At any elite university or liberal arts college, professors are expected to publish. In most disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, the path to publication usually features books and peer-reviewed articles; in others—such as Economics—peer-reviewed articles and case studies are the preferred options. Math, Engineering, and the natural sciences have quite different sets of scholarly expectations.
Only three members of the 69 tenured or tenure-track members of the Group came from Math or the natural sciences. (None came from Engineering or Economics.) Of the remainder, apart from a scattered few in Music and Dance, all teach in departments where professors are expected to publish books.
In looking through the Group’s c.v.’s, an interesting pattern emerges: sixteen* have published books with Duke University Press.
A couple of prominent anti-lacrosse professors are virtual DUP regulars. Diane Nelson has two forthcoming books with DUP (including The End/s of War: Reckoning and Assumptions of Identity in Post-Genocide Guatemala).
And Duke’s equivalent of Linwood (“The Intimidator”) Wilson, former Women’s Studies Director Robyn (“Language of Lynching“) Weigman, has three edited volumes plus a scholarly monograph with DUP. The “clarifying” professor—who tried and failed to intimidate into silence campus critics of the Group of 88—has written American Anatomies: Theorizing Race and Gender, while her edited volumes include Women’s Studies On Its Own: A Next Wave Reader in Institutional Change.
For the most part, however, a disproportionate number of the DUP-published Group members are professors without books published elsewhere. The DUP book thus was or is a critical credential for the candidate’s recruitment to,* continued employment at, or promotion at Duke. This list includes:
- Ranjanna Khanna (English): 1 book, Dark Continents: Psychoanalysis and Colonialism. Duke University Press, 2003.
- Priscilla Wald (English): 1 book, Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form. Duke University Press, 1995.
- Maurice Wallace (English): 1 book, Constructing the Black Masculine: Identity and Ideology in African American Men's Literature and Culture, 1775-1995. Duke University Press, 2002.
- Alberto Moreiras (Literature): 1 book in English, The Exhaustion of Difference: The Politics of Latin American Cultural Studies. Duke University Press, 2001.
- Antonio Viego (Literature): 1 book, forthcoming, Ruining Ethnicity and Race: Latino/a Studies, Psychoanalysis and Ego Psychology. Duke University Press, forthcoming 2007.
- Esther Gabara (Romance Studies), 1 book, forthcoming, The Ethos of Modernism: Photographic Aesthetics in Mexico and Brazil. Duke University Press, forthcoming (no publication date listed).
- Ralph Litzinger (Cultural Anthropology): 1 book, Other Chinas: The Yao and the Politics of National Belonging. Duke University Press, 2000.
- Rebecca Stein (Cultural Anthropology), 1 scholarly monograph, Itineraries in Conflict: The Political Life of Tourism in Israel and the Middle East. Duke University Press, forthcoming, (no publication date listed).
It’s not hard to miss the pedagogical slant of the list above. The website of the press states that DUP “publishes primarily in the humanities and social sciences and . . . is best known for its publications in the broad and interdisciplinary area of theory and history of cultural production, and it is known in general as a publisher willing to take chances with nontraditional and interdisciplinary publications.” But while the site lists the press editors, it does not contain a listing of the Editorial Advisory Board—which is composed of Duke professors, and which has the ultimate authority to render decisions on whether or not to publish a manuscript.
Because of the difficulty of gathering public information on the DUP EAB, I sent an email to Prof E. Roy Weintraub (Economics Department) since I recalled from his c.v. that he had served on that board. He said that he would not offer me his personal opinions on it or its members, but that specific factual information should be publicly available, since the Duke Faculty had in the past voted its support of the Press through the Academic Council. (A note on “interest”: Weintraub co-edits a book series on Science and Cultural Theory for DUP, and thus has many dealings with the editors of the Press. His last book was published by DUP, as were his three edited volumes in the History of Political Economy Conference series.)
I asked Professor Weintraub several questions, and he has permitted me to reproduce those questions and his answers:
Q. How is Duke Press organized?
A. It is a university unit reporting to the Provost, and is charged to support the university’s scholarly mission on a financial “break-even” basis. It is set up in two divisions, Books and Journals. Given the cost allocations, and the separate revenue streams to each, the Journals division is, per agreement with the Provost, a cross-subsidizer of the Books division.
Q. What is the reputation of the Books division?
A. It appears that among humanities scholars, and other university presses, it is quite high, and is regarded as fostering and supporting “cutting edge” work in the new humanities areas related to Cultural Studies, widely understood.
Q. What is the role of the Editorial Advisory Board (EAB)?
A. The EAB is a group of
faculty who are selected by the Provost on the recommendation of the Editor of the Press to advise the (Book division) editors on projects, manuscripts, and other matters that the Editor brings to it from time to time. Duke University
Q. How does it work?
A. It meets monthly. The editors, in my time on it (1998-2003), provided pre-meeting copies of materials on the projects requiring advice/approval at the monthly meeting. Packets included referee reports, author’s responses, editor’s letters to the authors, tables of contents, c.v.’s of authors, chapter outlines, sample chapters, etc. Packets usually ran 50-100 pages per project, and each month there were ten or more projects to discuss. The editors asked the EAB for its views on each project, its author’s and reviewers’ reputations, and current “action” in the field of the author’s research, as well as suggestions for the editors and the authors, marketing advice to the Press, etc. Since all the Book division editors were present at the meetings, it was a way for the scholars and the book people to learn from each other.
Q. Who was on the EAB?
A. I recall serving at perhaps different times with Jan Radway, Fred Jamison, Priscilla Wald, Orin Starn, Anne Allison, Bruce Lawrence, Wahneema Lubiano, Patricia Leighton, Walter Mignolo, Stanley Hauerwas, Srivanas Aravamudan, and Houston Baker as well as the University Librarian at the time, David Ferriero. I am sure I am forgetting some people, though.
Indeed, Lubiano, for one, lists on her c.v. her DUP Editorial Advisory Board experience—creating the extraordinary situation of a professor who had herself not published a scholarly manuscript being put in a position to pass judgment on the manuscripts of others. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to determine that such an arrangement is highly problematic. (Lubiano has, at times, listed as a DUP publication one of her “perpetually forthcoming” offerings, Like Being Mugged by a Metaphor: “Deep Cover” and Other “Black” Fictions.)
Beyond Lubiano, the list of past EAB members includes Group members Jan Radway, Priscilla Wald, Anne Allison, Patricia Leighton, Walter Mignolo, Srivanas Aravamudan, and Houston Baker—along with anti-lacrosse extremist Orin Starn and Bruce Lawrence, husband of and co-author with Group member miriam cooke.
In short, it appears that—in the recent past, at least—the DUP has had an Editorial Advisory Board dominated by Group members or their sympathizers, which in turn has recommended publication of manuscripts produced by . . . Group members or their sympathizers on the faculty. And these manuscripts, in turn, have been vital to the continued employment at Duke of . . . Group members or their sympathizers.
*--modified from 14, error on my part ; added the Wald item more purposes of clarity.