Happy Birthday to Beverly Cleary! Author of the beloved Quimby sister stories, Cleary, born on April 12th, 1916, celebrates her 102nd birthday today! Inspired by her own experiences in the world around her, Cleary first started writing to create the books that she longed to read but could never find on library shelves. Most of her stories take place in the Grant Park neighborhood of northeast Portland, Oregon, where she was raised. Today she is a celebrated author of children’s and young adult fiction, with more than 90 million books sold worldwide since her first book, Henry Huggins, was published in 1950. Perhaps her most popular books revolve around the sisters Beezus and Ramona Quimby—the first, entitled Beezus and Ramona, published in 1955. Since then, the books have even inspired a movie adaption, Ramona and Beezus, released in 2010. More than half a century since the publication of Beverly Cleary’s first book, her stories remain popular with readers of all ages, passed down from generation to generation. Childhood favorites of my own experience were Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. First published in 1930, this too became a series to span generations. My own mother shared them with me, and from these books I learned to love reading. At age 102, I am sure that Beverly Cleary has provided that same experience for girls and boys alike whose parents became enchanted by Cleary’s charming humor and memorable characters.
Jocelyn Harris’ 2017 book with Bucknell University Press, Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen, has recently caught the attention of Times Literary Supplement (TLS). A special segment, entitled “What Jane Saw: Exploring Austen’s creative hinterland and recoverable influences,” features some of the highlights of Harris’ book and its contributions to Jane Austen scholarship. The article is written by Emma Clery, a specialist of the cultural history surrounding Jane Austen and Professor of English at the University of Southampton. In Satire, Celebrity, and Politics, Clery explains, Jocelyn Harris’ “expertise and questing curiosity are brought to bear on a set of themes that have not generally been associated with Austen.” She goes on to summarize Harris’ main points, giving readers of TLS a glimpse into the book which highlights Jane Austen’s position as a satirist, her character inspirations in the form of celebrities, and how these elements contributed to an underlying commentary on politics within Austen’s novels. While Harris explores these topics in Satire, Celebrity, and Politics, Clery also gives mention to her previous publications (Jane Austen’s Art of Allusion and A Revolution Beyond Expression: Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”), all of which have made Harris “well established as a guide to the wider thought-world of the author.” To read the full article, see the February 9, 2018 edition of TLS, or subscribe to their database.
To order Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen visit www.rowman.com or call 1-800-462-6420. Prices are $110 for cloth (978-1-61148-839-5) and $104 for eBook (978-1-61148-843-2).
When my advisor told me that I should look into the internship that had opened up with the Bucknell University Press, my first thought was: we have a press? It was the end of my Junior year at Bucknell, I was an English major, and yet I had never even heard of the Bucknell University Press. When I came into the Press for an interview, I found myself winding down a labyrinth of stairs and hallways into the basement of Bucknell’s Management building, Taylor Hall. Here, in this hobbit hole, was the Bucknell University Press. Upon my arrival, I was interviewed by the Press’s two and only regular employees—Pam Dailey and Greg Clingham. Besides an editorial board of about 11 other Bucknell faculty and staff (who meet with Pam and Greg four times per year), these two were the main forces behind press operations. As a Senior at Bucknell, I was to become a third hand, serving at the Press’s intern for the 2014-2015 academic year.
As I became acquainted with life at the Press, Pam and Greg geared my tasks toward my interests in art and writing. I learned to use InDesign and Photoshop to put together promotional materials like posters, press releases, and discount flyers, and I had the chance to interview the artist of the covers of the Press’ Contemporary Irish Writers Series, Gráinne Dowling. I was also assigned the job of starting up a Bucknell University Press account on Facebook, so we could have a presence on social media and hopefully get the word out to campus that a university press did in fact exist! The year flew by, and it was sad to say goodbye as graduation grew near, but I had acquired a unique glimpse into the workings of a small press that I would always value.
A few years later, I returned to Bucknell University to obtain a Master of Arts degree in English Literary Studies. One academic year passed by and Pam offered to take me on for some summer work. So I found myself at the Bucknell University Press once again, and it only felt natural to jump back into things. By this point in time, the Press’ social media presence had grown to include a Twitter account in addition to Facebook. Occasionally, I would post announcements here, but most of my time was spent designing ads and flyers in addition to an article on the history of the Press’ book catalogues for the Bucknell University Press blog page. The summer flew by, until it was time to say goodbye again. I spent the first two weeks of August 2017 abroad in Europe, and when it was time for the new semester to begin I returned to find out that my graduate assignment would be to work at the Press again as an editorial assistant. It was not goodbye after all!
Since August, I’ve continued my work here at the Press. Many things have changed from the time when I began my internship here in 2014. Among frequent social media posts, blog articles, interviews, contests, and author events, the presence of the Bucknell University Press has grown across campus. Other changes are in the works as well, including the transition from our partnership with Rowman & Littlefield to a new collaboration with Rutgers University Press beginning in 2018. Also new in 2018 will be a more central location for the Press at the Humanities Center on Bucknell’s campus. Located next to the Bertrand Library and adjacent to Vaughn Literature, which houses the English Department, this new building will take Bucknell University Press out of its current location in the basement of the Management building and into a space more suited to its genre. Surrounded by other organizations in the humanities, there are hopes that the Bucknell University Press will continue to grow with a more prominent presence on campus and in the scholarly world at large.
My on-and-off time at the Press has taught me much about what goes into running a small university press, as well as how much can change over the course of a few years. In celebration of University Press Week, which was instated in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter “in recognition of the impact, both here and abroad, of American university presses on culture and scholarship,” I reflect on my own experience at the Bucknell University Press and all that I have learned along the way. The Press has certainly contributed to shaping my own culture and scholarship at Bucknell, as I am sure it has done for many others in the greater press community.
Upon the release of her new book Satire, Celebrity, & Politics in Jane Austen (Bucknell University Press, 2017), Jocelyn Harris was kind enough to discuss her research and writing on the witty English novelist. Jane Austen has been the subject for much of Harris’ work, and still is, as Harris continues to uncover new insights into Austen’s life and writing. As Harris puts it, Austen is “quite simply inexhaustible”—and as Harris’ responses demonstrate, new methods of research and deeper investigation reveal more about her with each new endeavor.
Bucknell University Press: You state in your introduction that you “reconstruct Jane Austen’s creative process by means of the newspapers she perused, the gossip she heard, the streets she walked upon, and the sights she saw.” This method suggests a focus on environment, an almost anthropological study of a different time and place. What was the research process like in regards to uncovering evidence from the past? What challenges did you meet? What was the most rewarding?
Jocelyn Harris: Distance is my biggest challenge, because I live in New Zealand, half a world away from the great libraries of Europe and North America. The Internet has quite simply changed my life. Exciting new resources such as databases of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century newspapers, digitized manuscripts, online books, blogs, and search engines all open up cultural and historical contexts that bring her back to life—as do new books and editions in print and e-book form, readily accessible articles on the web, and email suggestions from friends.
Reading the magnificent modern editions of Fanny Burney’s letters and journals made me aware that snippets of her correspondence, obviously too good to ignore, reappear in Austen’s novels. My guess is that her mother’s gossipy cousin, who lived over the road from the celebrated author, could have told the family many a sensational tale of Burney’s life at the court of George III.
With the help of the Internet, I realized that Austen probably based Elizabeth and Jane Bennet on two royal mistresses. Dorothy Jordan, celebrity actress, mistress to the Duke of Clarence, and mother of his ten children, seems to have inspired her creation of the lively Elizabeth, while Austen would identify a portrait of the regent’s mistress, Mrs. Georgina Quentin, as Mrs. Bingley. When the regent came courting this “professed spanker,” Georgina was living in Covent Garden, where Austen stayed with her banker brother, Henry.
Most of Jane Austen’s correspondence has been lost, and she kept no diary. Therefore, I had to fill out her life by poring over her locations, her reading, her social and literary networks, her knowledge of current events, and her viewing of cartoons and portraits.
While she is immortalized by her writing, Austen was a real person living during a unique moment in history. In your opinion, what is the most compelling piece of information that you learned about Jane Austen during the research process for this book?
Austen is often regarded as a gentle, amusing ironist. But as the title of Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen indicates, I believe that she was a courageous political satirist. At a time when the cult of celebrity was in its infancy, she targeted celebrities, up to and including the Prince of Wales. Her in-jokes about public figures demonstrate her worldliness, her fascination with fame, and her relish of rumor.
She was also never more than one degree of separation away from royalty. To know from a local historian’s website that the young Prince of Wales lived near Steventon, Austen’s home, was to understand why she created so many satiric avatars of him. Austen was a patriot, and the prince was endangering the nation. She attacked him in the only way she could, obliquely, through her characters and plots. In Northanger Abbey, for instance, the unlovely John Thorpe lies, boasts, swears, looks, and behaves as badly as Prince George. A “stout young man of middling height,” with a “plain face and ungraceful form,” Thorpe utters “a short decisive sentence of praise or condemnation on the face of every woman they met.”
Austen attacks the prince yet again in Mansfield Park’s Henry Crawford, a man marked like him by caprice and unsteadiness. Crawford indulges in the “freaks of a cold-blooded vanity,” and rids himself of his money and leisure “at the idlest haunts in the kingdom.” In Persuasion, she criticizes Sir Walter Elliot’s status and power, as unearned as the regent’s, and praises Captain Wentworth’s merit and courage. Austen’s lacerating portraits suggest first-hand knowledge of the prince’s vulgar, voyeuristic, and self-indulgent ways.
Considering again the study of place, if Austen had lived during this day and age, who do you think her subjects for inspiration might have been? How do you think the world would have reacted to her wit, humor, and criticism?
A Regency woman in a golden age of satire, Austen attacked the Prince of Wales for his much-lampooned appearance, his lewdness, his vanity, his instability, his outrageous spending, his tremendous debts, his desire for absolute power, his implicit treason, his fondness for over-the-top building ventures, and his embarrassing braggadocio. Even court insiders warned that the prince was not fit to be king, and Austen wrote that she hated him. The current resurgence of political satire in social media, newspapers, and cartoons would have delighted this savvy, progressive, and thoroughly modern woman.
Satire, Celebrity, and Politics being your third book on Jane Austen, how has your research evolved regarding your interest in her life and writing? Are there any questions that still need to be answered? What will you do next?
I only want to know how Jane Austen did it (only!). In Jane Austen’s Art of Memory (Cambridge University Press, 1989), I followed the turns of her mind as she picked up elements from other writers and made them into her own. Undeterred by being a woman, she took whatever she wanted from anywhere.
In A Revolution Almost Beyond Expression: Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” (University of Delaware Press, 2007), I traced her creative process in the only manuscript to survive from her published novels. In the cancelled chapters of Persuasion, she deletes, interlineates, writes new material in the margins, and sticks on a scrap with a wax wafer. Eight days later, she threw all that away, and wrote some of the most remarkable scenes in her work––the last chapters of Persuasion. She was indeed a true professional.
At a time of hardship, inequality, and war, Austen wrote, “How much are the Poor to be pitied, and the Rich to be blamed.” In Persuasion, she attacks the class hierarchies propping up the society of her day. In a highly subversive move, she sets Sir Walter Elliot’s Baronetage against Captain Wentworth’s Navy List, pride of birth against pride of accomplishment. The aging patriarch of the Elliots cannot compete with the glamorous young Captain Wentworth, who derives from real-life heroes such as Lord Nelson, Lord Byron, and Captain Cook. So too, in this brave new world of energy and achievement, the faded beauty of Bath gives way to the Romantic sublimity of Lyme Regis. In this eloquent novel about second chances, Anne Elliot finds a fragile happiness.
Jane Austen is quite simply inexhaustible. I’m writing about her relationship to Madame de Staël, the foremost woman genius of the age; the London locations where she could have seen contemporary cartoons; and her continual fascination with Fanny Burney. There is always more to find out about this extraordinary woman.
For more information on Austen, take a look at Harris’ latest book Satire, Celebrity, and Politics in Jane Austen. To order visit www.rowman.com or call 1-800-462-6420. Use code “UP30AUTH17” to save 30% on the list price (not valid on eBook).
Sascha Feinstein: I didn’t seriously consider Wreckage as a book project until after he died, when I started clearing the land and buildings on Cape Cod (and, to a lesser extent, the house in Philadelphia). I also couldn’t write quickly because so much had to be unearthed for me to understand both the process of renovation and the artifacts themselves, and that took years. I’m still finding buried objects! But the majority of the labor and writing took place within the first ten years of his death [2003 – 2013].
As a writer, I’m most interested when polarities flourish simultaneously. And I had to get physically involved in the wreckage in order to speak about the disastrous rot and decay taking place in these locations of extraordinary creativity. When you braid that kind of double helix, art will emerge beyond the confines of anecdotes.
Did you find the book cathartic?
I’m frequently asked that question, and I still don’t have a slick answer! The process of saving the Cape property—which involved, among other things, the removal of over 30 tons of refuse—certainly liberated the residence itself, as did the extermination of monstrous poison ivy vines and tenacious bamboo. The making of the book (as with the making of anything creative) certainly made me feel alive as an artist. But in terms of catharsis, I would have to say that, yes, telling the stories and illuminating scores of people who thought they knew the totality of his character became a great emotional release.
He had a terribly controlling nature, so he swiftly attacked any challenge with vitriolic contempt. I never had, nor could I have had, an honest conversation with him about his hoarding. Art, yes, but nothing negative, nothing that might challenge his maniacal machismo. So I’ve finally had my day in court, so to speak.
You’ve described your writing style as “collage-like.” Why did you decide to create that kind of structure as opposed to a more standard, chronological narrative?
I tend not to view time in a linear way, and I’m much less interested in chronology than I am theme and metaphor. I want each chapter/essay to be an emotional journey, one governed by theme as opposed to time. (In that sense, I see strong parallels between my poetry and my prose.) Ideally, I’d like the reader not merely to remember specific stories but to return to chapters and revisit connective imagery. It demands much more of the reader, of course, but I hope the effort is worth the personal engagement.
I also wanted this form because it’s similar to the kinds of paintings that my father nurtured in his painting classes. He created immense still lifes out of broken and abandoned objects; from these, the students needed to find patterns and transitional colors in order to make the paintings achieve balanced movement and tone—to make them swing and evoke strong emotion.
I say “emotion” rather than “meaning” because we tend to associate “meaning” with narrative; these works were obviously nonrepresentational. If you look at the still life on the cover of the book, for example, you’ll find a tree trunk (still sprouting) holding an elongated, cracked vase of sorts, onto which my father attached a broken tea pot. This has no narrative meaning, but structurally—when we remove the associations of “tea pot” and “tree trunk”—they create interesting forms, echoed in their ringed movements by other objects in the still life. It was the artists’ challenge to transform the canvas into a cohesive, rhythmic statement, much like a writer linking themes and metaphors. So I think there’s a direct corollary to the chapters in Wreckage, where I take myriad sources to generate thematic coherence. (I originally called Selected Sources a “still life of sources,” but that was eventually changed by the editors.)
When it came to understanding and creating art, your father had the highest standards, and yet he seemed to collect junk not necessarily for aesthetic reasons, or even for specific projects, but almost arbitrarily. Is that fair to say?
Absolutely. He rarely collected junk with the thought of building something specific out it, like Simon Rodia and the construction of Watts Towers. Some exceptions on the Cape property included a large creature that he called The Monster and a large stone table. But most of what he hoarded simply disappeared over the years: rotting lumber, bags of Salvation Army clothing, file cabinets filled with ripped-out magazine articles, buckets of rusted nails, car hoods, tree trunks, hardened cement, you name it. Over the years, of course, the new still lifes would eclipse old ones, and the teaching locations lost workable space the way vines choke out landscapes. (This is partly why the first chapter is called “Wisteria.”) But you’re absolutely right: He didn’t really prize the junk he found; he merely wanted things because someday they might be used, either practically or artistically.
Given the extent of his collecting, how visible were his paintings in the house?
For a person whose life centered around art, it’s somewhat shocking to think how few paintings actually hung on walls. One exception would be Summer, which I mention several times in Wreckage, including a charming story of a woman visiting the U.S. from Russia who practically collapsed from sensory overload. “The sky, the sea,” she said. “I’m staying.”
The rebuilt Cape house, and my other Pennsylvania home, present the opposite aesthetic: Most walls feature work by my parents. (My mother was a painter, weaver, and textile designer.) I have more art than I can hang—but that’s a lovely problem.
Does this mean you don’t plan to collect lots of junk as you get older?
Absolutely not! One thing that the experience taught me was how much I don’t want to leave behind for our children. In fairness, I am a collector (mainly of music and books), but the difference between being a collector and a hoarder is pretty vast. At least I hope so.
And I have no regrets that I threw out so many tons of refuse. My father’s legacy should be art, not junk, and when I look at his glorious canvases, I forget the tremendous effort that took place in order to show them.
*Save 30% on this book with code 8S17BUP order here
Founded in 1968 as a part of a consortium operated by Associated University Presses, Bucknell University Press has since published over 1,000 titles in academic subjects ranging from the humanities to social and biological sciences. In order to broadcast these books, the press has also been producing an annual catalog which has documented the titles, authors, descriptions, and ordering information as the years have passed. Recently uncovered, the physical copies of these catalogs from 1970-on provide an interesting look into the history of the Press’ publications. Each copy is a remnant of the year’s hard work from the directors, editors, and authors involved, as well as a creative example of that year’s design choices for the cover and formatting of the catalog itself.
Embellishing the covers of some of the earlier catalogs is a simple print of what one might behold in the traditional scholar’s study—a still life of a globe, maps, other cartographic instruments, books, writing quills, and an open book ready to receive the writer’s thoughts. It is simply drawn and printed in blue on the covers of the catalogs from 1970-1974. These early catalogs also include the first editions of our oldest collection—the Irish Writers Series. In production from 1970-1978, each volume showcases one writer with a full account of their literary career and major works. This series has since inspired a later rendition, the Contemporary Irish Writers Series, which presents a more theoretically-informed perspective on each author’s life and work.
With every year, we see the covers change from blue to beige to olive green and many more with the “Universitas Bucnellensis” seal appearing on the front, its signature sun and open book hovering above the ocean current. It is a mark which signifies the light of knowledge and education surmounting the storms of life. Within each catalog we also get a good sense of how book pricing has changed from the 1970s-onwards—starting as low as $4.50 for hardbacks and $1.95 for paperbacks in Fall 1970 to hardbacks ranging from $30 to $100 in most recent years.
Another unique catalog from 1996 not only features publications from Bucknell University Press, but a listing of prints from all members of the Associated University Presses which also included University of Delaware Press, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Lehigh University Press, and Susquehanna University Press. The Bucknell University Press remained a part of this consortium until it ended in 2010 and the Press joined with Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, an independent and international publisher of academic, trade, and popular books. During this transitional period, the final catalog from AUP is in its simplest form, 2010-2011 printed black on white without a cover page.
Since then the catalogs have been printed by Rowman & Littlefield and have taken on a whole new visual appeal with quality photographs on each cover. Additionally, each catalogs’ interior includes images of the book covers along with their descriptions and ordering information. Most recent copies are even available on the press website with interactive pages that flip forward or backward with each click. Book entries in the online catalogs even link to Rowman & Littlefield’s website where visitors can order the books directly.
From the 1970s to 2017, the Bucknell University Press catalogs have traced a history of publishing from style and layout to pricing and administrative changes. Each small change signifies a step in the greater evolution of the Press, from a time when there were just 10-12 publications per year to a new average of 35, from one or two original book series to more than ten series today ranging from topics on eighteenth-century Scotland to studies on African America. Beginning with a simple paperback catalog, Bucknell University Press has grown and developed to encompass so much more. Approaching its 50th year of operation in 2018, the Press continues to evolve, releasing new and innovative publications—each one featured in a catalog that will add to the growing timeline of years past.
When the Bucknell University Press released an announcement for a book collecting contest, we received a response from ‘77 alumnus—Roland Ochsenbein. Though the contest was directed towards current students, Mr. Ochsenbein had an interesting collection to share—a library library. With a degree in English and being editor-in-chief of the Bucknellian his senior year, Mr. Ochsenbein moved on to become involved in the publishing field, his interests revolving around books and good writing.
In 2001, he was asked to take on a leadership position in the expansion and renovation of a tiny historic public library in his small hometown of Bolton, MA.
“It was the kind of civic effort that appealed to me. The expansion project turned out to be a significant nine-year endeavor that required our community to debate not only the value we place on library services, but also what we envision as a library for the next 100 years. Thanks to the work of many–and especially our steadfast library director–the project was a great success in the end.”
This endeavor led Mr. Ochsenbein to a seat on the State Advisory Committee on Libraries and then to a gubernatorial appointment to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. At the same time, he was also working as a consultant for publishing companies in facing the challenges of digital transformation. He even contributed partly to the prototype website for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which launched in 2013 and went on to be named one of the 50 best websites of that year by Time Magazine. As his volunteer and professional life came together, Mr. Ochsenbein realized that a collection was forming out of the several books he had acquired over the years about libraries.
“I have been thinking a lot about how public libraries (physical and digital) are changing, and how publishing and reading and learning and literacy are all changing.”
And so, with these interests, his collection began to grow. At this time, there are roughly 50 volumes in his collection, though it is still expanding and has recently begun to include the “capture of blog postings, online essays and other digital forms of communication related to this interest area.” While he is broadening to include digital media, Mr. Ochsenbein reveals that his favorite in the collection is a book titled Reading Rooms, edited by Susan Allen Toth and John Coughlan.
“This book is a compilation of essays, stories and poems by well-known writers, all in celebration of our nation’s public libraries. Writers such as Eudora Welty, Edith Wharton, James Baldwin, E.B. White, Amy Tan, Stephen King and Philip Roth (Bucknell ’54) talk about how the public library, be it a single room in a rural community or an imposing city edifice, has helped influence and enrich lives. I relate to this because I too was influenced and enriched by having access to wonderful local libraries (and librarians!) during my formative years. I feel the same kind of appreciation that is expressed in this book, and that is what ultimately has motivated me to volunteer and work with libraries over the years.”
Public libraries in particular, have attracted Mr. Ochsenbein’s interest:
“The historian David McCullough once wrote: I believe that public libraries are among—if not the—most important, most marvelous of all of our American institutions. I share that sentiment completely. Public libraries have the capacity to enrich communities and individuals to a degree that no other public institution can. A good public library is a social, cultural and intellectual cornerstone to any community. And it provides access and opportunity for all.”
Mr. Ochsenbein’s library library is unique to be sure, driven by an admirable fascination with the gem that is the public library. He one day hopes to write about some of his experiences with libraries, either in article, essay, or book form. “Assembling this small working research library about libraries” he claims “is one of the preparatory steps in that effort.” Perhaps one day he will be able to add a work of his own to the growing library of libraries!
-Alana Jajko, 2014-15 Cynthia Fell Intern