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Spotlight: ATLA Special Series

ATLA Special Series

HEB will be heading to Indianapolis in two weeks for the ATLA Annual Conference. This is a great time for members of ATLA to get to know the HEB collection a little more.

The highlight of the collection for ATLA members is the ATLA Special Series. Launched in 2016, the series is selection of nearly 100 titles (and growing!) that have been recommended for inclusion in the collection by ATLA members or titles deemed of special interest to theologians in the HEB collection.

During the conference, stop by HEB’s table and chat with Lee Walton to learn more about the special series or recommend a title. Don’t forget to check out a few of the titles in the special series below as well (subscriber access only).

About ATLA

From the ATLA Website

Established in 1946, the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) is a professional association of over 800 individual, institutional, and affiliate members providing programs, products, and services in support of theological and religious studies libraries and librarians. ATLA’s ecumenical membership represents many religious traditions and denominations.

Proving Woman: Female Spirituality and Inquisitional Culture in the Later Middle Ages

by Dyan Elliot, Princeton University Press (2004)

From the Publisher:

While studies of sanctity and heresy tend to be undertaken separately, Proving Woman brings these two avenues of inquiry together by associating the downward trajectory of holy women with medieval society’s progressive reliance on the inquisitional procedure. Inquisition was soon used for resolving most questions of proof. It was employed for distinguishing saints and heretics; it underwrote the new emphasis on confession in both sacramental and judicial spheres; and it heralded the reintroduction of torture as a mechanism for extracting proof through confession.


Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought

by Pascal Boyer, Basic Books (2001)

From the Publisher:

Many of our questions about religion, says renowned anthropologist Pascal Boyer, are no longer mysteries. We are beginning to know how to answer questions such as “Why do people have religion?” Using findings from anthropology, cognitive science, linguistics, and evolutionary biology, Religion Explained shows how this aspect of human consciousness is increasingly admissible to coherent, naturalistic explanation. This brilliant and controversial book gives readers the first scientific explanation for what religious feeling is really about, what it consists of, and where it comes from.


The Matter of the Gods: Religion and the Roman Empire

by Clifford Ando, University of California Press (2008)

From the Publisher:

What did the Romans know about their gods? Why did they perform the rituals of their religion, and what motivated them to change those rituals? To these questions Clifford Ando proposes simple answers: In contrast to ancient Christians, who had faith, Romans had knowledge, and their knowledge was empirical in orientation. In other words, the Romans acquired knowledge of the gods through observation of the world, and their rituals were maintained or modified in light of what they learned. After a preface and opening chapters that lay out this argument about knowledge and place it in context, The Matter of the Gods pursues a variety of themes essential to the study of religion in history.


The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam

by Fatima Mernissi & Mary Jo Lakeland, Perseus Books Group (1991)

From the Publisher:

Convinced that the veil is a symbol of unjust male authority over women, in The Veil and the Male Elite, Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi aims to investigate the origins of the practice in the first Islamic community.


James Shulman appointed ACLS Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Shulman, a senior fellow at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and formerly the founding president of Artstor, will join ACLS on July 1, 2018. As vice president, he will direct and manage all ACLS programs, operations, and governance procedures. He will work directly with program directors of Fellowships, Public Programs, International Programs, Philanthropy, the Humanities E-Book collection, Finance, and Web and Information Systems. Together with President Pauline Yu, he will represent ACLS to the academic community, policy makers, and the public, and will aid in strategic planning for the Societies’ future directions. “I very much look forward,” said Shulman, “to working with Pauline, the talented ACLS staff, and the scholarly societies that connect humanistic scholars within and across disciplines. My work has focused on blending the traditions of the academy with its future possibilities, and I can think of no better place than the Council to advance that work.” Shulman will succeed Steven Wheatley whose 32-year career at ACLS was recently celebrated at the Council’s annual meeting.

“It has been my great privilege to have Steve Wheatley at my side for the past 15 years; his abiding passion for the mission of ACLS has been an inspiration to us all,” said President Yu. “James Shulman’s impressive breadth and depth of experience map extraordinarily well onto all aspects of our work, and I look forward eagerly to partnering with him as we take ACLS into its second century.”

Mellon Executive Vice President Mariët Westermann noted Shulman’s various contributions to the work of the Foundation: “In helping to define a new Mellon research initiative on the value of the liberal arts, in his own research on how to foster institutional entrepreneurship within higher education, and as the founding president of Artstor, James has brought a truly remarkable range of knowledge and experience to the sectors that the Foundation strives to serve. My colleagues and I will miss him very much but we are delighted that he will be helping to lead ACLS – the nation’s most important association for advancing the humanities.”


In addition to his work at Mellon on the impact of the liberal arts, Shulman is writing, The High Hanging Fruit; Financing and Implementing the Shared Infrastructure that Higher Education Needs (to be published by Princeton University Press). Prior to returning to Mellon, he led Artstor from 2001 until 2016. Created when many individual colleges and universities were beginning to digitize their own locally-created teaching slide libraries, Artstor provides more than two million images, software, and services to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities, and schools around the world and seeks to democratize access to the world’s cultural heritage.

While at Mellon from 1994-2001, Shulman collaborated with William G. Bowen and Derek Bok on The Shape of the River: Long-term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions(Princeton University Press, 1998), and coauthored (with William Bowen) The Game of Life: College Sports and Educational Values(Princeton University Press, 2001). From 1997-2001, he also assisted in the management of the Foundation’s endowment and internal budgeting.

Shulman received his BA and PhD from Yale in Renaissance studies. His dissertation, which examined how heroes made decisions in the complex world of renaissance epic poetry, received the John Addison Porter Prize and forms the basis of The Pale Cast of Thought: Hesitation and Decision in the Renaissance Epic (University of Delaware Press, 1998). He also has written the introduction to Robert K. Merton’s The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Historical Semantics and the Sociology of Science (Princeton University Press, 2003). Shulman serves on the board of the Renaissance Society of America, The Spence School, and the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association. From 2006-2015 he served as a trustee of Smith College; he also served on the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Content Strategy Committee.


Formed to represent the United States in the International Union of Academies, ACLS includes representatives from the 13 learned societies that founded the organization and believed that a coalition of scholarly societies was the best possible combination of America’s democratic ethos and intellectual aspirations. Today, ACLS is a nonprofit federation of 75 scholarly organizations with a $120M endowment and a $26M operating budget. As the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences, ACLS holds a core belief that knowledge is a public good. As such, ACLS strives to promote the circulation of humanistic knowledge throughout society. In addition to stewarding and representing its member organizations, ACLS fulfills this mission through granting fellowships in support of humanities and social science research and through far-reaching advocacy.

This article was originally posted by the American Council of Learned Societies. To view the article on their website, click here.

Under Pressure: “Scholarly Publishing’s Last Stand”

Dr. Samuel Cohen’s recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Scholarly Publishing’s Last Stand”, speaks in response to recent news of university presses in financial peril such as the University Press of Kentucky and University Press of New England. Dr. Cohen graciously answered some questions that came to mind after reading his article.


You suggest that public higher education is “increasingly about the bottom line”…how much of this friction do you attribute to the ideological divide in the public’s perception of colleges and universities? What role do UPs have in demonstrating the value of institutional goals of advancing and disseminating knowledge to the public?

There has long been a tension between support of higher education in the US, both as the place where expertise is earned and economic and social advancement can begin, and criticism of it on anti-intellectual and not unrelated political grounds. I think it’s gotten worse in recent years, as expertise has been attacked as elitism and the public has been provided a less balanced view of what actually happens on campus.

University presses, especially at public universities, can play an important role in showing why universities are important—why expertise isn’t “elitist” but is a crucial part of serving the citizens of the state. Books of regional interest are one way to do that. If state politicians run on their anti-university stances, however, it makes it harder for people to see it.

You write, “the relationship between the public university press and the public university is like that between the frog and the pond — if the frog gets sick, the pond is probably toxic.” I agree with the idea of a commercial agenda eroding the capacities of UPs,  but doesn’t the frog also have to fend for itself? What solutions—open access publishing, more institutional collaboration, etc.—do you believe UPs should consider to stay financially solvent and in-line with their primary missions of advancing knowledge?

It’s not just or primarily the commercial agenda within the press that concerns me and many others—it’s the insistence that any subsidy from the university and the state that helps fund it (to some shrinking degree) is a waste of money. Public university presses have always been subsidized. While the size of the outlay may have been negotiated in the past, presses now find themselves fighting against administrators from corporate backgrounds who don’t understand the value of things that don’t make money. I’m all for different strategies in the face of shrinking funding if they don’t make it impossible for presses to fulfill their primary mission, but I don’t think we should accept that the frog has to fend for itself. It’s our job to take care of the frog.

What is the value of “esoteric” knowledge in a commodified higher education environment?

In a commodified higher education environment, esoteric knowledge has no value. That’s the problem with a commodified higher education environment. “Useless” knowledge is a value in itself. A culture that doesn’t value knowledge for its own sake, that only values that which can be bought and sold, is in big trouble. We’re seeing that in the news every day.

I’m all for different strategies in the face of shrinking funding if they don’t make it impossible for presses to fulfill their primary mission, but I don’t think we should accept that the frog has to fend for itself. It’s our job to take care of the frog.

You mention being asked as an editor to acquire “crossover” books—titles which appeal to both academic and general audiences. There is a place for these type of works, but could there be impact from UPs trying to publish more “crossover” titles that could trickle down and influence the research and writing goals of young scholars looking to publish?

“Knowledge Sharing”, by Ansonlobo. Via Wikipedia Commons

At this point, young scholars trying to get tenure are in many fields having a hard time finding people to publish their work, especially the book that will get them tenure. If they pitch their work to a wider audience and give it a catchy one word title with a fifteen-word sub-title, I can’t blame them. I don’t know if that happens much though; I just think worthwhile scholarship, written to other scholars in the field, deserves not to be crowded out. I don’t have evidence that this is happening either; I hope it’s not. Also, I see the value of books that bring intellectual work to wider audiences outside the field and discipline, both as a public good in itself and as a way for university presses to demonstrate their value. My concern is simply that the people who work at presses sometimes feel forced to chase them.

If “careerism” or “worldly success” are yardsticks too often used to quantify the value of universities, what yardsticks do you consider worthwhile in measuring universities, particularly UPs?

Public universities exist for many reasons, have many uses. But as they privatize in the face of decreased state funding (and by doing so inadvertently worsen that problem, as Chris Newfield has shown in The Great Mistake), they render themselves unable to fulfill many of these missions. Despite what your state legislator says, state universities don’t exist only to bring corporate research dollars, to provide educated workers to state employers, or to field winning football teams in order to draw alumni to fund further winning football teams.

They also exist to educate the people of the state in all of the ways they ought to be educated, if they want to be. I don’t know how you measure this, and am suspicious of the need to measure everything in this way. But public universities and their presses are also meant to further knowledge, whether it’s useful knowledge or useless knowledge, knowledge that will prepare you to someday serve in your state legislature or to question it. Knowledge is a public good and should be supported as such.

Samuel Cohen

Samuel Cohen

Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri

Dr. Cohen is an associate professor of English at the University of Missouri. He is the author of After the End of History: American Fiction in the 1990s and editor of the University of Iowa Press series The New American Canon.

Looking Ahead: ATLA & ALA

ACLS Humanities E-Book is looking ahead to June and not just because of Summer vacation. Two of the biggest industry events that HEB attends—ATLA Annual and ALA Annual—are taking place in June. Below are just a few things we are excited to share during these events.


  • HEB’s publishing partner, the University of Michigan, recently launched our 13 Humanities Open Book titles on the new platform and ATLA/ALA are great opportunities for subscribers and users to get a taste for the new platform. Keep up to date with everything Fulcrum by visiting!

    Screenshot of Media Gallery for “Lake Erie Fishermen” (University of Illinois Press, 1990)ATLA Special Series

ATLA Special Series

  • HEB enjoys a strong relationship with the American Theological Library Association, so much so that a few years ago we started curating the ATLA Special Series. This is a list of titles recommended by members of ATLA or that HEB deems of special interest to theology or religion scholars. The annual conference is a key contact point for soliciting recommendations, but do not forget you can always recommend titles on HEB’s site, here.

New Titles

  • We are currently developing our annual round of titles and will be showing off some new entries into the collection during both shows. HEB expects the 2018 release to be between 200-250 titles and to expand subject areas such as Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, Sociology, and Anthropology, among others. Email me if you have any specific questions about the new round of titles coming to HEB in August! 

News from ACLS

New Orleans

  • No disrespect to Indianapolis where ATLA is being hosted, but being born and bred in South Louisiana I am partial to New Orleans. If you are going to be in New Orleans and want to learn more about what Humanities E-Book has to offer your library, let us know and we can meet up! I may know a few good restaurants and watering holes from my time living there…
  • If you are looking for something off the beaten path to do in New Orleans other than great food and drinks, and want to avoid the more tourist-packed sites, check out the Backstreet Museum. Located in the heart of the historical Tremé neighborhood, visitors are able to explore the history and culture behind Mardi Gras Indians, Second Lines, and many other aspects that make New Orleans one of the most unique American cities.


ATLA:  Jun 13-16

ALA: Jun  22-26

American Theological Library Association

American Library Association

HOB Titles on Fulcrum

13 HOB Titles Now on Fulcrum!

HEB is pleased to share the exciting news from our partners at the University of Michigan developing the Fulcrum platform that the 13 Open Access Titles HEB produced from funding through the Humanities Open Book Program are now live on Fulcrum! Find them here, or visit Please note, the platform is still in development. To keep up to date on HEB’s move to Fulcrum, visit our dedicated page to our collection migration on our website.

What is new?

HEB is currently using page-image (scans) as the primary format for the titles in our collection. With Fulcrum, HEB titles will be in the much more flexible EPUB format, facilitated through a state of the art web-based reading experience. EPUB provides flexibility for mobile capabilities and opportunities for fully encoded texts with enhanced media.

Other features that will be included are citation integrations, chapter downloads, and analytic interfaces for both the user and librarian to enjoy. To get a better idea of what HEB titles will look like on Fulcrum, check out Lake Erie Fishermen: Work, Identity, and Tradition—the best example currently live for the media capabilities of Fulcrum. Listen in on original interviews or browse the supplemental media gallery. Thank you to the Center for Folklore Studies at Ohio State University and the authors Timothy C. Lloyd and Patrick Mullen for providing supplemental media for the title!

I have suggestions, where do I send them?

In the image gallery above, notice the comment icon in the bottom left corner of the in-text screenshot? While in the e-reader for any of the 13 titles, if you click on this icon you will be directed to a page to provide feedback to the Fulcrum development team! You can also find a link to the comment form on Google Docs here.