This is Not a Journal: Publishing as Pedagogy

Chris Friend, Kris Shaffer, Jesse Stommel, Robin Wharton


This is Not a Journal: Publishing as Pedagogy

BABEL Working Group 2015
Saturday, October 10, 2015, 5:30–6:30pm
Room 301, Centre for Medieval Studies

This session will have no papers. No presentations. It will be a discussion. A town hall. A crowdsourced State of the Union for Academic Publishing. In lieu of traditional proposals, we ask prospective attendees to contribute to this crowdsourced reading list in advance of the session. Anyone and everyone are welcome even if we need to spill out of the room and into the hall.

Hybrid Pedagogy builds platforms upon which participants can engage in meta-level thinking about teaching and learning. We focus less on building an archive for the preservation of ideas, and more on building networked communities of inquiry consisting of scholars, pedagogues, alt-academics, post-academics, and students.

The codex is an amazing technology — portable, durable, and surprisingly versatile. Even so, its functional limitations circumscribe what we can do with books. To imagine digital books is not just to re-think what books can be or what forms they might take. To imagine digital books turns reading and writing into pedagogical processes. While we would like to make digital texts that are as durable as currently available technology allows, we also think we should entertain the possibility of making texts that become obsolete as soon as their immediate critical pedagogical purpose is fulfilled — texts that exist in and for the moment.

In this session, participants will play a game called “Martian codicology”:

Pretend you’re an interstellar visitor. You understand scholarly publishing as a concept, but you don’t know about the forms that publishing takes on Earth. What would you think about the scholarly publishing industry and its products, about the socio-economic and regulatory structures that have accreted around it, about libraries?

We will glimpse a history of the book as a series of trade-offs in which we have given up, sometimes knowingly, sometimes unintentionally, the affordances of one mode, medium, or technology in order to realize the potential of another. Participants will collectively author a “field report” in which we re-view publishing, opine on when a book is (not) a book, when a journal is (not) a journal, and consider whether we are creating texts or, rather, user interfaces.

In advance of the session, we are asking attendees to propose one or two texts — broadly construed — as sites of investigation. These texts will be assembled into a “reading list” that will be shared publicly prior to the session, and will provide a focus for our serious game. Our crowd-authored field report, and any other session “artifacts” (e.g., social media backchannel, photos, reflections by session attendees, etc.) will be curated to document our work together at hybrid.pub/babel.

Image by Butch Dalisay.