CUP's online coronavirus essays prove a hit with readers

CUP's online coronavirus essays prove a hit with readers

Cambridge University Press has revealed its collection of online essays about coronavirus, Cambridge Reflections: Covid-19, has attracted 44,000 visitors in the month since it launched.

The publisher's 1584 blog, which hosts the essays on authors' thoughts, insights and reflections on the global pandemic, has seen a 500% increase in traffic since May.

Alex Wright, senior executive publisher and head of Humanities at the Press, said: “It’s been hugely gratifying to see such a great response to Cambridge Reflections. When we launched the series our aim was to provide understanding, perspective and perhaps even some comfort at a time when many people have been left with time for reflection and with understandable anxieties about the future.

“To have had so many readers so quickly is proof that they have been a welcome resource—digestible, bite-sized nuggets of reflection that can be drawn on anywhere someone has access to the internet. It’s clear from our data that people are staying to read at least one and very often more essays, with many returning to see new offerings.”

Among the most popular essays is Gitanjali G Shahani's "Breaking Bread in the Time of Corona". Shahani, a professor of English at San Francisco State University, reflects on how issues to do with food—from the rise of home baking, to queues for supermarkets and, in many places, real hunger—illustrate "‘the ennui, the dread, the loneliness, and the anxiety of a time when we could no longer break bread together".

Another popular essay is "The ‘Invisible Enemy’: Language, Trump, and COVID-19" by Janet McIntosh. Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University, she examines President Trump’s use of language during the crisis and how it plays, in her words, "into the deep cleavages in how Americans think about language politics".

A sub-series of essays, which sees various authors writing about the profound effects of the pandemic and of lockdowns on cities from New York to New Orleans, Paris, Liverpool, Dublin and Buenos Aires, has also attracted hits.