Welcome to the first issue of Amodern.
This project enters the world at a timely moment in the history of the scholarly journal, and an important first task for us is to assess the opportunities and challenges ahead. For that reason, we are devoting the first issue of Amodern to a critical conversation about the future of the scholarly journal.
The emergence of online scholarship is a momentous development and an occasion for some serious rethinking of the scholarly knowledge system. This serious rethinking has been happening in earnest for some time, but it isn’t just about technology. It extends deep into our conceptions of the historical, social, and institutional dimensions of scholarly practice.
The scholarly knowledge system we have today originated in the seventeenth century. It sanctifies the individuality, originality, objectivity, and intellectual property of scholars working alone (or in small groups) within a knowledge system defined by the fixity, uniformity, and proprietary status of print. Now, networked IT proffers an apparatus in which information and knowledge no longer tend to be fixed and proprietary; where cultural breakthroughs occur as the result of exercises in collective intelligence, large-scale collaboration, assemblage, and continuous revision; and where authorship and authority are increasingly established communally and anonymously rather than individually.
An Interview with Kathleen Fitzpatrick
“We are entrenched in systems that no longer serve our needs,” argues Kathleen Fitzpatrick. From notions of authorship and the traditional peer review process to the role of the university press and library, Fitzpatrick scrutinizes specific points in the network of research production, evaluation, preservation, and circulation. Acknowledging the “wholly unsustainable economic model” under which scholarly publishing operates, she sets her focus on “the technological changes that many believe are necessary to allow academic publishing to flourish into the future.”
A Feature Interview with Jerome J. McGann
No scholar has done more than Jerome McGann to expand our understanding of the nature of print and digital media. His experience as an editor of print media during the 70s and the 80s resulted in a drive to rehistoricize editorial practice that has revolutionized textual scholarship. In the early 90s, he began to survey a digital future that would involve the colossal task of reconstructing the entirety of our cultural inheritance for display on digital networks. For McGann, the question we face is not so much how we get on with the future, but “What kind of research and educational program can integrate the preservation and study of these two radically different media?”
Micro Units and the Macro Scale
The forms of scholarly work create a kind of currency in the academic world, with credit for books, articles, peer-reviewed projects, and other traditional forms each garnering value according to established protocols. As networked formats of scholarly activity enabled by social media platforms begin to create new, distributed, fragmented, micro-units of discourse, how will this change the academic system of accounting? This article suggests some of the ways the credit system for scholarly work will or might change in these circumstances.
To understand the future of scholarly writing and publication, we must understand that it came to be in the world under specific circumstances and might no longer be adequate to new circumstances as they arise. We can understand such historical circumstances according to Bernard Stiegler’s organology, which describes confluences of technical organs, human organs, and organizations. By describing the contemporary organology of scholarship and differentiating it from past organologies, we can work to produce new research and publication methods appropriate to changing cultural, political, social, and technical landscapes.
This paper focuses on the famous journal Explorations, co-edited by Marshall McLuhan and Edmund Carpenter in the 1950s with, however, an important exception. After the initial 9 issues, the journal was reborn as an insert in the University of Toronto alumni and public relations department's journal Varsity Graduate in 1964 and boasted a run of another 8 years. This article examines this period of Explorations, the other supplements that were published alongside it, the relationships between the editors and the institutional constraints within the University of Toronto, and theorizes about the significance of this serial for the vicissitudes of scholarly publishing today.
The Technical Report for Communication in the Humanities
The technical report is a low-profile but important format for the dissemination of information to expert readers. Developed in the 20th century, it became widespread after World War II. Thanks to the Web, it is now widely accessible. This article relates the experience of starting a technical report series for humanistic scholarship. It assesses the rigorous technical report, which is not "officially" published, in the context of the contemporary ecology of scholarship (books, journals, conferences, websites, tweets, etc.), raising the question of how journals should focus their efforts to best contribute to scholarly communication.