Seed Grant Summer 2021 Report

Submitted by Kate Birdsall

The Cube

The Cube, in its role as the only publishing nexus of its kind at MSU, currently has three distinct operational wings that provide significant experiential learning, mentorship, and professional development opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. In its second operational wing, The Cube’s director, graduate assistant, and paid undergraduate interns review new proposed projects, accept or reject them based on budgetary constraints and funding (provided by clients, grants, or other internal support, e.g. special project for XA), direct them, and scaffold them.

Due to limited internal funding, The Cube often pays undergraduate interns to work on limited-run projects, such as The REO Town Reading Series Anthology and the website redesign for The Red Cedar Review, with grant funding. As has been the case with projects past, Superheroes Die in the Summer’s final iteration will be made possible with the generous support of DH@MSU.

The Project

Dr. Tamar Boyadjian, Associate Professor of English and one of three translators from Western Armenian to English in the world, approached The Cube about supporting a translation of Christian Batikian’s Superheroes Die in the Summer, an experimental text that narrates the daily lives of children from different cultural backgrounds who live in Istanbul and share an interest in American comic books and their heroes—stories that become reflections of future fantasy, sexual adventures, and their current reality. At the same time, the book individualizes the lives of superheroes within the complicated relationships of Armenians, Kurds, and Turks living in Istanbul in the twenty-first century. The bildungsroman further complicates the intersections of childhood, memory, and identity through the lens and language of Western Armenian— currently on the UNESCO list of endangered languages.

We initially edited, designed, and wrote notes for the translation in my SS21 Community Publishing class, but substantial work remained to bring to life the vision that Dr. Boyadjian and I envisioned, namely:

  • meeting with copyright experts to determine whether Superheroes is a fair-use case (it is);
  • finalizing all editorial decisions to be consistent with the intention of the original text while being accessible to an English-speaking audience;
  • proofreading the final edits;
  • developing graphics for the website and printed edition, including back cover art; 
  • wireframing, building, and testing usability for the website; and
  • typesetting the original Western Armenian and the English translation side-by-side in InDesign.

The grant that we received enabled all of the above to happen.

The Future

As of the time of this writing, we are working on finishing touches before purchasing a domain and taking the website public. Still left to complete are

  • the final proofread of the book layout;
  • final margins on the book layout;
  • adding our masthead and branding to the book layout;
  • refining the website for use with different browsers and on mobile; and 
  • a final accessibility audit of the website.

The in-progress site can be viewed here.

The Staff

I would like to thank the following people for their dedication and hard work on this project:

  • Mitch Carr, DRPW (MA 2022), Project Assistant
  • Sydney Wilson, Professional and Public Writing (BA 2021), Editing and Proofreading
  • Grace Houdek, Graphic Design (BA 2022), Graphic Designer
  • Ethan Kolderman, Experience Architecture (BA 2022), Web Developer
  • The students in my SS21 Community Publishing class: Charlotte Bachelor, Iliana Cosme-Brooks, Peyton Frederickson, Kira Ginter, Jarett Greenstein, Naomi Johnson, Noelle Oman, and Mai Vang.