Today the Journal of Folklore Research Reviews (JFRR) published my review of A Companion to Folklore edited by Regina F. Bendix and Galit Hasan-Rokem. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). It was an honor to be asked to review such a key volume in the field. Find the review online here: http://indiana.edu/~jofr/review.php?id=1416
Posts from the ‘New Publications’ Category
Visitors to this site will know that I am involved in a range of projects relating to reform in the scholarly communication system. University presses are a key part of that system. They bring to the current moment a lot of durable skills, values, and useful practices and they have the potential to play a key role in innovating the future.
In this note, I want to put on my author hat and celebrate two modest practices–one a tradition and the other an innovation–in the work of the University of Nebraska Press, the press that I have historically worked most closely with.
Part One: Some Things Never Go Out of Style
As an editor of a small scholarly journal with a reviews program, I spend a lot of time with what used to be called (and sometimes still are called) tear sheets. The term’s origins are in commercial advertising, but it extends logically to journal-based publishing of things like book reviews. When a publisher sends a new book to a journal in the hopes that it will be reviewed, it asks (among other things) that a journal that actually does publish a review send a copy of the final published review to the press’ attention. In the older days (and, in some cases, still today) the obligation was to send two (sometimes more) paper copies of the review to the press’ attention. These days, this task is most often accomplished electronically by sending a PDF of the published review to the attention of the relevant press’ marketing staff. The old name tear sheet refers to actual sheets of paper (with advertisements to send to buyers or reviews to send to publishers) torn from the relevant print edition so that they could then be mailed. (BTW: Shame on those journals who do not live up to their end of this bargain.)
When the reviews get to the press, there are a number of things that can be done with them. It is common for them to be harvested for favorable quotes that get added to a book’s page on the press’ website. In more elaborate operations, such quotes get pushed out to sites like Amazon. A acquisitions editor can use the incoming reviews to guide the development of their “list.” In aggregate, reviews tell editors what kinds of works (and which authors) are being well received. Such intellectual indicators complement quantitative measures as sales numbers.
At the University of Nebraska Press a tradition that many other presses have abandoned is also maintained. It is one that promotes tremendous goodwill with authors and, by extension, furthers the press’ reputation among potential authors. Judging by my experience (I have never discussed the practice with UNP staff.), the UNP marketing staff forwards incoming reviews to authors for their interest and use. Even in an era of such things as Google Alerts, this is a tremendous help to authors. In the wake of the publication of Yuchi Ceremonial Life, copies of these reviews–neatly annotated by press staff with date and place of publication–were mailed to me as they came in. Today, via email, I got from the press a PDF copy of the Chronicle of Higher Education book note appearing in the wake of Yuchi Indian Histories Before the Removal Era. This is such a wonderful courtesy. If the new (edited) book is reviewed, I will really appreciate learning of this from the press. Even today, not all journals are richly woven into the digital infrastructure and thus the press will sometimes know of a review before I will. When I mention that UNP does this for authors, all my colleagues are jealous, as few of them have experienced such attention from the presses with which they work. This service is especially valuable to pre-tenure scholars for whom reviews are a crucial resource in route to their tenure cases.
In a time in which academic author have new choices, old courtesies like this can go a long way in maintaining strong relationships with authors.
Part Two: New Things Done the Right Way
Increasingly, university presses aim to promote awareness of their titles by making sample chapters available for free via their websites. This is an inevitable outgrowth of broader practices, such as the views inside books available on sites like Amazon. Typically university presses simply (and it is not exactly simple, of course) make this material available as a PDF download from inside the press’ website on the book’s page. This is a logical thing to do, but it is also a very temporary thing to do, as press websites (like most websites) are very unstable and ephemeral things. They are breeding grounds for link rot and they just do not measure up as preservation environments.
If a press is going to let a sample chapter loose into the digital world, it should do this in a way that advances all of the goals of scholarly communication. This means that if content is going to be freely available, it should be made freely available according to professional best practices. This means curated carefully in a digital environment with attention directed to preservation, metadata, stable URLs, etc.
Kudos and thanks, in this context, to the University of Nebraska Press for working with DigitalCommons @ University of Nebraska-Lincoln (the university’s institutional repository) to make such samples permanently and properly available (with a great cover sheet and good metadata) for the long haul.. I was happy to learn about this effort when I found the introduction to Yuchi Indian History Before the Removal Era deposited there. As such samples clearly generate sales, these practices are self-interested as well as in the interest of the public good.
In a word, thanks to everyone at the University of Nebraska Press for your work to preserve what is good about university presses while we discover new paths forward.
As noted previously here at Shreds and Patches, a paper of mine is forthcoming in the Journal of American Folklore. Today is one of those days that scholars dread: discovering–too late–the work of another scholar that deals exactly with the matters taken up in a work of their own that is now fixed in print, precluding acknowledgement of the newly discovered source. Here is the story.
Building upon an aside in my dissertation (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1997) and my book Yuchi Ceremonial Life (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), my forthcoming article (“The Story of Colonialism, or Rethinking the Ox-hide Purchase in Native North America and Beyond”) is based on a lecture composed for a conference–Colonization and Narrative Migrations: Legends of Occupation from the Mediterranean to the Americas–organized by the Center for Folklore Studies at the Ohio State University and held December 12, 2005. After being presented at the American Folklore Society meetings (October 19, 2006) and to the Department of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma (January 26, 2007), the paper was revised and submitted to the Journal of American Folklore on May 27, 2011. Following peer-review and acceptance (July 10, 2011) by the journal’s editors, a final author’s version was submitted on July 30, 2011. At this time, a projected publication date was set for early 2013. On August 5, 2011, I posted (in accord with JAF author rights policies) a open access version of the paper here on my website.
I received the copy edited manuscript on August 13, 2012 and the page proofs on November 2, 2012. On Wednesday, November 21, 2012, I recieved, in my role as editor of Museum Anthropology Review, a review copy of Andrew Newman’s On Records: Delaware Indians, Colonists, and the Media of History and Memory (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2012). On seeing this volume for the first time, I noticed that it covered much of the same territory addressed in my article. Interested in learning more about the author and his work, I then consulted his professional webpage and learned that the specific section of the book overlapping with my article was also presented in his contribution (“Closing the Circle: Mapping a Native Account of Colonial Land Fraud”) to the volume Early American Cartographies edited by Martin Brückner (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011). The University of North Carolina Press website shows this volume as having been published in December 2011 (after my paper was in press).
I regret not knowing that Andrew Newman was pursuing work on these materials and issues concurrently with me. Had I known of his work in time to do so, I would have certainly incorporated it into my final version. The case offers an interesting opportunity to consider what two scholars at work independently and contemporaneously can make of the same set of cultural materials.
Congratulations to Professor Newman (and the University of Nebraska Press) on the publication of his new book.
There has been a real posting drought lately here at Shreds and Patches. In part this is due to a hyper abundance of matters worthy of posting about. So much has been going on that there has not been time to write about it all. With this note, I want to announce just one of these current events.
This month the University of Nebraska Press has published Yuchi Indian Histories Before the Removal Era. I am the editor of this book, but the real stars are (1) the remarkable Euchee/Yuchi people whose stories the book begins to uncover and (2) the nine talented, generous scholars who joined me in this undertaking. I want to thank them, the University of Nebraska Press, and the Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians for supporting this project and for being patient with me as I pushed it slowly along to publication. I have hope that the book will be useful scholars and students and, especially, to the Euchee/Yuchi community whose interests and goals prompted us to try to put it together.
One nice thing is that the press issued the book in paperback rather than in hardback, thus the price is more modest than is often the case with scholarly books. The book is also available from Amazon in a Kindle-friendly edition. (I have not checked this out myself yet.) If the book generates any royalties, all of these will be paid by the press directly to the Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians for its use in historical and cultural preservation work.
Thanks again to all of the participants in this project.
I wish to express thanks to Ryan Anderson [@ethnografix] for his editorial work on the online magazine Anthropologies [@AnthroProject]. Specifically I would like to highlight the publication’s new issue (#12), which is thematically focused on “Occupy and Open Access.” I really appreciate Ryan’s invitation to contribute to the issue. My essay is titled “We are the One Percent: Open Access in the Era of Occupy Wall Street.” In it I try to explore the mutual resonances of the Occupy and Open Access movements.
Daniel Lende, Barbara Fister, Kim and Mike Fortun, Laurence Cuelenaere, Doug Rocks-Macqueen, Kyle Schmidlin, and Ryan are the other contributors.
The essay by Kim and Mike Fortun is based on the presentation that Kim gave at the 2011 American Anthropological Association meetings in Montreal. Focusing on how the journal Cultural Anthropology, which she and Mike previously edited, might be transitioned into gold open access status, their essay complements my presentation on green open access strategies, which was delivered on the same occasion. The original event was a session on the present status and future prospects of the publishing program of the American Anthropological Association. (For other presentations from the event, see the links here.)
In related news, consider also checking out Chris Kelty’s recent essay on “The Disappearing Virtual Library,” the video from presentations made at the “Protests, Petitions and Publishing: Widening Access to Research in 2012” event held at Columbia University last month, and Barbara Fister’s recent “Dispatches from the Library of Babel.”
Update: Daniel Lende has written a more detailed and sophisticated overview and discussion of the new Anthropologies issue. Find it at Neuroanthropology.
The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has published the textual and video versions of the 2011 Haskins Prize Lecture by Henry Glassie, College Professor of Folklore Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington. “Named for the first chairman of ACLS, the Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture has as its theme “A Life of Learning.” The lecturer is asked “to reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar and an institution builder, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, to explore through one’s own life the larger, institutional life of scholarship.”” Professor Glassie delivered his Life of Learning lecture during a meeting of the ACLS in Washington, DC on May 6, 2011. The first folklorist recognized with the Haskins Prize, Professor Glassie was preceded in the lectureship by many scholars of distinction, including William Labov, Clifford Geertz, Natalie Zemon Davis, John Hope Franklin, and Mary R. Haas.
Congratulations again to my friend, colleague, and teacher Henry Glassie on this remarkable honor.
I was just scouting out a new academic book of interest to me using Google Books. I was able to browse chapters, study the table of contents etc. The book is published by one of the largest of the university presses. It can also be browsed in Amazon.com. On a subject where audio and video is relevant, the book has a companion website hosted by the press. Information on this companion website is available in the front mater for the book. Looking at this page in the Google Books representation, I saw the URL followed by:
To accompany “TITLE OF PRINT BOOK BY MAJOR UNIVERSITY PRESS HERE”, we have created a password-protected website where readers can access the recordings linked to the chapters.”
Access with username XXXXX# and password XXXX####.
The user name and password are presented as fixed text in the book and they are visible to everyone via the Google Books version.
What factors could account for the imposition of DRM (Digital Rights Management) in such a weak, permanently affixed, and circumventable form? Did they not put the media on a straight open platform because they promised the rights holders that it would only be available to purchasers of the book? (Including library users.) Are there actual advantages to doing things this way? How reliable a preservation framework is implied by the strategy used by this (very large) university press? Does anyone expect this website to exist and work (via this username and password) ten years from now? Is this standard operating procedure and I have just not noticed it yet?
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?
In time for Open Access Week, the American Folklore Society and the Center for Folklore Studies at The Ohio State University have just made available a collection of reports and working papers derived from the Society’s project on Lay and Expert Knowledge in a Complex Society. This two-year project was funded by the Teagle Foundation as part of its “Big Questions and the Disciplines” program and focused examined undergraduate teaching of folklore in the contemporary world.
These materials are available now as volume 2 of the series Working Papers of the Center for Folklore Studies under the editorship of PIs Dorothy Noyes and Timothy Lloyd. This working paper series is made available through the OSU KnowledgeBank (the OSU institutional repository) and are harvested for search (OAI-PMH interoperability!) through the Open Folklore portal.
It has been an honor to participate in this project and I am super happy that first rate open access strategies are being used to make the work more accessible.
Many excellent graduate students with whom I have the honor of working receive only modest or no assistantship or fellowship aid. Historically, many have supported themselves in part during graduate school with government-backed student loans. This has always been a source of anxiety for me, but matters grew worse for U.S. students earlier this year when the major federal loan program changed its structure so that graduate students receiving such loans must begin paying them back immediately rather than after graduation. For students studying in the world in which I work, such a scenario is hardly possible. Even students with assistantships are just above the poverty line.
Meanwhile, more and more excellent scholarly resources ideal for the training of these students are being produced. But they are on the market at a price that no starving graduate student can afford and at which most professors would feel guilty assigning them. This reoccurring thought returned to me when I noted the publication of a very impressive looking ethnobiology textbook. It was also on my mind when I spoke last week to an editor of what promises to be the absolutely essential handbook for folklore studies. That volume will be rich beyond measure, but at 680 pages and 29 cents per page how will any of us afford to purchase it? If my library can afford it, I plan to sit and read it cover to cover in the stacks. Excellent scholars are producing excellent work, but the business model fails us, or at least our students.
A glimmer of hope came during the #AFS11 meetings. A group of folklorists have begun discussions aimed at creating an free and open access textbook for undergraduate folklore studies. One possible publication platform being discussed is connexions centered at Rice University. Hopefully folklore studies can become a leading field in the cultivation of Open Educational Resources. I cannot see how we can continue down the path that we are heading.