University Press Week: What’s #NextUP in publishing

It’s University Press Week and the Blog Tour is back! This year’s theme is Next. Today’s theme is What’s #NextUP in publishing?

Steven Beschloss and Pardis Mahdavi, write about their new Temple University Press series, Transformations Books.

Our world is at an unprecedented moment of transformation. The worst viral pandemic in over 100 years. Largest outpourings of protests in support of social justice globally in over 100 years. Worst climate crisis in over 100 years.

Our own transformations are both a part of and a response to the world around us. In this time of tumult, our personal transformations inform and also are informed by the political. We have long known that the personal is political, embedded in a larger societal context. What we are experiencing now are examinations and confrontations of how these larger forces transform the personal and vice-versa.

This moment calls for reflection of the self in relation to the world around us. It’s why we are excited to introduce a series of books infused with the insights of academia and matched with personal experiences and compelling narrative writing that can connect with both scholarly and wide public audiences. Transformations Books will explore issues of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, drawing on the lived experiences of authors and grounded in specific locations domestically and globally.

Taking geography and justice as broad mapping coordinates, these short, elegant books of 25,000 to 30,000 words aim to engage a cross-section of popular and scholarly readers with powerful, compelling moments of change—exploring all the pain, joy, promise and resilience these journeys may yield. While these narrative books may include elements of memoir, they also will offer insights into the larger societal and political contexts in which such personal experiences happen and resonate.

As the Transformations Books series is about the locus of place and story, we are eager to both join and shape the conversation about a world and individuals in transition. How do place, moments, and politics affect individual lives—and vice versa?

The launch of Transformations Books is rooted in the belief that well-told narrative stories that address many of the key issues of our time will not only motivate talented writers and thinkers, but also attract a wide readership who may have been hesitant to engage these issues and ideas in more traditional academic modes.

Transformations Books also arrives at a juncture in which the nature of academia and its role in broader society itself is at a critical point of transformation. The need for academia to be both more engaged with and more engaging to a wider public is critical to addressing and solving some of our world’s major challenges. As such, the series itself is about building bridges between academia and the larger public; in the process, we hope it can help drive public discourse and help build coalitions to address the realities of personal pain as well as some of the world’s most wicked problems.

The Transformations project encourages deeper understanding and expression of complex challenges through meaningful stories at moments of epiphany. The more the resulting books may enlighten readers through their personal, emotionally honest and deeply considered stories, the more they may helpfully encourage positive transformations for our communities.

In contrast to most book series, Transformations Books may originate as “Transformations” narrative essays, published as part of the online magazine and an independent publishing channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books. The series is also open to direct submissions from authors across fields and disciplines interested in publishing works that meet the series’ aims and draw on their individual expertise.

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