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Tel Aviv Broadcast on Bridging the Divide

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On Wednesday morning TLV1, a radio station in Tel Aviv featured the SUP book Bridging the Divide: The Selected Poems of Hava Pinhas-Cohen edited and translated from the Hebrew by Sharon Hart-Green.

Pinhas- Cohen’s poems portray everyday life in modern Israel through a sacred yet personal language. Awarded the coveted Prime Minister’s Prize for her poetry, Pinhas-Cohen is a poet whose verse in English translation is long overdue. Sharon Hart-Green has worked closely with the poet herself on these translations, several of which have appeared in journals such as the Jewish Quarterly and the Toronto Journal of Jewish Thought. Her lively translations display the dazzling breadth and depth of Pinhas-Cohen’s oeuvre, making Bridging the Divide not only the first but the definitive English-language edition of this vital Hebrew poet’s work.

TLV1 is an English-language radio station broadcasting from Tel Aviv. Each month, listeners from over 210 countries and territories, residing in more than 10,500 cities around the world, log on and tune in.

Hava Pinhas-Cohen is an Israeli writer and poet. She is the editor of Dimui, a journal of literature, criticism, and Jewish culture, and the author of several poetry collections. Pinhas- Cohen was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize (1996), the ACUM Prize (1998), the Kugel Prize (2000), the Alterman Prize (2002), and the Rishon LeZion Prize for Creativity in Hebrew Language (2015). Sharon Hart-Green has a PhD in modern Hebrew literature from Brandeis University and has taught Hebrew and Yiddish literature at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Not a Simple Story: Love and Politics in a Modern Hebrew Novel.

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Covered Bridges of New York State

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On Sunday November 15th, The Post Standard ran a wonderful article on covered bridges in upstate New York. For readers who would like to learn more about these beautiful and historical structures, the Syracuse University Press suggests the book Covered Bridges of New York State, a stunning and comprehensive guide to the design, evolution, and romance of historic covered bridges extant in New York State. Learn more about them by purchasing a copy.

A Guide by Rick L. Berfield and photographs by Richard R. Wilson.

Sunday Funnies Turns 100 and Related SU Press Books

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This past weekend CBS Sunday Morning featured a fascinating look at comics in the segment “The King of Sunday funnies turns 100.” A century ago, King Features Syndicate was created by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. The syndicate brought comics like Blondie and Dagwood, Popeye and Dennis the Menace to popularity.

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Fans of comics will be happy to know that the Syracuse University Press has recently published the following books- Gene Basset’s Vietnam Sketchbook: A Cartoonist’s Wartime Perspective by Thom Rooke. As well as, Peanuts, Pogo, and Hobbes: A Newspaper Editor’s Journey Through the World of Comics by George Lockwood and Captain America, Masculinity, and Violence: The Evolution of a National Icon by J. Richard Stevens.

“Leveling the Playing Field” Athletes Set Historical Precedence

Featured imageGiven the events unfolding at the University of Missouri, SUP’s recently published book Leveling the Playing Field: The Story of the Syracuse 8 provides a fascinating look at another set of football players who set a historical precedent for athletes protesting racial inequality.

Greg Allen, one of the Syracuse 8, had this to say about the situation,  “The events at the University of Missouri are reminiscent of the events at Syracuse in 1970. The similarity is that African American athletes, football players, recognized their obligation to take a stand for principles much more important than football. We were willing to take a risk not knowing what the ultimate cost of our actions would be. Martin Luther King said “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

“In contrast to the boycott of the Syracuse 8 in 1970, the football players at University Missouri both black and white, along with their coaches all took a stand for change. They stood together.  That was a powerful moment. Courage is taking conscious risk without considering the consequence. The Syracuse 8 set the example forty-five years ago. You can read our story in the book Leveling the Playing Field: The Story of the Syracuse 8.”

#UPWeek: Interview with Designer Lynn Wilcox

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It’s University Press Week! To celebrate SU Press, and many other University Presses are participating in a University Press blog tour. As part of the tour, SU Press is focusing on the design side of publishing with an interview with one of our designers, Lynn Wilcox.  Lynn shares her style, research and creative freedom. Some of Lynn’s book cover designs are featured above.

SU Press: What research do you do and how much do you learn about the book to draw inspiration for your design?

 LW:  I typically review the reader’s reports/marketing copy and look at other books of the same genre. We also get many catalogs from other Presses and publications that I often cut out and post on my wall for ideas.

SU Press: How much creative freedom do you have in designing covers for SU Press?

LW:  It depends on the title. Sometimes the author has provided cover art and has specific ideas for the cover. With the many trade books, however, I have creative freedom.

SU Press: How would you describe your style of work?

LW: Plain and fancy. Well-balanced compositions with eye-catching visuals and clean typography.

SU Press: Do you have an all-time favorite book cover you have designed for the Press?

LW: The Sport of Kings and the Kings of Crime is my favorite. I love Currier and Ives prints. The cover has a beautiful painting done by Louis Maurer and published by Currier and Ives in 1889. The print is of a horse race and the typography is perfectly integrated and highlights the image.

SU Press: How would you compare a designer’s work for say, an advertisement versus a design for a book?

LW:  I don’t think there is much difference. You have a split-second to get someone to choose and buy a product.

SU Press: Are there certain components of a book cover that make it stand out more from other books you might see in a bookstore?

LW: For me, the cover image makes the cover. Also, books that are well-crafted – the binding, paper, printed with metallics, spot varnishes, embossing, etc.

SU Press: Is there a certain trend of book designs you’re seeing more and more of?

LW: There are a few but my favorite are the covers with bold, clever graphics and typography. Designs with bright and unusual color combinations are getting my attention now.

A special thanks to Lynn for talking to us!

Don’t forget to check out the other #UPWeek blog tour posts who also highlight design:

Northwestern University Press

Princeton University Press

MIT Press

Georgetown University Press

Stanford University

Harvard University Press

AU Press

Yale University Press

CNY Book Awards

The YMCA’s Downtown Writer’s Center has announced the finalists for the fourth annual CNY Book Awards. The ceremony recognizes the best poetry, fiction and nonfiction published by Central New York Authors.

The 2015 CNY Book Awards finalists were selected from the largest field of nominations yet, with a total of 34 authors and 36 nominated titles.

SU Press has published all three nonfiction finalists. Authors Chuck D’Imperio for, “A Taste of Upstate New York”, Brian W. Gorman, “Stone Houses of Jefferson County”, and Marsha Weissman’s “Prelude to Prison”.

We hope you can attend the ceremony in support of our authors!

2015 CNY Book Awards
Where: CNY Philanthropy Center at 431 E. Fayette St., Syracuse.
When: Thursday, Dec. 3 from 6-8 p.m.
How much: The CNY Book Awards is a fundraiser for the YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center. Tickets are $75 ($50 of which is a tax deductible donation).

For tickets, contact Phil Memmer at 474-6851 x328, by email or order them online.

Enriched Education in American Suburbs

Syracuse University Press is pleased to announce the launch of a new series, Writing, Culture, and Community Practices. The series seeks manuscripts that move between disciplinary identity and community practices to address how literacies and writing projects empower a population and promote social change.

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We reached out to author, Robert E Brooke about his book Writing Suburban Citizenship which focuses on how American youth is being educated in the suburbs, and then become disconnected from a regional history and culture. We also asked Brooke to elaborate on his views on the Common Core Curriculum and state testing.

SU Press: In what ways have you seen place-based education influence students and teachers in your experience with the NWP?

RB: Teachers routinely tell me that place-based education has “changed their life” as teachers and persons. For instance, an at-risk 8th grade reading teacher in this fall’s Place Conscious Education class has wholly redesigned her reading program from “test prep” to “connect to real work and issues in the community surrounding school” because she’s convinced this place based approach will actually engage her resistant learners. We’ve been doing place based education in Nebraska since 1997, and our on-site school/community partnership programs always enroll, as does the every-other-year place based teaching seminar I’ve offered since 2007 in online format. The classroom units described in this book are selected because of their focus on suburban settings. But the place based principles, for designing school projects that connects with local communities, have proven successful over and over again in rural, urban, and suburban contexts across our state and region.
In the National Writing Project – beyond Nebraska – place based education is a standard part of teacher development, especially in rural areas. Please see the info on place based education in the Rural Sites Network programs of the National Writing Project.

SU Press: What are your thoughts on the Common Core Standards Initiative? Do you feel that there is room for place-based education within the Common Core Standards?

RB: Place Based Education is explicitly an alternative to the Common Core. The Common Core is designed to be a placeless and migratory curriculum. At some level, American schools have to choose between migratory education and locally engaged citizenship, and place based education certainly points out this choice.

Further, our work has shown us that schools and community adults routinely value the outcomes of place conscious projects – when youth connect to local issues in a meaningful way, participating in the wider community debates, designing strong local programs, even leading community discussion on controversial issues, adults stand up and applaud. This is “real” education, connected to actual here-and-now work in the community – rather than “postponed” education that is always waiting for the payoff at some future date, like when the ACT scores finally come in.

But to extend: it is possible to design place based units that “meet and exceed” any of the standards in the Common Core, or in any set of state standards (Nebraska isn’t a Common Core state – but our standards have been independently judge to be more rigorous than Common Core). As we show in the Afterword, most place conscious projects are relatively easily matched with standards, and go beyond simple classroom tests in the complexity of their work with those standards.

SU Press: What made you first interested in this issue?

RB: I’ve got a fine lyrical essay about this in the introduction to my 2003 book Rural Voices. In a nutshell, I took a “get to know the state of Nebraska” trip through the state shortly after I arrived, and was startled to find a robust, literate culture of citizenship thriving in local communities. These fine people were using reading and writing to create the civic bodies they lived in — drafting charters for the Arabian Horse Breeders Association in Sargent, Nebraska; mounting political action around water rights to the Republican River; celebrating heritage in cowboy poetry, like the festival in Valentine; addressing the complicated issues of property taxes versus educational funding in town hall meetings. I returned to the university aware of this wider and more important range of literacy acts in the local populace, that my current teaching (focused only and narrowly on academic success) had no way of reaching. So I began then exploring how local communities and local literacies could revitalize the teaching of writing, if we sought ways to connect writing classrooms to the robust local culture.

SU Press: The standards claim they were “created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live”. Do you think children from the rural and urban communities would have the same learning opportunities if they weren’t taught in the suburbs?

RB: This claim in the standards is one of the “Big Lies” of educational policy reform in the country. The reality is that no test, and no standards, can make up for the systematic inequities between communities in the US. The real issue about school success is poverty, in the community surrounding the school, and not any set of standards. So, frankly, this claim in the Common Core Standards is selling America a false bill of goods. Without addressing real differences in rural, urban, and suburban economic levels, we can’t get equal achievement.
Here in Nebraska, my colleagues in the State Dept of Education can predict, based on economic indicators, which schools will “underachieve” on whatever set of standards are in vogue that year. We don’t need standards to show us these realities. We do need education programs that can help local citizens develop and enact policy changes that will alleviate systematic economic inequity.

SU Press: Being a professor of English at the University of Nebraska and director of the Nebraska Writing Project, how do you feel about the fact that Nebraska is one of the few states that has yet to adopt the Common Core?

RB: I am proud of my state for rejecting the Common Core in favor of local control over education, standards, and community connections. Our state standards have been independently evaluated as more rigorous than the Common Core. I note that Nebraska has consistently been ahead of the curve on the issue of meaningful assessment and local control – and our programs have often been pointed to as real alternatives, when whatever national assessment movement then in vogue spirals into its final stages of ineffectiveness (as they all have to date).

SU Press: Do you think it’s the state or the community’s responsibility to ensure the children are educated on their cultural background?

RB: It is both the state and the community’s responsibility to ensure that children learn their cultural heritage. It is both the state and the community’s responsibility to ensure that children learn how to be active and productive citizens, able to participate in the many debates shaping the local landscapes of any American place. Increasingly across America, and certainly in any sizable civic body, those debates are shaped by contrasting and plural cultural heritages – and young people need to be taught to understand, respect, negotiate, and work collaboratively amongst these heritages to get the civic work of their local community done.

SU Press: Are there any influential people in the field of education or books about this issue that have inspired or stuck with you?

RB: Diane Ravitch’s blog, and her Reign of Error, are really good at debunking the current culture of assessment. I also like Chris Gallagher and Eric Turley’s Our Better Judgement: Teacher Leadership for Writing Assessment.
On place based education and related issues, I’m quite fond of Wendell Berry’s Citizenship Papers and Linda Flower’s Community Literacy and the Rhetoric of Public Engagement.

SU Press: What do hope your readers will learn after reading your book?

RB:

1) That education doesn’t have to be migratory – aimed at some future work career elsewhere – but can instead be focused on developing skills for robust local citizenship, right here where you are, and right now;
2) That geography matters – it makes a real difference to your life, as student, teacher, or parent, where your school is located, and how your school connects with local place;
3) That the natural world and the cultural world surrounding your school are exciting resources for real learning and real community action;
4) That, if you’re an educator, other teachers in settings just like yours have successfully designed engaging place based programs – and you can too.

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