2018: My Year of the Edited Anthology

Yes, blatant self-promotion here: I have a few publications coming out this year, and they’re edited anthologies, either my own or my contributions of chapters. I don’t feel too bad writing about it, as I love doing this work, so I love talking about it. But I also love hearing other people talk about the work that they’re doing, and I like promoting the work of others — I love it when people I’m connected to produce good things, and I like taking about that too.

There’s also a bit of an ethical imperative behind book promotion: if a publisher invests in your work by publishing it, you should feel obligated to promote it — to help the publisher recover that investment. On a side note, you can trust me when I say there is no real money in almost all academic publishing for the authors of these works, at least not in terms of direct compensation for the publication. I got one check a year for three years for my first book, Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety (Continuum/Bloomsbury 2010). Each check was big enough to take my wife out to dinner to an Olive Garden / Red Lobster kind of restaurant, but it wouldn’t cover the sitter too. It sold about the average number of copies for an academic book, 300-350. It’s listed in over 1000 libraries around the world, but shared databases mean that libraries don’t have to own their own copy of a book to have access to it.

But best of all, because these are all edited anthologies, I’m not only promoting my work, but the work of colleagues around the world. So what I’m really saying here is, “check out this interesting work that we’ve all come together to do.” Publications appear in the order of their release.

Rock and Romanticism: Blake and Wordsworth, Book Cover
Taylor Fickes, cover photo. Fickes Photo.

Rock and Romanticism: Blake, Wordsworth, and Rock from Dylan to U2 (Lexington Books, February 2018), edited by James Rovira. Check out the book page to see descriptions of each chapter, lists of musical works discussed, lists of literary works discussed, and links to iTunes playlists associated with each chapter. Most of the music covered in this volume falls in the category of classic rock or folk/roots/country rock (Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Rush, U2, Blackberry Smoke), but we have chapters engaging acts like Lil Wayne and the 1960s’ Italian pop singer Piero Ciampi. Why I love writing about music.

 

 

 

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Kierkegaard, Literature, and the Arts (Northwestern UP, February 2018), edited by Eric Ziolkowski. Great study of the subject under discussion edited by a leading Kierkegaard scholar — not to mention the contributor list, which is almost a who’s who of Kierkegaard scholarship. I was fortunate to contribute chapter 12, “The Moravian Origins of Kierkegaard’s and Blake’s Socratic Literature.”

 

 

 

 

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Assembling the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Essays on the Social, Cultural and Geopolitical Domains (McFarland, March 2018), edited by Julian C. Chambliss, Bill L. Svitavsky, and Daniel Fandino. I was privileged to contribute “Silly Love Songs, Gender, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The table of contents isn’t available yet.

 

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Rock and Romanticism: Post-Punk, Goth, and Metal as Dark Romanticisms (Palgrave Macmillan, April 2018), edited by James Rovira. Yes, it’s a second rock and Romanticism book released in the same year, but it’s completely different from the first with its focus on the Gothic. I’ve built a book page for this one too, which should go live either mid to late March. The book page will also have chapter descriptions, links to the music and literature under discussion, and links to iTunes and Spotify playlists. This anthology takes the thesis stated in the previous Rock and Romanticism book then narrows and focuses it upon the Gothic. After an initial discussion of Milton, Shelley, and the Rolling Stones’s “Sympathy for the Devil,” chapters focus on music from the New Romantics and the Pretenders onward, covering a variety of acts: post-punk, goth/emo, Eminem, and metal bands.

In development: Interpretation: Theory: History (under contract with Lexington Books). Really interesting project in which contributors examine a variety of reading practices from Plato to Object Oriented Ontology against their historical backgrounds to establish a dialectic between our reading practices and their social milieus. I hope to send a first full draft to the publisher by the end of March.

Active CFPs:

The next two projects are in very early stages of development and continue to narrow and focus my study of rock and Romanticism:

Rock and Romanticism: The David Bowie Edition (will probably be retitled David Bowie and Romanticism).

Women in Rock: Women in Romanticism

 

Latest Article on Sequart: Ex Machina

I just posted my latest article to Sequart: “Ex Machina: Girlbots vs. Geekboys and Creation Anxiety in the New Frankenstein.” Check it out.

Pulp Fiction and Religious Consciousness

Pulp Fiction Movie PosterI posted the following to a Facebook conversation with my buddy and movie critic Marc DiPaolo (check out his books on amazon.com). Marc had asked if Pulp Fiction is a “deeply religious movie.” What follows is my response, slightly edited.

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If Pulp Fiction is a deeply religious movie (which I think it is), then the suitcase is a modern incarnation of a golden calf, or a concentrated image representing our culture’s worship of money and power, which mob boss Marcellus Wallace holds and everyone else wants. What makes Sam Jackson’s character (Jules) the most “spiritual” is his willingness to get it for someone else without keeping it (or even wanting to keep it) for himself, much like Frodo and the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings.

Once Jules has attained that level of development, he increasingly becomes uninterested in serving power structures at all, so like a prophet he seeks only to “walk tha erf” protecting the weak and innocent from the strong and powerful, per his mangled, fictional Biblical quotation.

Bruce Willis’s character (Butch) represents another path of spiritual development, one that does not compromise on principle (represented by his memory of his father’s watch) in the face of despair over his personal advancement (he will never make it as a boxer) or personal gain (Wallace paying him off to take a dive in a boxing match). Butch accepts the payoff from Wallace in order to retaliate against the criminals using him by betting on himself for a change (which he’d never done all his life, “betting on himself” representing faith in oneself and one’s principles). He then wins the fight so violently he inadvertently kills his opponent.

GraceBut Butch is not himself completely criminal, because even though Wallace has now become a sworn enemy, Butch respects Wallace’s basic human dignity enough to protect Wallace from being killed by the “pawnshop rednecks” who have already started to rape him. This act of decency wins Butch his freedom from Wallace, who forgives Butch’s betrayal. Butch rides off to collect his money with his girl on a motorcycle that has the word “Grace” spray painted on the tank — he has received grace (in the form of freedom from revenge by power and money) because he stuck to all of his principles, even at great personal risk to himself: saving Wallace proved he wasn’t just another con man.

The “pawnshop redneck rape scene” extends the film’s commentary to a commentary Pulp-Fiction-Vectoron the distribution of wealth and power: white people (yuppies in the hotel room; white racist rapist uniformed security) keep trying to take it from black people (Wallace). Wallace, though a criminal, isn’t totally evil: he forgives Butch, allows Jules to leave, trusts Vincent Vega with his wife. He works on a basic principle of fairness and even trust although he makes his living as a criminal, which may extend Pulp Fiction‘s commentary to metadiscourse on society: lawful society has become so criminal that only criminals free of law can act on any kind of principle. Wallace’s revenge on the racist rapists may anticipate the revenge fantasy theme in Tarantino’s later films, such as Django Unchained or Inglorious Basterds. 

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