spontaneous acts of scholarly combustion
This word is set down so that you may understand that this whole time totum saeculum, which to us seems so long while it is rolling along, is really a moment punctum.
—Augustine, Ennarations on the Psalms
This time it is not I who seek it out . . . it is the element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me. A Latin word exists to designate this wound, this prick, this mark made by a pointed instrument . . . This element which will disturb the studium I . . . call punctum; for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole—and also a cast of the dice.
—Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida
Eileen A. Joy. Old and Middle English Literature, Cultural Studies, Poetry/Poetics, Historiography/Intellectual History, Queer Studies, Violence/Ethics, Post/humanisms, Embodiments/Affect, Speculative Realism, Para-Academia. BABEL Working Group, USA
CHIEF ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Andrew Doty. Saint Louis, Missouri. USA.
Kamillea Aghtan, Brisbane, Queensland. Australia.
Mary McCormick, Edwardsville, Illinois. USA.
Eli J. Massey, Chicago, Illinois. USA.
Paul Megna, Santa Barbara, California. USA.
Michael Munro, Edmonds, Washington. USA.
Troy O’Neill, New York, New York. USA.
Anthony Opal, Chicago, Illinois. USA.
Tyann Prentice, Seattle, Washington. USA.
Emily Russell, Washington, DC. USA.
Henry Fulton Winship, New York, New York. USA.
punctum books is an open-access and print-on-demand independent publisher dedicated to radically creative modes of intellectual inquiry and writing across a whimsical para-humanities assemblage. We specialize in neo-traditional and non-conventional scholarly work that productively twists and/or ignores academic norms, with an emphasis on books that fall length-wise between the article and the monograph—id est, novellas, in one sense or another. We also take in strays. This is a space for the imp-orphans of your thought and pen, an ale-serving church for little vagabonds.
punctum books encourages projects that profit from formal risks and possibly engage with supposedly outmoded or ‘quaint’ genres—the abcedarium, (auto)commentary, summa, bestiary, dialogue, case study, compendium, speculum/mirror, conduct manual, letter/address, apologia pro vita sua, hagiography, elegy, postcard, telegraph/telegram, inter-office memo, encyclopedia, forgery, hidden writing, source-fiction, natural history, leechbook, atlas, colloquium, colophon, commonplace book, telephone book, rolodex, field report, romance, dialogue, dream vision, catalogue, sonnet cycle, poetics, treatise, manifesto, prosody, calendar, morality play, marginalia, interlinear translation, digest, microfiche, concordance, book of hours, pastoral/eclogue, polemic, epigram, broadsheet, flyer, note-book, breviarium, collationes/collectio, book of nature, testament, proof, manual, pamphlet, miscellany, chapbook, captivity narrative, penny dreadful, testament, manual, discography, catena, liner notes, autopsy, exegesis, rule, antiphonary, legend, fax, travelogue, etymologiae, lai, excerpt, curiosity cabinet, disputation, computus, comedy of errors, soliloquy, essay, bulletin, evangeliary, gloss, meditation, fable, florilegium, myth, fairy tale, purchase order, carbon copy, transcript/transcryptum, blueprint, psalter, micrologue, lyric, daytimer, inventory, annal/chronicle, pipe roll, receipt/invoice, watch-list, charter, canon, and so on ad infinitum. Surprise yourself.
The word ‘punctum’ is intended to summon and ignite several registers of discourse and address. First, in the sense of the punctures made by the pointed awls or spikes used to rule or ‘prick’ the vellum pages of premodern manuscripts and thereby unfurl the blank lines of writing (and thinking), punctum medievally invokes the founding of textual work upon perverse and paradoxical openings. punctum books seeks to curate the open spaces of writing or writing-as-opening, the crucial tiny portals on whose capacious thresholds all writing properly and improperly takes place. Pricking, puncturing, perforating = publishing in the mode of an unconditional hospitality and friendship, making space for what Eve Sedgwick called “queer little gods” – the “ontologically intermediate and teratological figures” of y/our thought.
Second, through Augustine’s point about time, punctum stabs home the fact that, whatever the temporalities we inhabit at any given time, whatever we think regarding the perhaps unthinkable totum saeculum whole time, whatever our commitments or indifferences to future and past, the ‘word’ immediately knows time as always and beautifully momentary. punctum books seizes without freezing the momentary, promoting punctual writing that emerges in the moment, that is all of a sudden presently free to carry and to be carried away by other times, its own time, and both at once. punctum books seeks writing that does not let go of its own time, its adjacency to what is immediate and intimate, as well as writing that abandons time and lights out for other territories.
Finally, by way of Barthes’s affective photographic concept, punctum indicates thought that pierces and disturbs the wednesdayish, business-as-usual protocols of both the generic university studium and its individual cells or holding tanks. Further, punctum signifies text that wounds and pricks and cuts and pierces. This is to encourage writing as risk, adventure, a going-forth without ‘papers’ or guarantees: falling through the hole/punctum, a falling down, freefall. punctum books solicits and pimps quixotic, sagely mad engagements that generate and satisfy noetic-erotic need, textual thought-bodies that give pleasures only to be possessed in their presence.
Jane Bennett. Political Theory, Political Ecology, Object-Oriented Materialisms, Ethics. Johns Hopkins University, USA
Kathleen Biddick. Medieval European History, Critical Historiography/Theory, Studies in Medievalism. Temple University, USA
Nandita Biswas Mellamphy. Political Science, Political Philosophy, Post/humanisms, Zoontotechnics, War/Globalization. University of Western Ontario, Canada
Paul Bowman. Cultural Theory, Popular Culture, Film & Media Studies, Martial Arts. Cardiff University, UK.
Jen Boyle. Early Modern Literature, New Media Studies, Technoculture/Technoscience Studies, Sexuality Studies. Coastal Carolina University, USA
Jeffrey J. Cohen. Medieval Comparative Literature, Queer Studies, Gender/Sexuality Studies, Post/humanisms. George Washington University, USA
Paul J. Ennis. Contemporary Continental Philosophy, Speculative Realism, Metaphysics, Neurophilosophy, Bleak Theory. Dublin, Ireland.
Ruth Evans. Middle English Literature, Gender/Sexuality Studies, Feminist Theory, Memory/Mindware Studies. Saint Louis University, USA
Aranye Fradenburg. Medieval Comparative Literature, Clinical Psychoanalysis, Gender/Sexuality Studies, Cognitive Literary Studies. University of California-Santa Barbara + New Center for Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles, USA
Jonathan Gil Harris. Early Modern Culture, Drama, Shakespeare, Globalizations, Temporality/Motion. George Washington University + Shakespeare Quarterly, USA
Geraldine Heng. Comparative Literature, Global Middle Ages, Transcultural Medieval Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Women’s Studies, Premodern Race Studies, Digital Humanities. University of Texas at Austin, USA
Ed Keller. Architecture, Design Criticism/Research, Social Media, Transdisciplinary Design. Parsons The New School of Design, USA
Anna Kłosowska. Medieval and Early Modern French Literature, Gender/Sexuality Studies, Queer Theory, Critical Theory. Miami University of Ohio, USA
Katerina Kolozova. Feminist Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Gender Studies, Non-philosophy, Speculative Realism. Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities-Skopje, Macedonia
Dan Mellamphy. Comparative Literature, Continental Philosophy, Media Technology, Post-Humanism, Speculative Fiction. University of Western Ontario, Canada
Timothy Morton. Ecology, Philosophy, Literature, Romantic Period, Sound, Food. Rice University, USA
Reza Negarestani. Independent Philosopher and Writer. New York City, USA
Michael O’Rourke. Early Modern Studies, Queer Studies, Gender/Sexuality Studies, Theory. Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities, Skopje, Macedonia
Steven Shaviro. Cultural Theory, Film Studies, New Media, Science Fiction, Speculative Realism. Wayne State University, USA.
Michael Snediker. Poetry/Poetics, 19th/20th-Century American Literature, Modernism, Aesthetics, Temporality, Queer Theory, Disability Theory. Queen’s University, Canada
Karl Steel. Comparative Medieval Literature, Critical Animal Studies, New Materialisms, Post/humanisms, Eco-studies. Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA
Eugene Thacker. New Media/Technology Studies, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Horror. The New School for Social Research, USA
Scott Wilson. Cultural Studies, Critical Theory/Psychoanalysis, Audiology, Metal Studies. Kingston University + London Graduate School, UK
Julian Yates. Early Modern Studies, Material Culture, Object-Oriented Studies, Science Studies. University of Delaware, USA
Please first submit a brief query (500 to 1,000 or so words) to the Director, Eileen Joy (email@example.com), outlining your project in general detail. If we like the basic idea(s), we’ll ask for a more detailed formal proposal, which will then be reviewed by members of our Advisory Board with expertise in the proposal’s subject area(s). After (and if) formal proposals are green-lighted, completed manuscripts are reviewed by 2-3 experts in the author’s field(s), who decide whether or not to recommend publication, typically contingent upon revisions. All works published by punctum books are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 International License, and made available as open-access e-books and also as paperbound print editions (in some cases, we build special web-based environments for certain titles). To view a copy of this license, go HERE. We are also open to authors choosing their own Creative Commons licenses.
Here then, is what we would call, in order to call upon it, the unconditional university or the university without condition: the principal right to say everything . . . to publish it.
—Jacques Derrida, “The University Without Condition”
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located in Brooklyn, NYC