Early fall roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

inside higher ed.jpgOur series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education is well represented in the back-to-school reading roundup from Inside Higher Ed, with two of five recommended books—The Spark of Learning by Sarah Rose Cavanagh and How Humans Learn by Joshua Eyler—published by WVU. “One thing all these books have in common,” according to IHE, “is their capacity to spur and direct reflection about one’s own teaching practice.”

Natalie Sypolt’s The Sound of Holding Your Breath receives two national pre-publication reviews, with Kirkus praising the story collection’s “powerful images” and Foreword saying it is “full of inevitability and resignation and haunted by themes of class, family, and place.” Sypolt will launch her book at an event with Laura Leigh Morris, author of Jaws of Life, at Pittsburgh’s White Whale Books on October 20. See her full tour schedule on our calendar.

Jesse Donaldson’s On Homesickness has been named Appalachian Book of the Year in the nonfiction category by the Appalachian Writers Association and the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival.Read More »

Local control, global perspective: Moving beyond coal and creating new jobs

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Musicians from Appalachia and Wales at the BBC Radio Wales studio.

Tom Hansell’s book After Coal: Stories of Survival in Appalachia and Wales will be published by WVU Press on November 1. In this opinion piece drawn from his research for the book, Hansell reacts to President Trump’s plan to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, and argues that Appalachia can, drawing on lessons from other parts of the world, work toward a post-coal future.

Last week President Trump traveled to West Virginia to announce his intention to scrap the Clean Power Plan, sounding a death knell for federal regulations on carbon emissions. While it’s undeniable that environmental regulations have a negative impact on coal jobs, the President ignores the fact that in states like West Virginia, coal and natural resources comprise only 3 percent of the state economy, according to a recent West Virginia College of Business report.Read More »

Defining the field: Series editor Brian Black on Energy and Society

Brian Black is Distinguished Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Penn State, Altoona, and editor of WVU Press’s series Energy and Society—an important part of our growing program in interdisciplinary studies of environment. With the second title scheduled for publication this fall and the third announced in the forthcoming catalog, we asked Brian to introduce his new series, which has already begun to define an emerging scholarly field. 

The issues related to energy management continue to power conversation and news in 2018, and the Energy and Society book series has taken important steps to be part of this global discourse. Focusing on the intellectual scaffolding that informs and shapes our use of energy, three new titles will be or have been recently released. In each case, leading scholars in the field seek to broaden our discourse on energy in a way that blazes a path for framing future scholarship.Read More »

Notes on the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop, a vital part of the state’s literary landscape

Natalie Sypolt is an assistant professor at Pierpont Community & Technical College. She coordinates the high school workshop for the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop at West Virginia University and has served as a literary editor for the Anthology of Appalachian WritersHer work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Appalachian Heritage, Kenyon Review Online, and Willow Springs. She is the winner of the Glimmer Train new writers contest, the Betty Gabehart Prize, the West Virginia Fiction Award, and the Still fiction contest. West Virginia University Press will publish The Sound of Holding Your Breath, her first book, this November. Learn more at nataliesypolt.com.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I attended the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop for the first time. I was shy, pretty awkward, and more than a little scared of the workshop leader I’d been placed with—West Virginia writer Pinckney Benedict. Now, looking back at my 19-year-old self, I’m still surprised that I actually did it. I can’t help but feel proud.

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Late summer roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

Sharon Harris’s “remarkable” new biography of Wheeling author and activist Rebecca Harding Davis is the subject of an essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books. It’s the third time we’ve appeared in LARB since December—twice with books by or about women writing about West Virginia.

On the Seawall calls Muriel Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead “a singular masterpiece.” Catherine Venable Moore, who wrote the introduction to our edition, will speak about the book in Parkersburg on September 1.

Michael Clay Carey’s The News Untold has been named a finalist for the Tankard Book Award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.Read More »

How do you grade a poem? An excerpt from Meaningful Grading: A Guide for Faculty in the Arts

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Meaningful Grading: A Guide for Faculty in the Arts, by Natasha Haugnes, Hoag Holmgren, and Martin Springborg, was published this summer by WVU Press. Written as a guide for postsecondary arts instructors in all stages of their careers, the book addresses issues of perennial importance in all arts disciplines.

These are the three main questions that drive Meaningful Grading

  • How can faculty in the arts grade student work in ways that improve learning and support artistic  development? 
  • What does effective grading in the arts look like?
  • How can faculty in the arts develop and  improve their teaching and grading over the course of their careers?

The contents are written in tip form, and arranged to mirror the flow of an academic semester, so that information can be located and implemented quickly and easily. Here we share an excerpt from the section “During the Semester.”Read More »

“Once again the Mine Wars demand our attention”: Lou Martin introduces Never Justice, Never Peace

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Never Justice, Never Peace: Mother Jones and the Miner Rebellion at Paint and Cabin Creeks, by Lon Kelly Savage and Ginny Savage Ayers, will be published by WVU Press on September 1. In this post, adapted from his introduction to the book, historian Lou Martin (who received his PhD from West Virginia University) talks about the context for the strike, and argues for the relevance of the West Virginia Mine Wars during our own period of labor activism and political contest.

Paint Creek. Cabin Creek. Holly Grove. Cesco Estep. Mucklow. Frank Keeney. Mother Jones. Solidarity Forever. The places and the people of the Paint Creek–Cabin Creek Strike are buried deep in the American memory of the labor movement and the working-class struggle for rights and justice. The strike occurred in the “age of industrial violence,” before there were laws to govern labor relations, and for many it revealed the darkest depths of capitalism in America but also the indomitable spirit of workers organized in the face of great odds. Despite its tragic loss of life, despite its importance in the history of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), and despite being a cause célèbre among the labor activists of the era, this conflict in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields remains little known today except among historians and the coal mining families of southern West Virginia.Read More »

Midsummer roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

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The June issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine features eight pages of photographs from our Marked, Unmarked, Remembered—”an effort by brothers Andrew and Alex Lichtenstein to help us recall.” Photos from the book also appear in the Munich Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Our edition of The Book of the Dead is included in Sam Huber’s thoughtful essay on “Muriel Rukeyser, Mother of Everyone.” It’s WVU Press’s first time in the Paris Review.

Anthony Harkins, coeditor of our forthcoming Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy, is mentioned in Nancy Isenberg’s (paywalled) New York Review of Books essay on recent books by J.D. Vance, Elizabeth Catte, and Steven Stoll.Read More »

Donna Meredith searches for the real Chuck Kinder

Chuck Kinder is the author of four novelsSnakehunter, The Silver Ghost, Honeymooners, and Last Mountain Dancer—and three collections of poetry—Imagination Motel, All That Yellow, and Hot Jewels. West Virginia University Press has just published new editions of Snakehunter, his first novel, and The Last Mountain Dancer: Hard-Earned Lessons in Love, Loss, and Honky-Tonk Outlaw Life, his latest novel. Here, Donna Meredith, associate editor of the Southern Literary Review and award-winning author of The Glass Madonna, The Color of Lies, Wet Work, Fraccidental Death and Magic in the Mountains, explores Kinder’s remarkable career.

A dozen Chuck Kinder personas are sitting in a honky tonk. Would the real one please stand up?

At times, Kinder seems like your basic outlaw author, the “Jerry Lee Lewis of American Letters” he aspires to be (Last Mountain Dancer, 452). The man who ran wild at Stanford with short-story giant Raymond Carver and befriended fellow writers Scott Turow, Tobias Wolf, and Larry McMurtry. Later in his career, Kinder and Lee Maynard even embarked on a book tour under the Outlaw Author banner.

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“Only connect”: A conversation with Ryan Claycomb about the WVU Humanities Center

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In March Ryan Claycomb, interim director of WVU’s new humanities center, talked with our director, Derek Krissoff, about university press publishing. Now it’s Ryan’s turn to discuss his work with the center—a vital part of the university’s intellectual landscape and an important press partner.

DK: WVU’s new humanities center arrives at a moment of particular anxiety about the role and future of the humanities. Do you see the center as arising from, or participating in, those debates in the wider world?

RC: I heard a talk by digital humanities and performance scholar Sarah Bay-Cheng recently. She had run a Google Ngram on the terms “crisis in the humanities” and “public humanities” to check their frequency. She noted that while the concept of “public humanities” certainly followed the coining of this apparent crisis, the idea that the humanities are in crisis has been in the air for fifty years. That’s about as long as the National Endowment for the Humanities has been in existence, as a matter of fact: a period that might be called a golden age of humanities scholarship! The peak in mentions of this crisis, furthermore, happened in 1990—before I even started as an undergraduate literature major—so any sense that this is a novel or timely concern isn’t really taking the long view.Read More »