Wesleyan University Press

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Wesleyan University Press
Parent company Wesleyan University
Founded 1957
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Middletown, Connecticut
Distribution University Press of New England [1]
Key people Suzanna Tamminen
Publication types Books
Official website www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/

Wesleyan University Press is a university press that is part of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. The Press is currently directed by Suzanna Tamminen, a published poet and essayist. [2] [3]

University press publisher associated with a university

A university press is an academic publishing house specializing in academic monographs and scholarly journals. Most are nonprofit and an integral component of a large research university. They publish work that has been reviewed by scholars in the field. They produce mainly scholarly works, but also often have "popular" titles, such as books on religion or on regional topics. Because scholarly books are mostly unprofitable, university presses may also publish textbooks and reference works, which tend to have larger audiences and sell more copies. Most university presses operate at a loss and are subsidized by their owners; others are required to break even. Demand has fallen as library budgets are cut and the online sales of used books undercut the new book market. Many presses are experimenting with electronic publishing.

Wesleyan University private liberal arts college in Middletown, Connecticut

Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college in Middletown, Connecticut. Founded in 1831, Wesleyan is a baccalaureate college that emphasizes undergraduate instruction in the arts and sciences, grants research master's degrees in many academic disciplines, and grants PhD degrees in biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, molecular biology and biochemistry, music, and physics. Along with Amherst College and Williams College, Wesleyan is a member of the Little Three colleges. In the 2016 Forbes ranking of American colleges, which combines national research universities, liberal arts colleges and military academies in a single survey, Wesleyan University is ranked 9th overall.

Middletown, Connecticut City in Connecticut, United States

Middletown is a city located in Middlesex County, Connecticut, along the Connecticut River, in the central part of the state, 16 miles south of Hartford. In 1650, it was incorporated as a town under its original Native American name, Mattabeseck. It received its present name in 1653. Middletown was included within Hartford County upon its creation on May 10, 1666. In 1784, the central settlement was incorporated as a city distinct from the town. Both were included within newly formed Middlesex County in May 1785. In 1923, the City of Middletown was consolidated with the Town, making the city limits extensive.


History and overview

Founded (in its present form) in 1957, the Press publishes books of poetry and books on music, dance and performance, American Studies, and film. [3] [4] [5] [6] In 1965, Wesleyan sold its American Education Publications, a division of the Press that published My Weekly Reader, but the University retained the scholarly division. [7] All editing occurs at the editorial office building of the Press on the Wesleyan campus. Publishing (printing) now occurs through a consortium of New England college academic presses.

Weekly Reader was a weekly educational classroom magazine designed for children. It began in 1928 as My Weekly Reader. Editions covered curriculum themes in the younger grade levels and news-based, current events and curriculum themed-issues in older grade levels. The publishing company also created workbooks, literacy centers, and picture books for younger grades.

The Press is notable among prestigious American academic presses for its poetry series, which publishes both established poets and new ones. [8] [9] The Press has released more than 250 titles in its poetry series and has garnered, in that series alone, awards including five Pulitzer Prizes, a Bollingen Prize, three National Book Awards, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, and an American Book Award. [3] [4] [8] [10] [11] [12] According to The New York Times, university presses with bigger endowments, with financial backing from the state, or with large graduate programs do not enjoy the same status in the field of poetry that the Wesleyan University Press enjoys, nor have they won a comparable array of prizes in poetry. [13] The Press also has garnered Pulitzer Prizes, American Book Awards, and other awards in its other series. [12]

Pulitzer Prize U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) Joseph Pulitzer who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, and is administered by Columbia University in New York City. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of the categories, each winner receives a certificate and a US$15,000 cash award. The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal.

The Bollingen Prize for Poetry is a literary honor bestowed on an American poet in recognition of the best book of new verse within the last two years, or for lifetime achievement. It is awarded every two years by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University.

The National Book Awards are a set of annual U.S. literary awards. At the final National Book Awards Ceremony every November, the National Book Foundation presents the National Book Awards and two lifetime achievement awards to authors.

Norman O. Brown and John Cage were two of the prominent early authors whose work was published by the Press. [7] The Press's poetry series was nurtured in its infancy by noted poet Richard Wilbur, then an English professor at the University. [8] [9] [14] In the mid-1950s, William Manchester, who would become a long time writer-in-residence and professor at the University, served as an editor at the Press. [15] Donald Hall, a future Poet Laureate of the United States, served as a member of the editorial board for poetry at the Press from 1958 to 1964. [16] In the 1960s, T.S. Eliot served both as a roving editor for the poetry series and special editorial consultant of the Press. In the former capacity, Eliot's responsibilities included finding rising English and European poets for the Press. [7] [17]

Norman Oliver Brown was an American scholar, writer, and social philosopher. Beginning as a classical scholar, his later work branched into wide-ranging, erudite, and intellectually sophisticated considerations of history, literature, psychology, culture, and other topics. Brown advanced some novel theses and in his time achieved some general notability.

John Cage American avant-garde composer

John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, artist, and philosopher. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage's romantic partner for most of their lives.

Richard Wilbur American poet

Richard Purdy Wilbur was an American poet and literary translator. One of the foremost poets of his generation, Wilbur's work, composed primarily in traditional forms, was marked by its wit, charm, and gentlemanly elegance. In 1987 he was appointed the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry twice, in 1957 and again in 1989.

Wesleyan is the smallest college or university in the nation to have its own press, [18] and the Wesleyan University Press has the second-oldest poetry series in the nation. [3] Approximately 25 books are published each year. [18]

Authors and poets published by the Press include John Luther Adams, Rae Armantrout (including her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Versed ), Samuel R. Delany, James Dickey (18th U.S. Poet Laureate), Brenda Hillman, Paul Horgan (including two Pulitzer Prize-winning books), David Ignatow, Yusef Komunyakaa (including his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Neon Vernacular), Justine Larbalestier, Heather McHugh, Juliet McMains, Farah Mendlesohn, Alice Notley, Leslie Scalapino, Louis Simpson (including his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection At The End Of The Open Road), Richard Slotkin, James Tate (including his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection James Tate: Selected Poems), Jean Valentine, Gerald Vizenor, Charles Wright, James Wright (including his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Collected Poems). Recently, Wesleyan published a new edition of poetry from Jack Spicer, which went on to win a 2009 American Book Award, contributing to the resurgence of a poet who died in public obscurity (of acute alcoholism) in 1965. [19]

John Luther Adams American composer

John Luther Adams is an American composer whose music is inspired by nature, especially the landscapes of Alaska, where he lived from 1978 to 2014. His orchestral work Become Ocean was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Rae Armantrout American poet

Rae Armantrout is an American poet generally associated with the Language poets. She has published ten books of poetry and has also been featured in a number of major anthologies. Armantrout currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego, where she is Professor of Poetry and Poetics. On March 11, 2010, Armantrout was awarded the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for her book of poetry Versed published by the Wesleyan University Press, which had also been nominated for the National Book Award. The book later earned the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She is the recipient of numerous other awards for her poetry, including an award in poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2007 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008.

<i>Versed</i> book by Rae Armantrout

Versed is a book of poetry written by Rae Armantrout and published by Wesleyan University Press in 2009. It won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry after being named a finalist for the National Book Award. Armantrout is only the third poet to win two out of these three awards in one year.

Wesleyan University Press titles are distributed by the University Press of New England.


  1. "Ordering Information, WesPress - Wesleyan University" . Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  2. "Contact Us". Wesleyan University Press. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Moss, Hilary (1 February 2005). "Tamminen named press director". The Wesleyan Argus. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  4. 1 2 "About Us". Wesleyan University Press. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  5. McDowell, Edwin (9 August 1989). "Book Notes". The New York Times.
  6. Siddall, Gillian; Waterman, Ellen (eds.). "Call for Papers - Sounding the Body: Improvisation, Representation and Subjectivity". Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice. Retrieved 18 October 2012. Sounding the Body: Improvisation, Representation and Subjectivity is one in a series of books on musical improvisation as a cultural practice to be published by Wesleyan University Press in 2012 as part of the Improvisation, Community and Social Practice research project.
  7. 1 2 3 "Wes through the Years". Wesleyan University. p. "1957: Start the Press!". Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  8. 1 2 3 Gordon, Jane (16 October 2005). "The University of Verse". The New York Times .
  9. 1 2 "Richard Wilbur: Biography and General Commentary". Modern American Poetry. Department of English, University of Illinois and Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  10. "Wesleyan University Press Home". Wesleyan University Press. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  11. "Faculty poet honored for new collection" (Press release). University of California. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  12. 1 2 "Award Winning Wesleyan Books". Wesleyan University Press. 1 April 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  13. Gordon, Jane (16 October 2005). "The University of Verse". The New York Times.
  14. Collier, Michael, ed. (1993). The Wesleyan Tradition: Four Decades of American Poetry. Wesleyan University Press.
  15. Pottle, Justin (29 January 2010). "University To Unveil William Manchester Writings Amid Return of JFK Manuscript". Wesleyan University Press. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  16. "A note on Donald Hall". Seven American Poets in Conversation. Waywiser Press. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  17. Gordon, Jane (16 October 2005). "The University of Verse". The New York Times . Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  18. 1 2 "Wes through the Years". Wesleyan University. p. "2004: Awards for WesPress". Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  19. Finch, Zack (November–December 2008). "Listening to Poetry: Jack Spicer's My Vocabulary Did This To Me". Boston Review. Retrieved 18 October 2012.

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