7.0333 Edwin Mellen Press (1/51)
Elaine Brennan (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 15 Dec 1993 19:14:22 EST
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0333. Wednesday, 15 Dec 1993.
Date: Sun, 5 Dec 93 12:06:00 MST
From: Irving Hexham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Edwin Mellen Press
Since it was founded in the late 1970's the Edwin Mellen
Press has been surrounded by controversy. First, it was accused
of being a "Moonie." More recently it received bad publicity
in the Canadian newspaper the GLOBE AND MAIL, 1 October, 1993, p.
A8; and LINGUA FRANCA, September/October, 1993, pp. 1, 22-25 &
62; and has been called a "vanity press."
My own interest in the press arises from the fact that I
teach African religions in a Religious Studies Department. Anyone
who looks at the DIRECTORY OF FACULTY OF DEPARTMENTS AND PROGRAMS
OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES IN NORTH AMERICA, edited by Watson E. Mills,
Macron, Conucil for the Study of Religion, 1988, p. 581, will see
that although there are thousands of religious studies professors
in North America only 34 list an interest in African religions.
Worse still at most half of these teach courses in the area and
only about 12 actually do ongoing research. As a result there is
virtually no market for books about African religions.
The result is that compared to other areas of religious
studies, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, etc. very few
resources are available for the study of African religions.
Therefore, a vicious circle exists which perpetuates the
marinalization of African religions.
To help overcome this problem I have edited several
collections of papers by African scholars dealing with African
religions which were published by the Edwin Mellen Press. Because
I am the editor and not author of these works I feel free to say
that while the quality of papers varies these books meet a real
need. Although I must admit they have not received the publicity
I would like the reviews they have received have been excellen.
In fact the JOURNAL OF RELIGION IN AFRICA, XXIII, 1, 1993,
recenlty described one of them, edited by G.C. oosthuizen and
myself, as "a major contribution," p. 89.
Against this background I am curious to know other
scholar's reaction to the Edwin Mellen Press. My experience with
this publisher has been a good one. All the manuscripts they have
published for me have received editorial/peer reivew, no
subventions were asked or given, and, as stated, journal reviews
have been good.
What concerns me is whether or not the press is simply
the victim of rumours by rival publishers or if it has recently
changed its policies and is becoming a vanity press. A further
question I would like answering is how is a vanity press
identified? I understand and have published with commercial
presses. But, most university presses, in Canada at least, are
highly subsidized, and many "good" presses like E.J. Brill
regularly require subventions.