Annemie Vandezande

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Luca Burzelli | Pietro Pomponazzi and the Renaissance Theory of the Elements

Luca Burzelli is a postdoctoral researcher in the History of Philosophy at  the University of Siegen, and a member of the De Wulf-Mansion Centre at the KU Leuven. He received the Thomas Ricklin International Award 2024 for his book Pietro Pomponazzi and the Renaissance Theory of the Elements.

“The comparison between Pomponazzi and the various medieval views on the question of elements shows that he offered the broadest and most analytical overview of the debate in the Renaissance.”

In medieval and early modern natural philosophy, very few issues were as controversial as the nature of the elements. In his recent book Luca Burzelli discusses one of the most original contributions to this debate, that of Renaissance philosopher Pietro Pomponazzi (d. 1525).

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.

This book concerns the medieval and Renaissance theory of the elements. This theory was popularised by Aristotle, with the aim of explaining the composition of physical bodies. The theory of the elements had the same role in antiquity as quantum mechanics has today: to explain what the most basic things are that we are made of. Since late antiquity, Aristotle’s theory had been the object of many commentaries and was subject to different interpretations. Over the centuries, a very large debate had developed on the elements, which included different approaches (e.g. those of philosophers, of physicians, of theologians) and many schools of thought (e.g. that of Alexander of Aphrodisia, of Avicenna, of Averroes, of Aquinas).

This book synthesises the ancient and medieval debate and then goes on to consider one of the main intellectual figures of the Italian Renaissance: Pietro Pomponazzi (d. 1525). Pomponazzi taught in Bologna in the first decades of the 16th century, and in his lectures he critically discussed the entire medieval debate. My book offers an analytical description of Pomponazzi’s perspective on the ancient debate, as well as of his own ideas. Finally, the book offers critical editions of six texts by Pomponazzi in which his view of the elements is discussed.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?


The main reason that prompted me to work on this topic was an important knowledge gap. When I started my PhD (2016), studies on Renaissance natural philosophy were partial and outdated. The question of the four elements, in particular, had been largely neglected by contemporary studies, and presented significant problems of interpretation and palaeographic decipherment of manuscripts. This gap prompted me to delve into the medieval and Renaissance debate on the elements, with the aim of reconstructing a discussion on an issue that was of primary importance to scholars at the time, but about which we knew little overall today.

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?


The starting point for any investigation of this topic remains Anneliese Meier’s book, An der Grenze von Scholastic und Naturwissenschaft. Studien zur Naturphilosophie des 14 Jahrhunderds (Essen 1943). Although dated and emended in many respects, this volume offers the first and only comprehensive summary of the medieval debate on the elements up to the 15th century. There are also specific contributions on individual philosophers. For example, a remarkable study is Lucian Petrescu’s PhD thesis, Meteors and Mixtures. Problems of hylomorphic composition in Aristotelian natural philosophy, University of Ghent, 2014 (supervisor Maarten Van Dyck); and the article by Rega Wood and Michael Weisberg, “Interpreting Aristotle on mixtures: problems about elemental composition from Philoponus to Cooper”, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 35 (2004), pp. 681-706.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?


This book saw the light in three stages. First, I identified, transcribed and amended Pomponazzi’s Latin texts in order to create a reliable corpus for study. This first phase coincided with the preparation of the critical edition. In the second phase, I worked on the commentary and the source apparatus for the Latin texts. This very important phase allowed me to compare Pomponazzi with all the ancient and medieval intellectuals he could read. In this phase, I was able to reconstruct positions, theories, similarities and dissimilarities, direct or indirect influences, quotations, misunderstandings.

Above all, I was able to work diachronically, to understand how Aristotle’s theory was discussed over the centuries, and developed into different views. In the third and final phase, I wrote the monographic essay at the beginning of the volume. This study combines my previous research: identifying  I identified the theoretical problems left by Aristotle, and the different answers that interpreters gave before Pomponazzi; then I focused on Pomponazzi’s position as such, and in relation to the medieval debate; finally, I discussed the material and philological aspects of Pomponazzi’s texts.

What would you like readers to remember about your book?


I hope readers will understand that the theory of the elements has been a must in debates of natural philosophy for many centuries. For more than 1,500 years, intellectuals of all backgrounds and professions – Aristotelian commentators, university teachers, physicians, theologians – considered it essential to address this theory because it had to do with a problem common to all: what is the physical universe made up of? What are the constituent parts of the bodies?

I also hope that readers will come to know and appreciate the originality of Pietro Pomponazzi’s thought, which stands out for the breadth and acumen of his doctrine of the elements. The comparison between Pomponazzi and the various medieval views on the question of the elements shows that he offered the broadest and most analytical overview of the debate in the Renaissance, before the theory of the elements was superseded by the new chemical theories.

Your book is published open access thanks to the partial support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. How did the open access publication process go? What makes open access so attractive for you/your book? Have you thus far noticed that your book reaches a wider audience?

I was able to obtain a fundamental contribution from KU Leuven to support the costs of OA. To obtain this grant I wrote an application to the university. The publisher and my supervisor were very supportive in preparing the application.

Publishing this volume in OA is a privilege for me and for the book. It will make it significantly easier to access and learn about this research. For many decades, philosophical research on these topics has been limited to a few intellectuals, partly because of the difficulty of the topic, and partly because of the inaccessibility of the texts. The possibility of OA publication should enable this research and these texts to reach a much wider audience, increase the familiarity that historians of philosophy have with a problem – and a tradition – of great historical importance, and facilitate further investigations into Pomponazzi’s texts.

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about? Would you consider publishing the book open access?

While preparing this volume, I had the opportunity to prepare numerous English translations of the medieval texts I read for commentary. This is a large amount of material, comparable in length to the volume itself. I find it useful to make this material available to the academic community, so that it can become better known and refined through further investigation. A publication in OA would undoubtedly facilitate the dissemination of the texts; moreover, it would make researchers aware of the importance and originality of this line of research.

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Fall-Winter 2024 Catalogue Coming Soon | Enjoy our Summer Discount!

Catalogue cover: © Emma Waltraud Howes, Scores for Daily Living, 2019. Performance view at ZIL. Photo: Valeriya Titova (Moscow)

With summer just around the corner, we are already very excited to offer you a sneak preview of our Fall-Winter 2024 Catalogue. With books on Jaume Plensa and ecological artists the Harrisons, and research topics such as intermedial translation, intellectual property rights, and African decolonization, this catalogue will feature new cutting-edge titles on art, architecture, literature, history, philosophy, postcolonialism, and social sciences.

In July and August our office will remain open, but at times with less staff. We apologise for possible delays in answering your enquiries. We will be back fully operational by mid-August. 

In the meantime, we invite you to browse our website and discover our new and forthcoming titles. Use discount code SUMMERUP and get 20% off all orders. This offer is valid until 31 August 2024.

We wish you a lovely summer with lots of reading time.

The Leuven UP team

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JSTOR’s Path to Open Supports the Book Series ‘Figures of the Unconscious’

blue/red background with description of Path to Open and JSTOR logo

Launching as a pilot, Path to Open libraries will contribute funds to enable participating presses – including Leuven University Press – to publish new books on JSTOR that will transition from licensed to open access within three years of publication. The initial pilot will produce about one thousand open access monographs. If successful, it will lay the foundation for an entirely new way to fund long-form scholarship while vastly increasing its impact.

The following volumes in the book series ‘Figures of the Unconscious’ have joined the Path to Open program:

  • Thoughts for the Times on Groups and Masses: A Sigmund Freud Museum’s Symposium, Daniela Finzi, Jeanne Wolff Bernstein (eds) (will be announced soon)

Read more about the book series ‘Figures of the Unconscious’ >

Read more about the Path to Open program >

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Matthias Buschmeier | European Literatures of Military Occupation

Matthias Buschmeier is an associate professor (Akademischer Direktor) for German Literature in the European Context at Bielefeld University.

To my surprise, these narratives did not center on combat or the war itself; instead, they depicted life alongside the occupiers.

What does it mean to live under occupation? How does it shape the culture and identities of European nations? How does it affect the way we write and read literature? Focusing on the literary works of writers from various European countries that were occupied by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union or the Allies during and after World War II, the editors of European Literatures of Military Occupation seek to unravel the complex interplay between historical circumstances and literary expression. A Q&A with one of its two editors, Matthias Buschmeier

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.

The book stands out for categorizing ‘occupation literature’ as a unique genre and for showing how this literature reflects the complex relationships between occupier and occupied, and how these relations affect European identities through remembrance and representation of these historical events up to our very present.

Our book explores the impact of military occupation on Europe’s cultural and national identities, particularly through literature. It investigates how living under the control of foreign powers during and after World War II—be it Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or the Allies—has influenced the way European writers express themselves, and asks why the topic of military occupation is still and again very present in our contemporary literature. The contributors offer a mix of theoretical insights and specific examples from many European theatres of occupation in the 20th century, and how they are represented in literature.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?

I came across a photograph depicting the occupation in Paris, which appeared to be staged for propaganda purposes, as were many such images. It portrayed a Parisian café where German soldiers were seen sipping coffee, perusing newspapers, and conversing with, supposedly, Parisian women. Shortly thereafter, I immersed myself inseveral novels from different European literatures, anticipating examples of ‘war literature’. To my surprise, these narratives did not center on combat or the war itself; instead, they depicted life alongside the occupiers.

As a German, I was struck by the absence of stark dichotomies portraying German occupiers as wholly evil and the occupied in constant open resistance (although there certainly was at least one evil SS officer in each novel). It became evident that living under occupation meant navigating a complex social and moral landscape, one that defied the simplistic narratives prevalent in many post-war European countries. It also became clear that the very distinct experiences of German occupation in Eastern Europe and among the European Jewish population led to different modes of representation and literary techniques. Eager to deepen my understanding of these dynamics, I sought insights from scholars across Europe, recognizing that military occupation was a collective European ordeal spanning from 1938 to 1953, extending beyond just the German Occupation.

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?

I can highly recommend the website and blog of the “Occupation Studies” network which is hosted by network convenors Camilo Erlichman at Maastricht University and Christopher Knowles from King’s College London. Furthermore, the “Societies-under-German-Occupation” network offers on its website a unique collection of sources about the everyday experience of military occupation during World War II from various European contexts, translated into English. In fall 2024, Tatjana Tönsmeier, one of the leading scholars in the field of Occupation Studies, will publish her book Unter Deutscher Besatzung [Under German Occupation], and I am sure that will also be a milestone of reference.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?

Having previously conducted comparative and international research with authors from diverse backgrounds, it’s always fascinating to witness the unique perspectives that emerge from varied academic and intellectual traditions. Honestly, my familiarity with Georgian authors’ thoughts and writings on their experiences under different occupational regimes was quite limited. As an editor, this meant placing my trust in the accuracy of quotations from original sources, despite not understanding their content. It’s a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle in the dark, hoping that each piece is correctly shaped and trusting that the image will eventually come together to reveal the big picture.

 What would you like readers to remember about your book?

It would be gratifying if readers could retain the essence of Jeroen Olyslaeger’s chapter, which deals with the intellectual journey and concepts of a literary author who wrote his compelling novel as a profound exploration of the German occupation of Antwerp. Furthermore, it would be immensely satisfying if the methodical reflections presented in the introduction serve as a catalyst for other scholars to further investigate this subject. This volume is intended to be a springboard, initiating discourse rather than presenting conclusive remarks on the matter.

Your book is published open access thanks to the partial support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. How did the open access publication process go? What makes open access so attractive for you/your book? Have you thus far noticed that your book reaches a wider audience?

We are very happy and grateful that the book can be published Open Access with the support of the KU Leuven and Bielefeld University Fund. Furthermore, the University of Luxembourg also helped immensely to bring our results to the public. All the institutions made it very easy to apply for funds, and the whole publication process was handled very professionally, but still in a very short time, which is becoming more and more important for scholary careers these days.

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about? Would you consider publishing the book open access?

Currently, I am in the process of negotiating a Ukrainian translation for  my book titled “Guilt: A Force of Cultural Transformation.” This endeavour is only possible with the support of Open Access funding, which ensures that the work is accessible to readers who may be isolated from their academic resources. As far as I am concerned, the synergy of a printed edition for archival purposes, coupled with the electronic Open Access format for immediate, effortless, and unrestricted global reach, aligns seamlessly with the contemporary academic requirements.

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Theofanis Tsiampokalos | Plutarch and Rhetoric

Theofanis Tsiampokalos is research associate in classics at Trier University.

As I studied Plutarch’s works, what intrigued me most was not what Plutarch said about rhetoric, but what he could have said, but did not.

In his book, Plutarch and Rhetoric, Theofanis Tsiampokalos offers new insights into Plutarch’s seemingly moderate attitude towards rhetoric. The hypothesis explored by Tsiampokalos introduces, for the first time, the broader literary and cultural contexts that influenced and restricted the scope of Plutarch’s message. It paints a picture of a philosopher who may not regard rhetoric as a lesser means of persuasion, but who faces challenges in openly articulating this stance in his public discourse. A Q&A with the author.

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.

My book reexamines Plutarch’s (c. 40/45–c. 125 CE) views on rhetoric within the context of the so-called Second Sophistic. This was a period of cultural revival during the Roman Empire, roughly from the first to the third century CE. It is characterised by a resurgence of interest in classical Greek literature and a renewed appreciation for rhetorical performances. The latter required systematic training in rhetoric, often considered the culmination of education. My book explores Plutarch’s interplay with this trend. Plutarch represented a different educational tradition, one that might have been regarded as competitive from a certain point of view: that of philosophy. The book takes as its point of reference Plutarch’s views on rhetoric, previously described by many scholars as moderate, , and then sets out to analyse and interpret these views within the broader context mentioned above. This study investigates how historical and ideological limitations, especially those related to higher education, shaped and restricted Plutarch’s discourse on rhetoric. By considering these broader contexts, the book offers new insights into the complexities and constraints Plutarch navigated in his work.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?

My interest in the subject was inspired by a combination of factors. Academically, I was fascinated by the complex interplay between rhetoric and philosophy in ancient texts, especially during the Second Sophistic period. The cultural and literary renaissance of this era and its impact on higher education positioned rhetoric once again in opposition to other traditional educational offerings, including philosophy. I was intrigued by the antagonisms created within this field and the way in which Plutarch engaged with these issues. Moreover, the works of scholars who have explored the nuances of the relationship between rhetoric and philosophy in antiquity have greatly influenced my perspective. This book ultimately derives from my PhD thesis. My mentor at the University of Athens, Professor Dimitrios Karadimas, played a crucial role in guiding my research and encouraging me to delve deeper into Plutarch’s writings. As I studied Plutarch’s works, however, what intrigued me most was not what Plutarch said about rhetoric, but what he could have said, but did not. This line of questioning quickly led me to a host of other writers, both contemporary to and earlier than Plutarch, who had positioned themselves regarding the conflict between philosophy and rhetoric in the first and second centuries of our era. Contrasting Plutarch’s statements on rhetoric with those of others led me to increasingly interesting conclusions about the interrelationship between philosophical training, character formation, speech and power.

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?

If you’re interested in delving deeper into the subject of Plutarch and rhetoric, I have a few reading suggestions. A foundational work is Robert Jeuckens’s 1907 dissertation, Plutarch und die Rhetorik, which provides a systematic and comprehensive, though somewhat descriptive, analysis of the topic. Another valuable resource is the edited volume Rhetorical Theory and Praxis in Plutarch, edited by Professor Luc van der Stockt from the University of Leuven and published in 2000, which I highly recommend for its insightful contributions. Additionally, a notable book from 2018 is Plutarch’s Rhythmic Prose by Professor Gregory Hutchinson from Oxford, which explores an important aspect of Plutarch’s own rhetoric as a writer. There is also a rich bibliography in scholarly articles and chapters in edited volumes and handbooks dealing with various relevant aspects of Plutarch’s work, reflecting the remarkable resurgence in Plutarch studies since the mid-twentieth century. For those keen to learn more, I suggest visiting the website of the International Plutarch Society (https://ips.ploutarchos.org/) and checking out their activities and publications. The Society also publishes the yearly journal Ploutarchos n.s. (https://impactum-journals.uc.pt/ploutarchos/index).

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?

The writing process for this book was both challenging and rewarding. The book results from my PhD thesis, which was written consecutively in three different countries: Greece, Switzerland, and Germany. I began writing my thesis in Athens but then undertook a number of extended research stays abroad. These stays, despite the usual logistical challenges, proved immensely beneficial. The writing process greatly benefited from the conversations I had not only with my supervisor in Athens, Dimitrios Karadimas, but also with my supervisors during my research stays: Professors Christoph Riedweg in Zurich, Bernhard Zimmermann in Freiburg, and Georg Wöhrle in Trier. Each brought a unique perspective, which was immensely helpful. I am grateful to all of them and regard them as my mentors. A surprising aspect was the sheer amount of material available on Plutarch and rhetoric. Initially, I underestimated the depth and breadth of existing scholarship, which led to some delightful discoveries along the way. Amusingly, I found myself engrossed in the intricacies of ancient rhetorical techniques, sometimes even attempting to apply them in my daily conversations just for fun. It’s amazing how relevant some of these ancient strategies still are today! Overall, the process was a journey of constant learning and unexpected connections that made writing this book an incredibly fulfilling experience.

What would you like readers to remember about your book?

I would like them to remember that my book offers a nuanced exploration of the interplay between rhetoric and philosophy in Plutarch’s works. This is not a study aimed at merely elucidating what Plutarch believed about rhetoric. Rather, it takes what Plutarch says about rhetoric as a starting point to examine how it fits within the broader cultural and literary milieu of his time. I hope readers appreciate the depth of research and the differentiated perspective I am offering. Moreover, while writing this book, I envisioned a readership beyond specialized academics. I aimed to create a book accessible to readers who might not have any prior knowledge of Ancient Greece, Rome, or Greek and Latin. I believe this inclusivity is crucial today, as we recognize the diversity and richness of our world. Therefore, I want readers to remember that this is a book that avoids presupposing any specialized knowledge about the subjects treated, so that it may also serve as an entry point for newcomers to the field.

Your book is published open access thanks to the partial support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. How did the open access publication process go? What makes open access so attractive for you/your book? Have you thus far noticed that your book reaches a wider audience?

The open access publication process for my book went smoothly, thanks to the support of the KU Leuven Fund for Fair Open Access. The support from the fund was instrumental in making this happen, and the coordination with the publisher was efficient and straightforward. Open access is particularly attractive for my book because it aligns with my goal of reaching a broad and diverse audience. By making the book freely available, it removes barriers to access and ensures that readers, regardless of their institutional affiliations or financial resources, can benefit from the research. This inclusivity is especially important in today’s interconnected world. As the book has only been available for a couple of days, it’s too early to gauge the full impact of open access on its reach. However, I am optimistic that the open access model will facilitate wider dissemination and engagement with the work, and I look forward to seeing how this develops.

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about? Would you consider publishing the book open access?

Yes, I do have plans for another publication. For the past couple of years, I have developed a keen interest in the textual transmission and reception of Presocratic philosophy. This term refers to the body of philosophical thought that developed in ancient Greece before the time of Socrates (c. 470–399 BCE). The writings of these early thinkers have almost all been lost, and our knowledge of them typically depends on secondary material in the form of quotations, paraphrases, and other references found in later authors. However, in my new project, I am not so much interested in reconstructing the original lost sources as I am in exploring the reception of Presocratic teachings across subsequent philosophical, scientific, and religious traditions. I aim to identify new interpretative contexts for these teachings. I would certainly consider publishing my next book open access. The benefits of open access, such as broader accessibility and increased engagement, are very appealing. Ensuring that my research is accessible to a wide audience, including those without institutional access to academic resources, aligns with my commitment to inclusivity and knowledge dissemination.

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Paulo Beer | Truth and Suffering

Paulo Beer | Truth and Suffering

Paulo Beer is a psychoanalyst, professor and researcher in São Paulo, Brazil.

Understanding how one can think about truth within psychoanalysis and philosophy of science opens interesting possibilities to think and treat suffering differently.

In Truth and Suffering Paulo Beer explores different conceptions of truth and their profound influence on our understanding and approach to suffering. By discussing how different definitions of truth shape distinct ways of producing knowledge, the analysis prompts reflection on the impact of knowledge production on people’s lives.

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.

The book affirms that different ways of thinking about truth lead to different ways of dealing with suffering. In particular, it opposes the hegemonic paradigm of “biological psychiatry” to psychoanalytic thinking, pointing to the need to address the matter of truth in a more complex and contingent way.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?

The need to address suffering without reducing it to organic or physiological imbalances. It is imperative to examine the epistemological, ontological, ethical and political reasons for seeking answers so narrowly, and to think of other and more fruitful options. Focusing on the concept of truth is a good way to achieve that. I have mainly discussed one option (psychoanalysis), which has been criticized for many years for its supposed lack of scientificity. I deal with these critics by updating the debate with contemporary philosophy of science, in particular the work of Ian Hacking, which surprisingly offers possible dialogues. Understanding how one can think about truth within psychoanalysis and philosophy of science opens up interesting possibilities for thinking about and treating suffering differently.

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?

Among the many references I could mention, I’ll limit myself to two: firstly, Asylum Magazine, a publication that has been thinking critically about suffering for decades. Secondly, the book Crazy Like Us, written by Ethan Watters, in which the author examines how forms of suffering have been exported by American culture.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?

The book results from my PhD research. There was a moment when I was deeply immersed in epistemological discussions and felt that I was wandering without a clear purpose. That’s when I returned to the political discussion that underlies our choices of how to deal with suffering, something that is central to my work and that actually prompted it. It made all the discussions make sense again.

What would you like readers to remember about your book?

One idea I insist on in the book is that questions are more valuable than answers. Dealing with the matter of truth keeping that in mind takes us to other possibilities, reopens paths that have been closed (many times for questionable reasons), and permits us to think differently about suffering.

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about?

Yes, I’m currently developing a research about scientific denialism, my next book will probably be about it.

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Ágnes Györke and Tamás Juhász | Urban Culture and the Modern City

Ágnes Györke and Tamás Juhász

Ágnes Györke is associate professor at Károli Gáspár University’s Department of Literary and Cultural Studies in English and principal investigator of the Cosmopolitan Ethics and the Modern City research group.

Tamás Juhász is associate professor at Károli Gáspár University where he teaches modern British and American literature, cultural theory and Central European film. 

Several authors discuss questions concerning gender, race and ageism in relation to urban culture, which makes the volume especially relevant and up-to-date.

In Urban Culture and the Modern City editors Ágnes Györke and Tamás Juhász expand the scope of literary urban studies by focusing on Budapest and Hungarian small towns, offering in-depth analyses of the intriguing link between literature, the arts, and material culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.
Our book reflects our fascination with the urban environment and its artistic representations in Central Europe and worldwide. It explores connections between various art forms and urban space, mutual and multidirectional influences that have been, initially, and in more general terms, theorized by Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin and Henri Lefebvre, and that have led, over the past few decades, to a distinct interest within urban studies in the artistic. The main novelty of the volume is that it focuses on Hungarian cities and small towns in a translocal cultural and theoretical framework that points well beyond the borders of the country. Our contributors discuss Hungarian literature, theatre, film, visual arts, material culture and memory politics, investigating how these are shaped by the city and how they shape the city. Among them, several authors discuss questions concerning gender, race and ageism in relation to urban culture, which makes the volume especially relevant and up-to-date.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?
An obvious, but by now somewhat indirect starting point was a conference that we organized in Budapest on arts in urban space in 2019. Papers were not limited to Hungarian urban culture, in fact, most of them had a transnational focus, but subsequent discussions with Leuven University Press made us realize that there is a lacuna in related academic publications, and a collection of essays focusing on Hungary should be our purpose. To accomplish this, we invited scholars who had not originally participated in the conference. 

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?
Similar books that influenced us and that we liked include Gábor Gyáni’s Identity and the Urban Experience (2004), Jeremy Tambling’s The Palgrave Handbook of Literature and the City (2016), Luger and Ren’s Art and the City: Worlding the Discussion Through a Critical Landscape (2017), Cara Courage’s Arts in Place: The Arts, the Urban and the Social Practice (2017) and Lieven Ameel’s The Routledge Companion to Literary Urban Studies (2023).  

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?
Everything went according to plan, but rather slowly. Also, the beginning seems strangely distant. We started just before COVID hit and now that we are finished, we have geopolitical conflicts that did not exist then, at least not in their current, full-blown form.

What would you like readers to remember about your book?
Perhaps its focus on non-mainstream narratives and its “Hungarianness” – to our knowledge, there’s no other book that discusses art, literature and film in relation to Hungarian cities. We also hope that the translocal cultural and theoretical frame the volume relies on will make the case studies both relatable and enjoyable for English speaking readers. 

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about?
We don’t have an ongoing joint publication project at the moment, however, our fields of academic interests continue to overlap. We are planning to expand our research group called “Cosmopolitan Ethics and the Modern City”, and, in the long run, we also plan to collaborate with scholars from neighbouring countries on joint projects about the Central and Eastern European city.

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Luc Sterckx | Corporate Governance from Startup to Scale-up

Luc Sterckx

Luc Sterckx holds a MSc and a PhD in Chemical Engineering and is an Insead-certified international director. He is an active Board member, president, and company consultant.

“Reality indicates that small companies struggle to find the ‘right’ corporate governance suiting their particular needs efficiently.”

Good governance is essential to the success of startups and scale-ups. In his book Corporate Governance from Startup to Scale-up Luc Sterckx provides firsthand advice on how early-stage companies can be governed in an efficient and workable manner, regardless of their limited financial resources.

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about.

This book provides firsthand advice on how early-stage companies can be governed in an efficient and workable manner, regardless of their limited financial and human resources, including transitioning from a startup to a scale-up.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?

I have personally witnessed that good governance substantially contributes to the success of startups and scale-ups. Reality indicates however that such small companies struggle to find the “right” corporate governance suiting their particular needs efficiently. Hence this topic and book.

Do you have any reading suggestions to share (books, blogs, journals, …) for anyone who wants to know more about the subject?

The subject of corporate governance for smaller companies has only recently been getting some attention – hence references are very scarce.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?

Having been involved actively in startups for many decades, it gave me great pleasure but occasionally also regrets thinking about the good and bad experiences in these adventures. It helped me to finalize a very hands-on and practice-based must-read book for startups and early-stage companies, pursuing growth and professionalization.

What would you like readers to remember about your book?

Good corporate governance is not a “nice-to-have” for startups and scale-ups, it is a “must-have” for success.

Do you have any plans yet for another publication? What will it be about?

Not concretely yet. Possibly on extending corporate governance towards the mid-sized company beyond scale-up.

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Paul Nnodim and Austin Okigbo | Ubuntu

Paul Nnodim and Austin Okigbo

“Individuals from various backgrounds and cultures can adopt and integrate this philosophy into their daily lives.”

Ubuntu, as a philosophy or ethical practice which has arguably come to represent African humanism and communalism, has not been sufficiently assimilated into contemporary philosophical scholarship. The anthology edited by Paul Nnodim and Austin Okigbo weaves interdisciplinary perspectives into the discourse on African relational ethics in dialogue with Western normative ideals.

Briefly and concisely explain in plain language what the book is about. 
Ubuntu, an African philosophical tradition, emphasizes the capacity of individuals to understand and connect with each other. This philosophy embodies the core values of African humanism, communalism, and a deep sense of belonging. The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fervent advocate of Ubuntu, played a pivotal role in promoting reconciliation and forgiveness in the aftermath of racial violence in South Africa. However, contemporary philosophical scholarship has not adequately discussed Ubuntu, despite its significance as a philosophy representing African humanism and communalism. This anthology seeks to remedy this gap by incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives into the discourse on African relational ethics. It aims to foster a dialogue with Western normative ideals, covering a broad spectrum of topics such as justice, sustainable development, musical culture, journalism, and peace.

What or who inspired you to choose this topic?
There is a need to bring Ubuntu to the limelight for African and non-African scholars to evaluate, appropriate, or apply where necessary.

How did the writing process for this book go? Did you experience anything surprising, amusing or strange?
The writing process unfolded as a collaborative endeavor involving us, the editors, and the contributors, originating from a successful conference focused on the topic. A notable discovery during this collaboration was the practical application of Ubuntu, demonstrating how individuals from various backgrounds and cultures can adopt and integrate this philosophy into their daily lives.

What would you like readers to remember about your book?
To answer the question from an individual standpoint: Do I have Ubuntu?

To discover whether someone possesses Ubuntu requires introspection and reflection on certain key aspects. Ubuntu, as a philosophy, emphasizes interconnectedness, empathy, and community. The reader should consider the following questions:

Interconnectedness: Do you recognize and value your connection to others, understanding that your well-being is tied to the well-being of your community?

Empathy and Compassion: Do you regularly show empathy, understanding, and compassion towards others, especially those different from yourself?

Community Contribution: Are you actively engaged in the welfare of your community, contributing positively and helping others?

Respect and Humility: Do you treat others with respect and humility, acknowledging their dignity and worth?

Reconciliation and Forgiveness: Are you open to reconciliation and willing to forgive others, moving past conflicts towards greater communal harmony?

If your actions and mindset align with these principles, then you embody the spirit of Ubuntu in your life.

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The Open Book Collective welcomes Leuven University Press

Open Book Collective

We are delighted that Leuven University Press is one of three University Presses to join the OBC this month, with each offering a new Supporter Programme available for university libraries and other supporters to subscribe to.

Find more information about the Leuven University Press’ programme >

The OBC is a charity working to deliver a diverse and sustainable future for open access books and publisher members are crucial to that. OBC believes in collectivism, non-competition, and the need to reimagine the funding of open access books, to move beyond a reliance on Book Processing Charges. The OBC gathers together a range of open access presses and publishing initiatives that fit our membership criteria, creating a trusted group of open access initiatives for libraries to support and for authors and readers to explore. In this way, the OBC assists publishers in securing sustainable revenue streams to fund a fair future for open access books.

Contact
Leuven University Press
Nienke Roelants
nienke.roelants@kuleuven.be

Open Book Collective
info@openbookcollective.org