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Archive for March, 2013

Friday, March 29th, 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.

Chinua Achebe passed away last week, and at the OUPblog, Richard Dowden has written a post in memory of Achebe, looking back at Achebe’s life and works, discussing his massive and continuing influence, and telling the story of Dowden’s own interactions with the great author. “A conversation with Chinua Achebe was a deep, slow and gracious matter. He was exceedingly courteous and always listened and reflected before answering. In his later years he talked even more slowly and softly, savouring the paradoxes of life and history. He spoke in long, clear, simple sentences which often ended in a profound and sad paradox. Then those extraordinary eyes twinkled, his usually very solemn face would break into a huge smile and he would chuckle.”

The NYU Press blog, From the Square, continued their month-long focus on Women’s History Month this week with a post by Melissa R. Klapper examining why we are still apparently “disconcerted by women in positions of authority.” In her post, Klapper delves into at the history of women working in her attempt to come up with an answer.

March Madness is in full swing, and at North Philly Notes, the blog of Temple University Press, Gregory Kaliss takes a break from this year’s action to look back at an infamous NCAA tournament regional final weekend in Dallas in 1957. The Kansas University Jayhawks rolled to two convincing victories to advance to the Final Four, that weekend, but because the team was integrated (and in fact featured Wilt Chamberlain, one of the greatest basketball players of all time), they faced discrimination and racial violence both on and off the court.

What exactly is “craft” and how is it different (if it differs at all) from art? At the UNC Press Blog, Howard Risatti digs into these and other thorny questions in a guest post. Along the way, he also discusses how crafts and art can raise our awareness of ecological issues.

“Julius Caesar shows us two different kinds of political love, in tragic opposition. Brutus is principled, but he is not cold. He loves the institutions of the Roman Republic, and he tells us that this abstract love has driven out his personal love of Caesar, as fire drives out fire…. Brutus’s antitype is Antony, who can understand no kind of love other than the personal, who cannot refrain from calling the dead man “Julius” even in the presence of the conspirators.” This week, The Chicago Blog has a fascinating excerpt from Martha Nussbaum’s Shakespeare and the Law.

Since late 2008, North Dakota has been experiencing an “economic boom and rapid population growth” as the result of the discovery of oil and natural gas underneath the state. At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Dean Hulse warns that, while the boom has brought some good, it’s important to pay attention to the possible long-term consequences of the new uses of the land in the state.

At the JHU Press Blog this week, Valerie Weaver-Zercher discusses her decision to present her academic research in “what literary theorist Scott Slovic calls ‘narrative scholarship,’ in which writers do not strive to absent themselves from the text.” In her post, Weaver-Zercher looks at the positives and negatives of attempting to write objectively and of acknowledging the subjectivity of one’s perspective in an academic work.

In an interview with Beacon Broadside, Kim E. Nielsen thinks about the similarities and differences in approaching history through different lenses, in particular, through the lenses of women’s history and disability history. While there are clear differences, particularly in the “slipperiness” over time in the definitions of “woman” and “disabled,” she notes a number of important similarities, as well, in particular that “women, children, enslaved people, and people with disabilities have tended to share a similar legal status, having a limited legal identity and having their legal ability to act covered by somebody else.

The fate of Florida’s famed springs is an ongoing concern for the state, which recently announced that it will reclaim Silver Springs in an “attempt to prevent further environmental degradation of the natural wonder.” At the Florida Bookshelf, the blog of the University Press of Florida, Gary Monroe discusses this move by the state and looks at the historical importance of Florida’s springs.

The popular version of the history of tanning is a relatively simple one, involving the evolution of paleness being a sign of wealth to the Industrial Revolution’s reversal of this idea, with Coco Chanel playing a crucial role somewhere along the line. At the Penn Press Log, however, Catherine Cocks argues that this version simply isn’t true, and, more worryingly, ignores the important role that race played in establishing norms of skin color.

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

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Introductions in the Insurrections Series

This week we are featuring the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series, edited by Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey Robbins, and Slavoj Zizek. Remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win FREE copies of The Incident at Antioch by Alain Badiou, Rage and Time by Peter Sloterdijk, and Hermeneutic Communism by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala. Also check out Insurrections on Pinterest!

Today, the final day of our feature on the Insurrections series, and the final day to enter our Book Giveaway (link above), we have a post highlighting books in the series for which we’ve made the introductions available online.

The Incident at Antioch

  • “In a sense, Paul Cohen’s ideas mediate between the other two Pauls [Saint Paul and Paul Claudel], spacing and dialecticizing their relationship in Badiou’s play, and proposing ways for each of them to produce more theatrical knowledge than they might appear to contain. The Incident at Antioch finally is an experiment in dramatic thinking whose materials are largely drawn from the work of these three Pauls.” – Kenneth Reinhard, Introduction to The Incident at Antioch
  • Deleuze Beyond Badiou

  • “Badiou follows Deleuze in evading the consequences of the linguistic turn, although Badiou is more invested in formalizing this ontology in mathematical terms, whereas Deleuze is more interested in problematizing philosophy, that is, seeing how philosophy asks questions and poses problems.” – Clayton Crockett, Introduction to Deleuze Beyond Badiou
  • Hermeneutic Communism

  • “There are many forces in Israeli politics that hope the Palestinians in Israel will rebel, and so, in due course, it should be possible to expel them from the country. They say they do not seek a final solution since they oppose genocide; they are not barbarians. They only want to make sure the Arabs don’t multiply like rabbits on Israel’s holy land.” – Udi Aloni, “Oh, Weakness; or, Shylock with a Split S,” the epilogue of What Does a Jew Want?
  • Hermeneutic Communism

  • “Whether rage comes on the scene like a sudden explosion or like chronic presentiment (after its hate-inflicted transformation into a project), it draws its force from an excess of energy that longs for release. Rage that manifests itself in punishment or acts of injury is connected to the belief that there is too little suffering in the world on a local or global level. This belief results from the judgment that suffering could be “deserved” in certain situations.” – Peter Sloterdijk, “Rage Transactions,” Chapter 1 of Rage and Time
  • Hermeneutic Communism

  • “The question, which will become the central question that this volume seeks to address, is the following: How do we get from the post-Christian, post-Holocaust, and largely secular death of God theologies of the 1960s to the postmodern return of religion? Put otherwise, what happens when we move from the early claim that deconstruction is the hermeneutic of the death of God to the subsequent effort at deconstructing the death of God?” – Jeffrey W. Robbins, Introduction to After the Death of God
  • Thursday, March 28th, 2013

    Part 2 of an Interview with Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet

    The Lives of Erich Fromm

    Erich Fromm was born on March 23, 1900, and died almost eighty years later, on March 18, 1980. In celebration of Fromm’s life, we have a two-part Q&A with Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet, looking back at Fromm’s many intellectual contributions and accomplishments.

    In part two of the interview, Friedman discusses how Fromm’s ideas can be applied to modern political problems.

    Question: Fromm led efforts to revitalize American democracy. What did he feel was wrong with our system?

    Lawrence Friedman: Fromm was the principal funder and platform architect for Senator Eugene McCarthy’s bid to win the White House in 1968. McCarthy ran as a peace candidate determined to extract America from the Vietnam War. This fit with Fromm’s antimilitarism. On a deeper level, he felt that pointless wars like Vietnam might be avoided if American democracy were restored. Invoking the old New England town meeting as his point of departure, Fromm tried to promote a small, community-based government structure with all officials directly and personally responsible to the local citizenry. Fromm continued to promote this view of democracy throughout his life even as, in his opinion, a Big Brother–like national-security state thrived under less democratic presidencies such as Nixon’s.

    Fromm would have seen the possibility of democracy restored in the 2008 Obama campaign, with Obama’s appeal to racial minorities, women, and students and his ability to spark excitement about the political process. But he would have been less enthusiastic for the Obama of 2012 because the president sent additional troops to Afghanistan and essentially ordered the assassination of Bin Laden. But he would have voted for Obama a second time because he was somewhat more democratic and less elitist than Romney. Fromm had strong ideals and democracy was one of them. But he was also a pragmatist, willing to take half a loaf as a first installment on any basic goal. He would have supported Obama with this perspective.

    Q: While Fromm was a strong advocate for democracy around the globe, he was also critical of how bureaucratic state socialism (such as obtained in the Soviet Union) and corporate capitalism (such as in the United States) both alienated modern man. He envisioned a “Third Way”: a humanist society that valued the happiness of the individual in a democratic polity. Can this type of government ever truly exist and function?

    LF: Fromm saw both the alienating capitalism and consumer culture of the West (especially the United States) and the bureaucratic socialist societies of the Eastern bloc as anathema to the human condition. Western societies for the most part offered only the façade of democracy while covering selfhood in a plethora of estranged consumerism. The Russians were more dictatorial, Fromm argued, and the Russian leadership promoted inhumane and inefficient bureaucracy.

    Fromm cooperated with intellectuals and activists in “Third Way” countries like Czechoslovakia and Poland that were trying to break from the Soviet sphere of influence while distancing themselves from Western “democracies.” They were relatively small countries and the citizenry passionately sought small community-based democratic socialism free of both Soviet bureaucracy and Western alienation. In our contemporary world where there is no longer a Soviet Union and the United States can no longer impose its will abroad. Fromm would see continuing potential for a “Third Way,” especially in small countries like Finland, Denmark, and even Tunisia.

    Q: Fromm challenged the dominant Freudian model of psychoanalysis and paid a professional price for doing so. His approach encourages “central relatedness,” where confidentiality breaches may sometimes occur and the clinician is personally involved with the patient rather than distanced by therapeutic neutrality. What is his legacy in the psychiatric world and has his approach been embraced or rejected by modern psychoanalysis?

    LF: Orthodox Freudian psychoanalysis involved a seemingly neutral and distant analyst. The patient projected his repressed concerns on the analyst so these concerns could be studied. Fromm’s “central relatedness” was markedly different. The analyst was not neutral but opened himself to his deepest personal issues and encouraged the patient to similarly open his “center” to the analyst.

    Traditional Freudian analysis is essentially gone. Given Fromm’s and other clinicians’ affairs and other professional breaches with their patients, rooted in the temptations of “central relatedness”, it, too, has a problematic legacy. But Fromm, like his friend Harry Stack Sullivan, emphasized the clinical relationship as an interpersonal one– the connectedness between people as the way to understand what troubled patients. Because the interpersonal is perhaps the dominant clinical approach today within psychoanalytically informed therapy, Fromm and Sullivan have reemerged as significant figures. From a therapeutic perspective, Fromm has finally come of age.

    Q: You write that mental health and illness are heavily social constructs. If Fromm were living today, current clinicians might have labeled him as bipolar. Yet there were “stabilizers” in his life that pushed away bipolarity and let Fromm be very productive. What can we learn from Fromm’s approach to dealing with the effects of mental illness?

    LF: Contemporary psychiatrists and other mental health experts are too quick to label their patients “bipolar” and “schizophrenic.” Both tend to be seen as genetically rooted organic maladies; psychotropic drugs are the remedies or alleviants of choice. Coming from the social misery of a deeply depressed mother and a manic father and trying somehow to keep the family together, Fromm adapted. By his own admission, he would have been called manic depressive or bipolar. However, considering the way he led his life, “manic depressive” is diagnostically far off the mark even if he was genetically or temperamentally disposed.

    Fromm developed an array of daily habits that “stabilized“ or fine-tuned his existence. He wrote regularly, meditated, conversed with a small circle of convivial friends, cultivated a love for political activism, and corresponded regularly and caringly with those close to him. Succinctly, Fromm’s life and the social emphasis behind his therapeutic approach suggest that our daily social arrangements may keep us healthy and happy without recourse to drugs. At least these arrangements should precede drug trials that may be unnecessary. Fromm thought so and always emphasized social circumstances in caring for his patients even as he never dismissed the possibility of drugs as periodic supplements down the line.

    Thursday, March 28th, 2013

    Katerina Kolozova on The Real in Contemporary Philosophy

    The Philosopher in Meditation by Rembrandt

    This week we are featuring the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series, edited by Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey Robbins, and Slavoj Zizek. Remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win FREE copies of The Incident at Antioch by Alain Badiou, Rage and Time by Peter Sloterdijk, and Hermeneutic Communism by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala. Also check out Insurrections on Pinterest!

    Today, we have a guest post from Professor Katerina Kolozova, in which she discusses what she sees as the state of The Real today and outlines some ideas in her forthcoming book Cut of the Real, to be published by Columbia University Press in the Fall:

    What Baudrillard called the perfect crime has become the malaise of the global(ized) intellectual of the beginning of the 21’st century. The “perfect crime” in question is the murder of the real, carried out in such way as to create the conviction it never existed and that the traces of its erased existence were mere symptom of its implacable originary absence. The era of postmodernism has been one of oversaturation with signification as a reality in its own right and also as the only possible reality. In 1995, with the publication of The Perfect Crime, Baudrillard declared full realization of the danger he warned against as early as in 1976 in his book The Symbolic Exchange and Death. The latter book centered on the plea to affirm reality in its form of negativity, i.e., as death and the trauma of interrupted life. And he did not write of some static idea of the “Negative,” of “the constitutive lack” or “absence” as conceived by postmodernism and epistemological poststructuralism. The fact that, within the poststructuralist theoretical tradition, the real has been treated as the “inaccessible” and “the unthinkable” has caused “freezing” of the category (of the real) as immutable, univocal and bracketed out of discursiveness as an unspoken axiom.


    Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

    Part 1 of an Interview with Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet

    The Lives of Erich Fromm

    Erich Fromm was born on March 23, 1900, and died almost eighty years later, on March 18, 1980. In celebration of Fromm’s life, we have a two-part Q&A with Lawrence J. Friedman, author of The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet, looking back at Fromm’s many intellectual contributions and accomplishments.

    In part one of the interview, Friedman discusses Fromm’s views on love and politics, and how his works still have political impact today.

    Question: Fromm was a believer in love or, as you call him, “love’s prophet.” How did his relationships with women influence his philosophy about the role of love in the world?

    Lawrence Friedman: The Art of Loving (1956) sold over 25,000,000 copies and still sells well globally. The theme is easy to fathom. At a very deep level, one must simultaneously love oneself, the cherished other, and all of humankind. Love starts as a specific relationship and then becomes a global transformation of humankind into a peaceful and caring society.

    Succinctly, a self in love with another is transformative. This was a perspective on love that connected to Fromm’s view of humanism and spirituality. The theme of love had an overwhelming dose of authenticity. It was rooted in Fromm’s own life. Fromm’s unhappy first marriage led to a divorce; in the second, his wife committed suicide; the third, with Annis Freeman, was love from the start. Sometimes Fromm would write six or seven love letters to Freeman every day, and she would reciprocate. The expressions of love through letters bound their lives together and energized Fromm’s spiritual crusade to humanize the world.

    Q: Fromm was a founder and major funder of Amnesty International. How has Amnesty transformed our understanding of social justice and human rights?

    LF: Fromm was a founder of Amnesty International in the early 1960s and was its principal funder for the next twenty years. He did much to make Amnesty perhaps the most vibrant and effective global agency for human rights and against government brutalities. To free incarcerated victims of harsh regimes, Fromm could play the part of global diplomat, shuttling among Washington, New York, London, and Moscow with remarkable skill and effectiveness. His money and his strategies to free people from governmental barbarities did much to make Amnesty International the most important human rights organization in the world today.


    Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

    A Q&A with Insurrections Series Editor Jeffrey Robbins

    Radical Democracy and Political Theology

    This week we are featuring the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series, edited by Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey Robbins, and Slavoj Zizek. Also check out Insurrections on Pinterest!

    Today, we have a Q & A with Professor Jeffrey Robbins, in which he discusses some of the essential components of the Insurrections series and their importance today.

    Question: Clayton Crockett wrote that insurrectionist theology is not politically neutral and is critical of corporate capitalism. Can you elaborate on the insurrectionist critique of contemporary corporatism?
    Jeffrey Robbins: Perhaps it is important to distinguish between insurrectionist theology as named and employed by Crockett (together with myself, Creston Davis, and Ward Blanton), and the Insurrections series.  An insurrectionist theology, as we conceive it, is a materialist political theology that takes seriously the emancipatory potential of religion.  Instead of relying on the concept of transcendence or the notion of a transcendent God, it accepts Wittgenstein’s maxim that “the world is all that is the case,” and thus expresses itself in the form of an immanent critique. 
    Beginning from this point, we can say of the insurrectionist critique that contemporary corporatism is today’s undeniable hegemon.  Consider the story from today’s New York Times:  After protests erupted in Cyprus over the European Union’s planned austerity measures that would seize funds from individual Cypriot savings accounts, Gazprom, the Russian energy behemoth, offered its own private bailout to rescue the Cyprus economy.  As the story puts it, “The fate of this proposal is uncertain. . . But it illustrates how a sprawling, wealthy company so deeply entwined with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that it is often called a state within a state is willing to seize an opportunity and exploit weaknesses and divisions within Europe to cement its position and power.”
    While certain corporations operate as a state within a state (consider here, as well, an entity such as the company formerly known as Blackwater whose CEO admitted it worked as a “virtual extension of the CIA”), marshaling the mechanisms of the state for its own private gain, there are others operating as transnational corporations without respect to national boundaries.  At a minimum, this suggests a new, alternative form of political sovereignty.  Further, when the flow of capital is not only global, but instantaneous, this demands new forms of political organization and new means of political resistance.  And finally, contemporary corporatism’s reign can be considered complete when it becomes the logic—or better, the rubric—by which we determine even educational and philanthropic success.


    Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

    An Editorial and Ontological Insurrection, by Santiago Zabala

    Hermeneutic Communism

    This week we are featuring the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series, edited by Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey Robbins, and Slavoj Zizek. Remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win FREE copies of The Incident at Antioch by Alain Badiou, Rage and Time by Peter Sloterdijk, and Hermeneutic Communism by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala. Also check out Insurrections on Pinterest!

    Today, we have a guest post from Professor Santiago Zabala, in which he discusses the unique nature and success of the Insurrections series, and its significance in critical studies today.

    In order for any scholarly series to work there are three indispensable components: a distinguished academic press, a long-term philosophical project, and, most of all, passionate editors. CUP’s Insurrections series not only has all of these, but also has become a model for series from other presses. A few weeks ago I was at a conference in New Delhi called On World Religions: Diversity, Not Dissension (which took place at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and was organized by the distinguished Indian philosopher Anindita Balslev and attended by intellectuals from all over the world, including the His Holiness the Dalai Lama). I was asked by a group of students whether I knew what would be the next titles in Insurrections. I must confess I was not completely surprised to be asked because these researchers, in keeping with the intellectual environment of the event, were already interested in the intersection of religion, politics, and culture. However, the series is known not only within the intellectual circle of political theology as I have discovered elsewhere in Asia and South America over the past years. I’m not interested in writing a report on the series’ editorial success, even though it’s clear the editors (Slavoj Žižek, Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, and Jeffrey W. Robbins) have managed to create a true editorial insurrection, but rather in pointing out the ontological nature of the series. In order to do this, it is first important to understand who these editors are.

    The four editors of Insurrections are truly postmetaphysical philosophers, that is, concerned with what Michel Foucault called the “ontology of actuality,” where existence is not given beforehand but rather disclosed through its own historical disruptions. This is evident not only in the work of Slavoj Žižek but also in that of the other three editors, who merit as much attention as the Slovenian philosopher. While Creston Davis, a long-time disciple and collaborator of Žižek, has been articulating a refreshing materialist-immanent theology for years now, Clayton Crockett and Jeffrey W. Robbins have contributed in a unique way to political theology’s democratic effort to overcome conservative theological articulations (unfortunately expressed by the newly elected Pope Francis in Rome). What unites these editors and what they bring to the intersection between politics and theology is the vision that the truth of political theology in the twenty-first century can no longer be imagined through liberal reforms or anarchic events but only by reconsidering democracy as a form of religious practice and political thought. This new democracy is not simply unconstrained by modern liberal capitalism but actually its greatest enemy, that is, a true insurrection. The fact these editors have so much in common is perhaps the reason why the series, only seven years after its inception, is so successful. Certainly, the books in the series have sold, which is important, but much more significant are its consequences, that is, the issues it has given form to.


    Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

    New Book Tuesday: Double Agents, Picturing Power, the Quest for Security, and More New Titles

    Our weekly list of new titles now available:

    Double Agents, Erin CarlstonDouble Agents: Espionage, Literature, and Liminal Citizens
    Erin Carlston

    Picturing Power: Portraiture and Its Uses in the New York Chamber of Commerce
    Karl Kusserow

    The Quest for Security: Protection Without Protectionism and the Challenge of Global Governance
    Edited by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Mary Kaldor

    The Truth About Girls and Boys: Challenging Toxic Stereotypes About Our Children (Now available in paper)
    Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett

    Korean Horror Cinema
    Edited by Alison Peirse and Daniel Martin

    Gothic Literature, Second Edition
    Andrew Smith

    Samuel Beckett: Laughing Matters, Comic Timing
    Laura Salisbury

    Intelligence Studies in Britain and the US: Historiography Since 1945
    Edited by Christopher R. Moran and Christopher J. Murphy

    Arab Christians in British Mandate Palestine: Communalism and Nationalism, 1917–1948
    Noah Haiduc-Dale

    Monday, March 25th, 2013

    Insurrections on Pinterest

    This week we are featuring the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series, edited by Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey Robbins, and Slavoj Zizek. Remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win FREE copies of The Incident at Antioch by Alain Badiou, Rage and Time by Peter Sloterdijk, and Hermeneutic Communism by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala.Throughout this week, we will be hosting a number of posts and interviews from the editors and authors of the Insurrections series, and we will also feature the series on Twitter feed, and on our Facebook page.

    The Insurrection Series is on Pinterest! Take a minute to browse through the titles and covers, and maybe even our page devoted to the life and works of Alain Badiou, a prominent author in the series.

    Monday, March 25th, 2013

    Clayton Crockett: The Conception of Insurrections

    Deleuze Beyond Badiou

    This week we are featuring the Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture series, edited by Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, Jeffrey Robbins, and Slavoj Zizek. Remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win FREE copies of The Incident at Antioch by Alain Badiou, Rage and Time by Peter Sloterdijk, and Hermeneutic Communism by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala. Also check out Insurrections on Pinterest!

    Today, we have a guest post from Professor Clayton Crockett, in which he discusses how the series began, and where it may be going in the future.

    1. In the Beginning

    The idea for a book series that became Insurrections began in Philadelphia in December 2005 at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. Creston Davis was telling me that a Christian publisher approached him about editing a book series with Slavoj Žižek, and he asked if I was interested in participating in such a series. I told him that I was currently working with Jeff Robbins on a series for a small publisher in Colorado, so what if we both came on board? Creston set up a breakfast with Jeff and I and Slavoj to talk about this possibility. We quickly realized that any book series we could co-edit would exceed traditional theological boundaries, and so we brainstormed about potential publishers. Jeff had just submitted a book he was editing to Columbia University Press, on the recommendation of Santiago Zabala. This book, published as After the Death of God, featured John D. Caputo and Gianni Vattimo, and it became the first book in the series. We contacted Wendy Lochner and she encouraged us, asking to see a proposal. This series proposal was approved in summer 2006 at the same editorial board meeting that approved the book manuscript After the Death of God. Even though having four co-editors seemed a bit unconventional and perhaps even unwieldy, in practice it has worked incredibly well because we all trust each other, and have a great working relationship with Wendy and Christine Dunbar (and previously Christine Mortlock).

    2. A Body of Work

    As of this writing, we have published 16 titles in the series, and we are extremely proud of all of our books, not only in themselves but in terms of the kinds of interconnections they make and the kinds of energies they unleash together. We seem to have a friendly rivalry with Amy Allen’s great series “New Directions in Critical Theory,” that started around the same time and has published about the same number of titles. We share some overlapping theoretical interests but of course Insurrections is more explicitly focused on issues and questions of religion. We have published works by and featuring major European philosophers, including Slavoj Žižek, Gianni Vattimo, Alain Badiou, Catherine Malabou, and Peter Sloterdijk. We have published major American philosophers of religion such as John D. Caputo and Richard Kearney, and we have published religious theorists engaging important postcolonial themes like Arvind Mandair and Ananda Abeysekara. It’s about creating an intersection around religion as a void or an empty space where themes of Continental philosophy, political theology and critical theory converge and amplify each other, opening up new ways of thinking about religion and politics understood in broad terms. Later this spring, we have three more books appearing in the series: a translation of Jacob Taubes, To Carl Schmitt, with an introduction by New Zealand scholar of religion Mike Grimshaw; a translation of another book by Peter Sloterdijk, Philosophical Temperaments: From Plato to Foucault, with an introduction by Creston Davis; and a book co-authored by Catherine Malabou and Adrian Johnston on Self and Emotional Life. Finally, we have books forthcoming by Ward Blanton, Katerina Kolozova and Tyler Roberts, as well as translations of books by Alain Badiou, Antonio Negri and François Laruelle.


    Monday, March 25th, 2013

    Book Giveaway: Insurrections series

    Rage and Time

    One of our most exciting and active book series is Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture, edited by Slavoj Zizek, Clayton Crockett, Creston Davis, and Jeffrey W. Robbins. Books in the series offer a close look at the intersection of religion, politics, and culture in the modern world by bringing the tools of philosophy and critical theory to the political implications of the religious turn.

    Throughout this week, we will be hosting a number of posts and interviews from the editors and authors of the Insurrections series, and we will also feature the series on Twitter feed, and on our Facebook page.

    We are also offering a FREE copy of THREE of the exciting books in the Insurrections series to the winner of our Book Giveaway: The Incident at Antioch/L’Incident D’Antioch, by Alain Badiou; Hermeneutic Communism, by Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala; and Rage and Time, by Peter Sloterdijk.

    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, March 29, at 1:00 pm. Good luck, and spread the word! The book giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who participated, and congratulations to the winner!

    Friday, March 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.

    Today, March 22, is World Water Day, and in honor of the occasion, the MIT Press blog has a post from Joanna Robinson on water cooperation. In her post, Robinson argues that, while “[w]ater has increasingly become a source of conflict globally,” “because water is a shared resource and a source of life, it has the potential to unite individuals and societies through increased cooperation over water governance as well as a commitment to equity and sustainability.”

    From the Square, the blog of NYU Press, continued their celebration and examination of Women’s History Month with a post by Leela Fernandes in which she asks us to consider how we gain our impressions of women from around the world. Thinking about the origins of what we know about the world, she argues, “allows us to grapple with the challenges of “knowing” the world in ways that are ethical.”

    What is “the brain supremacy”? In an interview with the OUPblog, Kathleen Taylor explains the “increasing relevance of neuroscience” and tries to imagine where brain research will take us in the future. “At present, we know of no such limitation. We also know that ideas which, two decades ago, would have been derided as impossible are now being calmly considered in the research literature.”

    Feel underpaid? At the AMACOM Books Blog, Shoya Zichy argues that being underpaid is often the result of an under-assertive employee rather than an uncaring boss. In her post, she provides a step-by-step approach to negotiating a better compensation package at work.

    “On any given day, more than 81,000 youth are confined to residential facilities in the juvenile justice system.” At Voices in Education, the blog of Harvard Education Publishing, Joanne Karger asks how best we can provide the education that will help reintegrate these youths into society. In her post, Karger claims that Universal Design for Learning (UDL) “has the potential to bring about fundamental improvements in the education provided to incarcerated youth.”

    In a thoughtful post at the Yale Press Log, Fania Oz-Salzberger discusses two themes that she and her father address in their recent book: “How did the Jews remain Jews? and, How can books keep families and generations together?”

    A video on the level of wealth inequality in the US recently went viral on Youtube, racking up over five million views to date. At the Stanford University Press Blog, Angelique Haugerud discusses why the video’s reception matters, and how it links the twenty-first century back with “earlier wealth bubbles–such as the late-nineteenth-century era Mark Twain popularized as a Gilded Age of surface glitter and vast underlying corruption, when the very rich sparkled while many went hungry.”

    At Beacon Broadside, sociologist Laurie Essig denounces the practice of politically motivated “bad sociology.” In particular, she takes aim at a recent study by sociologist Mark Regnerus designed to measure the happiness of children of gay parents. She claims that Regnerus and the funders of his study “were assuming that the results would show gay families are worse than straight families.”

    The Pan American Union on the National Mall in Washington D.C. became the home of an ambitious program of visual arts in the Cold War period. At the University of Minnesota Press Blog, Claire F. Fox takes a look at the the history of the PAU, and contemplates the role of art in forging positive international relations between nations.


    Friday, March 22nd, 2013

    Marc Lynch: What’s Missing from the Iraq Debate

    Mark Kukis, Voices from Iraq

    “On the 10th anniversary of the invasion, we should be hearing a lot more from them — and a lot less from the former American officials and pundits who got it wrong the first time.”—Marc Lynch

    Amid the many discussion about the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Marc Lynch author of Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today, argues that:

    one surprising detail about the flood of retrospectives: They have almost exclusively been written by Americans, talking about Americans, for Americans. Indeed, many Iraqis fail to see the point of commemorating the disastrous war for the benefit of the American media.

    In What’s Missing from the Iraq Debate, written for his blog on Foreign Policy, Lynch cites some exceptions, including Mark Kukis’s Voices from Iraq: A People’s History, 2003-2009 but argues that books and commentary on the invasion have been very American-centric. American discussions about Iraq have focused on U.S. strategy, often ignoring Iraqi politics and public opinion. Lynch discusses the implications of this:

    Myopia has consequences. Failing to listen to those Iraqi voices meant getting important things badly wrong. Most profoundly, the American filter tends to minimize the human costs and existential realities of military occupation and a brutal, nasty war. The savage civil war caused mass displacement and sectarian slaughter that will be remembered for generations. The U.S. occupation also involved massive abuses and shameful episodes, from torture at Abu Ghraib Prison to a massacre of unarmed Iraqis in the city of Haditha. The moral and ethical imperative to incorporate Iraqi perspectives should be obvious.


    Thursday, March 21st, 2013

    Mark Kukis on Voices from Iraq and the Nation’s Future

    “The experience of the U.S. invasion and occupation scarred the country much more deeply than even I as a correspondent there imagined.”—Mark Kukis

    Mark Kukis

    Upon the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, we are re-posting an earlier interview with Mark Kukis about his book Voices from Iraq: A People’s History, 2003-2009 and the current situation in Iraq and future prospects for the country.

    Kukis wrote the book to give Iraqis a voice as a way to counteract their under-representation in the U.S. media. He discovered that most Iraqis were genuinely glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein but fault the United States for many policies enacted during the occupation, particularly its disbanding of the Iraqi army.

    Iraqis, Kukis believes now see many of the problems confronting the country as the responsibility of the Iraqi government even if they are a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation. Here are some excerpts from the interview in which Kukis considers how Iraqis view their future:

    What does Iraq’s near-term future look like to them? Do you agree?

    The near-term future looks rather bleak to many Iraqis, mainly because of the persistently high violence. No nation can think of itself as normal or stable when bombs kill and maim hundreds each year in the biggest urban areas. I believe Iraq will grow economically in the coming years and return to its status as one of the most developed and wealthiest nations in the Middle East. You can have economic growth and high violence at the same time.

    But most Iraqis I suspect will find little solace in economic gains so long as violence endures at the current levels, and there is little to suggest it will be easing. So, yes, I tend to join those in Iraq with a fairly dim view of the future given the violence.


    Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

    Paul Pillar: Still Peddling Iraq War Myths, Ten Years Later

    Paul Pillar

    We continue our week long feature on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq with a look at a recent essay by Paul Pillar, author of Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform.

    In the essay Still Peddling Iraq War Myths, Ten Years Later, published on Pillar’s excellent blog for The National Interest, argues that:

    [T]he anniversary retrospectives also give renewed exposure to those who promoted the war and have a large stake in still promoting the idea that they were not responsible for foisting on the nation an expedition that was so hugely damaging to American interests.

    Pillar’s article was in part inspired by a recent event he participated in with former Bush administration figures the then-deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley and Douglas Feith, who as an undersecretary of defense was one of the most rabid supporters of the invasion of Iraq. Still maintaining that the war needed to be fought to protect the United States, Hadley and Feith suggest that if any mistake was made in deciding to go to war it was following bad intelligence. The lesson to learn is that administrations need to ask tougher questions about intelligence.

    As Pillar shows, in what amounts to a devastating critique of the fallacy of Hadley and Feith’s position, bad intelligence had little to do with the Bush administration’s choice to go to invade Iraq. Bush and his neoconservative advisers wanted to get rid of Saddam and saw the post 9-11 atmosphere as giving them an opening. The administration backed intelligence when it supported their case (as with WMD’s) and discredited it when it challenged it (as with the lack of a connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda).


    Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

    Guobin Yang: China’s Twitter Revolution is Slow in Coming

    Guobin Yang, The Power of the Internet in China

    In recent article in Scientific American, Guobin Yang, author of The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online, argues that twitter, microblogging, and other social media is changing China but doubts that radical political change will occur.

    Yang cites a recent incident in China where protesters in Guangzhou went online and into streets to protest government censorship of a newspaper. The event did signal the rising power of online activism in China but the Chinese government has been equally adept, if not more so, at using the Internet to stem dissent and protest. Yang writes:

    To contain Internet dissent and protest, China aggressively censors Web sites. New regulations or crackdowns are often implemented after new outbursts of online protest. This was the case when the first policy to regulate electronic bulletin boards took effect in 2000. When crude sanctions failed to curb online dissent, the government turned to a more subtle measure: sprinkling anonymous Internet commentators to promote the party line throughout the blogging community. According to a report issued by the official news Web site People’s Daily Online, more than 60,000 government accounts were active on Sina Weibo alone by the end of 2012. With its enormous resources, the government can have its Web sites pour out large volumes of information that serve to inundate dissent.


    Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

    Voices from Iraq: What the U.S. Invasion Felt Like to Iraqis

    Mark Kukis, Voices from Iraq

    Mark Kukis author Voices from Iraq: A People’s History, 2003-2009 recently discussed the stories of some of the people he interviewed for the book on Juan Cole’s blog Informed Comment.

    In particular, Kukis shares some of the reactions of a range of Iraqis to the early days of the invasion. This initial period, from the invasion in 2003 to the outbreak of sectarian disease, is referred to as “the collapse” by Iraqis. It was a period that Kukis describes for Iraqis in which, “Anger mingled with joy. Relief came with dread. Hopefulness flowed with rage.”

    Kukis cites varied Iraqi reactions to the looting, the U.S. bombing, and seeing U.S. troops patrolling Iraqi streets. While some spoke with a kind of awe about U.S. soldiers. Omar Yousef Hussein, who became a part of the insurgent movement, reveals a more conflicted view of the troops. In the following, he describes his first operation:

    We made our way to the road. There were some shepherds there with sheep. They saw us planting the bomb but said nothing. It all seemed like a game, honestly. A game you might play as a child. We ran a wire from the bomb through the fields off the road and found a hiding place where the leaves and grass kept us from view. From there we watched. We did not have to wait long. It was a busy road. The Americans used it a lot. After about an hour we saw a Humvee. This was in the early days, when Humvees were often seen alone, not always in armored convoys like later. The Humvee approached, and at the right moment we detonated. The explosion flipped the Humvee onto its side, and after a moment a crowd gathered. We eased out of our hiding spot and joined the group on the street. I don’t know if the Americans in the Humvee were dead or not. I just saw them being carried away on stretchers. No one walked away as far as I could tell. I can’t say how the others felt at that moment, but I was in tears. I didn’t know whether I was crying out of sadness or fear or happiness. Maybe all those reasons. For me, that first operation was like breaking free from a whole life of oppression. I had grown up under Saddam Hussein. I had spent nearly a decade of my youth in his jails. I had seen my country invaded by a foreign army. All my life I felt beaten down by one hand or another. And now, finally, for the first time I was hitting back.

    Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

    New Book Tuesday: Animals, Postmodernism, Muslim Identities, and More New Titles

    Our weekly listing of new titles. Remember these and all our titles are 50% off when you add SALE to your shopping cart during our Spring Sale:

    Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism, by Gary Steiner
    Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism

    Gary Steiner

    Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam
    Aaron W. Hughes

    Protest with Chinese Characteristics: Demonstrations, Riots, and Petitions in the Mid-Qing Dynasty (Now available in paper)
    Ho-fung Hung

    Al-Shabaab in Somalia: The History and Ideology of a Militant Islamist Group, 2005-2012
    Stig Jarle Hansen

    War and War Crimes: Military, Legitimacy, and Success in Armed Conflict
    James Gow

    Beyond Swat: History, Society, and Economy Along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier
    Edited by Benjamin D. Hopkins and Magnus Marsden

    Local Politics in Afghanistan: A Century of Intervention in the Social Order
    Edited by Conrad Schetter


    Monday, March 18th, 2013

    Book Giveaway: Voices from Iraq

    Voices from Iraq,

    This week marks the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. During the week, we will be featuring books and authors’ perspectives on Iraq. In particular, the extraordinary work by Mark Kukis, Voices from Iraq: A People’s History, 2003-2009 by Mark Kukis.

    Kukis’s book features the testimony of close to seventy Iraqis from all backgrounds and occupations—from onetime Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to insurgents speaking on the condition of anonymity.

    In addition to our blog, we will also feature the book on 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, March 15th, 2013

    University Press Roundup

    Welcome to this special Ides of March edition of our weekly University Press Roundup. We’ve collected the best posts of the week 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.

    March 14 (3-14) is widely known as Pi Day. Several publishers ran posts this week in honor of the occasion. The MIT Press blog has a mathematics-centric interview with Sanjoy Mahajan on how the proliferation of technology has affected how we teach and learn math. Meanwhile, the University Press of Kentucky blog and the Penn Press Log took a very different approach to Pi(e) Day: the Kentucky Press blog provides a delicious recipe for a “Kentucky Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie,” while the Penn Press Log provides a delicious recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch shoofly pie. Bring on the pie!

    What, exactly, is the role that scholarly publishers play in the creation of scholarship? And more importantly, what is the role that scholarly publishers SHOULD play in the creation of scholarship? These are the questions that University of Minnesota Press senior acquisitions editor Jason Weidemann asks in “What do university presses do?,” a post at the University of Minnesota Press Blog. Weidemann takes issue with “rhetoric about scholarly publishers these days, rhetoric which paints us as parasites sucking profit and capital out of the work of scholars, structured around a ‘conflict’ between publishers, libraries, and scholars often oversimplified into a binary,” and uses the journey of a new UMP book by Matthew Wolf-Meyer to argue against this oversimplification.

    “Commas are extremely useful but, to my mind, they are the most singularly misunderstood punctuation mark.” At the JHU Press Blog, manuscript editor Michele Callaghan has a post delving into the many uses (and far too frequent misuses) of the comma. She focuses particular attention on the way people often want to add a comma before conjunctions, “possibly from a misguided sense of drama.”

    In the latest entry in their “Director Dish” series of posts, the University of Nebraska Press Blog has a discussion of how book titling works differently in different book genres. The discussion brings up an age-old debate that’s recently been given additional fuel by the rise of search engine optimization as an important consideration in titling (particularly nonfiction) books: is it better to have a descriptive title or a flashy creative title? And what role should the subtitle play?

    MOOCs have (once again) been a contentious topic of numerous op-eds recently, largely spurred by an article in the NYTimes by Thomas Friedman. An Akronism, the University of Akron Press blog, dove into the fray this week with a post looking at MOOCs and the phenomenon of MOOCH (MOOC Hysteria).

    On March 26, the US Supreme Court will for the first time address the legality of bans on same sex marriage by hearing Hollingsworth v. Perry, a case based on California’s recent state ban on gay marriage. At This Side of the Pond, the blog of Cambridge University Press, six experts debate the coming case and what the 14th Amendment actually means.

    The generation born between 2000 and 2020 is likely to be significantly smaller than the Millennial Generation now entering the work force. At the AMACOM Books Blog, Claire Raines has a guest post offering a quick overview of recent generational history and ten quick predictions for this new generation, which she’s dubbed Generation Z for the purposes of the post. Interestingly enough, she argues that, “In just the way Gen Xers felt they grew up in the shadow of the Baby Boom, Z’s will feel like they’re coming of age in the shadow of Millennials.”

    A book can be one of the most powerful gifts. At the LSU Press Blog, author Michael Downs tells the story of a gifted book that helped clarify what “writing fiction” actually meant to him. As he succinctly puts it: “My writing career started with the gift of a book.”

    Hugo Chávez passed away earlier this week, and while the former leader of Venezuela has something of a bad reputation here in the US media, at From the Square, the NYU Press blog, Michael D. Yates argues that Chávez “was a great champion of the impoverished workers and peasants of both Venezuela and the world.”

    At the OUPblog, Fiona Cox and Elena Theodorakopoulos have a fascinating guest post looking at female responses to Homer. They argue that “[i]n the last twenty years there has been an extraordinarily vital and widespread response to Homer by women writers,” and they cite a wide variety of works from Laura Esquival’s Like Water for Chocolate (published in 1989) to last year’s The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller, as evidence.

    Finally, The University of Georgia Press blog has been continuing their “30 Days of the Flannery O’Connor Award” series this week. All the posts in this series are well worth reading, but Tony Ardizzone’s examination of Salvatore La Puma’s The Boys of Bensonhurst is particularly engaging.

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