It's been a bit of an uneasy several months since my last update at the end of July. In the grand scheme of things, everything's fine—no one who I know died, lost their job, or decided to run for president—but for someone like me who tries to maintain a calm and smooth existence, it's been an unsettling time.
August was a month spent bouncing back from finishing my book on Marvel Comics' Civil War (on which much more later), but I did manage to write one article (on Cesare Beccaria and law-and-economics) and revise another (on externalities). I had larger plans for August which I was lucky to be able to push back; naturally, I underestimated the stress of writing the Civil War book on such a tight schedule, and I'm beginning to see the benefits of taking breaks (which I'm seriously considering next summer).
As it turned out, September began with an unexpected course to teach, so writing plans for the fall had to be revised as well (beyond what I had managed to reschedule in August). Add to that the normal personnel matters facing department chairs, a minor car accident (no one hurt, everything handled smoothly, but still disruptive), and a surprise root canal (requiring five dental visits), and the fall has not been as productive writing-wise so far as I had hoped.
Nonetheless, I managed to write and revise a book chapter on happiness policy (thanks to extraordinarily timely feedback from the editors), make further revisions to the article on externalities (which was then accepted), and, with my co-editor Jennifer Baker, correct the proofs and construct an index for Economics and the Virtues: Building a New Moral Foundation, which is due to be published by the end of the year in the UK (to be available at the ASSA and APA Eastern meetings in early January) and two months later in the US.
I also wrote three new Psychology Today posts in September:
- Thinking About “The Rationality of Rage” (in response to this New York Times article by Matthew Hutson)
- The Self-Loather's Worst Fear: Is Self-Image Set for Life?
- Do You Feel Like a Placeholder in Your Relationship?
As for the Civil War book... sigh. To make a long story short, Sterling and I had significant differences of opinion which led to a parting of ways. (Let's just leave it at that.) After lengthy but unsuccessful discussions with several other presses, and with very little time (in publishing terms) before the release of Captain America: Civil War, I have decided to publish the book myself, most likely through Amazon's Kindle Direct. I have already secured the services of an expert copyeditor with whom I have worked before, and am now trying to find an artist I can commission to produce a marvelous (with a small "m") cover. (In the meantime, be sure to check out Kevin Scott's edited book Marvel Comics' Civil War and the Age of Terror: Critical Essays on the Comic Saga, which includes a chapter by me which previews my own book.)
In much better news, I was invited by Professor Dianne Creagh at York College of Pennsylvania to deliver their inaugural lecture for the First-Year Experience last Wednesday. (Here's some local press on the event.) It was a tremendously wonderful experience: Creagh and everyone else at York were very welcoming and gracious, and the 200+ students and faculty that filled the lecture hall (standing-room only, as you can see in the picture below) were a great audience as I discussed examples of ethical problems faced by superheroes that also apply to our own lives.
Students lined up after the presentation to talk about comics, movies, and philosophy—and also get books signed (some with more than one!) at the table that York's bookstore set up outside the hall (there was also a terrific display of my books in the bookstore itself). The picture to the right was taken before the talk, at which point they were already almost sold out of Watchmen and Philosophy.
I really can't say enough about how the entire campus came out in support of my visit and how appreciative everyone was. It was easily the most enjoyable "work" experience I can remember having, and several people (including Creagh) suggested I do more talks of this sort, which I am seriously considering.
Meanwhile, work continues on several articles, book chapters, conference papers, and edited books, as well as preparing to write another book on superheroes and philosophy in the spring. Happily, the semester looks to lighten up in early November, and spring semester is always easier in terms of teaching and administration. (On second thought, maybe I shouldn't say that, ha.)
Here's to a smoother remainder of the semester and the year for everyone!