We're back with another profile of a Fortress team member! Meet Adam Bursi, editorial assistant for Fortress Press. Get to know his background as a researcher, how his publish experience influences his writing, and hear his thoughts on Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others.
I see from your LinkedIn profile that you have a lot of background as a researcher. How does your experience as a post-doctoral researcher inform what you do as an editorial assistant?
Working in research has given me a lot of experience with collecting, analyzing, and keeping track of disparate groups of sources and data. These skills have been useful in working with Fortress editors and other production specialists to help manage the multistep process of each book project moving from an initial proposal to an eventual finished book. I’ve also drawn upon my own experience translating complex research material into (hopefully) accessible writing when working with authors on revising their book manuscripts.
We have a lot of authors on the team, including you, Daniel, and Carey! Could you tell us a bit about your upcoming book and how it fits into the Advances in the Study of Islam series from Edinburgh University Press?
My book Traces of the Prophets: Relics and Sacred Spaces in Early Islam is about the contested importance of the relics and tombs of holy persons, especially prophets, in the early centuries of Islam. The book fits well into the Advances in the Study of Islam series with Edinburgh University Press through my focus on questions of materiality in religious practice and ritual, which is a vibrant direction that Religious Studies (and, increasingly, Islamic Studies) has taken in the last several years.
How has the experience you’ve gained in the publishing industry so far influenced your writing process, and how has your experience as an author influenced how you approach your work here at Fortress?
I’ll say that editing has made me a little bit less protective about my own writing, and more willing to “kill my darlings.” At the same time, I think my own writing experiences have given me empathy and understanding for the authors who are publishing their books with us. I know that an author’s writing can feel like their baby, and I want to help our authors produce the best version of their work possible in a way that also still feels true to themselves.
What is a piece of media you’ve consumed recently that has resonated with you? It can be a book, TV show, or movie. And why did it resonate with you?
A few months ago, I read Susan Sontag’s short book Regarding the Pain of Others, about photographs of war and other terrors, and how these kinds of images do (and don’t) help us access other people’s experiences throughout the world. The book came out in 2003, before social media integrated images like these even more into our daily lives, but I think the questions it provokes about the ethics and complications of producing and consuming such content are still very relevant today.