Arts & Culture / Mosaic / February 5, 2020

Professors discuss being published

Bright Professor of American History, Chair of History Cate Denial holds her published piece. (Rob Nguyen/TKS)

While students get to see what professors do up close for two-thirds of the year, a big part of their job is done behind the scenes. Researching, writing, contacting prospective publishers and editing after getting feedback takes up a good chunk­ — ­­if not all — of professors’ summers.

Among professors that have published work recently are Cate Denial, Brandon Polite, Gina Franco, Cyn Fitch and Andrea Ferrigno. Their work cover a wide variety of topics, from history to poetry, music to art shows.

Denial has recently published two pieces of writing: an article in the Early American Studies Journal titled “‘Mother of all the living’: Motherhood, Religion, and Political Culture at the Ojibwe Village of Fond du Lac, 1835-1839” and a chapter in the book Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity titled “Ethics and the Practice of History”.

This is not the first time Denial has written about the Ojibwe, as her first book was about marriage in the same area, what we now know as Duluth, Minnisota.

“It struck me that there was so much to be said about the way that Ojibwe and American people thought about motherhood in completely different ways, and they therefore thought about children in very different ways,” Denial said.

The article is a closer look at the moment when European settlers arrive in this area and how the native peoples resisted their ideas on birth, reproduction and raising children. The Ojibwe viewed the missionaries’ treatment of their children as abusive, which Denial attributes to part of the reason they were never going to take up the missionaries’ way of life.

Denial’s other piece was inspired by a historians’ workshop class she taught ten years ago. In it, she and her students made a list of ways they thought historians should be ethical and failed, ultimately publishing it in the Magazine of the American Historical Association. Two years ago, the editor of Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity, Ron Iphofen, reached out to Denial after reading this article and asked her to write a longer piece for the book.

“There is a surprisingly little amount of stuff written about ethics in history, so I was happy to do it,” Denial said.

Another professor, Polite, published a research piece titled “Shared Musical Experiences” printed in the British Journal of Aesthetics about people’s experience of listening to music with others. This idea was inspired by another article about shared musical experiences by British philosopher Nick Zangwill that argues that people cannot listen to music with others in a meaningful way because our experience of music is ultimately private.

“Something about it kept irking me,” Polite said.

The outline of Polite’s article is a breakdown of why Zangwell’s arguments differ from his. The article also develops an account of listening to music with others and how those experiences fit within our practices of listening.

Both Denial and Polite said that their experiences with getting published were lengthy, but ultimately different from each other. While Denial was reached out by Iphofen to write her chapter, she had to submit a proposal for her article about the Ojibwe.

The volume of the Early American Studies Journal that her article was published in was a special edition focusing on women and religion in early America. After her proposal was accepted, she had until November of 2018 to write the piece itself. It was then sent to the outside readers— peers in their field who don’t know them —who sent feedback for her to correct by April 2019. After she made corrections, she received the page proofs to make sure everything looked right laid out. It was published in the journal in November, making it a two year process.

Polite called it a three year process of sending the paper out, editing it enough to make it to the next round of the publishing process, but not quite enough to get published. After getting feedback from outside readers, there were three to four rounds of revision.

While publishing in an academic journal can be a lengthy process, Denial found that it was a much faster turn around for her chapter in the Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity. Rather than applying or sending in a proposal, Denial was contacted about writing something directly. It took her roughly a year to write the chapter and within a month they had sent it to readers for edits, made revisions, page proofed and published it.

Obviously, the biggest roadblock for professors getting published is finding the time to actually write. While they do most of their research and writing in the summer and during other breaks, they also try to find time during the trimester to write.

While prioritizing and time are two of the biggest obstacles, there are ways to tackle them.

Polite says that while he tries to carve out time for writing, by the middle of the term that usually morphs into grading.

Denial has recently joined a five week online writing group. At the start, each person talks about what they will be working on, and then everyone turns the video to mute. While a chat group is still available, this gives peace and quiet to the group members but at the same time offers an environment of other people working with them.

“It’s hard to organize everything else that I do in a way that gives me some time to be able to write,” Denial said.

Kaitlyn Cashdollar

Tags:  Cate Denial history professors published

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