Our website is home to two ongoing bibliographical projects, both currently in their infancy (as of July 2013). One of them, on a different page, is what we hope to be a comprehensive online bibliography of scholarly or quasi-scholarly material about Objectivism and/or Ayn Rand–“about” in the sense of making explicit reference to Rand and/or Objectivism in some sustained way.
The other bibliographical project, on this page, is our Online Annotation Project. The Annotation Project, as its name suggests, aims to annotate Rand’s writings by means of interdisciplinary bibliographies that don’t explicitly discuss Rand or Objectivism, but cite works relevant to claims that Rand made. Some of this material may confirm Rand’s claims, some may contradict it, and some may indicate different ways of coming at the topics that Rand discussed, or suggest different topics or issues to bear in mind while reading what she wrote on a given topic. But all of it is somehow related to understanding the claims made on the pages of Rand’s writings by putting those claims in dialogue with authors entirely outside of “the Objectivist tradition.”
Our long-range goal is to create a research tool that offers bibliographical suggestions for every major claim on every page of Rand’s works. A related goal is to facilitate a more critical and integrated approach to Rand’s writings. Too many Objectivists read Rand’s work but fail to ask sufficiently critical questions about it, or fail to ask what relation Rand claims bear to claims others have made on related topics. We’d like to change that. On our view, the ideal reader of Rand’s works will, while reading them, come across a controversial-looking claim Rand makes, recognize its controversiality, and wonder: Is that true? What is the evidence for it? In part, the task of answering the preceding questions—of grasping the evidence for Rand’s claims—requires the reader to ask: Who has ever discussed this topic before, what did they say, and why? Our hope is that the Online Annotation Project will help such a reader find the answers to her questions, or at least get her started on the road to an answer. Too many Objectivists think that there is something “second-handed” about familiarizing themselves with the existing non-Objectivist literature on a subject before coming to a verdict on it. That’s simply a mistake. There’s nothing “second-handed” about being well-read.
We’ll be updating the Annotation Project as often as we can manage, and we invite proposals for new annotations. Send proposals to email@example.com, but be prepared for some vigorous discussion on the rationale and implementation of your project.
Our first annotation is a bibliography on The Romantic Manifesto by Kirsti Minsaas, former Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Oslo (1999-2007).
Last modified: October 19, 2013 (IK)