New Book Day: Epoiesen 5

Epoiesen and The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota have a special relationship. When the press was just starting out and unsure of itself, Epoiesen’s founding editor, Shawn Graham, reached out and asked whether we might be interested in producing a print and pdf version of his new online journal. Shawn is one of those brilliant and creative scholars who facilitates creativity in others. This trait sometimes seems distressingly rare in academia. Ventures like Epoiesen, however, showed how creating a platform for others to showcase their creative work can elevate entire disciplines. 

Considering the absolute shit show this year has been, I feel like everyone could use a bit of a lift. Fortunately, volume 5 of Epoiesen has arrived to do just that.   

This is the longest and perhaps strongest issue of Epoiesen with a wide range of thought provoking, timely, and creative work that explore the the changing face of campus life, objects and memories, images of war, the multitude of meanings at archaeological sites, and the potential of poetry as a way to explore tragedy and hope. (I am honored to have a couple of contributions in this volume!)

Epoiesen is always available for free to read on the web and you can download it as a paginated PDF or buy it as a paperback for only $7. Go here for more on Epoiesen 5.

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New Book Day: The Archaeological Cultures of the Sheyenne Bend

It’s my favorite day of the year! NEW BOOK DAY. 

And this new book day is better than most because it’s a NEW ARCHAEOLOGY BOOK DAY. 

Let’s celebrate the publication of Michael G. Michlovic’s and George R. Holley’s Archaeological Cultures of the Sheyenne Bend!!

Here’s the skinny on The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota’s latest publication. As always it’s available for free or as a low cost paperback. Download links are below and do remember that purchasing a copy in paperback supports future publication projects by The Digital Press and contributes to building a sustainable infrastructure for small-scale, scholar-led, collaborative, open access publishing!

As a bit of backstory, the authors of this book reached out to me after struggling to find a traditional publisher for their manuscript. They wanted to publish their synthesis of a career of archaeological field work in the Sheyenne Bend region of Walsh County, North Dakota in a way that would ensure that a diverse and interested audience could get access to this work. They eventually discovered The Digital Press and we worked together to bring this remarkable little book together. 

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota has had the good fortune of publishing quite a few books that deal with archaeology, on the one hand, and North Dakota, on the other. Every now and then, there’s a happy coincidence, and we publish a book on the archaeology of North Dakota. 

Today’s New Book Day celebrates one of these books: Michael G. Michlovic’s and George R. Holley’s Archaeological Cultures of the Sheyenne Bend. This book will join a small handful of books that explore in an engaging and accessible way the pre-European history and archaeology of North Dakota. Michlovic and Holley present a synthesis of over 35 years of archaeological research in the Sheyenne Bend of Walsh County. The book should be of interest both to specialists who want to get a broad overview of the archaeology of the region as well as to nonspecialists who are interested in how archaeologists interpret their finds and produce new understandings of regions and cultures. 

As with all our books, you can download it for free or pick up a low cost paperback from Amazon. Go here for the download or a link to purchase

More on the book and the press release below the cover image! 

Sheyenne Bend Book Cover

This volume presents the results of several decades of archaeological research in the Sheyenne Bend region of southeastern North Dakota. Piecing together evidence from disparate field projects, along with the work done by previous researchers, Archaeological Cultures of the Sheyenne Bend offers a status report on the pre-European era cultures of southeastern North Dakota. Presented in ordinary language, this book constitutes the essential details to make sense of the regional archaeological record.

A New Archaeological History of the Sheyenne Bend

Denizens of eastern North Dakota know that there is more to the history of this region than meets the eye. Mike Michlovic and George Holley pulled together over 30 years of archaeological field experience in southeastern North Dakota to write an accessible new history of the pre-European cultures on the Sheyenne Bend region.

Both Michael Michlovic and George Holley are Emeritus Professor s of Anthropology at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where Michlovic served as chair of the Department of Anthropology and Earth Science and president of the Council for Minnesota Archaeology. Holley excavated across the United States in the Southeast, Midwest, Plains, and Southwest, and in Mesoamerica where prehistoric ceramics became his specialty.

Mike Michlovic remarks that the new book, The Archaeological Culture of the Sheyenne Bend, “is an effort to make our work more accessible to a larger audience, and to put all of the sites we worked into a single story.”

Beginning over 10,000 years ago, Michlovic and Holley welcome us into the world of the communities that lived around what is now the Sheyenne River in Walsh County, North Dakota. Retreating glaciers, the disappearance of Lake Agassiz, and the changing course of the Sheyenne River provide a vivid backdrop to the thousands of years of activity in this region that predate the arrival of Europeans.

For Michlovic and Holley, the story of these societies remains important to this day: “We were both educated as anthropologists, and as such were taught that there are no people in the world who are unimportant, and who, through understanding, don’t have something to teach the rest of us. We feel it is the same with the study of the past. There is something to learn from everyone’s past, not just the from the history of presently dominant societies.”

Michlovic and Holley explain how the sites only gave up their history of the area when combined on a regional scale: “The Shea and Sprunk sites demonstrated the features of a previously unknown cultural entity in the Sheyenne region, the Rustad site by far the oldest site, and one well represented by the cultural deposits, and the Biesterfeldt site, now a National Historic Landmark reflecting the early history of the Cheyenne people.”

Taken together these sites remind us “every people and every place have a past worth knowing, and it is vital that we learn this past before it is lost.”

William Caraher, director of the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and himself a field archaeologist, said, “Working on this book was particularly rewarding because it combined the press’s interest in archaeology and North Dakota into a book that is both accessible and one of the very few book length studies of North Dakota archaeology published this century.”

Like all books from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, it is available as a free download for the press’s website or as a low cost paperback: https://thedigitalpress.org/sheyenne-bend/

New Book Day: Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global Travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist

The best days of the year are new book days! The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is thrilled to announce the publication of Rebecca J. Romsdahl’s book, Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global Travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist.

This book was a particular pleasure to publish because I’ve known and admired the author and her work for so many years as a colleague at UND. This book captures her thoughtful and reflective voice so well and offers compelling personal reflections on complex problems. In this way, the book sits alongside Shawn Graham’s Failing Gloriously in the Digital Press catalogue as ways to open up the complex negotiations of academic thinking to a broad audience.   

As with all books from The Digital Press, Mindful Wandering is available as a free open access download or as a low cost paperback. Download a copy here.

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Mindful Wandering is an inspiring blend of memoir, travelogue, and environmental manifesto. As a translational ecologist, Rebecca Romsdahl is trained to ask critical questions about how we can improve our human relationships with the natural world for a sustainable, resilient future. As a farmgirl, she learned how to observe nature and life through the changing seasons. In this collection of essays spanning two decades, Romsdahl weaves these ideas together as she travels our changing world. From a Minnesota farm to the mountains of Peru and the edge of the Sahara Desert, she explores strategies for sustainability and resilience, and advocates that we (especially those of us privileged enough to travel) must expand our mindful considerations to include all the other inhabitants of this beautiful Earth. Romsdahl practices, and preaches, mindful wandering to reduce her impacts on the natural environment, and to encourage us all to be better global citizens. She implores us, through the eyes of a farmgirl scientist, to ask soul-searching questions: How do we reconnect with the local, seasonal rhythms of life, while learning how to care about the whole Earth as our home?

Rebecca J. Romsdahl, PhD, is a translational ecologist, educator, writer, and professor in the Department of Earth System Science & Policy at the University of North Dakota. Her research and teaching examine links between social, ecological, and policy factors when scientists, stakeholders, and decision makers work together to solve environmental problems. 

Mindful SinglePage

Here’s the formal press release:

You can take the girl off the farm, but you can’t take the farm from girl.

Dr. Rebecca J. Romsdahl’s Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global Travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist takes the reader from a Minnesota farm to England, Morocco, Peru and beyond. Part travelogue, part book of essays, and part scientific manifesto, Romsdahl blends her experiences growing up on a Minnesota farm, studying and teaching environmental policy, and traveling extensively as both a professional and a tourist. The resulting book is a guide to the environmental challenges we face as a global community and a provocation to do better.

Romsdahl said, when asked about her motivation to write a book like this: “Traveling to new places has opened my mind to see environmental problems and solution ideas, like sustainability and resilience, from different perspectives. I want to share those and inspire people to explore our beautiful planet more thoughtfully.”

Mindful Wandering masterfully combines Romsdahl’s encounters not only with creatures and landscapes, but as importantly with people. These encounters prompted her to not only ask new questions, but also seek new answers.

She relates “I am constantly wrestling with the psychology concept ‘cognitive dissonance,’ or as I adapt it ‘environmental guilt.’. How can I get past feeling like I am just part of the problem so instead I can contribute to being part of solutions? I’m also constantly thinking about how different cultures value the natural environment. What environmental problems are people in different places facing and what can we learn (or share) about how they are trying to solve them?”

The beauty of glaciers in Alaska, the quirky splendor of the denizens of the Galapagos island, the radiant landscapes of the Moroccan desert, and the cozy fellowship of an English pub provide just a few of the backdrops that frame her reflections and entice the reader to think differently.

Her goal is to inspire: “boundless curiosity, a sense of wonder about the natural world, and a mindfulness to pay attention to what we can learn from the people and the changing world around us.”

Rebecca J. Romsdahl, PhD, is a translational ecologist, educator, writer, and professor in the Department of Earth System Science & Policy at the University of North Dakota. Her research and teaching examine links between social, ecological, and policy factors when scientists, stakeholders, and decision makers work together to solve environmental problems.

Mindful Wandering is published by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and available as a free download from https://thedigitalpress.org/Mindful/ or as a low-cost paperback from Amazon.com.

Free Books for Cyber Monday!

I can think of no better way to spend the digital hellscape that is Cyber Monday, than downloading and reading free stuff from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

To make this easier and a bit more fun, we’ve put together some download bundles full of good books that you can download absolutely free:

First, you can grab all of our archaeology titles with one click here including Deb Brown Stewart and Rebecca Siegfried’s latest book, Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean. Download it here.

Then, you can grab all our titles that have to deal with North Dakota with one click here including Kyle Conway’s innovated volume, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018. Download it here.

Then, you can check download all of our books that deal with critical issues including Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson’s historical and savory edited volume Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook! Download it here.

Finally, if you want to think more broadly and creatively about our world, check out this packet of books from The Digital Press and our creative partners at Epoiesen and North Dakota QuarterlyDownload it here.

Oh, and if you just want all the books that we’ve published ever. Click here for a 1.6 GB megapack.

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If the very idea of cyber anything gives you hives, you can always get books from The Digital Press at Amazon.com and most of our titles are available from Bookshop.org as well.

Bookshop.org allows you to support local bookstores when you buy a copy of Deserted Villages, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust, and One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920.  

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Finally, if you want something really cool to make you cyber Monday less obnoxiously consumer, check out this preview of Rebecca Romsdahl’s Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist.

Mindful Wandering is an inspiring blend of memoir, travelogue, and environmental manifesto. As a translational ecologist, Rebecca Romsdahl is trained to ask critical questions about how we can improve our human relationships with the natural world for a sustainable, resilient future. As a farmgirl, she learned how to observe nature and life through the changing seasons. In this collection of essays spanning two decades, Romsdahl weaves these ideas together as she travels our changing world. From a Minnesota farm to the mountains of Peru and the edge of the Sahara Desert, she explores strategies for sustainability and resilience, and advocates that we (especially those of us privileged enough to travel) must expand our mindful considerations to include all the other inhabitants of this beautiful Earth. Romsdahl practices, and preaches, mindful wandering to reduce her impacts on the natural environment, and to encourage us all to be better global citizens. She implores us, through the eyes of a farmgirl scientist, to ask soul-searching questions: How do we reconnect with the local, seasonal rhythms of life, while learning how to care about the whole Earth as our home?

Get it here.

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Making a Book: Mindful Wandering

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on typesetting a new book: Rebecca J. Romsdahl’s Mindful Wandering: Nature and Global Travel through the Eyes of a Farmgirl Scientist. The book is scheduled to appear in time for the holidays and is really great. It will be available as a free download and a print-on-demand paperback from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

The author describes the book this way (and I like this back of the cover blurb!):

Mindful Wandering is an inspiring blend of memoir, travelogue, and environmental manifesto. As a translational ecologist, Rebecca Romsdahl is trained to ask critical questions about how we can improve our human relationships with the natural world for a sustainable, resilient future. As a farmgirl, she learned how to observe nature and life through the changing seasons. In this collection of essays spanning two decades, Romsdahl weaves these ideas together as she travels our changing world. From a Minnesota farm to the mountains of Peru and the edge of the Sahara Desert, she explores strategies for sustainability and resilience, and advocates that we (especially those of us privileged enough to travel) must expand our mindful considerations to include all the other inhabitants of this beautiful Earth. Romsdahl practices, and preaches, mindful wandering to reduce her impacts on the natural environment, and to encourage us all to be better global citizens. She implores us, through the eyes of a farmgirl scientist, to ask soul-searching questions: How do we reconnect with the local, seasonal rhythms of life, while learning how to care about the whole Earth as our home?

The book is typeset and I’m pretty happy with the results. The text is set in Janson with the chapter title in Baskerville. The fonts are pretty conservative, but this is kind of the look that I was going for. The author and I decided to use a grey background for the image on the facing page of the chapter breaks to make these a bit more visible. I then shaded the chapter number (and season, which coincides with a theme in the book) to link the two facing pages together a bit. 

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I tried to also keep the spacing between lines very comfortable and combined the spacing with a pretty large font (12 pt!) to make the book a comfortable read.

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I also used little ears of wheat as a section divider. They’re just a bit oversized, which I found endearing!

The book’s cover has been a bit more of a challenge. I wanted the cover to be pretty conservative, The author provided some great images, all of which showed the author in the context of her landscape. I picked one that had a nice vertical aspect to it and space for the title. 

At first, I tried to use a blue filter to create a kind of ethereal landscape, but my expert panel of reviewers said that it made the cover look a bit uninviting. 

Mindful CoverDraft 1 SCREEN

At first, I wasn’t so sure, but I think that they’re probably right. They also suggested that I increase the size of the title and maybe use a warmer filter that would both make the book feel more welcoming and bring out the author’s blue jacket more. 

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I’m not sure that this will be the final version of the cover, but I think it’s getting close. I love how the filter which is warm and brown brings out the gradient in the sky.

More on this book as it wends its way through the final stages of production soon!

Three Things Thursday

For some reason this week is taking forever. It might be just that time in the semester. I also wonder whether finally getting a bit of writing momentum back has led me to overdo it a bit and maybe burn a bit too much energy for only modest gains. Whatever the reason, it feels like a good time for some good news. So here are three things for your Thursday.

Thing the First

I really enjoyed Dante Angelo, Kelly M. Britt, Margaret Lou Brown, Stacey L. Camp recent article in the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology. Titled “Private Struggles in Public Spaces: Documenting COVID-19 Material Culture and Landscapes,” it offers a window into one of the few, maturing archaeological studies of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many archaeological projects on the very edge of the present, it’s conclusions are modest, but the methods, challenges, and data offer a window into the potential for archaeological projects that emerge at the very onset of a crisis rather than work to understand a crisis long after it unfolded.

I was particularly impressed by the transnational scope of article and the recognition that contemporary archaeology (and the study of contemporary problems and situations) is not much interested in national boundaries. An archaeology of contemporary climate change, of migration, and of production and consumption habits would follow a similar pattern. The article also negotiates the tension between private and public spaces not only in how we do our work as archaeologists, but also in how we live our lives. In this way, archaeology once again follows tensions present in society as the rise of surveillance culture where even conversations in our home are monitored (and monetized) by ubiquitous digital devices and personal medical choices (and short comings) continue to be matters public debate blurs our expectations of privacy. While Angelo et al. maintained a conservative approach toward documenting private lives in public places and continued to respect traditional notions of public and private, the title of the piece made clear that this continues to be an open question rather than a resolved standard of practice or method. 

Finally, the photo essay itself represents both the tip of a larger archival iceberg and I’m excited to understand how ongoing efforts to document the COVID pandemic will open the door to future analyses and interpretations. It reminds me how important archaeology of the contemporary world is for building the archive of the present and even if our research questions (and goals) applying the rigorous methods developed by archaeology as a discipline will contribute to how future researchers see our world.

Thing the Second

This thing is a form of completely gratuitous self-promotion. As editor of NDQ, I have the privilege of publishing a wide range of authors from undergraduates to grizzled veterans of the writing business. We are pleased to announce that we will publish to the winner of the Colie Hoffman Poetry Prize which goes a woman poet from Huntery College-CUNY. 

Here’s our little announcement.

NDQ is excited to announce our partnership wih the Department of English at Hunter College-CUNY, to pubish the winner of the department’s yearly Colie Hoffman Poetry Prize. Named for Colie Hoffman, an alumna of Hunter’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, the award goes to a female poet in Hunter’s MFA Program who has shown an exceptional blend of imagination and craft in her poetry. Given our admiration for Hoffman and the vibrant pulse of her work, we are thrilled to collaborate with Hunter College in honoring her.

Thing the Third

Last week, the good folks at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota got word that FOUR of their titles were nominated for the North Dakota State Library Association’s  Notable State Government Documents Award. This is the first time that any of our books have been nominated and I feel the press is being recognized for its solid work in the state. The books nominated are: Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson’s Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook, Rebecca M. Seifried and Deborah E. Brown Stewart’s Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean,  Calobe Jackson, Jr., Katie Wingert McArdle, and David Pettegrew’s One Hundred Voices, Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920and Kyle Conway’s Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958-2018

We’re up against some pretty tough competition, particular from our friends at the NDSU Press who celebrated three nomination for the same award!

This is an exciting time for publishing in the Red River Valley!

Two For Tuesday: North Dakota Quarterly and The Digital Press

Some weeks are a bit more hectic than others. And this is one of those more hectic weeks. So, for today, there are just two little things: one from North Dakota Quarterly and one from The Digital Press.

Like many people, as the semester starts, I begin to flail about trying to wrap up odds and ends from the summer. Fortunately, many of these remaining projects are too large to even think about starting, but a few of the small projects are perfect for sliding into otherwise hectic days.

North Dakota Quarterly 

In 2023, NDQ will publish its 90th volume. This milestone is made all more significant to me personally because it’ll be my fifth volume as editor and a bit of a survival story for the journal which was near the brink around volume 84 and volume 85

It also gives us an excuse to look back at the long history of NDQ and its changes over time. As part of that opportunity for retrospection, I’ve added links to almost all the content from a North Dakota Quarterly Reader prepared by Elizabeth Hampsten and Stephen Dilks in the mid-1990s and circulated as a bound photocopy. It would be going too far to say that this is some kind of definitive anthology of NDQ content, but it does highlight some of the better pieces that have appeared in the Quarterly over its 100+ years of existence. You can check it out here.

As part of the festivities surrounding the 90th volume, I think it would be fun to prepare a new version of a NDQ reader that draws more expansively from our back catalogue of volumes. I’ve pitched the idea that each member of our editorial board take a block of ten volumes and nominates, say, five contributions for the new NDQ reader and writes a bit of an explanatory note. So far enthusiasm for this idea has been a bit muted, but it’s also the start of the semester and there is a lot going on in the world. I’ll keep poking the fire and see if this catches…

The Digital Press

I’m working with my crack marketing team to do some updates to The Digital Press webpage. This is both in anticipation of a busy late fall and spring and because The Digital Press continues to evolve in good and positive ways.

The most recent addition is that I’ve now added DOIs to the catalogue and the individual book’s landing pages. These DOIs resolve to UND’s digital archive which serves as a key backdrop for The Digital Press by providing an institutional repository to ensure that the digital versions of all our books remain accessible in the future. 

Stay tuned for some updates from The Digital Press in the coming months and ongoing work to update our website!

Book by its Cover: Backstories: A Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook

Just a short post today! 

Yesterday, I received galley proofs of Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson’s Backstories: A Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook. It’s scheduled to appear early next week in conjunction with the Rural Women’s Studies Association meeting and The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota racing down to the wire to ensure that it’ll be ready to go!

I was exceptionally pleased with the cover design by Paul Forest and wanted to share it with everyone “in the paper”: 

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The back looks great too:

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I’m happy with how the text block looked as well. It’s the first time that I’ve designed a book at 7 x 10 and liked the ability to incorporate generous margins on the page.

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This book should be available for download in the next few days (for those of you who can’t wait to get a copy!), and for now, you can check out a preview of the book here

Previewing Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook

Over the last few months, The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota has been working away at a very special project. In collaboration with the Rural Women’s Studies Associate, we are publishing an edited volume of scholarly essays and recipes that celebrate, analyze, and interrogate the relationship between food, women, and rural life. 

The book is edited by Cynthia C. Prescott and Maureen S. Thompson and is titled Backstories: The Kitchen Table Talk Cookbook. One of the book’s reviewers pointed out that this title is a bit of a mouthful, and we decided that this was entirely appropriate for a book about food!

We’ll be ready to release the book during the Rural Women Studies Associate meeting next month. Like all books from The Digital Press, it’ll be available as a high quality, color PDF for free and as a low-cost paperback.

In the meantime, we invite you to bookmark the book’s landing page here and while you’re there, download a preview of the book!

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Three Things Thursday: Black History Month, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and a New Book

I’m almost making a habit of these Three Things Thursdays! This week, I’m mostly sharing things that happening at my other two projects: The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota Quarterly.

Thing the First

Please go and check out this long interview with David Pettegrew on the making of the book One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920 that he co-edited with Calobe Jackson, Jr. and Katie Wingert McArdle.

It’s a brilliant example of public, digital archaeology that involved a diverse group of individuals and produce a wide range of products, experiences, and community.

Thing the Second

I brought together some stuff about the late Lawrence Ferlinghetti for the NDQ blog including a couple amusing stories about Ferlinghetti’s visit to the UND Writers Conference in 1974 which of course involved the cops and Tom McGrath because North Dakota. 

Thing the Third

This one is a bit top secret, but I want to share it with loyal readers to this blog.

On Monday, The Digital Press will release Rebecca M. Seifried and Deborah E. Stewart Brown’s Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean. This book is brilliant and brings together nine substantial papers on deserted and abandoned villages in a wide range of contexts (including North Dakota). 

If you want to download a copy for free, in advance of the official publication date, go here or you can be the first to receive your very own paper copy here.

1 Deserted Villages book cover