Publishing

Raising Up the Work of First-Time Authors: University Press Week 2020

Logo_UPW2020_lowres (1)It’s University Press Week! This year, the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) has chosen the theme “Raise UP” to emphasize the role that university presses play in elevating authors, subjects, and whole disciplines. Read more about University Press Week and check out the Raise UP gallery and reading list featuring publications published by our peer presses.

We’re excited to be part of the first day of the annual University Press Week blog tour. The theme is “New Voices.” After you read our post, please check out the other posts on the tour, from University of Illinois Press, Georgetown University Press, University of Wisconsin Press, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, University of Toronto Press, University of Missouri Press, Bucknell University Press, University of Manitoba Press, and Amherst College Press.

Here at Duke University Press, we’re particularly proud of the role that we play in helping to bring new voices into scholarly conversations. Below, book acquisitions editors and journal editors discuss the particular joys of working with first-time authors.

Contributors:

  • Elizabeth Ault, Duke University Press Editor, Books
  • Courtney Berger, Duke University Press Executive Editor, Books
  • Sarah Lerner, Managing Editor of Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies
  • Susan Stryker, Editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly and Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona and Visiting Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University
  • Ken Wissoker, Duke University Press Senior Executive Editor, Books

What unique contributions can a first-time author offer to a publishing program [or journal]?

Courtney Berger: First-time authors are often working on the cutting edge of scholarship. They are pushing against the boundaries of fields and conceptual paradigms. As an editor, I look to these scholars to stay attuned to the conversations and debates that are happening in and across fields and to learn about new fields in formation. This is incredibly valuable to me as an editor and to the Press as a whole, since it keeps our list dynamic and helps us tune into new or underserved audiences and emerging areas of knowledge making. As an editor, I am constantly learning, and my first-time authors teach me a lot, not just about their fields of study but also about changes in the academic world, how people are reading and teaching the things we publish, and the needs of scholars and teachers in the current economic and political climate.

Ken Wissoker: I always treat first book authors as the future. They frequently combine perspectives from different professors and theoretical movements they encountered in grad school (and since) and put them together in ways that the people who taught them never would. That’s true about theories and about topics to investigate as well. Also, first time authors often have had the most time for research—whether fieldwork or archival. They are writing up a project that started as a dissertation many years before.  They get guidance in how to shape and focus that research and receive feedback on the earlier versions of their work.  You’d be surprised how many times authors of subsequent books don’t know how to proceed without those advantages!

Susan Stryker: I’m always looking for the fresh hot takes that do more than add a statement to an existing conversation, but rather approach a topic in some truly new way. First-time authors often have a really generative “beginners mind.” 

Sarah Lerner: First-time authors have profound enthusiasm for their subject, and in the case of Camera Obscura, they are also excited about working with the journal’s editors during the manuscript revision process. New authors bring innovative perspectives, theories, and methods to the discipline that can change scholarly conversations about a subject. When they do, they can expand the journal’s reach.

Elizabeth Ault: Among many other things, first-time authors offer publishers a chance to engage some of the freshest perspectives in our field, and the joy, for an editor, of bringing a new voice into print and getting to build a long relationship with someone.

Are there any experiences working with first-time authors that stand out to you?

Elizabeth Ault: I have worked with so many first-time authors, especially as an emerging editor. Learning together with authors is such a gift—I’m so grateful for all the first-time authors who’ve helped me map the landscapes of their fields and the conversations their books are in as I get to teach them about the publishing process. One book I’m really proud to have worked on is The Black Shoals, Tiffany Lethabo King’s first book, published last fall. She just did a wonderful interview with Jenny Davidson at the-rambling.com about what the process of developing her central idea and navigating her archive was like through the multi-year process of developing the manuscript. It’s such a generous reflection on process. 

Courtney Berger: I really enjoy working with first-time authors, although at times the process can be stressful (on both sides!). Sometimes a manuscript goes through several rounds of review before it is ready for publication. An author might struggle to find time to write while they are also getting acclimated to a new job and new responsibilities. They may have a tough time shedding ideas and materials that are interesting but don’t serve the project as a whole. The review and revision process can be arduous, but it’s invaluable when it comes to shaping a book. It’s exciting to see a project develop and come into focus, as an author starts to recognize the critical aims of their work and can see how to enact that in their writing. Those are the best moments for me as an editor—helping an author figure out how to make the book their own and to make their ideas available to readers. 

Ken Wissoker: How quickly a scholar moves from being a first time author, unsure of their authority and whether what they write will be okay, to an expert in their field.  It’s hard for a scholar to anticipate that ahead of time, or to write in a way that takes advantage of how they will be seen. I love when authors feel passionately about their work and their topic, but haven’t fully realized how widely it will be of interest.  Some of my best experiences have been reflecting back to an unsure author how many people would be excited about what they are doing.

Susan Stryker: I once received a submission from a grad student for a special issue I was editing that I really wanted to publish because it was fresh and insightful but also kind of a mess structurally. I offered to work closely with the author to get it the piece in publishable quality before sending it out for peer review. Going that extra mile as a hands-on editor for a first-time author resulted in what has turned into a years-long friendship with a really innovative emerging scholar. I feel like I got back as much or more than I gave.

What advice do you have for first-time authors?

Susan Stryker: Really, really, think about audience/editor/press and the scholarly conversation you want your work to be situated within.

Sarah Lerner: I would encourage first-time authors to ask the journal’s Managing Editor or shepherding editor (if they have one) questions about the publication process. Gaining insight into the stages that a manuscript will move through from submission to publication supports authors as they navigate an unfamiliar process. If an author knows what the next step is, they can address revisions, proofs, and other tasks with more confidence.

Courtney Berger: Don’t be afraid to share your work and solicit feedback. I find that a lot of authors hesitate to do that. They worry that the project isn’t developed enough, and they strive for perfection. Join a writing group; share your work with colleagues and friends; participate in a manuscript workshop; find out what editors think about the project. While there certainly are risks to putting your work out there, especially at an early stage, I think the benefits far outweigh those risks. Criticism can help an author shape their project and find their voice. Soliciting feedback allows you to think of writing as a conversation: you want a response. And the response can help you to reshape, clarify, or reconsider what you want to say. 

Ken Wissoker: Think about what parts of books in your field you love, and what parts you skim past. Ask your cohort. Where do you need the detail and where the big picture? Where the author’s voice and where that of others in the field? Try to write accordingly! Write for the people in grad school behind you who will look up to you, not for the senior people who you are worried will judge you. Take yourself seriously as a theorist (big or small) and write to convince people of your theory, not as if you were turning in a long report to someone. Find your voice. As mentioned above, the time from post-doc to person with book is comparatively short in the time of a career. In a way one has to write in the voice of the person one is just in the process of becoming. Find an editor who gets your work and will imagine it with you. 

Elizabeth Ault: Briefly, I think the most important advice is to understand and embrace the power that you and your ideas have. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out–to colleagues, editors, mentors, etc. But also, be prepared when you do. Have a clear sense of what your project is about, what your argument is, how it’s different from the dissertation, what you imagine your book doing in the world, and who you imagine reading it.

But even if you have all this, it’s important to know that the process can often take a lot longer than anyone hopes! It’s not unusual for me to talk to first-time authors at conferences or over email for several years prior to their formal submission of materials for peer review. During this time, we’re building our relationship  (one of my favorite parts!) and developing the project through discussing ideas, giving feedback on introductions, talking through the structure of the project, suggesting participants for book manuscript workshops, etc. While one round of peer review usually only takes a few months, the full cycle of review and revision and Board Approval—from initial submission till a book appears IN PRINT (!)—almost always takes at least two years, and usually longer (though about a year of that is while the book is in production, being copyedited, designed, proofread, and printed, so the author’s substantive writing work is done). That can sound daunting, but I really think of it as a gift, as Ken has outlined elsewhere when talking about the importance of peer review. This long process is especially important for authors who, like most of the people I work with, are interdisciplinary scholars with ambitions to speak across scholarly conversations. 

Read more of Elizabeth Ault’s advice for first-time book authors in “Asking the Editors” in Inside Higher Ed.

What could publishers do to better support first-time authors?

Courtney Berger: Most presses and editors make efforts to help first-time authors navigate the publishing process by giving talks at conferences and at universities or through one-on-one discussions with new authors. At Duke, we’ve worked hard to connect with and support BIPOC scholars, queer & trans scholars, and scholars from marginalized groups, although there’s room to strengthen those efforts even further across the publishing industry. I also think we could do more outreach to scholars working at HBCUs, smaller universities and colleges, and non-research institutions, who may not have as much access to travel funds for major conferences (where editors tend to meet with authors) or who may not have ready access to publishing workshops and other opportunities to learn about the book publishing process. 

Ken Wissoker: Judge work on its quality, intervention, and potential impact, not the seniority or location of the authors.

Susan Stryker: I think “meet the editors” events do a lot to demystify the process, and help authors get a sense of the wide range of ways that different journals work.

Elizabeth Ault: I think posts like this and other talks/videos/etc/ that my colleagues and I have done are hugely important in demystifying the process. Being upfront about expectations and timelines is important especially with first time authors on the tenure track, since the timing can be so important. Not assuming authors understand the process—either the concrete steps of publishing (including things like selecting images and navigating fair use claims), or the more abstract parts like imagining the audience for your book or thinking about how the chapters should be ordered.

Are there any upcoming projects from first-time authors that you’re particularly excited about?

Courtney Berger: Oh my. So many! A few exciting first books that are about to be released: Evren Savci’s Queer in Translation: Sexual Politics under Neoliberal Islam; Ma Vang’s History on the Run: Secrecy, Fugitivity, and Hmong Refugee Epistemologies; and Hentyle Yapp’s Minor China: Method, Materialisms, and the Aesthetic. All three of these books push against conventional disciplinary boundaries and offer readers new theoretical tools for thinking about the complexities of race, religion, politics, and sexuality. And next fall keep an eye out for Xine Yao’s Disaffected: The Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth Century America and Rana Jaleel’s The Work of Rape, two stunning first books that make us rethink the relationship between gender, sexuality, race, and U.S. imperialism.

Ken Wissoker: Two just out: Alex Blanchette’s beautiful ethnography of a grim subject in Porkopolis—the way every part of a pig’s life cycle is commercialized in a next generation taylorization products one wouldn’t even associate with a pig—while also taking over a town’s life. And Vanessa Diaz’s Manufacturing Celebrity, an ethnography of two groups that keep People and other popular magazines in business. Paparazzi, who are mostly Latinx men working independently to take photos of stars. The magazines depend on the photos, but the men are disposable and easy to vilify as if they were stalkers rather than key to the star system. She also writes about the mostly white women deployed to industry events for gossip, and become likely targets for harassment or abuse.

And one in production: Mercy Romero’s moving and deep memoir of Camden, New Jersey is one I’m really excited by.  The beauty of her writing, combined with the way she gives a picture of race and space in her hometown is totally moving.  A truly exceptional first book!

Elizabeth Ault: I just had a slate of wonderful new first books come out! Please read my recommendations for books to buy to honor the American Anthropological Association conference that, in a parallel universe, is happening right now, to find out more about several of them. 

Editorial Director Gisela Fosado Speaks Out About Jessica A. Krug

I spent last Thursday and Friday reading and processing the many stories shared on Twitter about Jessica A. Krug’s decades-long fraudulent and hurtful appropriation of a Black and Latinx identity. I have been sickened, angered, and saddened by the many years that she deployed gross racial stereotypes to build her fake identity, and the way that she coupled her lies with a self-righteous policing of racial politics within the Black and Latinx circles that she intruded upon.  

My interactions with Krug, who authored a book with Duke University Press, were limited. The first time she lied to me was in an email exchange in 2017. I had asked her how to pronounce her name. She answered, “Thanks for asking about my last name. It’s actually ‘Cruz’ and is pronounced as such. Long story, and when we meet up in person, I’ll tell you.” As an acquisition editor, I often present information about our authors and our books to colleagues across our departments, and, as someone whose name is often mispronounced, I work hard to get names right. From that point forward, everyone across our Press dutifully pronounced her name as “Cruz.”  When I met her in person for the first time the following year, shortly after her book was published, she told me the fictitious story of how her grandparents came to this country from the Caribbean and how immigration officials made a transcription mistake on their last name. She also repeated other details that I now know to be false about her identity and her past.

Those of us who are connected to Krug and her scholarship, and especially those of us who are people of color, are grappling with several layers of anger and hurt. There is the personal pain of having someone impersonate your own identity in the most racist way possible, through caricatures and stereotypes. There’s also the shameful sense that, as someone who labored to support her work as her acquisition editor, I helped publish the work of someone who, early in her career, took funding and other opportunities that were earmarked for non-white scholars. 

Many of us who promoted her work in one way or another have also struggled in trying to consider the relationship between Krug’s scholarship and her wrongdoing. There are times when a scholar does harm that can be seen as unrelated to their scholarship. In this case, Krug leveraged her deception to enable and promote her work, in ways that are not quantifiable or always specific. As others have pointed out, Krug’s scholarship may not have ever existed without the funding that was inseparable from her two decades of lies. 

What are we then to do with her scholarship, which, as it happens, has been widely praised and recognized as important? Many scholars and scholar-activists have continued to push for a focus not just on content of scholarship, but also on context, methods, ethics, and politics—often promoting decolonial approaches. These are the conversations and movements that can lead us forward. I hope that we can all muster the strength to lean into these conversations, even though they will challenge us all. 

Almost everyone I’ve spoken to about Krug’s book has asked about profits from her book. The truth is that the book, like many monographic scholarly works, did not generate a profit—its expenses were more than its revenues. Despite that, Duke University Press is committed to moving all proceeds from the book to a fund that will support the work of Black and Latinx scholars. Our conversations and deliberations about other actions will continue.

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.

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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.