March 3, 2003

Panel to discuss scholarly publishing

By Eric Rangus

An impressive group of editors as well as a literary agent will talk about the challenges of scholarly publishing in a panel discussion to be held in the Carlos Museum reception hall, Wednesday, March 19, from 3–5 p.m.

Participating in the panel will be a variety of editorial professionals: Nancy Grayson, associate director and editor-in-chief of the University of Georgia Press; Todd Hallman, M.E. Sharpe executive editor; Lara Heimert, Yale University Press executive editor; Michelle Tessler, literary agent with Carlisle & Company; and Laura van Dam, Houghton Mifflin acquisition editor.

The panel stems from a pilot program in manuscript development launched last fall by the provost’s office. Its intent is to help Emory authors edit their books for presentation to publishing houses, academic and otherwise.

The director of that program, Amy Benson Brown, sat on a six-person committee that reviewed applications from 22 Emory authors and selected two for editing assistance: Paul Courtright, professor of religion, for his manuscript, Sati: The Goddess and the Dreadful Practice; and Kimberly Wallace-Sanders, assistant professor in the Institute for Liberal Arts, for Motherlove Supreme: The Figure of the “Black Mammy” in American Culture.

“We had a lot of debate about how to pick the books,” said Brown, adding that a large majority of the entries were well qualified. “We made the decision based on books we felt would make a substantial contribution to the scholarly view of Emory. We also wanted books that would make an impact in their field and perhaps beyond.”

Brown, associate editor of Academic Exchange, said she and the rest of the manuscript development committee—Douglas Bremner, medicine; Lucas Carpenter, English (Oxford); Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, women’s studies; Catherine Manegold, journalism; and Sidney Perkowitz, physics—wanted to bring in as diverse a panel as possible, and they appear to have done so.

The panel includes representatives from a prestigious national university press (Yale), the largest local university press (Georgia), a publisher of reference materials (M.E. Sharpe) and a commercial press (Houghton Mifflin). Add Tessler, a literary agent, to the mix, and the presentation should cover a great deal of ground.

Prior to the afternoon discussion, which is free and open to the public, the panelists will take part in a luncheon with the 22 applicants to the manuscript development program. There they will get to discuss publishing and answer questions in a more casual atmosphere.

“My book is very interdisciplinary, and it is something that could benefit from editorial advice,” said Wallace-Sanders, adding her book will touch on history, literature and popular culture, to name just three disciplines. “Editing assistance could help me bridge that gap between a book written for just an academic audience and one that is more mainstream.”

Wallace-Sanders said Brown, who will serve as developmental editor for both books, already has had a significant impact on her manuscript. Brown told her that the title Motherlove Supreme is an unintended reference to a John Coltrane song and might limit her audience. The two are working on a new title right now.

For more information about the panel discussion or the manuscript development program, call Brown at 404-712-9082.






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