Congratulations to the 2019 MacArthur Fellows!

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant! We’re proud to count several of this year’s MacArthur Fellows among our journal contributors. In honor of their achievements, we’ve made a selection of their essays freely available through the end of the year.

Saidiya Hartman
The Anarchy of Colored Girls Assembled in a Riotous Manner
South Atlantic Quarterly 117:3, 2018

Sujatha Baliga
The Day the Jail Walls Cracked: A Restorative Plea Deal
Tikkun 27:1, 2012

Annie Dorsen
The Sublime and the Digital Landscape
Theater 48:1, 2018

Jeffrey Alan Miller
“Better, as in the Geneva”: The Role of the Geneva Bible in Drafting the King James Version
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 47:3, 2017

Elizabeth Anderson
Rationality and Freedom
The Philosophical Review 114:2, 2005

A Quarter-Century of Common Knowledge

Congratulations to Common Knowledge on twenty-five years of publication! In honor of the journal’s anniversary, its editors have pulled together a triple-length special issue consisting of outstanding and representative articles, editorial statements, book reviews, poetry, and fiction published over journal’s history.

A Quarter-Century of Common-Knowledge” maps the life of a journal that Susan Sontag called her “favorite” and that Stephen Greenblatt praises as showing “what it means boldly to choose compromise over contention, reconciliation over rejection, civility over strife.”

Contributors to this volume include many of the most controversial and influential thinkers and writers of the turbulent years since the end of the Cold War, among them

  • heads of state and government: Václav Havel, King Michael of Romania, Edward Heath
  • dissidents: Fang Lizhi, Adam Michnik, Sari Nusseibeh
  • imposing literary figures: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, J. M. Coetzee, Wisława Szymborska, Edward Albee, Lydia Davis, Anne Carson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Thom Gunn, Frank Kermode
  • groundbreaking social scientists: Amartya Sen, Marilyn Strathern, Albert O. Hirschman, Julia Kristeva, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro
  • reshapers of religion: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, Caroline Walker Bynum, Gianni Vattimo, Jack Miles
  • political philosophers: Isaiah Berlin, Bernard Williams, Cornelius Castoriadis, György Konrád
  • theorists of the “linguistic turn”: W. V. Quine, Richard Rorty, Clifford Geertz, Stanley Cavell, Quentin Skinner
  • microhistorians and their critics: Carlo Ginzburg, Natalie Zemon Davis, Keith Thomas, J. H. Elliott
  • key developers of science studies: Bruno Latour, Paul Feyerabend, Ian Hacking, Barbara Herrnstein Smith

Start reading with renowned political economist Albert O. Hirschman’s essay “Self-Subversion,” made freely available through the end of the year, or explore the full contents of this exceptional issue.

Farewell to Annette Kolodny

Kolodny F12 Author Photo color Photograph by Susanna Corcoran

Photo by Susanna Corcoran

We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Annette Kolodny on September 11 after a long illness. Kolodny was College of Humanities Professor Emerita of American Literature and Culture at the University of Arizona. Kolodny published several books with us.

From 1988 to 1993, Kolodny served as Dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona. Following her tenure, she wrote Failing the Future: A Dean Looks at Higher Education in the Twenty-first Century (1998). The book explored the changing structure of the American family and its impact on both curriculum and university benefits policies, offered recommendations for overhauling the culture of decision making on campus, explored the present state of higher education and offered a sobering view of what lies ahead.

Kolodny also edited a highly-praised edition of The Life and Traditions of the Red Man  (2007) by Joseph Nicolar. The Maine Sunday Telegram said the book’s publication was, “a cause for multicultural celebration and a benchmark event in local, regional and even North American scholarship.”

978-0-8223-5286-0_prIn 2012, Kolodny published the capstone to her long and distinguished career, In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery. The book offers a radically new interpretation of two medieval Icelandic tales, known as the Vinland sagas. Indian Country Today called it “groundbreaking,” and novelist Margaret Atwood shared her enthusiasm for the book on Twitter, calling it “fascinating.”

Read more about Annette Kolodny’s many achievements in her obituary.

We offer our condolences to Professor Kolodny’s colleagues, friends, and family.

 

What to Do about Reviewer #2: Advice for Handling a Difficult Peer Review

quality-in-peer-review_19It’s Peer Review Week,  global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scholarly quality. We’re excited to share a guest post by Executive Editor Courtney Berger.

 

On a not-too-infrequent basis I see posts and memes in my social media feed denouncing the dastardly deeds of Reviewer #2—that querulous and impossible-to-please peer reviewer. I usually hover over the post, thinking that I might chime in with a bit of helpful advice. I am a book editor after all. Surely I can say something to help alleviate my friend’s experience of feeling misread, misunderstood, or even personally attacked by an anonymous peer reviewer/colleague. But I always resist weighing in, knowing that at that moment my friend just needs to voice their frustration and receive some affirmation. It can be painful to receive this kind of criticism, especially when facing the pressures of tenure and promotion. However, while momentarily painful, even a negative peer review can be a good thing, and you can use the report to strengthen your book. So, here’s a bit of practical and philosophical advice to help you work through a tough peer review.

reviewer 2

1) Go ahead and vent—but be careful about where and how you do so.

As I mentioned, I see plenty of social media posts railing against Reviewer #2. No judgment. It’s good to get your community to support you through tough times. But I would caution against offering too much detail in a (semi)public forum or lingering in this phase for too long. It’s a small world—and although there should be an appropriate amount of distance between you and the reviewer, it’s always possible that they are in or adjacent to your social circles. You never know when the person you’ve declared to be the enemy of your book project will turn out to be the person you most wanted feedback from. (Yes, that happens!) After your initial venting, share the report with a trusted friend or colleague and get their feedback. Perhaps they will have a different take on the reader’s comments. They may identify productive advice that it was tough for you to see at first. If it helps, write a scathing response, voicing all of your frustration with the reader’s misapprehensions and misreadings. Get it all out. Then file it away.

2) Focus on problems, not solutions.

My colleague Ken Wissoker touched on this in his blog post on the merits of peer review, and it’s a strategy that I frequently employ to help authors shift their perspective on a review (even a positive one!). It’s easy to get hung up on the reader’s suggestions for how to improve your book. Maybe they recommend adding a chapter or including analysis of a topic or critic that you think is tangential to your project. Or, perhaps you feel like they didn’t “get” your argument or missed a point that’s already in the manuscript. Your job is to figure why the reader is tripping up. If you said something and they missed it, that may not be the reviewer’s fault. Chances are the point is buried at the end of a chapter or not articulated with enough force. In that case, you need to clarify and highlight your claims so that the reader does get it. It’s not uncommon to have two readers—one more positive, the other more critical—pointing to the same issue. It’s just easier to hear the person who presents their comments more constructively. As the author, it’s your job to make the leap and to figure out what your readers need in order to be convinced. Once you do that, it will be much easier to come up with a revision plan.

3) Clarify your vision.

Use the reader’s comments to sharpen your own vision for the book. I often ask authors early in the process: what do you want your book to accomplish? Are you aiming to shift a scholarly conversation, revise an accepted history, offer a new theoretical tool? Do all of the parts of the book support that mission? Clarity on this point will help you to decide which advice to take on board and which to leave by the wayside. The goal of the review process is to help you write the book you want to write, but even better. Let me repeat that, since it’s easy to forget as you’re wading through frustration, self-doubt, or any of the other feelings that this process provokes. You should use the review process to help you realize your vision for the book and to help you say what you want to say in a way that will reach your readers. For a peer-reviewed book, you need to do that in a way that is convincing to other experts in your field; but the book is yours.  (Note: I am setting aside exigencies such as tenure review, departmental pressures, and disciplinary policing, which can make this more complicated. But I always urge people to come back to their own ambitions for the project. The audiences and conversations you initiate or enter into with the book are the ones you’ll likely be engaging with for a while, and so they should be ones you care about.)

4) Talk to your editor.

Sometimes a negative review might mean that a press decides to turn down your project, and you may not have an opportunity to get substantial feedback from the editor. But other times, if the reports indicate that the project has great promise, an editor might be eager to work with you to see the book to publication. So process the report, get through the venting phase, and then set up a time to talk to your editor or send them an email with your preliminary thoughts and questions. As the editor, I have a different perspective. First, I know who the readers are, and while I keep their identities anonymous, I can also help an author think critically about the book’s audience and why a particular reviewer might be frustrated with the manuscript in its current state. For example, maybe you thought the book was for a history of science readership. Reviewer #2’s comments might help you to realize that this audience won’t be as receptive to your work. Is this who you are really writing for? If so, you may need to make some adjustments. If not, you may need to reframe the book for the readership you want. Also, I appreciate authors who can take a tough criticism and respond productively. I take it as a good sign when an author is willing to tackle Reviewer #2’s comments and use the feedback to make their book even better.

5) Remember that the review process is part of a larger scholarly conversation.

For many the review process simply feels like a set of hoops to jump through. And it can be that. But it’s also a chance to learn from your peers—just as you would when presenting a paper at a conference—and to respond. While there is the occasional mean-spirited reviewer, most readers are trying to be helpful. Try to receive the comments in the same spirit. Be grateful that someone took the time to read and think with you and take what you can from the conversation.

6) Make your response about you, not the reviewer.

Your editor may ask you to write a response to the reader reports, addressing the readers’ questions and laying out a revision plan. It’s tempting to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate all the ways that Reviewer #2 was wrong. (See #1 above: if you do this, keep it in your drafts folder.) Instead, focus on what you plan to do to improve the book. Now is the time for solutions! For example, if the reader didn’t think the book’s argument was cogent, offer a clear and concise overview of the book’s intervention. If the structure wasn’t working, explain how you will either adapt the structure or make the structure more visible so that the reader will understand it. And hold your ground when you need to. If you really don’t agree with a reviewer’s take on your project, say so and explain how you will make your vision for the project come to life.

6) Know when to cut your losses.

Sometimes a negative review is just a negative review. As difficult as it sounds, you may need to set it aside and move on—to a new press or to a new reviewer, depending on the situation. But hopefully with some of these strategies you can get the most out of the review process, and maybe someday you’ll even be thanking Reviewer #2 in your acknowledgments!

courtneyCourtney Berger is Executive Editor at Duke University Press. She joined the Press in 2003, after receiving her Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins University. Courtney acquires books across the humanities and social sciences. Her key areas of acquisition include: social and political theory, transnational American studies, Native American and indigenous studies, gender and sexuality studies, African American studies, Asian American studies, critical ethnic studies, environmental humanities, science and technology studies, media studies, literary studies, and geography.

 

Open-Access Journal Critical Times Now Available

We are pleased to announce that Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal, is now available to read online. The journal is edited by Samera Esmeir and published by the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, housed at the University of California, Berkeley.

Critical Times aims to foreground encounters between canonical critical theory and various traditions of critique emerging from other historical legacies, seeking to present the multiple forms that critical thought takes today. The journal publishes essays from different regions of the world in order to foster new paths of intellectual exchange and reformulate the field by accounting for its regional and linguistic inflections.

The newest issue of Critical Times opens with a special section of memorial essays and testimonies on the life, work, and legacy of Saba Mahmood. The issue also features a group of scholarly essays that reflect on the critical situations of universities in South Africa, Chile, India, and Mexico.

Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.

Interested in publishing an article? Critical Times seeks to publish texts that shed light on contemporary practices of authoritarian and neo-fascist politics, nativist and atavistic cultural formations, and forms of economic exclusion, as well as spaces and forms of life where emancipatory social worlds might be imagined, articulated, and pursued. The journal publishes essays, interviews, dialogues, dispatches, visual art, and various other platforms for critical reflection, transnational exchange, and political reflection and practice. For more information on how to submit an article, visit the submission guidelines page.

Celebrating the publication of Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature

We are excited to announce that the first issue of Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature published by Duke University Press is now available.

Prism, edited by Zong-qi Cai and Yunte Huang, presents cutting-edge research on modern literary production, dissemination, and reception in China and beyond. It also publishes works that study the shaping influence of traditional literature and culture on modern and contemporary China.

The journal actively promotes scholarly investigations from interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives, and it encourages integration of theoretical inquiry with empirical research. Prism strives to foster in-depth dialogues between Western and Chinese literary theories that illuminate both the unique features of each interlocutor and their shared insights into issues of universal interest.

Prism is a new incarnation of the Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese (JMLC), founded in 1987 by the Centre for Humanities Research at Lingnan University.

Subscribe to the journal, learn more about submissions, or sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.

The Plantation, the Postplantation, and the Afterlives of Slavery

“The Plantation, the Postplantation, and the Afterlives of Slavery,” a new special issue of American Literature edited by Gwen Bergner and Zita Nunes, interrogates the plantation as a form, logic, and technology that continues to produce inequalities.

Contributors follow the evolution of plantation slavery in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through its subsequent iterations in the Jim Crow and civil rights eras, and into the neoliberal present, where the carceral state props up fantasies of postracialism.

The contributors rethink the necro- and biopolitics of plantation slavery, uncovering laborers’ strategies of self-determination, affiliation, and communication in spite of the plantation’s mechanisms of control.

Browse the issue’s contents and read the introduction and Monique Allewaert’s article “Super Fly: François Makandal’s Colonial Semiotics,” freely available for a limited time.

Farewell to Immanuel Wallerstein

Immanuel_Wallerstein.2008We were saddened to learn of the recent death of esteemed sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein. We published his book World-Systems Analysis in 2004.

Wallerstein taught at Columbia University, Binghamton University (where he led the Fernand Braudel Center for the Study of Economies, Historical Systems and Civilization), and finally at Yale University, where he was a Senior Research Scholar until his death on August 31.

In World-Systems Analysis, Immanuel Wallerstein provided a concise and accessible introduction to the comprehensive approach that he pioneered forty years ago to understanding the history and development of the modern world. Since Wallerstein first developed world-systems analysis, it has become a widely utilized methodology within the historical social sciences and a common point of 978-0-8223-3442-2_prreference in discussions of globalization. Wallerstein explains the defining characteristics of world-systems analysis: its emphasis on world-systems rather than nation-states, on the need to consider historical processes as they unfold over long periods of time, and on combining within a single analytical framework bodies of knowledge usually viewed as distinct from one another—such as history, political science, economics, and sociology. He describes the world-system as a social reality comprised of interconnected nations, firms, households, classes, and identity groups of all kinds.

In 2011, we published a collection of essays about Wallerstein’s important work, Immanuel Wallerstein and the Problem of the World, edited by David Palumbo-Liu, Nirvana Tanoukhi,  and Bruce Robbins. Scholars of comparative literature, gender, geography, history, law, race, and sociology all consider what thinking on the world scale might mean for particular disciplinary practices, knowledge formations, and objects of study. The collection shows the impact of Wallerstein’s ideas throughout academe.

In his cover endorsement for World-Systems Analysis, Kai Erickson of Yale University said, “Immanuel Wallerstein’s mind can reach as far and encompass as much as anyone’s in our time.” He will be greatly missed.

New Books in September

Summer’s almost over, which means it’s time to start to replenishing your reading list! Celebrate the start of a new academic year with us by checking out this diverse array of books arriving in September.

Acknowledging the impending worldwide catastrophe of rising seas in the twenty-first century, Orrin H. Pilkey and Keith C. Pilkey outline the impacts on the United States’ shoreline and argue that the only feasible response along much of the U.S. shoreline is an immediate and managed retreat in Sea Level Rise.

Brenda R. Weber’s Latter-day Screens examines the ways in which the mediation of Mormonism through film, TV, blogs, YouTube videos, and memoirs functions as a means through which to understand conversations surrounding gender, sexuality, spirituality, capitalism, justice, and individualism in the United States.

Self-Devouring Growth by Julie Livingston shows how the global pursuit of economic and resource-driven growth comes at the expense of catastrophic destruction, thereby upending popular notions that economic growth and development is necessary for improving a community’s wellbeing.

In Under Construction, Daniel Mains explores the intersection of infrastructural development and governance in contemporary Ethiopia by examining the conflicts surrounding the construction of specific infrastructural technologies and how that construction impacts the daily lives of Ethiopians.

Elizabeth Freeman’s Beside You in Time expands bipolitical and queer theory by outlining a temporal view of the long nineteenth century and showing how time became a social and sensory means by which people resisted disciplinary regimes and assembled into groups in ways that created new forms of sociality.

Terry Smith—who is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading historians and theorists of contemporary art—traces the emergence of contemporary art and further develops his concept of contemporaneity in Art to Come through analyses of topics ranging from Chinese and Australian Indigenous art to architecture.

Henry Cow by Benjamin Piekut tells the story of the English experimental rock band Henry Cow and how it linked its improvisational musical aesthetic with a collectivist, progressive politics.

Davina Cooper’s Feeling Like a State explores the unexpected contribution a legal drama of withdrawal—as exemplified by some conservative Christians who deny people inclusion, goods, and services to LGBTQ individuals—might make to conceptualizing a more socially just, participative state.

In Making The Black Jacobins, Rachel Douglas traces the genesis, transformation, and afterlives of the different versions of C. L. R. James’s landmark The Black Jacobins across the decades from the 1930s onwards, showing how James revised it in light of his evolving politics.

William E. Connolly links climate change, fascism, and the nature of truth to demonstrate the profound implications of the deep imbrication between planetary nonhuman processes and cultural developments in Climate Machines, Fascist Drives, and Truth.

Cara New Daggett’s The Birth of Energy traces the genealogy of the idea of energy from the Industrial Revolution to the present, showing how it has informed fossil fuel imperialism, the governance of work, and our relationship to the Earth.

Never miss a new book! Sign up for our e-mail newsletters, and get notifications of new titles in your preferred disciplines as well as discounts and other news.

Author Events in September

As we start a new semester, we have a lot of great events where you can catch one of our authors reading and signing their recent titles.

The ChasersSeptember 10: NYU’s The King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center will host a reading with The Chasers author Renato Rosaldo.
6:00pm, 53 Washington Square S, New York, NY 10012

September 11: Savage Ecology author Jairus Grove will discuss his new book with David Goldberg at City Lights.
7:00pm, 261 Columbus Avenue at Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

September 12: Catch Nathan Snaza discussing his new book Animate Literacies with Duke University Press editor Elizabeth Ault at Chop Suey Books.
6:00pm, 2913 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23221

September 16: Renato Rosaldo presents The Chasers in conversation with Alyshia Gálvez with a musical performance by Gustavo Aguilar at Greenlight Bookstore.
7:30pm, 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217

September 18: Word Up Community Bookshop will host a book talk with Renato Rosaldo on The Chasers.
6:30pm, 2113 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10032

September 21: The Voice in the Headphones and Now that the audience is assembled author David Grubbs will have a discussion with Anthony McCall at the NY Art Book Fair.
7:00pm, MOMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101

978-1-4780-0637-4September 23: Orrin H. Pilkey, co-author of Sea Level Rise, begins his “The Old Men and the Sea” tour with Gilbert M. Gaul, author of The Geography of Risk, at the College of Charleston.
6:00pm, 66 George St, Charleston, SC 29424

September 24: Matt Sakakeeny will celebrate his new book Remaking New Orleans at Mimi’s In The Marigny.
6:00pm, 2601 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70117

September 24: Orrin Pilkey and Giblert M. Gaul continue “The Old Men and the Sea” tour at the North Carolina Coastal Federation.
5:30pm, 309 W. Salisbury St., Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

September 25: The last stop on “The Old Men and the Sea” tour with Sea Level Rise co-author Orrin H. Pilkey and Gilbert M. Gaul at Pine Valley Library.
7:00pm, Osprey Room, 3802 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28412

September 25: Join Elspeth H. Brown for a presentation of her book Work! at Fashion Institute of Technology.
6:00pm, Pomerantz Art and Design Center, 227 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001

September 26: Sea Level Rise author Orrin H. Pilkey will be at The Regulator Bookshop to talk about his new book.
7:00pm, 720 9th St, Durham, NC 27705

September 30: The University of Alberta will host a lecture with What’s the Use? author Sara Ahmed.
3:30pm, 11335 Saskatchewan Drive NW, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9