University Press Week Blog Tour: Manifesto
University Press Week is November 8-12. The UP Blog Tour will feature entries all week long that celebrate this year’s theme, “Keep UP.” This year marks the 10th anniversary of UP Week, and the university press community will celebrate how university presses have evolved over the past decade.
Honoring today’s theme of Manifesto, we provide a brief history of Temple University Press and how it is has evolved over more than 50 years.
On the occasion of the founding of Temple University Press in 1969, Director Maurice English composed the following lines:
At a time when universities are under assault
from the outside and from within
from the forces of repression and from those of confrontation,
The creation of a new university press is an event.
It is a notable event when the new press bears the name
of Temple University
and is therefore meeting a double challenge—
To fulfill its original commitment to urban education,
and simultaneously to foster
that passion of inquiry
which is the essence of scholarship.
For that passion, in the end, determines what men truly know
and therefore how they will act,
if they act well.
Over the subsequent decades, Temple University Press has continued to complement the University’s commitment to urban education English described by publishing more than 2000 titles for scholarly and regional audiences.
In April 1969, nearly 18 months after its approval by the Board of Trustees, the Press was formally established, with Maurice English as its Director. English came to Temple from the University of Chicago Press, where he had been senior editor.
University President Paul Anderson, in consultation with the faculty and the deans, appointed the first Board of Review, responsible for evaluating manuscripts for proposed publication by the Press and upholding a high standard of scholarship.
Temple’s earliest books were tied to the activities of faculty members. The first title put out by the new Press was Marxism and Radical Religion: Essays Toward a Revolutionary Humanism (1970), edited by John C. Raines and Thomas Dean, assistant professors in the Religion Department, who revised the papers presented at a symposium held at Temple on the same subject. Raines continued his relationship with the Press for a number of years, serving as a member of the Board of Review.
Other titles from the first year included Charles Darwin: The Years of Controversy; The Origin of Species and its Critics, 1859-1882 (1970) by Peter J. Vorzimmer, a professor in the Department of History; and Gandhi, India and the World: An International Symposium (1970), edited with an introduction by Sibnarayan Ray, based on another symposium held at Temple.
The productivity of the Press and the quality of its publications did not go unnoticed by its peers; Temple’s rising status was acknowledged when it was elected to full membership in the Association of American University Presses, now the Association of University Presses, in 1972, its first year of eligibility.
David M. Bartlett succeeded English as Director in 1976. During his tenure, the Press expanded its list and settled into the publishing areas that have come to define its identity.
In keeping with Temple’s mission as a center for urban education, the Press also focused its acquisitions on urban studies and other allied fields, although it did not limit its editorial program to the social sciences. The Press also published in world literature and communications and continued to complement the University’s role as a Philadelphia institution by building a strong list of regional titles.
During the tenures of Directors Lois Patton (1999-2002) and Alex Holzman (2003-2014), the Press’s reporting line shifted from the Provost to the University Library, with the goal of developing joint projects and raising the profile of the Press on campus and in the region.
The Press continues to enjoy this relationship with the Library under Director Mary Rose Muccie, who was hired in 2014. Muccie’s knowledge of electronic and open access publishing helped launch North Broad Press, a joint publishing imprint between the Press and Library. Publishing open textbooks from members of the University community, North Broad Press published its first title, Structural Analysis by Felix Udoeyo, in 2019, and has since published two additional titles.
Muccie was at the helm as the Press returned to publishing journals. The first, Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies, edited by Press author George Lipsitz, launched in 2014 and publishes biannually on behalf of the University of California Santa Barbara’s Center for Black Studies Research. The open-access journal Commonwealth: A Journal of Pennsylvania Politics and Policy, published in partnership with the Pennsylvania Political Science Association, soon followed.
Current Editor-in-Chief Aaron Javsicas continues to broaden the scope of the Press’s list of regional titles, and has launched several new series, including The Political Lessons from American Cities, edited by Richardson Dilworth, which publishes short books on major American cities and the lessons each offers to the study of American politics. Editor Ryan Mulligan has introduced Studies in Transgressions, which publishes books at the crossroad of sociology and critical criminology, and Shaun Vigil, the latest editorial hire, has expanded the Press lists in ethnic and disability studies.
Temple’s current list reflects the traditional commitments of the University, the changing terrain of contemporary scholarship, and the shifting realities of the publishing industry. As a child of the 1960s, Temple was quick to recognize the scholarly value and social importance of women’s studies, ethnic studies, and the study of race. The Press has published several notable titles by many of the key figures in these disciplines. Temple’s chair of the Africology and African American Studies department Molefi Asante authored the groundbreaking book The Afrocentric Idea (1987), which was heralded by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Temple was also one of the first presses to become active in the field when it published Asian American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and their Social Context (1982) by Elaine Kim. Under the supervision of then Editor-in-Chief Janet Francendese, Temple launched the groundbreaking book series Asian American History and Culture.
The Press enjoyed tremendous success with the publication of the first edition of The Eagles Encyclopedia (2005), by Ray Didinger and Robert S. Lyons. The book was an instant best seller and generated two subsequent editions, The New Eagles Encyclopedia (2014) and The Eagles Encyclopedia: Champions Edition (2018).
In addition, Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell (2002), More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell (2006), and Philadelphia Mural Arts @ 30 (2014) established the Press’s relationship with Mural Arts Philadelphia. The relationship continued with the publication of Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia (2019).
Other Press best sellers include Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith’s autobiography, Silent Gesture (2008); Envisioning Emancipation (2013) which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work—Non-Fiction and was a Top 25 Choice Outstanding Academic Title; Frankie Manning, a memoir by the famed Lindy hopper (2007); and The Audacity of Hoop (2015), tracking the role of basketball in the life and presidency of Barack Obama.
Temple earned the support of city government, Philadelphia public schools, and area corporations in producing P Is for Philadelphia (2005), a richly illustrated book featuring student art about various aspects of life in the Philadelphia region, from A to Z. The project promoted literacy and civic pride and raised public awareness of the Press and the University as integral parts of the community.
Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America (2010), chronicling the first American civil rights movement, is one of many Press titles on both African American history and social justice. The book, by Daniel Biddle and Murray Dubin, was reissued as a paperback in 2017, in conjunction with the unveiling of a new statue commemorating Catto, the first statue on Philadelphia public property to recognize a specific African American.
The Man-Not (2017), by Tommy Curry, which introduced the conceptual foundations for Black Male Studies, was a crossover success, winning the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award and inaugurating Curry’s Black Male Studies series.
In 2019, the Press showcased its relationship with the University with Color Me…Cherry & White: A Temple University Press Coloring Book. The 60-page coloring book features more than twenty iconic Temple University landmarks and is a keepsake for the Temple community worldwide.
More than fifty years from its founding, Temple University Press continues to thrive, pursuing its mission as a prominent voice for socially engaged scholarship and a leading publisher of books that matter to readers in Philadelphia and beyond.