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.
MIT Press: MIT Press editorial director, Gita Manaktala, explores the major shifts in scholarship and reading today (scholarship more collaborative, time to publication more imperative, final form knowledge is just one form of knowledge that we value, peer review changing, reading has changed) and discusses ways university presses can adapt to these changes to meet the needs of readers and authors.
University of California Press: As the Library Relations manager, guest blogger Rachel Lee explains why university presses matter through the eyes of the library. She expresses that, within the academy, university presses and libraries are potential partners in providing new and scholarly publishing for minimal financial return.
University of Hawai’i Press: University Hawai’i Press’ author and editorial board member Barbara Watson Andaya points out how university presses remain a unique repository of knowledge, even with the changes in today’s information age. She goes on to discuss how academic books aren’t generally accepted by commercial houses and that university presses preserve niche markets.
Wilfrid Laurier University Press: R. Bruce Elder, a filmmaker, critic, and teacher of the Graduate Program in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University, discusses his views on the clear benefits of university presses over commercial publishers in the technology-dominant era of today. These benefits include the long-term investments they put in developing a writer’s critical thinking abilities and their commitment to intellectual freedom.
University Press of Florida: University Press of Florida interns, Claire Eder, Samantha Pryor, and Alia Almeida, finish off day 2 of the blog tour with a post about their time at UPF. Claire and Samantha talk about the astonishing wealth of topics that can be found in a university press book and the fun, hard-working work environment, while Alia goes a different direction by detailing her crush on UPF book Picturing Black New Orleans: A Creole Photographer’s View of the Early Twentieth Century by Arthé A. Anthony.
Tomorrow SU Press is pleased to present a post by their longtime author and former series editor, Laurence M. Hauptman, isolating three main reasons why university presses matter.