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Archive for December, 2010

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Hillary Chute, Lynda Barry, Ben Katchor and Others on the Art of the Graphic Novel

Earlier this month Hillary Chute, author of Graphic Women: Life Narratives and Contemporary Comics participated on a panel at the Philoctetes Center with Lynda Barry, N.C. Christopher Couch, Ben Katchor, and Françoise Mouly on the art of the graphic novel.

The panelists discusses such issues as why is there such enthusiasm about comics in our current moment, and where is the form headed? What can this intricate, double-tracked narrative form, composed of words and images, bring to journalism, or to memoir, or to the art of fiction? How are politics and aesthetics intertwined in comics, and how are popular and so-called high cultures melded in the form?

Here is the video:

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

New Book Tuesday — Gramsci!

The following books are now available:

Prison Notebooks, Volume 1 (now available in paper)
Antonio Gramsci

Prison Notebooks, Volume 2 (now available in paper)
Antonio Gramsci

Prison Notebooks, Volume 3 (now available in paper)
Antonio Gramsci

The Invention of International Relations Theory: Realism, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the 1954 Conference on Theory
Edited by Nicolas Guilhot

Monday, December 20th, 2010

David Foster Wallace: Brief Interviews with Philosophy Students, Part II

David Foster Wallace, Fate, Time, and LanguageIn conjunction with the publication of David Foster Wallace’s undergraduate thesis, Maureen Eckert, coeditor of Fate, Time, and Language, interviewed two contemporary philosophy students whose first exposure to the work of David Foster Wallace came through his philosophical work. These interviews reveal Wallace as a philosopher first and explore the nature of logical philosophy and the relevance, rigor, and success of Wallace’s philosophical work.

This second set of interviews is with Mike Wein and covered three aspects of Wallace’s philosophical work (for the first set of interviews with Lindsay Miller) :

Art and Modality

Logic and Philosophy

David Foster Wallace as Philosopher and Writer

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Interview with Sheldon Krimsky and Tania Simoncelli, authors of Genetic Justice

Leonard Lopate’s show on WNYC includes a weekly future “Underreported,” which looks at issues that are often relegated to the back of the newspaper.

The latest installment focused on the use of forensic DNA databanks by law enforcement has exploded since the mid 1990s. The show examined the implications widespread stockpiling of genetic information has for criminal investigations and civil liberties by interviewing Sheldon Krimsky and former ACLU science advisor Tania Simoncelli, co-authors of the book Genetic Justice: DNA Data Banks, Criminal Investigations, and Civil Liberties.

Listen here:

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

The Afterlife of Sayyid Qutb

Qutb

Marc Lynch recently praised John Calvert’s Sayyid Qutb and the Origins of Radical Islamism, calling it one of the best books of the year in The Atlantic and Foreign Policy.

John Calvert himself recently contributed an essay to the Foreign Policy site, The afterlife of Sayyid Qutb. In it, Calvert discusses the way that the Muslim Brotherhood continues to invoke the example of Qutb, who is considered a pivotal figure in the evolution of radical Islamism. However, conservatives and reformers within the movement see Qutb’s legacy and implications in very different ways. Calvert writes, “Muslim Brothers will continue to evoke Qutb, either as a model to be followed, or as an avatar of dangerous and outmoded thinking.”

The current conservative leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood have “evoked Qutb’s legacy in order to shore up the spiritual, intellectual and organizational strength of the movement.” Calvert asks:

Why has the Muslim Brotherhood’s new leadership made a point of bringing to the fore aspects of Qutb’s ideology? What aspects of Sayyid Qutb’s discourse do they find appealing and/or politically useful? It seems that the conservatives are interested in Qutb’s emphasis on shoring up the spiritual, intellectual and organizational strength of Muslims. Reviewing the recent history of the Brotherhood, they see that the reformers’ efforts to work within the system, contest elections and move Brotherhood thought in a more liberal direction has only led to crackdowns by the state. The time is ripe, conservatives say, to affect a tactical withdrawal. Not a hijra – or migration — to remote places, but a strengthening of the Muslim Brotherhood’s core values, which the reformers have compromised though their accommodations.

(more…)

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Year-End Accolades for Smart Growth by Edward Hess

Smart Growth: Buidling an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of GrowthSmart Growth: Building an Enduring Business by Managing the Risks of Growth, by Edward Hess has been receiving a variety of year-end accolades. Inc. Magazine listed it as one of the year’s best for business owners. In recommending the book, Bo Burlingham wrote:

The definitive rebuttal to the myth of “grow or die.” Professor Hess’s examples in Smart Growth come mainly from public companies, but his insights, conclusions, and advice apply equally to privately owned businesses of all shapes and sizes.

The book was also selected one of The top 10 business reads of 2010 by the Toronto Globe and Mail, which wrote:

[Hess] debunks the prevailing belief, inspired by Wall Street, that companies must grow or die. He shows how rare it is for companies to continually grow, and offers a more sensible, nuanced approach, based on a thoughtful, detailed consideration of what type of growth is best for your company.

(more…)

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Steven Cahn on the Philosophy of David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace
Matt Bucher, the administrator of wallace-l, the David Foster Wallace listserv, and the publisher of two books on Wallace’s work interviews Steven Cahn, a student of Richard Taylor, a voice in the debate on fatalism, and a coeditor of Fate, Time, and Language.

The interview is part of our special feature, The Philosophy of David Foster Wallace: Context and Conversation.

Matt Bucher: When did you first become aware of Wallace’s thesis?

Steven Cahn: I became aware of Wallace’s paper in 2008, when Maureen Eckert told me about it.

MB:  How often do undergraduates produce work that ends up being read by contemporary philosophers, even in—or especially in—an area like modal logic?

SC:  Such an occurrence is highly unusual although not unprecedented.

MB: Do you personally believe Wallace’s system was inconclusive in disproving some of “Fatalism’s” presuppositions?

SC: I find it provocative but inconclusive.

(more…)

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

An Open Letter to President Obama

A few Columbia University Press / Hurst authors, including Gilles Dorronsoro, Antonio Giustozzi, Felix Kuehn, Alex Strick van Linschoten, joined other academics, experts, and members of NGOs who have worked in Afghanistan, to protest Obama’s policy in Afghanistan. You can read the entire letter here.

The authors of the letter write:

Today we are deeply worried about the current course of the war and the lack of credible scenarios for the future. The cost of the war is now over $120 billion per year for the United States alone. This is unsustainable in the long run. In addition, human losses are increasing. Over 680 soldiers from the international coalition – along with hundreds of Afghans – have died this year in Afghanistan, and the year is not yet over. We appeal to you to use the unparalleled resources and influence which the United States now brings to bear in Afghanistan to achieve that longed-for peace.

They go on to call on the United States to broaden negotiations:

The United States must take the initiative to start negotiations with the insurgents and frame the discussion in such a way that American security interests are taken into account. In addition, from the point of view of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable populations – women and ethnic minorities, for instance – as well as with respect to the limited but real gains made since 2001, it is better to negotiate now rather than later, since the Taliban will likely be stronger next year. This is why we ask you to sanction and support a direct dialogue and negotiation with the Afghan Taliban leadership residing in Pakistan. A ceasefire and the return of the insurgency leadership in Afghanistan could be part of a de-escalation process leading to a coalition government. Without any chance for a military victory, the current policy will put the United States in a very difficult position.

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Slavery, the bottom line: An interview with Siddharth Kara

Siddharth KaraIn an interview with The Boston Globe, Siddharth Kara, author of Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, explains why understanding sex trafficking as an economic issue is crucial to its eradication.

Whereas a leading industry like Google has a profit margin of 30 percent, modern sex trafficking has one of 70 percent. Like any other business, Kara argues, sex trafficking succeeds by minimizing or eliminating labor costs. Kara elaborates on the business model of slavery:

The business model contains three essential steps: acquisition, movement, and exploitation. Sex trafficking is probably the most profitable form of slavery the world has ever seen, in that you can acquire or transport someone for a few hundred dollars, maybe a couple thousand dollars, and generate tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands….That’s the essential functioning and logic of the business model: low cost and risk to transport the slave, and immense profitability on the exploitation side.

(more…)

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

New Book Tuesday

Stephen PenmanThe following books are now available:

Accounting for Value
Stephen Penman

Holy Ignorance: When Religion and Culture Part Ways
Olivier Roy

Monday, December 13th, 2010

China’s Nobel Prize Complex, Circa 1946 — An Op-ed by Christopher Rea

Humans, Beasts, and GhostsIn the Toronto Star, Christopher Rea the editor of Humans, Beasts, and Ghosts: Stories and Essays, by Qian Zhongshu, discusses prescient fictional works that speak to China’s recent reaction to Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize.

In the 1946 “Inspiration,” Qian tells the story of a Chinese writer whose work is translated into Esperanto, so he can be eligible for the Nobel Prize. He fails to win which “plunges the entire Chinese population into a righteous wrath.” Rea argues thaat Qian’s satirical story points to China’s longstanding skepticism, if not animosity toward the Nobel.

Rea concludes by writing:

China’s Nobel Complex seems to be alive and well. As the Chinese government tries to extend its “soft power” through Confucius Institutes in foreign countries….

What is often obscured by the spectacle of an angry China, however, is that the indignation is not, and never was, shared by all of its citizens. Nor, as Qian’s story reveals, does the problem originate with the Chinese Communist party, which has done so much to exacerbate cultural chauvinism. The roots of the problem are deeper than politics, even if they are readily ascribed to that most superficial of clichés about China: face.

Friday, December 10th, 2010

University Press blog wrap-up

To showcase the richness of university press publishing, every so often we like to highlight interesting and provocative items from other university press blogs. Apologies for those we did not include in this installment (see the blog roll for other press blogs).

Duke University Press features a video of Krista Comer discussing her book Surfer Girls in the New World.

Remembering Pearl Harbor on the Fordham University Press blog.

Some very good gift suggestions from the Harvard University Press blog.

A video documents the first ten years of Indiana University Press as part of their 60th anniversary.

The New York University Press blog takes on the breastfeeding battle.

Elvin Lim, author of The Anti-Intellectual Presidency on “WikiLeaks, Anarchism, and the State,” on the Oxford University Press blog.

“The Euro at Mid-Crisis,” by Kenneth Rogoff via the Princeton University Press blog.

A podcast with Rebecca Solnit, author of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas and the University of California Press art director, Lia Tjandra on the University of California Press blog.

A fascinating conversation between W. J. T. Mitchell and Tzvetan Todorov on the University of Chicago Press blog.

The depiction of the South on reality television on the University of North Carolina Press blog.

12 days of giveaways on The University Press of Kentucky blog.

The University of Minnesota Press blog has a great series of interviews in conjunction with their new book series relating to Quadrant a new initiative to foster collaborative scholarship and revolutionize interdisciplinary publishing.

“Notes from a Native New Yorker: Landmark of the Spirit,” from the Yale University Press blog.

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Gift Ideas and Holiday Sale Reminder

Here are some gift ideas for the various people in your life. Please remember these and all other books are currently 30% off during our Holiday Sale. Please use the coupon code CUP30. (Click here for more details):

For the novel reader: The Novelist’s Lexicon: Writers on the Words That Define Their Work, edited by Villa Gillet and Le Monde

For the aspiring novelist: The Preparation of the Novel: Lecture Courses and Seminars at the College de France, by Roland Barthes

For the DFW devotee: Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, by David Foster Wallace

Instead of a New Yorker subscription: The Best American Magazine Writing 2010, edited by the American Magazine Society of Editors

For the New York City (history) lover: When Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green?: And 101 Other Questions about New York City, The Staff of the New-York Historical Society Library

For the opera lover: Gilbert and Sullivan: Gender, Genre, and Parody, by Carolyn Williams

For the graphic reader: Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics, by Hillary Chute.

For the reader of the New York Times, but not just the words: All the Art That’s Fit to Print (And Some That Wasn’t): Inside the New York Times Op-Ed Page, by Jerelle Kraus

For the watcher of the Weather Channel: Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, by James Fleming

Tomato!: Pomodoro: A History of the Tomato in Italy, by David Gentilcore

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Winter Office Cleanup Contest — Free Books!

The Contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone for participating and congratulations to the winners.

As you can imagine, as a book publishing company, we’ve got quite a lot of book lovers working here. And they collect books in their offices — a lot of great books. We’re doing a big cleanup in our offices this week and we’d like to share our excess of books with you in our Winter Office Cleanup Contest.

The first 17 people to email their name and mailing address to cup_publicity@columbia.edu will win a free box of books from Columbia University Press.

The fine print:

Books are “as is”, and might be missing jackets or have slight damage to the cover or pages, but we tried not to include any with damage that would make them unreadable. Each box contains approximately 20 pounds of books, and can be titles in a range of subject areas and new or older titles, though we made sure to include only one copy of a title in a box.

Books can only be shipped to a U.S. or Canadian address, no PO boxes.

The contest is not open to employees of Columbia University Press or Perseus Distribution, or their families.

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

On the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor: A Post by Greg Robinson

Greg Robinson, A Tragedy of DemocracyThe following is a post, published last year, is by Greg Robinson, author of A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America, now available in paper.

December 7 remains, as Franklin Roosevelt predicted, a date that lives in infamy. It merits this title, though, not just as the anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, but also as the onset of military dictatorship in the United States. Martial law in wartime Hawaii, then a U.S. territory, represents the only case in modern American history where a civilian government was overthrown by Army commanders. Despite repeated promises to restore democratic rule, military governors held arbitrary power for three years, long after any threat from Japan had passed, and justified its actions by racism against Japanese Americans.

While martial law in Hawaii came about in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Army’s actions were not simply a response to it. Rather, during fall 1941 the Hawaii Defense Act was passed into law, with the support of the Army and Navy, precisely in order to avoid martial law. The law granted the governor broad powers in case of war, but protected constitutional rights. On December 7, once news came of the Japanese bombing, Governor John Poindexter invoked the Act. Soon after, Commanding General Walter Short visited Poindexter and presented him with a proclamation that the governor had never seen. It granted the military all powers exercised by all “employees of the territory” for a period covering “the emergency and until danger of invasion is removed”. Short insisted that he only needed such authority for “a relatively short time,” and then threatened to take power unilaterally. Poindexter reluctantly signed, and Short immediately declared himself “military governor” and suspended Hawaii’s constitution.

Military rule was marked by arbitrary decrees that regulated all aspects of civilian life, establishing curfews, setting wages and prices, and rationing gasoline and other commodities. Newspapers and mail were censored, and all speech or action critical of the military government forbidden. Most egregiously, the Army closed down the courts and created a network of military commissions and provost courts, which tried all criminal cases. These military tribunals, presided by armed officers without legal training, were classic examples of drumhead justice, unfettered by rules of evidence, presumption of innocence, or other constitutional safeguards. Juries were forbidden, and lawyers discouraged or even barred. The courts were effectively rigged against defendants, and no machinery was established for appeals. Of the 22,480 trials conducted in provost court in Honolulu in 1942-1943, 99 percent ended in convictions—one official who heard 819 cases issued convictions in all 819! The tribunals frequently issued severe sentences, including imprisonment and hard labor, for trivial offenses.

(more…)

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

New Book Tuesday: Kristeva, Barthes, and the Dalai Lama

Hatred and ForgivenessThe following books are now available:

Hatred and Forgiveness
Julia Kristeva

The Preparation of the Novel: Lecture Courses and Seminars at the Collège de France (1978-1979 and 1979-1980)
Roland Barthes

Inside the Red Box: North Korea’s Post-totalitarian Politics
Patrick McEachern

Diagnosis Schizophrenia, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Resource for Consumers, Families, and Helping Professionals
Rachel Miller and Susan E. Mason

After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights
Robert Meister

Dialectical Passions: Negation in Postwar Art Theory
Gail Day

The Persian Gulf and Pacific Asia: From Indifference to Interdependence
Christopher Davidson

A History of Libya
John Wright

Mind and Life: Discussions with the Dalai Lama on the Nature of Reality (Now available in paper)
Pier Luigi Luisi; with Zara Houshmand

A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (Now available in paper)
Greg Robinson

Thin Places: A Pilgrimage Home (Now available in paper)
Ann Armbrecht

Monday, December 6th, 2010

The Philosophy of David Foster Wallace: “Knock Yourself Out,” an Essay by Matt Bucher

David Foster WallaceKnock Yourself Out

Matt Bucher

Dedicated followers of Wallace’s writing know Matt Bucher as the administrator of wallace-l, the David Foster Wallace listserv. He is the publisher of two books on Wallace’s work (Elegant Complexity: A Study of Infinite Jest and Consider David Wallace: Critical Essays). In “Knock Yourself Out,” he brings the ardor of his appreciation for Wallace’s fiction and essays to the rigor of Wallace’s writing on math and philosophy. “For more about David Foster Wallace’s Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, visit The Philosophy of David Foster Wallace: Context and Conversation.

Fans of David Foster Wallace’s fiction and essays have known about his undergraduate honors thesis on Richard Taylor’s “Fatalism,” but few, if any, have read it or understood its role in the philosophical literature. One fan, Jesse Hilson, requested permission to photocopy the thesis at Amherst. The librarian at Amherst forwarded the request to Wallace. Wallace approved the request and wrote: “Knock yourself out, dude.”

This new volume presents an unfiltered look at a deep, philosophical debate. From the outset, Steven Cahn tells us that, despite writing a paper titled “Fatalism,”  Richard Taylor was not actually a fatalist. In fact, Taylor is playing a bit of the devil’s advocate here. A refutation of his argument seems almost commonsensical: who really lives as though all their actions are predetermined? Does anyone really believe free will doesn’t exist? But then right away we are thrust into problems of language and the logic of Taylor’s presuppositions (several of which require complex logic to refute), and it’s possible for even amateur readers to follow the meticulous back-and-forth of these philosophers’ responses to one another, and even for the more dedicated/interested to continue the conversation online—eventually becoming an amateur expert in “Fatalism” studies: Knock yourself out.1

When I first picked up David Foster Wallace’s book on the idea of infinity, Everything and More, I thought my English-major/casual-interest in math and logic might be enough to carry me along. Around page 50, I realized I was wrong. Turns out, I needed Wallace’s hand-holding. Lots of it (especially in his IYI, if you’re interested, footnotes). The hand-holding in Fate, Time, and Language is minimal, but it comes in the form of James Ryerson’s comprehensive introduction, Taylor’s own straightforward style, and Wallace’s choice of down-to-earth examples (to wit: “For instance, in ‘It couldn’t rain last night; last night a high-pressure ridge was keeping all rain-clouds away,’ we are evaluating the modal character of rain-last-night in light of the conditions we know to have obtained last night. But in ‘It can’t have rained last night; there are no puddles on the sidewalk this morning,’ we are evaluating the modal character of rain-last-night quite obviously in light of the puddle-free conditions we know to obtain now.”)

Outside of some of the explicit connections in his fiction and essays, this paper constitutes Wallace’s primary contribution to the field of philosophy. Had Wallace devoted himself to the formal study of philosophy and finished his Ph.D. at Harvard, Jay Garfield said Wallace “would have been a major figure in our field.” The fact that Wallace’s undergraduate thesis is not only taken seriously by other major American philosophers and academics but, in fact, contributes to the field of modal logic brings to mind other math-science-literature polymaths such as Vladimir Nabokov and his real advances to the study of Lepidoptera, William Gass’s books on philosophy, and Umberto Eco’s contributions to semiotics.

(more…)

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Alexander C. Y. Huang wins the Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies

Chinese ShakespearesCongratulations to Alexander C. Y. Huang who recently won the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literary Studies for his book, Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange.

The committee’s citation for Huang’s book reads:

Alexander C. Y. Huang’s Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange maps new territory for the most promising project in comparative literature today. Huang’s object is the movement of cultural forms across geographical space, but he regards such movement not as mere diffusion or even as exchange. Instead he examines the way movement across geographical and geopolitical fault lines reaches into cultural forms and changes their meanings from the inside, often revealing possibilities that had lain dormant, unnoticed, or submerged in the texts’ cultures of origin. Remarkable not only for its sophistication but also for its scholarly depth, Chinese Shakespeares is a landmark in the renewal of comparative literature as a discipline.

For more on Chinese Shakespeares, watch a video of highlights of four adaptations of “Hamlet,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “Lear,” on screen and stage with commentary by Alexander Huang:

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Hillary L. Chute and Lynda Barry to discuss Graphic Women

Hillary L. Chute, author of the newly published Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics will be participating in a roundtable discussion on the art of the graphic novel this Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 2:30 PM at the Philoctetes Center in New York City. Lynda Barry, the acclaimed graphic novelist whose work is discussed in Graphic Women will be participating in the discussion.

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Holiday Sale — Save 30% on All Columbia Titles!

From now until Christmas, we are offering 30% off all Columbia University Press titles.

To save 30%, add the books to your shopping cart, and enter code CUP30 in the “Redeem Coupon” field at check out. Click on the “redeem coupon” button and your savings will be calculated.

* To insure delivery by Christmas, please place your order before December 15. (Sale is for U.S. and Canadian customers only.)