From Dissertation to Book: GECC’s First Session at HSS 2008

It’s official!  The first GECC-sponsored session will be a roundtable discussion at HSS 2008 in Pittsburgh.  A product of discussions at the inaugural meeting of the GECC at HSS 2007 between Roger Turner, GECC co-chairs Jacqueline Wernimont and Dawn Dirigius, and representatives of major presses, the discussion will tackle the issue of how to turn dissertations into books.  Read on for details of the proposed session.

From Dissertation to Book: A Roundtable on First-Time Scholarly Book Publication

Dissertations are written to demonstrate advanced mastery of a discipline and are an important step toward full participation in the scholarly community. The dissertation is often the first extended piece of scholarship produced by a student, and it is likely to have been conceived and executed within constraints shaped by the student’s institution and its faculty. Moving from dissertation to book involves shedding these constraints and revising the work to make it valuable to a broader readership. At this roundtable, editors from the University of Chicago Press, MIT Press, and Rutgers University Press will share their insights into particular issues in first-time scholarly book publishing, including understanding the difference between a book and a dissertation, finding and working with an editor, submitting a book proposal or manuscript, and the future of the print monograph in scholarly publication. In addition to participant presentations, there will be time devoted to discussing pre-submitted questions, as well as questions that arise during the session. The Graduate and Early Career Caucus is sponsoring this session, which will be chaired by GECC co-chair Jacqueline Wernimont and Roger Turner.

Please submit advance questions to Jacqueline Wernimont ( by October 27th, 2008.

Roundtable Participants:

Karen Darling, The University of Chicago Press.

Karen will discuss what a dissertation might become, the differences between a dissertation and a book, the sorts of revisions that can help move a manuscript from one form to the other, and what one should do or keep in mind while writing the dissertation and revising. Specifically, she will address the importance of defining audience and how that affects the level of explanation, the narrative structure, and the book’s length, density, and voice.

Doreen Valentine, Rutgers University Press.

The vision for a dissertation as a book informs the process of identifying a short list of appropriate publishers and approaching them with a project proposal. Doreen will discuss what presses look for in a proposal, what authors might look for in a press, and what authors can expect in a relationship with a press and an editor.

Marguerite Avery, The MIT Press.

Marguerite will address the nature of the monograph series and the advantages and disadvantages to publishing within one as your first book publication. She will also be discussing the possible futures of scholarly publishing and the role of print publications. A brief history of various media possibilities will provide some background to the issues prompting the shift away from print, including the open access debate, changing reading and research habits of users, and enhanced capabilities of electronic publications.