Tuesday, March 31, 2009

UGA Press receives grant for North American history series

The University of Georgia Press is one of three university presses to receive a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support “Early American Places,” a new scholarly book series devoted to early North American history. The UGA Press, New York University Press and Northern Illinois University Press will receive $648,000 over five years to publish twelve series titles annually.

The goal of the series is to publish books written by first-time authors that root developments in early North America to the specific places where they occurred. The three presses will focus on the regions where they have particular expertise: UGA Press on the Southeastern colonies, the Gulf South, and the Caribbean; NYU Press on the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic colonies; and NIU Press on the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Valley.

“All three presses collaborating on the series are sensitive to the transnational turn in the study of early North America,” said Derek Krissoff, senior acquisitions editor at UGA Press and a co-author of the grant. “But we’re also sensitive to the things that are particular to where we live and work.The idea behind Early American Places is to combine the two—to look at how specific cities and counties and colonies and regions experienced, and contributed to, global phenomena like migration, trade and war. Scholarship undertaken at this scale can capture a level of texture that often gets lost in ‘bigger’ books.”

Deborah Gershenowitz, senior editor at NYU Press and the other co-author of the grant, added that the series was created specifically with junior faculty in mind. “First books in history are almost always revised dissertations, and many dissertations in early American history are regional in scope, drawing on town, county and colonial archives,” she said. “In part, this is a reflection of the fact that developments in early North America were often experienced and made sense of at a local level.”

“Our focus on place gets to the heart of history—real people, doing real things, in real places,” said NIU acquisitions editor Sara Hoerdeman. “The books in the series will also explore significant ideas and historical themes, but our books will be innovative by being grounded in a geographic place.”

The grant, which is being administered by the UGA Press, will fund a shared, centralized, external editorial service dedicated to the editing and production of books. The three presses will also combine marketing efforts. An editorial board of leading scholars of early American history who will help recruit outstanding manuscripts is currently being assembled.

“Regional American history is a very important part of our publishing program, and it is an area of the field that has been underserved due to the relatively tiny markets for such works,” said Steve Maikowski, director of NYU Press. “This new series will allow us to expand our publishing of outstanding original scholarship in the history of the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions.”

“We are honored that Mellon has chosen to lend us their support,” said Nicole Mitchell, director of UGA Press. “It’s gratifying to work collaboratively with our colleagues at other university presses, and this grant will be invaluable help to us all.”

“NIU Press has made a commitment in the past to publish in Early American history and in regional studies, and this collaborative series offers us a better opportunity to synthesize these areas,” said J. Alex Schwartz, director of NIU Press. “Moreover, I am delighted to be working with our fellow presses at Georgia and NYU.”

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