Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552
ahayes@semo.edu

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SOUTHEAST ESTABLISHES UNIVERSITY PRESS

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 6, 2002 - For the first time in its history, Southeast Missouri State University has established a University press which will be used to publish book manuscripts as well as literary journals.

Beginning this fall, Southeast students in the small press publishing program are getting the unique opportunity to get hands-on training in publishing, print production, copyediting, proofreading, typography, photography and literary writing as a part of the operation of the new Southeast Missouri State University Press. The press will be a faculty-edited, student-produced literary press that will provide, process and produce meaningful information that serves the needs of the classroom, the public and the Mississippi River Valley region.

Although several institutions have courses or summer workshops in publishing, only five programs exist in the United States for student training in these areas. Southeast is now one of them, said Dr. Susan Swartwout, Southeast professor of English, who is directing the press operation. Students seeking a minor in small press publishing are assisting in the press operation, receiving invaluable training and experience along the way, she said.

Students will have the opportunity to work for a diverse press, learn hands-on print and web-based publishing skills and expand their portfolios for future employment in an active field, she added. With the popularity and accessibility of desktop publishing, the field of publishing has expanded greatly to include not only documents produced by commercial presses but also documents by independent and university presses, by web-based enterprises and by every institution and business in the country, she said. Until now, students wishing to plan careers in literary publishing had limited opportunities for training.

"It is exciting because I can actually be a part of a real magazine. This is exactly the same work I will do after I graduate," said Mandy Henley, the current publishing graduate assistant. "It has made me realize that this is the type of thing that I personally want to do because I have had the chance to do book reviews and work as an editor."

The press was originally formed in 2000 with the launching of the magazine Big Muddy, which features interdisciplinary writing and visual art focused upon the 10-state area bordering the Mississippi River. In 2001, the University received a three-year Funding For Results (FFR) demonstration grant to expand book publishing, with the hope that a press would become a permanent part of the FFR budget in 2004. In addition to publishing two books per year, the press will continue production of Big Muddy as well as the annual Journey student literary magazine.

"Much of the work will have a regional flavor and will have a lot of historical value too. This will also bring publicity for the community all across the nation," said Swartwout.

The first book to be published by the new University Press is The Gold of Cape Girardeau by Morley Swingle, Cape Girardeau County prosecuting attorney. The fictional novel begins with a contemporary court case in Cape Girardeau and includes the author's research of steamboat history and the Civil War as it impacted the Southeast Missouri area. The plot is held together by the tension of love, murder, deceit, honor, coming of age, war and legal battles. The story includes a cameo appearance by Samuel Clemens.

"It should transcend simply regional popularity," Swartwout said.

"I have been working on this book for 20 years," Swingle said. "Its publication is a dream come true. I expect it to sell well and launch the University Press on a good start. Like a James Michener novel, it combines history with fiction-in this case, the history of Cape Girardeau with a love story set in the Civil War era and a jury trial set in modern times."

The Gold of Cape Girardeau is expected to be released in October and will be sold for $19.95 in soft cover at the Southeast Bookstore, Barnes and Noble in Cape Girardeau and at the publishing office located in room 318 of the Grauel Building. Once the press has released the first book, Swartwout hopes to work through a national distributor.

One of the main goals of the University Press is to increase students' skills and employment potential in several fields. Swartwout says students involved with the University Press will have the opportunity to expand on their professional portfolio. The success of Southeast's small press minor she adds, is reflected in the many students who have been placed in jobs and internships across the country. As the program grows, Swartwout says she hopes that students will be able to publish their own poetry chapbooks and learn how to get funding for publications.

"I hope that it grows to the point where we are publishing four books a year and students are working on two per semester. They will get their names on the artifacts which they can use in a portfolio," Swartwout said. "The fact that this is one of the only places for students to get hands on experience makes it beneficial to recruiting new students."

The University Press is directed by Swartwout and Dr. Frank Nickell, director for the Center for Regional History, and is driven by an advisory board including Swartwout, Nickell, Sam Blackwell, arts and leisure journalist at the Southeast Missourian; Dr. Bob Hamblin, director for the Center of Faulkner Studies; Steve Turner, manager of Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Cape Girardeau; and Dr. Carol Scates, chair of the Department of English. The advisory board will serve as consultants for future publications, publicity and fund raising.

For more information, contact Swartwout at (573) 651-2641.

 

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