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Archive for February, 2013

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Ward Blanton: Paula Versus the New Philosophers, or, Incident in Beijing

The Incident at Antioch

This week Columbia University Press goes Badiou! Our featured books are The Incident at Antioch/L’Incident d’Antioche: A Tragedy in Three Acts / Tragédie en trois actes and Plato’s Republic by Alain Badiou, both translated by Susan Spitzer with introductions by Kenneth Reinhard. In today’s post, Ward Blanton discusses the importance of The Incident at Antioch in “rethinking … those old, old questions about ‘Jerusalem and Athens’ which seem to lodge so naturally around the figure of Paul.”

Professor Blanton is a Reader in Biblical Cultures & European Thought in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent. Among other books and collections, he spearheaded Columbia’s translation of Stanislas Breton’s A Radical Philosophy of Saint Paul. His next book, A Materialism for the Masses: Saint Paul and the Philosophy of Undying Life, is in press with Columbia’s series Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture.

Paula Versus the New Philosophers, or, Incident in Beijing

Ward Blanton, University of Kent

I’m not sure whether others have been struck by some of the public interactions of Alain Badiou and Simon Critchley, interactions which invariably start to circulate around the question of whether or how political creation relates to political disappointment. The more the matter is tabled the more memory of older conflicts—for and against Kant, for and against Levinas, or for and against a Lutheran inflection of newness and identity within the Pauline legacy—begin to churn toward the surface. I confess I like such moments as we continue to struggle with how we imagine or conceptualize the political—as we speculate on our own political chances. As if to stir gently what has always for me been a pleasing pot, I could begin by naming a disappointment I have undergone in relation to that remarkable play, The Incident at Antioch. Above all, I was sorry when I realized we couldn’t include portions of it in our Paul and the Philosophers (Fordham, 2013). True enough, it didn’t make any sense to publish a short selection of Susan Spitzer’s beautiful translation at the very moment that the entire play would become available… but for my disappointment logistics are generally beside the point entirely! In truth, I was disappointed that I would no longer have a great excuse to say there what I really wanted to say about Badiou’s play, namely, that I think The Incident at Antioch is one of the most important contemporary spurs for a rethinking of those old, old questions about ‘Jerusalem and Athens’ which seem to lodge so naturally around the figure of Paul.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Susan Spitzer: Translating Alain Badiou’s The Incident at Antioch and Plato’s Republic

The Incident at Antioch

This week Columbia University Press goes Badiou! Our featured books are The Incident at Antioch/L’Incident d’Antioche: A Tragedy in Three Acts / Tragédie en trois actes and Plato’s Republic by Alain Badiou, translated by Susan Spitzer with introductions by Kenneth Reinhard. In this post, Susan Spitzer discusses the experience of translating two very different works by Badiou.

Translating Alain Badiou’s The Incident at Antioch and Plato’s Republic
Susan Spitzer

Although the translator’s initial encounter with the foreign-language text, to which so much time will be devoted, is not often discussed, I doubt I’ll ever forget the heart-sinking feeling I had on first opening Alain Badiou’s L’Incident d’Antioche. The play was utterly different from anything I’d read before, and translating it, I knew immediately, would be a daunting task. As I later remarked in my Preface to the translation, “The Incident at Antioch is characterized by a rich linguistic mélange, a virtual kaleidoscope of styles and genres: poetic or highly elevated literary language, language borrowed directly from the Bible or with religious overtones, pompous rhetoric, made-up proverbs, everyday French that often tends towards the colloquial, if not at times the vulgar, all overlain with the remnants of a certain Marxist vocabulary or with terminology bearing the stamp of Badiou’s own philosophical œuvre, and studded with allusions to, or quotations from, Marx and Engels, Goethe, Shakespeare, Racine, La Fontaine, Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Greek mythology, along with myriad references to the contemporary world.”

Fortunately for me, Badiou was (and still is) a regular visitor to Los Angeles, so I was able to corral him into assisting me with the translation issues that confronted me at every turn. Most of the time, thanks to his generosity and patience, I would come away from these sessions relieved to have finally (or so I hoped) understood what was meant. But on one occasion he was of no help at all. Expecting a simple answer to my query about the source of certain lines in Act I that he had enclosed in quotation marks, I was surprised to hear him say, “No, no, it’s not a citation; it’s just the characters reciting their lines in a sort of chorus.” My intuition told me otherwise, but what is a translator to do when the author explicitly tells her she is over-reaching? The answer, it now seems obvious, was: Google! I entered one French phrase after another into the search engine, only to come up empty-handed. I then played around with the lines a bit, in case Badiou hadn’t followed the exact order of words in what I was still convinced was a citation. No luck. Next I tried numerous versions of my own tentative translation of the phrases or lines. Finally, when I was almost ready to concede defeat, I hit the jackpot: the lines, somewhat altered, were from The German Ideology! No one was more surprised, or pleased, I hasten to add, than Badiou himself when I apprised him of this. He had simply forgotten, having written the play some twenty-odd years before, about his own idiosyncratic use of Marx and Engels in this one particular scene.

Translating his Plato’s Republic was a different experience altogether. No dread on first perusing the text; on the contrary, irrepressible laughter. I knew from the outset that the book, a sparkling theatrical dialogue interspersed with novel-like narrative passages, would be a real romp for a literary translator. Not that there weren’t thorny passages – when Badiou’s mathematics met Plato’s, for example, or when the umpteenth appearance of “ce qui de l’Être s’expose à la pensée” (“that which of Being is exposed to thought”? “that aspect of Being which is exposed to thought”? “that of Being which is exposed to thought”?) made me tear my hair out – but overall it was a sheer delight to be part of the process of what was then a still-unfolding work. Badiou would send me each chapter when he finished it, and I would eagerly await the next installment to see what remarkable changes he had wrought on Plato’s immortal work. After receiving his blessing for the American-English slant I was determined to give the translation, I felt free to sprinkle the text with slang, where I deemed appropriate, and even the odd Yiddishism (“these vacationing culture-vultures, these mid-summer mavens of the minor arts”). Socrates, or at least this thoroughly contemporary version of him, was, needless to say, very philosophical about it all. I’m now looking forward excitedly to meeting up with him again sometime soon in the screenplay Badiou is currently writing about the life of Plato.

Copyright 2013 by Susan Spitzer

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Kenneth Reinhard: Badiou’s Sublime Translation of the Republic

The Incident at Antioch

This week Columbia University Press goes Badiou! Our featured books are The Incident at Antioch/L’Incident d’Antioche: A Tragedy in Three Acts / Tragédie en trois actes and Plato’s Republic by Alain Badiou, translated by Susan Spitzer with introductions by Kenneth Reinhard. In this post, we have our second introduction of the day: Reinhard’s introduction to Plato’s Republic. In this essay, Reinhard discusses Badiou’s “Platonism of the multiple” and his “hypertranslation” of Plato’s famous Republic.

Plato's Republic, by Alain Badiou by

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Kenneth Reinhard explains Alain Badiou’s “political theater”

The Incident at Antioch

This week Columbia University Press goes Badiou! Our featured books are The Incident at Antioch/L’Incident d’Antioche: A Tragedy in Three Acts / Tragédie en trois actes and Plato’s Republic by Alain Badiou, translated by Susan Spitzer with introductions by Kenneth Reinhard. Today, we have an excerpt from the introduction to The Incident at Antioch, in which Reinhard discusses Badiou’s under-appreciated literary side and puts The Incident at Antioch in context in the development of Badiou’s political and philosophical ideas.

The Incident at Antioch, by Alain Badiou by Columbia University Press

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

New Book Tuesday: Satyajit Ray, Chinese Feminism, Tibetan Tradition, Bruce Lee and More!

Satyajit RaySatyajit Ray on Cinema
Satyajit Ray; Edited by Sandip Ray; Foreword by Shyam Benegal

The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory
Edited by Lydia H. Liu, Rebecca E. Karl, and Dorothy Ko

Sources of Tibetan Tradition
Edited by Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Matthew T. Kapstein, and Gray Tuttle

The Bhāgavata Purāna: Sacred Text and Living Tradition
Edited by Ravi M. Gupta and Kenneth R. Valpey

Beyond Bruce Lee: Chasing the Dragon Through Film, Philosophy, and Popular Culture
Paul Bowman

The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers: Responsible Realism
Philip Mosley


Monday, February 25th, 2013

Book Giveaway! Win a Free Copy of Alain Badiou’s The Incident at Antioch/L’Incident d’Antioche AND Plato’s Republic

The Incident at Antioch

This week Columbia University Press goes Badiou! Our featured books are The Incident at Antioch/L’Incident d’Antioche: A Tragedy in Three Acts / Tragédie en trois actes and Plato’s Republic by Alain Badiou, translated by Susan Spitzer with introductions by Kenneth Reinhard.

Throughout the week we will highlight aspects of Badiou’s life, works, and particularly The Incident at Antioch/L’Incident d’Antioche and Plato’s Republic, on our Twitter feed, and on our Facebook page. We are also offering a FREE copy of the book to the winner of our Book Giveaway.

Plato's Republic

To enter our Book Giveaway, simply e-mail lf2413@columbia.edu with your name and preferred mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on Friday at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word!

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

We’ll get things started this week with an in-depth look at North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and capabilities, courtesy of Joseph M. Siracusa at the OUPblog. Siracusa asks, “what, then, is Pyongyang’s motivation for its nuclear and missile programs? Is it, as Victor Cha once asked, for swords, shields, or badges? In other words, are the programs intended to provide offensive weapons, defensive weapons, or symbols of status?”

President Obama recently gave the first State of the Union Address of his second term in office, and at the Chicago Blog, the blog of the University of Chicago Press, Sandra M. Gustafson takes a close look at this most recent SotUA. She pays particular attention to how this speech mirrors and differs from other recent Obama speeches, from his second inaugural address to his campaign speeches.

The JHU Press Blog continued their ongoing look at firearms in America this week with a guest post from Lawrence Rosenthal in which he looks at the constitutional passages pertaining to gun rights in America. Obviously the Second Amendment takes pride of place in his discussion, but he argues that we should take seriously the preamble as well, as it “represents a textual commitment to regulation found nowhere else in the Bill of Rights.”

Barack Obama’s path to the Presidency has been well documented over the last four years, but at the UNC Press Blog, Lisa Materson argues that women’s activism in Chicago in the late 19th and early 20th century played a crucial role in getting Obama into the White House.

Migration played a crucial role in the story that Materson tells, and at Beacon Broadside, David Bacon argues that immigration could play a crucial role in positive changes in the future, but only if current immigration policy changes. “We need an immigration policy based on human, civil and labor rights, which looks at the reasons why people come to the U.S., and how we can end the criminalization of their status and work.”

February is celebrated across the U.S. as Black History Month. At From the Square, the NYU Press blog, however, Dayo F. Gore claims that we need to rethink Black History Month altogether. He worries that the focus on African American leaders means that “the messy and complicated details of centuries of oppression and resistance, which I believe make African American experiences so imperative in the national narrative, rarely garner attention.”

Bayesian thought, based on Bayes’ Rule, has been hotly debated for centuries, since Presbyterian Reverend Thomas Bayes came up with the premise in the mid 1700s. This week, the Yale Press Log takes a look back at the complex history of Bayesian thinking, and discusses how “the theory symbolized how religion’s role in the scientific study of physical phenomena was gradually phased out.”

No is a Chilean film that’s been nominated for the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language film. At the University of California Press Blog, Mary Helen Spooner tells the story behind the film of the 1988 “one-man presidential plebiscite” in which the people of Chile voted “no” on the question of General Pinochet’s continued governance.

This week, the University of Minnesota Press Blog has a Q&A with Leigh Fondakowski, who has spent “spent three years traveling the U.S. to interview survivors of the Jonestown massacre, many of whom have never talked publicly about the tragedy.” Fondakowski wanted to elevate public awareness of the actual events of the massacre, and to get the general public past “the catch phrase “they drank the Kool-Aid.””

February 21 was the birthday of Tadd Dameron, a crucial and underappreciated figure in the history of jazz. At the University of Michigan Press Blog, Paul Combs has a post remembering Dameron, whose “large and influential body of work and inspired, both directly and indirectly, a great number of musicians, among them Miles Davis, Frank Foster, Benny Golson, Quincy Jones, Charlie Rouse, and Horace Silver.”

“Inspirational” can be a tricky compliment. At North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Harilyn Rousso explains that being told she was “inspirational” for dealing with her cerebral palsy made her wonder why people “expected so little of me that even my most modest achievements could inspire [them].”

Pope Benedict XVI’s abdication continues to inspire thoughtful blog posts, the latest written by George E. Demacopoulos for the Penn Press Log. In his post, Demacopoulos looks at the Pope’s decision through the lens of St. Peter’s connection to the See of Rome.

This week is National Engineers Week. In honor of the occasion, the MIT Press blog has a Q&A with Matthew Wisnioski on what it means and will mean to be an engineer in the 21st century. Wisnioski is particularly interested in the role that engineering can and should play in politics and social justice.

Finally, we’ll wrap things up this week with a post on the University of Nebraska Press blog from UNP’s new marketing manager, Martyn Beeny. In his post, Beeny discusses the challenges of taking on a new job, and of cooking an exotic recipe–designed to be made in the Antarctic with penguin–with more reasonable ingredients.

Thanks again for reading this week’s roundup! Have a great weekend, and leave any thoughts in the comments!

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Kush Varia Recommends Five Bollywood Movies for the Novice

Hollywood, Smollywood, we say Bollywood! While many film fans will be turning their attention to the Oscars, we asked Kush Varia author of Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip to recommend five Bollywood films ideal for someone new to the genre (along with some clips):

Veer Zaara




Mother India

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Ross Melnick Wins “Book of the Year” for “American Showman” from the Theatre Historical Society of America

Ross Melnick

Congratulations to Ross Melnick author of American Showman: Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935 for receiving the 2013 “Book of the Year” Award from the Theatre Historical Society of America.

For more on the book: An interview with Ross Melnick; Ross Melnick on how Roxy changed the movie industry; and the birth of Radio City Music Hall

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Divine Decadence: Nightclubs in Bollywood Film — Kush Varia

The following essay on the role of the nightclub in Bollywood film is by Kush Varia, author of Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip, our featured book of the week. For more on the book, you can also read an interview with Kush Varia or win a FREE copy of the book.

Nightclub scenes offer a variety of pleasures in Bollywood film, including visual spectacle in stages and settings, differing dance styles, and numerous costume changes. These scenes also position songs in a realistic setting as opposed to those that appear in the infamous Bollywood romantic dream sequences.

From the Fifties to the present we can trace recurring patterns in the presentation of the nightclub ranging from celebrations of different dance styles to explorations of moral issues. Protagonists role in the club also changes from being seated audience members or star attractions on stage to finally becoming revelers themselves.

In Aasha (1957) we get a sneak peak into a ladies-only cabaret (spot the male lead disguised in Islamic dress). Although the show is live, there is still a segue into fantasy as Vyjayanthimala’s character changes costume from a Dietrich-esque top hat and tails to pedal pushers and finally, appearing out of nowhere, a sky blue sequined dress topped off with a fez-style hat suggesting the exotic Arabian nights, a reoccurring theme in Bollywood film.


The queen of the cabaret stage was the extremely versatile dancer Helen, whose exotic Burmese background increased the fantasy element of her scenes. In Howrah Bridge (1958) she takes the name of Chin Chin Choo and sings of her adventures with Aladdin and Sinbad.


Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Evolution and the Tools of Imagination — Christopher Collins

“When we open a book and turn its pages, our paleopoetic past is never very long ago or far away.”—Christopher Collins

Paleopoetics, Christopher CollinsThe following essay is by Christopher Collins, author of Paleopoetics: The Evolution of the Preliterate Imagination

In both biological and cultural evolution there is no turning back, no do-overs. As I began planning the project that would become the book, Paleopoetics, the principle of evolutionary biology that change is cumulative intrigued me the most. Steven Mithen had put it this way: “Evolution does not have the option of returning to the drawing board and beginning anew; it can only ever modify what has gone before. That is, of course, why we can only understand the modern mind by understanding the prehistory of the mind.” Culturally evolved skills, such as fire use, cooking, agriculture, writing, mathematics, and empirical science, like the genetically inherited traits upon which they are built, have been preserved and elaborated to generate further innovations, a progressive process that Michael Tomasello has called the “cultural ratchet.”

Then the idea struck me: there is no turning back because we carry within us our own biological past and nowhere is that past more systematically present than in our brain. It follows then that biological and cultural evolution form a continuum and, though the older functions of the brain are manifestly different from the newer functions, both sets are interdependent thanks to the plasticity of this organ. I subsequently became aware of “dual-systems theory,” a cognitive model that differentiates such opposites as impulse and planning, parallel and serial processing, nonverbal and verbal communication, and concrete and abstract thought. The primary goal of dual-systems theory is to explain illogical, maladaptive human behavior as the result of an unresolved conflict between the prehuman and the fully human brain.

While I find myself agreeing that conflict can arise when these opposite features compete for dominance, I can also see them as complementary functions. In Paleopoetics I explore the possibility that the arts, specifically the verbal arts, integrate these opposites, momentarily reconciling the old, long established modular centers with the more recently connected circuitry of the anatomically modern brain.


Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Interview with Kush Varia, Author of Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip

Interview with Kush Varia, author of BollywoodThe following is an interview with Kush Varia, author of Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip

Question: Why write a book on Bollywood?

Kush Varia: This year, Bollywood turns 100 years old and I have presented highlights which demonstrate a variety of genres, historical periods and stars. Sadly there was not enough room to include some other favorites but I hope that the book acts as an introductory guide to a new viewer and that they can experience the full spectrum of what the cinema has achieved, the guises it can take, and the emotions it inspires.

Q: Many in the West or non-Indian audiences seem to have a notion of Bollywood cinema as kitschy and somewhat absurd, is that a fair assessment?

KV: Much of popular experience of Bollywood in the West is composed of quick clips seen on cable channels, semi-erotic stills or colorful ephemera. Bollywood does have elements of the fantastic from songs sung in romantic dream sequences to melodramatic acting styles and emotionally charged music. However much like the often derided “women’s films” from the heyday of Hollywood, Bollywood films deal with extremely important social and moral issues providing a space for the negotiation between tradition and modernity.

Q: What is distinctly Indian about Bollywood film?

KV: Religion, family and morality are key issues in Bollywood films and it is through these issues that the films become a forum to discuss and challenge issues pertinent to Indian society and the wider Indian Diaspora. Throughout its hundred-year history Bollywood film has played a key socio-cultural role. In the films of the colonial period there were coded swipes at the British whilst post-independence movies aimed to construct a new identity for India. In the Seventies – a time of deep social unrest – films reflected issues faced by rapidly growing urban communities through the figure of the ‘angry young man’. More recently, Bollywood films have provided a forum for investigating the role of the internationally based Indian and their access to new experiences which may contradict traditional Indian values or ways of thinking.

Q: To what extent does Bollywood borrow from Indian literary or cultural traditions?

KV: Some argue that Bollywood is influenced by ancient Indian theories of drama however Bollywood is much more closely linked with popular traditions such as religious theater as well as Western influences such as pop videos. The role of song, dance, and music hearkens back to classic Hollywood with a great deal of importance placed on creating outstanding spectacle. Bollywood is a unique cultural product but despite the industry having a large output, very few films go on to become huge successes. But those that do often become keystones of modern India and they can provide fascinating insights into the emergence of India as a global superpower.


Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

New Book Tuesday (Wednesday Edition): Rising Seas, Al Qaeda, Takeshi Kitano, and More

Our weekly list of new titles:

Rising Seas, Vivian GornitzRising Seas: Past, Present, Future
Vivian Gornitz

The Cinema of Takeshi Kitano: Flowering Blood
Sean Redmond

Eastern Sentiments (Now available in paper)
Yi T’aejun; Translated by Janet Poole

Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnerships
Roger Lambert

Afromodernisms: Paris, Harlem, Haiti and the Avant-garde
Edited by Fionnghuala Sweeney and Kate Marsh

Reading Literature Historically: Drama and Poetry from Chaucer to the Reformation

Greg Walker

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Claude Piantadosi on the Meteor Crash in Siberia

Claude Piantadosi, Mankind Beyond Earth

“This strange happenstance of the DA 14 flyby and the Chelyabinsk explosion on the same day is a wake up call about how little we know actually know about space, even in our own region of the Solar System. What else is lurking around out there getting ready to give us a nasty surprise?”—Claude Piantadosi

Last week we featured Mankind Beyond Earth: The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration, by Claude Piantadosi. Of course, at the end of last week a meteor hit earth and underscored Piantadosi’s argument that we need to continue study space. In the following post, Piantadosi recounts his reactions to last week’s event and what it means for science:

I arrived at the laboratory rather early last Friday morning and bumped into my colleague Dr. Jim Logan, who told me that a large meteor had just burst in the air over Russia—injuring more than a thousand people with flying glass and other debris.

“Jim,” I said, a little taken aback, “I thought your old NASA buddies claimed that this thing was supposed to miss us by 17,000 miles.”

“This was not Asteroid 2012 DA14,” he shot back. “This rock came in on a totally different trajectory.”
“Really; now that’s quite a coincidence. Thank goodness for the atmosphere,” I told him. “And knock on wood, still no human in recorded history has ever been killed by a meteor.”

“True… but millions of dinosaurs can’t say the same thing,” he said. “In fact, you could argue that if it wasn’t for the massive asteroid impact 65 million years ago, there wouldn’t be any humans.”
And if we have a repeat of that episode, there won’t be any humans left either.

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the so-called Chelyabinsk meteor was a rock 55 feet in diameter, weighing 10,000 tons, and traveling at some 40,000 mph when it hit our atmosphere and exploded. It was the largest air burst in a hundred years— since Tunguska in 1908. And the blast was estimated to be about 500 kilotons, the explosive force of 30 Hiroshima-sized bombs.

This strange happenstance of the DA 14 flyby and the Chelyabinsk explosion on the same day is a wake up call about how little we know actually know about space, even in our own region of the Solar System. What else is lurking around out there getting ready to give us a nasty surprise? Indeed, we are just beginning to catalog and track these objects, for instance, through the NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program, which has been in existence only since 1998.

In one respect, ignorance is bliss; we simply do not have the technology to protect ourselves from collisions with such high-velocity celestial bodies. However, we do have the technology to detect, categorize, and track these projectiles, and when it comes to that, as it inevitably will, to move people out of harm’s way. We must be sure that this first step is put into play and that the collection of this vital information remains a permanent part of our commitment to a meaningful, long-term strategy for space exploration. Perhaps over the next hundred years, we’ll develop the technological means to nudge these objects out of Earth-crossing orbits. But this set of circumstances does make one thing very clear: we simply cannot afford the struthonian approach of burying our heads in the sand.

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

There’s More to the Catholic Church than the Pope

Julie Byrne, There's More to the Catholic Church Than the Pope

“For all his influence, the pope makes up an infinitesimal fraction of the opinions and activities of Catholics.”—Julie Byrne

Julie Byrne, author of O God of Players: The Story of the Immaculata Mighty Macs and the forthcoming The Other Catholics, recently argued in a CNN op-ed that there’s more to the Catholic Church than the pope.

While Pope Benedict’s recent resignation understandably received a lot of attention, a singular fascination with the pope is hardly new among Americans or the media. However, it fails to appreciate the amount of change taking place in Catholicism among practicing Catholics and the laity.

In her essay, Byrne cites three movements in Catholicism that goes against the Roman Catholic hierarchy: vernacular Catholicism, Non-Roman Catholics, and flows between Rome and other institutions.


Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Book Giveaway! Win a Free Copy of Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip

Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip, Kush Varia

This week Columbia University Press goes Bollywood! Our featured book is Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip by Kush Varia.

Throughout the week we will highlight aspects of Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip and Bollywood cinema here on our blog, on our Twitter feed, and on our Facebook page. We are also offering a FREE copy of the book to the winner of our Book Giveaway.

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

Friday, February 15th, 2013

University Press Roundup

Welcome to our weekly roundup of the best posts from the blogs of academic publishers! As always, if you particularly enjoy something or think that we missed an important post, please let us know in the comments.

Authors, read this post! The AMACOM Books Blog has a great post this week on how authors can have a great relationship with their publicists. Among many other pieces of advice, the post asks that authors, quite simply, be available: “They check e-mail and voicemail frequently, and get back quickly with all the information requested. They don’t go on vacation the week their book is published. If they take a short vacation in the months leading to pub date, they let their publicist know, and they make sure they are reachable for interviews.”

Last week, the Harvard University Press Blog ran the first of a pair of essays by John Burt on the historical allusions (particularly to Abraham Lincoln) in President Obama’s second inaugural address. This week, they have the second of the pair, in which Burt takes a closer look at what Obama’s historical allusions say about the ever-changing ideal of freedom in America.

Pope Benedict XVI abdicated earlier this week. At the OUPblog, Gerald O’Collins has a guest post arguing that the Pope’s decision to step down to allow a younger person to take his place is a brave one, and is, in fact, “the defining moment of his papacy.”

Martin Luther King Jr. is often seen as a uniquely American hero, but at Beacon Broadside, Lewis V. Baldwin claims that MLK described himself as “a citizen of the world” and should get more credit for his global thought and influence. Baldwin claims that we must look at King as “a leader who moved beyond the particularities of the African American and the American experiences to speak and act on behalf of a world fragmented by bigotry, injustice, intolerance, and war.”

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Claude Piantadosi: The Case for Mars

This week’s Book of the Week was Claude Piantadosi’s Mankind Beyond Earth. We gave you the opportunity to win a FREE copy of the book (you can still enter our Giveaway!), brought you an author Q&A and an interesting tidbit post on why 21st century manned space exploration matters, and even shared some of our favorite retro space exploration art on Pinterest. As a fitting conclusion to our feature, we bring you Claude Piantadosi’s perspective on humanity’s next step (or giant leap) into space exploration: sending people to Mars.

(To view in full screen, click on icon in bottom right-hand corner.)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Read an excerpt from Kiku’s Prayer, by Endō Shūsaku

Set in the turbulent years of the transition from the shogunate to the Meiji Restoration, Kiku’s Prayer embodies themes central to Endō Shūsaku’s work, including religion, modernization, and the endurance of the human spirit. Yet this novel is much more than a historical allegory. It acutely renders one woman’s troubled encounter with passion and spirituality at a transitional time in her life and in the history of her people. A renowned twentieth-century Japanese author, Endō wrote from the perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic. His work is often compared with that of Graham Greene, who himself considered Endō one of the century’s finest writers. Today we have an excerpt from the first chapter of Kiku’s Prayer.

Kiku's Prayer: A Novel, by Endo Shusaku by Columbia University Press

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Roy Brand on Love and Philosophy


Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the occasion, we have a post from Professor Roy Brand, author of LoveKnowledge: The Life of Philosophy from Socrates to Derrida, in which Brand discusses the relationship between love and knowledge.

Love and Knowledge
Roy Brand

What is the love that turns into knowledge and how is the knowledge we seek already a form of love?

LoveKnowledge is a book for lovers, but love is taken here in the widest sense, as the love of life and of humanity, the love for culture, for thinking and for art. Romantic love comes up numerous times, be it in Plato’s Symposium or Foucault’s History of Sexuality. And it is indeed carnal and passionate, far from the view that philosophy is all about abstractions and lofty ideas. But romantic love is a fairly new invention. And it is used nowadays for marketing purposes, such as in this Valentine’s Day. The general Greek word for love is philia, which applies indifferently to the feelings one might have to his family, friends, and lovers. Thomas Mann expresses this in beautiful prose in The Magic Mountain:

Isn’t it grand, Isn’t it good, that language has only one word for everything we associate with love- from utter sanctity to the most fleshly lust? The result is perfect clarity in ambiguity, for love cannot be disembodied even in its most sanctified forms, nor is without sanctity even in its most fleshly…Irresolute? But in God’s name, leave the meaning of love unresolved! Unresolved—that is life and humanity, and it would betray a dreary lack of subtlety to worry about it.

To achieve a “perfect clarity in ambiguity” might be the very purpose of philosophy–a practice of love that begins with not knowing and teaches us how to live with uncertainty without being crippled by hesitation.