University Press Week highlights the extraordinary work of nonprofit scholarly publishers and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society. This year from November 14-19, the focus of University Press Week is community: “from the community of a discipline to a regional home and culture, from the shared discourse of a campus to a bookstore’s community of readers.”
Syracuse University Press illustrates community in many of our works, but most notably in Sean Kirst’s The Soul of Central New York. This collection of stories by Kirst beautifully showcases the love, resilience, and heartbreak within the community of Syracuse.
University presses across the nation are also participating in UP Week. Check out works by other presses that highlight community here.
In the spirit of partnership that pervades the university press community, Syracuse University Press and 36 other presses unite for the AAUP’s second annual blog tour during University Press Week. The tour highlights the value of university presses and the contributions they make to scholarship and our society.
Schedule your week’s reading with the complete blog tour schedule here http://bit.ly/HjQX7n.
Today’s theme is the importance of regional publishing, discussed by one of our favorite regional authors, Chuck D’Imperio.
Regional publishing is a wonderful source of information, data, traditional stories, reflections, memories and history. Although in many cases the parameters can be small, their importance cannot be denied. Not every author can write a serious piece on the nuances of global affairs or the ramifications of economic turmoil. And not every writer’s heart beats with the longing and sentimentality of a romance novelist. We can’t all be adventure writers or cookbook authors. We cannot all come up with clever mystery twists and turns.
But we can all become regional writers. Why? Because we all have stories to tell, no matter how provincial or how far-flung. And these stories, these observations stand the test of time serving an important purpose for the past, present and the future.
Centuries ago familial tales were handed down in oral testimonies from grandparents to grandchildren. Stories of hardships endured and triumphs enjoyed. Of bitter harvests and sharecropping, of transoceanic flight and new beginnings. Of shadowy injustices and illuminating liberations. Of slavery. Of migration. Of life on the dusty prairie as well on the teeming sidewalks of immigrant America.
These stories, eventually written down in small books and disseminated by small presses, have served as some of the most important tools in any writer’s arsenal. Read the legendary works of Herman Melville, Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, Pearl Buck or Mark Twain and it is apparent that at the heart of each of these writers’ opuses lies a work of regional scent. Though disguised as great literary epics and tomes it is still clear to any reader that these authors (and legions more) are simply writing about what they know, where they lived and what they did. Many of the settings of the famous American novels or short stories reflect the simple concept of a regional book masked in the patina of “great literature.”
Story placements as varied as family farms, the sea, a rural Main Street, unpronounceable places abroad, on the river, in the big shouldered cities and more all are the regional backdrop of some of the most familiar works of American writing, from Tara to Cannery Row to “Our Town.”
I am proud to be a regional writer. I have six books currently in stores exploring the width and breadth of my own backyard, Upstate New York. I have written of the great legends of the Hudson Valley, the history of the small towns in the high peaks of the Adirondacks, the whimsy of the tiny museums of the Finger Lakes and the verdigris- covered war memorials which dot the Leatherstocking Region. These books are small, yet timeless. My readers can identify with the stories and tales I have told whether they come from the busy streets of our capital city, Albany or from the bucolic bosom of the Schoharie Valley.
Anybody can be a regional writer to some degree. To paraphrase Grandma Moses, it’s easy. Just pick up a pencil and start writing.
Stop into the SU Bookstore to view the special SU Press book display in honor of University Press Week, last week (November 11 – November 17). The display will remain up for the entire year.
Today wraps up the final day of the University Press Week blog tour. SU Press is proud to join fellow university presses in the celebration of this honorable week. To learn more about the importance of university presses visit the AAUP website.
New York University Press: In Celebrating the regional pride of University Presses, Author and NYT editor Connie Rosenblum writes that one wonderful feature of university presses is their desire to publish books about their home turf. She also touches upon the importance of university presses in bringing cutting-edge research to broad audiences.
Columbia University Press: Columbia’s first guest blogger Sheldon Pollock, the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University, reaches out to the university and faculty to attract greater support and attention to university presses. She talks about how they must insulate themselves from the vagaries of the market and need assistance from the university to do so.
Jennifer Crewe, editorial director and associate director at Columbia University Press, discusses how university presses started with a mission to publish the work of scholarly research and goes on to describe the astonishing degree of innovation and growth they’ve accomplished over the years.
University of North Carolina Press: UNC Press director John Sherer, in his guest post, discusses his recent transition from New York trade publishing back to UNC Press. He describes the abundant pressures university presses are dealing with today and the many changes they’re adopting such as taking on more risks on the editorial front.
University of Alabama Press: University of Alabama Press first time author, Lila Quintero Weaver, tells us “Why University Presses Matter” by discussing how they open their doors to non-academic writers, as they did for his memoir, and play a leading role in the encouragement of scholarship and knowledge.
In an additional guest post, Jennifer Horne, editor of Circling Faith and All Out of Faith, writes that university presses matter because they make books better. She describes the level of experience, quality, and continuity that goes into the publishing process at the University of Alabama Press and the invaluable role university presses play in scholarship and disseminating knowledge.
University of Virginia Press: University of Virginia’s adored author Catherine Allgor, who wrote the award-winning Parlor Politics and The Queen of America, discusses her publishing journey and the level of excellence, integrity, and commitment the University of Virginia Press staff dedicated to the completion of her book. She describes this process with UVP as an ‘exercise in holistic business.’
Oregon State University Press: Intern Jessica Kibler describes her memorable experiences working at a university press as her time at OSU Press draws to a close. One of the most important things she learned during her internship was that university presses give ease to sharing information. She states, “This breadth of knowledge and the ability to share it with the world is one of the most beneficial things about the existence of university presses.”
Princeton University Press: Co-owner of Princeton’s academic and community bookstore, Labyrinth Books, Dorothea von Moltke answers questions on university presses and her business. She describes how the ambition for Labyrinth Books is to carry both a broad range of front list titles and deep backlist titles from university presses and trade publishers.
Indiana University Press: In University Presses: An Essential Cog Within Our Society’s ‘Sophistication Machine,’ former IU Press intern Nico Perrino discusses the importance of university presses through a student’s perspective. He states that without university presses the marketplace of ideas for scholars would be hindered and professors and society would be solely confined to past knowledge.
Fordham University Press: Fordham University Press Director Fredric Nachbaur refers to university presses as ‘the pillars of knowledge.’ He proves his theory by discussing how the tragic hurricane Sandy crisis led the media to university presses for expertise as they are detectives for finding quality authors and sharing critical information.
Texas A&M University Press: Author of The Man Who Thought Like a Ship Loren Steffy, also Houston Chronicle columnist, writes about his personal journey of becoming an author and the lasting impact of TAMU Press both on the field of nautical archaeology and on his family.
Georgetown University Press: Georgetown University Press’ post covers how university presses are uniquely talented in creating scholarly material for less commonly taught languages (they produce books for learning Chinese, Urdu, Uzbek, Pashto, Tajiki, Kazakh, Portuguese, Turkish, Japanese, and Arabic). They conclude their post by listing all of the LCTLs represented by university presses.
University of Chicago Press: University of Chicago Press believes university presses matter because of their continued commitment to foster thinkers and their admiration for flourishing ideas. Editor, writer, and literary critic Scott Esposito confirms this by discussing Wayne C. Booth’s Modernist Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent and observing how fifty years later his influential criticism continues to remain highly relevant and essential.
University of Minnesota Press: Guest blogger Jason Weidemann writes about his recent travels to Cape Town and the time he spent lecturing on scholarly publishing. Jason is the senior acquisitions editor in sociology and media studies at UMP.
University of Illinois Press: UIP author Stephen Wade, in his guest post Write for the World, discusses his positive feelings towards Illinois and its fellow university presses. He goes into detail about their dedicated watchfulness, commitment to humane scholarship, and strong ethics of taking care of deeper impulse.
University of Nebraska Press: Tom Swanson, UNP’s Bison Book manager, explains the important reasons why university presses matter to their region. He writes about how without university presses, specific regions would lose their voice to big houses that aren’t dedicate to promoting the scholarly mission of a University.
Welcome to day 3 of the University Press Week blog tour! We are pleased to present longtime author and former series editor Laurence M. Hauptman as our guest blogger. His most recent SU Press book, Seven Generations of Iroquois Leadership: The Six Nations since 1800 was the 2012 Winner of the Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship.
In his post, he isolates three main reasons why university presses matter. The AAUP University Press Week blog tour continues tomorrow with the Princeton University Press. A complete blog tour schedule is available here.
Why University Presses Matter by Laurence M. Hauptman*
As a young assistant professor in the 1970s, I was fortunate to meet Arpena Mesrobian, the director of Syracuse University Press at a conference on New York State history. Much of what I learned about book publishing came from my conversations with this extraordinary editor who encouraged me, then an aspiring young historian. That meeting was the beginning of a working relationship with her and her fine staff for the next thirty years. This collaboration resulted in Syracuse University Press’ publication of five of my books in Native American history; it also led to my eventual appointment as the Press’ editor of the Iroquois and their Neighbors series from 1989 to 2001. My connection to this university press has been a major part of my academic career and has clearly influenced my decision to submit my subsequent research to other university presses as well. Although one of my books was published by a leading commercial press, namely the Free Press of Simon and Schuster, I have continued to submit my other manuscripts to various university presses, including the University of Oklahoma Press, the University of New Mexico Press, the University of Wisconsin Press, and SUNY Press.
In reflecting why I have repeatedly gone back to university presses to publish my books, I can isolate three major reasons. First, university presses generally work closer and spend more time collaborating with authors, especially new ones to the field, performing more of an educational role by teaching scholars the ropes of the publishing process. For me, the staff of Syracuse University Press were indeed my teachers over the years, instructing me at every stage of the publishing process—how to prepare a manuscript for submission; the need to secure images and permission letters early in the process; the way to structure a proper bibliography and organize an index; the vital role of a copyeditor and how to best proof a manuscript; the importance of working with the production and marketing staff in the selection of book titles, jacket descriptions, and cover designs; and ways to better market and promote the final product once the book is published.
Secondly, university presses are incubators for new ideas and directions in scholarship. University presses are more inclined to take risks than commercial presses. They are not part of large conglomerates whose primary function is to satisfy shareholders by maximizing profits at the cost of scholarship. When I started writing about Native Americans of the Northeast in 1971, few presses, university or commercial, had titles on their list on this subject. Those that had titles focused largely on Colonial America through the Jacksonian Indian removal era. The implication was that American Indians’ no longer existed east of the Mississippi and/or that tribal histories were no longer important except to certain anthropologists studying cultural change and decline. Consequently, 20- 25% of the Native population was being ignored by historians as well as by book publishers. Today university presses have followed the lead taken by Syracuse University Press. They have focused more of their titles on the Native Americans of the Northeast since removal. These include the two oldest presses publishing books on Native Americans, namely the University of Oklahoma Press and the University of Nebraska Press.
Finally, university presses have in-house expertise and draw from their location on campuses of higher learning. In most cases, university presses have more rigorous internal and external reviews. Their boards of editors are composed of university faculty with expertise in the particular field that is the subject of the manuscript under consideration. Moreover, outside reviewers are generally chosen with more care because often recommendations about evaluators are made by members of the board. There is another factor here. University presses can draw from other campus resources as well. They have major libraries to fact check if needed for the accuracy of points or citations in manuscripts. In my own experience with Syracuse University Press, I have had the privilege of working with an excellent cartographer who is based in the nationally recognized Syracuse University geography department. By doing so, I have insured that my maps were done as I wished and not outsourced to someone less able to meet my particular requirements. Consequently, it is little wonder that my final book-length manuscript has recently been submitted to a university press.
*LAURENCE M. HAUPTMAN is SUNY Distinguished Emeritus of History at SUNY New Paltz where he taught courses on Native American history, New York history, and Civil War history for forty years. On October 25, 2011, Dr. John B. King, the New York State Commissioner of Education, awarded Hauptman the State Archives Lifetime Achievement Award for his research and publications on the Empire State. Hauptman is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of 17 books on the Iroquois and other Native Americans. He has testified as an expert witness before committees of both houses of Congress and in the federal courts and has served as a historical consultant for the Wisconsin Oneidas, the Cayugas, the Mashantucket Pequots, and the Senecas. Over the past two decades, Professor Hauptman has been honored by the New York State Board of Regents, the Pennsylvania Historical Association, the Wisconsin Historical Society, the New York Academy of History, and Mohonk Consultations for his writings about Native Americans.