Publishing

Bringing Diverse Perspectives into Scholarly Marketing and Communications: Calls to Action towards Global Outreach for Global Change

We are pleased to re-blog these essays by our staff that originally ran on The Scholarly Kitchen blog last week. The posts were solicited and are introduced by our Digital Marketing Coordinator, Kasia Repeta. 

Since COVID-19, scholarly communication professionals have rapidly moved their focus from predefined road maps and modes of operation to actively responding to the ongoing global health crisis, and more recently, the anti-racism protest movement. Both called for actions and awareness-building efforts. Featuring, or even freeing related content from behind paywalls, creating reading lists, and organizing webinars and discussion groups with experts on related topics are just a few examples of how our community is educating people about the issues, building their awareness, and providing them with access to research results.

The question arises: when the direct threat to global health and economies cease, and protesters leave the streets, will publishing communicators keep up this momentum and continue to rapidly utilize research-driven content to illuminate topics like climate change, racial injustice, minority rights, social justice, and sustainable development that require ongoing global attention? While it’s reassuring to know that there are already many programs and tools focused on increasing research discoverability and providing support for scientists to effectively convey the value of their research, there has never been a more important time to move from reacting to acting. This is a call to action for our colleagues in scholarly communications worldwide.

We’re Just Getting Warmed Up: Embracing Pandemic Chaos with Calls to Action

Dean Smith, Director, Duke University Press

“Economics should not be the first concern when thinking about health care. The cost in human lives should be,” wrote Priscilla Wald in an op-ed piece for the Charlotte Observer in late February. She is a professor of English at Duke, an author, a journal editor, and a humanist working at the intersection of science and the humanities.

ContagiousWald reached out to me to make sure that, as her publisher, I knew that her book Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrativepublished in 2007 was once again part of a growing pandemic discussion.

In her piece, entitled “The Best Way to Prevent an Outbreak like Coronavirus,” she also states that universal access to health care will lead to fewer sick people making it easier to contain the virus.

We now know she was clearly onto something regarding access — and so were we. A few days later, our marketing and sales department made Wald’s book freely available on our website and mobilized resources to create several open access syllabi related to the pandemic.

On March 10th, Amazon suspended the ordering of our books to focus on medical supplies. Our planned Spring Sale began on the same day as the Amazon announcement. The next day, we closed our warehouse. How does any publisher continue a Spring Sale without a warehouse and with one of our main distribution chains suspended?

Faced with being unable to sell any books at all, our sales and marketing department, editorial design and production team, and our digital publishing unit worked quickly to reinvent our supply chain and create more than 2,000 print-on-demand titles in just two weeks. Lightning Source and Ingram Publishing Services assisted in our transition to becoming a fully virtual publisher.

The pandemic created a call-to-action across Duke University Press. The staff embraced chaos with innovation and change. Designers organized virtual poetry readings with authors. Acquisitions editors engaged their communities on social media. The customer and library relations team offered trial access to content for institutions to help serve students who found themselves sheltering off-campus.

In the WakeThe 2020 Spring Sale broke all previous records. Orders went through our website. As the news changed each week, our list resonated in the moment. Books like Necropolitics by Achille Mbembe, The Black Shoals by Tiffany Lethabo King and In the Wake by Christina Sharpe became must-reads.

The pandemic syllabi resource center has generated 17,000 views. Contagious has generated 14,000 views on its own and tripled its print sales since January.

Professor Wald has been a great colleague since I joined Duke University Press last June. She taught me about what constitutes a Duke University Press book through an article by Patricia Hill Collins in the journal Social Problems (published by Oxford University Press in 1986) entitled, “Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought”. In it, Collins argues that many Black female intellectuals have made creative use of their marginality — their “outsider within” status—to produce Black feminist thought that reflects a special standpoint on self, family, and society. Wald served as our faculty board chair for 12 years because she is intensely dedicated to the Press’s mission.

Many of our authors, like Collins, work to center historically marginalized perspectives and knowledge (e.g., ideas from the Global South, from racially marginalized communities, and from outside of heteronormative culture). By publishing their work, we draw attention to authors with compelling and progressive ideas, and to writers who are shaping the future of their disciplines.

The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd hit our staff hard. Once again, we mobilized for change. Our Equity and Inclusion Task Force has organized conversations and trainings. Duke University President, Vincent Price, posted his Message about Racism and Inequality to members of the Duke community — an urgent and detailed call to action couched in the language of anti-racism. The work before us in the coming weeks is to align this call to action with every aspect of how we run our Press and to integrate an equity lens into our strategic plan.

University presses are publishing essential books that people need to read right now. Our publications strive to make the world a better, more informed, and more equitable place.  How do we break down the barriers of access to ensure that everyone who needs to can access our publications?

As publishers, we must invest in openness and accessibility to peer-reviewed knowledge. We must also ensure that anti-racism guides our policies, practices, and publications. As stated in the recent Statement on Equity and Antiracism from AUPresses:

Our task now is to reimagine the audiences and communities we seek to serve, the author and reviewer networks we rely on, the vendor and supplier networks we enlist, and the other structures that have excluded marginalized communities from our industry. We need to reconsider unpaid internships and low-wage entry points to our industry, as well as the recruitment and promotion strategies that have historically resulted in pay gaps and other inequities. Perhaps most important, we need equity training at the organizational level, so that those from underrepresented communities who join our industry are welcomed and empowered to lead our organizations forward in new directions.

In short, we must build a culture of introspection, honesty, humility, inclusion, and trust.

Despite this essential work, we still constantly hear the familiar refrain that university presses are facing an existential threat. That’s become a rallying cry as we move forward together as a community. Humanists like Priscilla Wald will be publishing books and journal articles about the catastrophic response to the pandemic and the global effort to end racism for the next one-hundred years.

We’re just getting warmed up.

An Internationalist Vision for Scholarly Marketing

Alejandra Mejía, Editorial Associate and Student Worker Program Manager, Duke University Press

Internationalism is an ideology that advocates a greater political and economic cooperation among nations. While the relationship between internationalism and scholarly marketing may not be immediately apparent, I propose that approaching our scholarly marketing work with an internationalist lens, or at the very least with a sensitivity toward global power dynamics and cross-cultural accessibility and connection, can make us more ethical, socially responsive publishers who can contribute towards positive global change.

In order to move in this direction, we must first acknowledge that American scholarly publishing does not exist in a vacuum. We live in a society that was built on indigenous genocide and the forced enslavement of African people and which reproduces inequality and violence. We are witnesses to the continuation of these injustices today, for example, with the soaring rates of COVID-19 cases ravaging the Navajo Nation, which lacks the proper infrastructure to handle the crisis, as well as with the state-sanctioned police violence disproportionately affecting poor and working-class Black people. We must continue to reckon with and correct this history at an institutional and societal level and, beyond that, we must also think about the role that the United States occupies in a larger global context.

For instance, brain drain, or the emigration of highly skilled workers like academics from low-to-middle income countries to wealthier ones, flows from south to north internationally (with a few notable exceptions like India and South Africa). This has contributed to the prestige of the American, Canadian, and various European academies and we as American scholarly publishers also benefit from the intellectual contributions of these migrant scholars. However, this south-to-north migration pattern has inevitably resulted in an asymmetry of knowledge production, which privileges the academic contributions coming out of the Global North.

To move forward in a more ethical, culturally-responsive manner that is self-aware of global power dynamics, I propose creating scholarly marketing strategies that are accessible in multiple ways, and building relationships of collaboration with international publishers, particularly those in the Global South. It is essential to continue creating and publicizing open access content that bridges class divides as well as webinars and podcasts that engage audiences in creative ways. Publishing and publicizing  multilingual content and engaging in multilingual marketing strategies, particularly in the United States, where there is a growing demographic of Latin American migrants, can serve as a culturally-responsive strategy that will meet the needs of these communities. Furthermore, developing sustained collaborations with both academic and non-academic publishers in the Global South, especially those in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, should result in a multidirectional learning and exchanging of resources that breeds an international sense of solidarity in the face of challenges like this global pandemic, climate change, and worldwide social and economic injustice.

New Role for Ken Wissoker at Duke University Press

Wissoker, KenWe are pleased to announce that Ken Wissoker, who has been Editorial Director at Duke University Press since 2005, will now serve as our Senior Executive Editor.  As we announced recently, he will be succeeded in his former role by Gisela Fosado, who will now be leading our Book Acquisitions team. As Senior Executive Editor, Wissoker will be moving on from departmental management responsibilities to focus his full attention on continuing to build his interdisciplinary list of titles and working with new and returning authors.

“Ken Wissoker is among the leading scholarly editors in the world and his impact on academic  publishing has been profound and far-reaching,” said Dean Smith, Director of Duke University Press. “Over the last three decades, his editorial vision has been indispensable to the success of Duke University Press. He will continue to thrive in this new role.” 

“I’m excited for Gisela’s leadership and for the Press’s future.  After more than twenty years as department chair, I’m welcoming this change, and happy to have more time to focus on authors and manuscripts,” Wissoker commented.

Wissoker joined the Press as an Acquisition Editor in 1991; became Editor-in-Chief in 1997; and was named Editorial Director in 2005. In addition to his duties at the Press, he serves as Director of Intellectual Publics at The Graduate Center, CUNY, in New York City. He speaks regularly on publishing at universities in the US and around the world.

Wissoker has published over a thousand books that have won over 150 prizes. Among the authors whose books he has published are Stuart Hall, Donna Haraway, Achille Mbembe, Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Jack Halberstam, Charles Taylor, Elizabeth Povinelli, Lisa Lowe, Brian Massumi, Fred Moten, Chandra Mohanty, Christina Sharpe, Greg Tate, Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Cherríe Moraga. In addition he has published the work of artists including Randy Weston, Horace Tapscott, Fred Wesley, Mira Schor, and Renée Green.

In the next year, Wissoker has new titles coming out by Jack Halberstam, Ian Baucom, Katherine McKittrick, artist Lorraine O’Grady, Lesley Stern, and a posthumous book by José Esteban Muñoz, among many others. He also contributes a chapter to the new edition of The Academic’s Handbook

Ken’s team includes Joshua Gutterman Tranen, who was recently promoted to Assistant Editor, and is now acquiring his own titles in  gender and sexuality studies, queer history, cultural studies, and anthropology. Wissoker is also assisted by Editorial Associate Kate Herman and by Editorial Associate Ryan Kendall, who started at the Press this winter.

Our esteemed Executive Editor Courtney Berger continues to acquire titles in disciplines ranging from political theory to American studies to native and indigenous studies. She is assisted by Assistant Editor Sandra Korn, who also acquires her own titles in Middle East studies and religion. Editor Elizabeth Ault acquires books in African Studies, Urban Studies, Middle East Studies, Geography, and Theory from the South, among other disciplines. Associate Editor Miriam Angress acquires books in religion, world history, women’s studies, and creative non-fiction and supervises the World and Latin America Reader series. Editorial Associate Alejandra Mejía will continue to work with Gisela Fosado in her new role. 

Together, the Books Acquisitions team brings in about 140 new titles per year that share the ideas of progressive thinkers and support emerging and vital fields of scholarship across the humanities and interpretive social sciences. 

Gisela Fosado Named Editorial Director of Duke University Press

Gisela FosadoGisela de la Concepción Fosado has been named Editorial Director of Duke University Press after a nationwide search. As Editorial Director she will establish the editorial vision for the Press and set the overall direction for the Books Acquisitions team to ensure excellence across all subject areas. She will also play a major role in moving the Press to become an industry leader in cultivating and sustaining an inclusive organizational culture.

Ed Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University says, “As Duke University Press’s second century beckons, Gisela Fosado is exactly the right person to lead book acquisitions.  She brings distinctive talents, perspective, and expertise to the role—a remarkable intellectual curiosity about new directions in scholarship, wonderful instincts for publishing strategy, an impressive track record of national leadership on the issue of how academic presses can embrace diversity and inclusion, and the sort of vision and interpersonal skills to sustain excellence in career development throughout the book acquisitions team.”

Fosado has been with Duke University Press since 2010, acquiring books in a wide range of areas in the humanities and social sciences, including anthropology, sociology, American and Atlantic World history, gender and sexuality studies, race and ethnicity, African American and Africana studies, environmental studies, and Latin American and Latinx Studies. She has acquired both award-winning monographs and bestselling general interest titles for the Press, working with many prominent authors including Patricia Hill Collins, Renato Rosaldo, Arturo Escobar, Marisol de la Cadena, Walter Mignolo, Catherine Walsh, Enrique Dussel, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Barbara Weinstein, Gilbert M. Joseph, Laurent Dubois, Charles E. Cobb Jr., Margaret Randall, Lynn Stephen, Joanne Rappaport, and Ruth Behar.  She has also published posthumous books by Gloria Anzaldúa and C. L. R. James.

In the past several years, Fosado has co-led Duke University Press’s Equity and Inclusion Task Force, a staff-created effort that has encouraged press-wide training and conversation to help ensure all staff are valued and supported professionally at every level. She has also served on the AUPresses Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and facilitated AUPresses inclusion in the 2019 Lee and Low Diversity Survey. She will bring her strong commitment to inclusion and collaboration, and her skills in careful listening, supportive mentorship, and adaptive and responsive learning that she has built in that work to her role as Editorial Director.

Gisela Fosado says, “Being entrusted to lead books acquisitions at Duke University Press, and to build upon the bold and urgent work done by those before me, is the greatest honor of my life. Everything I know about publishing I learned through my brilliant, generous, and hard working colleagues at the Press.  I look forward to many more years of learning and collaboration.” 

Fosado holds an A.B. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology and a Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan. She began her career at Duke University Press as Editorial Associate in 2010. Before coming to the Press, she served as the Associate Director for the Barnard Center for Research on Women. Once an undocumented immigrant, Fosado will be the first Latinx leader of Duke University Press’s Books Editorial program.

Dean Smith, Director of Duke University Press says, “Gisela Fosado is an extremely talented publisher and a transformative leader who is helping to change the face of scholarly publishing with an expansive editorial vision and a fierce  commitment to equity and inclusion. She practices equity in all of her interactions and embodies our mission to effect positive change in the world. I look forward to working with her and to building on our legacy of introducing bold and innovative scholarship to a global audience.” 

About Duke University Press: Each year Duke University Press publishes about 140 new books, almost 60 journals and multiple digital collections that share the ideas of progressive thinkers and support emerging and vital fields of scholarship across the humanities and interpretive social sciences. It is also well known for its mathematics journals, sophisticated graphic design and integration of technology platforms.

The Best Books We Read in 2019

From literary fiction to graphic novels, we love to read at Duke University Press! In this post, our staff members share their favorite reads from the past year. We hope you enjoy their suggestions and maybe find a few gift ideas for the holiday season.

Courtney Baker, Book Designer, recommends Delores Phillips’s only novel: “The Darkest Child is a haunting, beautifully crafted story about love, loss, survival, and redemption. This story masterfully weaves together themes of mental health, racism, and poverty, and leaves you wishing there were 50 more chapters to know that it ‘all turns out okay,’ despite knowing the Quinn children will never, ever be okay. I could not put it down and finished it only days after starting it. It’s a difficult read, but worth every minute.”

Charles Brower, Senior Project Editor, recommends the winner of the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing: “My favorite nonfiction book of the year, hands down, is Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, which starts as an investigation of a Belfast mother of ten’s disappearance in 1972 after being kidnapped in the middle of the night and dilates to become a history of the Troubles and some of its most striking personalities on all sides. It’s hugely informative but also as gripping and as full of memorable characters as any novel could be.”

Patty Chase, Digital Content Manager, recommends a writer’s yearlong experiment: “Ross Gay’s exquisite collection of short essays The Book of Delights delighted me repeatedly. I strive to express joy and gratitude in as wanton and unabashed a manner as Ross Gay has done in this book’s pages. In the world we live in, I think we could all use a little more delight. I’ll be keeping this book close.”

Jocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing Manager, recommends two books: “This year I read both of Celeste Ng’s books, Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You. Ng’s characters are vividly drawn and the books have a quiet, muted tone but are so absorbing you won’t want to put them down. Highly recommended.”

Joel Luber, Assistant Managing Editor, recommends two graphic novels: “Two of my favorite books this year were the two most recent graphic novels from Tillie Walden, On a Sunbeam and Are You Listening? Both books follow women on fantastical journeys—the first through space in flying fish rockets ships, the second across West Texas chasing magical cats—and ask, ‘Who is family?’ and ‘How are those bonds created?’ At the age of twenty-three, Walden has already written three full-length graphic novels and is the leading voice in a new generation of young graphic novelists who have grown up entirely outside the influence of the super-hero comic book industry. I’m looking forward to what she does next.”

Chris Robinson, Copywriter, recommends a work of historical fiction: “Out of all the books I read this year, the one that stayed with me the most after I finished it was A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. It’s a massive, sprawling novel that takes on Jamaican social and political history in the ’70s and ’80s—everything from the rise of Bob Marley, gangs, and national politics to the CIA’s covert operations in the Caribbean and Latin America, bauxite mining, and the crack epidemic in NYC in the ’80s. It’s not an easy read—it’s violent, and it teems with characters and unfamiliar slang, but it was so good it ruined the next couple novels I read.”

Dan Ruccia, Marketing Designer, recommends a sci-fi trilogy: “My favorite book(s) of the year were N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky). She’s a master world-builder, so these books brim with fantastic details that enrich the story. Her narrators are super-conversational, which seems so much like an exception in the fantasy realm. And I loved the way in which she twists and contorts narrative threads in entirely unexpected ways. I devoured all three books in a matter of weeks.”

Nancy Sampson, Production Coordinator, recommends a memoir: “I enjoyed a book from another small publisher called Bobby in Naziland by Robert Rosen. (Full disclosure, he’s a friend of mine.) Rosen applies his dark but sentimental sense of humor to tell tales from his childhood. Rosen shares how his perspective was influenced global and local historic moments during the mid-1950s while he and his family lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY.”

Danielle Thibault, Library Sales and Digital Access Coordinator, recommends a New York Times bestseller: “My favorite book I read this year was Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett. A woman in Florida inherits her father’s taxidermy business following his suicide. As her mother begins making lewd taxidermy sculptures and her brother completely withdraws, Jessa-Lynn is forced to grapple with the realization that she doesn’t really know her family. An Entertainment Weekly review called it ‘very Florida, very gay, and very good,’ and I agree!”

Erica Woods, Production Coordinator, recommends a mystery novel: “This year’s favorite for me was Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke. It’s a sequel to her 2017 bestseller Bluebird, Bluebird. Both are fantastic mysteries, yet the real beauty of Locke’s books is how she uses language to describe East Texas. You can’t help but be pulled into the actions and thoughts of Darren Matthews, her very flawed Texas Ranger, who’s trying to stop a race war in small town that barely exists on any map. Definitely go pick it up!”

Thanks to our staff for another year of great reads and recommendations! We look forward to expanding our collective literary minds in 2020.

Preview Our Spring 2020 Catalog

S20-catalog-coverWe’re excited to unveil our Spring 2020 catalog. Check out some highlights from the season below and then download a copy for a closer read. These titles will be published between January and July 2020.

On the cover we’re featuring a portrait of writer and activist Margaret Randall, whose memoir I Never Left Home is on page one. Randall is the author of over 150 books of poetry and prose and she has lived a remarkable life that included harrowing escapes from a Mexican government crackdown, life among revolutionaries in Nicaragua and Cuba, and fighting the U.S. government after they attempted to take away her citizenship.

DubWe are publishing several books that straddle the line between poetry and scholarship. We’re pleased to welcome back returning authors David Grubbs and Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Grubbs’s The Voice in the Headphones is an experiment in music writing in the form of a long poem centered on the culture of the recording studio. Gumbs offers the final book in her trilogy (begun with Spill and continued with M Archive): Dub: Finding Ceremony, which takes inspiration from theorist Sylvia Wynter, dub poetry, and ocean life to offer a catalog of possible methods for remembering, healing, listening, and living otherwise. And Ashon T. Crawley’s The Lonely Letters is an epistolary blackqueer critique of the normative world in which he meditates on the interrelation of blackqueer life, sounds of the black church, theology, mysticism, and the potential for platonic and erotic connection in a world that conspires against blackqueer life.

Every Day I Write the BookWe’re also pleased to welcome back returning author Amitava Kumar. Fresh off the tremendous success of his novel Immigrant, Montana (Alfred A. Knopf), Kumar’s Every Day I Write the Book offers academics and all writers advice on style and process as well as inspiring examples from conversations with novelists and other writers.

Since we published the English translation of German novelist Peter Weiss’s The Aesthetics of Resistance, Volume 1 in 2005, readers have been asking us when they could get Volume 2. The wait is over! Volume 2 will be out in March. And Volume 3 is under contract with a translator, so we hope to have the whole trilogy available in English in the next few years. The novel is one of the truly great works of postwar German literature and an essential resource for understanding twentieth-century German history.

Influx and EffluxOther returning authors include photographer William Craft Brumfield, whose new book Journeys through the Russian Empire juxtaposes his own contemporary photographs alongside those of nineteenth-century photographer Sergey Prokudin Gorsky. Jane Bennett, whose Vibrant Matter (2010) is one of our bestselling books of all time, returns with Influx and Efflux, which draws on Walt Whitman and other writers to explore the question of human agency amidst a world teeming with powerful nonhuman influences. Anthropologist Arturo Escobar’s new book Pluriversal Politics continues his work in Designs for the Pluriverse (2018), showing how the key to addressing planetary crises is the creation of the pluriverse—a world of many epistemological and ontological worlds.

RelationsOther notable anthropology titles include Relations, by Marilyn Strathern, which provides a critical account of this key concept and its usage and significance in the English-speaking world. Porkopolis by Alex Blanchette explores how the daily lives of a Midwestern town that is home to a massive pork complex were reorganized around the life and death cycles of pigs while using the factory farm as a way to detail the state of contemporary American industrial capitalism. And in Writing Anthropology, editor Carole McGranahan brings together fifty-two anthropologists to reflect on scholarly writing as both craft and commitment.

You’ll also want to check out Poor Queer Studies, in which Matt Brim shows how queer studies also takes place beyond the halls of flagship institutions: in night school; after a three-hour commute; in overflowing classrooms at no-name colleges; with no research budget; without access to decent food; with kids in tow; in a state of homelessness. And in A People’s History of Detroit, Mark Jay and Philip Conklin use a class framework to tell a sweeping story of Detroit from 1913 to the present, embedding Motown’s history in a global economic context.

tsq_7_2_prAnd don’t miss the exceptional journal issues in this catalog. To name a few: “Radical Care,” upcoming from Social Text, draws on a historical trajectory of feminist, queer, and black activism to consider how communities receive and provide care in order to survive environments that challenge their existence. “Trans Pornography,” an issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly offers insight into a largely neglected topic from both scholars and industry insiders. And “Revolutionary Positions,” a Radical History Review issue, explores the impact of the Cuban Revolution through the lens of sexuality and gender.

There’s so much more! We invite you to download the entire catalog and check out all the great books and journals inside. And be sure to sign up for our email alerts so you’ll know when titles you’re interested in are available.

University Press Week 2019: Read. Think. Act.

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It’s University Press Week! University Press Week highlights the extraordinary work of nonprofit scholarly publishers and their many contributions to culture, the academy, and an informed society. We’ll be celebrating with displays at the Durham County Library’s South Regional branch, the LGBTQ Center of DurhamNorth Carolina Central University, Durham’s Riverside High School library, and around Duke University’s campus at the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the Music Library, the Office for Faculty Advancement, the John Hope Franklin Center, the Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Rubenstein Arts Center, the Center for Muslim Life,  the Center for Documentary Studies, and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. If you’re in Durham please stop by and check out some of our recent titles and pick up a bookmark.

This year’s University Press Week theme is “Read. Think. Act.” It’s is a particularly apt theme as many citizens around the globe continue to engage in important debates that will influence vital decision-making in the months ahead; in fact, this year’s UP Week will begin exactly one year to the day before the 2020 Election Day in the U.S. Through this positive theme AUPresses members worldwide seek to encourage people to read the latest peer-reviewed publications about issues that affect our present and future—from politics to economics to climate change to race relations and more—and to better understand academic presses’ important contribution to these vital areas of concern. To that end, AUPresses members have suggested a “Read. Think. Act. Reading List” that can serve as a starting place for any reader who wants to learn more. Our contribution to that list is Sea Level Rise: A Slow Tsumani on America’s Shores, by Orrin H. Pilkey and Keith C. Pilkey, who argue that the only feasible response to climate change along much of the US shoreline is an immediate and managed retreat.

A blog tour has been set up to highlight university press books, authors, and editors that fit the “Read. Think. Act.” theme. Today’s tour features presses blogging about “how to be a better (global) citizen.” Participating presses are University of California Press, University of Virginia Press, Purdue University Press, Georgetown University Press, University of Wisconsin Press, Manchester University Press, University Press of Florida, and University of Minnesota Press. Check out their posts today and come back here Wednesday, when several of our authors and editors will be participating in a roundtable about the global climate crisis.

Please share your love for university presses and all they do for scholarship on social media this week with the hashtag #ReadUP.

Open Access Resources Available from Duke University Press

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It’s Open Access Week, a global opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research. Duke University Press offers a variety of books, journals, and online collections in an open access format. To learn more about why we consider participating in these initiatives so important, read an interview with our previous director Steve Cohn from last year’s Open Access Week. This year we’re pleased to share some of our open access offerings.

Books

Duke University Press participates in two open access programs to make some of our books available in an open access format: Knowledge Unlatched and TOME. Each year we release about a dozen books that are open access. You may be able to read these books online via your own library. You can also find some of them on Project MUSE, OAPEN, and on our own website. Recent books that are available in an open access format include The News at the Ends of the Earth by Hester Blum, Anti-Japan by Leo T. S. Ching, and The Fixer by Charles Piot. 

Journals

Duke University Press’s journals publishing program offers several open-access journals and e-resources:

coverimage1-1Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, a new addition to our program, is an online journal sponsored by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs with the aim of foregrounding the form and global reach of contemporary critical theory.

Environmental Humanities draws humanities scholarship into conversation with natural and social sciences around significant environmental issues.

The Carlyle Letters Online provides access to an outstanding resource in Victorian literature, philosophy, and culture: the letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle.

In addition, many introductions to Duke University Press humanities and social sciences journal issues are available for free at read.dukeupress.edu. We also offer several free or low-cost journal access options to libraries in eligible countries.

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Duke University Press and Cornell University Library also jointly manage Project Euclid, a not-for-profit hosting and publishing platform for the mathematics and statistics communities. About 75% of Project Euclid’s hosted content is open access.

Check out some of our previous blog posts for Open Access Week here.

What to Do about Reviewer #2: Advice for Handling a Difficult Peer Review

quality-in-peer-review_19It’s Peer Review Week,  global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scholarly quality. We’re excited to share a guest post by Executive Editor Courtney Berger.

 

On a not-too-infrequent basis I see posts and memes in my social media feed denouncing the dastardly deeds of Reviewer #2—that querulous and impossible-to-please peer reviewer. I usually hover over the post, thinking that I might chime in with a bit of helpful advice. I am a book editor after all. Surely I can say something to help alleviate my friend’s experience of feeling misread, misunderstood, or even personally attacked by an anonymous peer reviewer/colleague. But I always resist weighing in, knowing that at that moment my friend just needs to voice their frustration and receive some affirmation. It can be painful to receive this kind of criticism, especially when facing the pressures of tenure and promotion. However, while momentarily painful, even a negative peer review can be a good thing, and you can use the report to strengthen your book. So, here’s a bit of practical and philosophical advice to help you work through a tough peer review.

reviewer 2

1) Go ahead and vent—but be careful about where and how you do so.

As I mentioned, I see plenty of social media posts railing against Reviewer #2. No judgment. It’s good to get your community to support you through tough times. But I would caution against offering too much detail in a (semi)public forum or lingering in this phase for too long. It’s a small world—and although there should be an appropriate amount of distance between you and the reviewer, it’s always possible that they are in or adjacent to your social circles. You never know when the person you’ve declared to be the enemy of your book project will turn out to be the person you most wanted feedback from. (Yes, that happens!) After your initial venting, share the report with a trusted friend or colleague and get their feedback. Perhaps they will have a different take on the reader’s comments. They may identify productive advice that it was tough for you to see at first. If it helps, write a scathing response, voicing all of your frustration with the reader’s misapprehensions and misreadings. Get it all out. Then file it away.

2) Focus on problems, not solutions.

My colleague Ken Wissoker touched on this in his blog post on the merits of peer review, and it’s a strategy that I frequently employ to help authors shift their perspective on a review (even a positive one!). It’s easy to get hung up on the reader’s suggestions for how to improve your book. Maybe they recommend adding a chapter or including analysis of a topic or critic that you think is tangential to your project. Or, perhaps you feel like they didn’t “get” your argument or missed a point that’s already in the manuscript. Your job is to figure why the reader is tripping up. If you said something and they missed it, that may not be the reviewer’s fault. Chances are the point is buried at the end of a chapter or not articulated with enough force. In that case, you need to clarify and highlight your claims so that the reader does get it. It’s not uncommon to have two readers—one more positive, the other more critical—pointing to the same issue. It’s just easier to hear the person who presents their comments more constructively. As the author, it’s your job to make the leap and to figure out what your readers need in order to be convinced. Once you do that, it will be much easier to come up with a revision plan.

3) Clarify your vision.

Use the reader’s comments to sharpen your own vision for the book. I often ask authors early in the process: what do you want your book to accomplish? Are you aiming to shift a scholarly conversation, revise an accepted history, offer a new theoretical tool? Do all of the parts of the book support that mission? Clarity on this point will help you to decide which advice to take on board and which to leave by the wayside. The goal of the review process is to help you write the book you want to write, but even better. Let me repeat that, since it’s easy to forget as you’re wading through frustration, self-doubt, or any of the other feelings that this process provokes. You should use the review process to help you realize your vision for the book and to help you say what you want to say in a way that will reach your readers. For a peer-reviewed book, you need to do that in a way that is convincing to other experts in your field; but the book is yours.  (Note: I am setting aside exigencies such as tenure review, departmental pressures, and disciplinary policing, which can make this more complicated. But I always urge people to come back to their own ambitions for the project. The audiences and conversations you initiate or enter into with the book are the ones you’ll likely be engaging with for a while, and so they should be ones you care about.)

4) Talk to your editor.

Sometimes a negative review might mean that a press decides to turn down your project, and you may not have an opportunity to get substantial feedback from the editor. But other times, if the reports indicate that the project has great promise, an editor might be eager to work with you to see the book to publication. So process the report, get through the venting phase, and then set up a time to talk to your editor or send them an email with your preliminary thoughts and questions. As the editor, I have a different perspective. First, I know who the readers are, and while I keep their identities anonymous, I can also help an author think critically about the book’s audience and why a particular reviewer might be frustrated with the manuscript in its current state. For example, maybe you thought the book was for a history of science readership. Reviewer #2’s comments might help you to realize that this audience won’t be as receptive to your work. Is this who you are really writing for? If so, you may need to make some adjustments. If not, you may need to reframe the book for the readership you want. Also, I appreciate authors who can take a tough criticism and respond productively. I take it as a good sign when an author is willing to tackle Reviewer #2’s comments and use the feedback to make their book even better.

5) Remember that the review process is part of a larger scholarly conversation.

For many the review process simply feels like a set of hoops to jump through. And it can be that. But it’s also a chance to learn from your peers—just as you would when presenting a paper at a conference—and to respond. While there is the occasional mean-spirited reviewer, most readers are trying to be helpful. Try to receive the comments in the same spirit. Be grateful that someone took the time to read and think with you and take what you can from the conversation.

6) Make your response about you, not the reviewer.

Your editor may ask you to write a response to the reader reports, addressing the readers’ questions and laying out a revision plan. It’s tempting to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate all the ways that Reviewer #2 was wrong. (See #1 above: if you do this, keep it in your drafts folder.) Instead, focus on what you plan to do to improve the book. Now is the time for solutions! For example, if the reader didn’t think the book’s argument was cogent, offer a clear and concise overview of the book’s intervention. If the structure wasn’t working, explain how you will either adapt the structure or make the structure more visible so that the reader will understand it. And hold your ground when you need to. If you really don’t agree with a reviewer’s take on your project, say so and explain how you will make your vision for the project come to life.

6) Know when to cut your losses.

Sometimes a negative review is just a negative review. As difficult as it sounds, you may need to set it aside and move on—to a new press or to a new reviewer, depending on the situation. But hopefully with some of these strategies you can get the most out of the review process, and maybe someday you’ll even be thanking Reviewer #2 in your acknowledgments!

courtneyCourtney Berger is Executive Editor at Duke University Press. She joined the Press in 2003, after receiving her Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins University. Courtney acquires books across the humanities and social sciences. Her key areas of acquisition include: social and political theory, transnational American studies, Native American and indigenous studies, gender and sexuality studies, African American studies, Asian American studies, critical ethnic studies, environmental humanities, science and technology studies, media studies, literary studies, and geography.

 

Director Steve Cohn Retires

Steve Cohn (2)Steve Cohn, director of Duke University Press for twenty-five years, retires at the end of this week. He told the Duke Chronicle, “It has been a wild ride—sometimes wonderfully challenging, sometimes challenging to the point where I had no idea how we’d make it through—but in the end a very successful one.” To honor Steve, we offer some tributes from people who have worked with him over the years.

“I knew at the time when the provost asked me to take up a leadership position at the press that Steve was fully in support of that action, even though he obviously had credentials infinitely superior to mine. Later I understood that Steve was acting in character; that is, he was being generous and professional and putting what he saw as the needs of the press ahead of his own ambitions. Steve has always been a ‘company man,’ someone whose loyalty and devotion to the enterprise was obvious at every moment. I cherish my own tenure at the Press and attribute the success that we had in those years to Steve’s extraordinary dedication. And he also put up with me.” —Stanley Fish, Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Humanities and Law at Florida International University and former Director of Duke University Press

“My first job at DUP was as the first assistant Steve Cohn had ever had. While I think I taught him some things about how to be assisted, he taught me a great deal more, through the example of his leadership: how to act with integrity; how to disagree strongly without making enemies; how to listen to and consider differing perspectives; how to communicate clearly and directly; and so much more. Steve’s leadership has shaped the strong organization we have become.”—Patty Chase, Steve’s former assistant and current Digital Content Manager

“Thank you for being kind, patient, and enthusiastic about the topic at hand (no matter what it was).”—Maria Volpe, Steve’s current assistant

“I’ve worked with Steve for more than twenty years and throughout that time I’ve always been impressed by his integrity, his devotion to our mission, his accessibility to his staff, and his commitment to being transparent in his decision-making. Sometimes that means we get more information than we actually want! Personally, I’ll miss Steve’s subtle sense of humor, his kind advice about parenting, and his deep historical knowledge of the Press and of Durham.”—Laura Sell, Publicity and Advertising Manager

“Steve Cohn’s thoughtful stewardship of the Press, his commitment to having all staff participate in the strategic planning process, and his zeal not only for our mission but for the publishing industry in general have made him an exceptional leader. I’ve enjoyed hearing stories about the extraordinary lengths Steve went to to recruit people to the Press in its less-robust days (including loaning one of them his caravan), and I am grateful for the work he put into making the Press what it is today.”—Jocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing Manager

“With smarts, integrity, and humor of an infectiously subtle kind, Steve has stewarded DUP to the cutting-edge prominence it holds today as kick-ass academic press #1. Steadfast in vision, bold in execution, with the chops to be daring, Steve has been an exemplary director. His legacy will linger for a very long time. But his presence will be sorely missed. Thank you Steve for making the press, and involvement with it, such a richly intellectual engagement.”—Anne Allison, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and member of the Press’s Editorial Advisory Board

“The press has benefited greatly from Steve’s publishing entrepreneurial vision and we’ve come a long way in his many years as director. I’ve really enjoyed working for him these past nine years. I have truly appreciated his support of our working environment of creative collaboration that drives and enables DUP successes. I wish him lots of lazy days of biking, reading, kayaking, and traveling in his retirement.”—Nancy Hoagland, Director of Editing, Design, and Production

“Steve Cohn leaves an amazing legacy at Duke University Press. He has shaped the Press with his independent and innovative ideas and through setting ambitious, long term goals. His entrepreneurial approach has challenged the organization to innovate and to embrace change, such as being one of the first UPs to establish and successfully sell our own electronic journals and books collections. He has successfully led the Press through huge changes in the scholarly publishing industry and fluctuations in the US marketplace while continuing to grow the Press so that it is set up to thrive in the future. Many thanks, Steve, for all of your hard work and dedication. “—Cason Lynley, Director of Marketing and Sales

“Whenever I’ve needed help, Steve has been available with an amazing and immediate command of detail, the right questions, and ideas that have taught me time and again how to balance pragmatism and our mission. I’ve always left the room with a solid plan and a lighter mind. Thank you for everything, and congratulations, Steve!”—Leslie Eager, Director of Publishing Services, Project Euclid

“I’ll always be grateful for Steve’s vision, creativity, and tenacity, In 2010, he envisioned Duke University Press as a digital publisher of distinction, and set us a goal of selecting, producing, marketing, and selling our digital publications with as much expertise and finesse as we did our print books and journals. To drive us forward in this area, Steve tapped me to lead our digital publishing strategy, and in doing so, provided me with a tremendous opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the Press and to scholarly publishing more generally. I am the publishing professional I am today due in large part because Steve shared generously his vast store of publishing knowledge and insight. For this and so much more, thank you, Steve.”—Allison Belan, Associate Director, Digital Strategy & Systems

“Steve envisioned what the Press could become and was the brilliant planner able to bring it into being. Each time the publishing environment changed for books or for journals, he was looking ahead to see what we needed to do in order to flourish five and ten years out. His guidance and leadership will be long remembered. He never told us what to publish, but always made it better.”—Ken Wissoker, Editorial Director

In his retirement, Steve plans to devote more time to the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, of which he is president. All of us at the Press will miss him and wish him the best in all his future endeavors. We are welcoming our new director, Dean Smith, on June 25.

Celebrating the People of Duke University Press

This week, members of the Association of University Presses honor our late colleague Mark Saunders, director of the University of Virginia Press, with a blog tour recognizing the people who make up our university press community. We asked our colleagues at Duke University Press to tell us what they appreciate about the people they work alongside.

“I spent a week-in-residence over a decade ago in the production department at the University of California Press. During that week I was overwhelmed by the generosity of Tony Crouch and Marilyn Schwartz, and the lengths to which they went to make sure I met as many people as possible and had access to whatever information they had that might help me and my department back home at Duke. I think that week was when I truly learned what university press publishing is all about: sharing ideas and resources freely with colleagues, both at home and around the country and world; struggling together with new technologies, new ways of doing business, new problems thrown at us by the likes of Amazon; and forming lasting friendships through annual meetings, committee work, listserv interactions, and even Twitter. Duke University Press is the house I live my work life in, its staff is my family, and my AUPresses colleagues are my virtual community.” —Patty Chase, Digital Content Manager

“I’ve worked at Duke University Press for 14 years—longer than I’ve lived at any one address. My colleagues and I know each others’ footsteps, tea preferences, and pet peeves. We’ve weathered tough projects and stressful times, and have greater trust and respect for each other as a result. Candidates often ask what we like about the Press and the answer is always the people. It feels trite but it’s true.” —Jocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing Manager

“I’ve worked at Duke University Press for almost two years after several positions in the library services industry. Being new to the publishing side, I appreciate that my veteran colleagues are committed to providing resources that help all of us succeed. We celebrate each others’ accomplishments, whether big or small, as a team.” —Katja Moos, Digital Collections Sales Manager

“A visiting editor once asked our sales team what incentive they had to make sales if they didn’t get bonuses or commission. A few of us almost laughed because to us it was so obvious—the incentive is the mission and the fact that we want the Press to thrive and continue contributing to the scholarly dialogue. That’s what makes working for a UP special; the people who come and stay at places like Duke University Press believe in that mission and put their hearts into it. Even after 19 years at the Press, I am impressed on a daily basis with the dedication, creativity, intelligence, and humor of the people with whom I work.” —Cason Lynley, Director of Marketing and Sales

“My colleagues at Duke University Press are dedicated, smart, and creative, and I could write tributes to each of them. One person stands out as a star example of everything that is great about university press staff. Our Title Management [publishing software] Product Manager Ashley Postlethwaite never ceases to amaze me with her ingenuity, efficiency, deep knowledge, and eagerness to solve problems. I have come to believe there is no Title Management error she cannot troubleshoot, no report she cannot improve on, and no workflow she cannot make more efficient with a few under-the-hood tweaks. I’m also really impressed that with Title Management working generally smoothly for much of the organization, Ashley is not resting on her laurels, but instead going to various staff members to conduct audits of all the work we do in the system so that she can help us make it even better. Thank you, Ashley, for all you do!” —Laura Sell, Publicity and Advertising Manager

We are fortunate to work with a large number of dedicated and thoughtful individuals, and we hope that you feel the influence of their care as you read our books and journals.