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

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 Now highlights 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.”

In other higher education news:

Mark Powell’s Lioness is discussed on public radio station WOSU in Columbus, where it’s recommended as “mesmerizing.”

Two books from WVU Press—Appalachian Reckoning and The Harlan Renaissance—are on a list of recommended reads about Appalachia from WBUR public radio in Boston.

West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting talks with Laura Long and Doug Van Gundy, editors of Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods.

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Inclusive Teaching: An excerpt from Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy’s new book

Kelly Hogan and Viji Sathy’s book Inclusive Teaching: Strategies for Promoting Equity in the College Classroom is new in West Virginia’s series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, edited by James Lang and Michelle Miller. We’re pleased to share an excerpt from the book, which ships now when ordered from our site.

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 »

Midsummer roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

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.

The podcast from Change Seven Magazine talks with Charles Dodd White, author of A Year without Months.

John Warner devotes his column in Inside Higher Ed to Aeron Haynie and Stephanie Spong’s “indispensable” Teaching Matters: A Guide for Graduate Students.Read More »

“I felt like Morgantown itself was a character in the book”: An interview with Tom Bredehoft, author of Foote

This summer, West Virginia University Press is pleased to publish Tom Bredehoft’s Foote: A Mystery Novel. (While the official pub date is August 1, the book ships now when ordered from our site.) It’s a tale of a private investigator in Morgantown who has a secret he dares not reveal: he is a bigfoot living in plain sight, charged with keeping his people in the surrounding hills from being discovered. Jordan Farmer said of the novel: “Part mystery, part fable but all original, Jim Foote is sure to be one of your favorite literary detectives—cryptid or otherwise.” Here Bredehoft talks with Vesto PR’s Caitlin Solano for our blog.

What inspired the story about a bigfoot private investigator?

My wife and I came up with the idea on a walk along the Mon River Trail in Morgantown, looking up at some of the rock formations and idly thinking that they might make a good hiding place for a cryptid. Neither one of us remembers clearly who said the actual phrase “bigfoot PI,” but as soon as it was out there, I knew I could have fun with it. She says that she’s had lots of conversations when someone has said “That could be a novel!” but I think she was surprised when I actually wrote it.

What kind of research did you do for this novel?   Were you able to find a comprehensive history of bigfoot sightings in West Virginia and the greater Appalachia region?

I don’t think I did any research on bigfoot at all! I have often heard the old advice to “Write what you know,” and so I just told myself at the very start that no one could know any more about my bigfoot (and their history and place in the world) than me, so I pretty much felt free to go my own way. I did do some small bits of research on West Virginia history here and there to make the setting seem right.Read More »

Environment, geography, and energy sale: Save 30% on new and recent titles

With questions of climate and politics assuming new urgency in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA decision, we’re offering 30% off new and recent WVU Press titles in environment, geography, and energy. This sale lasts through August 31 with code GEOENVNRG30 at checkout on our site, and applies to both paperback and ebook editions. Titles included are:

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

Another Appalachia is as good as everyone says, and better,” reports Garrett Robinson in a review for Read Appalachia. Neema Avashia’s book is selected by the New York Public Library for their list “New LGBTQ Nonfiction for Pride,” named one of “50 LGBTQ+ Books to Read Now & Always” in Bustle, and chosen as a summer reading pick at Kenyon Review, Garden & Gun, and the Bitter Southerner. Attention from bookstores continues, with City of Asylum in Pittsburgh naming it one of the year’s best books so far, and the owner of Yu and Me praising Avashia’s “thoughtful, raw, honest” event at her store in New York.

Rounding out its coverage this month, Another Appalachia receives positive notice from Longreads, Chapter 16, and the Athens (OH) Post. Avashia will appear at a Pride event in Huntington, WV, on June 25, as previewed in the Herald-Dispatch.

An NPR travel feature with state-by-state book recommendations picks Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods, edited by Laura Long and Doug Van Gundy, to represent West Virginia. The volume is called “a wonderful illustration of the complexity of the state and its literary landscape.”

Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies makes the Boston Globe‘s summer reading list (“the secrets do not disappoint”). Philyaw is featured in Black Pittsburgh and LitHub, and her appearance in the documentary film Introducing Brian Broome receives attention on public radio station WESA.

In a review for Still: The Journal, Charles Dodd White’s book A Year without Months is held up as “necessary reading for anyone interested in the changing world of the modern mountain south.” It’s named one of the month’s best southern books in the Southern Review of Books.

A reported piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education praises the “well-regarded series on teaching in higher ed from West Virginia University Press,” with specific reference to series authors Chavella Pittman and Cyndi Kernahan, and a link to Jessamyn Neuhaus’s forthcoming collection Picture a Professor.Read More »

Reflections on a rollout: Neema Avashia shares perspective on her book’s first months

Way back when Another Appalachia hadn’t yet been published, and I was filled with doubt about whether anyone other than my family and friends would read the book, my mentor Geeta Kothari would tell me: “Your book will find its readers.” She said it with a confidence I didn’t understand. How exactly would this book find readers who weren’t people I knew? Never mind that I find books I love all the time—imposter syndrome is not subject to rational thinking, it would seem.

And yet, the three months since Another Appalachia’s release have proven Geeta right so many times that she’s gotten tired of telling me, “I told you so.” In large part, this is because of the work that folks at the Press, folks at Vesto PR, and I have all put into publicizing the book—to thinking creatively about outlets, to the litany of pitches and pursuits that are alway part of the pre-publication rush.   Read More »

Rethinking the catalog: Some notes on fall 2022

Over the past couple of tumultuous years, lots about publishing has changed and lots has stayed the same—and both tendencies are on display in West Virginia’s new seasonal catalog.

Several publishers have recently moved away from seasonal catalogs altogether, as the effort required to design, edit, print, and distribute them has come under new scrutiny. (Early in the pandemic, when so few people had access to the work mailboxes where catalogs tend to be sent, the investment seemed especially questionable.) But at West Virginia we’ve happily kept at it, believing there’s value in stopping, every six months, to share with our readers a tangible guide to forthcoming books.

We’re always adapting as things shift around us, though, and with the fall 2022 catalog we’ve made changes. It’s a shorter document, scaled back to align with (post)pandemic attention spans—and to function as a teaser (“learn more online!”) rather than a comprehensive reference work. We still like paper, but we want to use our print catalog to invite you to online spaces for conversation and, of course, for ordering books.

Some tidbits:

—The catalog has gotten thinner, but it’s the same height and width it’s always been. We’re attached to our distinctive 5.5 x 7.5 dimensions.

—The catalog cover was adapted by in-demand designer Rachel Willey from her cover for Tom Bredehoft’s forthcoming book Foote. You can see more of Rachel’s work on Instagram. Read More »

Recommended reading: Four picks from WVU Press author Nicholas Stump

Nicholas Stump, WVU College of Law.

In a new feature for the blog, we’re asking WVU Press authors to suggest books, posts, and articles worth reading. First up is legal scholar Nicholas Stump, author of our Remaking Appalachia: Ecosocialism, Ecofeminism, and Law, a finalist for this year’s Weatherford Award.

A People’s Green New Deal, Max Ajl, Pluto Press (2021)

This stunning book is among the most important works exploring a truly radical, internationalist Green New Deal. (Another such can’t-miss title is The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth by The Red Nation.) In A People’s Green New Deal, Ajl critiques mainstream Eurocentric conceptions of the Green New Deal as insufficient to combat the global socio-ecological crisis and as fundamentally unjust—as the mainstream Green New Deal is conceived of within the capitalist and imperialist world system, as dominated by the Global North. Instead, Ajl examines alternatives steeped in “decommodification, working-class power, anti-imperialism and agro-ecology,” such as a genuinely internationalist ecosocialism and principles reflected in the Cochabamba agreement. Of particular note to Appalachian environmental scholars and activists, Ajl argues that transformative change “can only build from existing strengths” within the “already-existing ecological society in the interstices and shadow-zones of colonial-capitalism” including, as one example among many worldwide, “endogenous development brigades in Appalachia.” 

How To Write About Pipelines,” Sakshi Aravind, Progress in Political Economy Blog (2021)

Aravind’s blog post, much-shared and celebrated on the ecological Left, responds to Andreas Malm’s provocative book How to Blow Up a Pipeline. This subject, of course, has special relevance to Appalachians contesting natural gas pipelines through various legal and extra-legal means. While praising Malm’s prior influential book, Fossil Capital, Aravind mounts a concise yet compelling critique of this more recent work—which is marked by a “startling whiteness of the authorial gaze and voice,” in addition to similarly problematic citational practices favoring white men. Aravind notes that it is hard “to believe that one can write about environmental activism with two vague references to Indigenous people in the passing and no mention of settler colonialism,” and that any “framework of violence, non-violence, and sabotage is meaningless if one is irreverent to the long tradition of Indigenous resistance, which has fought against the exploitation of the land by throwing their bodies in the way.” Aravind later published a brilliant book review expanding on this post.Read More »

Foote: An excerpt from Tom Bredehoft’s forthcoming novel

In the space of one weekend in Morgantown, West Virginia, private investigator Big Jim Foote finds himself at the center of two murder investigations. Suspected of one killing at a local festival, he locates the body of a missing person immediately after. The cops are watching him, and Big Jim has a secret he dares not reveal: he is a bigfoot living in plain sight, charged with keeping his people in the surrounding hills from being discovered.

Coming August 1 from WVU Press, Tom Bredehoft’s Foote: A Mystery Novel has been called “a tale about humanity wrapped in the garment of an excellent hard-boiled thriller.” Jordan Farmer adds: “Part mystery, part fable but all original, Jim Foote is sure to be one of your favorite literary detectives—cryptid or otherwise.” We’re pleased to share an excerpt here.

It was a drizzly morning in April, and all I knew was that someone was standing outside the door. That was all right. Sometimes folks need a few minutes to get their courage up, to really convince themselves that they need my kind of help. My office, to tell the truth, isn’t exactly inviting from the outside: it’s just a plain metal door, bracketed by a couple of windows with the blinds closed. And the door itself stands in a little blackened brick building crouched beneath the PRT tracks, not too far from the downtown stop. That also makes it not too far from the county courthouse, as a matter of fact.

The sign on the door says “Big Jim Foote: Private Investigator,” and I know well enough that that doesn’t always encourage the curious to come in, either. Even the mailman rarely says hello. If someone really needs me, they open the door. They come in.

And, eventually, this one did.

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