Most important, A Philosopher Reads... Marvel Comics' Civil War comes out today, and I've been very lucky to have gotten some exposure for it online and in real life:
First, I had a blast recording a podcast with Scott Niswander for Nerdsync, which is available at the link as well as the player below. We covered many of the topics and issues in my book, the Civil War comics, and what we could surmise about the upcoming movie, and still only seemed to scratch the surface!
In late March, I gave a lecture at Northwood University (at the kind invitation of an old friend, Glenn Moots, shown at the right, courtesy of Northwood's Facebook page) on the topic of superheroes, liberty, and security, which also drew from the book. The video can be found here, although the player can be very touchy with respect to browsers (Internet Explorer and Edge seem to be best, and Firefox works sometimes). Northwood was extremely welcoming and the audience was great, with both students and faculty anxious to talk afterwards.
Finally, Comics Worth Reading generously ran an excerpt from the book on their website, and The Philosopher's Magazine is planning on doing the same in an upcoming issue. Finally, back in February, Troy Powell (a contributor to The Avengers and Philosophy) presciently interviewed me about the book for Graphic Policy.
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In other news...
More directly related to The Virtues of Captain America then the Civil War book, writer R.G. Dole graciously interviewed me for her blog. This interview is particularly meaningful for me, not just because R.G. asked wonderful questions, but because it is the first time I've been interviewed as an author, rather than specifically about the topic of a book. (I've written before about my issues with calling myself an author or writer.)
In support of our co-edited book Economics and the Virtues, Jennifer Baker and I chatted with Tom Woods about the relationship between economics and the virtues for his podcast. This was a great conversation hitting on a lot of points from the book, and I hope to have another talk with Tom soon.
In my last update, I mentioned the event "An Evening with Batman's Brain" at Victoria University in mid-March, hosted by neuroscientist E. Paul Zehr (author of Becoming Batman) and featuring myself and psychologist Travis Langley (author of Batman and Psychology). Here's a nice write-up of the event, courtesy of Otaku No Culture. It was a fantastic night and trip overall: seeing a little of the Pacific northwest, and Victoria specifically, for the first time; meeting Paul and Travis in person after knowing them online for some time; appearing with them in front of a crowd of 800 under theater lights (so we actually couldn't see the audience, which was new to me); speaking afterward with so many students excited to talk about comics and philosophy, and with even more in Paul's class the following day; and marveling at the antics of the guys from Launchpad Productions, whose performances as Batman, Joker, Scarecrow, and Two-Face opened and closed the night's proceedings. (I will never forget the sight of Batman and the Joker doing the dance from Morris Day and the Time's "Jungle Love" in the green room before the show.)
While we're on the topic of Batman, the blog of the American Philosophical Association featured an discussion between me and Skye Cleary on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; I also had some fun with the film on April Fools' Day at The Comics Professor.
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As far as ongoing work is concerned, as you might expect, not a lot was accomplished over the last month. Work still continues slowly on the insanity defense book and various articles and chapters, as well as other embryonic book ideas. But one major project has changed...
The book on superheroes and philosophy that I was working on for the last half year met an untimely end, not at the hands of the spotlight hero's arch-enemies, but rather an inability on my part to arrive at an approach and structure for the book that I was happy with. After struggling for months to find a way to make it work, I finally put an end to it, at least in the format in which I planned (and was contracted) to write it.
I may still write a book on this particular character, but with the way I came to think about him after months of reading, rereading, and thinking, I would have to write a more critical book than I've done about comics to this point. My previous work on superheroes has all been written from the viewpoint of a fan, using the characters and storylines to make an argument rooted in philosophy rather than analyzing or critiquing the source material itself. This is why, to this point, I've never called myself a comics scholar, which would be inaccurate and an insult to those who do actual comics scholarship. But the latter approach is the only one I feel comfortable taking with this character, with whom I developed significant problems over the course of my research. So, if I do write about him I will have to take the rose-tinted glasses off and go full bore in an academic way, which I'm certainly accustomed to doing with economic or philosophical arguments, but not superheroes!
(As it happened, I just heard back from my publisher about new directions for this book as I took a break from writing this post; discussions will continue.)
Other than that, my friends, there are of course the same old unsettled feelings about academia, and a persistent yearning to write fiction and play music that for some unknown reason continues to go unfulfilled. But no time to ramble on about that; this post has gone on long enough. Let me simply say that this was definitely a month that inspires me to consider other options for how I go about my life.