The University of Illinois is pleased to announce that Island Gospel: Pentecostal Music and Identity in Jamaica and the United States by Melvin L. Butler has been selected as one of the two first recipients of a grant from the Bruno Nettl Endowment for Ethnomusicology. This internal fund helps ensure the publication of diverse research in musicology and honors internationally renowned musicologist Bruno Nettl, professor emeritus of musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and co-founder of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Island Gospel, the first book-length manuscript to explore expressions of Pentecostal Christianity in Jamaica and its diaspora from a music-centered perspective, exemplifies the spirit of the endowment.


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This post is part of the University Press Week blog tour. Today’s theme is How to Practice Compassion. Learn more about University Press Week here and look for other posts in the blog tour today from University of Washington Press, Columbia University Press, Penn State University Press, University of South Carolina Press, University of Nebraska PressBucknell University Press, Beacon Press, and University of Toronto Press. Follow the conversation at #ReadUP and tell the world how university press publications inspire you to Read. Think. and Act. 

How the Transformations Series Invites Us

to Practice Compassion

In 2017, we started the Transformations: Womanist, Feminist, and Indigenous Studies series with Becky Thompson’s book, Teaching with Tenderness: Toward an Embodied Practice. This year, we’re thrilled to see the development and growth of the series with Richa Nagar’s Hungry Translations, Suzanne Bost’s Shared Selves, and Gary L. Lemons’s Building Womanist Coalitions.

When Transformations first started, series editor AnaLouise Keating, a professor of women’s studies at Texas Woman’s University, envisioned a series that would showcase the transformative contributions women-of-color scholarship can make in dialogue with mainstream academic disciplines and theories. She wrote that her goal for Transformations was to provide “opportunities for authors to take risks in their work: to build on but move beyond disciplinary- or interdisciplinary-specific rules and, through these risks, to invent new (transdisciplinary) perspectives and methods.” Scholarship published in the series is highly readable and practical while remaining intellectually sophisticated and in conversation with recent developments in the field. Senior acquisitions editor Dawn Durante reflected, “When AnaLouise and I began developing the Transformations series, we were dedicated to creating a publishing home for work that was radically committed to postoppositional, transdisciplinary, and transformative approaches to knowledge production and social justice.”

The series has a womanist/feminist focus that extends beyond women and gender to develop radically inclusive approaches to social change; creates transformative, transdisciplinary dialogues between the humanities and the social sciences, with the goal of producing new knowledge; develops alternatives to conventional forms of theorizing and academic scholarship, which generally rely on oppositional frameworks; promotes theory that is highly readable and practical while intellectually sophisticated and conversant with recent developments; and invites authors to take new risks (thematically, theoretically, methodologically, stylistically) in their work. With the stated aim of moving beyond an exclusive focus on feminist theory to include womanist and indigenous theorizing, this series is at the forefront of the interdisciplinary and diverse trajectory of women’s studies and related fields.

We invite you to explore these books during University Press week and beyond and take their lessons on practicing compassion, and view for radically inclusive approaches to social change out into the world with you. Read. Think. Act!

Books in the series include: 

Hungry Translations: Relearning the World Through Radical Vulnerability

By Richa Nagar

In Hungry Translations, activist-scholar Richa Nagar reflects on 20 years of experience in India and the US and her collaborations with activists, theatre artists, writers and students to explore how alliances between those in different power hierarchies are built. The result is a new theoretical framework for producing knowledge about the poor, hungry, rural, or precarious and a roadmap for how alliances between those in different hierarchies can engage with difference in a way that refuses transparent meaning and closure. Written in an experimental style that retells and engages in stories using poems, play, song, scenes and traditional academic theorizing, Hungry Translations strives to make our knowledges more humble, more tentative, and more alive to the creativity of struggle.

Building Womanist Coalitions: Writing and Teaching in the Spirit of Love

Edited by Gary L. Lemons

In Building Womanist Coalitions, Gary L. Lemons gathers a diverse group of writers to discuss their scholarly and personal experiences with the womanist spirit of women of color feminisms. Feminist and womanist-identified educators, students, performers, and poets model the powerful ways that crossing borders of race, gender, class, sexuality, and nation-state affiliation(s) expands one’s existence. At the same time, they bear witness to how the self-liberating theory and practice of women of color feminism changes one’s life. Throughout, the essayists come together to promote an unwavering vein of activist comradeship capable of building political alliances dedicated to liberty and social justice.

Shared Selves: Latinix Memoir and Ethical Alternatives to Humanism

By Suzanne Bost

Suzanne Bost draws on feminist and posthumanist ideas to explore how three contemporary memoirists decenter the self. Latinx writers John Rechy, Aurora Levins Morales, and Gloria E. Anzaldúa work in places where personal history intertwines with communities, environments, animals, plants, and spirits. As Bost argues, our view of life itself expands if we look at how such frameworks interact with queer theory, disability studies, ecological thinking, and other fields. These webs of relation in turn mediate experience, agency, and life itself.  A transformative application of posthumanist ideas to Latinx, feminist, and literary studies, Shared Selves shows how memoir can encourage readers to think more broadly and deeply about what counts as human life.

Teaching with Tenderness: Toward an Embodied Practice

By Becky Thompson

Teaching with Tenderness follows in the tradition of bell hooks’s Teaching to Transgress and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, inviting us to draw upon contemplative practices (yoga, meditation, free writing, mindfulness, ritual) to keep our hearts open as we reckon with multiple injustices. Teaching with tenderness makes room for emotion, offers a witness for experiences people have buried, welcomes silence, breath and movement, and sees justice as key to our survival. It allows us to rethink our relationship to grading, office hours, desks, and faculty meetings, sees paradox as a constant companion, moves us beyond binaries; and praises self and community care.

Join us at NWSA on November 15 at 3:30pm to celebrate Suzanne Bost’s new book in the series along with books by other UIP authors and the incoming editor of Women, Gender, and Families of Color, Ayesha Hardison.


Giveaway alert! We’re offering a free ebook of OCTAVIA E. BUTLER by Gerry Canavan during November. Butler’s experiences as an African American woman in the world of white male-dominated science fiction writing informed her career as a science fiction author. Canavan tracks the false starts, abandoned drafts, tireless rewrites, and real-life obstacles that fed Butler’s frustrations and launched her triumphs. The result is a study of how this essential science fiction figure shaped themes, unconventional ideas, and an unflagging creative urge into brilliant works of fiction. Sign up here to learn more. Offer ends at the end of the month, so don’t miss out!

We are pleased to announce that In Search of Belonging: Latinas, Media, and Citizenship by Jillian M. Báez has won the Bonnie Ritter Outstanding Feminist Book Award from the Feminist & Women Studies Division of the National Communication Association.

The award will be given at the Women’s Caucus Awards Reception at NCA in Baltimore on Friday, November 15, 2019.

Congratulations Jillian!


We are pleased to announce that Mascot Nation: The Controversy over Native American Representations in Sports by Andrew C. Billings and Jason Edward Black has won the Best Book Award from the American Studies Division of the National Communication Association.

The award will be given at the American Studies Business meeting at NCA on Friday, November 15, 2019.

Congratulations Andrew and Jason!



The human rights struggle for Palestinians has been ongoing for decades, and understanding the conflict and its implications can be complex. Palestine on the Air, the
newest volume in the Common Threads series, brings forward individual stories and experiences to illuminate this global conflict. Through the use of interviews conducted by Karma R. Chavez at WORT public radio station at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Palestine on the Air highlights the voices of journalists, activists, and scholars who are deeply invested in sharing what has long been an underrepresented perspective.

The author’s longstanding commitments to social and immigrant justice, particularly on the U.S.-Mexico border, are what brought Chavez’s attention to the Palestinian struggle. With many activist groups finding common ground and solidarity with the plight of other marginalized communities worldwide, Chavez notes that coalitions with transnational focus can better position those groups to resist state violence.

For Chavez, the unique perspectives shared by activist groups experiencing similar
struggles made clear the need for the conversations to better understand the struggle to
add to the growing body of scholarship on Palestine. Though Palestine is a controversial topic, she notes, “this book was a passion project for me, a way to make good on my commitments to Palestinian friends, to producing public scholarship, and to tackling tough issues even when it’s not popular”

The relationships formed between activists addressing different struggles worldwide and
firsthand access to their accounts helped give this work a route to publication. Journal of
Civil and Human Rights editor Michael Ezra, says “the reason we are publishing
Palestine on the Air is to give people a meaningful, accessible, and brief study of important issues related to the Palestinian people over the last twenty years. Readers without much knowledge of Israel/Palestine will find the text to be plentiful but digestible. Those with a deep understanding of the subject will still discover an assortment of new perspectives and firsthand testimony not found anywhere else.”

Contributors include Michael Ezra, Karma R. Chávez, Haitham Salawdeh, Ghadir Shafie, Johayna Saifi, Charlotte Silver, David Lloyd, Katherine Franke, Sarah Roberts, Steven Salaita, Nora Barrows-Friedman, Sarah Schulman, and Jeff Halper.

Palestine on the Air is a supplement to the Journal of Civil and Human Rights and
supports the mission of the journal by addressing a global human rights struggle that
has inextricable ties to U.S. foreign policy and with which many U.S. based civil and
human rights groups find solidarity. It is currently available in print and will be available
open access on JSTOR November 1st.


The University of Illinois Press is pleased to announce that Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Breakdown: The Making of an American Classic by Tommy Goldsmith has been selected as a grant recipient of the Judith McCulloh Endowment for American Music. This endowed internal Press fund created in 2017 honors the legacy of Judith McCulloh, long-time University of Illinois Press editor. Judy’s academic passions and keen eye as an editor put Illinois on the map as the leading publisher in the field with the cornerstone series Music in American Life. Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Breakdown, which explores the origins and influence of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” against the backdrop of Scruggs’s legendary career, exemplifies the spirit of this Fund.


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Sonja Lynn Downing is an an associate professor of ethnomusicology at Lawrence University. She recently answered some questions about her book, Gamelan Girls: Gender, Childhood, and Politics in Balinese Music Ensembles.

Q: Why did you decide to write this book?

I wanted to highlight the groundbreaking work girls and their music teachers are doing in Bali by expanding notions of who is allowed and encouraged to learn and play in the realm of music performance. I wanted to try to do them justice by telling their stories to a readership beyond the island of Bali.

Q: Who were your biggest influences?

Ellen Koskoff, for sure. The second time I went to Bali, I took her introduction to Women and Music in Cross-Cultural Perspective and devoured it as well as other chapters from that book. They helped me to put into words the unsettled and nagging thoughts and questions I had about the intersections and contradictions between gender and gamelan performance in Bali. I was deeply inspired by Deborah Wong’s ability to articulate the power and importance of women playing a percussive, loud, and kinesthetically intense form of music. Julia Suryakusuma’s writing also opened my eyes to the historical injustices women have faced in Indonesia, especially through the 20th century.

Q: What is the most interesting discovery you made while researching and writing your book?

That contradictions abound! For example, I had written up what I had been hearing of the history of women’s and girls’ gamelan ensembles in Bali. Many people (in and outside of Bali) were attributing the development of girls’ and especially women’s gamelans largely to government impetus, international influence, and media. Then a year later, I found out about a girls’ gamelan group on a tiny island just off the coast that had been doing the same sort of thing years earlier and without much of any of those factors. It blew apart the logic that many people, including myself, had come to assume as true.

Q: What myths do you hope your book will dispel or what do you hope your book will help readers unlearn?

That children need excessively simplistic music in order to learn and participate musically at a young age.

That children are passive and are not important contributors to their societies.

That girls and women do not matter in artistic, cultural, or political change.

Q: What is the most important idea you hope readers will take away from your book?

I hope that readers will see the value in the work (and play!) that girls and young women are doing in the realm of instrumental music in Bali, especially given the history of political suppression of powerful women, and the current obstacles and challenges female musicians face. I also hope readers will see that listening to people is crucial to understanding their lives and that ethnography is such an important method for learning about the world in which we live.

Q: What do you like to read/watch/or listen to for fun? 

Right now I am really interested in sci-fi written by and/or featuring women and/or people of color. I love learning about experiences beyond my own, as well as imaging other worlds. Along these lines, the series Dark Matter is one of my current favorites. I also enjoy the series Pine Gap and especially for unwinding, The Good Place. Meanwhile, I can’t wait for my daughter to become interested in the Harry Potter books, but it hasn’t happened quite yet.

Cover for TRUZZI: Syrian and Lebanese Patricios in Sao Paulo: From the Levant to Brazil. Click for larger imageWe are pleased to announce that Syrian and Lebanese Patrícios in São Paulo: From the Levant to Brazil by Oswaldo Truzzi and translated by Ramon J. Stern has won the Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award from the Arab American National Museum. The Arab American Book Awards is a literary program created to honor books written by and about Arab Americans in order to generate greater awareness of Arab American scholarship.

Congrats, Oswaldo and Ramon!


The University of Illinois Press is pleased to announce that Blues Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Chicago by David Whiteis with photos by Peter M. Hurley has been selected as a grant recipient of the Judith McCulloh Endowment for American Music. This endowed internal Press fund created in 2017 honors the legacy of Judith McCulloh, long-time University of Illinois Press editor. Judy’s academic passions and keen eye as an editor put Illinois on the map as the leading publisher in the field with the cornerstone series Music in American Life. Blues Legacy, which places the Chicago blues artists within the ongoing social and cultural reality their work reflects and helps create, exemplifies the spirit of this Fund.

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