Speaking Out

Penn Authors, Penn Books

Thank you for informing the University community (Almanac July 15) about the newest accomplishments of poet and author Dr. Susan Stewart, whose imminent arrival at SAS will enlarge an already outstanding faculty. I greatly appreciated your providing a complete listing of her publications, both poetry as well as scholarly works.

Seeing the photograph of her Yellow Stars and Ice reminded me, however, that many outstanding local authorsincluding alumni and faculty of Penn, as well as many authors published by Penn's own pressremain unrepresented at Van Pelt Library and at the University Bookstore. Stewart's poetry in particular, as well as much writing by women, appears to get short shrift at Penn. Although the MacArthur "genius" award recognizes the multifaceted abilities of Dr. Stewart, the Van Pelt Library has chosen to carry only her scholarly works; her poetry is found neither there nor at the Penn Book Store. Similarly, Christina Bacchilega's Postmodernist Fairy Tales (published by Penn Press) cannot be found at Van Pelt or at our school bookstore.

It is the outstanding folks at the independent Penn Book Center who seem often to pick up the slack in the neighborhood around our campus, and I have concerns that they be kept in our area as Wharton expands. The Book Center's inventory shows active support for our writing community: in addition to Yellow Stars and Ice they carry Stewart's The Forest, and one finds also the poetry of Penn alumnus and adjunct faculty member Deborah Burnham, to name only a few examples.

While it is interesting to compare the selections available at the Penn Book Store with those found at other Ivy League institutions (the Harvard COOP, for instance, carries not only a section devoted to local and faculty authors but also a special section of books published by the Harvard Press), I have an equal interest in learning whether anything is being done to keep current local vendors such as the Penn Book Center as an integral part of the administration's plans for retail expansion.

La Terrasse may satisfy the palate, but stores offering classical recordings and fine books clearly satisfy a deeper cultural need in University City.

Deborah Alexander, Secretary,
Consortium for Policy Research in Education, GSE

Ed. Note:

The Office of the Executive Vice President's Tom Lussenhop said in response to Ms. Alexander's letter that the University is "committed to working with existing retailers to create an attractive and unique campus retail environment; the Penn Book Center is an integral part of this environment."