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ASU's Narrative Storytelling Initiative partners with Temple University Press in creation of new book series

Stack of books on a table.
May 13, 2022

Imagine a series of books infused with the insights of academia and matched with personal experiences and compelling narrative writing that connects with both scholarly and wide public audiences. That’s the plan for a new partnership between the Narrative Storytelling Initiative, situated within Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, and Temple University Press.

Transformations Books will explore issues of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, drawing on the lived experiences of authors and grounded in specific locations domestically and globally.

Steven Beschloss, founding director of the Narrative Storytelling Initiative, and Pardis Mahdavi, provost and executive vice president at the University of Montana, will serve as series editors. Mi-Ai Parrish, managing director of ASU’s Media Enterprise, will serve as deputy editor.

Taking geography and justice as broad mapping coordinates, these short, elegant books of 25,000 to 30,000 words will aim to engage a cross-section of popular and scholarly readers with powerful, compelling moments of change — exploring all the pain, joy, promise and resilience these journeys may yield. While these narrative books may include elements of memoir, they also will offer insights into the larger societal contexts in which such personal experiences happen and resonate.

“From the early months after launching 'Transformations' as a collection of personal narrative essays embedded in a larger societal context, I imagined that we were laying the groundwork for what could also become a compelling book series committed to great writing on critical topics,” Beschloss said. “The key, of course, is finding and supporting talented writers with important, world-altering stories to share. But much like the essay series has benefited from a fruitful partnership with the Los Angeles Review of Books as an independent publishing channel, I’m excited by the potential of this book series with a smart and motivated publishing partner like Temple University Press.”

“As the Transformations book series is about the locus of place and story, I am thrilled to be joining from the University of Montana, the flagship institution for the state of Montana located in Missoula — named as one of the top ten most creative towns in America,” Mahdavi added. “The series seems especially timely for places in transition, and I am eager to be a part of this storytelling.”

The launch of Transformations Books is rooted in the belief that well-told narrative stories that address many of the key issues of our time will not only motivate talented writers and thinkers, but also attract a wide readership who may have been hesitant to engage these issues and ideas in more traditional academic modes.

"The Transformations book series arrives at a juncture in which the nature of academia and its role in broader society itself is at a critical point of transformation,” said Shaun Vigil, editor of Temple University Press. “The series is an ideal match to Temple University Press’s ethos as a publisher of social justice-conscious works that bridge the gaps between academia and broad readerships. Temple University Press views Transformations Books not only as an exciting collaboration and expression of our shared mission, but also as a focal point of our list for many years to come."

"The Transformations project encourages deeper understanding of complex challenges through meaningful stories at moments of epiphany," said Mi-Ai Parrish, deputy editor. "Helping enlighten each other through individual tales can encourage positive transformations for our communities. That's exciting to me."

Potential books may originate as "Transformations" essays, published as part of the online magazine. The series is also open to direct submissions from authors across fields and disciplines interested in publishing works that meet the series’ aims and draw on their individual expertise.

Prospective authors are encouraged to submit their proposals (including a project summary, sample materials and a current CV) to series editors Steven Beschloss and Pardis Mahdavi.

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