Literary Studies book series co-founded at UCSC to benefit from $1.16 million Mellon Foundation grant

Literature professors Richard Terdiman and Susan Gillman (photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

A University of California Press book series in literary studies-founded by UC Santa Cruz literature professor Richard Terdiman in collaboration with his colleague Susan Gillman and faculty from UC Berkeley and Irvine-will share a $1.16 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

UC Press's FlashPoints will split the award with Fordham University Press, University of Pennsylvania Press, University of Virginia Press, and University of Washington Press. Each will receive one-fifth of the total grant to publish scholarly books on the literatures of the non-English world.

"It's a global initiative-the presses are American, but the projects can come from any scholar in the world," noted Terdiman. "This grant reaffirms the importance of literary scholarship and the study of the humanities."

Over the next five years, the "Modern Language Initiative" collaborative grant will support the publication of 20 titles by each press.

"Despite the increasing consciousness of the United States's role as part of the community of nations, opportunities for publication of books dealing with non-English cultures have been significantly declining," Terdiman added. "The Mellon Foundation grant will dramatically help reverse this decline."

While each of the five presses will keep their own editorial profile and acquisitions procedures, the copyediting, production and marketing will all be centralized. The goal is to offer authors a shared space for publishing innovative scholarship that will influence the way literature and language arts are researched and taught.

Terdiman directs the editorial group for the UC Press's FlashPoints series which includes four UC faculty editors: literature professor Susan Gillman from UC Santa Cruz; two editors from UC Berkeley; and one from UC Irvine.

He noted that the FlashPoints publication series is based on an unusual academic model that was developed at UC Santa Cruz and features two fundamental innovations.

"Instead of the usual university press model-based on an in-house acquisitions editor specific to a particular discipline-we thought it would be best to have faculty editors responsible for the acquisition of manuscripts," said Terdiman, "because of their expertise and the fact that faculty are so well-connected across the country."

In addition, each FlashPoints book will be published in a dual format-as a free digital edition, which will allow the work to reach a broader international audience, and also as a traditional softcover book.

"UC Santa Cruz has been at the forefront of this initiative since 2001 in shaping the model for the future of academic publications in the digital age," said Terdiman. "All of the books will be made instantly available on the web in their entirety-along with additional resources such as photos and links to original sources."