50th Anniversary of Star Trek, the “Television Show”

By Roberta Pearson and Máire Messenger Davies, authors of Star Trek and American Television

‘It’s a television show’—said William Shatner (Captain Kirk) to us when we interviewed him for our book, Star Trek and American Television, in 2002. He didn’t mean to be dismissive, he didn’t mean it was just a television show; he was pointing out that Star Trek—despite the movies, the games, the fans, the spoofs—was, and is, primarily culturally important as a product of television. It’s worth being reminded of this fact especially this year—the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the original series (TOS) being launched on the NBC TV network.


We love Star Trek—but it’s always been the TV show that was most special to us, both as viewers and as scholars. That’s why, when it came to writing a book about Star Trek, we decided to take Bill Shatner’s assertion as our mantra and named our book Star Trek and American Television. At first we thought of simply calling it Star Trek as Television. But as we researched the history of the show—and especially after talking to many of its leading lights, including founder-producers such as Robert Justman and Herb Solow, (alas, Gene Roddenberry was dead by the time we got round to researching the book)—we realized that the story of Star Trek was also a way of telling the story of American television more broadly.

The show started in the era of the three networks, made by a production company run by one of the most iconic and beloved of all TV stars, Lucille Ball, and it was not a ratings success. But, prophetically, it found a dedicated audience of fans who helped to keep the show alive in syndication. In the 1980s and 90s, with The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager, it progressed through the cable era, and on into the era of channel abundance brought about by digital technology. Along the way, it changed ownership several times, and ironically, it is now the property of CBS, who turned the original series down in the 1960s. Simply following the twists and turns of fortune involving the show’s ownership was a story in itself—as the early chapters of our book discuss.

It was a great privilege to talk to so many of the people involved in the show. We had especially privileged access to the stars of The Next Generation who were making the final film in the TNG series, Nemesis, when we did our Hollywood research. Thanks to introductions from Sir Patrick Stewart, Captain Jean Luc Picard in TNG, who kindly wrote a foreword for our book, we were able to talk to actors, producers, technicians, set builders, designers, makeup artists, writers, and directors—all of whom had fascinating insights into the series, into their own particular roles in it, and into why the Star Trek phenomenon has been so enduringly popular. Generous interviews given by stars such as Sir Patrick himself, Jonathan Frakes, William Shatner and Marina Sirtis are extensively quoted in our book.

The last TV series, Enterprise, had just started production when we visited Hollywood to meet these Star Trek luminaries, and it was cancelled after only four seasons. It seemed as if the future of Star Trek had to be in the new film series directed by J. J. Abrams and that its primary identity as television was over. But Star Trek as television was never going to die; all the previous series continue in syndication around the world—and a new TV series, Star Trek: Discovery, will premiere on CBS in January, 2017*. As we say at the end of our book: “Whatever happens in the future, we would bet all our gold-pressed latinum, several bottles of Saurian brandy and a few dilithium crystals that Star Trek will live long and prosper!”

* Note that you can currently stream a few free episodes from each Star Trek television series in honor of the anniversary and upcoming new series.

To get a copy of Star Trek and American Television, visit your local bookstore, or purchase online at IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (to save 30% on ucpress.edu, enter discount code16M4197 at checkout).

Roberta Pearson is Professor of Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham and author of several books, including A Critical Dictionary of Film and Television Theory.

Máire Messenger Davies is Professor Emerita of Media Studies at University of Ulster and author of Children, Media, and Culture.

Editor’s Spotlight: An interview with Luminos Executive Editor Reed Malcolm

Luminos Executive Editor Reed Malcolm

In this Q&A with Luminos Executive Editor Reed Malcolm, we learn about author receptiveness to OA monograph publishing, where authors find publication subsidies, and what barriers to OA publishing Reed has encountered. We also take a glimpse into what the future holds for Luminos, UC Press’s open access publishing program.

How did you first get involved in Luminos?

I’ve been an acquisitions editor for over 20 years now. In that time, I’ve seen it become more and more difficult for university presses to publish specialized works of scholarship. This is due to a variety of reasons: diminishing library budgets, the advent of the course reader, the disappearance of brick-and-mortar bookstores, and not least of all the rise of Amazon and the internet. Consequently, sales potential has become a more critical component in the decision-making process for university presses. No longer is a book’s intellectual impact or its quality the sole criteria. And that’s a shame, since I don’t think any of us got into academic publishing for the money.

Luminos had been operating for about a year before I got involved.  As an editor, what primarily attracted me was the fact that I could return to publishing good books without being hamstrung by financial concerns.

The open access model is much more equitable in terms of the financing for a book’s publication. Instead of the publisher investing the entire cost, then losing that investment on four out of five titles, the Luminos model works on the idea that everyone who has a stake in a book’s publication contributes in some way to the cost of publication —the publisher, the author, the author’s institution, libraries, and readers. Like crowd-sourcing.

What’s also wonderful about open access books is that anyone who has internet access anywhere around the world can download a book for free. No longer is pricing a barrier to readership. Luminos books are made available simultaneously as e-books (for free) and paperbacks (for sale, for those who still prefer print on paper), so it really is the best of all worlds.

What has been the response to the program thus far? Any surprises?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the level of enthusiasm for the program. While other publishers have been dabbling with the concept of open access book publishing, UC Press has been one of the first to come out with guns blazing. In my conversations with department chairs and university deans, I’m often pleasantly surprised to learn how many have heard of Luminos, and I have similarly been pleased by how many senior scholars have requested to publish their books in the program.

If you had asked me two years ago what I thought would be the biggest hurdle in creating an open access publishing program, I would have said the subvention requirement (i.e. that authors need to contribute funding—a title publication fee—in order to publish in the Luminos program). But now that the program is sufficiently underway, I can say it’s proving much less of a deterrent than I would’ve expected. True, not everyone teaches at a well-endowed university with easy access to publication funds, but I’m finding that many authors are having an easier time securing funding than I would have thought. Many more deans and chairs are aware of the current publishing crisis today than was the case five years ago, and so are by and large receptive to supporting faculty with their open access books. At the University of California, for example, financing has been made available at both the campus and system-wide level for authors who wish to publish their books as open access titles. In addition, a benefit of Luminos’s financial model is its waiver fund, which allows authors from under-funded institutions or disciplines to apply for fee waivers in order to support publication of their research.

We’ve also been pleased by the initial response from libraries to our membership program. The Luminos model is predicated on costs being shared among all who benefit from a monograph’s publication—author/institution, publisher, and academic libraries. We’re now entering the second year of our library membership program and trust that current library members, who are already seeing the benefit to their institutions’ authors, will be eager to renew and that new libraries will want to come on board as members, allowing their institutions’ authors to benefit from the funds the library contributes to the Luminos program via reduced publication fees available to faculty at library member institutions.

Have you run into any obstacles?

While the reception to OA has been for the most part quite positive, there are still some who have a problem with the new model. Like Winnicott’s “transitional object,” books are often intimately bound to a scholar’s sense of professional identity. They are like sacred totems, instilled with power, purpose and meaning. Their spines face out from our bookshelves like hunting trophies.

But it’s important that we ask ourselves what we mean when we refer to “the book”? Is it just paper, ink, glue, and cardboard? Or is it a vehicle for sharing thoughts and ideas?  The problem is that too many people fail to draw any distinction. In their minds, message and messenger are one and the same.

And so in this context, I find there are some who still mistakenly see open access publishing as a battle between traditional print (the past) vs. digital (the future). But that dichotomy is misguided. The reality is that books in the Luminos program are made available in both digital and print formats. Digital editions are available for free download and print editions are available from UC Press and other book retailers for a low cost for those who prefer a print edition.

I like to explain to people that open access is not a different way of publishing so much as it is a different way of financing.

What does the future hold?

We have been signing approximately 20 titles a year within the Luminos program. Starting next year we hope to increase that number to 50. In addition to having our editors sign more open access titles, we’ve embarked on some very exciting publishing partnerships with institutes and centers whose work aligns with our core publishing strengths.

We also hope to take advantage of the digital capabilities of e-books by publishing more works that incorporate multimedia components, such as audio, video, and interactive maps. In this regard, we’ve had some productive discussions with digital humanities centers across the country, and I am looking forward to rolling out some exciting new book series in the near future.

What I have loved most about working on the Luminos program is that, for what seems like the first time in my publishing career, everyone is happy: authors, because their books aren’t facing pricing or distribution barriers; students, because they can obtain books for free; traditional book-lovers, who still are able to get print editions; librarians, since they no longer need to forgo acquiring faculty research due to budget constraints; and publishers, because they can go back to their core mission, which is to publish high quality research.


The “six” boroughs: Staten Island

This is the third of the “six” boroughs blog series celebrating Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. We’ve already visited Queens and the Bronx. If you missed the prior posts, we encourage you to go back and read them after you’re done here.

Staten Island is the least populous borough of New York City, is the only borough not connected to the MTA Subway system, and is only accessible, without leaving New York City, by the Staten Island Ferry to/from Manhattan and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to/from Brooklyn. However, Staten Island has played an important role in the history of New York City, and has provided many frequently overlooked cultural contributions to the world.

From 1947 to 2001, New York City sent its trash to Fresh Kills, a Staten Island wetlands turned municipal dump, which at its peak receives 29,000 tons of trash per day, ranking as the largest human-made structure on earth. Now, New York’s residential garbage, close to 4 million tons of it a year, is shipped by barge and truck to distant landfills, from Niagara Falls to South Carolina. Fresh Kills received its last waste from Manhattan when it absorbed the rubble from the World Trade Center after September 11, 2001. Holding approximately 108 million tons of trash, it covers 2,200 acres, and is being turned into a park, which when completed will be almost three times the size of Central Park.

Garbage scows bring solid waste, for use as landfill, to Fresh Kills on Staten Island in 1973

The rest of New York complains that Staten Island is a sleepy, insular borough (that’s more like a suburb) that is not worth the effort of exploring. Staten Islanders argue that the rest of the city is a filled with a bunch of parochial bellyachers who have not taken the time to get to know Staten Island’s natural beauty and increasingly diverse population. What everyone agrees on, however, is that the Wu-Tang Clan is the borough’s most well-known entity—and beloved export. In Nonstop Metropolis Joshua Jelly-Schapiro interviews RZA about what it was like growing up on Staten Island.

Joshua Jelly-Schapiro: You grew up between Staten Island and Brooklyn; you lived in public housing in both boroughs. But by your teens you were in Staten Island pretty full time. How did Staten Island compare to Brooklyn in those days, when you were growing up? What do you remember of each?

RZA: One thing about Staten Island that was different from Brooklyn was the ability to walk from one neighborhood to another, to actually have a break from project life. For instance, in Brownsville, in Brooklyn, if I walked from the Marcus Garvey projects to go see my cousin Vince, who lived in the Van Dyke projects, I had to walk through four projects to get there—and each project could be considered “turf.” In fact, each building could be considered turf. But on Staten Island, you can walk from the Park Hill projects to the Stapleton projects, and in between those two projects is something else—”normal” hardworking homeowners, you know. Not projects. When I was on Staten Island I walked a lot—I’d walk from Park Hill to Stapleton, and then from Stapleton to New Brighton. I would take the route that led up Targee Street, and make the right down Van Duzer, and then take Cebra. And on Cebra and Van Duzer, I saw what we’d consider mansions then, big homes. And I think seeing another side of life, that wasn’t ghetto life—I think there was something healthy about that. When I was living in Staten Island in sixth grade, when a snowstorm happens, guess what I’m able to do—I’m able to get out, pull out a shovel, and make $15 hustling, shoveling snow. That wasn’t available in Brownsville. You had breathing space. You were able to walk a few blocks, not worried about fighting, defending, stealing, robbing—things that happen every day in the projects.

To read the rest of the interview, purchase Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas wherever books are sold.

Nonstop Metropolis

Meanwhile, please sit back and listen to some Wu-Tang Clan.

JJ Schapiro

Dance RecitalNonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas is the final volume in our trilogy of atlases by Rebecca Solnit, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, Rebecca Snedeker, and a host of notable contributors. Following the publication of the critically lauded Infinite City (San Francisco) and Unfathomable City (New Orleans), we bring you this homage—and challenge—to the way we know New York City, an exquisitely designed and gorgeously illustrated atlas that excavates the many buried layers of all five boroughs of New York City and parts of New Jersey.

Black against Empire and Banned Books Week

By Niels Hooper, Executive Editor at UC Press

I don’t know whether to be concerned that state officials are still afraid of the Black Panthers, or take it as badge of honor that these words really do have power, but we have just been notified that American Book Award winner Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr. has just become a banned book! We’re republishing it, with a striking new cover courtesy of Shepard Fairey, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party here in Oakland CA.

Black Against Empire new cover

As Alicia Garza, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter network says, “I read Black against Empire while on sabbatical, and it changed something in me. #BlackLivesMatter was created just a few months later. The political history of one of the most misunderstood black political efforts in our nation’s history, Black against Empire offers important considerations for today’s black liberation movement.” Banning Black Against Empire in California prisons, like trying to keep news of today’s prison strike from getting out, only makes matters worse.

Letter banning black against empire

You can pre-order the new edition of Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, With a New Preface on our website or wherever books are sold.

Niels Hooper is Executive Editor at UC Press. He has a B.A. in Modern History from Oxford University and an M.A. in History and African-American Studies from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining UC Press he worked at Verso Books in New York, at first running North American publicity, sales, and marketing, and later joining Verso’s editorial board and becoming the US General Manager.

Congratulations to MacArthur fellow recipient and UC Press author, Josh Kun

Last week we were thrilled to learn that UC Press author Josh Kun was named a MacArthur fellow for 2016.

From a Los Angeles Times profile:

“Unearthing lesser-known slices of Los Angeles history is just one reason Kun’s work has caught the attention of the Getty, the city’s Library Foundation and now the MacArthur Foundation. After a lifetime of scholarship and publishing, including “To Live and Dine in L.A.,” a book that surveyed the Los Angeles Public Library’s trove of old restaurant menus, and “Songs in the Key of Los Angeles,” which did the same for the institution’s collection of sheet music, Kun became one of 23 MacArthur fellows announced Thursday, just after midnight on the East Coast.”

His UC Press books include Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America which injects popular music into contemporary debates over American identity. His second book, co-edited with Laura Pulido, Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition focuses on the range of relationships and interactions between Latinas/os and African Americans in Los Angeles, one of the most diverse cities in the United States. We’re so excited that we have two more books coming from Josh in the next few years, one on Latin American music in the United States and another on music across the border between Southern California and Tijuana. A huge congratulations to Josh for this recognition he received for his research and scholarship.

Josh Kun is an Associate Professor in the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. His books include Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America and Songs in the Key of Los Angeles: Sheet Music and the Making of Southern California.

Reaching for Their Dreams—Eight Years On

As part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize Hispanic and Latino Americans’ current contributions–and current struggles–in the United States. Learn more at #HispanicHeritage Month.

By Barbara Davenport, author of Grit and Hope: A Year with Five Latino Students and the Program That Helped Them Aim for College

RealityChangers.photo.DavenportGrit and Hope tells the stories of a handful of first-gen Hispanic students who wrote their college applications in the midst of the country’s worst recession and of Reality Changers, the program that helped them get to college. Eight years on, many of Reality Changers’ graduates have chosen work that enables them to help disadvantaged youth the way that Reality Changers helped them. Here’s what three of them are doing now:

  • Theresa was named a Gates Millennium Scholar and graduated from UC Riverside. She worked as a tutor at Reality Changers, and this fall started a masters program in multicultural community counseling and social justice.
  • Mercedes left UC Riverside two quarters short of graduation, tripped up by the residuals of trauma and early deprivation. She works now as director of recreation in a skilled nursing facility. Not graduating eats at her. Her daughter Alma is nearly four years old. Mercedes wants better opportunities for herself and, even more, she wants to be a good role model for Alma. She’s saving money and laying the groundwork to go back to school and finish. Once she graduates, she wants to tutor for Reality Changers, and maybe even lead a cohort of students.
  • Jesse went to Harvard and then taught in Mexico for a year on a Fulbright teaching fellowship. Now he’s based in a San Francisco high school, serving as Dream Director for the Futures Project, helping disadvantaged students realize their dreams.

Davenport.GritAndHopeFounder Chris Yanov designed Reality Changers as a social and psychological scaffolding that would support students and provide a sense of family. “Congress is the thing that makes Reality Changers different from all other tutoring programs. We aren’t here just to raise our grades. We’re a family,” Yanov says. The sense of family was the heart of the program; it held students and was what they valued most. They could launch into the unknown waters of college secure that they had the support of peers and staff who had gone the distance with them. Reality Changers has woven through their lives, scaffolding their efforts and enlarging their sense of what was possible.

A majority of alumni continue to feel a strong connection to the program that helped them change their lives. Their alumni network helps them keep in touch and learn about new initiatives in the program. They volunteer for fundraising events. They come on program nights to talk with the current seniors; some come every week to tutor.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with Reality Changers students.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with Reality Changers students.

They’ve learned that Reality Changers couldn’t change their most difficult realities: not their immigration status nor illnesses, nor family problems. It couldn’t dissolve other people’s prejudices, couldn’t prevent the losses that inevitably come in the pursuit of ambitious goals. Still they call their experience in Reality Changers life-changing. It encouraged them to raise their expectations of what they believed they could do, and it opened opportunities they didn’t know existed. They all speak of their commitment to give back to their families and their community. Every one of them says that Reality Changers enabled them to transform their lives and continue to reach for their dreams.

Barbara Davenport
 is a writer and psychotherapist in San Diego. has written for the Christian Science Monitor, Stanford Magazine, and alternative
weeklies in San Diego, where she lives. For more about her, please visitwww.barbaradavenport.com.

The Uses of Photography exhibition opens this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


Dawsey cover
The Uses of Photography: Art, Politics, and the Reinvention of a Medium (September 2016)

we had this dream     of truth     the truth of things

maybe in a photograph.

—David Antin

Published in conjunction with an exhibition opening this evening at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, The Uses of Photography examines a network of artists whose experiments with photography during the turbulent, transitional period between the late 1960s and early 1980s opened the medium to a profusion of new strategies and subjects. Working within the framework of Conceptual art, artists such as Eleanor Antin, Allan Kaprow, Fred Lonidier, Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, and Carrie Mae Weems introduced urgent social issues and themes of everyday life into the seemingly neutral territory of photography, producing works that took on hybrid forms, from books and postcards to video and text-and-image installations.

And, courtesy of our partners at MCASD here’s a behind-the-scenes view of preparators, Nick and Jeremy, installing Fred Lonidier’s GAF Snapshirts.

Exhibition install
Installation of Fred Lonidier (1976), Courtesy of the artist; Michael Benevento, Los Angeles; Essex Street, New York; and Silberkuppe, Berlin.

The exhibition runs through January 2nd, and event programming includes film screenings, panel discussions with the artists, curator talks and more.

To get your own copy of the catalogue, visit the museum, or purchase online at IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (to save 30% on ucpress.edu, enter discount code16M4197 at checkout).

Peer Review in the Humanities and Social Sciences: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It?

Thanks to The Scholarly Kitchen for allowing us to re-blog the following Peer Review Week 2016 (#PeerRevWk16) -focused post.

About Peer Review Week: Peer Review Week is a global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. The event brings together individuals, institutions, and organizations committed to sharing the central message that good peer review, whatever shape or form it might take, is critical to scholarly communications.


While much of the contemporary debate around peer review focuses on both journal articles and STEM fields, here we are going to focus on humanities and social science (HSS) fields where both longer articles and book-length projects are more common. Does HSS peer review have the same functions, goals, and challenges as STEM peer review? My conversation below with fellow Scholarly Kitchen Chef Karin Wulf and Mary Francis, Editorial Director at the University of Michigan Press, addresses these questions and looks forward to the ways in which HSS peer review might evolve.

PRW 2016

Alison Mudditt: Karin, as both a working scholar and someone who oversees a substantial publication program, what are the key ways in which HSS peer review differs from STEM journals models?

Karin Wulf: A key point to make right off the bat is that many more, if not most, HSS fields are “book fields”, disciplines in which scholars typically publish their most significant work in book form rather than in journal articles. Journals still play an important role for HSS; HSS articles tend to be longer, and HSS journals tend to publish a small percentage of submissions. Peer reviewers for HSS journals are thus doing pretty extensive work on lengthy submissions, and mostly for authors whose work won’t be published (at least not in the first journal to which it’s submitted). Generally, though, peer review is valued on both sides of the experience. It’s simply part of the culture for authors and reviewers to participate in the intellectual exchange that takes place in the context of peer reviewing. It is also the case that a lot of articles are developed in the context of a book in progress and that peer reviewers for journals thus have always played an important role in moving a book to eventual publication.

 Alison: Beyond the common gatekeeping role, does peer review play a different role in these fields?

Karin: Another important point is one we make in Scholarly Kitchen posts a lot — there is tremendous diversity in the culture and practice among and within disciplines, not only between HSS and STEM. It would be hard to generalize about the differential role of peer review within the cultures of each. In many fields different versions or pieces of a project are often shared to solicit feedback from experts. The difference with formal peer reviewing is that the expertise is solicited (by the journal editor) and usually that it is anonymous to each party (double-blind). The value of double-blind review has been debated quite a bit, but I still come down on the side of anonymity as the best hedge against bias.

 Alison: Are there distinctions between HSS book and journal peer review?

Karin: Again, there is significant diversity among and within HSS fields that’s important. But in the aggregate, peer review in journals versus books can be quite distinct. Journal editors tend to commission more reviews for each article than do book editors; reader reports for journal articles also tend to be proportionally longer. Journal editors mostly deal with submissions that come in over the transom and are fully responsible for the substantive responses to reader reports, often writing lengthy letters to authors to interpret the readers’ reports and deliver their decision.

But acquisition editors for university presses are both doing more active recruitment and generally less substantive editorial work with their authors. The role of the review itself is therefore different. Books tend to get fewer reader reports (usually two), though often at two different stages, the original and final manuscript submissions.

What peer reviews of journal article and book manuscripts share is basic assessment: how fresh is the research? How persuasive is the argument? What does this work contribute to the field and/or fields? Peer reviewers are asking these same questions of the two different genres.

Alison: Mary, as a seasoned university press editor, what do you think is distinctive about university press peer review?

 Mary Francis: As Karin notes, different peer review practices tend to attach to disciplinary norms and product type, more than type of publisher. University presses, even relatively small ones, produce a wide range of publications: scholarly monographs, journals, textbooks, critical editions of primary sources, guidebooks, regional titles, poetry, and more. While all of these are peer reviewed, one of the distinctive features of university press peer review is how it accommodates such a range of publications. When I was working with the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) acquisitions committee to create their new guidelines, there were many discussions of how to zero in on the most rigorous practices that all book peer review ought to share, and the most salient variations had to do with disciplines being considered.

 Alison: Peer review has always been at the heart of university press publishing: why did AAUP decide to create a “best practices” document at this point in time?

 Mary: The biggest reason is to call attention to the value that peer review provides. The bulk of the document is a detailed ‘how-to,’ which should make clear how many carefully considered steps and decisions are involved as well as how much expertise is required. Editors play an essential role in framing peer review for their constituents within their overarching project of cultivating intellectual endeavors in a given field, matching the needs of a project to the expertise of peer reviewers, and making sure the final product has the greatest possible reach and influence. At a time when higher education and the core values of scholarly research are under intense public scrutiny, the document was designed to advocate for the value of peer review to those whose support is essential: deans and provosts, foundations and funders, regents, elected representatives.

 Alison: What processes shaped its development?

Mary: The creation of the document was an immensely rewarding two-year odyssey of discussion and debate, informed, naturally, by rigorous peer review. The AAUP Acquisitions Committee wrote – and debated — the document jointly. The first draft was reviewed by the AAUP board, then revised and submitted to twenty-five peer reviewers, including fellow university press editors, colleagues from museum publishing, commercial scholarly publishing, and university press publishers in the UK. The revised version was the focus of a very lively AAUP Collaboration Lab at the 2015 AAUP annual conference, and generated more refinements leading up to the release of the complete document this past spring.

Alison: The voices demanding alternatives to blind and double-blind review have risen alongside greater experimentation with new models of long-form content, especially those in digital form. I’m interested as to why AAUP chose not to discuss those new models here – was there a reason for this?

Mary: Alternative forms of peer review, and peer review of multi-modal scholarly outputs were very much part of the committee’s discussions: we talked about how multi-modal scholarly outputs challenge publishers to think carefully about parameters that are easier to take for granted in a world based on print books: version control, preservation, citability, discoverability, etc. In the end, the committee felt that there isn’t enough consensus around peer review of alternative forms (or alternative forms of peer review) for there to be a clear set of best practices that AAUP could endorse at this point in time.

Alison: What about reviewer selection? The guidelines highlight the reviewer’s potential to judge the scholarship and argument presented, but I wonder how both of you think about diversity – race, gender, geographies, and other identities – as you select reviewers? Given the challenges the academy faces in increasing diversity, how do we ensure that peer review doesn’t contribute to privileging certain established voices over others?

Karin: A lot comes down to the press director and their expectations of editors. We don’t want conferences to have “Hasslehoff panels”; similarly, we want review panels to reflect diversity of perspectives. Diversity includes race and gender as well as junior and senior scholars, and scholars from different types of institutions; reviewers shouldn’t all come from R1 universities, for example. But here’s another thing — at least in HSS, editors should want as reviewers not only the scholars whose work is exactly spot on the topic, but what our journal editor might describe as a 360 degree view from different field specialties that have a bearing on the work in question.

Mary: We did talk about how “established voices” manifest themselves in different disciplines. Editors’ desire to diversify beyond “established voices” is about exciting, innovative work that goes beyond familiar methodologies and paradigms, and for this editors are often seeking younger scholars who are thought leaders in their field — a pool more likely to manifest a greater degree of diversity. But as more academics around the world hold contingent positions that make it difficult for them to establish credentials as peer reviewers, the already formidable problem of finding peer reviewers who represent diverse backgrounds and diverse scholarly expertise will only become more challenging.

Alison: Within HSS, there are growing questions about the shortfalls of the (double) blind process and more experimentation with changing the ways in which anonymity functions and trying to remove subjective judgments from the review process, mirroring STM developments (the Open Library of the Humanities [OLH] is but one example*). Listening to the critics of peer review, it would be easy to assume that this is a system of need of fundamental change. Yet from our experience at University of California Press, there seems to be little demand for change. No one seems ready to give up the deep level of review monographs receive, both in terms of overall assessment and deeper commentary, and I don’t see any appetite for expanding that to include post-publication commentary, for example. How do you see the system evolving and do you think more substantial change is likely any time soon?

Karin: Alison, my experience echoes yours. Not much appetite for post-publication review and mostly looking at improvements to double-blind which seems to be working. I sometimes hear about issues with a specific review/er, but usually our editors are pretty good at intervening and interpreting for authors if there is a particularly harsh review. They also let a good intellectual exchange take place — that’s the point of review, to raise the level of argument and scholarly knowledge. The AAUP guidelines address this in the sections on reviewer expectations and how to handle a problematic report; both are important for journal editors, too.

An important thing to keep in mind is that double-blind review for publication usually takes place at the end of a long train of fairly public critical exchange about a piece of work, at conferences and seminars, so there has often been opportunity for “open” review. I don’t really see “a road to reform” in that while double-blind review may not be perfect I hear often that reviewing isn’t seen as a broken system. The challenges of mutual anonymity, namely a lack of diversity among reviewers and biased reviewing, might be just as challenging in open review forums. I almost always sign my reviews, but I’m glad to have the option. I also wonder whether calls for open review are more appealing to some disciplines than others. The OLH for example, and the approach to open reviewing advocated by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, originate in literature and may best reflect movements in that field.

Mary: Like many of Alison’s fellow Scholarly Kitchen Chefs, I believe that the current system of peer review for long-form scholarly work (in whatever format it is published) is so essential to our systems of research and scholarly communication that it will only change incrementally. I suppose my work with the AAUP on this document manifests what I would most like to change: I want more participants in higher education and research to have a nuanced the understanding and appreciation of the virtues of peer review, the hard work that goes into it, the immense value it adds to scholarly communication.

*Editor’s Note: As a point of clarification, OLH has engaged in the debate around preferred peer review methodologies and questioned the status quo, in practice they offer a rigorous policy of double-blind peer-review and a clear signaling the mode of review that has been conducted on the work.



Alison Mudditt has been Director of University of California Press since January 2011, where she has focused on reshaping the Press’s strategy and structure to meet the needs of its diverse audiences in the digital age. Alison more than twenty-five years experience in academic publishing which began at Blackwell in Oxford, and then at Taylor & Francis Inc. in Philadelphia as Publishing Director of the Behavioral Sciences Division. Alison joined SAGE in 2001 as Vice President and Editorial Director, and was appointed Executive Vice President in 2004 where she led the SAGE’s publishing programs across books, journals and digital during a period of tremendous growth. Alison is a regular speaker at industry meetings and is currently Vice Chair of the Scientific Publications Committee and member of the Open Science Committee of the American Heart Association, and member of the Board of Directors of K|N Consultants. She has also served on the Executive Council of the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the American Association of Publishers, and was Co-Chair of the Dean’s Leadership Council at California State University, Channel Islands.

Classical Music Month: An Excerpt from Richard Taruskin’s New Essays on Russian Music

This post is part of a series celebrating #ClassicalMusicMonth. We’re pleased to share the below excerpt from Richard Taruskin’s just-released, On Russian Music at Home and Abroad: New Essays. Stay tuned for our final post next week, and enjoy free access to curated Classical Music articles through September.

Taruskin cover
Russian Music at Home and Abroad: New Essays (September 2016)

An excerpt from “NOT MODERN AND LOVING IT” (Chapter 5)

When I was a lad I received a present from my mother, who was a piano teacher (but not my piano teacher; she knew better than that). It was a set of sepia-toned lithographed portraits from G. Schirmer, the main American music publisher of standard and pedagogical piano literature. The portfolio was titled “The Great Composers,” and it started, perhaps needless to say, with J. S. Bach. The others Bs then passed in review, along with Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Wagner, Verdi—the whole crowd. What was surprising was the end-point: the only composer in ordinary modern dress, beardless, wigless, short-haired, altogether contemporary and therefore quite exotic in such surroundings. It was Rachmaninoff, of course, the only composer who was still alive at the time the set was issued. Rachmaninoff, the portrait set quietly insisted, was the last of the Great Composers, the only one left. That made quite an impression on me.

I remembered that ancient gift and the impression it made when it came time, perhaps fifty years later, to frame my account of Rachmaninoff in the Oxford History of Western Music, my attempt, in only six volumes and a mere one and a half million words, to put everything about classical music into a single perspective. As a historian, I saw my task as reportage, not evaluation, still believing that a neutral point of view, if not actually achievable, is nevertheless the thing toward which, asymptotically, one strives. Whether I myself agreed with the value G. Schirmer had claimed for Rachmaninoff was, I assumed, of no interest to my readers, who would be seeking from me the information they would need to reach their own informed judgments. As a reader I always cherished this right and resented historians who tried to usurp it. What the historian owes the reader is a just account of historical significance, an account that should originate in observation, not predilection. For me to say “Rachmaninoff was the last of the great composers” would have been absurd; and it would have been equally absurd for me to say that he was not. And yet, needless to say, reportage and evaluation are not so neatly separable. The act of selection—of choosing what shall be reported—is implicitly, and inescapably, evaluative; and evaluation is implicitly, and inescapably, contentious.

My solution to this dilemma, or at least the criterion of relevance I sought to apply to the task of selection, was to ask myself always what was the necessary contribution of this figure or that fact to the story as a whole. And here is where that old set of sepia prints gave me the answer. “There were many,” I wrote, “during the 1920s and 1930s, who regarded [Rachmaninoff] as the greatest living composer, precisely because he was the only one who seemed capable of successfully maintaining the familiar and prestigious style of the nineteenth-century ‘classics’ into the twentieth century.” I congratulated myself when I came up with that sentence, because it reported the fact that Rachmaninoff was widely regarded as great, and it also signaled his unusualness within the stylistic spectrum of his day, even hinting that his role was an embattled one. Rachmaninoff, I concluded, was “the most effective antimodernist standard bearer.” The fact that he was both antimodernist and successful, I continued, “and that his style was as distinctive as any contemporary’s, could be used to refute the modernist argument that traditional styles had been exhausted.”

In the mood for some classical music now? Listen to Sergei Rachmaninoff play his Piano Concerto No. 2. This selection was recorded in 1929 by RCA victor with Rachmaninoff’s favorite orchestra; the Philadelphia Orchestra. Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) is conducting.

To read more by Richard Taruskin, see his recent article, “Was Shostakovich a Martyr? Or Is That Just Fiction?,” in the New York Times, or a recent book review in the Times Literary Supplement.

To get your own copy of his new book, check your local bookstore, or purchase online at IndieBoundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (to save 30% on ucpress.edu, enter discount code 16M4197 at checkout).

Richard Taruskin is the Class of 1955 Professor of Music emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught from 1987 to 2014, after twenty-six years at Columbia University (man and boy). He is the author of Stravinsky and the Russian TraditionsOn Russian Music, Defining Russia Musically, and the six-volume Oxford History of Western Music.

A visit to the Nonstop Metropolis is around the corner

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas will soon be released into the world. To kick things off, we’ll be celebrating with a launch party in partnership with the Queens Museum on October 2, from 2–5 pm.

The launch party will feature:

  • Remarks by Queens Museum Executive Director Laura Raicovich, and Nonstop Metropolis authors Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro.
  • Hands-on map-making workshop facilitated by Queens Museum educators.
  • “Songs of the City,” a unique mix of songs and music referenced in the book.
  • Drop-in readings of essay excerpts found in the book by Rebecca Solnit, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, Garnette Cadogan, Jonathan Tarleton, and many other contributors.
  • Book sale and signings by the authors and contributors in attendance.
Maps from Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas in the Queens Museum’s Watershed Gallery

If you’re unable to attend on Oct. 2nd, make sure you head to the Queens Museum regardless to experience the exhibition tie-in to the book which opened in April (and is currently ongoing), “Nonstop Metropolis: The Remix.” The exhibition features original artwork by Miriam Ghani and Duke Riley, a series of on-site and off-site public programming, along with gratis map/essay broadsides excerpted from the book that are tied into the event programming.

The Queens Museum has been presenting a series of public talks, walks, and urban adventures led by the essay writers from the book, artists, and other imaginative thinkers addressing topics that include water and power, linguistic diversity in Queens, walking as an embodied act, the conjoined histories of environmental and financial disaster in Lower Manhattan, wilderness in the city, and Latino radio in NYC. There will be additional educational opportunities and map-making workshops taking place during the coming months.

The launch party at the Queens Museum isn’t the only opportunity to see Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro (along with many of the contributors to the project) discussing Nonstop Metropolis. Events taking place throughout October include:

You can order Nonstop Metropolis at your local bookstore, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or through UC Press.

Dance Recital JJ Schapiro

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas is the final volume in our trilogy of atlases by Rebecca Solnit, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, Rebecca Snedeker, and a host of notable contributors. Following the publication of the critically lauded Infinite City (San Francisco) and Unfathomable City (New Orleans), we bring you this homage—and challenge—to the way we know New York City, an exquisitely designed and gorgeously illustrated atlas that excavates the many buried layers of all five boroughs of New York City and parts of New Jersey.