The Bakken Goes Boom: A Collaborative Book Project

As I look ahead to my sabbatical year, I hope to have so many projects ready for attention that it is neither regenerative nor focused. So, I’m very excited to announce that I will be editing a book with my colleague Kyle Conway in the University of North Dakota’s Department of English. Titled The Bakken Goes Boom, the book will bring together many of the leading academic voices on recent events associated with the oil boom in the Bakken. We have a snazzy website here.

The most exciting thing about it is that the book will be produced in collaboration with a graduate seminar called “Communication and the Rural Community”. You can check out the syllabus here. The students will help us evaluate the contributions, edit them, and have the opportunity to contribute to the volume themselves. Kyle is also hoping to arrange a trip to the Bakken with the class.

Here is the Call for Papers:

The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota. Edited by William Caraher and Kyle Conway

In less than five years, western North Dakota has changed so dramatically that many long-time residents no longer recognize it. High oil prices and new mining techniques have made the region, which sits on top of the rich Bakken oil formation, an exciting place to be. While the rest of the U.S. economy has lagged, North Dakota’s has boomed. People have flocked to state in search of a better life, and cities such as Williston and Watford City have doubled or tripled in size.

The editors of The Bakken Goes Boom are soliciting essays on topics related to the oil boom and its impact on the geography and communities of western North Dakota. The book will address topics from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. Its intended audience includes not only scholars but residents of western North Dakota, newcomers to the area, and policy-makers in Bismarck, all of whom are trying to understand the changes the state is undergoing.

Potential topics to address include (but are by no means limited to):

  • History: how does this boom resemble or differ from oil booms of the past?
  • How does the boom fit into the larger history of the state?
  • What are the benefits/cost of the boom (social, economic, environmental, etc.)?
  • How have man-camps changed the physical and social landscape of western North Dakota?
  • Patterns of migration: where are people coming from, and where are they settling?
  • How are newcomers using social media to stay connected to home or to build ties with North Dakota?
  • What are the environmental advantages/drawbacks of hydraulic fracturing (fracking)?
  • What legal questions does petroleum exploration raise?
  • What impact do international geopolitics (for instance, the negotiations about the potential Keystone Pipeline) have on western North Dakota?

Submissions of 5,000 to 8,000 words (formatted following the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style) should be sent to the editors, William Caraher (william dot caraher at und dot edu) and Kyle Conway (kyle dot conway at und dot edu) by February 28, 2014. They should be in .odt, .rtf, .doc, or .docx formats.

The Bakken Goes Boom will be published by the Digital Press of the University of North Dakota, a new project run by the UND Working Group in Digital Humanities. It will undergo peer review, and it will be distributed in both electronic and paper formats. The expected publication date is Fall 2014.

DigitalPressLogowhiteThe Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

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