Archive for the ‘Milestones’ Category

Book Jacket

March 29, 2015

Sweet eh?

Faber_Building the Land of Dreams

The Book is Done

December 2, 2014

After spending probably too long on revisions, hunting down a bunch of image permissions, and correcting far too many footnotes, the moment has come: I have SUBMITTED THE FINAL MANUSCRIPT for Building the Land of Dreams.

While there’s still plenty to do (proofreading, index, approving art/design, etc) this feels like a big milestone. Six years of work on this, let’s call it, dating back to when I began to get interested in the subject during my 2nd-year guided readings course with John Murrin on War and Society in Early America. The research paper I wrote for John that winter, which first brought me to some of the major sources I use in the book like Claiborne’s Letter Books and the Territorial Papers volumes, was really the first step in this whole process; parts of that paper survive in Chapter 9 of the finished book.

I think the final version is a major, significant improvement over the dissertation. Its language is more compact and less abstruse, its ideas are clearer, and the conclusion is a lot more thorough. It was a challenge to balance revising the book with a full teaching load this semester. But it’s done and I’m feeling pretty good right now.


September 12, 2014

Back in May I shook hands (figuratively speaking) on a deal with Princeton University Press to publish my book. So this is nothing new, but it still feels like a milestone: I signed a contract, finally. So it’s official and I can now say “my book is under contract.” Now if I can just deliver a manuscript on time …

Something exciting happened …

July 12, 2014

… in New York that I can’t really talk about right now. The week of September 25th is when I’ll be able to talk about it. It’s hilarious, exciting, silly, kind of unbelievable, and it involves not me so much as my beautiful, awesome wife. Stay tuned …

Reader reports

June 5, 2014

So as academics all know, but most regular people might not be aware, when you publish with a University press your work goes through peer review which means sending it out to at least two readers (3 in my case), people who are expert in the field and have no prior involvement with the author or the project. The readers are anonymous in theory, although it’s not too hard to figure out who they are (especially since they are selected from a list composed by the author and editor). They make comments, suggestions, and criticisms which the author is supposed to acknowledge and consider.

I found my read reports to be very helpful, on the whole. They were very complimentary, first off, which was very nice. In particular it was nice that the same things they praised about the book were the things that I intended to be good about the book: it is well written, it advances a new interpretation of Louisiana’s attachment to the American republic, it busts certain longstanding myths and exaggerations about New Orleans. As far as criticisms, they catch errors of fact, repetition (like a whole passage that was repeated twice!) and passages where I have failed to acknowledge some important scholarship. The third reader, in particular, balanced his compliments with a whole raft of, I must say, rather nitpicky criticisms and corrections. Moreover, as I worked through these nitpicky points, I was forced to conclude that my reader was in fact wrong, and I was right, on many of these points. But that raises an important issue: you don’t have to obey your readers and make the changes they ask for, only to acknowledge and consider them.

Readers #1 and #2 both zeroed in, as I’d expected they would, on the issue of Jeffersonian antislavery and my overestimation (as they see if) of the antislavery sentiments of the Jeffersonian generation. I’m afraid that my treatment of the subject in the final text probably still won’t satisfy them. But I definitely think it will be more thorough, more nuanced, and better supported and illustrated than it was in the original version. And that’s the real benefit of good criticism. You can stick to your guns and argue your side, but you do so better in the face of the criticism, and it makes everybody’s ideas better. There are many annoying things about academia, but the peer review process is a wonderful thing when it works right, and it is going to make my book a lot better.

The Book

May 29, 2014

Although I may never find a tenure track job, it looks like at least I’m going to be a published author. Princeton University Press will publish my book, Building the Land of Dreams: The American Transformation of New Orleans, in tPU Presshe fall of 2015. The reader’s reports are back, and were very positive; my revisions should be complete by this fall, and actually the fact that I’m teaching a slightly reduced schedule should actually help with this a bit.

In New York in July I will meet Brigitta Van Rheinberg, who will be my editor, and whose smart comments about the manuscript really sealed the deal for Princeton. The other top contender was LSU Press, which would have been great too, and a natural fit for the book in many ways; but Brigitta’s enthusiasm and understanding really made the difference.

I am so psyched. This is a good thing!

Teaching is done

May 10, 2014

I’ve finished my spring semester courses, grades are in. It was a great semester of teaching, but it’s always a relief to be done! Now it’s on to thinking about book publication, travel plans for the fall, and thinking about what my somewhat different life is going to look like in the fall.


May 4, 2014

I am now officially the Dad of a teenager. Be afraid.

She's 13, she's cool, she's awkward, she's super confident and totally confused, she's infuriating, she's the best.

She’s 13, she’s cool, she’s awkward, she’s super confident and totally confused, she’s infuriating, she’s the best.

I got fired …

March 11, 2014

… and then rehired for next year, but as an adjunct, making about 60% of my already low pay, with no benefits.

It’s too late to apply for any jobs elsewhere, and we don’t want to leave NOLA in any case.

So this basically sucks, but could be worse. The basic reason is the decline in Loyola’s undergrad enrollments, which is a particularly bad case of a general problem across the US. It’s also something that can hardly be blamed on me … but this is nothing if not an illustration of the fact that the people who mess up aren’t necessarily the people who pay the price.

I’m glad my wife has a good job, I’m glad NOLA is not that expensive a place to live, I’m glad my family will help us out if we are desperate. I’m glad there is still teaching work for me, and I still like Loyola on the whole, especially the students. Maybe less time in the fall spent on teaching will be more time spent on getting the book done.

But it still sucks.

The big finish

December 16, 2013

And, final grades are in … and the semester is done! a semester in which I taught FOUR SECTIONS of Global History from 1500 to the present. 115 students. Now it’s off to NYC for God Street Wine‘s 25th reunion shows!