As we face a pandemic that has disrupted education, research, publishing, and society worldwide, we find that the mission of the university press is more crucial than ever. This season’s titles remind us of the importance of deep thought and intellectual community during and after the crisis.
In search of ways to manage uncertainty and complexity, Columbia’s Ruth DeFries asks What Would Nature Do? — a timely question that has become only timelier as we seek survival strategies for the coronavirus age. She shows that we cannot turn our back on global interconnectedness but must learn how to embrace it anew.
For those who need some diversion from our current predicament, I suggest Thomas Doherty on the original true crime story, Little Lindy Is Kidnapped, tasting The Terroir of Whiskey, or literature in translation from Japanese, Russian, or Mongolian.
We are proud to announce the launch of three new series that speak to the future of our publishing program by showing the value of breaking down boundaries. Rereadings offers critics and scholars the opportunity to return to formative works with a new eye, speaking to the wider community of readers about the place that books hold in our lives. In No Limits, philosophers and leading thinkers ruminate on big topics, unconstrained by conventional categories. Society and the Environment considers the linkages between social and natural worlds, which, as epidemics and climate change show, cannot be cordoned off.
To publish these books, we are fortunate to have the support of a whole ecosystem, from the Columbia University community through printers and distributors, booksellers of all shapes and sizes, and, most vitally, our readers. As we admire and join the creative ways that the literary world has maintained a sense of unity despite isolation, we look forward to a time when we can be together again—in bookstores, at readings, around the seminar table, and all the other ways we celebrate these groundbreaking books. Thank you for being a part of the university press community.
Jennifer Crewe, Associate Provost and Director