Tag Archives: UP Week

You Are What You Read

For our final contribution to the University Press Week Blog Tour (November 4-8), editor Natalie Fingerhut discusses the importance of compassion and how this forms the foundation of our soon-to-launch imprint, New Jewish Press. 

By Natalie Fingerhut

A little personal story: I spent my 20s working at the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University here in Toronto and teaching English at the Centre for Victims of Torture. Through a newcomer service, I helped an Iranian family adapt to their new life in Canada.

In my 40s, when the Syrian refugee crisis reached Canadian Jewish ears, I was busy with work, my kids, and I felt that it was other people’s turn to help out.

At the time, I had just finished Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe under Hitler and Stalin. Through that reading, I discovered the Soviet Jewish journalist, Vasily Grossman, on whom Snyder relies as a primary source. It was this paragraph taken from Grossman’s report, The Hell of Treblinka, about his 1944 visit to the remains of the Treblinka death camp that changed the course of my behavior:

“The SS men subjected the group of rebels from the Warsaw ghetto to especially vicious torture. They picked the women and children and took them not to the gas chambers but to the cremation ovens. They forced the mothers half crazed with terror to lead their children between the red hot bars on which thousands of dead bodies writhed and squirmed twisting and turning as though alive. This spectacle was enough to rob the strongest man of his reason, but the Germans knew that its effect would be a thousand times more terrible on a mother who was frantically trying to shield the eyes of her children from the ghastly sight while they shrieked in terror, “Mama, Mama…what are they going to do to us…will they burn us?” 

For a brief moment, I was that mother with my hand over my daughter’s eyes. It was only by an accident of birth that I was not. And it is only by an accident of birth that you were not.

The next morning I had a call into our synagogue’s private sponsorship group and asked them to put me to work. We wound up sponsoring a set of Syrian grandparents, parents, and a grandson now safe in Toronto.

Such is the power of words.

Such is the power of compassion.

Compassion, as well as empathy, critical thinking, and attentive hearing form the moral foundation on which our new imprint at the University of Toronto Press, New Jewish Press, rests. Our two new titles for Spring 2020 include The A–Z of Intermarriage by intermarried rabbi Denise Handlarski and The Conflict over the Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate by renowned freedom of speech and human rights advocate Kenneth S. Stern. These two books epitomize the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam – the repairing of the world – by offering their expertise on complex issues facing twenty-first-century Jewry.

Rabbi Denise Handlarski tells us that we may not like that our children marry out of faith but that we need to hear them out and respect their decisions. Ultimately, all marriages are intermarriages and there is so much good that comes out of mixing different cultures. Less Oy and More Joy!!!

Kenneth S. Stern tells us that we may not like when pro-Israel speakers talk on our university or college campuses, but we cannot ban them. We cannot retreat to safe spaces. We cannot disrupt them. Instead, we use rational and reasonable thinking – skills that we have learned in our higher education institutions – and we listen to each other as human beings.

As an editor, I believe in – and am proof of – the influential power of books. My goal with the books I acquire for New Jewish Press is to inspire Jewish, Jew-ish, and not-Jewish to read, think, and act with compassion.


To round out a successful University Press Week Blog Tour, check out posts by these other fine university presses:

University of Washington Press
Blog: https://uwpressblog.com/
Twitter: @UWAPress

Columbia University Press
Blog: cupblog.org
Twitter: @ColumbiaUP

University of Illinois Press
Blog: http://www.press.uillinois.edu/wordpress/how-the-transformations-series-invites-us-to-practice-compassion-university-press-week-blog-tour/
Twitter: @IllinoisPress

Penn State University Press
Blog: https://pennstateuniversitypress.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @PSUPress

University of South Carolina Press
Blog: facebook.com/USC.Press
Twitter: @uscpress

University of Nebraska Press
Blog: https://unpblog.com/category/jewish-publication-society/
Twitter: @UnivNebPress
Twitter: @JewishPub

Bucknell University Press
Blog: upress.blogs.bucknell.edu
Twitter: @BucknellUPress

Beacon Press
Blog: http://www.beaconbroadside.com
Twitter: @beaconpressbks
Twitter: @WitnessToGTMO

Medieval and Renaissance Studies at University of Toronto Press

upweek-logo-2013Sales and Marketing Manager Brian MacDonald blogs as a part of the AAUP’s University Press Week blog tour. Be sure to check out today’s tour stops at MIT Press, Texas A&M University Press, University of Georgia Press, University of Pennsylvania Press, Duke University Press, and Wilfrid Laurier University Press. A complete blog tour schedule can be found here.

University of Toronto Press (UTP) has a long and acclaimed commitment to publishing in the areas of both Medieval and Renaissance Studies, dating back several decades. UTP publishes many noteworthy series in these areas, attends all the major annual conferences in these subject areas, and our books have received numerous awards for their scholarship.

In 1968 under the direction of the late Ron Schoeffel, UTP began publishing The Collected Works of Erasmus, one of its most significant projects to date. The aim of this series is to make available an accurate, readable English text of Erasmus’s correspondence and his other principal writings in an edition of 89 volumes. Erasmus was one of the architects of modern thought, and his works reflect a vast range of interests including history, theology, the classics, social theory, education, political theory, literature, and the history of ideas. His letters remain the single most important source for the intellectual history of the Renaissance and the Reformation. In the words of Lisa Jardine: “The Toronto Erasmus project is a magnificent achievement, one of the scholarly triumphs of our time.”

In 1978 University of Toronto Press signed an agreement with the Medieval Academy of America to publish the Medieval Academy of America Reprints for Teaching (MART) series. Today, these books continue to be offered to medieval scholars and students by UTP.

In 1990 The Spenser Encyclopedia was published. Since its appearance, The Spenser Encyclopedia has become the reference book for scholarship on Edmund Spenser (1552-99), offering a detailed, literary guide to his life, works, and influence. Comprehensive in scope and international in outlook, the encyclopedia contains some 700 entries by 422 contributors in 20 countries. William C. Johnson in The Sixteenth Century Journal wrote, “The editors and contributors have produced a monumental work, which in scope and composition is admirably well conceived and methodologically superior to all other such reference works on literary figures.”

Bartlett_short history of the italian renaissanceMore recently, in 2008 University of Toronto Press acquired Broadview Press’s history and social science lists, adding many Medieval Studies texts for the classroom to UTP’s publishing program. Now operating as a division of the Press, UTP Higher Education focuses on publishing materials for course use – such as Barbara H. Rosenwein’s bestselling text A Short History of the Middle Ages or Paul Edward Dutton’s popular series, Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures. The division also recently added A Short History of the Italian Renaissance by Kenneth R. Bartlett to its list, marking its entrance into Renaissance Studies.

In addition to the Medieval Academy Reprint for Teaching (MART) series, other series in Medieval and Renaissance Studies published by University of Toronto Press include:

Medieval Academy Books (established by the Medieval Academy of America in 1928)
Renaissance Society of America Reprints Texts
Erasmus Studies Series
Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library Series
UCLA Clark Memorial Library Series
Toronto Italian Studies
Toronto Iberic Series
University of Toronto Romance Series
Toronto Anglo-Saxon Series (TASS)
Toronto Old Norse-Icelandic Series (TONIS)
Toronto Old English Studies
Toronto Studies in Medieval Law Series
Rethinking the Middle Ages Series
Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures Series
Companions to Medieval Studies Series

UTP also publishes the historical database Lexicons of Early Modern English (LEME), offering scholars unprecedented access to early books and manuscripts documenting the growth and development of the English language. With more than 581,000 word-entries from 175 dictionaries, glossaries, linguistic treatises, encyclopedias, and other lexical works, LEME sets the standard for modern linguistic research on the English language.

Suzanne Rancourt, Executive Editor of the Scholarly Publishing Division of University of Toronto Press, is the acquiring editor for Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, and Erasmus Studies. A member of UTP since 1987, Suzanne is very well known in her field and speaks regularly at the International Congress of Medieval Studies on the subject of publishing. Natalie Fingerhut, History Editor of the Higher Education Division of University of Toronto Press, is the acquiring editor for all medieval history course materials.

In addition to the International Congress of Medieval Studies held annually in Kalamazoo, Michigan, UTP also has a presence at the Medieval Academy of America annual meeting, the Renaissance Studies Association annual meeting, and the International Medieval Congress held in Leeds, United Kingdom.

To learn more about UTP’s books in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, pick up our Classics, Medieval, and Renaissance Books catalogue at any of the conferences listed above or download it directly from our website.