How the Transformations Series Invites Us to Practice Compassion — University Press Week Blog Tour

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.


About Heather Gernenz

University of Illinois Press Publicity Manager