Monthly Archives: February 2016

March 2016 News, Reviews, and Events


UW Press remembers Leroy (Lee) Soper, longtime member of the advisory board, who passed away on Tuesday, February 2, on the eve of his ninety-second birthday.

The four presses involved in the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program are now all actively recruiting for positions (see joint announcement). If you know of excellent candidates, please send them our way (applications due March 15)! Read a piece by UW Press editor in chief and Principal Investigator Larin McLaughlin at the UW Press blog and an interview with the MIT Press editorial director Gita Manaktala at the MIT Press blog.

UW Press is also accepting applications for the 2016-17 Soden-Trueblood Graduate Publishing Fellow position (deadline: March 18). Read a guest post from 2015-16 Soden-Trueblood Graduate Publishing Fellow Becky Ramsey Leporati on her fellowship experience.

The Association for Asian Studies has announced the winners of this year’s AAS book prizes. Xiaofei Tian is winner of the Hanan Translation Prize for World of a Tiny Insect. Author Wai-yee Li (one of the translators of Zuo Tradition / Zuozhuan and a coauthor of The Letter to Ren An) has won the Levenson Prize (Pre-1900 China) for her latest monograph (published by Harvard Asia Center). Congratulations to our authors and all involved!

P. Dee Boersma, author of Penguins, is a finalist for the prestigious Indianapolis Prize for conservation, sponsored by the Indianapolis Zoological Society (UW Today; Daily). Boersma and the five other finalists have been awarded $10,000 each and the winner will receive $250,000 and a medal. Listen to a recent interview with Boersma about iGalapagos on KUOW’s “The Record,” as well as in National Geographic and

Reviews and Interviews

BehindCovers-BlackWomen-00Black Women in Sequence author Deborah Elizabeth Whaley has Q&As at Blavity (picked up at the A.V. Club) and Little Village, and speaks with Comic Culture.

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From the Desk of Larin McLaughlin: The Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program

In this guest post, UW Press editor in chief and Principal Investigator Larin McLaughlin writes about how the Mellon University Press Diversity Fellowship Program (application deadline: March 15, 2016) came to be:

In the past six months, two children’s books have incited controversy with their rosy depictions of enslaved African Americans making desserts for their owners. On the heels of the well-tweeted #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, which brought national attention to the lack of diversity in children’s book publishing, objections to the books flew across social media platforms. On my own Facebook feed, scholar and cultural critic Rebecca Wanzo nailed a key question that pervades these controversies: “who was in the room?” Publishing houses produce all-too-frequent situations where critical decisions are made without the benefit of diverse perspectives, and who is in the room certainly matters.

In the case of A Birthday Cake for George Washington, author Ramin Ganeshram describes how her concerns about racial representation went unheeded in the collaboration between author, illustrator, and publisher. Overall, those best positioned to bring critical and diverse perspectives to publishing decisions are still significantly underrepresented in the industry: recent surveys such as the 2015 Publishers Weekly Salary Survey and the Diversity Baseline Survey demonstrate important differences in demographics between publishing professionals in the U.S. and the U.S. population more generally. Continue reading

From the Desk of Becky Ramsey Leporati: The Soden-Trueblood Graduate Publishing Fellow Program

A call for applications has just gone out looking for the 2016-17 Soden-Trueblood Graduate Publishing Fellow (application deadline: March 18, 2016). The fellowship gives one Masters or PhD student the opportunity to work in a variety of departments, including editorial, production, and marketing. Throughout the course of the fellowship the student will be exposed to a wide range of areas in the publication process, including acquisitions, copyediting, design, production, electronic publication, and marketing. The fellowship will also offer a larger sense of the publishing profession and current issues gained through readings, opportunities to network within and outside the press, and discussions about career issues and further educational opportunities.

As part of a series of guest posts from the desks of UW Press staffers, 2015-2016 Graduate Publishing Fellow Becky Ramsey Leporati describes her experiences at the press.

Becky Ramsey Leporati-portraitIt’s Thursday morning and I’m at my desk at the University of Washington Press, checking my email and enjoying the view out my window. I can see the top of the Space Needle just over the parking garage across the street. On my to-do list this morning: reviewing revisions to book summaries I’ve written for the Marketing department, finishing edits to a manuscript for publication this fall, and submitting applications to the Library of Congress for cataloging records. I’m here twenty hours each week, so I want to make each one count.

I’ve been working at the press since last September, getting a couple of quiet weeks in before the quarter started and homework, classes, and department commitments started competing for my ever-dwindling time. In other words, I got to just enjoy learning about books before jumping back into the typical life of a graduate student. Even amid all the chaos, though, my time at the press has largely been a peaceful break from that torrent. It’s an opportunity to really understand a process, to see how books go from idea to manuscript to product.

One great advantage of the fellowship is how open it is to the research and professional interests of the fellows. Last year, for example, the fellow was a PhD student in the Communications Department, Will Mari. Since Will’s plan is to become a professor, his interest in academic publishing mostly came from the content production side. He was able to get a good idea of how the press works to better inform him as a future author of academic books.

I, on the other hand, am finishing up my degree in library science this year. As a future academic librarian, I wanted to learn more about publishing as scholarly communication. As a support for faculty looking to publish, I will now be able to better explain what they need to know about the publishing process. I will also be better informed as I make buying decisions to grow the monograph collection at my future institution.

While this fellowship has allowed for concentrated explorations of specific career goals, it is also quite indulgent of general curiosity. I have had great conversations with people in every department of the press about what they do and what they see on the horizon. It’s not surprising, then, that many people have gone on from this fellowship not just to become faculty members and authors, but also editors and other publishing professionals.

As we look for the next graduate student to fill this role, I am hoping that the opportunity will go to someone curious about publishing who can share a new perspective no one has heard from before. Maybe it will be you!

In Memoriam: Leroy (Lee) Soper


Leroy Soper, photograph by Mary Randlett.

Leroy (Lee) Soper, a longtime member of the University of Washington Press advisory board, passed away on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, the eve of his ninety-second birthday.

University of Washington Press director Nicole Mitchell notes, “Lee was an ardent supporter of books generally and the University of Washington Press in particular. We were incredibly fortunate to have Lee’s support over the decades, and his presence will be greatly missed not only by the press and Seattle’s literary community, but also by book buyers and readers throughout the region.”

Lee began his career at the Walla Walla Bookshop in 1952 and worked for the University Book Store from 1959 to 1969. He left to establish the Raymar Northwest Book Company, the first large-scale regional book wholesaler in the Pacific Northwest. By offering timely access to stock, Lee’s wholesale business was key to helping bookstores across the region expand and flourish.

Lee returned to the University Book Store in 1977 as general book manager, and he remained there until he retired in 1993. He founded the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, still a dynamic resource for bookstores, booksellers, librarians, and media around the region, and he was a member of the American Booksellers Association. Lee helped judge the Governor’s Writers Award (now the Washington State Book Award), and he served on the University of Washington Press advisory board for twenty-six years, from its founding in 1988, helping the press earn its worldwide reputation as a leading publisher of high-quality academic and regional trade books.

Former University of Washington Press director Pat Soden writes, “Leroy Soper was Seattle’s ‘Mr. Books.’ He was an extraordinary bookman and dear friend to the generation of publishers and booksellers he trained and mentored. The general book department of the University Book Store is the monument Lee built, but his lasting legacy is the great book town Seattle has become. I will miss him beyond words.”

The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City

Burke-PortlandBlackPanthersFrom Ferguson, Missouri to Flint, Michigan, African American communities across the nation continue to struggle for the same basic rights, protections, and social services demanded by the civil rights movement exactly a half century ago. In their timely new book, The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City, authors Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson Jeffries remind us of an earlier case of concerned citizens, in a similarly overlooked black community, who took matters into their own hands when they felt they weren’t being heard by local leaders. While most of us easily associate the Black Panthers with berets and bullet belts, Burke and Jeffries show us that the Portland branch, which was much smaller than its more infamous counterparts in the Bay area, was more concerned with taking care of neighborhood kids and opening a free health clinic for the community.

Though there definitely are stories of violence, angry protests, police brutality, and other more dramatic episodes in their book, the excerpt I’ve chosen focuses on the group’s early attempts (before it was an official Black Panther branch) to start a free breakfast program for kids in the Albina district. I chose this passage for several reasons. For starters, it’s a warm, “feel good” moment that demonstrates the Portland Panthers’ ability to build community, countering the stereotype that portrays them only as angry and combative. Instead, we see Kent Ford and other Portland Panthers working to secure food donations, and organizing early morning schedules for cooks and servers, actions that clearly take a great deal of planning and effort. Secondly, we see through the press coverage how the Portland branch challenged those very preconceived notions about the Black Panthers. Reporters came in expecting militant ideology and instead found pancakes and syrup.

Finally, I chose this particular excerpt because it also speaks to the vision of the Panthers. Providing free breakfast to school kids might seem like a minor thing, but, as they argued, the idea that everyone is entitled to a healthy diet is truly a revolutionary concept. These days that concept is known as the “food justice” movement, but, as the authors show, it was being fought for in Portland long before it had an official name. Though the Portland Black Panthers branch dissolved by the 1980s, its legacy lives on in the city through the various activist groups fighting for fair housing, living wages, environmental justice, and an end to police brutality, among other issues. By shining the spotlight on the little known Portland Black Panther branch, Burke and Jeffries show us how even the smallest group—in the unlikeliest of places—can affect major change by building up its community and relentlessly pushing back against the powers that be.

Ranjit Arab, Senior Editor

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City, by Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson Jeffries:

Even though they were not yet card-carrying members of the Black Panther Party, NCCF (National Committee to Combat Fascism) members in Portland worked diligently in the fall of 1969 to establish a free breakfast program for school kids. “The government had money to fight a war thousands and thousands of miles away . . . and send astronauts to the moon,” Kent Ford said, “but ensuring that kids received a well-balanced meal before heading off to school was not a priority . . . so the Panthers made it a priority.” In 1967, the US government spent a mere $600,000 on breakfast programs nationwide. But as more and more Panther branches started their own free breakfast programs, government-sponsored breakfast initiatives proliferated. By 1972, government-sponsored breakfast programs were feeding more than a million children of the approximately five million who qualified for such aid.

Doing the work of a Panther without being acknowledged as a Panther frustrated some of the Portland members. Their community survival initiatives, among other things, were indicative of the NCCF’s burning desire and commitment to be recognized as full-fledged Panthers. Becoming an official Panther came with a tremendous amount of responsibility, but to some it was not significantly different from what they had become accustomed to doing as members of the NCCF. Oscar Johnson remembers how he structured his days around Panther activities: “My work as a Panther was not all that different than what I was doing as a member of the NCCF. I worked nights, so I was the driver. I’d finish my shift and pick up kids who needed a ride to breakfast. Go home and sleep. We solicited cash and food from neighborhood businesses in the afternoon and attended political education classes at night. It felt good. . . . We were doing something. We had the respect of the community.” Drawing on a small but diverse group of young working-class and student activists, these African American men and women used a variety of networks and connections to build a robust breakfast program. The Portland NCCF made the announcement that it was going to start a free breakfast program at a community meeting. “From the outset, people were receptive to the program,” said Black Panther Patty (Hampton) Carter. Believing the program to be a worthwhile endeavor, Rev. Samuel L. Johnson, head pastor of the Highland United Church of Christ, offered his church as the venue for the program. The church, located at 4635 NE Ninth Ave, was ideal, as it was spacious, met building and health code inspections, and was in close proximity to Martin Luther King Elementary School, which was located at 4906 NE Sixth Avenue. One week into the 1969–70 school year, NCCF members distributed leaflets (outlining the schedule, goals, and objective of the free breakfast program) to various community groups and passed them out to kids as they walked to and from school. Ford remembered that “people were so supportive of the program. . . . Rev. Johnson didn’t charge us a dime . . . neither did the Wonder Bread company that gave us fifty loaves of bread each week, no questions asked . . . then there was this one nice lady who (within a month of starting the breakfast program) came in one day with seventy-five cartons of eggs. When I attempted to pay her for her trouble, she turned me down flat saying, ‘You guys are doing good work.’ ”

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Behind the Covers: ‘Black Women in Sequence’

BehindCovers-BlackWomen-00As we head into the 40th Black History Month (AKA African American History Month and #BlackFutureMonth), we feature a guest post from UW Press Senior Designer Thomas Eykemans on the creative process behind Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime by Deborah Elizabeth Whaley. The book won an award in the Scholarly Illustrated category of the 2016 AAUP Book, Jacket and Journal Show.

As the first detailed investigation of Black women’s participation in comic art, Black Women in Sequence examines the representation, production, and transnational circulation of women of African descent in the sequential art world. In this groundbreaking study, which includes interviews with artists and writers, Whaley suggests that the treatment of the Black female subject in sequential art says much about the place of people of African descent in national ideology in the United States and abroad. Below, Eykemans walks us through the collaborative design.

Comics are one of my favorite visual mediums, so it was a pleasant surprise to learn that I would have the opportunity to work on this book. With a diverse range of imagery to draw from and challenging themes to approach, I reached out to the author to help clarify the intention of her book and how I might best represent that in the cover design. Deborah identified the comic strip Friday Foster as the ideal source for a striking cover image. Friday Foster was the first black female comic strip character in a mainstream publication.


“Friday Foster,” Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1972.

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