Friday, July 13, 2018

Bringing a book to the finish line of publication is one of the most challenging tasks faced by scholars in disciplines where monographs are the main vehicle for sharing discoveries. At the Obermann Center, we hope to smooth the path by helping create an inspiring, supportive audience of experts for authors in they head into the final stretch of completing a book project.  

Book Ends, a new Obermann Center and Office of Vice President for Research and Economic Development program, is now open to faculty from disciplines in which publishing a monograph is required for tenure and promotion. The award is specifically aimed at helping faculty members transform promising manuscripts into important, field-changing, published books.

Finding a book's strengths

Inspired by a similar program at the University of Wisconsin’s Humanities Center and its director, Sara Guyer, Obermann Center director Teresa Mangum led the planning for Book Ends. “Each discipline has its own distinctive form for sharing discoveries,” she says of what led her to create the program. “I started asking how the Obermann Center could be supportive to faculty members in departments where promotion and tenure cases rely on the publication of a single-authored book. Serendipitously, two assistant professors were each using some of their research funding to plan a ‘book workshop.’ They invited external experts and a few of their UI colleagues to participate in a half-day seminar on draft versions of their manuscripts.”

One of those who organized her own workshop is Jenna Supp-Montgomerie, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, who brought several scholars to campus last spring to provide feedback and guidance on her manuscript ABOUT.

“The workshop gave me a clear sense of the strengths of this manuscript and exactly what I need to do to prepare it for submission to a press,” says Supp-Montgomerie. “Not only was it an honor to work with scholars whose scholarship I have long admired, but they proved to be extraordinarily insightful readers who generously mapped out needed revisions and gave me a deep grounding in my book’s strengths.”

Three workshop opportunities available in 2018-19

During the 2018-19 academic year, the Book Ends program will host workshops for up to three UI faculty members. Each selected scholar will receive an award that covers travel, accommodations, and a $500 honorarium for each of the two visiting senior scholars. Additionally, two University of Iowa senior faculty members will be invited to participate.

Mangum and the Obermann Center staff will work with successful applicants to select the outside reviewers, organize their visits, and facilitate the discussion. Reviewers will be asked to provide substantive written comments, and the workshop will be recorded for the author’s use during the revision process. The goal is for each author to leave the workshop with concrete suggestions for revision, advice about appropriate presses, and a timeline that will lead to a revised manuscript ready for presses to review within six months.

Although the process may sound grueling, Supp-Montgomerie’s experience suggests otherwise. “Never would I have thought that spending seven hours in a room workshopping my book draft would be enjoyable,” she says, “let alone my favorite part of preparing my manuscript. But it absolutely was!”

The program is open to tenure-track faculty members at two different points in their careers. Assistant professors with mature drafts of monographs on track for publication in advance of the applicant’s tenure and promotion deadlines are eligible. Associate professors with mature drafts of monographs leading to promotion to full professor are also eligible.

Applications are due September 11. Interested faculty are encouraged to attend the info session at the Obermann Center on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. (no RSVP necessary).