Academic Publishing: An Odyssey

Over three years ago, I was invited to write a review of a handful of recent books by Giorgio Agamben. Since the books represented material from throughout his career, I used the opportunity to reflect on his intellectual development. After an unexpected round of editorial review, the text of my contribution was finalized and ready to go. That will have been approximately three years ago this fall.

Around the same time, I completed a translation of Agamben’s Creation and Anarchy, a reflection on the artwork that thematically overlapped with his first book, The Man Without Content. I hadn’t read the earlier book for a long time, so I decided to pick it up just to compare. It turned out to be very, very different, which piqued my interest in returning to Agamben’s earlier work. Gradually, this investigation evolved into an attempt to reread Agamben’s entire body of work in as close to chronological order as possible.

It became clear that this was my chance to make my definitive statement on Agamben’s work. As I finished my own read-through, I reviewed the relevant secondary literature. I began planning a book proposal and applied for (and received) institutional funding to travel to Italy to interview the man himself about his intellectual development. I gave papers on the topic in multiple venues. Then I wrote the book, got through the review process, and most recently, completed copyedits, proofs, and the index.

The book is coming out in September. I recently got an email that my book review has been scheduled for publication — in September. So in the time this journal has been sitting on a review that it solicited from me, I will have conducted a research program, obtained travel funding, then drafted and published a book on the same topic as that review. This has to mean something, but I can’t figure out what it is.

2 thoughts on “Academic Publishing: An Odyssey

  1. It means it was ‘meant to be’ even if your initial means did not point to such ends. But more than any clever or redundant or frivolous meaning, it means we await the book with much excitement!

    Agamben is one of the most important living thinkers/philosophers we have, and almost all the recent criticisms of his own criticisms of the covid-19 situation are wrought with short-mindedness, jealousy, opportunism and are merely reactionary (yes philosophers/academics carry such traits in abundance unfortunately). One should not waste one’s limited time and energy on such matters and instead read and grapple and reflect on the works of Agamben which are infinitely more rich for any person’s political, intellectual, spiritual, etc upbringing. Pardon me if this sounds a bit vitriolic.

    Thank you for your work on Agamben, including the wonderful translations you have done. The anglophone world is in your debt.


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