Bonnie Morris, author of Revenge of the Women's Studies Professor, will be interviewed live from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. (EDT) this Sunday, February 2, on C-SPAN2's Book TV In Depth program. The discussion will focus on her Revenge book other publications.
Yesterday, Indiana University celebrated the long and distinguished career of former IU Press director Janet Rabinowitch at a reception held in her honor at the Wells House. Rabinowitch retired this summer after working at the Press for 38 years. In this interview, Rabinowitch reflects on her time at the Press and some of the 700 books she acquired—or as she likes to call them, her "old friends."
Janet Rabinowitch. Courtesy of Indiana University.
Publishing has been called the “accidental
career.” Was it your intended career path?
Well, no. After receiving a doctorate in
Russian studies from Georgetown University in 1965, my original intention was
to pursue an academic career in that field. My husband, Alexander Rabinowitch (now IU Professor of History Emeritus),
and I finished our PhDs at the same time in the same field. It was rare in
those days for a university to hire two spouses, and even rarer for two spouses
in the same field to find positions. So after Alex accepted a position in the
IU History Department in 1968, I was only able to teach some evening courses. My
initial involvement with editing came about that time, when Alex and I coedited
a collection of essays, Revolution and
Politics in Russia, which was subsequently published by IUP.
What was your first job at the Press?
When I began at IUP in 1975, I was
both a copyeditor and an acquiring editor. Initially, my time was split 75%/25% between copyediting and acquiring. While the first books I acquired were mainly in Russian and East European
studies, after about three years, when one of the acquiring editors left the
Press, I inherited his areas, which included philosophy and African studies as
well as sponsoring the books that IUP was then distributing for the Cleveland
Museum of Art. With increasing numbers of my own projects underway plus authors
and projects in these added areas, from 1978 on I became a full time Sponsoring
Editor. As a Sponsoring Editor, my responsibility was not only to seek out,
evaluate, and acquire new book projects but also to shepherd them through the
publishing process. My early copyediting experience proved invaluable to my
subsequent work as an acquiring editor.
What was the first book you acquired?
The first book I acquired was an import,
licensed from a British publisher, The
Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society by Paul Thompson. The IUP edition was published in fall 1975.
It’s long out of print with IUP, but I noted on Amazon that it’s now available
in a Kindle edition. The first original
book I acquired was Cultural Revolution
in Russia, a path-breaking collection of essays edited by Sheila Fitzpatrick,
published in 1977. Fitzpatrick went on to become one of the most distinguished
historians of Soviet Russia.
How many books have you acquired since you’ve
been at the Press?
I’ve compiled a list of the books I
acquired during my 38 years at IUP—they number around 700. Looking through the list is like visiting old
What are your top five favorite IUP books and
I have so many favorites, it’s impossible
to identify my top five. Here are a few,
among many others:
I couldn’t have been more surprised when I
received a call from Book Business Magazine informing me that I had been
selected. I was thrilled!
What other professional accomplishments are you
Being a bridge between AAUP presses and
Soviet presses during perestroika. As a Russian speaker, I participated in AAUP
delegations to the Soviet Union in 1987 and 1989 and helped host a group of
Soviet university press publishers who visited AAUP presses, including IUP in
1988. For IUP, this resulted in several of our books being published in Russian
translations by Russian publishers.
Being Director or Co-Director of two major
innovative publishing initiatives funded by the Mellon Foundation:
Ethnomusicology Multimedia, in which IUP partnered with Temple and Kent State
university presses, and Framing the Global, together with the IU Center for the
Study of Global Change.
What are some of the most important changes or
developments you’ve seen in the publishing industry during your 38-year-career?
Technology has made huge changes in every
part of the publishing industry. When I started at IUP in 1975, letters were
typed with carbon copies, copyediting was done with a blue pencil, type was
still being set with hot metal, and jacket designs were mocked up with colored plastic
cut outs. The adoption of new technology in every one of IUP’s departments has
brought major changes and opened new opportunities for disseminating IUP books
and journals worldwide, thus heightening the Press’s impact in the academic
community and beyond.
What advice would you give to people who are
just starting their publishing careers?
Learn as much as you can about all aspects
of publishing, be a team player, be proactive about taking on new
responsibilities, love your work.
kinds of books do you enjoy reading outside of work?
I enjoy reading novels with historical themes,
histories, and books about contemporary issues—a few selections: Unbroken, Cutting with Stone, Hotel on the
Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Help, Sarah’s Key, And the Mountains Echoed.
Neil Nakadate's new memoir, Looking After Minidoka, documents
the "internment camp" years as they became a prism for understanding three
generations of Japanese American life, from immigration to the end of
the twentieth century. Nakadate blends history, poetry, rescued memory,
and family stories in an American narrative of hope and disappointment,
language and education, employment and social standing, prejudice and
pain, communal values and personal dreams.
In this interview, Nakadate reveals the importance of Minidoka and what he learned about himself and his family through his research.
What is Minidoka, and why is it
important to you and your family history?
“Minidoka” is the familiar name given to the “internment” or
incarceration camp at Hunt, Idaho to which members of my family were
“relocated” during World War II. Minidoka was one of ten such camps to which over 110,000 Japanese
Americans were exiled after being forcibly “evacuated” from their homes on the
West Coast, primarily due to prejudice and fear—and in the absence of formal
charges and judicial process.
What insights did you learn
about yourself while researching your family’s history?
I became aware of ways that I am a product of commitments and
choices made by others, as far back as Japan in the nineteenth century.
What new discoveries did you
make about your family while working on the book?
I gained an increased understanding of female members of my
family as they negotiated their identities and their families’ lives in various
times and places and under often trying circumstances—in turn-of-the-century Japan,
in 1920’s Portland, at Minidoka during WWII. . . .While working on the book I
was also struck by the diversity of individual experience, both across and
within various Japanese American communities.
What does it mean to you to be a
among other things, it means having a sense of origins and identity, and it
means being Asian American.
you see today any of the prejudices that were evident during WWII against Japanese
Americans or Japanese immigrants?
What we still see today in discussions of such matters as immigration,
citizenship, and employment is a tendency to let ignorance, stereotyping, and
racial profiling substitute for knowledge and informed decision-making. And as in 1942, narrow political agendas,
economic motives, and religious and racial bias seem part of the mix. . . .
Explain the significance of the
poems that are woven throughout the book.
The poems were among my earliest efforts to address the topic
of “Minidoka,” beginning with fundamental questions and feelings. The poems contribute a subjective and
expressive element, a more internal and contemplative note than what you see
elsewhere. Like the photos, they add
another dimension to the book.
What do you hope readers will
learn from your story?
hope they see an interesting and compelling narrative of individuals and
families embracing multiple cultures as they become part of twentieth century America. I hope readers see that in the process of
claiming their lives “average” people create history, contribute texture and
meaning to “large historical events.”
Jesse Lee Kercheval's new novel My Life as a Silent Movie is a story about identity that poses provocative questions on the relationship of art to life. After losing her husband and daughter in an auto accident, 42-year-old Emma flies to Paris, discovers she has a twin brother whose existence she had not known about, and learns that her birth parents weren't the Americans who raised her, but a White Russian film star of the 1920s and a French Stalinist.
In this interview, Kercheval reveals how her love of silent film helped inspire the book and why family is so important in her writing.
Where did your interest with this era and culture—the 1920s and silent movies—begin?
My husband is a photographer who teaches history of photography. For years, he also taught a course where students made short silent movies using antique hand crank cameras. In 2000, he went to the Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, a silent film festival in Pordenone, Italy where, along with classic films, they were showing a few of his student shorts. He didn’t really like being there alone, so he asked me to go with him next time. I imagined sitting in a cafe, drinking an espresso, writing, while he went to movies, but I fell in love with the lost world of silent film. At the festival, they show films from morning to night for eight days and I hate to leave the theater even long enough to eat (and this is Italy!). Since 2001, we’ve gone back to the festival every year. My most recent poetry collection, Cinema Muto, is about the festival and about silent film. It even has a long poem in it about Ivan Mosjoukine. After Cinema Muto, I kept writing about the film and Mosjoukine and my obsession with both grew into the novel My Life as a Silent Movie.
You share many similarities to your heroine, Emma (born in France, raised in Florida, a creative writing professor). Do you and Emma share personality traits as well? Are other characters in the novel personally reflected from your own life?
I think most people who know me would say I am not very much like Emma, though I have borrowed details from my life for hers. And I swear the other characters are all very much invented. Though I may be kidding myself! What is true, though, is that I do not have a brother, let alone a twin brother. So Ilya is pure fiction.
Did you have to do extensive research on French cinema and silent movies for this novel?
By the time I started writing the novel—after years of attending Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, reading about silent film, and writing poems about silent film—I had to struggle not to include everything I knew, rather than do more research. The trick was blending the information seamlessly into the narrative. For example, I went through several rounds of editing down the descriptions of Mosjoukine’s films and the number of films I describe.
What inspired you to write such an emotional story of self-discovery and grief?
I have always been drawn to explore in fiction what is difficult for me to face in life. My husband is the person who makes my life possible. And, as a mother, the loss of a child was and is unthinkable. So in a way, I make Emma suffer the losses I fear most. I felt guilty about that while I was writing the novel, but she survives.
Why Ivan Mosjoukine? When did you first learn about him, and why did you choose him to play such a prominent role in your novel?
In 2004, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto featured a retrospective of Mosjoukine’s films. I had only heard a passing mention of him before then (as the actor who turned down the role of Napoleon in Abel Gance’s six-hour epic silent film of the same name). From the first frame of the first film, I could not take my eyes off him. He is best known for is ability to convey emotion using his eyes but, in his French films in particularly, he also is a great physical comic. Over the course of the festival, I watched nearly all his extant films. It was the perfect introduction. It is still very hard to see his films outside of a few film archives. There are only bad bootleg DVDs and VHS tapes available whose muddy quality obscures the subtlety of his acting. Seeing all his films at once, I could not get over how their narratives echoed the story of his own life. Again and again, the films are about the choice of an artistic or free life over family and the price of that freedom. As I mentioned above, I wrote a long poem about his life. Then I felt I still had more to say. I considered a historical novel, but in the end I realized I was more interested in what Mosjoukine meant to me (and in the novel, to Emma) than in recreating the life of White Russians in Paris in the 1920s, so I altered history to bring Mosjoukine into the 21st century.
Family is one of the central themes of this novel. Could you explain what the unique bond between Emma and Ilya means to you, and how it goes along with your interest in the meaning of family?
The meaning of family is the central theme of all my fiction. My first novel, The Museum of Happiness, is an exploration of what it means to choose or create a family other than your birth family, and those themes reappear in My Life as a Silent Movie. Ivan is both part of Emma’s birth family and someone who becomes her chosen family. I have always felt the bond between siblings to be one of the strongest, and one that is not explored as often in contemporary American fiction as the parent-child relationship. Emma goes looking for her biological mother, but it is finding her brother that gives her a chance to be reborn. And I think Emma gives the same gift to Ilya.
Why did you choose to wait until much later in the novel to reveal the names of Emma’s husband and daughter?
Emma is the narrator. We see the world through her eyes and her not using her husband’s or daughter’s name in the early part of the novel is a form of distancing herself from her losses. She can’t bear to say their names. When she does use them, it is a sign that her grief is moving into more realistic, less manic, more accepting stage.
What was the most exciting part of the book for you to write?
The two scenes I enjoyed writing the most were the basement dance party that Emma goes to with Ilya and the scene where Emma meets Mosjoukine in the monastery. Both were complete fiction. I have never been to a rave in Paris or a Russian Orthodox monastery and that is probably what made them so fun to write. The joy of fiction!
Jesse Lee Kercheval is author of 12 books including Brazil, winner of the Ruthanne Wiley Memorial Novella Award; the poetry collection Cinema Muto, winner of the Crab Orchard Open Selection Award; and The Alice Stories, winner of the Prairie Schooner Fiction Book Prize. She teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Wisconsin.
Dreams of Duneland author Kenneth Schoon was recently interviewed and featured in The Times of Northwest Indiana. The article discusses Schoon's latest book and his fascination with the Lake Michigan shoreline and surrounding city, due to his roots in the Dunes region.
In addition to this coverage, Schoon's book was also reviewed by The Chicago Tribune and Little Indiana. You can meet the author and learn more about his book at the following events this month:
The artists from the Indiana Plein Air Painters Association
(IPAPA) will once again make appearance this month at a Moveable Feast event hosted by Indiana Landmarks
in conjunction with IPAPA. The next stop will be the Farm-to-Fork Feast at the Ben Owens Farmstead (4595 N. Maple Grove Road, Bloomington, IN) on August 3. Artists will be selling copies and showing
selections from their new book Painting Indiana III.Using
the plein air ("in the open air") style of painting, the IPAPA artists
will paint on site and exhibit their work from 5 to 6 p.m.
Tour the Civil War-era Ben Owens Farmstead in the Maple Grove Road Rural Historic District before an outdoor feast at Oliver Winery’s 75-acre Creekbend Vineyard. Chef Daniel Orr and his staff at FARMbloomington will prepare a special Indiana cocktail to start, followed by a four-course dinner with wine pairings by Oliver Winery. The cost is $50/Indiana Landmarks member, $65/nonmember. Contact Tommy Kleckner at firstname.lastname@example.org 812-232-4534 for ticket availability.
A complete list of Moveable Feast events can be found on the IPAPA website.
The artists from Painting Indiana III were recently interviewed on WFIU's Artworks radio show. Host Yael Ksander spoke with author Rachel Perry and three artists about the Indiana landscape, the enduring tradition of plein-air
painting in the state, and what makes today’s plein-air painting
contemporary. Listen to the full interview here.
Bloomington may not be the biggest city in Indiana, but it offers an abundance of culinary delights that rivals any major metropolis. One local favorite is FARMbloomington, owned by chef and IUP author Daniel Orr. He and his restaurant will be featured on the Cooking Channel's new series America's Best Bites this Saturday, June 8 at 4:30 p.m.
"Gerald Sorin tells Fast's story
in this engaging and fluidly written biography. He draws connections
among Fast's Jewishness, his writings, and that most curious part of his
long embrace of the Communist Party. In so doing, Sorin illuminates a
complex part of American Jewish life in the twentieth century. ... Sorin
is a brilliant biographer who proves to be both sympathetic and critical
of his subject. This is Gerald Sorin's second
National Jewish Book Award. He won in the category of history for his Irving Howe: A Life of Passionate Dissent, in 2003"
—Jewish Book World
Happy Earth Day! We're celebrating our planet by giving away two environmentally friendly books by Scott Russell Sanders: A Conservationist Manifesto and Earth Works. In his Manifesto, Sanders advocates that conservation is not simply a personal virtue but a public one. He continues his exploration of this idea and how we can care for each other and the world in Earth Works, a collection of 30 of his finest essays.
To enter the contest, send an email to email@example.com with your name and mailing address. Entries will be accepted through 4/26/13 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Winners will be notified by email and books will ship via USPS.
Learn more about Scott Russell Sanders's writing and his views on conservation in his recent interview with Dr. Bob Leonard on KNIA's In Depth radio show.