50 Years of Influential Books and Journal Articles
In 1987 I submitted my first book “Numerical Techniques in Finance” to the MIT Press. Little did I know that this would be the start of a half-lifetime of fruitful and pleasant cooperation! It’s been a wonderful experience, working with senior editors like Terry Vaughn, Elizabeth Murray, and John Covell, with wonderful copy editors (I have to mention Paul Bethge, whose text editing of NTF was a wonder), and with directors Frank Urbanowski and Ellen Faran (the list of names of senior staff who have helped my books along is much longer ….). It’s an honor to be associated with the MITP, which has maintained its academic and cultural values in the face of an increasingly difficult economic environment.
Scholars create homes for themselves in departments, on campuses, by way of their fields, and perhaps hardest for outsiders to understand, via the presses they publish with. For more than a decade, through nine books, as author, co-author, editor and editorial director, the MIT Press has been my home. If the poet Robert Frost is correct, and home is the place where they have to take you in, then the MIT Press has been a most welcoming one, embracing my experiments with graphic and interactive design, multiple-authorship, hybrid analog/digital publishing, and more. A combination of openness to innovation and rigor of results defined the first half century of the MIT Press, and that makes me certain that the press will be thriving fifty years hence.
The MIT Press is the first to embrace new areas of research and new cultural trends. My own field (“new media”) would not exist without its pioneering work.
MIT Press has been the leader in establishing a vibrant critical and scholarly discourse in the new field of Digital Media. It fostered the rediscovery of McLuhan's writing (one of the many treasures on its deep backlist that are foundational for the field), and provided a home for new critical voices exploring the undiscovered territory of videogames, interactive narrative, and digital media design. In a field in which the artifacts we study change shape every year there is a particularly pressing need for the traditional role of the university press -- to identify the most significant, sustained arguments, to vet them through peer review, to bring them to the attention of others in the field, and to keep them in print. Whether we deliver books on paper or computer screens or projected holograms, whether they follow the old forms or morph into hypertext or some other as-yet-uninvented formats, we will continue to need the publishing function of the great University Presses like MIT Press to focus our collective attention on the ideas that matter for advancing human knowledge.
MIT is a brilliant press to work with and for. As an author I've been impressed by the friendly efficiency that lies behind everything the press, its editors and other employees do.
Working with Roger Conover on the project I did with Slavoj Zizek and John Milbank was a sheer delight. He helped me publish what is now considered one of the best books in Continental Philosophy, The Monstrosity of Christ. Thank you, and congratulations on setting the bar for the best academic projects for 50 years!
I remain forever grateful for MIT Press, especially Clay Morgan, for publishing my first book, The Economic Dynamics of Environmental Law. The book had a controversial thesis, but MIT Press recognized its value and Clay graciously supported it and shepherded it through the publication process. The Press even arranged its nomination for a prize, which it won. MIT Press has over the years has published many of the most controversial and valuable books about economic theory and environmental law. I was very pleased to publish Economic Thought and U.S. Climate Change Policy with the press in the new role of editor, rather than sole author, and appreciated the support as I struggled to meet the demands of the new role.
What an honor it's been to have two of my books published with MIT Press. When Michael Martin and I first came to MIT Press in 1991 with the plan for our Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science, we knew we were in the right hands. How many academic presses could take 800 loose pages and turn it into such a success? From the cover design to editing to marketing, we marvelled as the book took on a life of its own. Then, in 2006, you did it again with my new book Dark Ages: The Case for a Science of Human Behavior. Fond memories of Betty Stanton, Teri Mendelsohn, and Tom Stone, and many thanks to Gita Manaktala, Philip Laughlin, and the rest of your team for such great editorial support and advice over the years. Happy 50th birthday!
A consumer of Muriel Cooper's elegant designs long before I was an author, I remain properly awed to be on the list of MIT Press, which was willing to partner with me and a roster of polemicists in the rubbery-covered Sensorium. Keep it up, MITP, for another 50 years. Even if paper and binding go the way of vellum and scroll, may you find a way to keep books as sensual and exhilarating as ever.
Getting an education from MIT, they say, is like drinking from a firehose.
If you look carefully, you'll see that the MIT Press logo spells out "MITP." If you blur your vision a bit, you'll see that it looks like the standard iconographic symbol for a firehose. This is quite fitting and clever, for in my field, new media, the MIT Press has been both exceedingly literate and torrential in its output of innovative scholarship. Many years of effort from editor Doug Sery are behind this particular outpouring and the field it has nourished, thanks also to the excellent work of those who shape books in editorial, design, and production and those who see that books reach interested readers.