Bucknell University Press's Annus Translatio

by Nina Forsberg, former Publishing Manager at the Press
Reprinted with permission of
The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer **

 

2009 was set to be an eventful year for the Bucknell University Press. It was the 40th anniversary of the publication of our first book, and we intended to celebrate the milestone in style. Beginning in the fall, we made a brochure, designed commemorative web features, interviewed past Press Directors, sponsored a campus workshop on scholarly publishing, hosted a formal dinner with toasts and jazz music, and invited William Germano (former vice president and publishing director at Routledge and author of two books on publishing) to deliver the talk "What Are Books Good For?" Germano's lecture focused on the major changes in publishing that presses face and left the audience with a sense of cautious optimism that the book as we know it is not going away soon. But this good long-term prognosis fell on a Press in more imminent distress from recent news of our publisher's cutbacks just weeks before. Thoughts of what to do next would occupy our minds for the next several months and moreover cause some stir in the eighteenth-century scholarly community. We are happy to announce through this piece our new arrangements and also share some developments in eighteenth-century studies at the Press.

The Bucknell University Press is a small press at Bucknell University, a private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, PA. It has since 1968 published over 1,000 titles, at a current rate of 35-40 books a year, with traditional strengths in Hispanic Studies, literary criticism, and philosophy. Since 1996 the Press has been under the directorship of eighteenth-century scholar Greg Clingham. To date, the Bucknell University Press has over 100 general publications in the eighteenth century, 51 of which are part of Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture, a major series that ran from 1996-2010. (Browse our Series pages.)

For all 42 years of the Press's existence, Associated University Presses (AUP) -- a family-run business based in Cranbury, NJ -- managed the production, distribution, and sales of Bucknell University Press books along with those of the other members of the five-press consortium (Delaware, Lehigh, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Susquehanna University Presses). AUP was founded by Thomas Yoseloff, then Director of the University of Pennsylvania Press, and then later directed by his son Julien Yoseloff. Without AUP there may never have been a press at Bucknell as it was a shared vision between Thomas Yoseloff and his friend, John Wheatcroft, later the Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry, that led to the creation of the Press in 1968. We are grateful for this long and productive relationship we have enjoyed with AUP. However, AUP will not be accepting new manuscripts from the consortium presses after June of this year. After seeing its current manuscripts through, in June 2011 Yoseloff will end AUP's relationship with the consortium presses. We had been expecting this news for some time, and Bucknell University Press for years has been contemplating how to continue publishing beyond AUP. Nonetheless, this announcement came as a surprise in the way that we are perennially shocked when fall becomes winter.

It was at this critical moment that Jim May asked me at the ASECS annual meeting to write a piece on the current happenings at the Bucknell University Press. We had at that time received the news from AUP, and Clingham for several weeks had been negotiating the future of the Press's publishing program. Bucknell is one of a very few scholarly presses that specialize in eighteenth-century scholarship, and anxieties regarding our possible closure were rife. We are indebted to the whole international network of eighteenth-century scholars -- who in reading for us, recommending manuscripts, and publishing their books with us, have helped the Press to thrive -- and we were confident that we would survive and have a future in eighteenth-century scholarship. After an extensive period of negotiation during which time we considered eleven different proposals from various companies and presses, and during which we were delighted to discover how much good will there was in the industry of scholarly publishing, we decided to join with Rowman & Littlefield. Founded in 1949, Rowman & Littlefield is a very large independent publisher of books specializing in the humanities and social sciences, as well as having a large commercial presence.

From July 2010, Bucknell University Press will enter into an arrangement with Rowman & Littlefield that will leave editorial and design decisions in our hands while we benefit from the many resources in production, promotion, and distribution that this large company has to offer. This arrangment will grant us long-term stability, a global promotional plan, representation at a variety of academic conferences, greater printing options, automatic digitalization into ebooks for all titles, an electronic back list, as well as traditional print publication in hardback and, when appropriate, in paperback. Scholars and students in eighteenth-century studies can therefore be assured that it will be business as usual at Bucknell University. When arrangements were reached, Martine W. Brownley, Goodrich C. White Professor of English at Emory University was one of several who shared our sense of relief and celebration, sending us this note: "Congratulations! All of us who work in the eighteenth century owe you a huge debt, and are so very grateful to you for all your hard work... I know few other academic [presses], probably none, who could have pulled something like this off." The outpouring of support from the eighteenth-century scholarly community has been heartening.

In addition to our regular eighteenth-century offerings, we will continue to publish books in eighteenth-century studies for the Goethe Society of North America, whose series New Studies in the "Age of Goethe" is edited by Jane Brown, Professor of Germanics and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington, and an eminent advisory board. The Press also partners with the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society -- under the guidance of Richard B. Sher, Distinguished Professor of History at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University -- to publish the series Studies in Eighteenth-Century Scotland. (Browse our Series pages.)

We are also excited to announce the creation of a new series of books in eighteenth-century scholarship. Since 1996, Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture has published 51 titles of a very wide variety. This series is now closed, and our new series Transits: Literature, Thought, and Culture 1650-1850 will aim to attract scholarship of a more comparative and global kind including transformative readings of the literary, cultural and historical interconnections between Britain, Europe, the Far and Middle East, Oceania, and the Americas in the long eighteenth century. Forthcoming titles in Transits include Figures of Memory: From the Muses to Eighteenth-Century British Aesthetics by Zsolt Komáromy, An Actor in Earnest: The Career and Influence of Thomas Sheridan, 1719-1788 by Conrad Brunström, The Self as Muse: Narcissism and Creartivity in the German Imagination, 1750-1830, edited by Alexander Math, and Horace Walpole's Letters: Masculinity and Friendship in the Eighteenth Century by George Haggerty. These titles affirm the Press's continued interest in traditional approaches while also encouraging work that explores the eighteenth century from newer transatlantic perspectives.

If you have a project that you think would fit this series, or otherwise suit the Press, please send a proposal along with a c.v. to Greg Clingham at Bucknell University Press, Taylor Hall, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA 17837 or clingham@bucknell.edu. Proposals need not be longer than 4-5 pages, and should include a Table of Contents and describe the concepts and arguments of the book while situating it in the context of other recent work in the field. If the proposal is of interest, we will ask to see the manuscript, which will then be sent out to independent readers. After reports have been gathered, the editorial board meets to make publishing decisions (4-5 times a year). Of those submissions that are accepted, most require revisions. Once a manuscript has been finalized, we will design it at Bucknell, and then it will be sent to Rowman & Littlefield for production. In this new publishing partnership with Rowman & Littlefield we hope to continue welcoming your best eighteenth-century scholarship for at least 40 more good years.

 

** Note: This article has been slightly amended to correct a factual error regarding the closure of the Association of University Presses.

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