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Faculty balance work, pleasure with new books that intersect personal interests and academics

faculty books

From astronomy and aviation textbooks to nursing and health care and everything in between, UND faculty had a productive year in 2016-17.

Christopher Gable describes writing his most recent book as “a happy balance between work and happiness.”

Gable is one of many faculty authors who had books released in 2016-2017. From astronomy and aviation textbooks to nursing and health care, UND faculty had a productive year.

The three general interest faculty books profiled below are just a small sampling of the many books published by UND academics since 2016. A complete list is here.

Christopher Gable

UND Music Lecturer Christopher Gable says writing a book about Sheryl Crow gave him an even deeper appreciation for the singer/songwriter. Photo by Shawna Schill.

The Words and Music of Sheryl Crow

“It was a lot of work and a lot of fun to write,” said Gable, a music lecturer who recently released The Words and Music of Sheryl Crow. “I sat outside with my dog and wrote on paper, then typed it later.”words-and-music-sheryl-crow-xx

The book is part of a series that focuses on singer/songwriters and brings scholarly writing to popular music. Gable also wrote The Words and Music of Sting, published in 2008.

A classically trained composer, Gable has always loved popular music.

Gable became involved in the book series when he presented a paper on another band at a conference, and visited with a man who later turned out to be the editor of the “Words and Music” book series. The editor invited Gable to propose a book topic, and Gable chose to write about Sting.

Writing a book about Sheryl Crow gave Chris Gable an even deeper appreciation for the singer/songwriter.

“It’s music appreciation on a larger and deeper scale,” he said. “The function of these books is to sit back and dig into the songs, how they work and what makes the artist tick. It gives people a new appreciation for the artist and how much goes into making a song or an album.”

“She’s a world-class artist and songwriter, and very much an American icon,” said Gable. “She has a lot of staying power.” Still going strong after 20 years, Crow is a likable persona and a good role model for women in the music industry. She doesn’t compromise her style.”

Masquerade and Social Justice

Like Gable, Helene Carol Weldt-Basson loves to write.

Her fifth work, Masquerade and Social Justice in Contemporary Latin American Fiction, came after she finished her previous book and was “randomly reading.”

The professor of Spanish and Latin American literature was reading The Bad Girl by the Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, and reflected on the motives of the protagonist, who changed her identity to advance herself.Masquerade and Social Justice

“The more I thought about it,” she said, “the more I realized that there is a connection between using masquerade to escape poverty and other society ills and the question of social justice in Latin American novels.”

“I really enjoyed this project,” Weldt-Basson said. “It was a fun, interesting project that I could put down on paper and connect to teaching.”

She expanded on the book and taught a capstone class on Masquerade and Social Justice last year.

“It was a lot of fun to see how the theme worked with other literature,” she said.

Weldt-Basson said she was fortunate that her book was almost immediately picked up the University of New Mexico Press.

“Academic publishing can be pretty tricky,” she said. “It can take years. I was lucky that this was a smooth process.”

Weldt-Basson spends most of her time writing and working, and has two summer projects. She’s translating The Prosecutor, the third novel in a trilogy by Paraguayan author Augusto Roa Bastos. An expert on his work, she was invited to the Dominican Republic last April to help mark the late author’s 100th birthday.

She is also editing a collection of postmodern parody.

Though it’s too early for reviews, she hopes people will read and like Masquerade and Social Justice.

“I really liked working on this book,” she said. “It was a pet project and I felt inspired to write it.”

The Bakken Goes Boom

William Caraher has been researching the Bakken oil fields for several years, and he was inspired to co-edit The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota with Kyle Conway, a communication faculty member who has since left UND.The Bakken Goes Boom

“I’ve been working in the Bakken on another research project with a team from UND and various other institutions, and Kyle Conway and I had shared ideas about that project,” said Caraher, an associate professor of history. “Kyle was teaching a graduate seminar in Communications on issues facing Bakken communities. We combined these two projects into this book and invited a bunch of scholars to contribute.”

Published by The Digital Press at UND, the book received local, national and even international media attention when it was released and elicited some informally favorable comments.

“We’ll have to wait for it to be digested to know its real impact,” said Caraher. “Unlike the rapid booms and busts in the Bakken, the analysis of its impact is a slower game. Sales and downloads have been brisk and the first round of academic citations suggest that folks are reading and taking it seriously.”

The Digital Press offered two advantages, said Caraher. “First, it provided an open access, digital platform for distributing the book to a global audience. Second, it allowed us as editors an unprecedented level of control over the final product and an opportunity to contribute to, support and cultivate a local community of scholars interested in the intersection of global and local interests.”

“I think ‘making a book’ is a crucial aspect of academic knowledge production,” said Caraher. “By getting our hands dirty – even if just digitally – we took more command over a key academic process, contributed to the open access ecosystem, and broke down barriers to the distribution of our work to the widest possible audience.”

The Bakken Goes Boom is just one of many projects for Caraher. This fall, The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape comes out from NDSU Press. He’s also starting a book on the archaeology of early Christianity, and his manuscript on archaeological sites in Cyprus goes to the publisher this winter. He has another major project this fall, and “a fun slate of books from the Digital Press in production for the 2017-2018 academic year,” Caraher said.

“I’ll always be writing, publishing, doing, making. [There’s] plenty of time to rest when you’re dead.”