The University of Nebraska Press, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, is launching a new LGBTQ+ book series, Zero Street Fiction. Zero Street will focus on literary fiction and commercially appealing short story collections written by LGBTQ+ authors and featuring LGBTQ+ characters and/or themes. The series will be edited by Timothy Schaffert, professor of creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and SJ Sindu, professor of creative writing at the University of Toronto-Scarborough, who holds a master’s degree from UNL.
The series, Schaffert said, is “particularly interested in BIPOC authors, trans authors and queer authors over 50,” its editors, but intends to publish LGBTQ+ authors at all stages of their careers. career. The two scholars, who are also critically acclaimed novelists, will work to build the Zero Street list with Courtney Ochsner, Associate Press Acquisitions Editor. There will be one or two releases in the series each year, and Schaffert expects to pick up Zero Street’s first title “within a year” as a call for entries has just been announced.
Schaffert says he was inspired to start 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 first public institution of higher education in the country to do so; in 1970, Louis Crompton, an English teacher, offered an interdisciplinary course, called “Proseminar in Homophile Studies”.
“This was probably the first such course offered as part of an American university’s regular course catalog, as opposed to part of a special program or experimental program,” Schaffert noted. “It was fully approved by the university, with a curriculum that covered literature, psychology, sociology and other areas.”
The name of the series, 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 a campus reading.
University of Nebraska credential is commercially distributed by Longleaf Services.