Spring 2020 Newsletter

April 9th, 2020

Updates from Amherst College Press

The world has changed a lot in the last few weeks; our daily lives are very different than six weeks ago. We moved to remote working conditions at Amherst College early in March. We’re thankful for the health of our colleagues in the library and on campus, our student assistants, and our community.

We are thinking of faculty and students as they negotiate new forms of learning; of library workers adjusting to radically different modes of communication; of the staff at colleges and universities continuing to report to work to keep vital operations going; of our colleagues at university presses as they move their processes online for the foreseeable future.

Above all, we are thinking of those facing uncertainty about their health and the health of their loved ones and neighbors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As institutions of higher education face new challenges, we’ve been heartened by the response from many in the world of scholarly publishing: journals and databases have removed paywalls and other barriers to access. Some university presses have made e-books available to faculty and students. Experiments in virtual conferences, book launches, readings, and talks have proliferated. Knowledge production continues to happen, scholarship continues to circulate, and open access platforms and presses are proving vital.

As an open access, digital-first press we are proud of the efforts being taken to advance equity to resources right now. Our ebooks are available to everyone at no cost to readers, authors, or their institutions--and always have been. Our entire catalogue is now hosted by Fulcrum, the publishing platform built and maintained by Michigan Publishing Services, which has been developed with an eye toward long-term digital sustainability and durability.

Open access scholarship is more important than ever. We will continue to acquire and publish books that are accessible, innovative, and transformative.

In fact, we’ve been busy over the last months. In October, Press Director Beth Bouloukos was joined by new assistant acquisitions editor, Hannah Brooks-Motl. Hannah and Beth have been attending conferences and reaching out to scholars to develop lists in Art History and Visual Studies, Literary Studies, Law and Culture, and Slavic Studies.

Three ACP titles have gone into production since January: editor Sergey Glebov’s Russian Travelogues series will have its first title, A Journey to Inner Africa, by Egor Petrovich Kovalevsky, translated by Anna Aslanyan, in 2020. Appearing for the first time in English translation, Kovalevsky’s travelogue is both a primary document of imperial Russia and a lucid account of nineteenth-century cultural contact.

A Sense of Brutality: Philosophy After Narco-Culture, by Carlos Alberto Sánchez, will also appear in 2020. Contemporary popular culture is riddled with references to Mexican drug cartels,narcos, and drug trafficking--and to the extreme violence associated with these groups. For Sánchez, Mexican narco-culture is a point of departure for thinking about the nature and limits of violence, culture, and personhood.

Finally, we’ve been in the Amherst College Library archives with our colleagues in Digital Programs getting extremely high-resolution photos of Emily Dickinson’s Master Letters ready for our winter 2021 release, Writing in Time: Emily Dickinson’s Master Hours by Marta Werner. A stunning new edition of Emily Dickinson’s most intimate and mysterious works, Writing in Time is an innovative act of editorial investigation and will be a major event in Dickinson scholarship.

Editor and photographer look at Emily Dickinson archival materials

We’ve also been working with Amherst’s Center for Russian Culture and the Center for Humanistic Inquiry, as well as the University of Massachusetts Press, to develop programming to highlight Press activities and collaborations. When it is prudent to gather again, we will.

Our Amherst College student assistants, Álex Santos and Jaclyn Chetty, have proved invaluable in helping to design promotional materials and work on special projects. We are hoping to hire another student assistant for the 2020-21 academic year and we’re putting our heads together with the Student Activities Office to design an interterm course on careers in scholarly communication for Amherst students.

Above all, we’ve been taking stock of our priorities right now and feel more than ever that our publishing model serves an essential function and fulfills a very real need. We are reading proposals and continuing with acquisitions work. If you have a project you think might be right for our model and mission, we are happy to connect through email, phone, or video conference. Let us know. Stay in touch. And above all, be well.