Daniel Handler’s Salute to UC Press Poets

Every April, Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, reads only poetry in honor of National Poetry Month. This year, he gave a shoutout to two of our poets on both Twitter and in this great article on the Huffington Post. Handler is author of The Basic Eight and the A Series of Unfortunate Events books (also adapted to a 2004 film starring Jim Carrey, and soon to be adapted to a Netflix series).

Harryette Mullen's Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002).
Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary (2002).

Poet: Harryette Mullen
How they strike me: When someone holds your hand and looks you in the eye and won’t let go until you stop trembling.
Book I like of theirs: Sleeping With The Dictionary. No, wait: Urban Tumbleweed. OK, get them both.
Representative lines:
Beside the bed, a pad lies open to record the meandering of migratory words. In the rapid eye movement of the poet’s night vision, this dictum can be decoded, like the secret acrostic of a lover’s name.
Suggested beverage pairing: What’s in this tea? Has the sky been this color all this time?”



Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems, 2006.
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems (2006).

Poet: Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge
How they strike me: Like a conversation so terrific you stay up too late to finish it and the next day are cranky but it’s worth it.
Book I like of theirs: I Love Artists
Representative lines:
I seek a permanent home, but this structure has an appearance of indifferent compoundedness and isolation, heading toward hopelessness.
The boys pulls an animal on a leash.
Suggested beverage pairing: Wheatgrass juice, side of aquavit.”

Have You Hugged Your Planet Today?


Image via Pixabay.com

On April 22, 1970, the inaugural Earth Day celebration helped galvanize the environmental movement in America and forged a new zeitgeist that put the health of the planet front and center for the next decade. Forty-five years later, Earth Day is celebrated by more than a billion people worldwide and has blossomed into a weeklong event. That’s a lot of love for our Pale Blue Dot! And while we’ve seen many successes since its first observance in 1970—including the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of The Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air and Water acts—we’ve also experienced significant setbacks to the health of our planet due to climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation, habitat loss, species extinction, and war.

Continue reading “Have You Hugged Your Planet Today?”

Earth Day Special: What Do You Believe?

This guest post by author Linda Weintraub, To Life!: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet, considers personal beliefs around environmental issues and art for Earth Day.

A planet in peril has convinced many environmentalists to call for a complete overhaul of humanity’s current means for acquiring, using, and discarding resources. They share a widespread conviction that that the seeds of environmental reform are not tangible or technological; they are conceptual and subjective. While our material interactions with the planet originate in attitudes and assumptions, no authority exists to define and enforce the cultural values that generate sustainable actions.

Photo of vapor emissions from the Salmisaari coal burning power plant illuminated with a high power green laser animation.
HeHe: Nuage Vert

Nonetheless, environmental reform depends as much upon each individual’s subjective opinions as upon industry’s technologies and the government’s ordinances. Often we are not aware of our own attitudes and outlooks until someone asks for our opinion.

The concepts and choices in this personal survey (see link below) are designed to help you construct a blueprint of your individual environmental beliefs. It is hoped that this blueprint may encourage you to reflect upon your material interactions and consider integrating these insights into your creative art practices.

Thus, let us honor the Earth on Earth Day by reflecting upon its current state and the choices we might make on its behalf.

Download the Personal Environmental Survey, and find additional classroom exercises here.


Cover image of Linda Weintraub's To Life!: Eco-Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet, ISBN 9780520273627

Linda Weintraub is author of To Life!: Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet, Art on the Edge and Over: Searching for Art’s Meaning in Contemporary SocietyIn the Making: Creative Options for Contemporary Art and Avant-Guardians: Textlets in Art and Ecology. She is a contributor to the Women Environmental Artists Directory (WEAD) magazine Issue 6 on ‘Dirty Water’, and her upcoming appearances include Evergreen College, Washington (April 22-23) and BBOX radio interview (April 29).



OAH Roundup

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the UC Press booth at the Organization of Americans Historians annual meeting in St. Louis this year. We showcased a broad range of groundbreaking and award-winning titles in American history. Below are just some of the authors that stopped by to show off their books.

Scott Laderman, author of Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing
Scott Laderman, author of Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing


Fay A. Yarbrough, Adam Arenson, and Stephen Kantrowitz, of Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States
Fay A. Yarbrough, Adam Arenson, and Stephen Kantrowitz, of Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States

This is also a great opportunity to revisit the guest blog posts by our authors, published in advance of the annual meeting.


American History Unbound: Asians and Pacific Islanders

By Gary Y. Okihiro

This guest post is published in advance of the Organization of American Historians conference in St. Louis. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference theme, Taboos. Come back for new posts every weekday until April 17.

Gary Y. OkihiroAsians and Pacific Islanders, indeed, people of color have transformed the history of the United States.  When seen from their perspective, American history is revealed in new light. The narrative begins not with the nation but with the world. The U.S. emerged from Europe’s oceanic search for Asia. Engulfed were Africa, Asia, and America in that expansion, which involved material relations and discourses that created Europe. At first, a periphery of the British Empire, the settler colony later emulated the core as an imperial power; extra-territorial conquests and colonization are central features of U.S. history. Land, taken from native peoples on the continent and on islands in the Caribbean and Pacific, and labor, supplied by enslaved, indentured, and wage laborers, were the resources that built the nation. From the start, “free white persons” delimited the republic’s members. When nonwhites, including Asians and Pacific Islanders, became U.S. citizens with rights, they instigated an American revolution.


Gary Y. Okihiro is Professor of International and Public Affairs and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. He is the author of ten books, including his latest two, Island World: A History of Hawai’i and the United States (2008) and Pineapple Culture: A History of the Tropical and Temperate Zones (2009), both from UC Press. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Studies Association, received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Ryukyus, and is a past president of the Association for Asian American Studies.


Taboos and the American Civil War

By Adam Arenson

This guest post is published in advance of the Organization of American Historians conference in St. Louis. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference theme, Taboos. Come back for new posts every weekday until April 17.

Adam ArensonWas the American Civil War about more than slavery? Did it begin before the firing on Fort Sumter, and end long after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox? And was the ultimate outcome of the Civil War and Reconstruction shaped more by events in the American West than on the battlefields of the South?

As the Civil War sesquicentennial concludes, we can see how certain explanations of the Civil War Era might remain taboo: the argument that the Confederacy cared more for its American Indian allies than the Union did; that, as late as 1865, President Lincoln and other Republicans still hoped to send African Americans away from the United States; that the nature of U.S. citizenship would be determined more by challenges from Spanish-speaking men in California and white women in Wyoming than by actions in the former Confederacy. And counterfactual history has its own taboos: Can we truly evaluate what would have happened if the Confederacy took New Mexico, and reached San Diego? Civil War WestsOr if Confederate sympathizers had invaded Washington Territory from British Columbia?

These controversial ideas appear when we consider the histories of the Civil War Era and the American West in one frame, as part of an era of larger tests of U.S. sovereignty, and as fights over the nature of incorporation of a vast, diverse continent under one government. Rejected, affirmed, and mulled upon, these taboos find their place in the exciting new volume Civil War Wests: Testing the Limits of the United States.


Adam Arenson is Associate Professor of History and Director of Urban Studies at Manhattan College, author of The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (2011), and coeditor of Frontier Cities: Encounters at the Crossroads of Empire (2013).


Interracial Marriage

By Emma Jinhua Teng

This guest post is published in advance of the Organization of American Historians conference in St. Louis. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference theme, Taboos. Come back for new posts every weekday until April 17.

Emma TengFew things have been more taboo in American history than interracial marriage. Before a 1967 Supreme Court decision declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, paving the way for a “biracial baby boom,” marrying across certain racial lines was illegal in many states, and where not illegal was often punished by disinheritance or ostracism. Americans also transported this taboo abroad, using it to guard the boundaries of their expatriate communities — in Shanghai of the interwar years, for example. Those who dared to defy convention, like George Sokolsky and Rosalind Phang in 1922, might find themselves shut out of expatriate social circles, or their children turned away from exclusive private schools.

Interracial marriage was equally taboo in colonial Hong Kong. When Eric Peter Ho (1928 –) first learned that his grandfather was European, he recalls, he was “told solemnly not to disclose these family secrets to anyone.” “Half-caste” and “gwei-jai” were fighting words.

Given these entrenched attitudes, it might seem surprising that back in 1875 the Rev. Joseph Twichell, Mark Twain’s pastor, encouraged his Chinese friend, Yung Wing, to wed an Anglo-American woman — “glorying in” his marriage to Mary Kellogg as a union of East and West. It might seem equally surprising that in 1914 Chinese diplomat Wu Ting-fang declared that the intermarriage of the “yellow” and “white” races would be “productive of good to both sides.”

It turns out that the notion that “intermarriage was taboo” can take us only so far in understanding the rich and complex history of Sino-American cross-cultural encounters. My book, Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, 1842-1943, tries to tell a more nuanced story by examining not only the obstacles faced by mixed families on both sides of the Pacific, but also the emergence of ideas supporting Sino-American intermarriage as “productive of good” on social, political, or biological grounds. I demonstrate how Eurasians navigated a complex world in which they faced contradictions between exclusionary and inclusive ideologies of race and nationality, and between overt racism and more subtle forms of prejudice that were counterbalanced by partial acceptance and privilege.


Emma Jinhua Teng is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow and the T.T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations and Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at MIT and the author of Taiwan’s Imagined Geography: Chinese Colonial Travel Writing and Pictures, 1683-1895 (Harvard, 2004).



By Virginia Scharff

This guest post is published in advance of the Organization of American Historians conference in St. Louis. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference theme, Taboos. Come back for new posts every weekday until April 17.

Can we talk about shards of American history that seem vaguely forbidden? About a family of abolitionists bent on slaughter, Native American slaveholders, heroes of the Union who commit Indian massacres, woman suffrage advocates who favor the vote for white women to counterbalance the votes of black men, a Navajo woman, once a captive, meeting the President of the United States, Hispanic households reliant on unfree domestic labor, long after Emancipation? Can we talk about the deep contradictions and complexities of seeing the American struggle over freedom as a continental story?

If you don’t mind history that embraces unpleasant truths, then you are ready for the stories you’ll find in Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West, companion volume to the exhibition opening at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles this spring. Eleven historians offer essays inspired by revealing objects. Consider the double-edged Bowie knife given to Cherokee leader Stand Watie, commissioned a colonel in the Confederate army, who would become the last Confederate general to surrender. Or perhaps you’d be interested in the papers carried by Chinese immigrants to prove their legal status, the flag sewn by Jessie Benton Fremont for her husband to carry on expeditions of continental conquest, the rifle they called a “Beecher’s Bible” when it was shipped by devout New England partisans to antislavery warriors joining the arms race in Bleeding Kansas.

These objects and the stories they illuminate show us how our two great national epics, the struggle over slavery and freedom, and the quest for continental dominion, are really one story. It’s a story across prairies and mountains and deserts and innumerable cultural divides, shocking and multifarious and indivisible, with liberty and justice still to come.


Virginia Scharff is Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico. She is the co-curator (with Carolyn Brucken) of the “Empire and Liberty” exhibition at the Autry National Center, where she serves as Women of the West Chair. Her previous works include Twenty Thousand Roads: Women, Movement, and the WestThe Women Jefferson Loved; and Home Lands: How Women Made the West (with Carolyn Brucken).


A Political History of Surfing

By Scott Laderman

This guest post is published in advance of the Organization of American Historians conference in St. Louis. UC Press authors share their research and stories that reflect on this year’s conference theme, Taboos. Come back for new posts every weekday until April 17.

Surfing and politics don’t mix. I must have heard this dozens of times growing up in California. I always found it a strange and problematical assertion, as it was usually stated by one group of surfers in response to another group of surfers’ concerns about South African apartheid.

South Africa, for those who don’t know, is a major center of global surf culture. It has produced three professional world champions (Shaun Tomson, Wendy Botha, and Martin Potter, the last of whom is a Durban-raised British national) and numerous amateur champions, and it remains a perennial presence on surfing’s world tour. So in the 1980s, when some of the world’s most highly regarded professionals decided to boycott South Africa, it was generally considered a big deal.

When I interviewed a handful of these professionals for my Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing, I was struck by their frequent refusal to see their decision in political terms. Boycotting the apartheid state was about taking a “humanitarian stand,” Tom Carroll, an Australian two-time world champion, told me. It was most assuredly not political, insisted Martin Potter.

What the statements suggest, I believe, is many surfers’ concern that a descent into “the political” might contaminate the presumed purity of their pastime. This purity matters to them, as countless surfers equate the natural communion of human and wave with the spiritual experiences afforded by most religions. The ocean can be surfers’ temple.

But just as we recognize the politics of religion, so, too, must we recognize the politics of surfing. Popularized under conditions of empire, globalized with the expansion of American power, and industrialized under neoliberal capitalism, the sport could never escape the larger social forces that have shaped our modern world. The history of modern surfing is inevitably a political history. Surfers would do well to recognize as much.


Scott Laderman is Associate Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.


Collabra. Changing the rules of Open Access journal publishing

We are pleased to announce the launch of Collabra, our new Open Access journal. We are now open for submissions in three core fields of study: Life and Biomedical Sciences; Ecology and Environmental Science; Social and Behavioral Sciences. We aim to have a different model, one that gives back to the research community. Here’s a look at the process behind the creation of Collabra:

Why did UC Press decide to get into Open Access? Because the idea of Open Access — making important scientific and scholarly work accessible to anyone — aligns perfectly with our mission. We believe in driving progressive change, and we decided we were in a great position to do something interesting and new.

There are many Open Access journals out there, how is Collabra different? Collabra is the first Open Access journal created to not only share the research but also the value contributed by the research community through the review process. More often than not, all the direct value and revenue in scholarly publishing flows only to publishers. We aim to change that. When people volunteer their time and expertise as an editor or reviewer, their efforts will generate a tangible value, and they can decide what to do with it. We offer the option of either receiving payment for the work provided or paying that value forward to the research community. Importantly, the decision of how the funds will be used is left to the editors and reviewers, not Collabra.

How do you fund these payments to editors and reviewers? Our Article Processing Charge (APC) is $875. Of that sum, $625 goes toward publishing and other operational costs. The remaining $250 is paid into an account from which funds are made available to editors and reviewers for all work on the journal — regardless of decisions to accept or reject articles.

Editors and reviewers can choose to either keep their earnings or pay them forward to the Collabra Waiver Fund or to their institution’s OA APC fund. The Collabra Waiver Fund is there for authors who do not have the funds to pay the APCs, and pays the APC on their behalf. (So it’s really a sponsorship fund.)

How do your Article Processing Charges compare to other OA journals?
We’ve made it more affordable. We started from scratch and worked up, covering our costs, rather than matching our APC to what we think the market can bear or matching against what other journals charge. Our APC of $875 USD is one of the lowest in the industry.

Does Collabra have a particular area of focus? Our initial launch will include 3 core fields of study: Life and Biomedical Sciences, Ecology and Environmental Science, Social and Behavioral Sciences. Over the next several years, we plan to expand into disciplines across science, humanities, and other important areas of research.

If you are interested in becoming a reviewer or editor, or would like to submit an article please visit collabraoa.org

Want to know more? We have a video just for you.