Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Launching the Journals Program: The Evolutionary Review

We are excited to begin a new Journals Program here at the Press, starting with the inaugural issue of The Evolutionary Review: Art, Science, Culture.

Over the past several years, “literary Darwinism,” evolutionary aesthetics, and evolutionary cultural theory have expanded and flourished, displaying their vitality in numerous articles and books, and gaining ever-increasing visibility not just in academic journals but in newspapers and magazines aimed at educated general readers. The Evolutionary Review (TER) now offers a forum for the whole scope of evolutionary thinking in every field of human interest.

Most of the writers contributing to TER are academics, but the editors didn’t want this to be an “academic” publication. Even in its more respectful connotations, the word “academic” suggests writing oriented to specialized professional audiences highly tolerant of routine recitations, dry facts, neutral or conventional authorial personas, an impersonal manner, and prose that is merely efficient—not aesthetically pleasing, not expressive or evocative, not, in itself, enjoyable to read. Why should serious writing be dull? The editors (Alice Andrews and Joe Carroll) decided that they would make pleasure for readers one of the chief criteria for selecting contributions to TER. They aimed at eliciting critical reflections that would charm the imagination with wit, humor, and invention. They wanted prose that would please the tongue and tickle the ear, satisfying a lust for language that is sinuous, vivid, sharp, and clear.

The editors knew many evolutionists with lively, cultivated minds. They saw that many humanists have acquired a sophisticated understanding of human evolutionary biology and that many evolutionary scientists have become increasingly alert to the peculiarly “human” character of “human nature”—recognizing that culture has a truly exceptional importance for this one species. The time, then, seemed right. Even five years ago, such a journal might not have been possible. The first volume of TER splendidly demonstrates that evolutionary cultural critique can be wide-ranging, powerful, and subtle. The editors and contributors are confident that a vast territory lies open here for exploration. The pool of potential explorers has no visible limits. Come join us!