NOW PUBLISHED: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

It is not normal today to think of “inanimate objects” as possessing a lively capacity to do things to us and with us, although it is quite normal to experience them as such. Every day we encounter the power of possessions, tools, clutter, toys, commodities, keepsakes, trash. Why this tendency to forget thing-power, to overlook the creative contributions of nonhumans and underhear their calls?

~Jane Bennett, “Powers of the Hoard: Further Notes on the Material Agency of Things”


Oliphaunt Books, an imprint of punctum books, is THRILLED to announce the publication of Jeffrey Cohen et alia’s Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects, the essay collection that grew out of the symposium by the same name hosted by George Washington University’s Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute last March, and featuring essays by Valerie Allen, Jane Bennett, Eileen Joy, Sharon Kinoshita, Julia Reinhard Lupton, Peggy McCracken, Kellie Robertson, Karl Steel, and Julian Yates, with Response Essays by Lowell Duckert, Nedda Mehdizadeh, and Jonathan Gil Harris. You can download the book for FREE or purchase the print edition [for a mere $17.00] HERE.

Speaking of purchasing the book, may I make a gentle plea? Although you may, of course, download the book for free [punctum books is an open-access press and we’re behind the open-access movement all the way], will you please consider buying one [or two! then give that one away! send books into the world!] copies of the book? If you do, you will be making an important contribution to punctum books which will go a long way toward helping us with our publishing venture: by which I mean, you will be helping us to publish more authors, to foster more work, and to further promote, as we say at punctum, radically creative modes of inquiry and writing across a whimsical para-humanities assemblage. While open-access publishing does herald a brave new world of seemingly wide open, free access to what I hope will be a larger, more capacious, more generously imagined, and more vibrant field of intellectual and cultural work within the humanities, it is not really “free” in the sense of the immense amount of labor and time that goes into each individual book.

Many many many many hours and drops of sweat and care [and the hands of many unpaid assistants, some former students of mine, some current students of mine, some simply the most generous people imaginable — grad. students at other institutions, post-graduates without jobs in the academy, other professors, and independent artists — who have volunteered to assist the work of punctum books] go into each one of our books, and it has to be said that we also still believe in the book. In the future, when the power goes out and the last drop of gasoline has been squeezed into the last gasoline can, we’ll start writing letters again, and we’ll have our books. Celluloid film, reel to reel tape, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, thumb drives, I could go on: friends, these are the media of the days gone by, but do you know what remains? The book. We still want it. We still have to have it. Information wants to be free, and by golly, we’ll give it to you for free. But if you also want a book, we’ll continue to make those as well. And to make them beautiful. You look gorgeous to me, and so does this book. The medievalists are the humanists of the future! Please do your part to help me make that a reality.

And now: carry on.

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