University Press Week: Knowledge Matters

The University of Alabama Press is a proud member of The Association of American University Presses (AAUP). And this Friday brings to a close to our annual University Press Week, a celebration of the contributions of university presses to the literary and intellectual world.

tom_wilsonIn keeping with the theme “#LookItUP: Knowledge Matters” for #UPWeek 2017, UAP chose to highlight our on-campus library system. Below is a conversation with Tom Wilson, Associate Dean for Research and Technology.

What is something the library does to encourage research?

Beyond simply making the resources available, there is fair amount of time spent showing people how to conduct library research and how to use library material. We’re very supportive of the process of seeking knowledge, and if I may use the t-word, truth, through that process.

We work with students, and faculty too, to help them understand the importance of the process that one goes through to judge the information that they’ve come across. We invest in providing a diverse set of resources and then training people to use them to their benefit.

In what ways does the library promote scholarship?

For instance, when we first work with people on search strategy and how to break down their topic we teach them to determine and evaluate sources of their research. This will include a variety of things such as popular press, news source, scholarly research or whatever they might come across. We want them to understand and weigh the key elements that make up scholarly resources such as peer review and strong editorial functions.




The UPWeek display at the Amelia Gorgas Library

Where do you see our missions overlapping?

The most direct area, of course, is that University Presses work in producing quality scholarly resource and our mission to acquire them and make them available to our larger community. So, we have a hand in hand relationship to generate and disseminate scholarly information.

Share with us your thoughts on open access scholarship?

We’re very supportive of quality open access scholarship. And, if you view this without financial considerations, for the sake of discussion, open source doesn’t mean of lesser quality. It’s just a different mechanism for funding the operation

There are some very different models that have been pursued that demonstrate it’s possible to be cost effective, especially regarding the end user.

In the online environment, both publishers and libraries have to rethink what the notion of production and dissemination means. I think there’s a lot of territory where we can work together to address the issue of broader access to scholarly materials.

How can the relationship between university presses and libraries be stronger?

The first thing is having the conversation about shared goals and the resources. What can we bring to bear for making research and scholarship more widely available and how can we engage a larger audience in the creation as well in the consumption of those resources.

But I think if we’re already talking, what needs to be dealt with first occurs at a strategic level – where we would like to be somewhere down the line. There are lots of skills sets and expertise on both sides; it’s advantageous all the way around

For instance, at our Digital Humanities Center, we’re involved in creating content. It’s more project focused but it does provide a venue for collaborative development between scholars and hosting of research agendas. But we’re exploring ways to make sure these things are available for longer term and not just for a few years.



New from Fiction Collective Two—“Paradise Field”

Interconnected stories depicting the last years of a WWII bomber pilot, his relationship with his daughter as both child and adult, and his drift into infirmity and death

When life dwindles to its irrevocable conclusion, recollections are illuminated, even unto the grave. Such is the narrative of Paradise Field: A Novel in Stories, whose title is taken from a remote airfield in the American Southwest, and while the father recalls his flying days, his daughter—who nurses the old man—reflects as well.

Pamela Ryder’s stories vary in style and perspective, and time lines overlap as death advances and retreats. This unique and shifting narrative explores the complexities of a relationship in which the father—who has been a high-flying outsider—descends into frailty and becomes dependent upon the daughter he has never really known.

The opening story, “Interment for Yard and Garden,” begins as a simple handbook for Jewish burial and bereavement, although the narrator cannot help but reveal herself and her motives. From there, the telling begins anew and unfolds chronologically, returning to the adult daughter’s childhood: a family vacation in France, the grotesqueries of the dinner table, the shadowy sightings of a father who has flown away.

A final journey takes father and daughter back to the Southwest in search of Paradise Field. Their travels through that desolate landscape foreshadow the father’s ultimate decline, as portrayed in the concluding stories that tell of the uneasy transformation in the bond between them and in the transcendence of his demise. Taken together, the stories in Paradise Field are an eloquent but unsparing depiction of infirmity and death, as well as solace and provocation for anyone who has been left to stand graveside and confront eternity.

Pamela Ryder
is the author of Correction of Drift: A Novel in Stories and the short story collection A Tendency Be Gone. Ryder lives in New York City.

“Pamela Ryder’s Paradise Field is a novel in stories that stands out for the variety of structures, voices, and styles employed throughout. Paradise Field is a strong whole made of fascinating parts.”

“Let’s not futz around. I’m old, a Jew, a man who, but for the fates in charge of the trivialities, might have been Ryder’s father. Well, for all that, I am Ryder’s father or, anyhow, a father of Ryder, and will, accordingly, go agreeably to my grave praising her name as if my doing so might work for my daughter the favor of the gods. Let me tell you—in the matter of my thinking what must be said when an occasion such as this has come to take me by the heart: it was with tears in my eyes that I made my way through the pages recording Ryder’s mission to bury her dead in a manner unique among the methods practiced by humankind. Her art is water for the thirsty, sustenance for the deprived. I ask you, which of us is not perishing from the logic of the insufficiency woven into the world’s conceivable answer to our unappeasable cries? Ryder, her soul, her sentences, they are one thing, and this totality is given as an exception—the valedictory gesture of a mensch, this Pamela Ryder, enacting her livelong promise via the ceremonies of Paradise Field. Listen to me—my daughter brings comfort, brings balm, brings the exhilarations of loving and kinship to all those who would, by words, be cured.”
—Gordon Lish, author of Peru

“At once moving and merciless, Paradise Field presents in collage the life of a father as seen through a daughter’s eyes, from her early life to his death and beyond. An engaging and beautifully written meditation on endings, and how we do (or don’t) manage to stumble past them.”
—Brian Evenson, author of Collapse of Horses

“Ryder writes with wit, brio, and laser-like honesty about her father—a man who, having eluded her for decades, is now at the end of his life. The Kafkaesque nature of caretaking and the obscene depredations of age are interlaced with a kind of cockeyed delight: eating a blintz in hell, regarding the clouds, giving death the (frail) finger. Ryder has both the ear of a poet and the soul of a warrior.”
—Dawn Raffel, author of The Secret Life of Objects

240 pages
ISBN: 978-1-57366-06301 Paper  $17.95
ISBN: 978-1-57366-874-3 Ebook  $9.95

New in Paper! “Bringing Montessori to America”

2016 Choice Outstanding Academic Title!

Bringing Montessori to America traces in engrossing detail one of the most fascinating partnerships in the history of American education—that between Maria Montessori and S. S. McClure, from their first meeting in 1910 until their final acrimonious dispute in 1915.

Born on the Adriatic, Montessori first entered the world stage in 1906 as the innovator of a revolutionary teaching method that creates an environment where children learn at their own pace and initiate skills like reading and writing in a spontaneous way. As her school in Rome swiftly attracted attention, curiosity, and followers, Montessori recruited disciples whom she immersed in a rigorous and detailed teacher-training regimen of her own creation.

McClure was an Irish-born media baron of America’s Gilded Age, best known as the founder and publisher of McClure’s Magazine. Against the backdrop of Theodore Roosevelt’s Bull Moose insurgency, the brilliant and mercurial McClure used his flagship publication as a vehicle to advance Progressive Party causes. After meeting in 1910, McClure and Montessori embarked on a five-year collaboration to introduce Montessori’s innovative teaching style in the United States.

Gerald and Patricia Gutek trace the dramatic arc of the partnership between the Italian teacher and American publisher united by a vision of educational change in the United States. After her triumphal lecture tour in 1913, Montessori, secure in her trust of her American partner, gave McClure her power of attorney and returned to Italy. The surge in popularity of Montessori education in America, however, deeply concerned Montessori, who had heretofore exerted total control over her method, apparatus, schools, and teacher training. The American entrepreneurial spirit, along with a desire to disseminate the Montessori method quickly, led to major conflicts between the Italian educator and American businesspeople, particularly McClure. Feeling betrayed, Montessori ended her relationship with her erstwhile collaborator.

Gutek and Gutek describe the fascinating story of this first wave of Montessori education in the United States, which did not sustain itself during Montessori’s lifetime. It would not be until the 1950s that Montessori education was revived with the successful establishment of Montessori academies throughout the United States.

Gerald L. Gutek is a professor emeritus of education at Loyola University Chicago, where he was also the dean of the School of Education. He is the author of Pestalozzi and Education, The Educational Theory of George S. Counts, Education and Schooling in America, The Montessori Method: The Origins of an Educational Innovation, and New Perspectives on Philosophy and Education.

Patricia A. Gutek is the coauthor with Gerald L. Gutek of seven books, including Visiting Utopian Communities: A Guide to the Shakers, Moravians, and Others, Pathways to the Presidency: A Guide to the Lives, Homes, and Museums of the U.S. Presidents, and Plantations and Outdoor Museums in America’s Historic South.

“Exploring information heretofore overlooked, the work studies how Montessori education was influenced by the relationship between S. S. McClure and Maria Montessori, as well as what might have been had the two not experienced their dispute regarding control of the process and resultant feud.”

Bringing Montessori to America is a fascinating book about Maria Montessori and S. S. McClure, the man who brought her to America. This work reads like a novel. There is intrigue, deception, great highs and very low lows in the relationship befitting a great drama.”
Vitae Scholasticae, 2016

280 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8173-5908-9 Paper
ISBN: 978-0-8173-8931-4 Ebook