At almost any gathering of academic publishers or librarians, you’ll hear someone float the idea—sometimes phrased as a question—that the model for publishing scholarly monographs is broken.
As InsideHigherEd reports: “Two sets of ideas aired at the Association of American University Presses’ annual meeting, held here this week, don’t say the model is damaged beyond repair. But the proposals, both from groups outside the university-press community, suggest that it needs to be retrofitted, at the least.
“One possible approach came from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the other from a task force on scholarly communications run jointly by the Association of American Universities and the Association of Research Libraries. Both raised the question of how to better subsidize the digital publication of scholarly monographs, and both included the notion that faculty authors’ home institutions might do more to help pay for those books to be published. Such support would help deal with what university-press people often call the “free-rider problem,” in which institutions without presses—most of them, in other words—leave it to those with presses to support the system that gives faculty authors publication credentials.
“The AAU/ARL task force describes its plan as a “prospectus for an institutionally funded first-book subvention” that would shift the burden of payment to authors’ home institutions. That would “address the principal causes and effects of the market failure for monographs,” the prospectus says. It envisions that colleges and universities would agree to pay for an openly available “basic digital edition” of some faculty members’ first books; scholarly publishers could offer those titles for sale in other formats too.
“The plan also envisions that universities with a high level of research activity would offer subventions for three or four books a year, with an “annual subvention exposure” of roughly $68,000 to $73,000. Small colleges would pay for one or two books a year, and offer more modest subventions. Continue reading “On paying for book publication”
In film critic Molly Haskell’s new book, My Brother, My Sister,” begins in 2005, as John (Chevey) Haskell, a 59-year-old married financial adviser, tells his older sister that he has “gender dysphoria” and wants to become female.As reviewed in the New York Times, “The author doesn’t soft-pedal her reaction: “My brother . . . will be a ‘woman on the loose.’ My heart stops. The danger. The grotesqueness. An aging transsexual,” she laments. “Please tell me you’ll still be smart at money and computers, and not dumb like . . . well, like a girl?” she half-jokes.
“Haskell’s bewilderment is understandable. Having someone close come out as transgender can be disorienting; few realize how attached they are to a loved one’s cheek stubble or the bass timbre of his voice until those traits morph or disappear. Coping with a gender transition — which necessarily challenges binary constructions of male and female — may be even more difficult for Haskell, who in an earlier memoir, “Love and Other Infectious Diseases,” described herself as a “stoical WASP.” Unfortunately, a state of shock and confusion is not the optimal position from which to glean insights.
“And that is the state in which Haskell finds herself not only on Page 1 but two-thirds of the way through as well. Throughout, she frets. She worries that her brother, now named Ellen Hampton, will constantly be “looking over her shoulder for psychopaths.” She worries that her brother will be too attractive as a woman, or not attractive enough (“There’s nothing like a transsexual to bring out one’s latent fashion snobbery”). And she worries what other people — her friends, her housekeeper, the doorman — will think. She even pictures the reaction of their late mother, a dignified Virginia society matron: “I imagine utter devastation, shock, revulsion, a mortification that goes beyond simple shame or embarrassment. Possibly even a stroke or heart attack, or deep depression.” Continue reading “Molly Haskell’s “My Brother My Sister””
“Otherwise: Queer Scholarship Into Song” took place Friday at new York’s Dixon Place, presenting a musical review/book party featuring the unconventional transformation of recently released queer scholarly works into original songs. Notably, a review of the evening appeared in today’s New York Times. The writer seems a bit mystified:
“Queer theory, with its impenetrable jargon and radical utopian politics, may seem to have little in common with musical theater beyond an overlapping fan base. But at Thursday’s event, a dozen scholars and the performers invited to interpret their recently published books proved that even if it lacks a beat, you can still dance to it.
“It’s a really queer version of a book launch,” Kay Turner, the organizer and M.C., said at the start of the show. “Tonight we’re going to eat each other’s words and put them into song.”
“The musician David Driver, whose credits include both Dunkin’ Donuts commercials and experimental opera, captured the evening’s spirit of fond mockery when he asked: “Is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? Total SiriusXM show — all academics, all the time!” Continue reading “Dancing to queer theory”
“Once upon a time, two German brothers began collecting the best fairytales of their age,” reads a story in The Guardian today about the enduring legacy of a certain set of children’s stories. “They gathered an array of stories involving princes and princesses, forests, castles and magic, but also darker sagas of cannibalism, dismemberment, murder and evil stepmothers.
“The 200th anniversary on Thursday of the first publication of the Grimm brothers’ Die Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales), a collection of 86 stories that became worldwide classics, is triggering a year of feverish celebrations in Germany to mark the birth of one of the most frequently read books in the world. Continue reading “A Grimm legacy considered”