Barry McNamara  |   Published July 21, 2019

A Summer with William James

Ermine Algaier completes book about William James’ library, promoted to general editor of journal dedicated to the American philosopher.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College philosophy and religious studies professor Ermine Algaier has had an eventful summer.

ERMINE ALGAIER: Recently completed a book on the library of American philosopher William James. ERMINE ALGAIER: Recently completed a book on the library of American philosopher William James.Alagier is now the general editor of William James Studies, an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing scholarly articles related to the life, work and influence of philosopher and psychologist William James. One of the most influential U.S. philosophers, James has been called the “the father of American psychology.”

Algaier has also completed a four-year project researching James’s personal library. His research included a pair of trips with Monmouth students to Harvard University’s Houghton Library. On one trip, 2018 graduates Melissa Hernandez and Diana Rubi accompanied Algaier, while the two students who went on last winter break’s trip were Caitlyn Allen ’20 of Marengo, Ill., and May graduate Derek Denton, one of the College’s Honors Program participants.

Algaier and the students co-authored and were awarded multiple grants for undergraduate research in American philosophy from the Society of the Advancement of American Philosophy and the Josiah Royce Society, in addition to funding from Monmouth College.

Algaier’s manuscript is titled Reconstructing the Personal Library of William James: Markings and Marginalia from the Harvard Library Collection. It will be part of the American Philosophy Series by Lexington Books.

“I just submitted the manuscript to Lexington Books,” said Algaier, who worked day and night on the project since the final day of the semester. “I have always been inspired by the range and originality of James’s thought in the fields of philosophy, psychology and religion. As I reconstructed his personal library, I was continually reminded of his deep commitment to inclusivity: not only his openness to genuinely consider ways of thinking that run against the grain, but also his willingness to stand and fight for the epistemic underdog.”

Algaier expects the book to be published by the end of the year.

What has already been published is a new, guest-edited issue of William James Studies, the first with Algaier as general editor.

“It’s a beautiful issue,” he said of the first issue of the journal’s 15th volume, which pays tribute to the late John J. McDermott, past president of the William James Society and a recent recipient of the society’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.

“John McDermott was a monumental figure in the field of American philosophy,” said Algaier, “in part due to his work on James, Peirce, Dewey and Royce, and also for the work he did in the classroom, deeply influencing thousands of students, including several who are key figures in American philosophy today.”

Like Algaier, McDermott paid special attention to James, editing 19 volumes of his collected works and 12 volumes of his correspondence.

“McDermott brought a recognition of American philosophy,” said Algaier. “He was also a very widely published philosopher, including many impactful essays.”

As general editor of the journal, Algaier oversees a staff of three, including a managing editor, a book review editor and periodicals editor. The journal is published twice a year, with one guest-edited issue typically covering a special topic and the other taking a broader look at the field of Jamesian studies.

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