Meet the University of Utah Press’s: Acquisitions Editors

by Da Quanisha Parks

At the University of Utah Press, we want to celebrate 75 years by honoring our current Acquisitions Editors for all the work they do. In this post, you will get to know Jedediah Rogers and Justin Bracken and learn a little bit about how they are able to bring their personal and professional love of books to the table. Stay up to date with our upcoming conferences and author events to meet our acquisitions editors in person.

Get to know Justin Bracken

“I joined the University of Utah Press as the Acquisitions Editor for Archaeology and Anthropology at the start of 2022, following completion of my doctorate in Maya archaeology at the Graduate Center, CUNY, the year before. My dissertation investigated warfare and fortification among early complex Maya society through fieldwork at the site of Muralla de León in northern Guatemala. Born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, I obtained my bachelors degree from the University of Pennsylvania and stuck around Philadelphia for a few years before moving to Brooklyn, NY, for graduate work. I have been in Salt Lake City since late 2020.”

“I had to include at least one book here that I worked on, and though it was not an easy decision I think this title is the best choice. I worked closely with the three editors, who are wonderful, throughout the process, and I am very proud of the result, as they should of course be as well. The book is just coming out now, and provides a much-needed overview of the current state of research into these projectile points, perhaps the most robust line of evidence we have into the earliest human occupants of this continent. The editors did an excellent job both in their own research on the topic as well as bringing together an impressive list of contributors, all well-established and highly trusted experts on these lithic technologies. The book is beautifully put together, and I expect that it will garner a lot of positive attention from a wide range of scholars.”

“I like this book for several reasons. First, it provides an intellectual history of the study of archaeology in the Southwest without being dry as a bone. The second point builds on the first: Lekson successfully injects his own voice into the writing, inserting his thoughts and opinions amid an accurate retelling of the past and making for a more vibrant read that also captures some of the more human details often left out of a work like this one. Third, while it is not a book for everyone (and to be fair, no book is for everyone), it brings the information in front of a new audience that otherwise might not engage at all. And fourth, while some may take exception to the style or some of the assertions, any controversy around those matters is positive, in my opinion, as it sparks debate over matters that otherwise would likely be ignored but are important. I wish more academics could develop a writing style that successfully engages a wider audience in matters that tend to stay within small groups of a discipline, as Lekson has done here.”

Simple black book cover with bright blue font reading

“This title is far less splashy than my first choice, and to me speaks to the fundamentally solid archaeological literature that I am proud to publish here at the Press. I referenced this book somewhat heavily as I was working on my dissertation, which I am sure is a big reason it resonates with me. Though it was published fourteen years ago and deals with a topic that is constantly evolving, the book still provides solid insights relevant today on a number of aspects of least cost modeling. Books like this one, including volumes within our University of Utah Anthropological Papers series, are an excellent resource for archaeological scholars seeking methodological and theoretical guidance as well as detailed data sets.”

Get to know Jedediah Rogers

“I am an environmental and public historian of modern America with interests in the intersection of land and community in the American West. My PhD is in American history from Arizona State University. I am author of Roads in the Wilderness: Conflict in Canyon Country (2013) and coeditor of The Earth Will Appear as the Garden of Eden: Essays on Mormon Environmental History (2019), as well as two volumes on documentary history. Formerly I served as coeditor of Utah Historical Quarterly and a senior state historian at the Utah Historical Society.”

First Peoples of Great Salt Lake is the first volume appearing in a series I co-edited before joining the press. No other book comes close to introducing so well the hundreds of generations of people who made the Great Salt Lake and its region home—a deep history made vivid through beautiful prose.”

Outline of rock formations at Bear Ears National Park

 Juanita Brooks Best Book in Utah History (Finalist)

Bears Ears is about a region I know well and yet surprised me on every page. Gulliford knows how to tell compelling stories, immersing readers in a region rich in human history and only recently prominent in the national consciousness.”

Book cover of dirt road traversing a portion of the Colorado Plateau

Winner of the Wallace Stegner Prize in American Environmental or Western History

Roads in the Wilderness was my attempt to understand the historical roots of modern environmental conflict on the Colorado Plateau”

What do you like about working at the press or with books?

Jedediah Rogers

“I love the old-fashioned tactile feel of a book. I’m driven by the satisfaction of writing my own books and working with authors on their own creations. Having two of my books published by Utah prior to my arrival at the press, I feel a strong affinity for the University of Utah Press’ history, catalog, and staff. We are engaged in honorable work: the books our authors write and that we have the opportunity to publish contribute to our understanding of Utah, the Intermountain West, and the world. At the press I acquire works of western and Utah history, Mormon and religious studies, environmental and sustainability studies, creative nonfiction, guide books, and other regional titles. I’m particularly interested in seeking and publishing manuscripts that contribute to ongoing discussions about issues of contemporary import.”

Justin Bracken

“I have always been an avid reader, fascinated by the elegance of effective communication along with its pitfalls. In this role as acquisitions editor, the opportunity to work with authors to express their ideas in the most clear and effective manner has opened an entire new world to me, in which I am able to engage directly with top scholars in the field on investigations across a broad swath of regions and topics. Assembling a book I can take pride in requires no small amount of effort, but there is nothing more satisfying than leafing through the printed copy once it has been published.”

What do you love about Utah or the University of Utah?

Jedediah Rogers

“I’m a proud father to two now young men as tall as I am. I’m a big fan of museums and galleries, coffee shops, Stoicism, and long walks. An avid trail runner, my heart lies in the Wasatch Mountains and in the town of Bluff where one day I hope to raise chickens. I’m working, slowly, on an environmental history of the Great Salt Lake.”

Justin Bracken

“Outside of the office, I spend my free time with my wife, our twins, and our loyal hound dogs Jeremy and Clark. I enjoy skiing and hiking the mountains around Utah as well, along with playing tennis and riding my bike.”

Follow The University of Utah Press on YouTube

Join editors John W. (Jack) Ives and Joel Janetski as they discuss their book Holes in Our Moccasins, Holes in Our Stories: Apachean Origins and the Promontory, Franktown, and Dismal Rive Archaeological Records. Joining them are contributors Gabriel Yanicki, Jessica Metcalfe, and Edward Jolie.

Virtual Book Event Hosted by Justin Bracken

Read more about the book here:

Da Quanisha Parks currently works for the University of Utah Press as a graduate research assistant for marketing while earning an MS in Environmental Humanities.

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