Associate Professor Hugh Dubrulle just signed an advance contract with Louisiana State University Press. The working title of his manuscript is “A War of Wonders”: How Britons Imagined the American Civil War and Learned Its Lessons. One Thing after Another grabbed Professor Dubrulle while he was rushing to a Faculty Senate meeting and pumped him for information.
Q: What is an advance contract? Is this good news?
A: It’s very good news. In an advance contract, both the author and the press are bound to do certain things. The author pledges to turn in a clean manuscript, along with illustrations and other matter, by a particular deadline. The press’ commitment is much more of an “if x, then y” sort. If the author meets his obligations and the press finds the manuscript acceptable, then the press is bound by certain guarantees when it publishes the work.
Q: How does the press go about figuring out whether the manuscript is acceptable or not?
A: After the author submits the manuscript to the press, the press sends it out to several experts in that particular field. These experts are referred to as readers or referees. They read the manuscript and send written reports to the press detailing the work’s strengths and weaknesses. They also provide a recommendation about whether the press should publish the book or not. Often, they recommend revisions of various sorts. It’s this process that we refer to as “peer review.” The editors at the press read the material sent to them by the referees and reach conclusions of their own regarding the manuscript. Much of the material produced by this review process gets forwarded to the board that runs the press, and it’s the board that makes a final decision about whether to publish or not.
Q: What is your book about?
It’s about how the American Civil War affected public discussions that were very important to Britons. My work focuses particularly on how the war influenced British debates about political reform, race, nationality and nationalism, and military affairs. I argue that in order to understand the British reaction to the American conflict, you really need to consider the images of America and Americans that Britons had developed in the thirty years leading up to the war. These images fundamentally shaped the way the British understood the war’s meaning and significance.
Q: How did you get interested in this topic?
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been interested in the American Civil War. In fact, one of my very first memories consisted of going to Vicksburg with my parents when I was 2 ½ (see photo above). My fascination with things British arose much later—when I was in college. If I had to attribute that interest to a single thing, it was reading Robert Graves’ Good-bye to All That in a World War I course. Graves is not a very reliable narrator, but there was something so stereotypically and comically British about the way he told his story (even though some of his experiences were horrible) that really touched me. When I went to graduate school, I wanted to find a way to combine my interests, and that’s how I came up with this topic.
For more information about LSU Press, go here:
Professor Andrew Moore has also published with LSU Press in the past. To see his book, The South’s Tolerable Alien, on LSU Press’ site, go here: