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March 03, 2020

Special Issue Call Announced Nerds, Culture and Loneliness

Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/announcement/view/20

Hopefully by now you’ll have seen the announcement from Exchanges about our latest call for papers. This time we’re teaming up with SOAS and the University of Oxford to produce an issue with papers which ‘explore fictional representations of nerds and loneliness across various media and culture’. Naturally, those of you who know me in real life, know this is a topic very close to my heart and lived-experience. Unlike earlier calls, we’re only seeking abstracts in the first instance (300 words by 6th April), so hopefully this’ll net us a rich range of potential contributors.

If you’ve been keeping track, this represents the third of our special issues we’ve formally launched preparations towards: with the recently published Cannibalism issue being the first and the pending CliFi issue the second. Interestingly, with each of these issues we’ve followed a slightly different pattern for submissions. For Cannibalism, we had a preselected number of authors who had already contributed to a conference, who were directly invited to submit. For CliFi, while we were associated with last year’s European Utopian Society’s conference in Prado, the call for contributions was very much open to any scholar globally. This time we’re almost blending these prior approaches, by starting with a call for abstracts, which will be followed by a workshop event (in early 2021), and then expecting contributors to the workshop to contribute a paper to Exchanges’ special issue.

In many respects, I think this last model may be my favourite, as it embeds Exchanges in the workshop processes and discourse from the outset. It’s not to say it’ll be the only model we’ll use in the future. I’d be lying if I suggested that. Certainly though, given a free hand with future collaborative special issues, I’d hope we can emulate as many elements as possible of this approach, as I believe it’ll serve to offer dividends in thematic coherency and editorial efficacy alike.

I should note at this point, my big thanks to Dr Filippo Cervelli (SOAS) and Dr Benjamin Schaper (Oxford) who came to me with this proposal a few months ago, and following some enthusiastic discussions on both sides, have helped guide us to this point. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what sort of material this call elicits, and working with Filippo and Ben over the months to come.


November 28, 2019

Special Issues are Like Buses

Behind the scenes at Exchanges right now we’re working hard on preparing for the launch of our first ever special issue, scheduled for very early in 2021. We’re also on the cusp of closing the call for contributions to our second special issue, but it’s not too late (yet) to submit! Meanwhile, I had the pleasure this week to travel down to meet with a couple of friendly academics from SOAS and the University of Oxford (hello Ben, hello Filippo), who wanted to propose a third special issue of Exchanges. This is rather exciting as while we’ve been thoroughly enjoying working with the Warwick and Monash scholars in preparation for the first two special issues, this time the approach has come from outside of Warwick and the IAS’ direct collaborating institutions.

We’re still in the process of finalising the exact theme, although I can reveal that broadly it will fall into the area of ‘interdisciplinary representations and evolutions of narratives of loneliness and nerds’. As a somewhat geeky nerd at heart [1], this rather appealed to me on a personal level. Moreover, the underlying plans to tie this proposed issue into a mid-2020 symposium and ongoing research work from an intrinsically diverse research community forms an especially welcome prospect. Diversity, in terms of geographical origin, research domain and seniority are also another core component of the proposed issue, which should add a wonderful diversity of voice, insight and opinion to the issue.

Incidentally, for Exchanges, working with these scholars absolutely resonates with our desire to continue to evolve away from our early Warwick-centric roots, and become a more integral part of the national and international early-career researcher publishing culture [2].

There’s also the additional bonus, that we will likely be able to engage with external post-graduate researcher communities to join us as associate editors for this issue. Hence, this very much matches our second core mission, to enable developmental experience within scholar-led publishing practice for emerging scholars. It also answers our third, and oft unnoticed, mission – to experiment and explore new publishing models and patterns that are attractive to our contributor community. Someone should really remind me in the new year to get round to formally publishing more about our experiences in this domain.

For Exchanges, this development chimes agreeably with our shift in 2019 towards publishing special issues. We have, in the past, published themed sections, but I strongly believe through offering these focussed individual issues, we’re witnessing the slow evolution of the journal into its second phase of existence. As our esteemed Institute Director, Prof Peter Scott said this new development is very much ‘Taking things to another level again’. It’ll also keep me surprisingly and gainfully busy alongside the day to day running of the title, I can assure you.

That said, it is currently early days for this third special issue. Indeed Ben and Filippo’s anticipated timescales are such that we’re likely looking towards a 2021 publication date, something which seems a vast time away right now, but doubtless will be upon us all before we know it. I’ll continue to update our readership and contributor community of developments as we move in to 2020.

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[1] Something painfully obvious I’m sure to anyone who’s met me in the flesh, or listened to one of my (near) countless science fiction podcasts and videos!

[2] I include those scholars I’ve worked with on the other two special issues as well, it’s been a wonderful experience for myself as well as (I hope) for them.


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