The University of Virginia announced today the appointment of W. Ralph Eubanks as editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. As the editorial leader of the five-person staff, Eubanks will shape the content for the print and digital magazine, website and e-books and will provide creative direction to the organization. He will begin on June 3.
Eubanks is currently the director of publishing at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., where he has served since 1995.
“Ralph Eubanks is a gifted editor, acclaimed author and respected publishing industry leader,” Jon Parrish Peede, publisher of VQR, said. “We are fortunate to hire a seasoned editor with such enthusiasm for new technologies as well as a steadfast commitment to literature and exceptional journalism. Having come from the highest level of book culture, Ralph is devoted to creating works of permanence.”
As U.S. poet laureate and a VQR contributing editor, Natasha Trethewey said she is delighted with the selection. “A fine writer and scholar, Ralph Eubanks is the perfect editor to carry on the tradition of excellence at VQR,” she said. “I look forward to seeing his vision manifest in its pages.”
At the Library of Congress, Eubanks has managed the publication of more than 80 nonfiction books on American history, photography, maps and film in collaboration with leading trade publishers. Sharing VQR’s commitment to photography and photojournalism, Eubanks managed the recent publication of nine Farm Security Administration photography books in the library’s “Fields of Vision” series with introductions from contemporary authors such as Nicholas Lemann, George Packer, Francine Prose and Annie Proulx.
“Ralph has a deep understanding of how writers practice their craft,” said William R. Ferris, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. “He also knows how to shape the work of a writer. In his capacity as both an editor and an author, Ralph has witnessed the evolving landscape of book and magazine publishing. In response to those changes, he adopted an agile publishing model for the Library of Congress that changed and evolved with the needs of the market and readers.”
“VQR is an essential component of the University of Virginia’s commitment to bringing all disciplines together in an innovative way,” said Thomas C. Skalak, U.Va.’s vice president for research, whose office oversees VQR. “Ralph Eubanks has a clear sense of what makes VQR a great magazine – and the vision necessary to make it even better. He will also be a superb addition to the University community as a cultural leader.”
Eubanks said being named editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review is “both an honor and a challenge.”
“It is an honor because of the publication’s storied 88-year history, having published many of my personal literary heroes, like Eudora Welty, John Berryman and D.H. Lawrence,” he said. “It is a challenge because I will be editing a general interest magazine in the digital age.
“The distinct challenge of a general interest literary publication is to remain ‘general’ while carving out a recognizable niche in the marketplace. I believe that VQR should be a publication that publishes both timeless and contemporary content. The content must be substantive, not trendy, yet it must still reflect the times.”
In addition to his broad experience in the publishing industry, Eubanks is the author of two well-received memoirs, “Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past” (Basic Books, 2003) and “The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South” (HarperCollins, 2009; paperback, University Press of Mississippi, 2011). Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley named “Ever Is a Long Time” one of the best nonfiction books of the year. Regarding Eubanks’ second memoir, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Ford stated that it “enacts the liberating magic of literature: it finds its truth in between conventional wisdom and sociological presumption.”
In 2007, Eubanks was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and served as a Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow at Washington College in Chestertown, Md. The following year, he was a Bernard Schwartz Fellow at The New America Foundation. He has lectured at a number of institutions and serves on the advisory board of the Johns Hopkins University Press. He has published in the American Scholar, Chicago Tribune and Washington Post, and has reviewed books for National Public Radio. He holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Mississippi and an M.A. in English language and literature from the University of Michigan.
Eubanks has many ties to the University of Virginia. He served on the advisory board of the Publishing and Communications Program from 1993 to 2002 and taught several courses over eight years as an adjunct faculty member, including an overview of book, journal and magazine publishing. He served on the program committee for “Exploring the New Media,” a joint Library of Congress/U.Va. annual conference from 1994 to 2000.
Before joining the Library of Congress, he was director of the American Psychological Association book publishing program from 1990 to 1995, publishing 40 titles annually. From 1989 to 1990, he was managing editor of Hemisphere/Taylor & Francis, where he oversaw the editing of 48 book titles and 28 scholarly journals annually. From 1984 to 1989, he was manager of technical editing and journal production for nine American Psychological Association journals, including the American Psychologist.
In addition to naming Eubanks as editor, two other staff positions have been filled at the magazine in recent months. Paul Reyes, formerly of the Oxford American and Harper’s magazine, is now the deputy editor of VQR with focus on long-form journalism and narrative nonfiction. Allison Wright, who teaches in the media studies department in the University’s College of Arts & Sciences, has been named assistant editor with editorial and business affairs duties.
A magazine of current affairs, literature, history, criticism and long-form journalism, Virginia Quarterly Review has been published continuously since 1925 at the University. In the past decade, VQR has won six National Magazine Awards – more than any literary quarterly in the nation. VQR has also received Utne Independent Press Awards for General Excellence and International Coverage. Issues are available on newsstands nationwide and in Canada. For more information, visit the VQR website.