University Press of Florida is pleased to introduce our new acquisitions editor for historical archaeology, Mary Puckett. Read our Q&A with Mary below. If you’d like to view our new books in the field, please visit our SHA Historical and Underwater Archaeology Book Sale.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I started working part-time at the press in 2017, while I was in graduate school. When I finished my degree, I was lucky enough to be hired to work full time in the marketing and sales department, where I learned a lot about publishing. I am so glad I got my start in that department because I am able to answer a lot of authors’ questions about sales and promotion, which can seem very mysterious to those who are new to the publishing process.
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to move to the press’s acquisitions department to work as an assistant. My mentors in acquisitions have taught me so much, and I learn more from working with them every day. Recently, I got to attend my first conference as acquiring editor, the Society for Historical Archaeology annual meeting, which was moved to a virtual format this year. One benefit to virtual conferences is that editors have the opportunity to sit in on panels and can schedule meetings afterwards. It was very exciting to hear about new archaeological research and listen to discussions on important topics for archaeologists in the current moment, like diversity and inclusion in the field.
How did you become interested in the field of historical archaeology?
I was an anthropology major as an undergrad, and although I did not pursue archaeology as a career, I’m glad that I have some background in it. My graduate degree is in the study of religion, and I was trained to think about how the material world can have spiritual meaning. Historical archaeologists also want to learn about the purpose of objects from the past, whether they were meant for everyday use or something more important.
What directions do you envision for the future of the UPF historical archaeology list?
I’m excited to see more archaeologists working from different perspectives, like Indigenous archaeology, African American studies, and disability studies. I would also like to broaden the scope of the historical archaeology list to publish more research from other parts of the world. It would also be fun to publish books on archaeology and religion, given my personal background.
What areas or topics are you looking for in book proposals?
Archaeological research from the perspectives I mentioned above—Indigenous archaeology, African American studies, disability studies—is really important. These are exciting directions in the field, and UPF wants to publish some of this research.
Any advice for those with a book idea who are thinking of submitting a proposal?
Probably the best place to start is UPF’s website (https://upf.com/submissionguidelines.asp), where there are some helpful guides on putting together a book proposal. Prospective authors are always welcome to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss their projects, too.
Any forthcoming books to look out for?
Negotiating Heritage Through Education and Archaeology: Colonialism, National Identity, and Resistance in Belize, by Alicia Ebbitt McGill is a great addition to UPF’s Cultural Heritage Studies series. McGill’s ethnographic research uncovers the different ways heritage as a concept has been used by the Belizean government to manage citizens and how marginalized identities have been kept alive despite these efforts.
The Archaeology of New Netherland: A World Built on Trade, edited by Craig Lukezic and John P. McCarthy, presents archaeological material from seventeenth-century settlements that reflect the influence of the Dutch empire in North America. Information about the artifacts discussed in this volume has not been widely available until now, and the artifacts were previously overlooked because they were hidden in urban and industrial regions today.
In your view, what’s a common misconception about academic publishing?
Before I started working at UPF, I didn’t realize that publishing a book is such a collaborative process. In acquisitions, we take a lot of time discussing our projects with one another. And we get important feedback from our colleagues in marketing, editorial, design, and production at almost every stage of a book, from proposal to publication. Our work would be impossible if we were siloed in our own departments.
If you have a book proposal in historical archaeology, feel free to get in touch with Mary here.