In July 2019, I became the Film Section Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, shepherding essays from initial conception to publication. When commissioning and revising work, I look for a clear and novel argument, a keen attention to the “why now?” of the subject matter, and a precise prose style that engages the reader from the opening line. The ideal LARB Film essay functions like a “tiny house” — an economical work that contains all the nifty features and insights of a lengthy academic article or work of long-form journalism. One of the trickiest parts of writing for LARB Film is acknowledging a scholarly or specialist readership while remaining accessible to the educated non-expert; I am happy to help writers in balancing these needs in producing a polished finished product. Writers, one and all: I cannot recommend Helen Sword’s 2012 Stylish Academic Writing highly enough.
With Maggie Hennefeld and Michael Rennett, I co-edited “In Focus: What’s So Funny About Comedy and Humor Studies?” for the Spring 2019 issue of the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. This curated collection of articles looks at comedy as “having a crucial bearing on every aspect of contemporary life”: composed of artifacts from an inaccessible past, serving as a vehicle for politics both destructive and hopeful, and constituting a field of study worth passing on to the next generation of critics and artists.
I have lent editorial support to colleagues and professionals whose work went on to be published in Feminist Media Histories, the International Documentary Association, and Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society.
“What makes Annie such an effective editor is her ability to both consider the big picture argument and stakes of an article as well as the mechanics of how individual sections of the piece work together in complementary fashion. This is especially important for interdisciplinary projects that draw from cinema and media studies, American studies, and communication. Throughout the revision process, Annie offered constructive suggestions on the page and ideas for additional primary and secondary sources to consult. She also has an incredibly sharp eye for catching everything from typos to repetitious phrasing, idiosyncratic spelling, and formatting inconsistencies.”
Joshua Glick, Assistant Professor of English and Film & Media Studies, Hendrix College. Author of Los Angeles Documentary and the Production of Public History, 1958-1977 (University of California Press, 2018).
“Annie Berke is a brilliant scholar, a seriously incisive editor, a hilarious feminist comedian, and a deeply generous and energetic colleague. I’m proud to say I’ve had extensive opportunities to work with her: we co-chaired the “Comedy and Humor Studies” Scholarly Interest Group and we co-edited a journal issue section on the same topic, both for the Society of Cinema & Media Studies. We’ve edited each other’s articles for various venues, and it’s always been a profoundly enjoyable and rigorously inspiring experience. She is the future of the field and a delightful human being.”
Maggie Hennefeld, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at University of Minnesota. Author of Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes (Columbia University Press, 2018).
“Working with Annie was a pleasure. Her editorial feedback was the best kind: not just insightful and efficient but the generous kind that motivates you to rethink some of your choices–and realize she’s right! As an editor myself (of New Review of Film and Television Studies for the past 4 years) I admire her skills immensely. I hope we get to collaborate again soon.”
Kyle Stevens, Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Appalachian State University. Author of Mike Nichols: Sex, Language, and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism (Oxford University Press, 2015).
Annie Berke is everything you would want in an editor: clear, generous, incisive, detail-oriented and bold. Often in an essay, there are those places where you bury your main idea because it’s not yet clear to you; you over-quote because you’re too lazy to paraphrase; and your ending falls flat but you can’t figure out how to make it sizzle. Annie steps in, shakes the essay out, reads it with a fresh eye and zeroes in on all those weak spots. And then she does it again, working through the polished draft to help the piece shine even more. The result, for me, has been writing that I couldn’t have gotten to alone, and a process that feels enjoyable and empowering. I wish every piece I write could cross her desk before moving out into the world!
Holly Willis, Professor of Cinematic Arts and Chair of the Media Arts + Practice Division at University of Southern California. Author of Fast Forward: The Future(s) of the Cinematic Arts and New Digital Cinema: Reinventing the Moving Image.
I’ve worked with a lot of editors over the years, at magazines like The Atlantic and Written By, as well as academic and trade presses, and Annie is the best editor I’ve ever had. She found my argument when I couldn’t, and she pushed me to take a deeper approach even as she buffed and polished what I thought were already good sentences. Annie is a big-picture thinker who has a poet’s ear for rhythm and a jeweler’s eye for flaws.
I’m very pleased and proud of my essay, and I owe much of that to Annie, a super-smart and professional editor who also conveys genuine warmth. She is a dream to work with.
Nancy West, Professor of English and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Missouri.
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