandemic that cancelled the Stanley Cup final.

Follow us on Twitter @utpjournals and Like us on Facebook to receive daily updates on all journal activity!

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In the News: Fighting Terrorism at its Roots

by cmacmillan on April 4, 2014

Three AK-47s left by jihad terrorists in Israel.

What’s the most effective way to combat terrorism? As pockets of radicalism and extremism continue to fester throughout the globe, governments everywhere are asking themselves this very question. While many countries rely on a reactive approach—finding, capturing, and prosecuting known or suspected terrorists—the government of France has recently decided to take a step in a different direction: fight terrorism not where it ends, but where it begins.

As reported in the Washington Post, France’s new anti-terrorism plan arose in response to fears that young radical Muslims who travel to Syria may return to France as jihadists, with the skills and motivation to carry out an attack. Fears of such terrorism were rekindled last week when police found pop cans filled with nails, bolts, and explosives while bomb-making instructions were found in the apartment of a young man who had recently returned from Syria. According to authorities, Syria has become a popular destination for vulnerable Muslim youth, with hundreds traveling to the country each month.

Though France’s plan has yet to be officially released, sources say it will adopt a localized, preventative approach involving schools, parents, and religious leaders, as well as the French Council for the Muslim Faith. Local prevention centres will be put in place, with the goal of identifying and counselling vulnerable Muslim youth.

The plan, however, is not without challenges or criticism. For one, France has been accused in the past of having a discriminatory stance towards Muslims, such as when it banned the wearing of burqas in 2010; as such, the proposed anti-terrorism plan may be interpreted as yet another affront against this population. Others, reflecting on similar programs that have been used in Britain, feel that it puts schools and teachers “in difficult positions, expecting them to rat on students.”

But Louis Caprioli, a former French counterterrorism official makes an even more pertinent observation: that we are now living in an age in which radicalization no longer happens within the community—which we can control—but online, via social networks, which he points out is “a dimension that no one masters anymore.”

The relationship between Islam and terrorism is complex, being deeply steeped in history and politics. If you want to explore the topic a little further, take a look at “Seeking the Roots of Terrorism: An Islamic Traditional Perspective,” from Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 10.1. In it, author Mbaye Yo presents a fascinating analysis of the associational relationship between Islam and terrorism. Be sure to also check out

“Suicide Bombing: The Cultural Foundations of Morocco’s New Version of Martyrdom” (Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 25.1)

“Choices and Approaches: Anti-Terrorism Law and Civil Society in the United States and the United Kingdom After September 11″ (University of Toronto Law Journal 61.1)

“The 9/11 Effect: Comparative Counter-Terrorism” (University of Toronto Law Journal 63.4)

“Reframing Islam in Television: Alexander Kluge’s Interviews on Islam and Terrorism since 9/1 1″ (Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 41.3)

“Fatal (In)Tolerance? The Portrayal of Radical Islamists in Recent German Literature and Film” (Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 47.5)

What do you think is the most effective way to combat terrorism? What do you think of France’s plan? Tweet us your thoughts @utpjournals.

Source: All quotations in this piece were taken from “France in new tack to fight roots of terrorism” (The Washington Post, Mar. 31, 2014).

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Staff Profile is a monthly feature which introduces readers to the forces behind our journals. Based on their own experience, UTP staff answer questions which provide insight into their background, responsibilities, and the process of publishing an academic journal.

April’s Staff Profile will be Rosemary Clark-Beattie, Copy Editor at UTP’s Journals Division.


Rosemary Clark-Beattie

Copy Editor, Journals

How long have you worked at University of Toronto Press?
Eleven years.

What is your job title and briefly, what do you do?
Copy-editor; I copy-edit four journals—CRAS, CJCCJ, UTLJ, and Modern Drama.

What is your favourite part about your job?
Reading interesting articles.

How has your job changed since you started?
A lot has changed; eleven years ago, there was a printing press out back, owned by the press, where all our journals (there were fewer of them) were typeset and printed. We still sent out and marked up proofs in hard copy and the copy-editor did much of what is now done by production. And eXstyles did not exist, so the copy-editor “tagged” paragraphs as she or he edited.

What about academic publishing do you find most interesting/exciting right now?
The rapid changes both in the market and in the way we publish.

What advice can you give those trying to start a career in publishing?
Do a community college course, take whatever job you can get, and watch for opportunities.

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In the News: How the Media Shapes Our Understanding of Climate Change

March 28, 2014

With Earth Hour just one day away, climate change has once again become a hot topic—from web news articles to TV segments featuring debates among “experts,” media outlets everywhere are churning out content on our changing climate and what can be done about it. While the media no doubt plays an important role in informing […]

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Throwback Thursday: “Keep Calm and Fall in Love” Jane-Eyre Style

March 27, 2014

Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre has often been classified as both a story of woman in love and a story of a woman’s fight to express her own personality in love.  These two conceptions of the novel’s purpose are correct. However, while Jane Eyre is both of these things, as M.H. Scargill points out […]

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Press News: March 25, 2014

March 25, 2014

UTP Journals now has three more issues available online for your reading pleasure. Check them out: Modern Drama 57.1 Journal of Scholarly Publishing 45.3 Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 56.3 The Champlain Society has made several new posts on their Pen & Paddle blog, including “Remembering Our Neighbours,” which talks about a series […]

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In the News: Seeking Justice for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women

March 24, 2014

Aboriginal advocacy groups are feeling disappointment after a long-awaited government report failed to meet expectations. The report, titled “Invisible Women: A Call To Action,” was designed to address an alarming issue that has been plaguing aboriginal communities for years—that women and girls are murdered or go missing at an unusually high rate. According to Amnesty […]

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Throwback Thursday: “That terrible disease, [urban] consumption” — Rural Depopulation & the Slow Decay of the Traditional Way of Life

March 20, 2014

While it may not be so obvious anymore, especially for those living in large urban centres,  Canada was even more of a  rural country than it is today, with a majority population of dedicated farmers working the land, harvesting crops, and raising livestock. There were no sprawling suburbs or overpowering skyscrapers dominating the landscape or […]

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