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.

Read More »

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

Neema Avashia, author of Another Appalachia, writes an opinion piece for NBC News about “How J.D. Vance Has Written Appalachians Like Me Out of His Ohio Senate Campaign.” Her book is named one of “22 Books to Read During AAPI Heritage Month” in New York Magazine, and it appears as well on Boston’s WBUR public radio and in the Times of India. Pittsburgh City PaperLGBTQ Reads, the Mountain Advocate, and Spirituality and Practice all add to the title’s celebratory rollout.

New international editions of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies prompt global coverage, including a French review in La Fondation Orange. Author Deesha Philyaw is interviewed on BBC Radio 4, where she praises WVU Press for its “very broad vision.” She adds: “The thing about university presses, and indie presses in general, is . . . they’re more likely to take chances. I think that they were being bolder.”

In a review for Chapter 16 from Humanities Tennessee, Charles Dodd White’s A Year without Months is praised as “a work of harrowing candor, insightful compassion, and hard-won beauty.” White is currently touring in support of his book, with details available on his website.Read More »

Teaching Matters: An excerpt from Aeron Haynie and Stephanie Spong’s new guide for graduate students

In a book written directly for graduate students that includes graduate student voices and experiences, Aeron Haynie and Stephanie Spong establish why good teaching matters and offer a guide to helping instructors-in-training create inclusive and welcoming classrooms. We’re pleased to share an excerpt from Teaching Matters, new in our series Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Just as it’s tempting to teach the way you were taught, your graduate professors may be preparing you for the research jobs they have, jobs that don’t necessarily emphasize teaching. If they advise you to place research first, they are giving you the strategies that worked well for them. However, most graduate students will not follow that path. According to the Digest of Educational Statistics, less than one-third of those instructors who have secured full-time positions work at research universities. Many fields in the humanities, such as history, are facing record low numbers of tenure track positions and fewer than 20% of those positions are at R1 institutions. Whereas it may be your goal to become a professor at a research university, most full-time academic positions are ones that value sound teaching—in different ways and with different corresponding research expectations. For example, positions at select small liberal arts colleges expect active research agendas, good teaching, and student advisement and mentoring. Regional comprehensives are similar but may allow some latitude in where and what one publishes. Community colleges have heavy teaching loads and don’t require publications, though some community college teachers publish, nonetheless.

Research universities, too, are becoming increasingly concerned with undergraduate retention and graduation rates, which are significantly influenced by the quality of undergraduate teaching. The mode of your teaching may also be quite different than your graduate professors have experienced. Even before the 2020–2021 COVID-19 health crisis, colleges and universities were very interested in growing ranks of online faculty who could develop flexible programs to increase enrollment without incurring the additional cost of expanding physical classroom spaces. However the current global health crisis resolves, online teaching will remain an increasingly important part of higher education. Teaching may also be where you find the greatest professional satisfaction. In a survey of more than 1,000 tenured and nontenured faculty across institutional types, the aspect of the job that garnered the most satisfied responses was “teaching students” at 91% with a close second in “mentoring students or junior faculty” at 87%; “conducting research” came in at only 68%.Read More »

Mid-spring roundup: Reviews, media attention, and author events

In Salon, Alison Stine interviews Neema Avashia about her book Another Appalachia, noting: “There are so many lines in this book that I underlined and so many quotes that I’m going to take away from it.” Avashia’s book is named to the Book Riot list “18 of the Best Asian American Books to Read This Year,” and is selected by the book club at Pittsburgh’s City Paper. It receives attention in Daily Yonder (“Appalachia needs more people like Neema Avashia”), Southern Review of Books (“revelatory”), Inside Appalachia, and GO Magazine, as well as the podcasts Perks of Being a Book Lover and (from Skylight Books in Los Angeles) Skylit. White Whale Bookstore names Another Appalachia its bestselling book for the month of March.

Avashia writes in Electric Lit about “7 Books That Show a Different Side of Appalachia,” praising (among others) WVU Press titles The Harlan Renaissance and Appalachian Reckoning.

Jason Kapcala’s Hungry Town is reviewed in the Akron Beacon Journal: “These flawed people, dealt a losing hand, will not soon be forgotten.”

In Mississippi, an opinion piece for the Meridian Star calls Charles Dodd White’s A Year without Months “a treasure.”

A Union for Appalachian Healthcare Workers is praised as a “meticulously researched window into the dynamics of a small activist union” in West Virginiaville, and author John Hennen is interviewed at Daily Yonder.

Shaun Slifer, author of So Much to Be Angry About, writes in Viewpoint Magazine about Appalachian Movement Press and one of its publications—Dan Cutler’s The Hillbillys: A Book for Children. Slifer’s essay cites WVU Press books by Neema Avashia and William H. Turner.Read More »

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

The publication of Another Appalachia is met with widespread celebration, including attention in Ms. Magazine (“timely”), Scalawag (“graceful”), Still: The Journal (“beautifully rendered”), the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (“Avashia’s Appalachia is many things at once”), and Bitch Media (“evocative and thought-provoking”). The book is named to the lists “24 Must-Read LGBTQ Books Out in March” from Book Riot and “March’s Most Anticipated LGBTQIA+ Literature” from Lambda Literary.

Author Neema Avashia is interviewed at Shelf Awareness, Debutiful, Fiction Advocate, Newfound, and the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Her book tour for Another Appalachia, which receives a mention (and photo!) in the Boston Globe, moves to Pittsburgh, Charleston, Lexington, Washington, New York, and other cities this spring.

Mark Powell’s “emotionally wrenching” novel Lioness gets a starred review in Kirkus: “This politically charged novel is haunting (and haunted) in the best possible way.” Powell, who writes about his experiences in Ukraine for Garden & Gun, will appear on May 5 with Charles Dodd White (author of A Year without Months) at a virtual launch hosted by White Whale Bookstore.

The Harlan Renaissance receives the Weatherford Award for outstanding title in Appalachian studies—the fourth consecutive year that a book from WVU has won in the nonfiction category. Author William H. Turner talks about his book with the podcast Appodlachia.

In other Weatherford news, Nicholas Stump’s Remaking Appalachia is named a finalist in the nonfiction category. Congrats to both authors!Read More »

AWP sale: Save 30% (with free shipping) on works of fiction and literary nonfiction from WVU Press

To celebrate the annual meeting of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, all of West Virginia University Press’s new and recent works of fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry are 30% off with free shipping through April 30, 2022. This discount applies to paperback editions.

Our exhibit at the AWP meeting will feature display copies for perusal, with all sales handled online at our website. Just use code WVUPAWP2022 at checkout. This sale is open to all, regardless of whether you’re attending the conference.

Discounted titles are:Read More »

“It seems like everyone today has an opinion about the South and Appalachia”: Mark Powell and Charles Dodd White in conversation

This spring West Virginia University Press will publish Mark Powell’s novel Lioness and Charles Dodd White’s essay collection A Year without Months. The two authors agreed to chat on our blog about writing and region.

Mark: We’ve been friends for a long time, and in what is most definitely a happy accident, we have books coming out at the same time. How did that happen?

Charles: I think we both pay attention to books about the region that stand out, so it’s natural we would pay attention to WVU Press. The books have been getting attention by the writers community for a long time, so it’s always been one of those places I’ve wanted to connect with.

Lioness is being described as an eco-thriller. How would you define a book like that and what goals did you have for it, aesthetically, politically, and otherwise?

Mark: The writer Bob Shacochis said once that he writes entertainment for people who are paying attention. I’ve always tried to work in a similar vein, writing novels that are (hopefully) exciting while also being engaged with the political moment. There’s plenty we should be paying attention to, but climate change is surely at the top of the list.

You wrote A Year Without Months over a number of years. What was it like revisiting work that spans nearly a decade?

Charles: It can be kind of bracing to look back at something you’ve written in the past and see how much distance has interposed between Then and Now. There was certainly a sense of that in this book. Though most of the essays were written over a single year, it required me to go back and retouch some of those earlier pieces so that there was a fundamental coherence that you have to have if you want the book to work as a whole.Read More »

Appalachian studies sale! Save 30% (with free shipping) on books from West Virginia University Press

To celebrate the annual meeting of the Appalachian Studies Association, all of West Virginia University Press’s new and recent books about Appalachia are 30% off with free shipping through April 30, 2022. This discount applies to paperback editions (and, in the case of African American Workers and the Appalachian Coal Industry, jacketed cloth).

Our exhibit at the ASA meeting will feature display copies for perusal, with all sales handled online at our website. Just use code ASA22WVUP30 at checkout. WVU Press’s sale is open to all, regardless of whether you’re attending the conference.

Discounted titles are:Read More »