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Archive for September, 2012

Friday, September 28th, 2012

University Press Roundup

… And we’re back! We are terribly sorry that we missed last week, but we are refreshed and ready to dive into the best posts from the past TWO weeks in the blogs of academic publishers. We’ve given precedence to posts from this week, but there were some excellent posts from last week that were just too interesting to pass over. Accordingly, the list of links will be a little longer than normal this week. Enjoy!

We’ll start things off this week with a fascinating idea courtesy of Michael Branch at Island Press Field Notes. In a guestpost and a linked article, Branch takes a hard look at a startling project originally suggested in 2006: “Pleistocene Rewilding.” As Branch explains things, “‘rewilding’ is the process of reintroducing species to ecosystems from which they have been extirpated,” and the Pleistocene version involves doing exactly what it sounds like: rewilding animals from the Pleistocene era in order to enhance the health of various ecosystems. Imagine extinct animals (he mentions, among others, the American cheetah, the pronghorn, North American Mammoths, tapirs, and American camels) reintroduced into carefully controlled wildlife areas!

When he first read Homer’s Iliad, Edward McCrorie claims at the JHU Press Blog, he was not particularly moved. “So much of it struck me as gore—the build-up to often overlapping and extremely graphic gore.” However, in his post, McCrorie, who has since translated the Iliad into English, explains how his growing understanding of the music of the verse led to a growing appreciation for the ways in which the violence of the poem contribute to Homer’s “vast verbal orchestration.” McCrorie explains in loving detail the Iliad‘s dramatization of the values that came to dominate Greek moral thought.

Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, his story of the education of the Persian King Cyrus the Great, is another highly influential (though obviously much more recent) ancient Greek text that wrestles with questions about the values associated with effective leadership. This week, the Harvard University Press Blog has a Q&A post with Norman B. Sandridge discussing the Cyropaedia. Of particular relevance is a section surmising lessons Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could learn from Xenophon: “leadership is a lifetime intellectual and ethical pursuit—not something learned as an afterthought to other previous ambitions.”

Unsurprisingly, HUP does not have the only presidential-themed blog post of the past two weeks. The MITPressLog has started an Election Tuesday series of posts focusing on the upcoming election. Both of the past two posts in this series are worth highlighting. First, Ian Bogost discusses how confused and interrupted communication between candidates and the public affects elections. In the latest Election Tuesday post, Michael P. Lynch explains how differing “standards of reason” render attempts at compromise or honest political discussion impossible.

It’s been a while since the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, but MaryAnne Borrelli’s post at the Texas A&M Press blog on the gender ideologies espoused in the speeches at the conventions is just as interesting today as it was two weeks ago. Borrelli claims that both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney had the unenviable task of “humanizing” their (widely disliked) husbands in their respective convention speeches. The way these two women went about this “humanizing” project speaks to the way that the two parties they represent see the ideal role of women, according to Borrelli.

Whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the election in November, the newly-elected President will be confronted with crucial foreign policy decisions early in the next four years. While the growing tensions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program have received the most media focus of late, at the OUPblog, Andrew J. Polsky argues that the situation in Afghanistan requires a great deal of attention as well. Polsky sees the “repeated attacks by Afghanistan government soldiers and police on American and other NATO troops” as the most concerning new development in Afghanistan.

Political challenges abound closer to home, as well. With the number of unemployed in America still quite high, the issue of unemployment benefits remains a “hot-button topic.” At the UNC Press Blog, Beth Thompkins Bates looks back at debates from 1931 between Frank Murphy and Henry Ford over unemployment benefits. It’s both surprising and somewhat worrying to see how relevant the arguments between the two sides are today.


Friday, September 28th, 2012

Daniel Herwitz on How Barack Obama Has Drawn Upon Abraham Lincoln

Daniel Herwitz, Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony

“Obama is a figure with the screen presence of a film star (like Diana). Palin is not, she is the quintessential TV actor, from sitcom, talk show, reality TV.”—Daniel Herwitz

In the chapter, “Tocqueville on the Bridge to Nowhere,” from Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony, Daniel Herwitz turns his attention to how heritage has been employed in American culture and politics. In the following excerpt, he writes about how Barack Obama has drawn upon the image and iconic stature of Abraham Lincoln. Later in the chapter he compares Obama with Sarah Palin:

Obama was staged as Lincoln before, during, and after his inauguration, taller than his public, monumental, in communion with that oversized, larger-than-life Lincoln Memorial in Washington. There are three Lincolns in American history: the actual one, steering the nation through its darkest of times, writing the Gettysburg Address on the train, the one etched into the monument, larger than Lincoln himself, who was already larger than life, sculpted from marble, his immortal words made immortal by being scripted into that stone, then the Lincoln of the cinema, Henry Fonda, Raymond Massey, the Lincoln dark and dulcet, silver in the silver screen, glowing through the aesthetics of the medium. American heritage is all three: the man, the monument, the movie.


Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Daniel Herwitz on The Star as Icon: Celebrity in the Age of Mass Consumption

In addition to Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony, we’ve been lucky enough to be be the publisher for other books by Daniel Herwitz. In addition to Action, Art, History: Engagements with Arthur C. Danto, and The Don Giovanni Moment: Essays on the Legacy of an Opera, which Herwitz edited, he is also the author of The Star as Icon: Celebrity in the Age of Mass Consumption.

In this video, Herwitz discusses The Star as Icon:

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Randi Saloman — Generic Truths

“Virginia Woolf used the essay for literary exploration and discovered freedoms in it that she was unable to achieve in the seemingly freer world of her novels. She and other modern writers found that the desire for authenticity, for a way of experiencing reality most fully through representation, was answered in the essay, or in the essayistic mode, in ways it could not be elsewhere.”—Randi Saloman

Virginia Woolf's EssaysimThe following post is by Randi Saloman, author of Virginia Woolf’s Essayism:

In January 2006, Oprah Winfrey lambasted James Frey, author of the bestselling A Million Little Pieces—a narrative of Frey’s life as an addict and his struggle for sobriety—telling the author that he had “betrayed millions of readers.” How had Frey, a recovering drug user whose memoir detailed the lowest points in his journey from addiction and crime to recovery, upset Winfrey to such a degree? And why was Random House, Frey’s publisher, reportedly offering refunds to those who had purchased the book, while Winfrey’s evisceration of the author was being hailed by journalists and critics alike as the “outing” of a liar? Only months earlier, Oprah had celebrated Frey as a hero, praising him for the inspirational quality of his work and declaring his book a must-read for her book club.

The answer, while apparently obvious to those who shared the talk show host’s sense of mistreatment, was surprising to me. Frey’s transgression, it seemed, was in taking a degree of poetic license (or too great a degree of poetic license) with his work. Certain details of his memoir had proven to be unverifiable. Those who had supported Frey and drawn strength from his story were indignant. The book that had offered meaning and inspiration to these readers when it was taken to be the “true” story of Frey’s struggles became valueless in their eyes when it could not be matched with an equivalent series of events in the life of the author. The claim, in its most basic form, was that the objective value of the work changed dramatically based on its generic classification. As a memoir, Frey’s work was successful and to be applauded. As a novel, it was without merit.

My own interest in the controversy was not wholly casual. These questions of representation and truth, and the contextual significance of genre, were at the forefront of my thinking at the time, as I worked on what would eventually become Virginia Woolf’s Essayism. Indeed, the starting point for my project was an instance of mistruth or false representation that might seem akin to Frey’s.


Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Interview with Daniel Herwitz, Part II

“Heritage began as a secular religion and is now a battleground between the forces of recognition, politics and commerce. It is where art, culture, history, politics and markets meet. Little could be more interesting than this.”—Daniel Herwitz

Daniel Herwitz, Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the PostcolonyHere is the second part of our interview with Daniel Herwitz, author of Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony. (You can read the first part here):

Question: How then did the modern practice of heritage arise?

Daniel Herwitz: The modern practice of heritage arose with the modern European nation. Heritage picked out and exalted certain social values as time tested and time immemorial, representative of everything great in the new/emergent European nation. This is for-he-is-an-Englishman stuff, Gilbert and Sullivan stuff, Lady Diana stuff. Heritage converted past values into a special bank of (to pursue the example) Englishness, whose currency would forever appreciate in value, whose future would be assured through that currency. England thus demonstrated through its heritage bank longevity, futurity, superiority. The Institutions of the new state (courts of law, museums, universities) all collected and recited this patrimony.

At the same time heritage became understood as a common origin, partly obscured by the sodden character of modern life, a source which the likes of Matthew Arnold and Fredric Nietzsche believed had to be rediscovered, and reinvented for modern life to put modern life back on the right footing, insuring its destiny. This destiny was usually believed to be found in ancient Greece. And so heritage practice articulated a new link between origin and destiny for the nation.

Heritage justified empire: the nation would gift its culture to those otherwise unable to have it. The forcing of heritage onto the colony also served to dispossess the colony of its own past: Graft English heritage onto the colony while devaluing the colonial past and you have made the colony into your appendage, you have robbed the colony of its chance to find its own route to modernity in the light of its own past. Heritage making is central to decolonization because it gives the new nation the ability to imagine its own route to the future by giving it a sense of its own origin.


Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

With the iPhone 5, Has Apple Lost Its Edge?

Pelle Snickars, Moving Data

“With the release of the iPhone 5, the promise back in 2007 of the iPhone becoming an ever expanding mobile media machine might have come to a halt. At least temporarily.”—Pelle Snickars

The following post is by Pelle Snickars, co-editor of Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of Media.

Many have argued that the iPhone 5 launch was the most important product announcement for Apple since the first iPhone arrived back in 2007. Previous new models and versions have, in effect, been minor upgrades, so it was finally time for Apple to face the increased competition and secure its cutting edge smart phone profile. It’s now been five years since Apple entered the smart phone market—and literally altered and redesigned it. The iPhone rapidly became the prototype of the constantly connected gadget, blending media consumption, mobility, and social media. No other mobile phone—before or after—has even come close to the iPhone’s sociocultural impact, or demonstrated the extent to which mobile technology shapes new media culture. The very term mobile media in fact means something completely different after the iPhone. However, with the release of the iPhone 5, the promise back in 2007 of the iPhone becoming an ever expanding mobile media machine might have come to a halt. At least temporarily.

The question still remains regarding what kind of technology a smart phone actually is—and has become. Is it primarily a piece of shiny hardware, a mobile platform for innovative code distribution, or a gadget targeting new forms of media consumption? What about the blurred boundaries between smart phones and tablets; are they different gadgets or essentially the same devices (only with screens in various formats)? Being mobile and connected as well as handling various forms of media—be they music, films, books or web based content—are important features that nearly all these new devices share.

If the laptop or stationary computer once was our default machine, this is not the case any more. Today, mobile devices are our primary communication tools for voice, text, image, video, sound and gaming. The iPhone didn’t start this development—but it increased the speed of technological change dramatically.


Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Daniel Herwitz on What Makes Heritage Worth Talking About

“Through heritage, marketed in political campaigns and filtered through dense layers of American media both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin become celebrity figures gifted with special powers.”—Daniel Herwitz

Daniel Herwitz, Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the PostcolonyIn this first part of a two-part interview, Daniel Herwitz discusses one of the central questions regarding his bookHeritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony

Q: What makes heritage worth talking about?

Daniel Herwitz: Heritage may seem to some the stuff of bad PBS Documentary TV, bringing up images of stale tours of the great houses of Europe, dull paintings of bearded Presidents hanging on the walls of the White House, the Daughters of the American Revolution and their dance parties, programs and tours narrated by announcers with fake Royal accents. The valence of that brand of heritage is that of a particular brand. There are others: the “heritage Thanksgiving turkey”, old bonded bourbon, authentic backwoods banjos, over-priced organic local fruits and vegetables. Today the world of Ralph Lauren is one in which anyone can drape themselves in the heritage (read: aura) of Old England by purchasing the three piece hunting suit or the Ralph Lauren royal bed. Heritage is an advertising logo, a suit of clothes tailor-made for lawyers and stockbrokers, not to mention their six-year-old daughters clutching American Girl dolls bedecked in homespun Amish pullovers.

But heritage is also live action and especially for new/emerging nations: a tenebrous, rewriting of the past into a contentious common origin which gives the nation a sense of shared longevity and shared destiny. Heritage is the anvil on which a new and common citizenry is meant to be forged. Central to decolonization is this scripting of the past into a sign of uniqueness, dignity, and difference from the colonizer, into a source of future destiny and purpose. Often decolonization imagines a past prior to the rude entrance of the colonizer, a pre-colonial, idealized state which demonstrates that the emergent nation was always already in existence before its fall under the colonial yoke, and is ready to rise again. Heritage is the set of myths through which the new nation proclaims its longevity and futurity. It always leads to political controversy, since such myths inevitably favor this population over that, this group instead of that. Scripting the distant past is part of contemporary politics, a route to the power of some to speak in the name of all.


Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

New Book Tuesday — A History of Christian Missions in the Middle East and More!

The following books are now available:

Conflict, Conquest, and ConversionConflict, Conquest, and Conversion: Two Thousand Years of Christian Missions in the Middle East
Eleanor H. Tejirian and Reeva Spector Simon

Traditional Japanese Literature, Abridged Edition: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600
Edited by Haruo Shirane

After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights (Now available in paper)
Robert Meister

The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy (Now available in paper)
Melvin L. Rogers

Hannah Arendt and Political Theory: Challenging the Tradition (Now available in paper)
Steve Buckler

The Emergence of Minorities in the Middle East: The Politics of Community in French Mandate Syria (Now available in paper)
Benjamin Thomas White

Political Discourse and National Identity in Scotland (Now available in paper)
Murray Leith and P.J. Soule

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Interview with A. Azfar Moin, author of The Millennial Sovereign

The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam, A. Azfar MoinThe following is an interview with A. Azfar Moin, author of The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam

Question: “The Millennial Sovereign” sounds like a Christian theme. What does it have to do with Islamic kingship?

A. Azfar Moin: The Mughal emperors of sixteenth and seventeenth century India–of Taj Mahal fame–were also avid collectors of Christian art. They even invited Jesuit missions to discuss the Bible. At first, the Catholic priests were delighted that such powerful Muslim kings were attracted to Christianity, but they eventually realized that their hosts were more interested in the millennium. The first millennium of Islam occurred at the end of the sixteenth century. The Mughals used this religiously charged moment to style themselves as saintly and messianic sovereigns. They called their queens “The Mary of the Age” and “Of the Stature of Mary.” This didn’t mean that they had turned Christian, but that they were Jesus-like in their sacredness.

Q: How do saints and sainthood fit into the picture?

A.A.M.: All cultures cast their kings in a sacred aura, as beings set apart from ordinary existence. But this sacredness is always expressed in a historically specific style. In the early modern era, the style of Muslim kingship was inspired by, among other things, Sufi saints. Fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw the age of sainthood in Islam. Sufi brotherhoods organized around saint cults were everywhere. Sufi saint shrines had become grand centers of wealth and power. Sufi families acted as kingmakers. This is why Muslim rulers across Iran, Central Asia, and India borrowed symbols and rites of sainthood. To put it simply, if saints accepted devotees, kings enrolled disciples. If Sufis led messianic uprisings, Muslim rulers fashioned themselves as holy saviors.


Monday, September 24th, 2012

Book Giveaway! Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony, by Daniel Herwitz

“A work of ebullient imagination, zest, and wit, Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony explores the double life of heritage in the making of modern political identities.” — Jean Comaroff, Harvard University

Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony

This week our featured book is Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony by Daniel Herwitz.

To enter our book giveaway, simply e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu with your name and address. We will randomly select one winner on Friday at 1:00 pm. Good luck and spread the word!

Throughout the week we will highlight aspects of Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony and we are offering a FREE copy of the book to one winner.

Bringing the eye of a philosopher, the pen of an essayist, and the experience of a public intellectual to the study of heritage, Daniel Herwitz reveals the febrile pitch at which heritage is staked. He travels to South Africa and unpacks its controversial and robust confrontations with the colonial and apartheid past. He visits India and reads in its modern art the gesture of a newly minted heritage idealizing the precolonial world as the source of Indian modernity. He traverses the United States and finds in its heritage of incessant invention, small town exceptionalism, and settler destiny a key to contemporary American media-driven politics. Showing how destabilizing, ambivalent, and potentially dangerous heritage is as a producer of contemporary social, aesthetic, and political realities, Herwitz captures its perfect embodiment of the struggle to seize culture and society at moments of profound social change.

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Victor Navasky to Discuss The Art of Making Magazines at the Brooklyn Book Festival

The Art of Making Magazines, Victor Navasky and Evan Cornog

This week we’ve been featuring The Art of Making Magazines: On Being an Editor and Other Views from the Industry and this Sunday, you can hear Victor Navasky talk more about the book at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

Navasky will participate on a panel entitled “Ink and Pressure: The Delicate Art, History and Future of Publishing,” which will also include Sean Howe author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. The panelists will take take a look at the nuts and bolts construction of a comic book empire and the intricacies of what it really takes to make magazines.

The panel will be at 11 am at St. Francis McArdle (180 Remsen Street)

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Erica Chenoweth: Why civil resistance trumps violent uprisings

“Nonviolent resistance of some sort is almost always possible, and armed uprisings are never inevitable. Instead, violence may be a method people choose because they don’t know there is a realistic alternative.”–Erica Chenoweth
Erica Chenoweth, Why Civil Resistance Works

With a variety of protest movements erupting in the past couple of years, both violent and nonviolent, Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan’s book Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict could not be more timely.

In a recent essay for CNN’s Global Public Square, Erica Chenoweth summarizes many of the findings in their book and argues that civil, nonviolent resistance is far more successful than violent uprisings. Chenoweth and Stephan reached their conclusion after analyzing 323 different social campaigns from 1900-2006 ranging from the Indian independence movement of the 1930s and 40s to to the Serbian movement to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. In analyzing their findings, Chenoweth and Stephan concluded:

Countries experiencing nonviolent uprisings are much more likely to emerge from the conflicts democratic and with a lower risk of civil war relapse compared to places where insurgencies were violent. And we suspect that in most cases where violent insurgency has succeeded, a well-executed nonviolent campaign may have been equally successful.


Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Robert Gottlieb on Editing at Knopf Versus The New Yorker

The Art of Making Magazines, Robert Gottlieb

“When you’re the editor-in-chief of a magazine, as I was of The New Yorker … You are the living god.”—Robert Gottlieb, “Editing Books Versus Editing Magazines”

In his essay, “Editing Books Versus Editing Magazines,” from The Art of Making Magazines: On Being an Editor and Other Views from the Industry, Robert Gottlieb compares his experiences of working as an editor at Knopf and as editor-in-chief at The New Yorker. Here’s an excerpt:

Editors do different things in different places. To start with, being the editor-in-chief of a book publishing house is a vastly different matter from being the editor-in-chief of a magazine. When you’re in a publishing house, you are in a strictly service job as an editor. Your job is to serve the book and the writer. You may think you’re the star, particularly if various newspapers are writing feature journalism about where you have lunch, but that is not the point.

The point is that book publishing houses only exist with the goodwill of their writers and only exist if the books they publish are any good. To keep your good authors and to attract other good authors, you have to serve them. They have to feel protected, which means they have to believe that their editor, a specific personal editor, understands their work, sympathizes with their work, and is on their wavelength. They must believe that the editor can help them make the book not other than what it is, but better than what it is. And that’s a complicated job, and it’s a job that can’t be taught and can’t be learned. I’ve always thought I was as good or even better as an editor my first day on the job—when I had a lot of energy—as I am now, forty-six years later or so.

You are there to keep the writer happy and feeling that he or she is protected both in terms of writing and in terms of publishing, and publishing and editing are very different matters. I, who would rather do a lot of things pretty well than one thing very well, published as well as edited, and that was fun for me. At that time, you could still be the chief editor and the publisher of a major publishing house. That is much harder to do today because it is a more bottom-line business and accountants and lawyers are far more involved than they used to be.


Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Jonathan Lyons – Islam, Violence, and the West: It’s Not the Video, Stupid

“But to focus on the short clip, posted online, that portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, pedophile, and general sex fiend, is largely to miss the point. The true animating cause behind the protests is power, that is, Western power to define the Islamic world in ways that undermine its values, aspirations, identity, and, ultimately, its autonomy and means of self-determination.” — Jonathan Lyons

Islam Through Western EyesOver the last couple weeks, there have been protests against the US throughout the Muslim world, ostensibly in response to the short film The Innocence of Muslims.

In today’s post, however, Jonathan Lyons, author of Islam Through Western Eyes: From the Crusades to the War on Terrorism argues that the motivation for the protests goes much deeper than an offensive film.

Islam, Violence, and the West: It’s not the Video, Stupid
By Jonathan Lyons

It may be tempting to watch the unrest unfolding in parts of the Muslim world and wonder what real harm could there be in a cheesy “desert saga,” replete with glue-on beards, stilted dialogue, and an over-the-top touch of melodrama? Or perhaps to take some refuge in an absolutist notion of free speech.

But to focus on the short clip, posted online, that portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, pedophile, and general sex fiend, is largely to miss the point. The true animating cause behind the protests is power, that is, Western power to define the Islamic world in ways that undermine its values, aspirations, identity, and, ultimately, its autonomy and means of self-determination.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Victor Navasky and Evan Cornog on the Art of Making Magazines

The Art of Making Magazines, Victor Navasky, Evan Cornog

The following is an interview with Victor S. Navasky and Evan Cornog, editors of The Art of Making Magazines: On Being an Editor and Other Views from the Industry.

As the subtitles suggests, The Art of Making Magazines features the opinions and experiences of leading figures from the magazine industry, including Ruth Reichl, Tina Brown, and John Gregory Dunne. As you will read, Navasky and Cornog allow their illustrious contributors to answer:

Q: Why magazines now? Isn’t the digital revolution going to drive them from the field?

Editors: Good question. But forget what we have to say about it, and listen to our contributors. For example, here is what Felix Dennis, founder of Maxim and The Week (about whom the Wall Street Journal once asked in a headline “is Felix Dennis mad?”) told an audience of budding journalists when asked he same question:


“Much has been written and a great deal and a great deal of hot air expended on the threat the Internet supposedly poses to those of us who make a living smearing hieroglyphics on paper. Most of it is so partisan that it can be difficult to tell the wood from the trees. The good news is that I’ve lived in that forest, making an excellent living there, for a very long time indeed.”

He proceeds to describe how his company did it “when larger publishers were running around like chickens with their head chopped off, chucking shareholder’ money at a medium which had no earthly chance of repaying their investment — for the simple reason that there were so few advertisers on the Web.” He also explains that while the web requires a whole new mindset, and is ultimately good news for writers, magazines won’t soon fade away.

Q: Who is this book for?

EDS: Writers, editors, publishers and readers.

For writers, there is the late John Gregory Dunne’s wise and witty advice for those who are just starting out: “The fact of the matter is that as you get older, you will discover that the singer is more important than the song. If you do magazine journalism, ‘why’ ultimately matters as much or even more than ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how.’ And not so much ‘why’ as a meditation on ‘why’. Or a contemplation on ‘how’ or ‘who.’”

For editors, there is, for example, the unique perspective of Bob Gottlieb, who was editor-in-chief of Alfred A. Knopf, before he became editor-in-chief of the New Yorker. He describes the difference between the two roles:

As a book publisher, according to Gottlieb, “You are there to keep the writer happy and feeling that he or she is protected,” which means that they have to feel that their editor “understands their work, sympathizes with their work, and is on their wavelength. They must believe that the editor can help them make the book not other than what it is, but better than what it is.”

Whereas when you are “the editor-in-chief of a magazine…it’s opposite. You are the living god. You are not there to please writers, but the writers are there to satisfy you because they want to be in the magazine, and you are the one who says yes or no.”


Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Gary L. Francione: Irreconcilable Differences

The Animal Rights DebateYesterday, we posted an article by Professor James McWilliams discussing the debate over the Humane Society of the United States among supporters of animal rights. In particular, McWilliams mentioned “the abolitionist wing of the animal rights movement, which views HSUS welfare reforms as craven capitulation to industrial agriculture.” Today, we have a guest post from Professor Gary Francione, distinguished professor of law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark, co-editor of the CUP series Critical Perspectives on Animals: Theory, Culture, Science, and Law, author of Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation and coauthor of The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, and one of the most outspoken members of this abolitionist wing.

In his article today, Francione argues that his criticisms of the HSUS are justified and that McWilliams has misunderstood these criticisms. Professors Francione has also written a follow-up article, which he has posted on his blog.

Irreconcilable Differences
Professor Gary L. Francione

After Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852, a number of novels appeared suggesting that slavery protected slaves who were, for the most part, delighted with the institution. These novels attacked abolitionists as “meddling” in the efforts of regulationists to improve slavery. The regulationists maintained that if the abolitionists would just shut up and go away, they, the regulationists, would steadily improve the conditions of slavery until it was no more.

My fellow Columbia University Press author, James McWilliams, argues that those who favor the abolition of animal exploitation and who view veganism as a moral baseline are, in effect, “meddling” in the efforts of regulationists—who, in the McWilliams narrative, are those at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)—to improve the treatment of farm animals as we all march incrementally to that glorious vegan future. McWilliams urges the abolitionists to just shut up and jump on the HSUS bandwagon.

I have a high regard for McWilliams and am often in agreement with the positions he takes on matters of animal ethics, but, unfortunately, this is not one of those times. Putting aside that HSUS, which claims that “[a]bout 95% of our members are not vegetarians,” much less vegans, and explicitly disavows that it is “moving in the direction of eliminating animal agriculture,” McWilliams simply fails to understand the nature of the debate between abolitionists and animal welfare regulationists.

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Michael Kelly on Writing for Playboy and What It Taught Him about Magazines

“Any magazine is, in the end, what a very small, self-selected group of people—its readers—wants it to be. And the magazine is shaped to that.”—Michael Kelly, “Editing a Thought-Leader Magazine”

Victor Navasky, The Art of Making MagazinesThe following is an excerpt from Michael Kelly’s essay in The Art of Making Magazines: On Being an Editor and Other Views from the Industry, edited by Victor Navasky and Evan Cornog. Kelly was an editor and award-winning reporter, editor-at-large for The Atlantic Monthly and a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post.

In his essay, “Editing a Thought-Leader Magazine,” Kelly reflects on one of his earliest assignments writing an article on sex in America for Playboy magazine and what it told him about how to think about a magazine’s audience.

I want to begin with a small story that reflects poorly upon myself. When I was beginning to freelance just before the Gulf War, and was very broke, I got a terrific windfall. I was living in Chicago, off my girlfriend’s earnings—I was making about $2,000 to $3,000 a year—when I met an editor from Playboy. Playboy was based—I guess still is based—in Chicago, so I had a chat with him, and to my astonishment got an assignment worth $5,000 or $6,000.

So for a couple of months I went all around the country—Playboy had a lot of money, and this was a subject dear to their heart, so they would okay any expense—and watched people make blue movies, and went to all sorts of clubs, straight clubs and gay clubs and swingers’ clubs and S&M clubs and so on. And the more I did it, the more depressed I got, because the world I was wandering in seemed, at least to me, a rather grim place filled with grim, sad men, pathetic really, engaged in a kind of dismal and pathetic pursuit.

But it was the first time I had ever gotten material that I thought could be written up at length in a descriptive fashion, which was the kind of writing I wanted to do. So I really worked at the writing and wrote this long, bleak, despairing, grim, sordid story of sex in America, mostly focusing on the god-awful wretchedness of all the men out there that I was taking notes on


Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

New Book Tuesday: Pregnancy on Film, The Homoerotic Photograph, and More

Our weekly list of new books:

Knock Me Up, Knock Me Down, Kelly Oliver

Knock Me Up, Knock Me Down: Images of Pregnancy in Hollywood Films
Kelly Oliver

The Homoerotic Photograph: Male Images from Durieu/Delacroix to Mapplethorpe (Now available in paper)
Allen Ellenzweig

Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires, and Gay Cowboys
Barbara Mennel

The Foreign Policy of Lyndon B. Johnson: The United States and the World, 1963-69 (Now available in paper)
Jonathan Colman

The New Neapolitan Cinema
Alex Marlow-Mann

Heritage Film Audiences: Period Films and Contemporary Audiences in the U.K (Now available in paper)
Claire Monk

From Tartan to Tartanry: Scottish Culture, History, and Myth (Now available in paper)
Edited by Ian Brown

Monday, September 17th, 2012

James McWilliams: Vegan Feud

A Revolution in EatingIn an article published recently in Slate, James McWilliams, author of A Revolution in Eating and American Pests, addresses the criticism that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) faces from the “abolitionist wing of the animal rights movement, which views HSUS welfare reforms as craven capitulation to industrial agriculture.” McWilliams believes that the debates that have formed around HSUS are indicative of deep moral divides in the movement: “Does HSUS, in its ceaseless quest to improve living conditions for animals within factory farms, justify and perpetuate the ongoing existence of those farms?”

McWilliams begins his article by laying the groundwork for the debate:

There is little doubt that HSUS is doing something right. A complete citation of their recent accomplishments would be too long to list here, but consider that in one week alone last July, HSUS persuaded Sodexo, Oscar Mayer, Hardee’s, Carl’s Jr., and Baja Fresh to eliminate the use of gestation crates, cages that confine pregnant pigs so tightly they cannot turn around. In banning this torture device from their supply chains, these companies joined industry kingpins McDonald’s and Smithfield Foods in yielding to Shapiro’s ceaseless nagging on behalf of a barnyard proletariat numbering in the billions.

Nevertheless, as the abolitionists correctly point out, there’s nothing especially revolutionary about HSUS’s approach to improving the lives of farm animals. HSUS works closely with Big Agriculture, never calls for animal liberation, and never explicitly endorses the habit that most efficiently prevents animals from being killed: veganism. This reticence infuriates abolitionists, who seek the eradication of not only animal agriculture but also all animal ownership and exploitation through ethical veganism.

While McWilliams acknowledges that the arguments of the abolitionists (including CUP author Gary L. Francione) are powerful, but he also cites thinkers who claim that trying to strong-arm people into veganism is not an effective strategy:

Francione’s logic is hard-hitting, but his extreme message is unlikely to resonate widely in a population that’s only 1.4 percent vegan. According to social psychologist and longtime vegan Melanie Joy, the abolitionist approach could attract a lot more supporters if it acknowledged, as HSUS does, that most people are going to embrace veganism on their own—you can’t strong-arm them into it. Joy, author of Why We Eat Pigs, Love Dogs, and Wear Cows, believes that social change—in this case, honoring the intrinsic worth of animals by not eating them—is a complex process requiring both an awakening to the hidden reality of exploitation and the individual will to act upon that awareness. Asking people to stop eating animals, as Joy sees it, is more than asking for a change in behavior; it’s asking for a profound shift in consciousness that people make only when they’re personally ready to do so.


Monday, September 17th, 2012

Double Book Giveaway! The Art of Making Magazines and Moving Data

“Bold, brash, and on target . . . This is a book not to be missed by working editors and journalists, print newbies and magazine junkies.” — Publishers Weekly

The Art of Making Magazines

This week we are featuring The Art of Making of Magazines: On Being an Editor and Other Views from the Industry, edited by Victor Navasky and Evan Cornog.

However, in honor of the imminent release of the iPhone 5, this week we are also giving away a copy of Moving Data: The iPhone and the Future of Media, edited by Pelle Snickars and Patrick Vonderau

Together book books explore where media has been and where it is going.

To enter our book giveaway, simply e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu with your name and address. We will randomly select one winner on Friday at 1:00 pm. Good luck and spread the word!

The contributors to The Art of Making Magazines include: John Gregory Dunne, Ruth Reichl, Roberta Myers, Michael Kelly, Peter Canby, Barbara Walraff, Chris Dixon, Tina Brown, Peter W. Kaplan, John R. MacArthur, Robert Gottlieb, and Felix Dennis