Get the latest
Recent Posts

Why University Presses are Important

University Press Week is here! President Jimmy Carter first proclaimed a “University Press Week” in 1978. A renewed weeklong celebration was created in 2012 by the Association of University Presses (AAUP, now AUPresses) to recognize the vibrant work done by nonprofit scholarly publishers in the U.S. and around the world and to emphasize their contributions to their home institutions, to academic discourse, and to an informed society. University Press Week, which this year runs from November 12-17 and highlights the theme #TurnItUP, is a great time to learn about The University of Utah Press. Founded in 1949 by University president A. Ray Olpin, the University of Utah Press is the oldest university press in Utah. It currently publishes 30 to 35 new titles every year, with a backlist of more than 523 titles in such fields as archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, Mesoamerica, American Indian studies, Western history, Utah history, Mormon studies, religious studies, Middle East studies, natural history and nature writing, creative nonfiction, regional titles, hiking guides, and other subjects.

Click here to see a catalog from the University of Utah Press.
Click here to visit the press’s website.

The Association of University Presses has an excellent statement, “About University Presses,” on their website (to see the full statement click here). Excerpts include the following:

“It may be easier to describe a university press by saying what it’s not. University presses don’t publish college newspapers, yearbooks, or course packs. And if you visit a university press, you won’t find a printing press.

University presses are publishers. At the most basic level that means they perform the same tasks as any other publisher. University presses acquire, develop, design, produce, market and sell books and journals, just like Random House or Condé Nast. But while commercial publishers focus on making money by publishing for popular audiences, the university press’s mission is to publish work of scholarly, intellectual, or creative merit, often for a small audience of specialists or a regional community of interest. . . .

While all university presses share some common characteristics, the best way to get to know the field is to look at the programs at particular presses—starting, perhaps, with your home state or alma mater.

The University of Utah Press publishes authors from around the world and right at home, frequently in partnership with other university centers and local or national organizations. These books are exceptional for their commitment to scholarship and their curiosity about culture, history, and the natural world. A closer look at several recent University of Utah Press titles illustrates the ability of university press publications to look both broadly and deeply and to engage with issues in ways that are thoughtful, enlightening, and informative.

Prehistoric Games of North American Indians, edited by Barbara Voorhies, is a collection of studies on the ancient games of indigenous peoples of North America. The authors, all archaeologists, muster evidence from artifacts, archaeological features, ethnography, ethnohistory, and to a lesser extent linguistics and folklore. The journal American Archaeology,  in a published review, noted the significance of games in an examination of human societies, saying that “even though understanding them in prehistoric North America is a daunting task, it is an important one.”

Fire Otherwise: Ethnobiology of Burning for a Changing World, edited by Cynthia T. Fowler and James R. Welch, examines fire as a daunting ecological challenge and a major subject in science and policy debates about global trends in land conversion, climate change, and human health. Contributors from around the world examine the knowledge and practices of widespread local communities, including examples from the African Savanna, Brazilian Savanna Wetlands, Swidden Farmers in central Amazonia, Pacific Coast Salish fire ecologies, Hawai’i, the Fiji Islands, and Sumba Island, Indonesia.

Decolonizing Mormonism: Approaching a Postcolonial Zion, edited by Gina Colvin and Joanna Brooks, seeks nothing less than to shift the focus of Mormon studies from its historic North Amercian, Euro-American “center” to the critical questions being raised by Mormons living at the religion’s cultural and geographic margins. It brings together the work of fifteen scholars from around the globe and has been called a “groundbreaking work” of “conversations [that] are essential in a time of growing global inequality.”

Interwoven: Junipers and the Web of Being by Kristen Rogers-Iversen, copublished with the Utah State Historical Society, is at once a scientific, experiential, historical, and metaphorical walk among juniper trees, one of the most significant native trees of the interior West. It  explores numerous interconnecting aspects of junipers, including such varied topics as biotic communities, packrat middens, wildfire, folklore and spirituality, ghost beads, gin, ranching, and wilderness, altering readers’ experiences with these trees and the natural world.

Debunking Creation Myths about America’s Public Lands by John D. Leshy is a small volume copublished with the Special Collections Department at the Marriott Library and the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, and presents Leshy’s lecture delivered at the Stegner Center’s twenty-third annual symposium. While recent controversies about public lands and the shrinking of national monuments in Utah have divided Utahns along political and cultural lines, Leshy provides an overview of the many ways that public lands have historically unified the U.S. He shows how efforts to safeguard these lands have almost always enjoyed bipartisan support, with policymakers and citizens from every walk of life and each side of the aisle viewing our vast public lands as priceless assets, a huge success story, and a credit to the workings of our national government.

The University of Utah Press is proud to be a member of the Association of University Presses and an important contributor to the scholarly conversations taking place at the University of Utah.

No Comments

Post A Comment