I just posted my latest article to Sequart: “Ex Machina: Girlbots vs. Geekboys and Creation Anxiety in the New Frankenstein.” Check it out.
Matt Novak’s “A Robot Has Shot Its Master: the 1930s hysteria about machines taking jobs and killing people” is an engaging Slate article from 2011 that attempts to explain the fears of robots, robotics, and mechanization in depression-era Europe and the United States. It exactly covers the topic of my book, Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety (2010 hardcover, 2011 paperback), which asks the question, “Why do we fear what we create?” I locate the origin of this questioning in English literature in William Blake’s The [First] Book of Urizen (1795), an important predecessor to the godmother of all such literature, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818, 1831). What’s particularly interesting is that Novak’s article cites Frankenstein as a common reference point for the expression of these fears, though probably by way of James Whale’s 1931 film version of Frankenstein, which is probably a more immediate reference point for most people than Shelley’s novel. I’d especially like to encourage you to visit Novak’s article for the 1930s art and advertisements relating to fears of the robotic that are featured in a slideshow on that page. The featured image for this page is a sample of the slideshow, which could be an ad for a 1930s version of any one of the Terminator films. The work that needs to be done now is an exploration of the differences in eighteenth/nineteenth century creation anxiety and the creation anxiety of the early twentieth century, a difference I seek to explore and historicize in a future monograph.
Great news: I happened to visit WorldCat for another reason today and, while there, checked the status of my book Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety. According to Worldcat, as of January 17th, 2015 my book has been purchased by 732 libraries/locations around the world. It’s currently available at (mostly university) libraries in the following countries or territories:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
United Arab Emirates
That’s 60 countries on six continents. Someone needs to set up a library in Antarctica. If there is one down there, hey guys — would you buy a copy of my book? Ha.
Needless to say, I’m very pleased. If you’re not familiar with academic publishing in the humanities, over 700 libraries isn’t an academic bestseller, but it isn’t bad at all either. The predictable minimum sales for an academic book is around 200-300 copies, and very low-end publishers like Mellen set royalty payouts at around 500 copies over the first five years to almost ensure that no author will ever get royalties for their book — because most academic books don’t sell that many copies. By the way, after five years full ownership reverts to Mellen, so the author will never see royalties after that — don’t publish with Mellen unless you’re willing to give up ownership of your work forever. I highly recommend working with Bloomsbury/Continuum.
I’m very grateful to the faculty (both library and humanities) who supported the purchase of my book. I think I know who made the recommendations in Singapore and Croatia: thank you both, especially since it seems to be in most or all of the major libraries in Croatia. I was fortunate that Continuum/Bloomsbury published it, because they’re one of the better publishers. An academic publisher who actually backs their own product is a rare thing these days, and publishing with Continuum was a great experience. Excellent editorial process despite a few glitches, which were my own.
I’m especially grateful to Michael Phillips, Sherry Truffin, and Sheridan Lorraine for being my book’s first readers and for their valuable insight and editorial assistance.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to have had the book reviewed four times, so I’m very grateful to the reviewers for their work reviewing my book and for helping to spread the word, and I need to extend that gratitude to the journals that published these reviews. You can read excerpts of these reviews and find links to them on my book page.
I’ve had a long association with a website called The Tower of Babel. It’s published essays and such by me since the 1990s. But, regrettably, the site completely crashed recently and all content on it was lost, including my posts about my book Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety hosted on the subdomain jamesrovira.towerofbabel.com. I’m unsure if I’d backed up any of these anywhere, so it’s very likely everything on that site was lost. Some content, such as film essays, was posted both here and at that site, but some of it is just gone forever.
So I’m going to use this blog for all book updates for my previous book, Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety (Continuum 2010, hardcover; 2011, paperback). Updates about my current anthology, Interpretation: Theory: History will continue to be posted at interpretationtheoryhistory.wordpress.com.
The latest about Blake and Kierkegaard: it’s been reviewed yet again, this time by Robert Rix for Comparative Literature Studies vol. 49, issue 2, 2012. It has also been reviewed by Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly, Choice,and Zoamorphosis. I’m very grateful for the work of these reviewers and would like to thank them for the time they’ve taken to review my work.