Our friends over at Project MUSE have created a wonderful blog called Project MUSE Commons to highlight the amazing range of journals and books they make available to readers around the world. The Staff Spotlight feature, written by Alyssa Weinstein, has been a great introduction to some of the talented and dedicated colleagues who make MUSE such a highly-regarded member of the scholarly community. We are pleased to excerpt portions of three posts here, and we cordially invite you to read the full interviews and much more at Project MUSE Commons.
It’s not surprising that at a place like Project MUSE, the people who work here are as interesting as MUSE itself. We want our readers to get to know our people a little better. We start this new staff spotlight series with Michael Seidlinger, production specialist at MUSE. Michael is a writer and the owner and operator of an independent press.
1. What brought you to Project MUSE?
Dean Smith was a professor of mine while I was in the graduate publishing program at George Washington University. He was one of the few professors that I really connected with, frequently chatting about publishing goals, publishing trends, and so forth. I believe it was in November or December of last year, via the GW cohort Facebook group, that Dean posted about an opening at Muse. I applied and mentioned it to Dean, who told me that it was a wise move. Skip the interview process, the move to Baltimore, and the first day, week, month—here I am, at MUSE, happily part of the team.
2. We hear you are an author. What do you write?
Yeah, but I feel like most of us are authors in that we all carry along with us a suitcase full of stories, dreams, and aspirations, just waiting to be told. I feel like what an author, specifically a “published one,” does is cannibalize and curate those stories, the material that most of us hold dear, into some readable form. In that sense, I write fiction affected by experience, marked by memory. In another, more direct sense, I write surrealist fiction, mostly novels and novellas. I cannibalize all that I’ve felt and reuse those emotions, memories, and feelings as raw material for the page. I am both proud and ashamed of being a cannibal. And yet, I’m still doing just that—so I don’t know what that says about me.
3. Have any of your books made it to MUSE or been reviewed on MUSE?
Yes, and that was quite the surprise. A novel of mine called The Fun We’ve Had, which was published in May of 2014, was recently reviewed by a journal that publishes with MUSE—American Book Review. I still remember when I was zoned out, working as usual, headphones on, focus attuned to the computer screen, any other workday really, pushing the task at hand, when David, a fellow colleague and friend of mine, walked up and let me know that he was splitting/processing the review. Given that I had pretty much forgotten all about that book, and everything it took to make it a reality, I guess you could call that an amazing surprise, the stuff that could truly “make” a day.
The the entire interview here.
Project MUSE’s customer support coordinator, Lora Czarnowsky, is one of MUSE’s longest time staff members. What I bet you didn’t know is that, besides doing so much hard work here, she also volunteers, raised three awesome kids, and is very active in all of her communities. Keep reading to learn more about this awesome lady!
1. You have a very rich heritage. Tell us about it.
I come from a very mixed background, which is always fun. My family is of Irish, French, German and Native American ancestry. Growing up as a mixed race woman, I’ve been able to view life through different lenses. I would say I identify with my Native American roots most of all. I am what is known as Metis. Métis are people of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry, and one of the three recognized Aboriginal peoples in Canada. I grew up during some explosive times and got to witness a lot of this first hand. Realizing we have third world conditions within the United States truly opened my eyes.
2. What is your favorite Native American ritual?
It’s really not a ritual, but one of my favorite things is a good powwow. We come together as a community and offer prayers, sing, feel the heartbeat of the drum, and dance. It’s a time to feel like family again.
3. How have your roots helped to shape the way you see the world?
I have been to powwows across the country, spent time on Pine Ridge, and marched on Washington with AIM (the Native American Movement) and other groups. I have seen a people with great pride and big hearts fighting to save their culture. Native Americans are the forgotten minority. Our children have the highest suicide rates and that is because they have lost hope of a future. I have seen men Sun Dance till they collapsed as the entire community gathered to support their prayers. It’s hard not to be humbled when you see the real side of Native American life.
Read the entire interview here.
Steve Allen has been with Project MUSE for just about four years. He currently works in tech and is one of the more hilarious bloggers to appear on the Commons. See his post, “How Lincoln Drove Me Crazy.”
1. You just joined the tech team after being in production for three years. What is it like looking at MUSE from a totally different perspective?
The similarities are there. The job changes, but the little things all stay the same. Production has little issues with our systems that no one vocalizes because they don’t matter in the grand scheme, just like tech. As a weird hybrid-bridge person in the position of having recently transferred, I could identify some of these issues and try to find fixes. Production makes content go, and tech allows production to make content go. They’re still related, but on the tech side now, it’s less about making the content go and more about trying to help the people who actually do the work. It’s different, but with the same goal.
2. You have some really cool hobbies. Can you tell us about two of them and explain what got you into them and why you love them?
You know, “cool” is a really subjective word. And then to further clarify and categorize my hobbies as “REALLY cool” is . . . difficult to reconcile for me.
I paint miniatures and create landscaped tables on which one might play various war games. So “cool,” I think, is an impossibility, and “really cool” should be immediately thrown out the proverbial window, but I’m okay with my hobby being “different.” Different is way easier to justify.
I mean sure, I spent years honing a craft. That’s pretty cool. But wait, the downward slope begins. I have many, many tubes of acrylic paints and brushes of different sizes and shapes ranging from really small to “there are three fibers coming out of this fulcrum.”
I’ve spent maybe too long deciding on color schemes and the proper allocation of tones between cloth, skin, leather, and metallic surfaces, making sure I have enough contrast between layers while still retaining the unity of a theme. I’ve spent definitely too long cutting sections of solid foam insulation, sanding and texturing, then choosing the right equipment and products to create fantastical landscapes that look satisfying, but also allow dice to roll across unimpeded.
Also, I play Dungeons & Dragons and build all my computers at home. If I’m going to check the “plays tabletop war games” box on my nerd scorecard, I may as well check all of them.
3. Tell us about your pets.
Right now I have a corgi named Loki. He’s calmed down a lot from his puppy days, but is still way, way into Frisbees. He’s basically the best Frisbee retrieval device on the face of the Earth. No sentient being has come close to taking that title from him.
We had a border collie named Butters on loan for a while from my mother-in-law, but it wasn’t a good fit. Loki’s a one-dog-per-house kind of dog. The jealousy to fur ratio there is basically 3/1, and that guy has two coats of fur. They did the math, and it equated to “You pet me now, don’t even look at that border collie. I can smell you thinking about it and that’s terrible.”
Read the entire interview here.