William Terry Couch and the Politics of Academic Publishing

An Editor’s Career as Lightning Rod for Controversy


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About the Book

William Terry Couch (1901–1988) began his four-decade publishing career building the University of North Carolina Press into one of the nation’s leading university presses. His editorial attacks on the social ills of the South earned him a reputation as a southern liberal. By the 1940s, his disaffection with New Deal politics turned him toward the right, resulting in his 1950 firing as director of the University of Chicago Press.
As a conservative, Couch sought books and articles that would sway general readers from what he saw as an intellectual torpor that accepted the growing role of government in American life. The liberals who controlled the presses found him dogmatic and irascible. When he tried to turn Collier’s Encyclopedia into a journal of conservative opinion, he was fired as editor in chief in 1959. He ended his career as publisher for the libertarian William Volker Fund, which collapsed in the 1960s under charges of Nazism.
Couch was committed to publishing as a social cause and strove to disturb American complacency. This is the first book-length biography of Couch—a publisher who brought academic scholarship to the reading public to effect social, political and economic change.

About the Author(s)

The late Orvin Lee Shiflett was a professor and chair of the Department of Library and Information Studies at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Bibliographic Details

Orvin Lee Shiflett
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 276
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9981-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2241-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vi
Introduction  1
1. A University Press in the South  7
2. Culture in the South  39
3. Books That Ought to Be Written  63
4. A Case History in Book Publishing  87
5. Objectivity and Social Science  117
6. The Sainted Book Burners  145
7. Do Intellectuals Have Minds?  164
8. The Human Potential for Modernism  193
9. The Word and the Rope  215
Chapter Notes  231
Bibliography  251
Index  260