Broadview Junior Essay Award Winner

pride and prejudice

Broadview is proud to support and recognize outstanding student writing. We are happy to announce that Kiera Keglowitsch, a first-year student at the university of Alberta, has won the Broadview Junior Award for an Essay in Prose. Please click here to read Kiera`s essay on love in Pride and Prejudice.

The essay was selected by a panel of three professors at the University of Alberta: Don Perkins, Sylvia Brown and Chri Bracken.

Arguing with People

Arguing with People

ARGUING WITH PEOPLE

In the following interview, Michael Gilbert talks arguments with Stephen Latta, Broadview’s Philosophy Editor. Gilbert’s new book draws together insights from Argumentation Theory and our experience of everyday arguing to challenge and deepen how we approach critical thinking.

SL: What is Argumentation Theory?

MG: Argumentation Theory is an area of study that draws upon philosophy, social psychology, communication theory, rhetoric, linguistics, and discourse analysis. Its roots lie in the 1950s, but it really came into its own in the 1970s. Scholars in all these disciplines came to realize that their interest in interpersonal disagreement intersected in many ways, and that by looking across disciplines we would come to understand interpersonal argument in a deeper and more realistic way. Today in numerous journals and conferences we share interdisciplinary approaches and thereby enlarge our stock of tools for understanding everyday argumentation.

SL: In the introduction to your book, you indicate that knowledge of recent advances in Argumentation Theory can be of use to “the many people whose occupations and interests involve them in argumentation on a daily basis.” Can you give an example of how such knowledge may be useful in an everyday context?

MG: We engage in arguments all the time. Some are important and loom large, while others are virtually trivial. Once you commit to an argument you need to understand its dynamics, its importance to you, and its importance to your argument partner. If you become aware of the goals involved in a dispute, pay attention to the personalities, and take into account the context and relationships involved, a difficult argument can become a simple and straightforward one. Whether it’s in business or at home, there’s always a lot in play. While knowing about argument is important, it is not the same as knowing how to argue, and that knowledge is vital in everyday contexts.

SL: Students of philosophy are often taught that arguments are good or bad independent of context or method of presentation. Do you believe that this view is mistaken?

MG: Most university students take a course in Critical Thinking or Critical Reasoning, and those are important courses. They teach argument structure, relations between premises and conclusions, and the importance of relevance and evidence. However, in real arguments that take place in the office, boardroom or kitchen, there is much more going on. Who you are arguing with, why you are arguing, where you are arguing—these are all factors ignored by the traditional structural approach, yet they can often be the most crucial. For example, I would even go so far as to state that it is not always a good idea to point out your partner’s argument mistake, be it a logical error or the commission of a fallacy. Sure, recognizing it is important, but how that knowledge is used is something else entirely.

SL: You note that we most often argue with our “familiars” (friends, family, and others with whom we are in regular contact). But some people hold that it is best to avoid arguments with friends and family whenever possible. Do you think this is good advice, or is there something valuable or important about engaging in arguments with familiars?

MG: The first questions any arguer should ask are these: Should I enter into this argument? What’s in it for me, and what’s in it for my partner? Sometimes the outcome is not all that important, and you may choose to ignore the statement or attitude and move on. At other times, the belief or values being expressed are something you care about and want to try and change. So sometimes there is something very valuable in arguing with friends and family, at other times it’s just not worth the effort, and in still others the emotional costs may be too high. You need to remember too that when we argue with familiars, we know a lot about them, and they about us. It is also important to keep in mind that many arguments do not take place in a set time and place. They frequently boil up and simmer down, and they can take weeks or months to resolve themselves. So avoiding arguments is relative to time and place as well as to the person with whom you are arguing.

SL: In some ways, academic writing seems designed to strip away the direct, interpersonal elements of conversational argument – threads of discussion in academic journals often take years or even decades to play out, and scholarly reviewers are typically blind to the identity of authors. Do you think this is in any way a hindrance to progress in scholarly arguments?

MG: This is a difficult question for me to answer, if for no other reason than I have been trained in this approach and it is deeply instilled in me. I certainly wouldn’t want academic journals to become like so many Internet bulletin boards, loaded with personal attacks and diatribes. On the other hand, I do try personally to make my academic writing a bit contextually rich, and do not pretend I am writing in a vacuum. The other consideration is that the counterpoints to the aridity of journal writing are the conferences we all attend. The interactions there are where the context, personalities, and interpersonal elements come into play. Sometimes minds even change!

SL: You have published other books on argument. How do you see Arguing with People fitting in with those?

MG: The first book I ever published on argumentation was in 1979 and is How to win an Argument, now in a 3rd edition. That book was very introductory and focused primarily on the topics popular in Critical Thinking. The new edition contains more modern material but it is still a popular introduction to Critical Reasoning. Later, in 1997 I published Coalescent Argumentation, which is a more scholarly work (i.e., harder) that introduces many of the concepts I developed in my research over time. Arguing with People, on the other hand, takes much of the more scholarly material and makes it available and understandable to the lay reader or college student. In this way I hope to make the general public aware of the breadth of research going on in Argumentation Theory.

Michael A. Gilbert is Professor of Philosophy at York University.

The New Yorker talks Amazon

“Amazon has successfully fostered the idea that a book is a thing of minimal value—it’s a widget.” – Dennis Johnson

George Packer presented an interesting, in-depth look at books in the era of Amazon in the February 17th installment of The New Yorker, urging readers to consider this important question: Amazon may be good for customers, but is it good for books? Read the full article here.

Announcement – Broadview Press/Freehand Books Management Roles

Broadview Press/Freehand Books is pleased to announce a shift in management roles for the new year. Effective this week, Leslie Dema assumes the position of President, taking over from Don LePan. Leslie, who has been the company’s Vice President since 2011, holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of Guelph; she held the position of Sales Manager before becoming Vice President.

Don, who founded the company in 1985 and has been president for most of its history, will continue to work full time for Broadview, acting as CEO and as the general editor of The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. (His new title is CEO and Company Founder.)

The shift in management roles does not signal any change in policy or direction for Broadview; we look forward to continuing and extending the company’s traditions of excellence—and to continued good relations with our authors and our customers.

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Broadview Press is an independent academic publisher in the humanities. Based in Canada, the company is internationally oriented, both in its publishing program and in its approach to marketing; Broadview employs more than 25 people across Canada, and has sales representation around the world. Founded in 1985, Broadview now publishes over 40 titles per year and has annual sales of more than $3,000,000.

Freehand Books, Broadview’s Calgary-based literary wing, was founded in 2008 to publish new works of fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction. It currently publishes 4 titles per year.

 

The Value of Poetry

I’m writing this time about poetry. To my mind, one of the most unfortunate trends of recent years is the decline in poetry sales for university and college courses. (Yes, I do have Broadview’s interests at heart here, but it’s more than that—really!) Increasingly, instructors have turned away from assigning anthologies of poetry or individual volumes of poetry for their students, and turned instead to course-packs or online readings for the poetry component of their courses. That’s an understandable move; most books of poetry (both anthologies and single-author volumes) have become more expensive, and students sometimes complain if their assigned reading totals only a small percentage of a full volume. But the result, sadly, is a vicious cycle. Publishers face larger unit costs on lower print runs and this increases prices further, making instructors ever more reluctant to assign poetry in bound book form to their students.

That might not be such a bad thing were it not for the implicit message it can send about different sorts of literature. If, as often happens, novels for a course are assigned in handsome editions while the course’s poetry component consists of an unattractive little course-pack of grainy photocopies, the implicit message is clear: poetry is not something that one might consider keeping on one’s shelf at home and pulling down from time to time (as I have countless times over the years with The Broadview Anthology of Poetry), reacquainting oneself with old favorites and discovering new ones; poetry is not something one would ever read for pleasure; poetry just isn’t of much importance.

It strikes me as particularly ironic that we so often send that implicit message about the reading of poetry to students even as the expansion of creative writing classes implicitly places an ever-higher value on the writing of poetry.

We at Broadview would like to send a different message about the reading of poetry. Already we’ve made it a policy to price The Broadview Anthology of Poetry very reasonably. Whereas most other poetry anthologies of comparable size are priced these days at $70 or more, the original edition of the Broadview is currently priced at $42.95, while the second edition* is priced at $49.95. For 2014 we’re going to make those prices even more reasonable—bringing them to $24.95 for the original edition, and to $29.95 for the second edition. We want to break the cycle. In business terms, we want to be able to sell enough copies to allow us to keep reprinting in large quantities, thereby achieving economies of scale such that we’ll be able to keep prices reasonable in the future. In cultural and pedagogical terms, odd as it may sound, we’re lowering prices in the hope that this will lead to poetry being valued more highly.

We will also be setting low prices on some individual poetry volumes, including Robert Browning’s The Ring and the Book; our editions of selected poems by Anna Letitia Barbauld, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Letitia Landon, and Augusta Webster; and, from our Freehand Books list, Jeannette Lynes’ It’s Hard Being Queen and Ian Williams’ acclaimed Personals (short-listed this past year for the Griffin Poetry Prize).

If you’d like to receive a complimentary electronic copy** of any of these titles (or of other Broadview titles you think might fit your courses), please email us at examcopies@broadviewpress.com.

Don  LePan
CEO and Company Founder

*for copyright reasons available only in Canada.

** If after you’ve had a chance to look through a complimentary e-copy you decide you would indeed like to choose that book as a text for one of your courses, we will of course be happy to send a complimentary copy of the bound book, too.

The Dawn of Ebooks

kingIn 1999, the development of the Open eBook (OeB) format—which would later become the EPUB format—was the first step in moving publishing into a digital age. Early e-readers such as the Rocket Ebook and the Softbook were issued, and publishers began implementing systems of digital production. In 2000, Stephen King became the first author to publish a work that was available solely in electronic format; his novel Riding the Bullet is still considered a landmark of digital publishing.

Despite the industry’s initial enthusiasm, it was nearly a decade before the technology was in place to truly support digital readership. The improvement of wireless networks, the growing popularity of smartphones, and the prominence of online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble in the late 2000s contributed to a new generation of readers that were digitally conscious and technically savvy; people now had the tools and the skill set to greet the dawn of ebooks and e-readers with new enthusiasm.

To read more on the development of ebooks and on digital publishing, see Chapter Four: Modern Times: From Paperback to e-Books, in Solveig Robinson’s The Book in Society.

 

The Linotype and the Mechanization of Typesetting

linotypeThe invention of the typewriter in the 1860s spurred a fervent interest in speed, legibility, and precision among writers and publishers alike. As individual writers experienced the various advantages of typescript over a handwritten manuscript, printing houses began looking for ways to replicate the efficiency of the keyboard in large-scale printing practices. An increasingly mechanical age called for systems of production that could turn out a high quantity of high-quality books with minimal physical effort.

Early experimentation with keyboard-driven typesetting involved releasing cast type from large font storage bins into “composing sticks,” which would make the impression and then release the type. Type produced this way was often inaccurately aligned, and this method still required the labour-intensive process of collecting and sorting type once a printing job was complete. These problems were solved with the development of “hot metal composing.” A keyboard was used to produce letters one at a time throughout the typesetting process; when a particular key was selected, a brand new piece of type would be cast and sent into the composing stick, thereby creating new type and fresh impressions for each new project. This process of hot metal composing was the concept behind the first commercially successful typesetting machine: the Linotype, invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1886.

To read more on the Linotype and on early typesetting procedures, see Chapter Three: The Printing Revolution, in Solveig Robinson’s The Book in Society.

 

Encyclopédie and the Enlightenment

encycDenis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie was a landmark publication of the 18th century, both in terms of its scope and its distribution. Although the encyclopedia had existed as a genre for centuries prior (one of the most notable contributions being Pliny the Elder’s Natural History in 77 CE), the scale of the Encyclopédie was unprecedented, encompassing twenty-eight volumes, over 3000 illustrations, and scholarly articles from renowned contributors such as Voltaire and Rousseau.

The project captured the Enlightenment’s devotion to knowledge and inquiry and was a milestone in the movement toward a modern age of secular scholarship; in d’Alembert’s words, the Encyclopédie was a “genealogical tree of the arts and sciences,” an ode to achievements and discoveries in history, mathematics, science, and the arts. Just as impressive as its intellectual breadth was the enormous undertaking of printing the Encyclopédie, which reached full publication in 1780 with a print run of 4000 copies—an impressive number in the world of eighteenth-century publishing.

To read more about early publishing projects, see Chapter Three: The Printing Revolution in Solveig Robinson’s The Book in Society.

 

Type Design and the Development of Fonts

fontsGaramond. Caslon. Baskerville. Bodoni. These names have survived as widely known font types, but their origins go back as early as the 16th century when the expansion of printing and readership called for the development and evolution of type design. Claude Garamond was the first to combine popular roman and italic fonts that were established throughout the 1400s. The balanced look and legibility of Garamond’s type led his design to become the most popular secular typeface for both English and French printing during the Renaissance; in 1541, it became the official font of the French Royal Printing Office. By the 1700s, English engraver William Caslon, working from Garamond’s established roman typeface, developed a slightly shorter and more rounded font that gained much popularity throughout the American colonies. The printed version of the Declaration of Independence features the Caslon font.

With the onset of industrialism, English printer John Baskerville and Italian designer Giambattista Bodoni became leaders in bringing font styles into a mechanical age, moving away from designs that were largely inspired by letters as they appeared on ink and paper. Thin strokes, vertical lines, and precise margins became the distinguishing features of the Baskerville and Bodoni fonts and of modern printing.

Author Solveig Robinson discusses the development of fonts and type design at length in Chapter Three: The Printing Revolution. For more on The Book in Society, please click here.

Deciphering Early Script: The Rosetta Stone

Rosetta StoneWe know it now as a popular program for learning languages like French, Spanish, or Italian, but the original Rosetta Stone was the key to unlocking the meaning of early hieroglyphic inscriptions. In 1799, after centuries of misinterpreting the Egyptian writing system, French soldiers came across a stone located in the Egyptian city of Rosetta; the stone featured a decree written in Greek as well as in demotic and hieroglyphic. By first deciphering the Greek script, several scholars were eventually able to determine the words and names represented by the accompanying hieroglyphic symbols. By 1822, accomplished linguist Jean-Francois Champollion, working from copies of the inscriptions on the Rosetta stone, had made the discovery that hieroglyphics could be read phonetically—and there began the study of modern Egyptology.

This topic is discussed at length in Chapter One: Origins of Solveig Robinson’s newly published The Book in Society.