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March 27, 1987 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-03-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Dr. Robert Mandel's WSU
Press has many Jewish


Pn h llyfn k'oni nn



Special to The Jewish News

The Book Shelf

ead any good Jewish
books lately?
If not, you might
want to check out
some of the titles of-
fered this season by the fast-
growing Wayne State University
Press. Of 40 new books published
this year by the Pfess, ten are of
Jewish content. And, according to
Press director Robert Mandel,
there's much more • to come.
Mandel, who came to WSU last worked with Mandel at SUNY and
year from Indiana University. at IU Press have published manu-
Press, sees Wayne as a pioneer in scripts with the WSU Press. With
Jewish studies, with a solid those authors, WSU Press has ac-
cess to the largest number of
backlist ready to be built upon.
"It wasn't by chance that I Jewish scholar-writers in its 46-
came to Wayne," says the 40-year- year history. Among them are
-- old Mandel, who has long been in- Raphael Patai, one of the country's
volved with the study of Jewish leading scholars on Jewish folklore,
culture and is something of a noted Jewish theologian-
Judaica scholar himself. "My own philosopher Emil Fackenheim, and
personal interests and areas of ex- American poet Ruth Whitman.
The proliferation of Jewish ti-
pertise are definitely reflected
tles is not peculiar to Wayne, but is
Prior to his taking up his post a trend throughout the country,
at Wayne, Mandel served as an says Mandel, and is the result of
assistant editor in business and several changes which took place in
economics at Praeger Publishing the United States in the 1960s.
"Jewish studies evolved from
Co. in New York City, before mov-
ing on to the State University of that pluralistic philosophy in the
New York Press and IU Press. Al- late '60s which developed special
though now one of the largest pub- programs in the university for var-
lishers of Judaica in the United ious ethnic groups. These, in turn,
States, IU Press had published only became full-fledged graduate pro-
seven Judaica titles before Mandel grams in the '70s.
"But, as the money fell away
arrived on the scene.
the years from programs like
Many of the writers who

WSU Press has big plans
for the future and Judaica
titles are in the vanguard

Italian studies or Black studies,
Jewish money kept the Jewish
studies going. Then, from all these
Jewish studies graduate programs,
you got all these people who were
writing Ph.D. theses. Where, in the
past, Jewish studies were largely
written by amateur historians who
happened to have a great interest
in a particular topic, now you have
150-200 scholars across the United
States who have dissertations to
write, or who must 'publish or
perish' — so, you have a plethora of
manuscripts in the field."
Mandel has seen significant
changes occur over the years in the
role of the university press.
"The role of the university
press changed in the '70s when
publication costs rose so dramati-
cally," he explains. "Before, the
main role of the university press
was to publish scholarly works —
and we're still a major outlet for
these, of course. But that meant
not taking into consideration the

market for a book at all, and a lot
of presses went out of business.
"My feeling is that a university
press must either break even, or
make money (although we can't
really call it 'making money' —
since we're a non-profit organiza-
tion, we have to call it 'making a
"Along with that, my philos-
ophy is that a scholarly work can
have a wider audience.
"Last year — my first year
here — the Press published 17
books. This year, we published 40


Wayne Slate University

books. The university is not financ-
ing that. Were financing ourselves
through our surplus. Last year, we
ended up with a $20,000 surplus,
and we did that through a combi-
nation of selecting better books for
a wider audience — books which
would go into bookstores and be
bought by large numbers of people;
by better selling our scholarly
books; and by advertising. We also
raised some individual title sub-
sidies — we went to outside corpo-
rations and individuals and asked
them if they'd be interested in
sponsoring a book or at least un-
derwriting part of its expenses.
"Whereas before, we might

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