Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Books’ Category

Open Access Book: Indiana Folk Arts

IFA CoverThis year is a big year for the Mathers Museum of World Cultures in a number of respects. Two of these weave together. Its the state bicentennial for Indiana and we are engaging with it in a big way through the exhibition Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Tradition and Innovation. That exhibition is now traveling across Indiana along with with a deep roster of presenting artists and craftspeople. The exhibition and associated in-person demonstrations are happening at state parks and festivals around Indiana and the exhibition will also be presented at the Indiana State Fair, later this summer. The exhibition brings together more than a decade of research by Traditional Arts Indiana and was also an project worked on by the Laboratory in Public Folklore graduate course taught in the IU College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. Working with TAI Director and MMWC Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage Jon Kay, a large number of students have been involved in all aspects of the exhibition and associated programs, products, and events.

2016 is also slated to be a big year for book publishing at MMWC. We have a number of books in the cue for fall. The first to become available is the catalogue for Indiana Folk Arts. Edited by Jon Kay with chapters authored by a large and talented group of graduate students, the volume enriches the exhibition while also standing alone as a contribution to scholarship on Indiana craft and art. At exhibition events and here at the MMWC, the book is being distributed for free in a beautiful full-color print edition. In keeping with our institutional commitment to increased and open access to scholarship, the volume is also available electronically and permanently via the IUScholarWorks Respository. Licensed under a CC-BY license, it can be found online here: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/20893. Its the first MMWC publication for which we obtained an ISBN number (two actually, one for the print edition and one for the PDF edition), which is also pretty neat.IFA Front Page

Congratulations to Jon Kay, the volume’s editor, to all of its contributors, and to the talented artists, craftspeople, and tradition bearers featured in the book. Welcome readers–72 beautiful pages await you, wherever in the world you live. If you like the book and support the work behind it, spread it widely. Tell your friends and colleagues so that they can enjoy it too.

Theories of Material Culture: Three Highlights

I am now concluding my graduate course Theories of Material Culture. I have taught this course several times previously and I always enjoy it. This year, the students who gathered with me were more diverse than usual. Beyond the normal folklorists and cultural anthropologists, there were practicing artists, a learning scientist, a fashion scholar, and an ethnomusicologist. In comparison to past instances, this made the course simultaneously more interesting and a more challenging exercise in translation. I am thankful for the chance to work with students whose interests intersect with mine in such stimulating ways. Interacting with these students was a big highlight of my distractingly busy semester.

k10581
Intentionally, I have made the Theories of Material Culture a weird course. In response to students who rightfully complained about constantly noting how key book-length works were often mentioned* in our courses but not assigned, the only readings in the course are books. Many books. Experience shows that, as part of a more diverse reading diet, this course pattern helps students in noticeable ways later–during qualifying exams, research planning, and dissertation writing. Some works have reappeared in different versions of the course, but some are always new to the course and occasionally some are new to me. This semester, I added two titles that, while I had not yet read them because they were brand new, seemed like sure bets. And they were. The were most beloved by the students and they provoked particularly rich discussions. These were Pravina Shukla’s Costume: Performing Identities Through Dress (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015) and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).

9780253015778_lrg
I cannot spare the time now to comment properly on these two excellent books, but I note here that they were highlights for me and for the students. I eagerly recommend them to you. Of reviews of Costume, I like the one written by Brandon Barker for JFRR. For The Mushroom at the End of the World, I note Eugene N. Anderson’s review in Ethnobiology Letters. (These two journals are both wonderful open access publications, by the way.)


* Particularly unnerving to students is the faculty habit of mentioning canonical books as if everyone in the room had not only heard of them previously but had read them and long ago assimilated their lessons. (I know I to am guilty of this tic too.) Books do of course get assigned in our classes, but usually a smaller number are balanced with a mixture of works in other genres. This normal pattern is true of my other courses too.

Contemporary International Basketmaking by Mary Butcher

I mentioned in my previous post purchasing a number of basketry books in route to catching up on neglected topic of longstanding interest. Among those in my recent haul is Contemporary International Basketmaking by Mary Butcher, with contributions by Laurel Reuter and many artists contributing to the 1999-2000 UK exhibition for which this book was the catalog (London: Mary Holberton Publishers with the Crafts Council, 1999). I have not read it cover-to-cover yet, but I can note here that it is a fine publication–well produced and image/object rich. Along with a long essay on the past and present of international basketmaking and a collection of overviews of basketry techniques, the Artists’ Voices section is particularly compelling. It is useful as a research document because it presents individual artists’ answers to a range of fixed and compelling questions. While asked here of basketmakers active on the contemporary craft/studio craft/critical craft ends of the basketmaking spectrum, these questions (or a parallel set) could similarly be asked of basketmakers working less individualistically within particular vernacular/local/historical basketry “traditions.”

In the latest issue of Museum Anthropology Review, I published a review of Basketry: Making Human Nature. Readers of that review will notice that I gave special attention and praise to the long essay therein on East Anglia basketry written by Mary Butcher. It was wonderful and now I find that she is also the scholar-maker-curator behind the older catalogue being discussed here. It has been a pleasure to learn from, and engage her fine work as a basket scholar.

Mary Butcher’s website is here: http://www.marybutcher.net/
Her blog is here: http://marybutcher.wordpress.com/

Good News Roundup

There is way too much stuff going on in my life and work these days. Most of it is really good stuff, but it is hard to keep up. Before moving on to new reporting, here are some good news highlights from recent weeks.

Colleagues and I shepherded into print the 50th volume (=golden anniversary) of the Journal of Folklore Research, for which I serve as Interim Editor. JFR 50(1-3), a triple issue (!), is a special one titled Ethnopoetics, Narrative Inequality, and Voice: The Legacy of Dell Hymes and is guest edited by Paul V. Kroskrity (UCLA) and Anthony Webster (Texas). The guest editors contributed a post about the issue for the IU Press Journals Blog and the triple issue itself is can be found on the Project Muse and JSTOR digital platforms. Thanks to all who have supported JFR over its first five decades.

The Open Folklore project recently released a new version of the OF portal site. The new site incorporates a range of new features and is built upon the latest version of Drupal. I hope that it is already helping you with your own research efforts. If you have not seen it yet, check it out at http://openfolklore.org/

In September, two scholars whose Ph.D. committees I chaired finished their doctorates. Congratulations to Dr. Flory Gingging and Dr. Gabrielle Berlinger!

I noted the award quickly previously, but I had a great time attending the Indiana Governor’s Arts Awards where Traditional Arts Indiana, led by my friend and colleague Jon Kay, was recognized.

The new issue of Ethnohistory is out and it includes a generous and positive review of Yuchi Indian Histories Before the Removal Era. The reviewer is Marvin T. Smith, author of several key works on the archaeology and ethnohistory of the Native South. Find it (behind a paywall) here: http://ethnohistory.dukejournals.org/content/60/4.toc

A while back, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures opened a fine exhibition curated by IU Folklore graduate student Meredith McGriff. It is Melted Ash: Michiana Wood Fired Pottery and it is a sight to behold. If you have not seen it, stop by the museum and check it out.

Open Access week just kicked off and there are a lot of activities planned for the IUB campus. To get things started my friend and collaborator Jennifer Laherty did an interview with WFHB. It is about 8 minutes long and it can be found on the station’s website: http://wfhb.org/news/open-access-week/

The very talented Bethany Nolan was kind enough to talk to me about Yuchi Folklore and to write about our discussion for her Art at IU blog.

The Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians just held its 17th (!!!!) annual Heritage Days festival. A few years ago a Miss Yuchi/Euchee was added to the festivities and the young women chosen have been great representatives of their nation. This year another awesome young woman was selected. Congratulations to A.S. on being selected for this big honor and big responsibility.

If robots write one of these biographies about you, will you purchase it?

Its crazy stuff like this that makes my senior colleagues so dubious about the internet in general and the changing publications landscape in particular.

I follow a twitter feed called Anthropology Books. I have never investigated who put it together and I do not know anything about it except that it has been useful to me. Using some kind of automated approach, the person or software behind Anthropology Books has been very usefully telling me (and about 1000 other folks) about “All new anthropology books posted on their publication day.” If a title seems interesting, there is a link that takes one to the book’s Amazon.com page.

Today, books with the names of famous and not-so-famous anthropologists (and folklorists) started showing up in the stream today. Alan Dundes was one that caught my eye first. He is very important figure in folklore studies and a very good candidate for a proper biography. Other names started showing up, including those of active colleagues who are basically my own age! They all had unfamiliar to me authors and publishers.  There was a flood of them today.

Looking at the books on Amazon.com, one is (sometimes) confronted with the information that “the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online.” I took this quote from the book on Dorothy Eggan. This 84 page book is selling for $47.00 and has been published by Lect Publishing. The book is credited to the editorship of Nuadha Trev. This editor shows up in Amazon.com as the person behind about 3000 books. Lect Publishing is only one of several names associated with the same basic project and Nuadha Trev is only one of several editors.

I know that others have been writing a lot recently about Amazon’s publishing toolkit. Also at issue here is the CC licensing of Wikipedia etc. content. The student publishing group that I work with here at Indiana–Trickster Press–makes great use of CreateSpace+Amazon for the publication of real peer-reviewed monographs and I am certainly appreciative of, and in debt to, the Creative Commons. These resources are not to blame for the creation of this kind of spam-like books, but I think that they represent a problem on several fronts. Perhaps it is enough to say that they give the Creative Commons, Wikipedia, Amazon, remix, and scholarly communications reform a bad name.

I would love to know who would purchase one of these books. Maybe some of them are traps designed to extract cash out of their living subjects. Here is an example. The publisher “Fedel” has just published a 108 page/$54 book on ethnomusicologist/linguist/anthropologist Aaron Fox. (He and I know people in common but are not yet acquainted.) Would Professor Fox feel like he had no choice but to purchase this book to see what it said about him? Would I feel similarly compelled if one were published on me? His is one of about 3000 titles edited by “Christabel Donatienne Ruby”, but does Christabel Donatienne Ruby actually exist?

I would also love to know about the technical infrastructure that automatically (?) assembles these books and feeds them into Amazon. Anybody understand this stuff?

Update:  Thankfully the people behind the wikipedia article for VDM Publishing seem to understand it pretty well. For background, see the entry here. See also the discussion on slashdot here.

Book News: Yuchi Indian Histories Before the Removal Era

I just discovered a nice sign of progress on a long simmering book project for which I am the editor. (Its long simmering status was my fault, not that of the authors or publisher.) Yuchi Indian Histories Before the Removal Era is presently being copy-edited by The University of Nebraska Press. I am looking forward to reviewing the edited manuscript next month. Looking for something else, I was pleased, just now, to discover that the book now has a page on the UNP website. I had not know the format that the press was going to choose, so I am very pleased to see that it is slated to appear in paper. Thanks to everyone who has worked on this project. More news here as it develops.

How to Hack Academic Book Publishing in Two (Not So) Easy Steps – IHE #hackacad

A wonderfully engaged, positive review of Hacking the Academy by Barbara Fister is in today’s issue of Inside Higher Education. Thank you Barbara.

How to Hack Academic Book Publishing in Two (Not So) Easy Steps – Inside Higher Ed.

On Hacking the Academy #hackacad

I am very pleased to note that the edited book version of Hacking the Academy appeared online today. The online version lives on a site built by the volume’s publisher Digital Culture Books, an imprint of the University of Michigan Press. The volume has been edited by Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt, both of the Center for History and New Media. It is based on contributions submitted during one week–May 21-28, 2010.

I am very pleased to have been included in this volume and I want to thank the editors, the publisher, and all those who supported the project, including the many readers and cheerleaders who offered encouragement to the effort.

My chapter in the volume is based on an essay that originally appeared on this site (where the longer, older version can still be found). In the book, it is the first chapter of the “Hacking Scholarship” section. As with the earlier version, it is titled “Getting Yourself Out of the Business in Five Easy Steps” and it offers an argument for withdrawing, where possible, from entanglements with commercial academic publishing in favor of lending energy, support, and resources to the strengthening of the existing public-sector scholarly communications system and to the building of a more democratic, ethical, sustainable, and open one for the future. It thus relates directly to my more recent post on the enclosure of scholarly journals in anthropology (and to other things that I do, including working on the Open Folklore project and editing Museum Anthropology Review.

I am so thankful to everyone who has engaged not only with the essay but with me in the larger work of understanding and reshaping the ways scholars share their work with the world. The biggest shout out of all, in this regards, goes to my colleagues at the Indiana University Libraries and the IUScholarWorks program. They have been my teachers and tremendous partners in the work. They are awesome!

The old-fashioned version of Hacking the Academy will be published next year. Find the online version here: http://www.digitalculture.org/hacking-the-academy/

Dan Cohen’s reflections on the project can be found online here: http://www.dancohen.org/2011/09/08/some-thoughts-on-the-hacking-the-academy-process-and-model/

Read Frank Speck’s Oklahoma Essays on your Phone, Free (Connexions)

The Connexions project headquartered at Rice University is great. I tried it out as a book publishing platform last year by editing into existence a book composed of Frank G. Speck’s essays on Oklahoma and Indian Territories originally published in The Southern Workman. Speck was a anthropologist and folklorist who visited the twin territories just before statehood.  The essays are really interesting for a lot of reasons that I try to describe in my introduction to the volume.  Today I am just noting that Connexions has added EPUB format to the range of ways that you can freely read and use (and remix) Connexions content.  This means that the little Speck book can be read using a e-reader on fancy phones and other mobile devices.  Connexions also serves up content in free PDF files and free dynamic webpages.  Any work can be purchased as a print on demand book too. If you do not know about Connexions, you really should check it out.

Kristin R. Eschenfelder Expores Attributor, A DRM Service for Scholarly (and Other) Publishers

Read all about it http://kreschen.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/thanks-but-no-thanks-emerald/

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,895 other followers

%d bloggers like this: