By E.J. Crawford
Toiling in virtual anonymity in the basement of Taylor Hall lies one of the most, productive and growing academic departments within the blanket of the University. And it has nothing to do with Management. It is the Bucknell University Press.
While most students know very little about the Press, or know that it even exists at all, it has matured into a force in American and world literature. The reputation of the press has grown every year, and currently boasts, according to University Press Director and professor Gregory Clingham "an international reputation for producing excellent 'scholarship in Hispanic and Latin American studies."
Clingham credits his predecessor, Dr. Mills F. Edgerton, for "cultivating the Hispanic side of things; so when I came along we already had quite a representation," which Clingham has then fostered during: his two-year stint as director.
Clingham served as part of a nine-member board that meets and decides on what work to publish for a number of years before replacing Edgerton.
"Bucknell is fortunate to have a vigorous, active University Press which publishes dozens of books per year," said current board member and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dan Little. "The Press has earned a good reputation in a number of fields over the past several decades, particularly in various areas of literature and literary theory. The Press has flourished under a leadership of several highly effective directors, including the current director Professor Greg Clingham in the English Department.
In addition to Latin American studies, the University Press specializes in "new scholarship and traditional scholarship in the humanities, scholarship !hat tests the boundaries," Clingham said. Such work includes interdisciplinary work "bridging the gap between the social sciences and the humanities, as Well as l8th-century studies in literature.
"The way a small press makes its mark is to be excellent in one or two things,: not to spread itself thin across disciplines, ".Clingham said in explaining why the University Press does not cover more technically scientific literature.
Despite its relative exclusivity, the University Press has continued to grow and expand, and has received more inquiries every year. The University Press now receives 400 inquiries a year. Of the 400 received, about 90 per year will be examined for possible publication. Of those, roughly 40 manuscripts will come out in finished book form.
"I have worked here for 20 years and I have seen (the Press) publish more and more books each year. The number of manuscripts considered each ear has greatly increased, as have the areas of interest greatly developed," University Press Assistant Jane Lentz said.
The process for selecting a book is a long and arduous one, as each manuscript up for consideration is sent out to expert readers in the respective field. These readers then make a recommendation to the board on whether the work is legiti- mate for publication. Finally, the nine-member board - made up of Little, Cling- ham, a number of University professors from different disciplines and Julien Yoseleff of the Association of University Presses - will vote on the manuscript. The manu- script is then either accepted, rejected or sent back to the author for additional work.
The process usually takes 18 months from the receipt of the manuscript until final publication.
"We have very high standards and the manuscript is scrutinized by numerous readers on numerous occasions, " Clingham said. "I envision our function as not just a judgmental one but as an advisory one, so that we are not just a passive entity in the process of producing a book."
Contrary to popular thought, the University Press publishes a very small amount of University professors, though it does help the professor in finding the proper press to send their respective manuscripts. The Press also deals with mostly nonfictional work, although it has begun a program to publish a number of books in conjunction with the Stadler Center for Poetry.