Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Framing Theory’s Empire - Event and Text
I’ve got a book out! Framing Theory’s Empire [amazon]; or support your local independent publisher by buying direct. You can buy the paperback or download the entire book as a free PDF from the Parlor Press site. UPDATE: and it’s been marked down! Now Parlor direct is cheaper than Amazon. $17.60 vs. $22! A bargain! I’m still waiting for my paper copy to show. (Any of you contributors out there gotten yours yet?) I think the cover is rather handsome. But, then: a father should love his child. The lovely Belle Waring and I designed it together.
A book, eh? See here! What’s all this about? ‘Theory’? Yes, exactly! In the English/humanities department sense: the idiomatically ofless sort, you might say; as in, ‘I do theory’. The stuff that started in the 60’s, got really big in the 80’s. Then either went away or is still hanging around, depending who you ask. (If you ask me: it’s still hanging around.)
If you spent late 2005 in a coma and missed all the glory, we staged a ‘book event’, round-table reviewing the Patai and Corral edited Theory’s Empire (Columbia UP, 2005). See the sidebar for link. Framing Theory’s Empire contains contributions to that event, cleaned up, polished up, edited. (I’ve written an introduction, talking about these issues. If you care to read it.)
The contributors are: Scott McLemee (he generously contributed a preface), John Holbo, Mark Bauerlein, Michael Bérubé, John McGowan, Scott Kaufman, Sean McCann, Daniel Green, Adam Kotsko, Tim Burke, Amardeep Singh, Jonathan Mayhew, Jonathan Goodwin, Chris Cagle, Christopher Conway, Kathleen Lowrey, Brad DeLong, Matthew Greenfield, Morris Dickstein, Jeffrey Wallen, John Emerson, Mark Kaplan, Jodi Dean, Kenneth Rufo, Daphne Patai, Will H. Corral. (Patai and Corral were kind enough to contribute an “Afterword”. At the moment Amazon is giving them erroneous prominence, in the author line. I’ll have to see whether I can get Amazon to correct that. Not that I mind so very much. They themselves will probably be even more annoyed, because it might create some product confusion with Theory’s Empire itself.)
It’s the perfect stocking stuffer for the humanities graduate student on YOUR list!
I think it turned out to be a really great book. In addition to several posts that turned out to be just plain really solid essays, there is some lively, sharp conversation between several participants. There’s intelligent back and forth, actual addressing of critical points and hashing of differences, which is not something one always gets in themed anthologies. I think the informal quality of many of the pieces turns out to be a real virtue as well. It suits the topic. But you tell me. What do you think of the book? What do you think about our event, two years on?
I’m glad to get this done as well because, frankly, my Glassbead Books efforts for Parlor haven’t been quite rolling off the assembly-line, as I had originally hoped. It turns out making books is incredibly hard and time consuming, and folks don’t do stuff when you tell them to, and it’s hard to get folks to commit to helping out. Academics are always busy. I’m hoping that, with a grand total of TWO titles out now we’ve actually got a series. That is, a line, not just a single point. Anyway, next comes our Moretti book - I think. I want to get these things rolling out a lot faster.
In conjunction with the release of this book, I have taken special pains to arrange the Framing Theory’s Empire Memorial Comment Thread, in memory of all those voluminous contributions that were sadly written out of continuity when this book was tidied up.
You are too kind, Rich.
Yes, the wonder of the book is that it looks so grave and dignified. At the ripe old age of 2. Time and text do wonders for the event.
In memory of the tens of hours of entertainment provided by the original, I’ll probably go on to buy this book—but, sight unseen, this grave and dignified quality seems to me to be a step backwards. Yes, all right-thinking people must deplore the Internet flame wars over serious subjects that cause so much rhetorical spitting and yelling and disreputable levels of negative energy to surround the proceedings. (It’s as if someone cares!) But really, this book is about a sprawling argument. There just seems to be something wrong with tidying it up.
Maybe each essay in these books could have, at the end, a URL pointing to the comment thread, and one of those numbers in parenthesis like (4) that said how many comments it had gotten at the time of publication. That would remind everyone reading that the original context of these pieces was far more contested, and give them some indication of how much argument there was over each.
So how is the book going so far? You make a billion dollars yet?