50 Years of Influential Books and Journal Articles
The MIT Press fills a unique niche in the world of publishing: innovative in their choice of subjects and authors, elegant in their designs, and utterly committed to intellectual quality.
By the 1970s it had become “a truth, universally acknowledged” that no press, regardless of who they were, would publish anthological books. That MIT Press should have given the lie to this truth, was the work of one acquisitions editor: Roger Conover. In 1983 he contracted me for what would become The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Despite the setting of the Press-- within the enclave of what is probably the greatest engineering and technology institute in the U.S.--Conover’s own commitments to literature, and most importantly to poetry, permitted his focus on the anthological form—the essay collections that had, during the postwar period, reshaped general attitudes towards a discipline: Trilling’s The Liberal Imagination; Greenberg’s Art and Culture; Sontag’s Against Interpretation. Other collections of my own critical and theoretical essays came to follow: Bachelors and Perpetual Inventory. MIT Press’s benevolence towards cultural theory and the instrument of the little review has made it a legendary exception to the truth of the hostility between the arts and science. My congratulations to the Press on this important anniversary.
Cognitive science got seriously underway in the mid-seventies, and when Harry and Betty Stanton started Bradford Books in 1978, it immediately established itself as the flagship publisher in the field. Over the first dozen years of its existence it published most of the important books by leaders in the field: Pinker, Jackendoff, Levelt, McClelland and Rumelhart, Shepard, Pylyshyn, Premack, Carey, Gazzaniga, Grossberg, Braitenberg, Fauconnier, Simon and Ericson, Holland, Holyoak, Thagard, Arbib, Hinton, Gallistel ... and essentially all the important books in philosophy of cognitive science--Dretske, Fodor, Block, Millikan, Stich, Patricia and Paul Churchland, Barwise and Perry, Harman, Haugeland, Flanagan, Lycan, Stalnaker, Putnam, Goldman, Clark, Lloyd, and myself. Who of any importance wasn’t a Bradford author in those years? Since then other major university presses have managed to wrest a modest portion of the field from the grip of Bradford/MIT Press, but it is still the premier publisher, and no wonder. Look at the company you keep if you become a Bradford Books author!”
Happy 50th MIT Press
It is a pleasure to have published two books with MIT Press, separated by more than thirty years (1980 and 2011). I am also delighted that the Press agreed to do a revised edition of the 1980 book (Biblical Games) in 2003, and that both books are now available in paperback.
Coincidentally, my graduation from MIT coincides with the founding of the Press in 1962. In a manner of speaking, we grew up together.
MIT Press continues to be a leader in publishing questions of feminisms, genders, and sexualities, and I'm so glad to be part of that trajectory. Also, gotta add that only Roger Conover could've persuaded me to get so far into issues of women's boxing.
If one is lucky, one has at least one truly stellar professional relationship in one’s life. I have had that with MIT Press. From an inspired editor, to a brilliant book designer and copy editor, and an enthusiastic and effective press and sales force, every step of my project with the MIT Press has been a pure pleasure delivered through optimum professionalism. To have been a part of this team and this press has been the greatest honor. Thank you MIT Press.
Memories of unpacking the first copy of Freud’s Mexico: smelling the book, feeling the paper, eyeing the color plates, hearing the pages turn … a full-on sensory experience that felt like dying and going to author’s heaven.
I like to work with the MIT Press. The combination of geekiness and professionalism exhibited by the staff works for me. In many ways they exhibit everything that is good and noble about the MIT culture. What usually comes through is the staff’s love of books (and sometimes authors). I worked with The Press on two books: The Resilient Enterprise (2005) and Logistics Clusters (2012). I expect to work with the MIT Press in the future and I expect to enjoy the process.