A Decade of Influential Texts

upw-logo-2021-purple2022 is the tenth anniversary of the Association of University Presses’ annual celebration of University Press Week, which recognizes the global impact of university presses. In the past decade, we’ve published more than 1000 books and 21 new journals have joined our publishing program. Today we are highlighting ten publications that best represent Duke University Press over the past decade and reflect where we are going in the next ten years.

Essential Essays 2 Volume SetEssential Essays by Stuart Hall (2019). This twovolume set, edited by David Morely, is part of our series Stuart Hall: Selected Writings, which we launched in 2016. Hall (1932-2014) did not publish his scholarship in book form during his lifetime, so his seminal essays are widely dispersed, with many pieces out of print or difficult to find. The books in the series, including Essential Essays, have changed that and made Hall’s scholarship easily available to students and scholars. We are extremely proud to be Stuart Hall’s publishing home and are grateful to the series editors Bill Schwarz and Catherine Hall for continuing to bring in new collections.

Designs for the PluriverseDesigns for the Pluriverse by Arturo Escobar (2018). In this book Arturo Escobar took his concept of the pluriverse out of the fields of anthropology and geography where he is best known and offered it and the decolonial work it does to the field of design. Escobar’s work, along with that of Walter Mignolo, is the centerpiece of our list in decolonial studies. Editorial Director Gisela Fosado says that “our list in decolonial theory does the important work of decentering Western/modern ways of being and thinking. In Designs for the Pluriverse, Escobar brilliantly bridges the theoretical worlds of decolonial theory and design theory, developing a framework for ‘autonomous design’ which reorients design thinking towards a different goal – one that is in tune with the radical interdependence of all life as well as with activist struggles for social and ecological sustainability.”  

In the WakeIn the Wake by Christina Sharpe (2016). In the Wake quickly became one of our bestselling books of all time and is surely one of the most influential as well, inspiring not only academic citation but also the work of artists and poets. Senior Executive Editor Ken Wissoker says, “Christina Sharpe’s narrating of the wake, the ship, the hold, and the weather — along with the idea of wake work itself — has been taken up by writers, critics, activists and readers, who felt Sharpe had named something for their lives. This quick recognition —the sense of being recognized, seen, or heard — is unusual and deeply special.  The book is an extraordinary gift to our ongoing political moment, one that will resonate for many years to come.”

TSQ_new_prTSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, edited by Susan Stryker, Francisco J. Galarte, Jules Gill-Peterson, Grace Lavery, and Abraham B. Weil. We are proud to publish this groundbreaking journal, which houses interdisciplinary work that explores the diversity of gender, sex, sexuality, embodiment, and identity in ways that have not been adequately addressed by feminist and queer scholarship. Like so many of our journals, TSQ dovetails with our books program by publishing bold, progressive scholarship in an emergent field.

The Problem with WorkThe Problem with Work by Kathi Weeks (2011). The Problem with Work has become even more relevant ten years after publication than when it first appeared. This fall alone, with media outlets covering “The Great Resignation,” the book has been discussed in the New York Times, the Boston Review, Rolling Stone, and The Independent. In January 2021, The New Republic revisited the book at its tenth anniversary, saying it can be “read as a deep retort to the corporate feminist valorization of work as a pathway to empowerment and equality.” Executive Editor Courtney Berger says, “The Problem with Work is the kind of theoretically sophisticated and politically relevant scholarship that university presses are ideally positioned to bring to a broader readership. Drawing from feminist and Marxist theory, Kathi Weeks questions the contemporary capitalist presumption that waged labor is both necessary and good, and she urges us towards a future where our lives and social and political obligations could be conceived of outside of work. Essential reading when it came out, The Problem with Work has become even more urgent today, as we collectively grapple with the economic, racialized, and gendered disparities of waged labor and the crushing impact that the material and moral imperative to work has had on so many during the pandemic.“

Black and BlurThe consent not to be a single being trilogy by Fred Moten (2017, 2018). Black and Blur, Stolen Life, and The Universal Machine make up Moten’s trilogy, which Brent Hayes Edwards calls “a  monumental accomplishment: a brilliant theoretical intervention that might be best described as a powerful case for blackness as a category of analysis.” In 2020 Moten received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, and we modestly submit that this trilogy helped him earn that honor. Here it represents our strong list in Black studies and wide-ranging cultural theory.

South of PicoSouth of Pico by Kellie Jones (2017). Jones is another MacArthur “Genius” Grant winner. South of Pico was named to best-of-the-year lists by Artforum, ARTNews, and the New York Times. Ken Wissoker says, “Kellie Jones has been showing the way forward in Black thought and art criticism for decades, writing incisively on now canonical artists before they were widely known, while thinking transnationally from the start. In her books South of Pico and EyeMinded and in The Visual Arts of Africa and its Diasporas series she edits with Steven Nelson, she has truly remade the field.” The last decade has seen our collection of art titles grow to include works by Black artists Lorraine O’Grady, Wadsworth A. Jarrell, and Maya Stovall as well as art history such as Rebecca Zorach’s Art for People’s Sake and The Romare Bearden Reader, all work Kellie Jones paved the way for. 

Brilliant ImperfectionBrilliant Imperfection by Eli Clare (2017). Our publishing relationship with Eli Clare began when we reissued his 1999 book Exile and Pride, which had been originally published by South End Press. When South End went out of business in 2014, we brought a number of their classic titles back into print. We were thrilled that Clare then brought Brilliant Imperfection to us. Clare’s work is a centerpiece of our disability studies list, which has grown tremendously over the past decade.

DEM_new_prDemography, edited by Mark D. Hayward. Demography, the flagship journal of the Population Association of America and the most cited journal in its field, became open access when it joined Duke University Press earlier this year. The journal’s funding model relies entirely on financial support from libraries and other institutions. Our conversion of Demography to open access represents our commitment to make high-quality scholarship available to as wide an audience as possible and to experiment with new models to sustain that access.

Living a Feminist LifeLiving a Feminist Life (2019) by Sara Ahmed. Our fifth book with Sara Ahmed, Living a Feminist Life rocketed to the top of our bestseller list in 2019 and has stayed there ever since. The book introduced Ahmed’s important activist work and the concept of the feminist killjoy to a wide audience both inside and outside academe. Endorser bell hooks wrote, “I couldn’t put it down. It’s such a brilliant, witty, visionary new way to think about feminist theory. Everyone should read this book.” Since 2019 we’ve published two more books by Ahmed, including this year’s Complaint!

We invite you to check out what other university presses consider their most influential books of the past decade on the University Press Week blog tour. Presses participating are Temple University Press, University Press of Florida, University of Chicago Press, University of Alberta Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, UBC Press, Central European University Press, Harvard University Press, Fordham University Press, University of Washington Press, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, University of Illinois Press, University Press of Mississippi, University of Toronto Press, University of Manitoba Press, University of Georgia Press, University Press of Kentucky, and Catholic University of American Press.    


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