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HAPPY UNIVERSITY PRESS WEEK!
We’re proud to be one of 32 presses participating once again this year in the UP Week Blog Tour. Every day this week, presses will be blogging on a different theme that highlights the value of collaboration among the scholarly community. For the full Blog Tour schedule, click here.
Editor in Chief Jonathan Crago writes about MQUP’s recent collaborative project: Landscape Architecture in Canada by Ron Williams.
Landscape Architecture in Canada, published by McGill-Queen’s and in French as Architecture de Paysage au Canada by Presses de l’Universite de Montreal in May of 2014 just as gardens in Montreal were coming into first bloom, is a book with a long history of personal and institutional collaboration. Books that are the fruit of many years of research, reflection, and writing, undertaken by authors, in turn alone and in close collaboration with archivists, fellow scholars, and editors, are typical of university press publishing. Even in this context, these twin publications stand out.
It starts with a unique author and a unique need. Ron Williams, a graduate of McGill, the Sorbonne, and the UC Berkeley, has taught and practiced landscape architecture in both languages for much of his professional career. The Canadian Society of Landscape Architecture (CSLA), founded in 1934, has been the association that unites practitioners of landscape architecture and has overseen the expansion of professional landscape architecture programs, initiated in the 1960s, to six Canadian universities, where a history of landscape architecture course is required of all future graduates. These courses are ably taught, albeit in the absence of a published history of landscape architecture in Canada. Ron agreed to take on the writing of such a history some fifteen years ago, encouraged by a select group of advisors including Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, and supported by the CSLA. While documents were of great importance, Ron explained to me that being a student of J.B. Jackson meant that to write about landscape, one needed to experience it physically. Thus, his research brought him to many sites in Canada in the ensuing years, with a draft of the first manuscript completed in French in 2007. A major structural edit was undertaken by the director of the Presses de l’Université de Montréal, as well as an initial thorough copyedit of the French text. The structure was set – a text of 24 chapters, which balanced cultural, geographical, historical, and professional aspects of the development of Canadian landscape.
Ron proceeded to complete a draft of the English text, writing it again without a translator, this time in his mother tongue. The torch was passed to McGill-Queen’s when a complete version of the English text was submitted for peer review in 2010. Much work was done to select and source illustrations, some of which were taken by the author himself and were culled over the course of many slideshows in the Press’s conference room. Others, particularly historical imagery, were acquired from a long list of institutions and individuals. The collaboration reached inwards as well, to Ron’s family, with wife Sachi collaborating on the text and son Dan creating the maps for the book. The proposed bilingual publication was supported by the Canada Council Assistance for the Promotion of Architecture Program, the CFHSS’s Award to Scholarly Publications Program, and the by the CSLA, through a research funding program run by the CSLA Foundation.
With the images in place, English and French texts were copyedited respectively by MQUP and PUM, and returned to the McGill-Queen’s production department, who oversaw the design of the both editions. While the degree of difficulty is not apparent when seeing one or the other edition in isolation, looking at both together, one notices that the design treatment delicately balances images and text such that all material printed in colour is identically placed in both texts. The book was delivered in time for a launch at the CSLA’s annual conference, held in Ottawa in 2014, and the CSLA has organized a cross-country speaking tour that takes Ron, this time with book in hand, back to many of the places visited when researching the book.
While the full extent of the support system that helped create the book is clear only from reading the acknowledgments, and though the list is particularly long here, in this sense, the book is akin to many others – close colleagues and a wide network of archives, libraries, and universities. What is different in kind in this case is the involvement of three different institutions – two presses and a sponsoring institution, the CSLA, which played a key role in initiating the project, supporting the publication financially and in publicizing the finished work – to create a bilingual national history of landscape architecture.
And for an interactive Google map of key landscape architecture sites mentioned in Williams’ book, click here.
Continue today’s Blog Tour theme with the following presses: