At Rowland Hall, one of the opportunities we have is to work with faculty who also are involved in projects in academia. I interviewed Dr. Kogan, who is working on co-editing a book that explores the intersection between anti-slavery and disability activism in the modern era. He’s working with Dr. Dea Boster, at Columbus State Community College, and hoping to publish with the University of Illinois Press. The University is well-known for its Disability Histories series. With five books already published in the series, hopefully, Dr. Kogan and Dr. Boster’s new book will add to the collection. Their academic interests overlap on this topic; Dr. Boster focuses on disability history and slavery, where Dr. Kogan’s focus is on disability and abolition. Their book will include a range of articles, from ones about abolitionists like Benjamin Lay and Thaddeus Stevens, to ones on narratives from enslaved people. The book will cover all sorts of topics geographically and chronologically.
Dr. Kogan explained to me the process of collecting proposals for his anthology. Dr. Boster sent out emails with their Call for Papers (a document describing what the project was and the types of articles they were looking for). Surprisingly, the other major platform they used was Twitter; Dr. Kogan advertised this anthology to the “Twitterstorians.” Overall, they got 11 proposals although they only ended up taking around eight. Once the book gets approved, Dr. Kogan and Dr. Boster will work to figure out how these eight seemingly different topics work together and find the themes among them.
Since he hasn’t been an editor for a book before but has submitted articles to anthologies and journals, I asked Dr. Kogan what he found was different between writing articles and being an editor. He said it was “weird to be in a position of saying ‘no’” because they can only accept a certain number of articles. With writing articles, he said, you normally send out your work and hope it is accepted, but he’s had to learn how to say no nicely now that he has to turn people down. Additionally, when working on your own articles, you usually get “in the weeds” of your topic, but as an editor, you have to look at the big picture to figure out what unifies all the different articles to make a cohesive anthology. Lastly, Dr. Kogan said he enjoyed reading about topics he normally wouldn’t have knowledge of and seeing what different directions the writers take with the proposal.
Although Dr. Kogan hasn’t been able to incorporate aspects of this project into his teaching yet, he’s noticed some overlap between the two. He found that helping build the Sophomore Symposium schedule in past years—where he and Dr. Taylor tried to group similarly themed projects together—has helped him figure out how to make arguments that seemingly have nothing to do with each other logically connect; he called it a “fun challenge.” Additionally, I asked how he’s been able to balance school (especially with the added difficulty of the hybrid schedule) and this anthology. He said that so far in the process he and Dr. Boster haven’t had strict deadlines yet, but once they get the proposal accepted by the University of Illinois Press more deadlines will start to happen. He mentioned he is grateful to Dr. Boster for being flexible since the planning for the fall semester school-wise has required a lot of his attention as well. Despite the time commitment, Dr. Kogan said he was happy to get involved with the scholarly community and feel connected to emerging research and writing.
Dr. Kogan found three surprising things with this project. First, everyone involved in this project has been so genuinely interested. Additionally, he’s surprised by how long the process takes. Dr. Kogan has been an anonymous reviewer for a journal article before, but that’s only one small piece of the process. Through overseeing a whole project, he’s realized why scholarship usually moves slowly since it’s such a thorough process. Lastly, it’s exciting to see how many people are interested in Disability History and to learn about all the different interests and projects within a niche field. He specifically mentioned how he’s learned more about how people think about abolition within disability history outside of the U.S., like Canadian history, that usually doesn’t get as much press within the U.S. The diversity of qualifications of the authors has been surprising too and shows the inclusivity within the historian community. He and Dr. Boster got submissions from a range of institutions, from high school teachers and graduate students to tenured and non-tenured professors, which is exciting to see the diversity of people teaching these topics.
From here, Dr. Kogan and Dr. Boster will put together the anthology proposal and hopefully get official acceptance from the University of Illinois. After, they will go back to the authors who submitted article proposals and give them a deadline to write the articles. Dr. Boster and Dr. Kogan will give feedback on the articles as well as write the introduction that will frame the project and explain the themes within all the chapters. Then they will submit the anthology to the University of Illinois Press and it will go to print.