Academic Publishing

Is there a new trend where academic publishers seek out academics and offer to discuss possible publication of the books they are working on? And I don’t mean vanity presses, obviously. I mean very respectable publishing houses.

The way it seems to work is that authors speak at the MLA as a way of announcing what they are working on, and then publishers contact them offering to consider the publication of the book that the talk is part of.*

Since my MLA talk, I already got contacted by 3 very good publishing houses who want to publish the book that the talk came from. I always feel bad having to tell them that the book already has come out. On the positive side, all these inquiries encouraged me to start writing a prospectus for the new book**, so that’s good. I never contact publishers until I have the complete manuscript but hey, maybe it’s time to change my process and start pitching while I’m still writing. Or still thinking about writing.

*One is supposed to be working on a book at all times. All of the people in my field to whom I mentioned my recently published book immediately asked when the new one was coming out and what it was about. Even the analyst was like, “OK, so when is the new book coming out? Do you have a date of completion?” It’s like the women who bring a newborn from the hospital and everybody goes, “So? When are you going to have the next one?” I personally find it extremely invigorating when this happens (a propos the book and not the next pregnancy, obviously. At my age, nobody asks about the next pregnancy. Which makes me want to go, “And why do you keep silent, huh? Am I too old? Do I look old, huh, huh? I still have 15 years left before menopause, for your information.”)

** Good news: the book will be about nationalism. N is reading my crisis book and asks, “So what is liquid capital?” Which goes to show that I haven’t been bugging him with fluidity and the nation-state. When I explained the concept, his reaction was, “OK, so why did we support Hillary, then?”

Sexual Ignorance

What the author of the previous (and shockingly ridiculous) post mistook for sexual harassment is the environment of joy and excitement that accompanies the sharing and discovery of knowledge.

When, for instance, I come into my History of Latin America class, the 29 students look at me like they are in love. It’s not love of me as an individual and there’s definitely nothing whatsoever erotic about it. What the students are in love with is all of the fascinating knowledge we are discovering in class and the joy of learning and thinking.

In grad school, it’s even more intense because aside from the love of learning, students also feel love for the profession and for their future professional selves that they see in their teachers. If learning is organized correctly, the air crackles with the high voltage of ideas getting generated.

Either wilfully or out of sheer ignorance, the linked author confused this kind of intellectual excitement with erotic arousal. She isn’t totally to blame, of course, given that the degree of puritanism in our supposedly sexually liberated world is such that people seriously proclaim that “the brain is the sexiest organ of all.”

Like in the story of a comic’s failed date, people who see (or offer) such narratives as evidence of sexual harassment are grievously ignorant. And everybody seems too embarrassed to tell them how ridiculous they sound.