punctum books

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punctum books is an independent open-access and print-on-demand publisher that fosters radically creative academic work across the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. We have special interests in premodern studies, speculative and object-oriented philosophy, political theory, architecture and design theory, eco- and geo-studies, visual culture studies, and queer/sexuality studies, among other subject areas. We are also interested in fostering experimental modes and genres of academic writing (such as theory-fiction), especially those that take up outmoded forms (such as the breviary, mixtape, florilegium, commentary, miscellany, and the like). We publish monographs (especially shorter-length monographs), edited collections, artbooks, and journals.

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punctum books has an Advisory Board made up of university faculty and independent researchers in the US, UK and Europe, all of whom have established and significant reputations in the fields of medieval studies, Renaissance studies, continental philosophy, visual culture studies, political science, architecture and design, cultural theory, film studies, eco-studies, comparative literature, and European history, among other subject areas. All manuscripts or manuscript proposals received by punctum are first reviewed by 2 members of the Advisory Board, and if deemed worthy of further consideration, are then also sent to 2 experts in the submitted work's subject area(s), Manuscripts are published after they have been thoroughly reviewed and revised in line with reviewers' advice for revision.

License info

All punctum titles carry a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license; authors may also choose a less restrictive CC license if they so desire.


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ACTION [poems]

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Book Series: Peanut Books ISBN: 9780692335543 Year: Pages: 72 Language: English
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ACTION — as in begin, genesis, motion — is a collection of poems ultimately concerned with form, those lines drawn in the sand that give way to the profanity of the holy, the holiness of the profane. Throughout ACTION, Opal engages the constraints inherent to seemingly fixed forms. From living with rheumatoid arthritis, to feeling for the edges of a sonnet tradition, to wrestling with the tenets of historical theology, this collection demonstrates that the only way to honestly submit to a form is to rage against it. However, to assume that this rage is not a kind of explosive joy—a Barthesian jouissance—would be to miss the point of poems that Dean Young has described as “radiant affirmations of life and art.”

The Afterlife of Genre: Remnants of the Trauerspiel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Book Series: Dead Letter Office ISBN: 9780615955742 Year: Pages: 76 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
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Could there have been television without California? California without television? The one shows the other: the ostentatiously novel singularity of the place and the seemingly self-effacing transparency of the medium. Yet if television and California both promise again and again to offer us something new, young, immaculate in its transience — a pure surface that will never get caught in the ditch of time — they are also both haunted through and through: by the itinerant contents of the past that they cannot banish, by memories of the infantile-perverse utopian fantasies that taunt us in constant replay (“If you’re going to San Francisco…,” “two girls for every guy”), by the contradiction played out in the very gesture of dismissing history and leaving the dead to bury the dead. California and television, as it were, conspire in a vampirologic: the forever-young is what has been there the longest, what really “takes us back.” And so we also will take ourselves back: to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, already almost charmingly quaint, and Walter Benjamin’s magnum opus The Origin of the German Mourning-Play. What can come of this improbable conjunction? It will not seem too strange that Benjamin, posthumous wanderer across the textures of Americana, should again take up lodging at the Hotel California. But more is at stake than just another hapless visitation from the on high of high theory: reading Buffy as the remediated afterlife of the dead-on-arrival genre of the baroque German mourning play, Adler’s book records the first broken, awkward steps toward a project that, with the recent rise of “quality television,” seems more urgent than ever before: a political-theological characteristic of the television series.

And Another Thing: Nonanthropocentrism and Art

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ISBN: 9780692652664 Year: Language: English
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In And Another Thing: Nonanthropocentrism and Art, Katherine Behar and Emmy Mikelson explore how artists engage with nonanthropocentrism, one of the primary tenets shared by recent speculative realist and new materialist philosophies. Extending their investigations in And Another Thing, an exhibition which the authors curated in 2011, this volume documents both that exhibition and expands on two of its curatorial aims: prioritizing art historical contexts for contemporary philosophy (rather than the other way around), and apprehending artworks as historically specific objects of philosophy. The book is organized in three sections. In the first section, Behar and Mikelson provide long-form essays that chart the evolution of nonanthropocentrism and art, spanning eighteenth-century architectural drawing, performance, minimalist sculpture, and contemporary postminimalism. These essays raise the stakes for art and speculative realism, showing how artists have figured and prefigured nonanthropocentric ideas strikingly similar to those expounded in various “new” realist, materialist, and speculativist philosophies. Literally occupying the center of the volume, in section two, the exhibition is represented by full-color plates of eleven works by Carl Andre, Laura Carton, Valie Export, Regina José Galindo, Tom Kotik, Mary Lucking, Bruce Nauman, Grit Ruhland, Anthony Titus, Ruslan Trusewych, and Zimoun. Artworks by these emerging and canonical figures lay bare the networks of alliances underlying the exhibition. The book concludes with three short meditations on the relation between nonanthropocentrism and art, and what that relation might portend for future thought. These essays, by Bill Brown, Patricia Ticineto Clough, and Robert Jackson, are speculative in the sense that they perceive potentials for theory arising from nonanthropocentrism’s manifestations in art.

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Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects

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ISBN: 9780615625355 Year: Pages: 311 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
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Animal, Mineral, Vegetable examines what happens when we cease to assume that only humans exert agency. Through a careful examination of medieval, early modern and contemporary lifeworlds, these essays collectively argue against ecological anthropocentricity. Sheep, wolves, camels, flowers, chairs, magnets, landscapes, refuse and gems are more than mere objects. They act; they withdraw; they make demands; they connect within lively networks that might foster a new humanism, or that might proceed with indifference towards human affairs. Through what ethics do we respond to these activities and forces? To what futures do these creatures and objects invite us, especially when they appear within the texts and cultures of the “distant” past?

Annotations to Geoffrey Hill’s Speech! Speech!

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Book Series: Glossator Special Editions ISBN: 9781468129847 Year: Pages: 282 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
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Geoffrey Hill’s Speech! Speech! (2000) encapsulates two thousand years’ worth of utterances in a symbolic act of remembrance and expression of despair for the current age, in which we find “our minds and ears fouled by degraded public speech—by media hype, insipid sermons, hollow political rhetoric, and the ritual misuse of words.” Through 120 densely allusive stanzas—“As many as the days that were | of SODOM”—the poem wrestles this condition from within, fighting fire with fire in an alchemical symbolic labour that transmutes the dross of corrupt and clichéd idiom into a dynamic logopoeia which proves true Hill’s persistent claim: “genuinely difficult art is truly democratic.” Such is the weird, ambivalently hostile position of poetry in the present world and thus the space of our real connection to it: “Whatever strange relationship we have with the poem, it is not one of enjoyment. It is more like being brushed past, or aside, by an alien being” (Hill). Befriending this estrangement, embracing it as a more amicable brushing-up-against, Hassan’s Annotations is a thorough and patient explication of Speech! Speech! that both clarifies and deepens the poem’s difficulties, illuminating its polyphonic language and careening discursive movement. The author’s method is at once commentarial, descriptive, and narratorial, staying faithfully with the poem and following its complex verbal and logical turns. The book generously provides, rather than direct interpretative incursion, a more durable and productive document of “the true nature / of this achievement” (stanza 92), a capacious, open understanding of the text that will prove invaluable to its present and future readers.

The Apartment of Tragic Appliances

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ISBN: 9780615792484 Year: Pages: 102 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
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The Apartment of Tragic Appliances, named as a finalist for a 2013 Lambda Literary Award, is a literal place in which a hapless, portable dishwasher “heats residue only to reimagine cleanliness as an art project,” a recalcitrant microwave neglects to heat, and a refrigerator dies an inconvenient, bulky death. It is also that psychic space in which we consider our loneliness, our wandering hearts, our unpacked boxes, our vulgar desires. In Queer Optimism: Lyric Personhood and Other Felicitous Persuasions (Minnesota, 2007), Michael Snediker worked “in the interests of felicity” to undermine the ways in which queer theory customarily privileges shame and melancholy. Here, in his first full-length collection of poetry, he undertakes a similar upending of expectation, acknowledging “gay sadness” but refusing to fall fully under its sway. The demi-tragedies of daily life are recounted by a voice that is variously wistful, giddy, bawdy, silly, and tart. Along the way, Michael Snediker sets off an impressive pyrotechnic display of literary allusion, drawing on the superstars of the Western canon (think: Virgil, Racine, Proust, James, Wharton, Tennessee Williams) and of popular culture (Lucille Ball, John Travolta, Alex Trebek). Buyer beware: In these pages you will not find advice on how to feng shui your duplex or tame a Cuisinart run amok. Instead, you will find something far rarer: a book of poetic sustenance. As Daniel Tiffany observes, “We have been missing poems like these for a long time.”

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Poetry

Atopological Trilogy: Deleuze and Guattari

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Book Series: Dead Letter Office ISBN: 9780692403723 Year: Pages: 90 Language: English
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Atopological Trilogy creates new concepts for Deleuze-Guattarian thought without any heed for sectarian, sermonising, or dutiful readings of the philosophers. In Part I of the trilogy, “Becoming-Sexual of the Sexual,” Aracagök demonstrates the ways in which quantum theory and the concept of “complementarity” inform Deleuze and Guattari’s thought, especially in relation to “becoming” in general and “becoming-woman” and “becoming-queer” more particularly. Aracagök argues that the ways in which the philosophers put forward a ban on “becoming-man” with a certain degree of undecidability encapsulates (albeit in a cryptic form) other becomings, the most important of which is becoming-queer, or rather, the becoming-sexual of the sexual. In Part II: “Deleuze on Sound, Music, and Schizo-Incest,” Aracagök puts into resonance the sound, noise, and music (and the question) of schizo-incest with the intention of deterritorialising a notion of the meta-audible. If Kafka’s story, “The Investigations of a Dog” leads us to a realm of the “formless” which cannot be heard without destroying what we know as “hearing,” it also offers us a limit-experience of the meta-audible, which, when radicalised via the notions of “schizo-incest” and “self-shattering,” creates a line of flight that escapes even from the line of flight itself. All these maneuvers pose a serious challenge to Deleuze and Guattari, who claim that despite all his investigations, Kafka’s investigator dog is re-Oedipalised in the end. Proposing in the end a limit experience which Aracagök calls the “meta-audible,” he shows that Kafka’s more radical approach to sound creates a line of flight that escapes even from the line of flight itself. The final essay of the trilogy, “Clinical and Critical Perversion,” begins with the 19th-century crisis of an abyss presumed to be yawning between mimesis and diegesis ever since Plato. According to Aracagök, this takes the form of a crisis of the “political,” the repression of which becomes the mission of psychoanalytical discourse towards the end of the 19th century. This crisis finds another form of expression in George Büchner’s unfinished 1836 novella Lenz, relative to the audibility of a “terrible voice which is usually called silence.” If the disappearance of the “political” is related to the rise of psychoanalysis on the protocols of, first, hypnosis, and then, the “talking cure,” both of which privilege the presumed form of the voice of the analyst over the analysand’s silence (a psycho-politics?), Aracagök proposes re-distributing this process, calling renewed attention to the clinicalisation of perversion, along Deleuzian-Guattarian distinctions such as: surface and depth, critical and clinical, oedipal-incest and schizo-incest, leading to a re-evaluation of what Deleuze and Guattari might have meant by “homosexual-effusion” in their book Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, all in order to deterritorialise the “political” under a new concept — namely, critical perversion. Ultimately, Atopological Trilogy offers the reader no safe grounds for preserving not only a philosophical identity but also not any identity, if only to be able to let you float in the air without any guidance à la Kafka’s “Red Indian.”

Beowulf: A Translation

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ISBN: 9780615612652 Year: Pages: 312 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
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Many modern Beowulf translations, while excellent in their own ways, suffer from what Kathleen Biddick might call “melancholy” for an oral and aural way of poetic making. By and large, they tend to preserve certain familiar features of Anglo-Saxon verse as it has been constructed by editors, philologists, and translators: the emphasis on caesura and alliteration, with diction and syntax smoothed out for readability. The problem with, and the paradox of this desired outcome, especially as it concerns Anglo-Saxon poetry, is that we are left with a document that translates an entire organizing principle based on oral transmission (and perhaps composition) into a visual, textual realm of writing and reading. The sense of loss or nostalgia for the old form seems a necessary and ever-present shadow over modern Beowulfs. What happens, however, when a contemporary poet, quite simply, doesn’t bother with any such nostalgia? When the entire organizational apparatus of the poem—instead of being uneasily approximated in modern verse form—is itself translated into a modern organizing principle, i.e., the visual text? This is the approach that poet Thomas Meyer takes; as he writes, [I]nstead of the text’s orality, perhaps perversely I went for the visual. Deciding to use page layout (recto/ verso) as a unit. Every translation I’d read felt impenetrable to me with its block after block of nearly uniform lines. Among other quirky decisions made in order to open up the text, the project wound up being a kind of typological specimen book for long American poems extant circa 1965. Having variously the “look” of Pound’s Cantos, Williams’ Paterson, or Olson or Zukofsky, occasionally late Eliot, even David Jones. A glance anywhere in Meyer’s text demonstrates the stunning results. One place he turns it to especially good effect is the fight with Grendel in Fit 11, transforming the famously hyper-condensed syntax of the scene from a discouraging challenge for the translator into a visually pleasing strength: The eyes of Hygelac’s kin watched the wicked raider execute his quick attack: without delay, snatching his first chance, a sleeping warrior, he tore him in two, chomped muscle, sucked veins’ gushing blood, gulped down his morsel, the dead man, chunk by chunk, hands, feet & all. & then footstephandclawfiendreachmanbedquicktrick beastarmpainclampnewnotknownheartrunflesho feargetawaygonowrunrun never before had sinherd feared anything so. Here the reader is confronted with the words themselves running together, as if in panic, in much the same way that the original passage seems in such a rush to tell the story of the battle that bodies become confused. This is just one example of the adventurous and provocative angle on Beowulf to which Meyer introduces us. His Beowulf—completed in 1972 but never before published—is sure to stretch readers’ ideas about what is possible in terms of translating Anglo-Saxon poetry, as well as provide new insights on the poem itself.

Bigger than You: Big Data and Obesity

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ISBN: 9780692652831 Year: Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
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In her first inquiry toward a decelerationist aesthetics, Katherine Behar explores in this essay chapbook the rise of two “big deal” contemporary phenomena, big data and obesity. In both, scale rearticulates the human as a diffuse informational pattern, causing important shifts in political form as well as aesthetic form. Bigness redraws relationships between the singular and the collective. Understood as informational patterns, collectives can be radically inclusive, even incorporating nonhumans. As a result, the political subject is slowly becoming a new object. This social and informational body belongs to no single individual, but is shared in solidarity with something “bigger than you.” In decelerationist aesthetics, the aesthetic properties, proclivities, and performances of objects come to defy the accelerationist imperative to be nimbly individuated. Decelerationist aesthetics rejects atomistic, liberal, humanist subjects; this unit of self is too consonant with capitalist relations and functions. Instead, decelerationist aesthetics favors transhuman sociality embodied in particulate, mattered objects; the aesthetic form of such objects resists capitalist speed and immediacy by taking back and taking up space and time. In just this way, big data calls into question the conventions by which humans are defined as discrete entities, and individual scales of agency are made to form central binding pillars of social existence through which bodies are drawn into relations of power and pathos.

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A Boy Asleep Under the Sun: Versions of Sandro Penna

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ISBN: 9780692296936 Year: Pages: 192 Language: English
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Peter Valente’s first encounter with Sandro Penna’s poetry was while translating Pier Paolo Pasolini. At the time Valente was reading a biography on Pasolini and learned of his close friendship with Penna. Pasolini insisted that among serious readers of poetry Penna could not be ignored. Born in Perugia on June 12, 1906, Sandro Penna lived most of his life in Rome (he died there on January 21, 1977), except for a brief period in Milan where he worked as a library clerk. When Pasolini arrived in Rome in 1950 he sought out Penna to “show him around.” He knew that Penna was in love with the same ragazzi who prowled the outskirts of Rome.

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