Helper-Ferris Editorial Agency  
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About Laura Helper-Ferris, Ph.D.

y background combines broad academic training—in anthropology, American history, popular culture studies, and urban studies—with extensive experience in scholarly publishing and bookselling. In short, I know books.

have worked in a variety of in-house and freelance positions in the publishing world over the past twenty years:

  • As an editorial assistant in the acquisitions department at Cornell University Press I coordinated the review process and was apprenticed to an acquisitions editor.
  • At Memphis's independent Burke's Book Store I worked as a clerk and publicist.
  • As the marketing director at the University of Arkansas Press, I marketed, publicized, and distributed books.
  • As both an in-house employee and a freelancer, I have written jacket and catalog copy, made indexes, and written book reviews.
  • As a teacher, I have assigned academic books to both undergraduates and graduate students.
  • As a colleague, I have been reading and editing the work of friends and co-workers.
  • I have written a book myself. My book, under contract with Duke University Press and based on my dissertation, is an ethnography of race relations, urban change, and rock & roll in 1950s Memphis. Its working title is "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On."

y academic experience is both interdisciplinary and strong in specific areas. I earned an A.B. in English (with a minor in history) at Bryn Mawr College, an M.A. in cultural anthropology at Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at Rice University. A 12-month fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History funded my dissertation fieldwork.

y publishing and scholarly interests intersect: it is my commitment, training, and passion to honor individual voices, to explore ideas, to work democratically, to communicate clearly, and to produce good books.