The University of Nebraska Press, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, is launching a new LGBTQ+ book series, Zero Street Fiction. Zero Street will focus on literary fiction and short story collections with commercial appeal written by LGBTQ+ authors and featuring LGBTQ+ characters and/or themes. The series will be edited by Timothy Schaffert, a professor of creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and S.J. Sindu, a professor of creative writing at the University of Toronto-Scarborough who holds an M.A. from UNL.
The series, Schaffert said, is “particularly interested in BIPOC authors, trans authors, and queer authors over 50,” its editors but intend to publish LGBTQ+ authors at all stages of their careers. The two scholars, who are also both critically-acclaimed novelists, will work on building the Zero Street list with Courtney Ochsner, an associate acquisitions editor at the press. There will be one or two releases in the series annually, and Schaffert anticipates acquiring Zero Street's debut title “within the year,” as a call for submissions has just been announced.
Schaffert says that he was inspired to launch Zero Street Books in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the University of Nebraska offering a course on homosexuality by an openly gay scholar. UNL was the nation’s first public institution of higher education to do so; in 1970, Louis Crompton, an English professor, offered an interdisciplinary course, called "Proseminar in Homophile Studies."
"It likely was the first course of its kind offered as part of a US university's regular course catalog, as opposed to part of special programming or experimental curriculum," Schaffert noted. "It was fully approved by the university, with a syllabus that covered literature, psychology, sociology, and other fields."
The series name, Zero Street, refers to Allen Ginsberg’s nickname for Lincoln’s “O” Street, in a poem he composed in 1966 while traveling to Nebraska for an on-campus reading.
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