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! 

Wwscover2finalcover08272015 front

Three Things Thursday

Thursday mornings have become exceedingly hectic with me teaching a class in old Montgomery Hall at 8 am and it also being the customary day for NDQ to post its weekly blog.

That being said, I always can find time for a few things on a Thursday morning.

Thing One

One of the coolest things about Montgomery Hall on the UND campus is its impressive vaulted plaster and wood framed ceiling. The vaulted ceiling stood two storeys about the dining room in the original configuration of Montgomery Hall and when this room became the main reading room on campus, it conveyed a certain monumentality to the space.

Final edits 01 13 2020 UND HABS Narrative Outline pdf  page 22 of 25 2020 02 06 11 14 39

Final edits 01 13 2020 UND HABS Narrative Outline pdf  page 22 of 25 2020 02 06 11 16 14

Today, the acoustic tiles obscure the ceiling and a floor level divides the open expanse of the reading room and the dining hall. It nevertheless peaks through in places.

IMG 4642

IMG 4644

Thing Two

For the first time in my teaching career, I’m assigning something that I wrote for a class. Needless to say, I’m nervous. When I first got to UND, the university was preparing to celebrate its 125thaversary (which they oddly called something like there quinquasexatecentennial or some such pretentious nonsense). At this time, a decree went out from the President of the university that all the world … or every department should update their history. I offered to write the history of our department and now, after years of sort of hiding from it, I’m asking students to download and read two chapters to understand the early history of our program.

You can read it here, if you’d like, and I think that the early history of history at UND is pretty interesting. It speaks not only to the emergence of history as a professional discipline outside of the major universities (Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ivy League) as well as the first efforts to study the history of the state of North Dakota in the early 20th century and the organization of archives and seminars on the history of the state. It also gives an idea of how professors negotiated their place among the small town bourgeois of Grand Forks.

Thing Three

I really want to talk about some projects and make some updates concerning The Digital Press, but nothing is quite ready to announce. For example, Kyle Conway’s edited volume, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958–2018 is in page proofs.
Sebastian Heath’s DATAM: Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient Mediterranean is almost through layout. Derek Counts, Erin Averett, and Kevin Gartski’s Visualizing Votive Practice: Exploring Limestone and Terracotta Sculpture from Athienou-Malloura through 3D Models is in final pre-production review and will go to the copy editor this spring. Rebecca Seifried and Deb Brown’s Deserted Villages: Perspectives from the Eastern Mediterranean is back from positive peer reviews and out to authors for revisions.

I’d love to announce a new collaboration with North Dakota Quarterly that involves two translated books which will appear under a new imprint (possibly something like the North Dakota Quarterly Press).

I’m also dying to talk about Sun Ra.

But nothing is ready to announce yet, but stay tuned. Stuff is in the works and I hope people will like it.

New Book Day! Epoiesen 3

It’s new book day over at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota as the third installment of the Epoiesen Annual drops in a paginated-pdf and as a print-on-demand paper volume from Amazon

As readers of this blog know, Epoiesen is a digital journal published at Carleton University in Ottawa and edited by Shawn Graham. Three years ago, he asked whether my press might be interested in publishing a paginated and paper version of the journal. Without hesitation, I agreed and this is the third installment in that series. 

To my mind, this is the strongest Epoiesen annual yet. It features a series of interactive meditations on the Melian Dialogue touched off by a Twine game developed by Neville Morley, an album of assemblages concocted in Andrew Reinhard’s laboratory, an exploration of the concept of the “phrygital” from Digital Archaeology heavy-weights Ian Dawson and Paul Reilly and in the fantastic papercraft of Alyssa Loyless. Each of these contributes have compelling response (including one from me!) which challenge, expand, and critique the work. A concise introduction by Shawn Graham brings this work together and a reflexive commentary on a visually compelling Twitter essay by Katy Whitaker provides a nice anchor to the volume. The cover art from Jens Notroff makes the cover an essay.  

If you haven’t checked out Epoiesen you should. And, if you have a creative project or genre defying article that is lingering in your mind and looking good home, consider submitting to Epoiesen!  

To celebrate the appearance of Epoiesen 3 and Shawn’s Failing Gloriously and Other Essays last month, he agreed to answer 7 questions about his work, failure, and future project. We’ve published this interview at The Digital Press blog.

The Digital Press Year in Review

It’s been a relatively quiet year for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota with only three new titles, but this is the calm before the storm as the first month or two of 2020 will be the busiest in the history of the press. As a bit of a year end celebration, I thought I’d highlight what the press accomplished last year and preview what’s in store over the next few months.

The year started with a pretty important landmark from an adjacent publication to The Digital Press. North Dakota Quarterly with their publishing partner the University of Nebraska Press released volume 85 as both a print volume and a free digital download. This volume was underwritten in part by The Digital Press and the editor of NDQ is also the director of the Press.  When NDQ was on the brink of being shut down, The Digital Press offered to serve as a backstop for the venerable literary magazine and this gave it enough time to find a new home with University of Nebraska Press. So while The Digital Press can’t take credit for NDQ’s survival, it’s happy to celebrate its continued publication and to have shared in the collective effort to keep the oldest and finest little magazine on the Northern Plains alive. Subscribe to NDQ here. Download issue 85 here. Read more from NDQ here.

The first official volume from The Digital Press this year was the second volume from Epoiesen. This journal for creative engagement in history and archaeology is published online at Carleton University in Ottawa, but each winter, The Digital Press publishes an single-volume version of all the content released online during the past year. This not only does this offer a one-stop, paginated, version of the great Epoiesen content, but it also offers us a chance to explore the challenges and opportunities of moving content from a fluid web-based medium to a more rigid page and paper format. Check it out here.  

The next book to appear from The Digital Press in 2019 was Dakota Datebook: North Dakota Stories from Prairie Public. This book was a collaboration between The Press, Prairie Public Broadcasting, and the Writing, Editing, and Publishing program in the Department of English at UND. Students in an editing class reviewed over 2500 texts from beloved Dakota Datebook radio program and selected  365 of the best stories which David Haeselin edited into book form. In the four months since its release, Dakota Datebook has already become a best seller for both The Digital Press and Prairie Public Broadcasting. Check it out here

In December of this year, The Digital Press released Shawn Graham’s Failing Gloriously and Other Essays. This book documents Shawn Graham’s odyssey through the digital humanities and digital archaeology against the backdrop of the 21st-century university. We started The Digital Press to publish books like this. It’s already received some outstanding reviews in the  four weeks since its release and is on its way to being a leader in downloads and paper book sales. If you haven’t checked it out, grab a download today!  

This year wasn’t just about publishing new books though. Over the past 12 months, we’ve been really heartened by continued popularity of our entire catalogue. Eric Burin’s edited volume Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College, continues to attract sales on Amazon and his Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America  continues to attract critical attention. The Bakken Goes Boom and Mobilizing the Past are downloaded regularly and are working their way into scholarly literature.  The Corinth Excavations Archaeological Manual is particularly popular in the late spring as projects gear up for summertime field seasons. The expanded digital version of The Beast has demonstrated that serious comics are well-suited for serious conversations.

The last five years of working on The Digital Press has started to seep into my professional life in new and unexpected ways. This fall, I submitted my first paper on digital publishing in archaeology based in part on my experiences. You can check it out here. I also made my way up to Brandon, Manitoba to discuss the work of The Digital Press in the public humanities at the Northern Great Plains History Conference. Here’s what I talked about there and what I learned in that panel.  The fun continues this week, when I represent The Digital Press at the 120th annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Washington, DC on a panel called Humanities Publishing in Transition chaired by Deb Brown (more on that tomorrow or Thursday!).

2020 is poised to be a very exciting year for The Digital Press. Right now, we have three books in production all scheduled to appear in the first quarter of 2020. Volume 3 of Epoiesen  is almost ready to go following its usual early January release schedule. Yesterday, I started to work on the design and layout of Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in North Dakota, 1958–2018 edited by Kyle Conway. It’s the third book of an unofficial Bakken Trilogy from North Dakota authors. Finally, a volume edited by Sebastian Heath and based on the papers from a 2018 conference at ISAW at NYU on Digital Approaches to Teaching the Ancient Mediterranean (DATAM) will enter production later early next year. All three books will hopefully come out in time for summer reading lists. 

There are a couple more books churning away in the background which hopefully will appear in the fall making 2020 one of the busiest years for The Digital Press yet. This includes more collaboration with NDQ, some interesting new directions in digital publishing, and a continued commitment to 

Three Quick Things on a Snowy Monday

The sound of snowblowers woke me this morning because despite everything in town being closed someone just had to remove the snow at 6 am. 

Since I’m up and at my laptop, here are a few quick things for over the new year holiday.

First, I’ve finished the paper for the Archaeological Institute of America’s annual meeting next week on legacy data. I struggled with this paper a good bit because I tried to wed my practical experience of working with legacy data to my somewhat underdeveloped interest in time. The results were predictably messy, but I feel instinctively like this line of thinking is heading somewhere. Here’s the paperHere’s the abstract to the paper. I’ve posted ideas (with a little help from my friends) here, here, and here and a draft here.

Second, I’ve started to do layout on Sixty Years of Boom and Bust: The Impact of Oil in
North Dakota, 1958–2018 edited by Kyle Conway. A few years ago, I had this idea of a “Bakken Bookshelf” which would include links to significant books on the Bakken. At the center of the “bookshelf” would be a trilogy of books: The Bakken Goes Boom, The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape (from our friends at NDSU Press), and, now, Sixty Years of Boom and Bust. I’d like to think that these three books – whatever their limitations – form the cornerstone for any academic engagement with the Bakken oil boom.

More than that, these three books provide a nice testimony for why regional presses matter. As far as I can tell, there has been no book length academic publications on the social conditions, history, and experience of the Bakken oil boom published outside the Northern Plains. Without NDSU Press and The Digital Press (and it’s predecessor, The University of North Dakota Press), the Bakken would have received far less scholarly attention. For a bit more on Sixty Years of Boom and Bust go here.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I took a flyer and bought a novella published by a small press, Soft Cartel Press. The book, Craig Rodger’s The Ghost of Mile 43 is bizarrely wonderful, and if you have the time to read its 80 some-odd pages, you should. The narrator writes with the stilted diction of film noire voice over (which for better or for worse, serves the plot just fine), but the descriptions of abandonment are really quite remarkable. In fact, the entire book stands more as a meditation on the abject and the archaeological than as a vehicle for a narrative (much less a plot).