Eileen A. Joy. Old and Middle English Literature, Cultural Studies, Queer Studies, Post/humanisms, Embodiment/Affect, Ethics. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville + postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies + BABEL Working Group, USA
punctum books is an open-access and print-on-demand independent publisher dedicated to radically creative modes of intellectual inquiry and writing across a whimsical para-humanities assemblage. We specialize in neo-traditional and non-conventional scholarly work that productively twists and/or ignores academic norms, with an emphasis on books that fall length-wise between the article and the monograph—id est, novellas, in one sense or another. This is a space for the imp-orphans of your thought and pen, an ale-serving church for little vagabonds.
punctum books encourages projects that profit from formal risks and possibly engage with supposedly outmoded or ‘quaint’ genres—the abcedarium, (auto)commentary, summa, bestiary, dialogue, case study, compendium, speculum/mirror, conduct manual, letter/address, apologia pro vita sua, hagiography, elegy, postcard, telegraph/telegram, inter-office memo, encyclopedia, forgery, hidden writing, source-fiction, natural history, leechbook, atlas, colloquium, colophon, commonplace book, telephone book, rolodex, field report, romance, dialogue, dream vision, catalogue, sonnet cycle, poetics, treatise, manifesto, prosody, calendar, morality play, marginalia, interlinear translation, digest, microfiche, concordance, book of hours, pastoral/eclogue, polemic, epigram, broadsheet, flyer, note-book, breviarium, collationes/collectio, book of nature, testament, proof, manual, pamphlet, miscellany, chapbook, captivity narrative, penny dreadful, testament, manual, discography, catena, liner notes, autopsy, exegesis, rule, antiphonary, legend, fax, travelogue, etymologiae, lai, excerpt, curiosity cabinet, disputation, computus, comedy of errors, soliloquy, essay, bulletin, evangeliary, gloss, meditation, fable, florilegium, myth, fairy tale, purchase order, carbon copy, transcript/transcryptum, blueprint, psalter, micrologue, lyric, daytimer, inventory, annal/chronicle, pipe roll, receipt/invoice, watch-list, charter, canon, and so on ad infinitum. Surprise yourself.
The word ‘punctum’ is intended to summon and ignite several registers of discourse and address. First, in the sense of the punctures made by the pointed awls or spikes used to rule or ‘prick’ the vellum pages of premodern manuscripts and thereby unfurl the blank lines of writing (and thinking), punctum medievally invokes the founding of textual work upon perverse and paradoxical openings. punctum books seeks to curate the open spaces of writing or writing-as-opening, the crucial tiny portals on whose capacious thresholds all writing properly and improperly takes place. Pricking, puncturing, perforating = publishing in the mode of a unconditional hospitality and friendship, making space for what Eve Sedgwick called “queer little gods” – the “ontologically intermediate [and teratological] figures” of y/our thought.
Second, through Augustine’s point about time, punctum stabs home the fact that, whatever the temporalities we inhabit at any given time, whatever we think regarding the perhaps unthinkabletotum saeculum [whole time], whatever our commitments or indifferences to future and past, the ‘word’ immediately knows time as always and beautifully momentary. punctum books seizes without freezing the momentary, promoting punctual writing that emerges in the moment, that is all of a sudden presently free to carry and to be carried away by other times, its own time, and both at once. punctum books seeks writing that does not let go of its own time, its adjacency to what is immediate and intimate, as well as writing that abandons time and lights out for other territories.
Finally, by way of Barthes’s affective photographic concept, punctum indicates thought that pierces and disturbs the wednesdayish, business-as-usual protocols of both the generic university studiumand its individual cells or holding tanks. Further, punctum signifies text that wounds and pricks and cuts and pierces. This is to encourage writing as risk, adventure, a going-forth without ‘papers’ or guarantees: falling through the hole/punctum, a falling down, freefall. punctum bookssolicits and pimps quixotic, sagely mad engagements that generate and satisfy noetic-erotic need, textual thought-bodies that give pleasures only to be possessed in their presence.