Although, from a strictly modern perspective, the Preacher could not be talking about digital publication, he could today be considered prophetic when he declared, “of making books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Our Forum for this volume of UNIversitas takes up what is for some the weariness of the Digital Turn, indicating how the turn is, for most, a wonderfully energetic and rewarding development, not least for its exponential increase in the production and availability of “books” and all that “books” enable and represent.
In two different ways of considering gender and gendered existence in the contemporary moment, our two contributions to the Essays, Studies, and Works section illuminate problems as well as pleasures of being women in the modern West, particularly in the modern American college or university. From the sociological study, we learn some of the impact alcohol has on male and female college students and their sexual activity. In the digital short, an accomplished experimental digital artist and global media academic plays with late modernity’s experience of gender and of making.
Exploring and creating alternate ways of being in a renewed, enlivened and relational world, our Reviews and Responses section promotes what may seem like dead visions, not least by promoting the revolutionary academic theories and practices of two recently deceased young professors of extraordinary note. Complementing the reviews of the careers of the late José Esteban Muñoz and the late Samuel See is a review of the still all too pertinent and hardly old and dead 1997 book by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race.
The Tangents section provides, as always, some selected links to material related in some way to the topics, arguments, and expressions of this volume of UNIversitas. Of special interest might be the link to Ishmael Reed’s learned and engaged review of the disturbingly negligent and misleading obituaries of Amiri Baraka, who, like Muñoz and See, left us too soon, even if he was considerably older than they. Although now deceased, the three have very good names, and a good name is better than precious ointment, the Preacher tells us, so, perhaps, with our help, especially our help in carrying on their humane legacy, the day of death can be, again as the Preacher says, better than the day of one’s birth. Only we can tell if that is to be the case.
(For a digitized version of a Gutenberg Bible, which includes a version of the Preacher referenced and which is the first book to be made with the technology of the printing press, see http://www.bl.uk/treasures/gutenberg/homepage.html)
Professor and Editor