UW-Stevens Point faculty, students edit new edition of book on the Wisconsin Idea
For the City Times
STEVENS POINT — A new edition of a book that documents the beneficial relationship between Wisconsin and its universities has been published by Cornerstone Press at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“The Wisconsin Idea” by Charles McCarthy is the first in Cornerstone’s new Wisconsin Heritage Series. It was edited by Associate Professor Jeff Snowbarger and Assistant Professor Ross Tangedal of UW-Stevens Point’s English Department, with the assistance of five students – Lindsey Bundgaard, Baldwin; Amanda Greenthal, West Allis; Madeline Swanger, Slinger; Monica Swinick, Minneapolis, Minn.; and Rachel Zach, Stevens Point.
“We thought it would be timely to look at the Wisconsin Idea and its beginnings,” said Tangedal. “This book will help communities understand the Wisconsin Idea and why it is important for the future of our state.”
McCarthy, the chief librarian for the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library, originally published the book in 1912 to document how university faculty influenced and worked with legislators to create state policies and laws. Publicly regulated utilities, public land use and innovations in the dairy industry are among the concepts rooted in university expertise and the Wisconsin Idea, Tangedal said.
“The idea is that the boundaries of the university are the boundaries of the state,” said Tangedal. “This book itself is a representation of the Wisconsin Idea, as this second edition is the result of work by university faculty and students.”
In the works since last spring, the new edition includes annotations researched and compiled by Cornerstone Press student assistant editors. For example, a mention of Senator Robert La Follette in the text is annotated to provide contemporary readers with a brief history of his time in Congress, as Wisconsin’s governor and as a political reformer. Students also helped with the book’s layout and cover design.
While it includes new notes, a foreword and afterword, the book features the original text reset using a digitized transcription prepared by the Wisconsin Electronic Reader, a project of the University of Wisconsin General Library System and the Wisconsin Historical Society. It is now on sale through Amazon.com and on the Cornerstone Press website, www.uwsp.edu/english/cornerstone.
Cornerstone Press will hold an official book launch in the fall and is also planning a fundraiser to help get it into libraries across Wisconsin. As an important historical document that includes an introduction by President Teddy Roosevelt and chronicles the state’s progressive movement, the book deserved preservation through a new edition, Tangedal said.
Work has already begun on researching the second book for the Wisconsin Heritage series.
“We hope to find texts relevant to the state that connect to the state’s history for a new audience,” said Tangedal. “We are excited to find older Wisconsin texts and give them a fresh take, from fiction to nonfiction to essays.”
Established in 1984, Cornerstone Press consists of students in the Editing and Publishing courses offered each semester at UW-Stevens Point. Students have hands-on experiences in all aspects of publishing, from editing to marketing the finished product. It is the only press of its kind in the University of Wisconsin system, and one of four undergraduate, student-staffed presses in the United States. It operates with the support of the English Department and is directed and taught by Tangedal.