Louise Glück’s Poetry, The Bakken and the Quarterly

It speaks volumes that a fly will overshadow the announcement of an American poet, Louise Elisabeth Glück, winning the Nobel Prize for literature.

If you don’t have some of her poetry on your shelf, I recommend it (for whatever that’s worth). A few years ago Farrar, Strauss and Giroux published an anthology of her work. Here are some of her poems as well. I also like the essay, “Against Sincerity”:

“…the source of art is experience, the end product truth, and the artist, surveying the actual, constantly intervenes and manages, lies and deletes, all in the service of truth.”


I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of downloads that Kyle Conway’s edited volume, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018. It has already outperformed my expectations and continues to generate interest and excitement.

Kyle is also a great interview (and conversationalist). I did a little interview with him and posted it to the Digital Press blog. We discuss the book and the past and future of his Bakken research. As always he saves elevates my banal questions with his insightful responses. 

Read it here. Or download the book here, buy it on Amazon here, or get a copy from a small bookshop here.


Last but not least, I’ve posted the table of contents for the next issue of North Dakota Quarterly over at the NDQ blog. You can check it out here.

If you like it, you can download volume 85 for free or our latest issue 87.1/2 here.  

As you likely know, these days are particularly challenging for many cultural institutions, publishers, and little magazines. If you can, consider buying a book from a small presssubscribing to a literary journal (like our UNP stablemate, Hotel Amerika), or otherwise supporting the arts.

We are currently reading poetry and essay and are always reading fiction. You can submit something to us here. If you already subscribe, you should get receive your latest copy of NDQ in November. If you’d like to subscribe, please go here

Some Little Publishing Notes from The Digital Press

This fall has been a hectic and exciting one for The Digital Press. We not only published two books, Calobe Jackson, Jr., Katie Wingert McArdle, David Pettegrew’s, One Hundred Voices, Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920 and Kyle Conway’s Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018, but we have a busy production queue which promises an exciting winter.

The most exciting project simmering right now on The Digital Press’s stove is Derek Counts, Erin Averett, Kevin Garstki, and Michael Toumazou’s Visualizing Votive Practice. Yesterday while I took my mid-morning stroll, I received the marked up copy of the first page proofs from the books authorial trio. I now have weekend plans and we’re on target for a mid-November publication date.

To celebrate this milestone, it seems a good time to release the book’s cover (which we’ve been eager to do since mid September!). Dan Coslett is responsible for the outstanding cover design.

VVP cover final rev

The bold colors and dynamic design challenges age old conventions that the appearance of catalogues should be staid and formal affairs of interest largely to specialists. For this volume, we tried to capture a bit of the interactive spirit of the 3D models contained in the book and the faceted sculptural face underscores the authors’ attention to practice, both in terms of the votive rituals explored by the book as well as their attention to the production of the 3D scans of the terracotta and limestone sculpture.

Momentum begets momentum or so it would appear. It may be that social distancing begets monument, if I’m to be honest. Whatever the case, the Digital Press was also happy enough to help out with a couple of other “Digital Press Adjacent” projects this fall.

Sometime in the next couple of weeks, the Western Argolid Research Project will upload its survey manual to the tDAR archive where it can be downloaded, modified, and referenced. I typeset the contents to give it just a tiny bit of polish and created a cover for it that probably benefits more from the nice photo than any graphic design acumen on  my part. 

WARP Manual 03  dragged

We also learned that Patrick Henry, a colleague (and regular contributor to NDQ), will be teaching a course of World War I literature this spring semester. He had plans to use a little volume of NDQ Reprints that I put together to highlight some early 20th century content from the Quarterly and to typeset something in Doves Type. The book was initially meant as a digital download only, but for whatever reason never got much traffic (even as we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Great War), and for a while the download link was broken. This was not a great look for us. Here’s the download link if you’re curious!

NDQ The Great War Reprint  dragged

Patrick asked if we could perhaps produce a print version of the book, and I happily agreed! We’ll being making the little book available via Amazon heading into the Holiday Season and donating a little stack of copies to Patrick’s class. Stay tuned for more on this little project over the next month or so. 

Three Things Thursday: Ruins, Books, and the Quarterly

Things are a bit busier than usual these days, so I thought I’d share some of the stuff rattling in my office with a little Three Things Thursday.

Thing the First

I’m pretty sure that I won’t write it, but someone should really pull together a review essay on recent books about ruins. I’m hoping to finish a short review of Martin Devecka’s Broken Cities (2020), which I’ve drafted here, and a few weeks ago, I read and enjoyed Filipe Rojas’s The Pasts of Roman Anatolia (2019). I read and found useful parts of Simon Murray’s 2020 book, Performing Ruins, which stands at the intersection of archaeology, drama, and social critique. It wouldn’t be difficult to add Rodney Harrison and Colin Sterling new edited volume Deterritorializing the Future: Heritage in, of and after the Anthropocene (2020) or the massively collaborative Heritage Futures: Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices (2020) volume to the list. Lynn Meskel’s  A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace (2018) fits the theme on the basis of its title alone (I’ve blogged about it here) and Francisco Martínez’s and Patrick Laviolette’s book Repair, Brokenness, Breakthrough: Ethnographic Responses (Berghahn 2019) would fit into a larger conversation about ruins and ruination as well. Finally, Susan Stewart’s book, Ruin Lessons (2020) has been languishing on my “to read pile” for most of the year and I just need to suck it up and read it.

Obviously not all of these books consider ruins in the same way which perhaps makes a kind of comparative review a bit awkward. On the other hand, the range of different approaches to ruins could make a kind of oddly compelling essay in the right hands. 

Things the Second

It’s always great to get some media coverage for a book from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. This week the Williston Herald published a nice interview with Kyle Conway about Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018. One thing that struck me about this article is that not only did it do more than just rely on the book’s press release, but it also — and perhaps more importantly — drove traffic to the book’s webpage. More than that, this traffic resulted in downloads. For an open access press like mine, downloads are a pretty precious commodity because they mean books are getting into people’s hands.

The Digital Press is also excited to announce that One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920 is now available from The Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Proceeds from the books sold there will go to support the maintenance of the Commonwealth Monument. If you’re thinking about buying this remarkable little book, now is a great opportunity to buy it and make a difference.

Finally, over the past six months, Eric Burin’s edited volume, Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College (2018) has become a surprise best seller for The Digital Press. Following on this success, Dr. Burin was invited to host one of Humanities ND’s “Brave Conversations” about the electoral college. The event is online and, frankly, a bit pricey at $50 for a non Humanities ND member, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it! You can check it out here.

Thing the Third

This time of year is, for the foreseeable future, NDQ time. This means I spend hours processing contributions to the Quarterly, organizing paperwork, and putting the volume into some semblance of order. I detailed my process here.

What makes this all tolerable is that I also get a chance to spend time again with our accepted submissions. This means re-reading the poetry, fiction, and essays that make their way into each issue of the Quarterly.

My excitement usually gets the better of me and I begin to share some of the content from the issue on the NDQ blog. This morning, I shared two of John Sibley Williams’ poems. Go and check them out here.

Sneak Peek at a New Book from The Digital Press

One advantage that readers of my blog get is that I’ll often offer pre-publication peeks of the books published by my press, The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working with David Pettegrew and his team at the 100 Voices Project, which is part of the larger Digital Harrisburg and Commonwealth Monument Project in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to typeset and design a book titled One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s African American Community, 1850-1920. The book was brought together by Calobe Jackson, Jr., Katie Wingert McArdle David Pettegrew and Lenwood Sloan added a foreword. 

The stories contained in the book are really quite remarkable as Harrisburg’s African American community had ties reaching from the Antebellum South to the Harlem Renaissance with local, regional, and national figures in between. Each short biological sketch complements by detailed data points associated with these individual’s lives makes for compelling reading.

One Hundred Voices Cover FINAL 05 ONEPAGE

I was particularly taken by the poetry of Esther Popel Shaw, who was a significant poet in the Harlem Renaissance, the professional accomplishments of Henry H. Summer’s who goes on to teach Greek and Theology at Wilberforce University, and pathbreaking career of Benjamin J. Foote, the first African American policeman in Harrisburg. There’s much more to read and discover in these stories that speak to the dynamism of the African American community in a mid-sized American city and tell stories both relevant to our current public attentiveness to Black history and more enduring considerations.  

Here’s a little description of this amazing project: 

In 2020, a coalition of citizens, organizers, legislators, and educators came together to commemorate the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments by establishing a new monument in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This would be a memorial dedicated to the capital city’s significant African American community and its historic struggle for the vote. The Commonwealth Monument, located on the Irvis Equality Circle on the South Lawn of Pennsylvania’s State Capitol Grounds, features a bronze pedestal inscribed with one hundred names of change agents who pursued the power of suffrage and citizenship between 1850 and 1920.

This book is a companion to this monument and tells the stories of those one hundred freedom seekers, abolitionists, activists, suffragists, moralists, policemen, masons, doctors, lawyers, musicians, poets, publishers, teachers, preachers, housekeepers, janitors, and business leaders, among many others. In their committed advocacy for freedom, equality, and justice, these inspiring men and women made unique and lasting contributions to the standing and life of African Americans—and, indeed, the political power of all Americans—within their local communities and across the country.

If you want to download a copy of the book a few weeks before it’s released, go here.

Updates from The Digital Press: 100 Voices from Harrisburg’s African-American Community

The next six months will likely be the busiest stretch of time ever for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. Not only will we have four books in various stages of production, but at least three of them will be scheduled for release before the end of 2020. 

The next book on my production schedule will be — ironically — the first book to be released: One Hundred Voices from Harrisburg’s African-American Community. It’s a collaboration with David Pettegrew’s Digital Harrisburg Project that will bring together in a single volume 100 short biographical sketches from Harrisburg’s African-American community. You can read more about it here.

We have a working draft of the cover of the book. My first effort sought to anchor the book in a historic streetscape from Harrisburg. The title was in Vocal Type’s Bayard font. Tré Seals’ Vocal Type is an African-American design house who has produced a number of interesting display fonts. For a book cover, we thought Bayard would be the best and it was pretty affordable.

One Hundred Voices Cover 01

This cover was vetoed by our collaborators in Harrisburg in large part because there were no people in it, and this book is about people as much as the place. So we went back to the drawing board and produced this:

One hundred voices cover 3 01

We added a bit of color to the photographs across the top of the book cover and to the title of the book. Since the covers of books from The Digital Press have to be “screen friendly” which means that they have to stand out at various sizes and in various, often cluttered, online contexts. So a bold title is absolutely necessary and the use of color, despite all the images being originally in black and white, will hopefully also help the book stand out. 

The design of the page also offered a bit of a challenge. Digital Harrisburg had collected a good bit of information on each individual for the project, but not all of the information was equally interesting to a casual reader. We also wanted to keep the book as short as was feasible without compromising a kind of easy readability. I also wanted to include some design elements that brought the book together. To that end, I included the “chapter number” voice in Bayard. The rest of the text is set in Jansen, which felt like a properly formal book text. 

100 Voices Layout PRINTERMARKS

The book is due to appear in early August and needs to be typeset by the end of next weekend in order for the book to be available at a public event in August. This is a nice example of how small, cooperative-style, scholar-led, presses can respond quickly to opportunities and find collaborative ways to produce quality publications rapidly.  

Stay tuned for more on upcoming work from The Digital Press!

Three Thing Thursday: A Story, an Interview, and a Map

My grades were submitted on Monday, and I made the mistake of thinking that summer would begin now. Alas, the world had other plans with zoom meetings, deadlines, and an endless stream of emails from various administrative accounts across my university.

The good news is that despite the noise, there are plenty of fun things to keep my occupied this summer, and I thought that I’d share a few on an mid-May “Three Things Thursday”:

Thing the First

If you’re like me, you’ve already started to think about how to adapt your classes to another COVID-inflected semester in the fall. It seem highly likely that digital media are going to play a larger role in what you do in the classroom. 

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota chatted a bit with Sebastian Heath about his recent edited volume DATAM: Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient MediterraneanYou can read the interview with Sebastian here. And you can download the a digital copy of the book, purchase it via Amazon, or from an independent bookstore

Another book that might help you think more broadly about teaching using digital approaches is Shawn Graham’s recently published Failing Gloriously and Other Essays. At a time when it is becoming more and more important that we act in a humane and understanding way toward our students and colleagues, Shawn’s book shines light on failure not as the prelude to triumph, but as a fundamental part of learning and empathy. We also had a long conversation with him that you can read here. You can download it for free here, buy it on Amazon here, or get a copy from an independent bookseller here.

Thing the Second

I’m pretty excited to have posted Shane Castle’s short story “Ursa” at the North Dakota Quarterly blog this morning. During my time as editor, it is one of my favorite stories. 

The thing that makes is so appealing is the ambiguity of it all. Is the story meant to be touching and heartfelt? Is it just an exercise in the absurd? Is it meant to be funny? All these things? 

There’s also something about the story that makes it feel appropriate for our current situation. The story reckons with the experience of coming out of hibernation, memories of our past, pre-COVID life, our efforts to stay connected over distance, and the awkwardness in how we engaged with others. In short, the story is so much of what unusual, non-commercial, and (broadly) experimental fiction can be. 

If you have a few minutes over lunch or while sipping an evening cocktail, give it a read.  

Thing the Third

The final thing this Thursday is a map prepared by a team led by my old buddy David Pettegrew. As I’ve mentioned on a previous Three Thing Thursday, he’s been leading an ambitious project, Digital Harrisburg, designed to create rich historical maps of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This past week, we released yet another update to the maps of Harrisburg’s “Old Eighth Ward” which was an African American neighborhood destroyed to produce the state capital area. Check out the interactive maps here

Needless to say, this project has inspired me to think more critically and dynamically about my own community and how constructing data-rich maps can help us understand our community in the past, but as importantly, in the present. 

Big News and Other Notes from The Digital Press

Pssst… Today, we have a little bit of a treat here on the ole bloggeroo. 

I’m going to very quietly release the paperback edition of Sebastian Heath’s edited volume DATAM: Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient MediterraneanYou can buy it for the low, low price of $9 here

On the fence?

That’s ok, you can still download the special unlimited “Digital Alpha” edition for free. It’s been downloaded over 400 times and we’d love to see that number cross the 500 download threshold. On Wednesday, however, we’ll update the download to the normal cover. 

DATAM Cover AlphaVersion2

The other note today involves where you can purchase our books. As most people know, our press uses Amazon’s print-on-demand services (at least for now!). At the same time, we’re big fans of independent book stores around the US.

Last week, there was a nice article in the Washington Post about indie bookstores collaborating on a web platform to bolster their ability to compete with the big online stores. It’s called bookshop.org, and it has taken on increasing significance for indie bookstores since The COVIDs has made their lives much more difficult.

We’re happy to see that quite a few books from The Digital Press are available on bookshop.org. Here’s a list with links:

Erin Walcek Averett, Jody Michael Gordon, Derek B Counts, Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: The Potential of Digital Archaeology (2016).

Micah Bloom, Codex (2017).

Eric Burin ed., Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College (2017).

Eric Burin ed., Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America (2018)

William Caraher and Kyle Conway, ed., The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota (2016).

Shawn Graham, Failing Gloriously and Other Essays (2019).

David Haeselin ed., Dakota Datebook: North Dakota Stories from Prairie Public (2019).

David Haeselin ed., Haunted by Waters: The Future of Memory and the Red River Flood of 1997 (2017). 

Chris Price, The Old Church on Walnut Street. Revised Edition. (2018)

G. D. R. Sanders, Sarah James and Alicia Carter, Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual (2017).

Paul Worley trans., Snichimal Vayuchil (North Dakota Quarterly Supplement 1). (2018).

Go and support a local, independent bookstore today!

New Book Day and Teaching Tuesday: DATAM: Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient Mediterranean

As the coronavirus has continued to disrupt higher education in the US and globally, The Digital Press accelerated the release of Sebastian Heath’s edited volume, DATAM: Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient Mediterranean as a way to contribute to the ongoing conversation about digital and online teaching not only in Classics, Ancient History, and Mediterranean Archaeology but across the entire humanities. 

The book is a free, open access download and will be made available as a low-cost paperback by the middle of next month.

We’re calling this version, the “Digital First, Alpha Version” because it sounds cool. You can download it here.

Here’s the description of the book:

DATAM: Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient Mediterranean provides a series of new critical studies that explore digital practices for teaching the Ancient Mediterranean world at a wide range of institutions and levels. These practical examples demonstrate how gaming, coding, immersive video, and 3D imaging can bridge the disciplinary and digital divide between the Ancient world and contemporary technology, information literacy, and student engagement. While the articles focus on Classics, Ancient History, and Mediterranean archaeology, the issues and approaches considered throughout this book are relevant for anyone who thinks critically and practically about the use of digital technology in the college level classroom.

DATAM features contributions from Sebastian Heath, Lisl Walsh, David Ratzan, Patrick Burns, Sandra Blakely, Eric Poehler, William Caraher, Marie-Claire Beaulieu and Anthony Bucci as well as a critical introduction by Shawn Graham and preface by Society of Classical Studies Executive Director Helen Cullyer.

Here’s the cover:

DATAM Cover AlphaVersion2

For those of you working to bring your classes online, you might also find useful insights and ideas in Shawn Graham’s recent, award winning, book: Failing Gloriously and Other Essays and the journal that he edits Epoiesen (which can be found here in PDF and on the web here).

Failing Gloriously Recognized!

It’s with great pleasure that we recognize that Shawn Graham’s Failing Gloriously and Other Essays won a Digital Humanities Award for 2019. It is fitting, of course, that it won the award for the category of “Best Exploration of DH Failure.” We’re excited to refer to this book as “award winning Failing Gloriously” and to celebrate that, once again, Shawn Graham is an “award winning author and digital humanist.” 

On the one hand, as the organizers of the DH awards acknowledge, these honors are decided, in part, by popular voting so they are a kind of digital popularity contest designed as much to raise awareness of all the great DH work going on these days as to point out interesting and potentially valuable work.

On the other hand, it is always great to get recognized. As we’ve said all along, Shawn’s book was as much a personal essay as a treatise on failure. It took a good bit of courage to write and let us publish this book. Kathleen Fitzpatrick observed as much when she said, “Sharing these stories of failure is a radical act, a generous act, one that requires a willingness to be vulnerable so that others can learn from your failures.”

We hope the by winning this award Shawn’s book get a wider audience because, as Quinn Dombrowski noted in her review of the book, “There is much more work that needs to be done, on many fronts, to encourage, support, and reduce the personal risk associated with thoughtful analyses of failure, for everyone” 

Shawn’s innovative work was also recognized in the “Best Use of Digital Humanities for Fun” category for “A Song of Scottish Publishing, 1671-189” and “Making Nerdstep Music as Archaeological Enchantment, or, How do you Connect with People Who Lived 3000 Years Ago?” with Digital Press author Andrew Reinhard and Digital Press collaborator Eric Kansa.

Download Failing Gloriously for free or grab a paperback for $9 via Amazon!

Two Impending Arrivals and A Departing Old Friend from the Digital Press

Busy days at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota! There are two new arrivals in the pipeline for this spring and the first departure from out catalogue. 

First, we’ve excited to announce that DATAM: Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient Mediterranean edited by Sebastian Heath is almost ready for publication and should be out around the end of the month. Mark your calendars.

DATAM Cover 2

It features contributions from Sebastian Heath, Lisl Walsh, David Ratzan, Patrick Burns, Sandra Blakely, Marie-Claire, Eric Poehler, William Caraher, and Beaulieu and Anthony Bucci as well as a critical introduction by Shawn Graham and preface by Society of Classical Studies Executive Director Helen Cullyer.

The contributors cover a wide range of teaching practices, techniques, and philosophies that have developed from using digital approaches to open the Ancient Mediterranean world to a wide range of students. Coding, gaming, immersive video, and 3D imaging build discussions of information literacy, the digital divide, and Janiform digital practices that look to the past and the future simultaneously. While many of the articles focus on Classics, Ancient History, and Mediterranean archaeology, the issues discussed throughout this book are relevant for anyone looking to think both critically and practically about digital approaches in college level teaching.

You can download the table of contents here.

Second, Kyle Conway’s eagerly awaited sequel to the 2016 The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota is set to appear in April. Titled Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958–2018, Conway’s edited volume interleaves chapters from the 1958 Williston Report with new contributions from geographers, historians, archaeologists, social workers, sociologists, economists, and other leading experts on the Bakken oil patch and boom and bust societies. Sixty Years of Boom and Bust and The Bakken Goes Boom are two anchor volumes for any Bakken bookshelf (together of course, with William Caraher and Bret Weber’s The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape (NDSU Press 2017)).

BakkenBustCover5 01

We have a draft of the book description here:

In the 1950s, North Dakota experienced its first oil boom in the Williston Basin, on the western side of the state. The area experienced unprecedented social and economic changes, which were carefully documented in 1958 report by four researchers at the University of North Dakota. Since then, western North Dakota has undergone two more booms, the most recent from 2008 to 2014. Sixty Years of Boom and Bust republishes the 1958 report and brings its analysis up to date by describing the impact of the latest boom on the region’s physical geography, politics, economics, and social structure.

This book offer insights into a range of topics of interest to scholars both in 1958 and today: the natural and built environment, politics and policy, crime, intergroup relations, and access to housing and medical services. The book also goes deeper with its analysis than previous books: in addition to making hard-to-find material readily available, the book examines an area shaped by resource booms and busts over the course of six decades. As a result, it provides unprecedented insight into the patterns of development and the roots of the challenges the region has faced.

You can download the table of contents here.

Finally, one of the best selling titles in The Digital Press catalogue is going out of print at the end of this month: Melissa Gjelstad and Danielle Skjelver’s translation of Karl Jakob Skarstein, The War with the Sioux: Norwegians against Indians 1862-1863 is going out of print. When we published this book in 2014, we arranged a 5-year license on the original Norwegian text. This license expires at the end of the month and for the first time ever, we’re going to retire a title. So, if it’s been on your book list, grab a copy now before they become a bit harder to find! 

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