Among a certain breed of academic (and academia-adjacent) reader, Duke University Press holds an unswayable cachet. And in this tight, arch profile of Duke UP editor Ken Wissokur, Jennifer Wilson does the magazine version of what Wissokur does with his authors and their scholarly books: take something that sounds dreadfully dry, and make it perfectly not. If you’re waiting for hagiography, you won’t find it here.
Wissoker told me that he and Davidson had curated the apartment in the same way that he curates his relatively compressed slate of authors. “You wait until something is really good,” he explained, “rather than just go out and get a bunch of stuff.” He sees a connection between his editor’s intuition and his days as a hip-hop d.j. for his college station in Chicago in the nineteen-eighties. “It’s all about finding out where the sound is, where is it coming from,” he told me. “I like to say, ‘You go where the thinking is livest.’ ”