Murray Phillips, editor
Shaunna Scott, editor
Neal Pease, editor
Gayle Murchison, editor
Named 2012's 'Best New Journal' by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals
John J. Bukowczyk, editor
Ellen Koskoff, editor
Susan Brantly, editor
Stephen Tropiano, editor
Mark Hubbard, editor
Ann K. Ferrell, editor-in-chief, Erika Brady, co-editor
From Feminist Teacher: Inclusive Language at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
The pen is mightier than the sword. Albeit cliché, the oft used phrase is not incorrect. The written and spoken word is a powerful tool. Manipulating words can yield any number of results; many major historical events begun with an oratorical catalyst. Sometimes, however, word choice is so ubiquitous and habitual that it can be hard to see when it’s also discriminatory, exclusive, or marginalizing.
This was a problem that a group of professors and students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire wanted to confront. Theresa Kemp, a professor and director of women’s studies was approached by a member of her campus’s Commission on the Status of Women; her title was "chairman". Kemp took on assembling a group to investigate the issue further, and also figure out some ways of changing their universities language to be more inclusive. The group was comprised of Kemp, Angela Pirlott, an assistant professor in psychology, and Erica Benson, an associate professor of linguistics; undergraduate students Casey Coughlin, Meghann McKinnon, and Quinn Forss; and Laura Becherer, a graduate student in English. They found that much of the language used in institutional literature at their university was unnecessarily gendered, especially in regards to professional positions, ex. Chairman.
This project was featured in Feminist Teacher, issue 23.3,and had several goals. One of which was to implement guidelines that would make the language of institutional documents more inclusive. They began the process by scouring university literature for examples of unnecessarily gendered and sexist language (distinguishing between the two, noting when gendered language is appropriate) and comparing the current language policy against other colleges (two-year, four-year, and other state institutions). They proceeded to create a survey that would be distributed to students and faculty, which asked them to rate their comfort/discomfort of gendered and sexist words. Once they received the results of the survey, they drafted and distributed language suggestions to make university documents, including syllabi and promotional literature, more inclusive.
I asked Theresa how successful the implementation has been. Change, especially at universities takes time, although she says she has been pleasantly surprised. Since the policy was started, two years ago, she says that "advising materials and departmental/program home pages seem to be in pretty good shape. These are pages with a lot of traffic and use, so that seems like an especially "good thing". The language policy has been included in the email that the deans from various departments send at the beginning of each semester reminding instructors about required language inclusions like misconduct, plagiarism, and disability accommodations, so it has relatively good visibility. Kemp does note that she doesn’t have an easy way to determine how widely the language policy has been implemented, though, and there is still a lot of work to do.
Even though the policy seems to have been well accepted, there are words that are so ingrained in university language that their removal or change will continue to present problems. The word "freshman/men", for example, is used nationally and internationally to denote a first year student. Given its ubiquity, changing it will be quite a challenge. Kemp also notes that there wasn't a lot of resistance amongst those who did adopt the language suggestions, however, she did reference that they encountered "strong expressions of sexism, misogyny, heterocentrism, and homophobia"in the responses to the survey they sent out, although she hasn't seen it face-to-face.
You can read about the project on Project MUSE, here, and JSTOR, here. It's a great read and an interesting look into the problematic nature of some of the words that are institutionally ingrained and supported. However, the article is also helpful and hopeful; it illustrates that our language is evolving in a more positive and inclusive direction.
Some Friday Fun: Remembering the First Issue of the Journal of Aesthetic Education.
The inaugural issue of JAE was published in the spring of 1966. In it, an article that discussed the government initiatives to beautify America, for which its author Thomas Munro largely credited “Lady Bird” Johnson. After the article, "'Beautification’ Reconsidered", was published, Bess Abell, the First Lady’s Social Secretary, contacted the Press in thanks.The letter from July 8, 1966, reads:
Dear Professor Smith:
Mrs. Johnson asked me to thank you for giving her the opportunity to see your new magazine and especially for pointing out the article "’Beautification’ Reconsidered."
With gratitude and best wishes,
We thought this was a neat artifact from the University of Illinois Press’s history and we’re glad to be able to share it!
Global Health Impact: A New Tool for Looking at Need, Access, and Efficacy
The Global Health Impact Index (GHI), a new tool for assessing the accessibility of essential medications for the world’s poorest populations, was launched on January 23, 2015 at the World Health Organization Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Its creator, Nicole Hassoun, developed it to make vital information available that she believed was absent from the appraisal of pharmaceutical companies’ drugs. Hassoun, concerned with the obstacles so many people face when trying to access life-saving medications (specifically for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS), looked into the various ways of combating these obstacles. In her own words, she "realized that no one was going to do it for me", and thus worked to receive grant funding and data to help drive the index’s rankings.
It seems like a tall order. Pharmaceutical companies, like any other company, need to make money. As there is very little money in treating and preventing the three diseases about which the GHI focuses, Hassoun hopes that the index will guide global health policy as well as the decisions made by pharmaceutical companies by creating incentives for positive change. One of these incentives, plays directly back into the industry’s interests by creating a metric to increase competition.
In addition to creating competition amongst pharmaceutical companies, the index also helps give us a more nuanced picture of what poor access to the medications looks like and the positive impact the drugs have when they are accessible.
The index has been profiled in various news outlets, including NPR’s Marketplace Morning and the Wall Street Journal. An article about the Global Health Impact Index was also published in the July 2014 issue of Public Affairs Quarterly, which you can read here. You can also visit GHI’s website.
An Editor’s Perspective: A Discussion with Jennifer Hamer, Editor of Women, Gender, and Families of Color (WGFC).
UIP: The last issue of Women, Gender, and Families of Color had a common theme that tied all the articles together: disability. Of course, inclusion in the journal implies thematic connections. Do you ever look for closer, more nuanced relationships when curating the issues?
Jennifer: I am especially proud of the issue on disabilities. It was a considerable project and its success was due to a significant and collaborative effort between our editorial team and guest editors, Sandra Magana and Liat Ben-Moshe. The journal staff shared their enthusiasm for this special issue, as well. The necessity for this issue was clear; it tells us that there is so much more to learn about the intersections for multiple identities, particularly in regards to race, gender, and disability. The scholars who are leading this line of research are passionate about it and their scholarship introduces us the humanity and inhumanity of these intersections. These researchers deserve and have earned a forum that appreciates the meaning of their work; their work is not only important to the academy, but for everyone.
You can access the issue on Project MUSE or JSTOR.
UIP: Given the social/political climate in the United States regarding race relations, much of what is published in WGFC is pretty topical. This journal is fairly unique in that way; there is a lot of general interest and visibility for the content. Do you feel WGFC’s position in our nation’s dialogue about race is an added responsibility in your role as its editor?
J: WGFC has a responsibility to produce scholarship that contributes to correcting interpretations of the past in addition to serving as a venue for forward thinking and progressive action around social, political, economic, and cultural issues of today. In reference to your first question, because the general focus of WGFC is to emphasize women, gender, families, and communities of color, there is little need to seek out more nuanced relationships. However, I do think it is important that we note the differences and similarities of experiences of the racialized populations, especially in regards to equality and justice. Each published article is about a part of history or part of a policy, or a part of living, which together build a holistic understanding and framework. I use the “From the Editor” portion of the journal to link these parts.
Overall, the journal is about privileging traditionally marginalized and racialized groups and communities. It’s also about encouraging scholars to accept the journal as an opportunity for them to think creatively and boldly about how we theorize and analyze these individual and collective histories and contemporary conditions. For me, the journal is an intellectual contribution to the most critical question of the 21st century — how do we, in the United States and as a global society, intend to manage inequality and maintain our humanity? Our authors demand that we consider this because their work often centers upon those for whom the answer may matter the most.
UIP: It sounds like there are some pretty important purposes that the journal also serves?
J: Those who choose an academic life are not protected from, nor are they above the issues of race, gender, and sexuality that are challenges for society outside the academy. This journal is about supporting equality within academic spaces; it invites contributions from all scholars and publishes their work irrespective of professional statuses and networks.
Some might argue that all journals do this, and although I don’t know that I would disagree, I think WGFC actively considers how the editorial process impacts the professional careers of authors. Promotion and tenure require a well-developed portfolio that rests, primarily, on scholarly publications. Research tells us that women and women of color are disproportionately subject to challenges in gaining promotions. They are subject to persistent racial/ethnic and gender microaggressions that define interactions, access to information and support networks, workplace environments, and retention. In addition, promotion and tenure decisions rest on the quantity, and sometimes subjective quality of published work. Achieving the requirements can be especially difficult if one’s subject matter is not considered important or critical to their respective peers and/or disciplines
Many of our authors, though not all, are part of groups that are often “presumed incompetent” within academic institutions (see Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia, Edited by Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, Yolanda Flores Niemann, Carmen G. Gonzalez, and Angela P. Harris, University of Colorado Press, 2012). As an editor, I strive for a very quick review process and try my best to offer encouragement and support, even when we must reject a manuscript. We are generally willing to work with authors, sometimes through several revisions and resubmissions, if the quality of the manuscript warrants it and the authors have the patience to produce what is required.
UIP: Finally (and a little off-topic) are there any authors or books that have informed you in your career that you keep coming back to?
J: That’s a tough question! There are many books that I have had the opportunity to read and incorporate into my own work, especially my understanding of black families in the United States, which is my primary area of study. There is no one or two works of scholarship that I can point to, as I think we must have a holistic and interdisciplinary mindset to understand the experiences of families of color and families in general. For example, it is impossible to explain the racial tensions in Ferguson, MO without consideration of historical, political, economic, social, and cultural trends and circumstances. So the following are cross-disciplinary; they have guided and supported my approach to understanding families of color.
The Negro Family by E. Franklin Frazier, Philadelphia Negro by W.E.B. DuBois, Black Metropolis by Drake and Clayton, All Our Kin by Carol Stack, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow by Jaqueline Jones, Shattered Bonds by Linda Roberts, Aren’t I a Woman by Deborah Gray White, Black Picket Fences by Mary Patillo McCoy, Black Wealth/White Wealth by Oliver and Shapiro, Black Milwaukee by Joe Trotter, and works by Robert Billingsley, Robert B. Hill, and Robert Staples. I also like some fictional work by Barbara Neely, her series on Blanche is a favorite.
Bustin’ Loose with Richard Pryor and Cicely Tyson is one of my favorite movies. I used to work in Child Protective Services, so I am particularly sensitive to the plight of children. In this movie, two individuals give everything that they have to create a better life for a diverse group of “throw-away” children, a group for which society has no interest or hope. It is comedic and has a happy ending, however, which encourages us to believe that, in the end, people will find their humanity and build a better place for all.
Some background: More on Emily Abrams Ansari’s article, "Vindication, Cleansing, Catharsis, Hope": Interracial Reconciliation and the Dilemmas of Multiculturalism in Kay and Dorr’s Jubilee (1976)".
Given the recognition that Professor Ansari received with her article in the Winter 2013 issue of American Music, we reached out to her to find out more about her interest in Ulysses Kay and Jubilee.
Ansari said her primary interest in this opera began during her PhD research after becoming interested in its composer, Ulysses Kay. She stayed with Kay’s daughters to read and help organize his papers, which were later donated to Columbia University. While there, she learned much about Jubilee and became fascinated with it.
The opera, written in conjunction with the U.S. Bicentennial (1976), is about slavery and was performed in one of the most violent epicenters of the civil rights movement, Jackson, Mississippi. In Ansari’s article, she discusses that some projects focused around the Bicentennial faced opposition. Given their celebratory nature; too many omitted a dialogue about all of our nation’s history. The inclusion and promotion of work that included African-American history in our country’s historic dialogue lead to the production of Jubilee.
After reading Ansari’s article, I found myself very much impressed by the courage of Kay and his librettist, Donald Dorr. The conversation Kay and Dorr insisted on having was of incredible importance in an environment where racial relations were fragile at best. Ansari "wondered how on earth an audience of Southern opera-goers, who had so recently witnessed race-related murders and shootings in their city, [would respond] to an opera that included an on-stage lynching." Ansari believes that Jubilee is still relevant and important, despite having been performed only twice and, thus, not getting the attention it needed to truly launch a discussion about racial relations in the United States.
Jubilee is needed today, Ansari suggests, given the racial tension in a country that frequently calls itself "post-racial". She says there is much to be done in both the U.S. and Canada to help pick up the pieces of racial relations and believes that "art is an important and useful mechanism through which to do this--something Dorr and Kay astutely recognized. When we hear singers sing about their suffering under slavery, or watch actors portray a white man beating or murdering his black slaves, we are obliged to contemplate the darker parts of our nation's history. In a time when national histories are predominantly celebratory, honesty and realism in examining the past is particularly vital, if we are to better relations between racial and ethnic groups in the future."
About her article, Ansari was particularly honored to receive the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award because it is given not by scholars or peers, but by performers, composers, and publishers. She adds "It is most encouraging to feel that those who create and perform music today find an academic piece sufficiently engaging and significant to warrant a prize, especially when the opera that the article is about is little known today." If you would like to read Ansari’s article, which I recommend, you can access it for free on JSTOR until February 15, or on Project MUSE.
Emily Abrams Ansari wins ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award
The University of Illinois Press wishes to congratulate Emily Abrams Ansari, a recipient of the 46th annual ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award. Her award winning article, "Vindication, Cleansing, Catharsis, Hope": Interracial Reconciliation and the Dilemmas of Multiculturalism in Kay and Dorr’s Jubilee (1976), was published in the University of Illinois Press’s own American Music, Vol. 31:4 (Winter 2013).
The Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson awards, established by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1967, commemorates the late composer, critic, commentator, and president of ASCAP, Deems Taylor. Virgil Thomas was added this year to the award’s title to honor his service to ASCAP as a member of its board of directors and his contribution to American music as both a composer and critic.
We are proud to publish the work of outstanding scholars like Professor Ansari and look forward to many more significant accomplishments from her.
Professor Ansari was honored at a ceremony for the Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomas award winners at the New York Institute of Technology Auditorium in Manhattan, New York on November 12. Ulysses Kay's daughter, Virginia, accepted the award on Ansari's behalf.
American Music is the first journal that was devoted exclusively to American music and the wide-ranging scope implied by its title. Articles cover a rich array of composers, performers, publishers, institutions, performing traditions, and events. The journal also includes reviews of books, recordings, films, websites, and concerts.
The Press Welcomes the Journal of Sport History
The University of Illinois Press will be welcoming the Journal of Sport History to its roster in 2015! We will be publishing the Journal on behalf of the North American Society for Sport History. From NASSH.org, "The Journal of Sport History seeks to promote the study of all aspects of the history of sport."
The Journal is currently edited by Alison M. Wrynn at California State University, Long Beach.
This Journal is a wonderful complement to the Press's growing book list in sport history and we are thrilled to be welcoming them! Check back with us soon, as we will continue to add new information about this exciting title as it becomes available.
Journals Department adds Marketing Manager
The University of Illinois Presss is pleased to announce that Alexa Colella has joined the press as the visiting marketing manager for scholarly journals. Her responsibilities will include creating marketing strategies, content, advertising, and social media for the journals division of the press. She comes to us from Purdue University's Center for Food and Agricultural Business where she served as their marketing coordinator. She began work with us on November 10, 2014.
"Alexa's experience and knowledge already make her an important addition to our staff," said Clydette Wantland, Journals Manager. "Her appointment will be key in helping the Journals Department take advantage of opportunities for new product development as well as working with our valued Society clients to promote their work. We were fortunate to find someone of Alexa's caliber to fulfill this role."
Colella holds a bachelor's degree from St. Lawrence University and a master's from Purdue University. In her previous role, Colella was responsible for the management and analyzing of data, using it to drive the center's marketing strategy. She also managed the production of course materials and helped to develop and create content. She looks forward to her now role at the University of Illinois Press, Journals Department.
Started in 1918, this founding member of the Association of American University Presses currently publishes more than 100 books and 30+ scholarly journals each year in an array of subjects including American history, labor history, sports history, folklore, food, film, American music, American religion, African American studies, women’s studies, and, of course, Abraham Lincoln.