UCP News

A notable retirement, a reorganization of responsibilities, and two promotions—a new era at the University of Chicago Press


An era will pass on December 31st with the retirement of executive editor Doug Mitchell after forty-one years at the University of Chicago Press. During his tenure at Chicago, Doug has made an incalculable impact on several scholarly fields, including sexuality studies, sociology, history, and rhetoric. Doug began his publishing career in the college division of Scott, Foresman, then came to the Press in 1977. Some of Doug’s distinctive early acquisitions were books by the Annales historians, works in social and cultural theory, studies in the production of knowledge, and, most famously, the National Book Award–winning Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, by John Boswell. Boswell’s book became the spearhead for Doug’s field-defining list in sexuality studies. For his role in shaping and amplifying that field, Doug was honored in 1998 with a Lambda Literary Award. Doug also published important books in rhetoric and communication and drew on his musical gifts to bring Chicago a line of important books in jazz studies. Perhaps the greatest of Doug’s achievements was to build a community of sociologists linked by a love of culture, narrative, and first principles, for which the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction awarded him its coveted George Herbert Mead Award in 2004. As his author Robin Wagner-Pacifici said during a recent panel devoted to Doug’s work, Doug has always urged his authors “to think more broadly, more systematically, and more deeply—and in so doing is the very exemplar of an editor as intellectual companion and guide.”

With Doug’s retirement, we are pleased to announce that responsibility for Chicago’s distinguished sociology list will pass to senior editor Elizabeth Branch Dyson on January 1st. Elizabeth joined the Press in 2000 after earning her BA at Yale University and working for three years as a middle-school teacher. She was editorial assistant to David Brent (now retired) and Robert Devens (now at the University of Texas Press), then became a full-time acquisitions editor in 2007, sponsoring our lists in education (including sociology of education), philosophy, and ethnomusicology. Elizabeth will continue to acquire in education and ethnomusicology, with occasional forays into jazz studies.

Responsibility for Doug’s list in rhetoric and communication as well as our lists in philosophy and religious studies is passing to Kyle Wagner, who will be promoted to associate editor, effective January 1st. Kyle has been Doug’s close collaborator for the past four years, having begun at the Press as an editorial associate in 2014. Kyle holds a BA from Boston University and an MA from the UChicago Divinity School, where he also completed his course work toward a PhD in the history of Christianity. For the past year, as assistant editor, Kyle has been acquiring in religious studies while also supporting Doug’s acquisitions.

Also effective January 1st, editor Priya Nelson will assume responsibility for Chicago’s gender and sexuality studies list. Priya, who joined the Press in 2011 after earning her BA at the University of Chicago and MA in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, will continue also to be responsible for the Press’s lists in anthropology and history, including European history, world history, and the history of ideas).


Finally, we are pleased to announce Rachel Kelly Unger’s promotion to associate editor for the life sciences, geography, and cartography, effective December 10th. Rachel will thereby expand our acquisitions efforts in the sciences, collaborating with editor Scott Gast on Chicago’s list in ecology, evolution, animal behavior, marine biology, natural history, and related areas. Rachel, who holds a BA and BM from Oberlin College and Conservatory and an MA from Tufts University, joined the Press in June 2015 as an editorial associate and was promoted to assistant editor earlier this year with responsibility for geography and cartography. We are delighted now to have her among the ranks of our full-time acquisitions editors and poised to enrich Chicago’s distinguished science list.