BMCR 1998.08.13

Books available for review in ‘Books Received’

In a few days we will post our monthly “Books Received” message with the notation that some titles are still available for review and we will thereby solicit volunteers. Comments received latterly encourage us to think that some explanation of our assignment policies might be in order, to avoid some unnecessary hard feelings.

BMCR has enjoyed since its inception in 1990 the services of a voluntary board of editors who advise us (“us”: the editorial we in this case are Richard Hamilton of Bryn Mawr College, who does everything involving paper, and James O’Donnell of the University of Pennsylvania, who is responsible for the electrons) on placement of books for review and on the reviews themselves when they arrive. Our habit is to circulate lists of books-for-placement first to those editors and to make every effort to place books that way. The month-end list then announces availability of unplaced titles to a wider audience.

We stumbled into the practice of soliciting volunteers by accident and found it richly rewarding. Some of our best and steadiest contributors have come to us this way and in so doing have enriched our community in ways that would not happen if we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters, kept asking each other for names. (We’ve also made a few mistakes this way; but we’ve made a few mistakes with traditional placements as well.)

But what is worth saying is that when we publish the list of books received and solicit volunteers, the response is regularly overwhelming. We do this only at a time when we know both Hamilton and O’Donnell can pay attention to their screens fairly assiduously for a couple of days as the flood of responses comes in. We typically wait what seems a decent interval, for the first flood to abate, and then begin making assignments. Often a single title will have 6-10 volunteers. Invidia is inevitable. Further, requests from volunteers will trickle in over days or weeks as irregular e-mail-checkers (there are still a few of them left in this world) find the message and find time to read it.

Our advice to would-be reviewers is twofold: (1) if you wish to review for us, feel free to let us know privately; a c.v. is helpful support for such a request, and we do keep track of a large list of people with diverse expertise; (2) when you see the monthly list and want to volunteer for a specific title, feel free to do so quickly, but know also that it’s not simply first-come-first-served. We make assignments then based on qualifications and the most interesting match of reviewer to book: but we do so fairly quickly (as we try to do all things with BMCR) and so s/he who hesitates is lost.

Our editorial friends: The “print version” of BMCR regularly prints a list of the current members of the editorial board, but we have not distributed one to the much larger e-subscription list in some time, so we add one here happily, with immense gratitude to those who now work with us and those who have done so in the past for their part in making this immensely satisfying collaboration succeed.

Rick Hamilton:

Jim O’Donnell:

Julia Haig Gaisser, Bryn Mawr

Richard Hamilton, Bryn Mawr

Russell T. Scott, Bryn Mawr

James C. Wright, Bryn Mawr

Martin Cropp, Calgary

Jenifer Neils, Case Western

James E.G. Zetzel, Columbia

Jeffrey Rusten, Cornell

Kent J. Rigsby, Duke

P.J. Rhodes, Durham

David Sansone, Illinois

Christina S. Kraus, Oxford

David Potter, Michigan

John Yardley, Ottawa

James O’Donnell, Penn

Joseph Farrell, Penn

Ralph Rosen, Penn

Froma Zeitlin, Princeton

Mark Edwards, Stanford

Richard Green, Sydney

H.-G. Nesselrath, U Bern

Brent Vine, UCLA

Sander M. Goldberg, UCLA

Simon Hornblower, UC London

Mary Blundell, U. of Washington

Alain Gowing, U. of Washington

Michael Halleran, U. of Washington

Robert Lamberton, Washington University

Miranda Marvin, Wellesley

Victor Bers, Yale