#UPWeek Blog Tour: Columbia University Press and Global Publishing

It’s the final day ofUniversity Press Week! All week long university presses have been participating in the UP Week Blog Tour. We are thrilled to participate, and excited about today’s blog post theme: The Global Reach of University Presses.

Make sure you check out the other presses posting today: Georgetown University Press, Indiana University Press, JHU Press, NYU Press, Princeton University Press, University of Wisconsin Press, and Yale University Press!


Columbia University Press and Global Publishing

“Recognizing commonality in the midst of diversity, and diversity in the midst of commonality…. There’s no other way human life can be viewed.”—Wm. de Bary, in an interview with Columbia Magazine

Columbia University Press’s commitment to global publishing can be traced back to the late 1950’s, when Columbia University professors began extending the scope of their core courses to include classics of Asian literature alongside Western classics. Under the direction of William Theodore de Bary, one of the scholars responsible for Columbia’s innovative emphasis on non-Western thought, Columbia University Press published a series of four influential anthologies, Sources of Indian Tradition, Sources of Japanese Tradition, Sources of Chinese Tradition, and Sources of Korean Tradition, that form the foundation of our mission to contribute to an understanding of global human concerns.

Since the first of these anthologies was published in 1958, Columbia University Press has been committed to publishing quality scholarship in a variety of global fields. We take great pride in the diversity of our books and our authors. In the first few pages from our recently released Spring 2014 catalog alone we have an insect cookbook translated from Dutch, a discussion of Jacques Lacan and a book of short plays by French philosopher Alain Badiou, and three books from the new Kenneth J. Arrow Lecture Series, which boast Nobel winners from America and India as authors.

In addition to our own publishing program, we also help to disseminate global scholarship through our distribution services. Our distributed presses are based in Asia, Europe, and the United States; some publish primarily in specific subject areas, others in a variety of fields. However, despite their differences (or maybe because of them), all contribute quality scholarship and literature to the global scholarly conversation.

Starting in 2014, we are proud to be distributing Dalkey Archive, a leading literary fiction publisher committed to bringing the very best in world literature in translation to the English-speaking world. Based in Champaign, Illinois and Dublin, Ireland, Dalkey emphasizes experimental, avant-garde works, and strives to maintain the availability of all culturally valuable books.

Also based in the US is the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, headed by Robert A. F. Thurman and Thomas Yarnall. AIBS publishes two series that are highly influential in English-language Buddhist studies: the Treasury of Buddhist Sciences and Treasury of Indic Sciences series.

We are fortunate to have two excellent university presses from Hong Kong among our distribution clients. Hong Kong University Press and The Chinese University Press publish works on both regional and international concerns. Hong Kong University Press’s Queer Asia series expands the boundaries of Queer Studies beyond the North American and European academy with interdisciplinary titles focused on non-normative sexuality and gender cultures, identities, and practices in Asia. The Chinese University Press’s International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong collections provide beautifully designed chapbooks and paperbacks of the selected works of international and local poets.

The film list at Columbia University Press is one of our strengths, and we distribute books from a number of excellent academic film publishers along with our own. Former distribution client and current imprint Wallflower Press publishes popular scholarly studies of cult films (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!), directors (Steven Soderbergh), and actors (Bruce Lee). Auteur is a respected publisher from the UK focusing on film and media studies education, known particularly for their Studying Films series. The Austrian Film Museum publishes beautifully designed books focusing on European film directors. For fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Hitchcock Annual, edited by Sidney Gottlieb and Richard Allen, brings together the best scholarship on the great director. Finally, we are excited to introduce Slovenian Cinematheque, whose first book, Lubitsch Can’t Wait, collects essays from leading thinkers from Elisabeth Bronfen to Slavoj Zizek on director Ernst Lubitsch’s comedic techniques.

Columbia University Press also distributes a number of more general academic presses from Europe. Transcript-Verlag is a producer of cutting-edge social science titles, including recent studies of “Muslim cool,” German national identity, and the interrelationship between ritual and narrative. Jagiellonian University Press has a strong tradition of publishing history, cultural studies, and Polish comparative studies. In 2014, we will be introducing ibidem Press, another German publisher with a list including studies of popular culture in post-Soviet Russia, critical essays about Iris Murdoch, and the role of women in the peace-making process in Liberian conflicts, as well as Harrington Park Press, formerly an imprint of The Haworth Press and recently relaunched as an independent publisher of academic titles focusing on LGBTQ scholarship and professional practice.

As a distributor of academic presses around the world, Columbia University Press has the opportunity to play an important role in higher education. William Theodore de Bary claimed in an interview earlier this year that the purpose of education is to help students and scholars “[recognize] commonality in the midst of diversity, and diversity in the midst of commonality…. There’s no other way human life can be viewed.” Easy access to the worldwide diversity of thought that makes de Bary’s vision of education possible is a crucial part of the scholarly process, and university presses generally—and Columbia University Press specifically—are uniquely positioned to fill this role.

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