In the News

The Politics and Challenges of Achieving Health Equity

djhppl_42_5_coverThe most recent issue of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law,  “The Politics and Challenges of Achieving Health Equity,” edited by Alan B. Cohen, Colleen M. Grogan, and Jedediah N. Horwitt, is now available.

The existence of health inequities across racial, ethnic, gender, and class lines in the United States has been well documented. Less well understood have been the attempts of major institutions, health programs, and other public policy domains to eliminate these inequities. This issue, a collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program, brings together respected historians, political scientists, economists, sociologists, and legal scholars to focus on the politics and challenges of achieving health equity in the United States.

Articles in this issue address the historical, legal, and political contexts of health equity in the United States. Contributors examine the role of the courts in shaping health equity; document the importance of political discourse in framing health equity and establishing agendas for action; look closely at particular policies to reveal current challenges and the potential to achieve health equity in the future; and examine policies in both health and nonhealth domains, including state Medicaid programs, the use of mobile technology, and education and immigration policies. The issue concludes with a commentary on the future of health equity under the Trump administration and an analysis of how an ACA repeal would impact health equity.

Read the introduction to the issue now, freely available.

Editorial Director Ken Wissoker on Why He Loves Peer Review

Wissoker, KenIt’s Peer Review Week. In this guest post, our Editorial Director Ken Wissoker shares what he loves about this crucial, and sometimes misunderstood, element of academic publishing.

I love peer review. Many authors fear it, or see it as a necessary evil, perhaps good for others less accomplished than themselves. Many hope for it to be as quick and minimal as possible, or as with some commercial academic presses, done in a cursory and non-binding way. Enough of a review that the scholar can count their work as a peer-reviewed publication, but not so much that they would actually have to change their manuscript in light of what the reviewers say.

Those who fear peer review often think of its gate-keeping function, perhaps imagining a process like a job search or an award committee where the judges work to eliminate as many contenders as possible. There might still be journals somewhere that peer review everything that is submitted in that way, but I doubt there are many, at least in the humanities and social sciences. For book manuscripts, that would never be a plausible model. It’s a lot of work to read a three or five hundred page draft manuscript. It is even more work if it is a frustrating experience. A press that consistently sent out a lot of mediocre manuscripts or manuscripts that they know at the outset would not work in their list would soon have trouble getting reviewers to agree to read.

At Duke University Press, when we send a manuscript out for peer review, it usually means we would like to publish the manuscript, at least if it is as great as we think it is. We don’t expect it to be publishable right away, but we see the promise. I may have recognized something in an author’s idea or approach to a topic that seems smart and original. I want the reviewers to tell me if that’s genuinely new, or just new to me. Perhaps I’ve let my hopes for what the manuscript will accomplish get in the way of seeing how it actually reads. Other times, the reviewers’ knowledgeable assessment of the manuscript exceeds my own. Most of the time, the truth—and the manuscript—is somewhere in between. That’s where peer review makes all the difference.

I think of peer review as like a mini-test-screening for a film, where the viewers give honest feedback about what they saw. Where were they bored? Where were they confused? Which scenes seemed to go on forever and which rushed past? Did the plot make sense and unfold in a way that kept them attentive? Was it so predictable that the viewers knew what was going to happen the whole time? When did they look at their watch to see how much longer it went on?

In our peer review process, there are generally two such viewers. From them, we ask similar things. Was the argument convincing? Does the manuscript know its own argument and organize the evidence around that argument? Or, conversely, are there big generalizations sitting uneasily astride a detailed account of the object under study? Does it seem like there is enough evidence to support the points, or far more than was needed? Where was the reader bored or confused? Did the arc of the narrative make sense, or were there sections where the story was lost? Are all the chapters each contributing something to making the book a more convincing whole?

Some of these questions could be answered by any attentive reader, others require a knowledge of the topic or field. I like to choose readers whose interests will be complementary, who will see the manuscript from different angles. We want our books to be read by as wide as audience as possible. If the book is interdisciplinary, how does it look from the different interdisciplinary perspectives? One person might be an expert on the approach and the other on the object—or one person on the method and the other on the place. I want to hear what one or the other sees and misses in the book. Does it work equally well for the film scholar and the anthropologist? The Southeast Asianist and the feminist theorist? What would be needed to make the manuscript more legible and credible in each direction? What hits or misses for each? Surprisingly often, people chosen to represent different perspectives will see the same things working and not working in a manuscript, even if they might describe or frame those things in a different way.

Just as it wouldn’t makes sense to send someone who had never seen a Star Wars film to report on the latest one, or someone who hated musicals to comment on a new production, we want readers who can see the manuscripts and recognize their aspirations and methods. I look for readers who will hope that the book will succeed—but who will be honest about whether it does or does not. The reviewers might be invested in the intellectual project or the field and want new work to make a real contribution. They might be invested in the scholar themselves, perhaps having seen promising earlier work from a junior scholar, or admiring the project of a senior person in the field. The readers might be our authors, or otherwise attached to what qualities make a book seem like a Duke book. Whatever it is, I want that commitment to take the form of wanting the work to be better, to help improve it now, rather than letting it slip by with vague praise, only to seem half-baked when the book is published. The last thing I would want in a reader is someone who would be competitive, or more obviously, thought no work like the author’s could be worthwhile, no matter how smart or carefully done.

The readers are writing these reports for the Press. Often they may address the author directly in going over minor details, but the overall assessment is usually directed to us. The readers understand that the process is single blind. That means they know whose work they are reading, but that the author will not know who wrote the reports. I don’t reveal the identity of readers even when a reader says it is okay to do so. As soon as an author knows who wrote a report, the difference between how the reviewer thinks and the way the author thinks (or how the author understands that difference) too easily becomes the lens for viewing the reports. In our own reading, we all like books that go about their projects differently than we would had we written them. But, in the context of a report, the issues identified by the readers in the manuscript are attributed to differences in method between the author and reviewer.  As long as the readers stay Reader #1 and Reader #2 they function better as a test audience—two people in a reasonable inner circle of possible readers for the book, who didn’t understand a particular turn in the manuscript. In this way I sometimes compare the review process to therapy. You can go out and talk about your problems with friends over a beer all you want, and wake up the next day with the same issues. Talking about them with a disinterested but attentive therapist is more likely to open up the possibility of change, even if in some ways one’s friends know you better.

Readers usually suggest fixes for parts of the manuscript that aren’t working. That help is offered with generous intentions, but it sometimes ends up distracting the author. The reviewer is trying to help the author solve a problem. Since the reader would probably approach the topic in a different way themselves, they try to imagine solutions that fit with their understanding of the author’s goals and methods. It’s brainstorming about potential solutions. “Did you try that?” Authors easily get stuck on bad guesses, suggestions that hit a wrong note. They become sure that the person who suggested such a course could not understand the book. I always urge a symptomatic approach. Why would someone suggest that something needed to be done at all? What wasn’t working that required a solution? It’s the author’s manuscript! They ought to be able to think of a better approach. If the readers’ ideas are helpful, great. If not, what’s a better way of ameliorating the problem?

This approach to peer review sees it as part of the writing process. It’s a valuable opportunity to take a manuscript that is the result of years of research and writing and be given a chance to see what is working and what isn’t before it is published. To improve it and make it better. While scholars are researching, they want to find all the evidence they can. When we are reading, if we are convinced by the first example, we rarely need to see three more. Writing—and even sharing one’s writing in a writing group or with a writing partner—is very local, focused on a chapter or section at a time. It’s hard to have a sense of rhythm and pacing and flow; hard to see the whole. The review process is the moment to step back and benefit from generous and invested colleagues willing to read with and for you, to give you the feedback that makes the path more intuitive and well-paced for future readers.

I’m not saying the process is always perfect all the time—nothing is. I can remember books that went through several rounds of peer review, only to be stuck with an intractable problem. Other authors might be frustrated by a tough review process only to end up with a book that goes on to win prizes. There are many paths to publication but, in itself, the review process helps an author write the best possible book. The process is a gift to the writer, not something to be dodged. It’s a gift to the Press and to our readers as well.

Ken Wissoker is the Editorial Director at Duke University Press, acquiring books in the humanities and narrative social sciences. He works out of an office at The Graduate Center CUNY in New York, where in addition to his duties at the Press, he is Director of  Intellectual Publics. Learn more about our peer review process, and how to submit a manuscript, here.

Internship Series: Five Steps to Ace an Interview with Confidence

This post is a part of a four part blog series covering the interns at Duke University Press. Today’s post provides information on preparing for an interview. There are a variety of of interview styles companies use for interviewing potential interns and employees. Duke University Press conducts behavioral interviews to understand how you have handled situations in previous positions and how you will handle potential situations at The Press. These interviews can occur on the phone, in traditional locations including in in the office, or an auditorium at Duke University for a speed dating formatted interview. We asked interns to share their list of interview dos and don’ts after successfully securing their current positions at Duke University Press.

Business people greeting and handshakeBe early. Being early is the most common tip the current Duke University Press interns have to offer future interns. They suggested a range of times between 5 and 30 minutes early. Giving yourself enough time to arrive is very important, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the location where you are interviewing.

Be yourself and don’t downplay your accomplishments. One the best things you can do during an interview is to be yourself. If an interviewee does falsify their personality or qualifications and are hired, the intern runs the risk of losing their position for fabricated information. Display confidence when describing previous experience because your experiences are valuable to you as a person and potentially to the company you’re applying for. The interview is the chance to impress the interviewer and the company with the skills you already have to offer and explain how their company can help you grow professionally.

Dress appropriately and professionally and don’t bring your phone. To do this you must find the balance between being professional without being too under- or too overdressed. It’s important to dress within their dress code. While Duke University Press has a relaxed dress code, it’s still important to follow business casual dress code for interviews. Leave phones and other distracting devices in the car, your bag, or just turn them off. Devote your full attention in the interview and don’t let your phone get in the way of the interview.

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Prepare what you’d like to say so you don’t show your nerves. Speaking the first phrase that comes to your mind may not be the best answer for the question you’re asked. It’s more beneficial to gather your thoughts before saying them. This could be the difference of showing a person is well prepared or not. Know the questions you would like to be answered to help you obtain a better understanding of what the position will be. The questions you ask can show the interviewer the research you have already done on the company and will allow them to see your investment in the internship and organization. To defeat the negative effects of nervousness, remain confident in your skills and participate in mock interviews with a mentor, professor, or a campus career center employee to practice interview skills.

Bring a folder and pen. The folder you bring to an interview should contain enough copies of your resume for the interviewers, yourself and an extra, just in case. Include paper and your prepared questions. This will ensure all of the questions you may have are answered. Write any important information the interviewer gives you and to write any questions that come to mind during the interview.

Lynn Comella’s Fall Tour for Vibrator Nation

art1Lynn Comella will be touring the country this fall, discussing her new book Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure. It’s the first book to tell the story of feminist sex-toy stores and how they and the women who pioneered them changed the adult industry. Comella will be doing some traditional bookstore events but we’re also excited that she will be speaking at a number of sex-toy stores, a first for one of our books! Hope you can catch her at one of these great events.

Opening Plenary Keynote Address and Panel Discussion
Lynn gives the keynote address at CatalystCon West and then participates in a panel discussion on her book.
September 15 – 17
Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel, Los Angeles, CA

Reading and Discussion
September 22, 8:30 pm
Self Serve Toys
3904B Central Avenue, SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108

Reading and Discussion
September 28, 7:00 pm
The Writer’s Block
1020 Fremont St #100, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Reading and Discussion
October 5, 8:00 pm
The Pleasure Chest
7733 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046

Reading and Discussion
With special guest Susie Bright
October 8, 6:00 pm
San Francisco Litquake Festival
The Center for Sex and Culture
1349 Mission, SF CA 94103

Reading and Discussion
October 21, 7:00 pm
Babeland Seattle
707 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122

Reading and Discussion
October 26, 6:30 pm
Gallery Bookshop
319 Kasten Street, Mendocino, CA 95460

Reading and Discussion
With special guest Dr. Carol Queen
October 28, 4:00 pm
Good Vibrations, Palo Alto
534 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Meet the Author
November 3, 6:00 pm
Luxe Rust
1300 Main Street, Las Vegas, NV

Lecture
November 13, 4:30 pm
University of Michigan

Reading and Discussion
November 14, 7:00 pm
Literati Bookstore
124 E Washington, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Reading and Discussion
November 16, 6:30 pm
Sugar
927 W. 36th Street, Baltimore, MD 21211

Reading and Discussion
November 17, 6:30 pm
Potter’s House
1658 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009

Reading and Discussion
November 18
Lotus Blooms
1017 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Reading and Discussion
December 7
Tool Shed Toys
2427 N. Murray Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211

Reading and Discussion
December 10, 7:00 pm
Smitten Kitten
3010 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55408

Reading and Discussion
December 12, 7:00 pm
Early to Bed
5044 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60640

Lynn Comella’s tour continues in 2018 with stops in New York City, Oakland, Cambridge, and Pawtucket, with new dates being added. We’ll update you here with her spring schedule.

Q&A with Lynn Comella, author of Vibrator Nation

lynn_comella_by_krystal_ramirez_smallLynn Comella is Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. An award-winning researcher, she has written extensively about sexuality and culture for numerous academic publications and popular media outlets. She is coeditor of the comprehensive New Views on Pornography: Sexuality, Politics, and the Law, and a frequent media contributor. In Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure—the first book to tell the story of feminist sex-toy stores and the women who pioneered them—she takes a deep dive into the making of the consumer market for sex toys, tracing its emergence from the early 1970s to today. Drawing on more than eighty in-depth interviews with retailers and industry insiders, including a stint working as a vibrator clerk, she brings readers onto the sex-shop floor and into the world of sex-positive capitalism and cultural production. Lynn Comella is on a national tour this fall and winter; check back here next week for a full tour schedule.

art1Why did you decide to research feminist sex-toy businesses and how did you conduct your research?

I’ve long been interested in the politics of sexual representation, from the feminist sex wars of the 1980s to debates over school-based sex education. When I started this project, which began as a seminar paper in graduate school, I was really interested in the various ways in which female sexuality assumed a public presence as opposed to being relegated to the privacy of the home. As luck would have it, a feminist sex-toy shop, Intimacies, had just opened in the college town where I lived. I decided to make the store the focus of a small pilot study in an effort to better understand what made this female-friendly vibrator business different from more conventional adult stores ostensibly geared toward men. I quickly realized that Intimacies was part of a larger network of women-run, educationally oriented vibrator shops located in cities across the country that had all adopted a similar way of selling sex toys and talking about sex. I wanted to know more about what united these businesses together and how they attempted to practice feminist politics through the marketplace. What were the sexual vernaculars, retail strategies, philosophies, challenges and paradoxes that had shaped these businesses?

Researching the history of feminist sex-toy stores sent me down a rabbit hole. It took years and multiple methods of data collection—ethnographic fieldwork, in-depth interviews, and archival research—to weave together the various historical threads that shaped these businesses and the larger women’s market for sex toys and pornography. Writing the book I wanted to write, one that took a deep dive into the making of a market, required a kind of methodological promiscuity: I worked as a vibrator clerk at Babeland in New York City where I sold my fair share of sex toys, answered customer questions, and crossed my fingers that my cash register balanced at the end of the night. I interviewed more than eighty feminist retailers, employees, and industry insiders. I toured dildo manufacturing companies and lube factories, and attended more than a dozen adult industry trade shows where I sat in on business seminars that discussed marketing sex toys to women, retail-based sex education, and the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon. I poured through dusty boxes filled with corporate documents, internal memos, customer letters, advertisements, news clippings, and more, and amassed a research archive teeming with sex-toy ephemera (which I’m having a lot of fun sharing on the vibrator_nation Instagram account).

What was it like for women to purchase sex toys before the mid-1970s? What were feminist entrepreneurs trying to change?

There weren’t a lot of opportunities for the average woman to comfortably buy vibrators in the early 1970s. Conventional adult stores weren’t designed with female shoppers in mind; reputable mail-order businesses that sold so-called marital aids were few and far between; and women walking into a department store—or any store, really—to buy a vibrating massager risked encountering a male clerk who might say, “Boy, you must really need it bad, sweetie pie.” What made the situation all the more frustrating for many women was that they were being told by feminist sex educators and therapists that they should masturbate and take control of their orgasms. Vibrators were being framed as tools of liberation, but getting one wasn’t easy. Early feminist retailers, such as Dell Williams, who founded Eve’s Garden in 1974, and Joani Blank who opened Good Vibrations several years later, stepped into this breach. They turned the traditional model of an adult store, with its “seamy” aura and X-rated style, on its head in an effort to appeal to female shoppers. What made these early feminist vibrator businesses so revolutionary, and what set them apart from their more conventional counterparts geared toward men, wasn’t just their focus on women, but their entire way of doing business. They led with sex education not titillation, and worked to advance a social mission that included putting a vibrator on the bedside table of every woman, everywhere, because they believed that access to accurate sexual information and quality products had the potential to make everyone’s lives better.

In the book you describe a “sex-positive diaspora” of feminist retailers. What do you mean by that?

One of the things that I found so interesting during the early stages of my research was the degree to which feminist business owners tipped their hats to Good Vibrations. Many of them credited the company’s founder, Joani Blank, a sex therapist with a master’s degree in public health, with helping them start their businesses. Blank had a very non-competitive approach to running a company and strongly believed that the more businesses that were doing what Good Vibrations was doing—selling vibrators and talking openly about sex—the better. Blank freely shared information and vendor lists with aspiring entrepreneurs, and in the early 1990s she started a short-lived internship program to train people how to run a business like Good Vibrations. The first, and only, two people to complete the internship program were Claire Cavanah, who along with Rachel Venning would go on to found Babeland in 1993, and Kim Airs who started Grand Opening in Boston that same year. Blank’s communitarian, non-competitive ethos created a ripple effect and by the early 1990s, Good Vibrations’ DNA had begun to spread to cities across the country. In time, people who worked at Babeland and Grand Opening branched out and started their own feminist vibrator shops and Good Vibrations’ sex-positive mission continued to replicate. I wanted a phrase that captured this movement and dispersal, and the description “sex-positive diaspora” seemed to do that.

What role have lesbians and queer-identified retailers and people of color played in the history of feminist sex-toy business?

Lesbians and queer-identified retailers, along with queer and transgender employees, have played a major role in shaping the history of feminist sex-toy businesses. They opened stores, worked on the sales floor, started sex-toy manufacturing companies, wrote “how to” guides, and made pornography. In these different ways they’ve been important nodes of transmission and sources of queer sexual knowledge, including for straight people. In fact, I’d argue that the history of feminist sex-toy stores is also, and very much so, a story about queer entrepreneurship and cultural production. For many of the businesses that I write about in Vibrator Nation, their identities as queer and trans-inclusive companies are as important, if not more so, than their feminist identities. And yet, it’s also the case that these businesses have historically been very white. If you look at photos of Good Vibrations staff from the 1980s, for example, everyone is white and female. So it’s perhaps not surprising that some customers got the impression that Good Vibrations was a white women’s store—even as the company worked hard to change that perception and diversity its staff. This was certainly how Oakland-based retailer Nenna Joiner, the founder of Feelmore, experienced Good Vibrations when she first discovered the company in the late 1990s. Although she loved what the store offered, she didn’t see any images that represented her. She realized there was a need in the African American community for more diverse sexual images and resources, and decided to start a business that could deliver what she felt was missing from other women-run sex-toy stores.

How have feminist sex toy stores remained true to their mission while also turning a profit?

The ongoing tension between profitability and social change is a thread that runs throughout Vibrator Nation. Many of the retailers I write about started their businesses because they saw their stores as a feminist way to empower women (and eventually everyone). They led with a mission of social change rather than capitalist aspirations. Good Vibrations’ Joani Blank once told me that profits were secondary to everything that was important to her about running a successful business. And if you read the mission statements of many of the businesses that followed in Good Vibrations’ footsteps, they’re all about promoting sex education and personal transformation and creating a more passionate world. There’s almost no mention of making money. As one of my interviewees pointed out, if you don’t put profitability in your mission statement, it’s easy to forget about it. In some cases, it took a severe financial crisis for retailers to realize they needed to cultivate new forms of business expertise and foster attitudes in which money was seen as friend instead of foe, something that not only greased the wheels of social change but kept those wheels spinning.

How did feminists end up changing the adult industry?

Perhaps the most dramatic shift over the past forty years is the acknowledgment on the part of mainstream adult retailers, manufacturers, and porn producers that the sex industry is no longer a world of men. In a post Sex and the City and Fifty Shades of Grey era, this statement might seem glaringly obvious, but it wasn’t that long ago that women found themselves marginalized in an industry largely dominated by men and steeped in sexism. I heard stories during my research of female product buyers with budgets of upwards of $3,000,000 annually who couldn’t get the time of day at adult novelty trade shows. Men would look right past them. And that was in the early 2000s. Feminists played an absolutely central role in creating a market that is now widely regarded as one of the hottest growth segments of the adult industry. Today, women are trusted authorities who routinely hold the microphone in seminar rooms filled with wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and content producers eager to mine their expertise. There have been other important changes, too, most notably in regard to sex-toy manufacturing and marketing. By the early 1990s women were placing new demands on the adult novelty sector. Good Vibrations began offering warranties and started sending defective merchandise back to manufacturers, letting them know they weren’t going to settle for cheaply made products that conked out after one use. Manufacturers started making products that looked prettier, had better motors, and used non-toxic and body safe materials. Sex-toy packaging with images of sultry porn starlets has been replaced with softer, more colorful, and sanitized imagery. Messages about sexual health and education, rather than titillation, are regularly used as marketing platforms. Art school grads and mechanical engineers are bringing elements of sleek design and quality manufacturing to an industry that used to revolve around the idea of planned obsolescence where nothing was made to last. It’s a far cry from what the adult industry looked like in the early 1970s when Dell Williams and Joani Blank took a bold leap of faith and started their small, women-friendly vibrator businesses.

What are some of the challenges of doing scholarly work on the sex industry?

What it means to do scholarly work on the sex industry has changed quite a bit over the past 15 years. When I was completing my Ph.D. in the early 2000s, academic research on the adult industry was hardly typical and it wasn’t unusual for someone to raise an eyebrow when I told them that I was researching feminist sex-toy stores. They were intrigued but often skeptical about the scholarly merits of such research. Although academic research on the adult industry is still not the norm, there’s a growing, international network of sexuality scholars—historians, sociologists, media studies practitioners, and others—who study pornography and other facets of the adult entertainment industry in an effort to better understand this extremely profitable yet under-examined segment of popular culture. This scholarship is increasingly finding institutional support not only in the form of tenure-track academic appointments, but in academic journals and professional organizations, too. Additionally, more and more academic presses are realizing that there’s a market for well-researched books about pornography and the sex industry, and are building their lists according. As for the nitty-gritty of researching the sex industry, it’s really no different than studying any other cultural phenomenon: you approach it ethically, rigorously, and systematically. The less we exoticize sexuality research, and the more we treat it with the seriousness that we might approach other scholarly topics, the better this research will be.

You can order Vibrator Nation from your favorite local or online bookstore (print and e-editions available) or order directly from Duke University Press. Use coupon code E17COMEL to save 30%.

 

Internship Series: Letters to the Press

We have created a four part blog series covering interns at Duke University Press. Today’s post delves into the most important parts of the internship application process — cover letters and resumes. If a cover letter or resume does not reflect a candidate well, the candidate will most likely not be interviewed or considered for the job. Interns at Duke University Press confirmed that their personalized cover letters helped them secure their internship positions. 

A cover letter creates a first impression of a candidate for the organization to which they are applying. One of the main purposes of a cover letter is to allow the employer to understand who the candidates are beyond the bullet points of resumes. This is the perfect opportunity to explain how you as a candidate are the right person for the position open. You are able to go into detail about parts of your resume and describe how you are qualified because of other areas of experience.

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When writing a cover letter and resume, your experience listed and discussed should directly relate to the job you’reapplying for. All submitted material should be unique to each company. A canned cover letter and resume could reflect poorly on you because it’s not personalized. Many of the interns at Duke University Press credit their unique cover letters that accompanied their resumes for securing their internship position at the press.

If applying for a job you are under-qualified for, the cover letter allows you to express what experience you have had without reaching the amount of years required or lacking a certain skill. You’re able to explain how you excel at the more important skills for the job and are willing to learn the skills the employer is looking for.

To gain more experience for a future position without having much prior experience, the Duke University Press interns emphasized the importance of volunteering. “Volunteering is number one. Being in the work environment, although you’re not getting paid, you’re still doing work. This makes your time more valuable and your ideas more valuable,” Charlecia Walton, a front desk intern, said. Sharing volunteer experience represents a passion for the work  you are doing to a hiring manager. Volunteer experience is sometimes easier to earn than paid positions. If you are having a hard time getting an internship or job, you might want to consider volunteering your time for experience that you can feature on your resume or cover letter.

New Books in September

It’s September and many of our readers are getting re-settled on campus after summer break. It’s time to stock your shelves with great new fall titles. Check out the terrific new books coming out this month.

Lending PowerLending Power by Howard E. Covington Jr. tells the compelling story of the nonprofit Center for Community Self-Help, a community-oriented and civil rights-based financial institution that has helped provide loans to those who lacked access to traditional financing while fighting for consumer protection for all Americans.

Chinese Visions of World Order, edited by Ben Wang, examines the evolution of the Confucian doctrine of tianxia (all under heaven), which aspires to a unitary worldview that cherishes global justice and transcends social divides, the contributors show how it has shaped China’s political organization, foreign policy, and worldview from the Han dynasty to the present.

Fabio Lanza, in The End of Concern, traces the history of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars, a group of politically engaged academics who critiqued the field of Asian studies while looking to Maoist China as an example of alternative politics and the transformation of the meaning of labor and the production of knowledge.

In Louise Thompson PattersonKeith Gilyard tells the story of Louise Thompson 978-0-8223-6992-9Patterson—a leading and transformative figure in the radical African American politics of the twentieth century. Library Journal gave this title a starred review, calling it “an important book in helping to understand the persistent racism faced by African Americans in this country and what individuals can do to help fight against the injustice.”

Didier Debaise, in Nature as Eventbrings Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophies of nature to bear on the Anthropocene, creating a new theory of nature that does not recognize a divide between the human and nonhuman, a theory in which all organisms have the power to unleash potential into the world.

In The End of Japanese Cinema, Alexander Zahlten traces the evolution of a new form of holistic media studies—media ecology—through historical overview and analysis of Japanese film and industry from the 1960s to the 2000s.

978-0-8223-7005-5In Why the Vote Wasn’t Enough for Selma, Karlyn Forner rewrites the heralded story of Selma to show why gaining the right to vote did not lead to economic justice for African Americans in the Alabama Black Belt. Publishers Weekly praised this book with a starred review, saying, “this lucid, detailed book is often dispiriting to read, but it’s an important reminder of the still-unfulfilled promise of the black freedom movement.”

In A Theory of Regret, Brian Price theorizes regret as an important political emotion that allows us to understand our convictions as habits of perception rather than as the signs of moral courage, teaches us to give up our expectations of what might appear, and prepares us to realize the steps toward changing institutions.

William Schaefer, in Shadow Modernism,  traces how early twentieth century photographic practices in Shanghai provided artists, writers, and intellectuals a forum within which to debate culture, ethnicity, history, and the very nature of images, thereby showing how artists and writers used such practices to make visible the shadows of modernity in Shanghai.

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Author Events in September

As we head into fall, our authors are back on the road with some great talks and readings around the country. Hope you can make it to one of these events.

The Look of a WomanSeptember 5: The Look of a Woman author Eric Plemons will talk about his book at Duke University’s East Duke Parlors.
5:00 pm, 1304 Campus Drive, Durham, NC 27708

September 15: Lynn Comella, author of Vibrator Nation, gives the keynote address at CatalystCon in Los Angeles, as well as speaking on a panel about her book.

September 18: Israel⁄Palestine and the Queer International author Sarah Schulman will be at Verso Books to participate in a Writer’s Talk hosted by Adalah-NY.
7:00 pm, 20 Jay Street, Suite 1010, Brooklyn, New York 11201

art1September 22: Lynn Comella discusses her book Vibrator Nation at Self Serve Toys in Albuquerque.
8:30 pm, 3904B Central Avenue, SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108

September 23: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will host a talk with Kellie Jones on her book South of Pico.
2:00pm, 128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

September 26: See South of Pico author Kellie Jones again, in conversation with Farah Jasmine Griffin at Columbia University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts.
12:00 pm, 615 W. 129 Street, New York, NY 10027 The Lanternsouth-of-pico

September 26: Jane Lazarre will be at Book Culture to discuss her latest memoir The Communist and the Communist’s Daughter. The event is co-sponsored by Harper’s Magazine.
7:00 pm, 450 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

September 28: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art will host a lecture with Kellie Jones on her book South of Pico.
6:00 pm, 600 Main Street, Hartford, CT 06103

September 28: Lynn Comella will read from and discuss her book Vibrator Nation at The Writer’s Block in Las Vegas. Check back here at the blog later this month for a post on Comella’s nationwide tour.
7:00 pm, 1020 Fremont St #100, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Internship Series: Finding the Perfect Internship 101

This post is a part of a four part blog series covering interning at Duke University Press. Today’s post offers tips on searching for and deciding on an internship that is perfect for you.

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The Press advertises internship positions at all colleges and universities in the Triangle. Three current interns found the internship listings using their universities’ career websites created for students to search jobs and internships within their fields. Many others said they’ve found their university’s career website helpful for internship searches. Other suggested sites to find internship opportunities include indeed.com, glassdoor.com, and internships.com.

To easily compare internships you would potentially enjoy, you should research all the ways the job could potentially benefit you and make note of your needs and wants from an internship. This will help the process of researching the company with a direct goal of discovering how you would fit into the position you’re applying for. For students, it would be beneficial to search for internships that would be relevant to your coursework and future success. You can use the information found to your advantage in your resume, cover letter, and interview. Many interns said they appreciate their internships at Duke University Press because they experience being student workers while being treated as equal employees and are able to learn from the rewarding work they are given. Social Medicine Reader Intern, Emily Chilton, shared that the learning opportunities and professional experiences she’s had at Duke University Press will help her future career in academic publishing.

-how to be a full-stack developer- (1)It is possible that you may find an internship you are very interested in, but your experience may not meet all of the requirements listed in the job posting. Several interns emphasized the importance of applying even if a person does not meet all of the requirements. According to Forbes writer Nancy F. Clark, men are confident in applying for positions if they meet 60% of the qualifications in a job description, while women only apply if they meet 100% of the qualifications. In a later article, Forbes Magazine described the benefits to hiring under-qualified employees. These benefits include: less established employees have more room for growth, they don’t have bad habits to break, only good habits to learn, they have the right attitude, and you can build lifelong relationships. Both men and women should apply for jobs they may not think they’re qualified because it’s difficult to know exactly where the employer places emphasis on experience. Though someone may meet all the requirements, they may not have as much experience as another person in a particular area that the employer wants.

Journals Marketing Manager Jocelyn Dawson confirmed that experience is not everything when being considered for an internship position at the Press. “We’ve found that our best interns are not necessarily those with prior experience in publishing, or even in marketing,” said Dawson. “We expect that interns will learn about those things from us, and are instead prioritizing qualities like enthusiasm for learning and for our mission, attention to detail, a proactive approach, and, because not all intern tasks are glamorous, a positive attitude.”

Internships are learning experiences. If you’re serious about the position, inform the interviewer or hiring manager how the company can benefit from the experience you do have and how they will help you grow professionally with everything you can learn from the internship position.

David Garcia’s Listening for Africa Playlist

978-0-8223-6370-5DSC04996Today, David F. Garcia offers a playlist to accompany his new book Listening for Africa: Freedom, Modernity, and the Logic of Black Music’s African Origins. You can save 30% on the paperback with coupon code E17LISTN.

Taking on a topic like the discourse of a music’s origins entails following multiple artistic, disciplinary, and political directions. Of course, setting boundaries helps make such an endeavor feasible but no less massive. In Listening for Africa I look at a group of fascinating individuals, some well known and others not so well known, who from varying perspectives engaged the idea and nature of black music and dance’s African origins. Their reasons for engaging this idea were not merely didactical but rather to change their world. From the Great Depression, Jim Crow, and the rise of Nazism to World War II, the Cold War, and African decolonization, citizens of the modern world invested their place in it drawing from modernity’s promises of freedom through knowledge, art, and work. Only, the realization of freedom for many would be deferred by modernity’s discursive defaults.

The following audio recordings and films are explored in depth in the book. Listen and watch as you read about the individuals depicted in them and their journeys living in their shared modern world, turbulent though it was.

Chapter 1. Analyzing the African Origins of Negro Music and Dance in a Time of Racism, Fascism, and War

“Ag’ya,” Jamaica & Martinique Fieldwork, 1936, video clip #19, filmed by Katherine Dunham. Music Division, Library of Congress.

L’ag’ya, scene 3, the Katherine Dunham Company, Studebaker Theater, Chicago, 1947, filmed by Ann Barzel.

Chapter 2. Listening to Africa in the City, in the Laboratory, and on Record

“Tambó,” Gilberto Valdés y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (V83315), Havana, 1940.

“Sangre Africana,” Gilberto Valdés y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (V 83315), Havana, 1940

“Toitica la Negra,” Katherine Dunham and Ensemble, recorded with Decca (40028), New York, 1945.

“Abakuá song,” Harold Courland: Cuba, Eastern and central regions, Afro-Cubans (253.4), Guanabacoa, 1940.

“Elube Chango,” Harold Courland: Cuba, Eastern and central regions, Afro-Cubans (252.4), Havana, 1940.

“Elube Chango,” Casino de la Playa with Miguelito Valdés, recorded with Victor (V 82770), Havana, 1939.

Chapter 3. Embodying Africa against Racial Oppression, Ignorance, and Colonialism

Sanders of the River (London Film Productions, 1935) featuring Paul Robeson as Bozambo. Boat-rowing scene occurs at 1:07:00.

Nabonga (PRC Pictures, 1944). Modupe Paris appears at 14:23 and 15:45.

Chapter 4. Disalienating Movement and Sound from the Pathologies of Freedom and Time

Liberian Suite, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, New York, 1947.

Film No. 4, Harry Smith, ca. 1950.

“Manteca,” Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, recorded with RCA Victor (47-2860), New York, 1947.

“Guarachi guaro,” Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra, recorded with RCA Victor (20-3370), New York, 1948.

Chapter 5. Desiring Africa, or Western Civilization’s Discontents

“Rareza del siglo,” Julio Cueva y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (23-0677), Havana, 1946.

“José” as performed by Pérez Prado in the film Al son del mambo (Filmadora Chapultepec, 1950).

“Kon-Toma,” Pérez Prado y su Orquesta, recorded with Victor (23-1344), Havana, 1949.

“Qué te pasa, José” as performed by Amalia Aguilar and Silvestre Méndez in Ritmos del Caribe (Compañía Cinematográfica Mexicana, 1950).

Del can can al mambo (Producciones Calderón S.A., 1951). Mambo dancing displaying symptoms of el mal de San Vito occurs at 1:21:53.