Rachel King talks with both Portland television station KOIN and the “Reading With” feature at Shelf Awareness about her new book Bratwurst Haven. King’s tour comes to Morgantown, Baltimore, DC, and Raleigh the week of November 7.
The magazine SciencereviewsPicture a Professor, saying it “does a service to all who would prefer a different path, offering realistic strategies to engage students in undermining scholarly stereotypes.” Congratulations to Jessamyn Neuhaus and all of the volume’s essayists!Read More »
Our new catalog is now on its way to mailboxes, and you can see it online here. Some highlights:
—West Virginia’s spring 2023 season includes highly anticipated life-writing by Davon Loeb and Kelley Shinn, plus short fiction (described by Danielle Evans as “impossibly strange and mercifully familiar”) by Courtney Sender.
Our small-yet-fierce cohort of spring authors comes from seven US states (plus Puerto Rico) and two continents. These are teachers, scholars, social workers, and activists—but also, of course, writers. We’re excited to share their books in the coming year, and we’re grateful for the support of our many readers.
West Virginia University Press is pleased to announce the publication of Picture a Professor, the latest book in our series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. This excerpt is from the introduction by volume editor Jessamyn Neuhaus.
Look! Up at the lectern!
Is it a teacher? Is it an educator? No, it’s . . . Super Professor!
More charismatic than a Hollywood heartthrob! Able to win over the most reluctant, resistant student with a single quip or impactful PowerPoint slide!
During class, Super Professor delivers Oscar-worthy performances, scribbling formulas theatrically on a chalkboard or eloquently reciting lyric poetry to entranced students agog at the expertise on display. Super Professor always lectures brilliantly and entertainingly, effortlessly elucidating the most obscure subject. Students hang on Super Professor’s every spellbinding word, laughing at each joke and painlessly absorbing difficult academic material simply by listening to Super Professor talk about it. Students are routinely so overcome by admiration for Super Professor’s lectures that they spontaneously burst into applause.
Super Professor appears over and over again on our TV and movie screens, quite wrongly depicting learning as a purely top-down activity whereby knowledge is simply poured into students’ heads by an irrefutable expert. He’s also usually an able-bodied, cisgendered, heterosexual White man. In this way, popular culture reflects and reinforces the myriad of political, social, and cultural discourses that gender intellectual authority as male and support what Resmaa Menakem terms “white-body supremacy” by racializing knowledge and expertise as White. Socialized and enculturated by this imagery, all too often, Super Professor is who we think of when we picture a professor.Read More »
Foreword Reviews has the first published review of Rachel King’s Bratwurst Haven, which is praised as “an endearing composite portrait of a working class community in transition.” This fall, King will read at a mix of in-person and virtual events in Portland, Pittsburgh, Morgantown, Baltimore, Washington (DC), and Raleigh.
Kristine Langley Mahler’s Curing Season is reviewed in Booklist. “Through careful excavation,” it finds, “Mahler manages to create a time machine harking back to the simplicity and complexity of adolescence in 1990s America.” The author—whose fall tour includes events with bookstores in Asheville, Pittsburgh, and Lawrence—appears in Electric Lit and on Friday Live from Nebraska Public Radio. Her book is recommended as “skillful” and “agile” at the Ploughshares blog.
New accolades continue to arrive for Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia—in Book Riot (“I devoured this beautiful memoir in one day”) and Daily Yonder (“I cannot get enough of Neema Avashia’s collection of essays”). Speaking with the Asheville Mountain Xpress, David Joy praises work by Avashia and others, saying: “I think we’re at a really beautiful moment in literature . . . where we’re finally getting a more complex and fuller understanding of the lives that are lived in this place.” Avashia talks with the Louisville Courier Journal as part of its coverage of the Appalachian Big Ideas Festival.
Charles Dodd White’s A Year without Months lands on the Garden & Gunfall reading list: “Talk about a slim book with a powerful and emotional punch. White wrestles with unfathomable loss, difficult relationships, and the loss of Appalachia, yet somehow finds beauty and truth.” The Rivanna Review is equally supportive, saying: “White is good company, a worthy son of Appalachia.”Read More »
Gorby: West Virginia Statehood is such an intriguing story. What new perspectives do you hope to bring to this popular narrative?
MacKenzie: My goal was to un-intrigue the history of West Virginia’s formation. For 160 years, every book on the subject has explained the event in only one way. Inherent cultural, economic, social, and political differences, it goes, led the free labor-oriented counties of northwestern Virginia to separate from the slave plantation-based east at the start of the Civil War. This thesis has two flaws. First, it underestimates how much the region’s white population supported slavery. Given that the ‘peculiar institution’ caused the conflict, it is impossible that it played little or no role in the state’s genesis. Second, it focuses too closely on intra-state relations while neglecting possible broader contexts. Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware also believed that the remaining within the Union better protected slavery than seceding from it. I think that West Virginia formed for the same reason, differing from the others only in not being a state yet. My approach should prompt serious rethinking about the subject within the state and in the wider academic field.
Most people think slavery did not play much of a role in Western Virginia before the Civil War, but your book shows this general assumption is not correct. What role did the institution of slavery play here?Read More »
Two years after publication, Deesha Philyaw’s award-winning story collection continues to receive accolades, with new praise in the New York Times. “Recently, I count as ideal the books that make me laugh,” says Frances Mayes in the weekly “By the Book” column. “Deesha Philyaw’s raucous The Secret Lives of Church Ladies accomplishes that.”
Kristine Langley Mahler’s Curing Season is reviewed in Shelf Awareness: “These experimental essays about place, home and the failed effort to belong are closely tied to Eastern North Carolina, but will resonate everywhere.” Mahler, who’s on tour this fall, teases her new book in LitHub.
Hippocampusadds to the growing stack of positive reviews for Another Appalachia: “To say that I loved Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia feels like an understatement.” The author will appear in Boone, Hazard, and Charleston this fall.
In the Southern Review of Books, Tom Bredehoft’s Foote is praised as “a quirky good time of a book, one with a delightful flavor of mountain folk mystery.” The author will read from his book—called “immensely bingeable” in Weelunk—at a WVU event on September 15.
Rachel King’s Bratwurst Haven is anticipated in Boulder Weekly as one of the top five books set in Colorado: “King’s writing is as crystal-clear as a bright Colorado day.” The author’s fall tour will take her to cities including Portland, Baltimore, Washington (DC), and Morgantown.Read More »
This fall, West Virginia University Press will publish Rachel King’s first collection of short stories, Bratwurst Haven. Over the course of these twelve interrelated stories, King gives life to diverse, complex, and authentic characters who are linked through work at a Colorado sausage factory. Rajia Hassib, author of A Pure Heart, said about the book: “These all-too-relatable struggles make the stories not only engrossing but also an intriguing and tenderly rendered study of this flawed world we call home.” Here King talks with Vesto PR’s Caitlin Solano for our blog.
When did you start writing this collection of interrelated short stories? What inspired you to center the stories on low-wage workers at a sausage factory?
I wrote the first story in this collection in the summer of 2016, a few months after I moved back to my hometown of Portland, Oregon. My spouse has worked at a sausage factory, so many of the physical details of the space came from there. Each story’s main character and plot came to me in a different way, however—a composite of all I’ve imagined, observed, heard, and experienced. I didn’t admit I’d written a linked collection until I was done; I just wrote one story, then hoped I could write another one.Read More »
Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia is named a finalist for New England Book Award, given by the New England Independent Booksellers Association. Avashia is interviewed by CNN as part of its programming in support of W. Kamau Bell’s “Black in Appalachia” episode of United Shades of America. She appears on WCVB-TV in Boston, and is included in the “Queer Books Across America” feature from Autostraddle. NPR’s Here and Nowhighlights her book on its list of the best summer reads for 2022.
Science magazine has the first published review of Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy’s “compelling and critical” Inclusive Teaching. It says: “Given the urgent need to promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our communities, the book is a must-read for all who are in a position to better support inclusive teaching.”
We met in a cramped conference room with a group of ten colleagues in a faculty learning community hosted by the teaching and learning center on our campus. One of our assignments was to observe each other teaching and then meet to discuss our pedagogy. Debriefing over coffee, we immediately identified many ideas we held in common: we were both feeling dissatisfied with aspects of our courses and we felt frustrated that being a funny, dynamic lecturer seemed to be the definition of effective teaching by students and colleagues. We didn’t see how an instructor’s personality equated to effective learning. Discovering we were both introverts, we affirmed each other’s thoughts that deep learning by students shouldn’t require us to become people we are not. We had discussions about what pedagogical strategies better fit our personalities and the intended student outcomes. If only Jessamyn Neuhaus, author of Geeky Pedagogy: A Guide for Intellectuals, Introverts, and Nerds Who Want to Be Effective Teachers, had published her book earlier, we surely would have added it to the reading list for the faculty learning community. In her book, Neuhaus takes exception to “any hint of a suggestion that effective teaching requires a specific kind of innate personality quality or emotional state, rather than being a set of skills, attitudes, actions, abilities, and a reflective, intellectual approach that can be learned, applied, and improved with effort by anyone who wants to be an effective teacher.”
Frustration and introversion were not our only commonalities. Like so many instructors in higher education, neither of us had much pedagogy training in our graduate programs. Early in our careers, teaching workshops and education-based literature made big impressions on our development. Both scientists by training, we approached making changes to our courses through a scientific and data-driven lens. We believed that we could continually improve our abilities with teaching, a belief Carol Dweck defines as a growth mind-set. We assumed then, and still today, that effective teaching is a challenge that requires hard work, intent, practice, mistakes, reflection, and iteration. It was never a problem for us to admit to ourselves and each other when we faced challenges in our own teaching. Often, the first step to making change is to recognize that a problem exists. Because of our mind-sets and generally optimistic, change-maker attitudes, we embraced our teaching challenges and set out to overcome them.Read More »
A title from West Virginia University Press lands, for the first time, in the New Yorker, where Deesha Philyaw’s “beguiling” The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is recommended by Doreen St. Félix as part of the “What We’re Reading This Summer” feature. Philyaw also appears in Raj Tawney’s op-ed for NBC News Online about navigating publishing as a writer of color. Tawney finds inspiration in Philyaw’s work, and refers to her publisher as “small-yet-fierce West Virginia University Press.” Our small, fierce team remains grateful to the many readers worldwide who continue to find new ways to celebrate Secret Lives!
Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia is named Book of the Day by the New York Public Library, and included on the list “20 Must-Read Under-the-Radar Queer Books from the First Half of 2022” from Book Riot. Avashia talks with Mom Egg Review, and her book is recommended by booksellers at Cicada Books in a feature in the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.
Kristine Langley Mahler’s Curing Season is anticipated on the list “What to Read When You’ve Made it Halfway Through 2022” from the Rumpus. Watch for launch events in Omaha, Des Moines, and elsewhere on Mahler’s calendar.