Once again, this semester I’m lucky enough to be allowed to teach a practicum in editing and publishing for my friends in the English Department. Since I’m not faculty in that department (and haven’t had an English class since high school, as this blog undoubtedly attests), it’s always a privilege to be able to teach there.
This privilege comes at a bit of a cost, though, in that I need to plan something for the class, and this means establishing some priorities for students who will work on North Dakota Quarterly as well as some projects associated with The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.
This semester we have a range of projects and priorities that might appeal to the students who want to get some experience in both the editing and publishing aspects of “the industry.” Here’s what I proposed last semester. I think my priorities this semester are a bit more clear and well developed.
Some priorities are more pressing than others.
1. NDQ 90.1/2. On March 1, NDQ 90.1/2 is due to our publisher. This means that we need to send essays, reviews, and poems to the copy editor. Collect the accepted fiction from the fiction editor. Identify cover art. And most importantly, put the issue in order. This latter step is as much of an art as a science and involves understanding which works we must publish in 90.1/2 (and which works can wait until 90.3/4) and how various works fit together to provide a well-considered experience for the reader.
2. NDQat90. This spring we also plan to start our celebrations of the 90th volume of NDQ. Last semester the practicum in editing and publishing prepared a manuscript for an innovative window into the Quarterly archive. This class produced reflections on a collection of 90 works from the last 90 issues of NDQ. This winter and spring our goal is to turn this into a digital and paper book that invites readers to return to the archive through a fresh set of eyes.
There are a couple of mid-range projects that need consistent attention.
3. The Blog. As part of our effort to increase readers, subscribers, and contributors to NDQ, we post weekly to the NDQ Blog. Usually after we publish an issue, we feature content from that issue on the blog. Now, for example, we’re featuring content from 89.3/4. This means that we need to identify content that might attract readers to the issue and reflects the kind of content that we want to encourage in NDQ submissions. This isn’t a lot of work, but is constant work.
4. Prairie Voices. I had a crazy idea a few weeks ago to re-publish some early-20th century prairie poetry. I was motivated in part by reading Molly Rozum’s Grasslands Grown: Creating Place on the U.S. Northern Plains and Canadian Prairie (Nebraska 2021) and reading a bit of Clell Gannon’s poetry and, in particular, his Songs of the Bunch Grass Acres (1924) which entered the public domain this year. Maybe the students would be interested in republishing this book with some expanded content (say a biographic introduction and some critical commentary from someone versed in prairie poetry)?
5. Building Campus. This spring The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota will publish a book marking the renovation of Merrifield Hall. The book is almost complete, but will require a bit of copy editing, production, and marketing work. It would be fantastic to get the students involved in this book’s “end game,” in part because it emerged from another class that I taught for the English Department in the spring of 2022.
There are some longer-range projects that also would benefit from attention.
6. Tartar Utopia. Some time this semester, I should receive a manuscript that is the translation of Ismail Gaspıralı’s Darürrahat Müslümanlanı (Muslims of the Peaceful Country) by Ciğdem Pala Mull. It will include essays by a number of scholars exploring the potential of this text to invite new ways of utopian thinking some 100 years after its publication. You can read excerpts of it that appeared in NDQ 84.1/2 here. The plan is to desk review this book and then circulate it for peer review this spring.
7. The Archive. Last semester, we completed digitizing the back issues of NDQ and have made all but the last 5 years available in our archive. The issues live at both the HathiTrust and (gulp) WordPress. We certainly need to migrate all this content to our institutional repository. The downside of this is that our institutional repository does not allow us to link to a specific page within the PDF and because of various permission issues, we can’t separate out specific articles from their respective issues. We can do this with PDFs served via WordPress and HathiTrust. That said, we can at least separate out the issues from the scanned volumes in HathiTrust and upload those volumes to the NDQ pages in our institutional repository.
This feels like a hectic semester for the practicum class and it is unlikely that all these things get completed, but it will give the students a sense for all the moving parts that involve editing and publishing even at a relatively small scale!