New Voices at Amherst College Press

Introducing ACP’s Internship Program and Community Page

open books logo of Association of University Presses

Note: This blog post was written for the University Press Week 2020 Blog Tour; the year’s theme, Raise UP, “highlights the role that the university press community plays in elevating authors, subjects, and whole disciplines, bringing new perspectives, ideas, and voices to readers around the globe.”

I started as an assistant acquisitions editor at Amherst College Press in October 2019; by the time I moved into my new office/bedroom/office (it’s mostly office now) in March, I had already attended five conferences and met with over 100 scholars. It was a whirlwind introduction to the art of acquisitions and a quick transition from defending my own scholarship to asking authors about their ideas. How did they imagine their argument working as a book? Which kinds of stories were the contributors to their proposed volume telling? What might the affordances of Fulcrum, Michigan Publishing’s digital platform, mean to their project? I found the collaborative nature of these conversations hugely satisfying, especially after my lonely slog through the final years of a doctoral program.

Publishing, so the truism goes, is a relationship business. Making books relies on an intricate series of collaborations with interdependent networks of humans, technologies, and institutions. For a relatively new press, for an open-access press, and for a press based in a liberal arts institution, seeking new collaborators--new authors but also new infrastructures, reading communities, and stakeholders--is central to our work. In many ways, I’ve come to see my role as an acquisitions editor at ACP as about cultivating all these relationships, particularly with students at Amherst College.

In January 2020 we officially hired our first undergraduate intern; in summer 2020 we were able to hire an undergrad through Amherst College’s Gregory S. Call internship program; and this fall we’ve welcomed two undergrads to our team. For many presses, student assistants perform vital, if often unsung, labor. At ACP, we’re trying to think about our internship program as a way to build pipelines to the world of scholarly communications, particularly for those historically underrepresented in publishing, which means introducing our interns to university press workflows, topics, and debates. To be sure, our interns have taken on typical tasks (cold emailing review journals; proofreading jacket and catalog copy), but they’ve also started our Instagram, contributed insights on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion to conversations around our peer review questionnaire and DEI statement, and helped us think creatively about how to build meaningful connections to the Amherst College campus and beyond.

When we launched our new website, then, it was clear that we needed a place to highlight this work. On the Community Page you can find resources created by our interns. We see this as an evolving space for interns to explore the publishing industry and forge connections across the disparate audiences that open-access books seek to reach. For example, our spring intern, Jaclyn Chetty (‘20), followed the Internet Archive’s “National Emergency Library.” Jaclyn’s post--written in the midst of college shut-downs and stay-at-home-orders and as the Internet Archive faced legal action--captures the arguments for and against the Library as a controversial instance of “open access.” Check out Jaclyn’s post on “Bootleg Beowulf and Pirated Proust.”

As part of her summer internship, Joy Won (‘23) wrote a series of blog posts about ACP and what open access scholarship means to undergraduates. According to Joy: “The ACP embodies our school motto Terras Irradient or ‘Let them give light to the world’ as is seen by the work and objectives the press upholds and stands for.” Joy went on to note, that “while a scholarly book is typically written by a single author, I’ve learned that each title is actually the product of many people… Open access is a community effort to produce and uphold scholarly works with education and free access to valuable literature to anyone and everyone being the major ambitions behind OA publishing.” You can read all Joy’s posts on our Community Page--she also delved into the mysterious history of publishing at Amherst College and caught up with ACP authors James R. Martel and the duo behind our forthcoming title on the digital storytelling tool Twine, Anastasia Salter and Stuart Moulthrop.

Our current interns, Sydney Ireland (‘23) and Angel Musyimi (‘23), are at work on a post about a recent talk between ACP authors Martel and Carlos Alberto Sánchez hosted by the Center for Humanistic Inquiry here at Amherst College. They are also creating book lists that highlight titles from other university presses on issues of particular interest to undergraduates and thinking about ways to introduce students and community members to our titles through reading guides and other resources.

l hope you’ll continue to check back in with ACP’s Community Page to read more of our interns’ amazing work. And be sure to explore other university presses featuring new voices today: University of Illinois Press, Georgetown University Press, Duke University Press, University of Wisconsin Press, Wilfrid Laurier Press, University of Toronto Press, University of Missouri Press, Bucknell University Press, and University of Manitoba Press.

Hannah Brooks-Motl

Assistant Acquisitions Editor, Amherst College Press & Lever Press

BIO: I acquire widely for ACP, with particular focus on our art history and visual studies, literary studies, and Slavic (REEES) studies lists. I’m especially interested in acquiring manuscripts that bring together unexpected archives, objects, institutions, regions, and histories in engaging and accessible ways. Recently, I’ve been excited by work being done in Black studies, digital and games studies, poetry and poetics, queer studies, translation studies, and space studies broadly conceived. I’m mindful that OA books potentially reach global audiences, and I’m eager to help bring books into the world that interest and engage the widest possible readership.

I earned a PhD from the University of Chicago, where I was the poetry editor of the Chicago Review and worked as a student assistant at the University of Chicago Press. I’ve had creative and scholarly work published in venues such as the Cambridge Literary Review, Modernism/modernity, the New Republic, and Tupelo Quarterly; with Stephanie Burt, I helped edit Randall Jarrell on WH Auden (Columbia, 2005), and my essays appear in edited collections from Cambridge and Wesleyan University Press. I’m also the author of three collections of poetry, all published by small presses: The New Years (Rescue Press, 2014), M (Song Cave, 2015), and Earth (Song Cave, 2019), which was a Poetry Foundation staff pick for 2019.