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May 23, 2023
Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/global/europe/eutopia
Reflections from last week’s EUTOPIA-SIF panel on a couple of fascinating academic pubolication topics.
Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion session as part of Warwick’s contribution to the EUTOPIA-SIF programme of events. To this end, I was joined by delegates from across Europe, as well as from here at Warwick to discuss a couple of topics close to my own professional interests: publication strategies and metrics. For once though, and thankfully given the challenge of the session’s theme, I wasn’t on the spot to talk about my own views but rather to enable the discourse between four wonderful panel members and the attendees. I can report from comments in the session and subsequently, that this was clearly a much-appreciated discussion opportunity.
For those of you who weren’t in the room here’s the session overview:
A major part of developing an academic track career is taking a strategic approach towards one’s publishing outputs. This helps in ensuring visibility among key audience demographics, alongside achieving credible impact and public recognition alongside generating markers of personal and professional esteem. Hence, understanding and engaging with the various publication measures of esteems – be they journal, article or personal – intrinsically resonates with any such strategic approach.
Illuminating these discussions through personal and professional insights will be a diverse group of scholars, sharing their experiences and perceptions around these crucial topics. Adopting a panel discussion format, the session will be largely contextualised and driven by attendees’ interests, questions and comments. In this way, the panel’s debates will organically evolve and resonate with the interests and concerns of the attending audience members.
In tackling these topics I was joined by a collection of academic panellists, drawn from contributors to Exchanges as authors and editors alike. These were:
- Dr Alena Cicholewski (Institute for English and American Studies, University of Oldenburg, Germany)
- Dr Huayi Huang (Usher Institute of Health and Wellbeing, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK)
- Dr Ignaas Jimidar (CHIS (Chemical Engineering), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium)
- Dr Sharon Coleclough (Department of Media, Performance and Communication, School of Digital, Technologies and Arts, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK)
Ahead of the session I’d made a call for questions, as well as developing a few provocations of my own to get the ball rolling. While I’d shared these with the panel beforehand as the session was also designed to be largely driven by the delegates’ thoughts, experiences and insights of the delegates a most dynamic session ensured. Hence, after an opening question to prime the pump asking generally about publication strategic approaches, we shifted very much to an dialogic and interactive approach for the rest of the 90 minutes or so.
While I am not going to attempt to share the full session discourse – when you’re chairing there’s only so many notes you have time to take – to offer a flavour, in terms of overall strategies some of the suggested approaches included:
- Bespoke: Remember there is no single strategic approach that works for all. Be adaptable with your publication approaches and ask yourself what you want to achieve - e.g., recognition, dissemination, career esteem or opportunities.
- Interdisciplinarity: Balance the need for advancing complex and insightful niche work, with that which straddles interdisciplinary boundaries – in terms of readers or subject matters – for maximum impact.
- Networking: View publishing as networking – consider who you are writing for and where, and use it to engender a discourse or dialogue between yourself and other key researchers. Can be the basis for an ongoing series of publications as a result.
- Potential: Publication isn’t everything – it is possible to advance to a new role without an overtly strong portfolio of past works, but having the potential to achieve more in the future is always worth stressing.
- Situtation: Understand where you are in the field, especially in terms of where you want to go and how you want to be perceived.
Following on there was also a fair amount of discussion contrasting the differences in perceptions of most esteem capital worthy works in different disciplines and fields. Certainly, comments around the (arguably unhealthy) predominance of STEM publication habits as ‘normative’ were richly represented here. These considerations were married with examinations of questions relating to single and joint lead-authors and the different advantages this might confer, alongside the challenges of breaking into an Anglophone  dominated publication field in some domains.
There were considerable discussions around metrics – their use and misuse in cases, and the importance of balancing your own career and output and trying not to be entirely dominated with chasing the illusive highest impact simply to amplify a quantitative score . Of course, as any academic knows no matter how much we might try to resist such objectified metrification the reality is research assessment exercises such as the REF loom large in any scholar’s life. However, balancing the need to ‘feed the beast’ while still achieving the ongoing publication and research discourse you actually want to produce remains a nuanced topic.
During the panel discussions the topic of AI, as one might have expected, came under the spotlight. There was a smattering of debate considering how the panel and delegates saw it as part tool, but also something which might distort or disrupt academic scholarly communicative practices into unknown configurations in the coming years. As an ancillary to these discussions, the panel were challenged to explore those other publication technologies or developments which might be worth examining in greater detail. Suggestions included podcasts and non-textural publication routes able to reach and engage new and different audiences, alongside developments in normative peer-reviewing practices too. Certainly though, retaining a watchful eye on opportunities beyond the traditional journal and monograph vectors which might prove valuable routes to communicate research activities were agreed as an essential strategic awareness.
The session closed by the panel offering their final thoughts on, given a limited time resource, where they would recommend focussing professional attention to yield maximum result. Suggestions included seeking to be a solo or lead author wherever possible, considering how your publications promote your public, professional identity and create the backbone of your interpersonal networks. Alongside this the importance of always remembering where you were in your career journey and meeting both opportunities and need within your strategic publication aims was stressed. Certainly, the panel agreed opportunities abound in terms of being able to contribute and be recognised far beyond simply operating as an author of texts within the publication sphere.
As always, my especial thanks to my panel quartet for their contributions and generous donation of their time and insights. From the reactions in the room, I can see that the delegates certainly were engaged by the discussions, and I hope we left them all with plenty to think over. As chair I certainly enjoyed the discussions and am still chewing over some of the comments and how they might relate to my own praxis and work on Exchanges. Naturally, I would like to extend my thanks to all the delegates too and especially to those posing questions or contributing to what was a very active chat-channel.
 An Anglophone and high income economy perhaps?
 Alternatively, to amplify just a single quantitative score perhaps?
January 24, 2023
Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/cadre/current_students/phdlife/cadreworkshops/
Following a session for arts and humanities students, the EIC reflects back on the discussions, content and advice offered in a workshop for PGRs.
Today I had the pleasure of attending and helping to facilitate the CADRE Publishing for Arts Postgraduates workshop and seminar on campus, thanks to old friend of the journal Dr Pierre Botcherby. As my first of a number of workshops and events I’m contributing to this year, I was very much looking forward to the discussions. I was also looking forward to helping to host the event in person, as the side conversations you have with delegates seldom seem to occur in the online only format.
Led by Prof David Lambert and cofacilitated by myself and Pierre, the session was an opportunity for the research students to explore, discuss and broaden their knowledge of academic publishing. With a practical edge, the general focus was, largely, on academic journal articles. Although we also dipped into the realm of collected editions, social media and book proposals too. Naturally, because I was in the room, we also got into the complexities of open access and author rights, but perhaps thankfully I didn’t find myself on too much of a soapbox about the commodification of the publishing sector. Well, not too much of a soapbox anyway.
The opening question put to the delegates was ‘why should you publish’ – for the following areas emerged.
- Feedback: To gain useful feedback and enrich thesis writing. Appreciating publication is a process [a continuum even? – Ed] too, of which thesis writing is part.
- Discourse: To contribute to the scholarly discourse and in having something interesting and original to say within it.
- Enrich: To bring other researchers or fields of study which may have been previously neglected, and in this way enriching the field and reputations of other scholars was a related point.
- Career: Pragmatically it was pointed out that publishing was essential for building your academic CV, profile, reputation and potential job prospects.
- Confidence: Interestingly one delegate suggested that publishing helped to build personal confidence in their research endeavors, and also to stake a degree of ‘primacy’ over their field of work or focus.
- Visibility: Finally, it was agreed that creating a publication track record leads to creating a discussion or focus on your research in the wider academic environment – again a valuable career boosting element.
When to Publish?
Delegates were next challenged to consider when the time was ripe to publish – and an interesting spectrum of times emerged from different parts of the room. These perceptions included:
- Before: Potentially given prior experience ahead of starting the PhD, drawing on past studies like a Master’s dissertation or professional knowledge.
- Third Year: During your final year, once the research is done and findings are starting to emerge.
- Opportunity: As opportunities and circumstances allow – you might not be planning to publish but then a call appears which so closely matches your chapter or thesis theme that not trying to publish would seem self-defeatist.
These were all certainly valid perceptions, and very much reflecting that there is no ‘ideal’ moment, but a myriad of possibilities of opportunities.
Where to Publish?
Next came the knotty problem of selecting a publication destination, something I actually came back to in my own later talk How to Publish. Here discussions were largely around the routes to identifying the right candidate journal – through metrics or considering to whom a journal’s content is normally directed. We didn’t get too deeply into the metrics, perhaps a bless’d relief, although it might be that a 20 minute follow up session these and the JCRs might have benefited the delegates somewhat – not matter my own skepticisms of the preeminence of these schema.
Points were also raised concerning about choosing to write for a niche, disciplinary title against the benefits (and challenges) of seeking to appear in a broader and more cross/interdisciplinary title too. I was gratified to hear some discussion from delegates concerning balancing knockbacks (rejections/declines) from more ‘senior’ titles against targeting ‘lower ranked’ titles. The perception was these more modest titles were normally more likely to be configured in a more welcoming, and accommodating manner whilst retaining quality regimes. I would certainly hope Exchanges itself falls into this latter category!
What to Publish?
Next, we enjoyed some more debate over what exactly to publish, although journal articles and book reviews were both seen as good starting points. Book chapters, especially as a result of conference participation and later collected editions were also agreed as strong and sometime serendipitous publication opportunities to be very much encouraged. Books, especially the research monograph, were noted as especially valuable for career capital but in terms of time commitment items with their much longer lead time to publication something which might be a greater challenge in terms of relating to a imminent job opportunity. However, it was highlighted that having any publication ‘accepted’ allowed it to be listed as ‘forthcoming’ within a CV, publication list or profile, which was seen as still offering considerable benefit.
At this point one of the experienced delegates stressed how important they had found it to be responsive and friendly in all their communications with publishers, and how it had opened potential additional avenues to follow up later too. I would concur with this point, and not just because I’m generally on the other side of the editorial communication equation!
How to Publish
Following on was section comprising a twenty minute talk from myself – and rather than blow my own trumpet here’s a link to the slides:
But for the record I covered a little on creating effective titles and abstracts, methods for evaluating candidate journals and publishers, the dangers of ‘trash’ publishers, coping with peer-review feedback and clearing third party rights. I also dipped into the importance of considering how a journal or publisher deals with author rights – in terms of requiring a transfer of economic rights, vs journals like Exchanges which allow authors to retain them. It seemed to go down well enough – although I might have frightened one delegate with my warnings about publishing in trash journals and career impact.
After some discussions over lunch we moved into the wrap up for the session, touching briefly again on open access and edited collections . We also had a bit of chat about the artificialities of page and content lengths in a digital publishing age, although as demonstrated – some (many?) journals still have hardcopy editions which impacts on their minimum and maximum sizes for volumes and contents. Finally, there were discussions around blogging and social media as a route to ‘publishing’ and raising personal visibility. As a long-time blogger  I’m not sure how much blogs work that well in that respect today, but I’d agree they are a great environment within which to start a conversation alongside practicing your writing habits. As I commented though, some publisher’s definition of ‘prior publishing’ can be tricksy – in that they claim only ‘they’ perform ‘true’ publication…and yet ‘blogging’ by prospective authors might somehow be considered prior work and risk clash with a submission based on the blog.
I, and by extension Exchanges, very much disagree with this perception, which is mired more in considerations of profitability and market return than supporting scholarly discourse. Nevertheless, it was something worth flagging up so the delegates might be aware it could prove a future problematic for them to overcome.
Hence, as you can see a packed couple of hours, with plenty of good content and discussions. My thanks again to the hosts and delegates for all their contributions too.
 Delegates were probably lucky I wasn’t running the session alone as I would have loved to get into these areas in more detail. But, when you’re sharing the stage it doesn’t do to hog the limelight too much!
 As I commented on twitter, I am usure how strong an argument ‘audience’ is these days, with much research indicating readers come in primarily at the article rather than journal level. Certainly for my own praxis, I rarely if ever read a specific ‘journal’ these days – I search for article on topics of research interest instead. Frankly being ‘open’ is more important to me than ‘prestigious’!
 I wasn’t aware that Warwick had a series for these, so this was an especially useful bit for me.
 I think this current blog is my fourth or fifth regular professional blog platform, so yes a long time and reasonably prolific.
November 10, 2022
Writing about web page https://exchanges.warwick.ac.uk/index.php/exchanges/special-issues
A new special issue project is launched, tying into a researcher developmental course.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending Warwick’s Leadership and Management Development Course on reflective practice for early-stage researchers. The course, which is being run three times this year aims to generate some discussion and exchange of experience between researchers who are early in their career and are looking to broaden their understanding of the wider research landscape. Yesterday’s session was focussed in on writing and publication, which was why I was there: to offer insights into the art of peer-reviewing and editing journals.
While only a relatively small cohort of delegates, there were some excellent and perceptive questions and insights shared, and I think considerable interest in what I had to say! The course will be running with two further researcher cohorts this academic year, and I’ll be popping up in each of these as well. It certainly is nice to interact with some scholars I’ve not met before, and who for once, aren’t directly linked to the IAS. I am also looking forward to learning more about new researchers’ perceptions of academic authorship and scholarly publications too.
Synergistically we’ve also partnered with the LMD  to launch a special issue call tied to this course. In it, delegates are being invited to submit critical reflections around their research practice inspired by or promoted by the course contents themselves. Naturally, we hope a few of the course participants might also get involved as associate editors for the issue too, so we’ll see how that develops over time. I suspect there will be some very interesting papers submitted to the issue on the basis of what I heard yesterday.
Special Issue - Early-Stage Researcher Reflections: [Anticipated Publication - 2023]
This special issue is devoted to participants within the three cohorts of the Warwick Leadership and Management Development course for developing early-stage researchers. Course delegates are being invited to submit critical reflections concerning their own research practice. These are expected to be inspired by their experiences, insights or considerations arising from the course contents and discussions with their peers. Manuscripts may opt to provide a holistic overview of the researchers’ experiences or choose to focus in on particular aspects of their life and work.
Find out more about all our past, present and future (!) special issues here:
My thanks to Dr Harriet Richmond of the LMD for the invitation to get involved in this course, and for proposing the special issue too!
 Which I now realise is also the same acronym as Life Model Decoy in the MCU
May 26, 2022
Don’t worry. Exchanges isn’t about to make a major pivot and set up shop as a full-blown academic publisher. No, the title in questions refers to a forthcoming panel discussion I’ve been asked to chair as part of the IAS’ Accolade programme (Thu 9th June). In a similar vein to the one I chaired a few weeks ago on strategic article publishing, this session sees a small collection of scholars coming along and talking about their experiences – this time focussed on monograph publishing. Specifically, the session’s title alludes to developing a monograph proposal, but I suspect conversations will drift wider than this to encompass the whole publishing journey.
Hence, my hope is that the panel will be able to expose the high and low spots of their publication journeys. I think crucially this will be complemented by an exploration of the initial steps – answering the key question of ‘How do I start?’ for the audience. Naturally, as a journal publisher myself, I’m going to be especially interested in hearing about their interactions with editorial and production staff alike. These might not be the focus of discussions -more’s the pity – but I suspect there will be a few insights or even revelations along the way!
Of course, like the previous panel my hopes are for the majority of questions for the panel to be raised directly by the attendees. I am understandably though also in the process of developing a battery of discussion points to prompt some initial debate. It’s always been my experience in running panels like this that you normally need a couple of ice breaker questions, and perhaps a closing one, to shape the session. Beyond these, I find the audiences are usually willing to drive the direction of conversations themselves. That said, as an experienced panel facilitator, I’m also prepared for a lengthy stony silence from the audience too which is why I like to have around a dozen back-up questions to hand.
Suggestions for any potential questions or topics to put to the panel ahead of the event, are of course always welcomed via all our regular communications channels. Personally, I’m very much looking forward to participating in these discussions, so here’s to a vibrant exchange of insight!
May 09, 2022
Last week I hosted a couple of workshops for the IAS. The first (3rd May) was the return of my popular Exchanges Ask me Anything session, wherein our early career fellows get to ask me, well, anything about the journal – and often the world of academic publishing at large too. They also get to watch me sip a cup of tea as I offer them time and space to think of their questions without me talking too. Seemed to go well, so far as one can tell in an online teaching environment. We’ll be running this again in the autumn I suspect for the next batch of ECFs we induct.
Thursday (5th May) though was the more significant of the workshop sessions. This was my second iteration of the Developing your Publication Strategy, which regular readers will recall I originally hosted back in March 2021. As this had been such a successful session, I was asked last month if I’d be willing to offer it again: a request to which I quickly agreed.
I decided this time fantastic though the panel members were last year, that for this new panel I’d try and recruit some different voices. Different academics would bring with them fresh and unexpected perspectives, and I hoped would contribute to an engaging session for the delegates. As before, I reached out to a goodly number of contacts, many of whom were unavailable (if otherwise willing) to participate. I did though, thankfully, strike gold with three past Exchanges authors and I will confess, past podcast guests too: Dr Catherine Price (Nottingham), Dr Mark Readman (Bournemouth) and Prof Monica Mastrantonio (York). Thanks to the efforts of the EUTOPIA Consortium, I was also able to recruit Prof Marcus Pivato (Cergy Paris) to add into the mix as well.
I was delighted to say we had a packed 75 minutes during which my four panellists handled all manner of questions from the audience. From complex ruminations on creating an interdisciplinary portfolio, through to their thoughts on the current scholarly communications field and advice on how delegates might refine their own practices. While I had a battery of questions to hand to keep the conversation flowing, should the audience be a little restrained in offering their own, I had little need to return to these during the session. It certainly was a lively debate, and feedback from speakers and delegates alike on the day seemed most positive.
I am naturally deeply indebted to all of the speakers for their participation and gracious gift of time, as each of them really helped the session come alive in different ways. As panel chair it was interesting to observe how we touched on similar topics to the 2021 session, albeit debating them within a slightly different framing. Such is the joy of running a panel session – you never know quite what you’re going to learn.
I am also grateful to the audience, who played their part well. Not only were they thought provoking in their questioning, but they also contributed to a wonderful continuing thread of debate within the text chat. Certainly, one advantage of hybrid/online sessions over a f2f one is that you get this wonderful additional thread of debate available for all, rather than just the people you’re whispering sitting next to you. Prominent among the topics tackled here were perceptions of peer-review and anonymization, which exposed some very big divides and surprising disciplinary assumptions among panellists and audience alike.
The text chat also captured a range of resources and links, that I promised to collate for further interest :
- Tool for choosing potential journals: https://jane.biosemantics.org/
- Biology Open-Access Repository: https://www.biorxiv.org
- MDPI’s Remarkable Growth: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2020/08/10/guest-post-mdpis-remarkable-growth/
- Publoins & Peer-reviewers: https://authorservices.wiley.com/Reviewers/journal-reviewers/recognition-for-reviewers/publons.html
I very much enjoyed running this panel, which was illuminating for myself as well. Hopefully, we’ll see this panel session revisited in some format during 2023 once more – with yet another set of fine panellists!
 Beall’s ‘predatory’ trash journals list came up too, but given the considerable issues over this in recent years I’m not including it here.
November 15, 2021
I am pleased to report the Accolade session on education podcasting, organised in collaboration with Exchanges, certainly exceeded my expectations. All of my panellists were as expected excellent contributors and I am naturally deeply grateful for the time and enthusiasm they provided over the hour-long discussion. I was, perhaps, even more satisfied in how I did not have to work my way through many of the pre-prepared panel questions, as those which arose from the floor came so thick and fast. As a consequence, I think the debate was more dynamic and wide ranging along with hopefully being more directly applicable to the audience’s interests.
The session’s format, such as it was, featured introductions from each of the panellists, highlighting their own take on podcasting. What was unexpectedly delightful from a contextual as well as a performative standpoint were the ways each introduction seemed to seamlessly flow into the next. I would love to suggest this luscious flow was directly the outcome of my careful curation of the panel members. However, I would counter it was most likely primarily a serendipitous outcome from gathering an assemblage of knowledge enthusiasts in one place and time. Nevertheless, the manner in which the panellists resonated with each other reinforced nicely why each was there alongside demonstrating from the outset how they would be contributing different perspectives on higher educational podcasting within education.
For my part, I was happy to have a few moments to chip in the odd comment, although from the outset I made it clear I was there as a ringmaster rather than performer for once. Understandably, keeping the conversations managed took up a little more of my main focus, additionally perhaps diminishing the pressure to contribute anything myself!
Regretfully, such was my focus on enabling the conversation I wasn’t taking any notes of the debate. However, thanks to the joy of a Teams based discussion, I was able to capture most of the questions asked. Hopefully, were you not present, the reader will be able to gain an appreciation of the discussions that were consequently sparked through the selection below:
How did you get into educational podcasting, as a creator, user or listener?
In what ways has podcasting played a role in your educational or research practices?
Do you have to pay to upload podcasts to, for example, Spotify?
Can we talk more about the technologies, platforms and techniques for creating a podcast?
Are people willing to listen to podcasts on multiple platforms, or are there ways to distribute them more widely from their original, native, upload host?
Have you experienced any barriers to introducing podcasts as part of the curriculum or within modules? E.g. as a form of assessment, as well as an information resource.
How can you make a podcast with a guest who is not in the same room as you? Is it best to interview via video and extract the sound, or are there other ways to capture good quality audio/performances?
What's the best length for a podcast? Especially in the light of guidance for recording 'long' lectures to chunk them into 10-20 minute segments.
What is your favourite podcast to listen to, and why does it appeal?
From the comments on the day, it was clear the session was very positively received by the audience, which is a credit to everyone who was involved. Hence, I think everyone who attended - including panellists - felt they gained something of interest from the discussions.
Additionally, I am exceptionally pleased in the way the Exchangesbrand has once again been able to be associated with the organisation and hosting of a useful workshop session. Hopefully this is not the last we will hear of podcasting within Accolade or indeed Exchanges itself! Perhaps we will be able to return to this topic afresh in a year's time and see what other lessons or experiences we all have to share by then.
Useful Related Resources:
A few links were shared during the session which included:
- Digital assessment in the Faculty of Arts: https://www.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/dal/digitalassessment
- DAL Showcase 2021: https://www.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/dal/studentawards/2021/
- Representing History Podcast Assessment: https://www.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/dal/digitalpedagogylibrary/dpl1
November 09, 2021
Writing about web page https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/postdocs/accolade/calendar/autumn/
This Thursday I’ve the pleasure of hosting an Accolade Roundtable panel on educational podcasting. During the session invited panellists will share their personal experiences and perceptions on how they have engaged with podcasting within various higher educational and research contexts. Following this introductory exploration, the floor will be opened for participants to ask questions, add comments or share their own experiences with podcasting. The majority of the session though will be shaped through participant insights, comments and questions.
Hosting this panel naturally stems from my experiences creating and hosting the Exchanges Discourse podcast, but for once I’ve the pleasure of sitting back and let my invited guests hold forth. A bless’d relief for those who might be tired on my voice, perhaps, but more importantly an exciting opportunity to hear lots of different views on podcasting as a medium for professional development, research outreach and educational impact.
I am deeply grateful to the various panellists I reached out to who were able to participate, and a few who weren’t as they helped steer me towards others who were able to attend. For the session our panellists will include: Arun Ulahannan (Institute for Future Transport and Cities, Coventry University), Jessica Humphreys (Academic Development Centre, Warwick), Jim Judges (IT Services, Warwick), Julia Gauly (Warwick Medical School), Naomi Waltham-Smith (Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Warwick) and Rebecca Stone (Faculty of Arts, Warwick).
Some of this wonderful group are podcast creators and hosts, some have participated in podcasts as guests, and most if not all have found ways to incorporate, apply or embrace podcasting within their professional practice. While the panel is only an hour long, with so many engaging and interesting personalities on the panel, I suspect it will be a fun and informative session. I’m currently sitting here writing some provocations to get the conversation flowing, but I suspect I won’t need to use many of these before the audience start firing off their own inquiries. At least, that has always been my past experience of chairing Accolade sessions.
Will we inspire members of the audience to take up their own podcasting mics? Perhaps, although this is not the principal aim! Nevertheless, what the session does hope to provide is for everyone to gain a better understanding of educational podcasting principles, techniques and practice. At the same time, I would hope the audience and panellists alike will develop a greater appreciation for how, when and where podcasting can enhance pedagogical and research practices. Moreover, if nothing else, the delegates will become more aware of the ways in which podcasting can form a component of their career development strategy. And perhaps along the way we’ll all emerge with an awareness of some great academic podcasts we can all enjoy and from which we can profit.
March 12, 2021
Today and tomorrow, Exchanges is co-hosting the Lonely Nerds workshop. You can find out more about the programme via this link to an earlier entry. Here though, for more information about who will be presenting their work during the event are the speaker biographies.
|Conquering the Meatspace: The Reception of David Fincher’s The Social Network (2010) in Baran bo Odar’s Who am I (2014)
|Session 1, Friday 12th
Benjamin Schaper is a Stipendiary Lecturer in German at the University of Oxford. He previously taught at the Universities of Munich and Durham and was a Sylvia Naish Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Modern Languages Research in London. His postdoc project analyses loneliness and human-machine interaction in Romanticism, Modernism, and the Digital Age. He is further editing a volume on German cultural history in transnational film and television and has an interest in literary networks.
|Saved by the Nerd: Otaku and the Space of Family in Summer Wars
|Session 2, Friday 12th
Dr Filippo Cervelli is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Japanese Literature at SOAS, University of London. His research is broadly concerned with representations of individual and social crises in contemporary Japanese literature and popular culture. He completed his PhD in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford in 2018, with a thesis exploring immediacy and the emphasis on the present in contemporary Japanese novels, manga and anime.
|Kwasu D. Tembo
|The Jackal and the Genius: Jake Gyllenhall's Representation of the Pathology of the Occidental Nerd in Nightcrawler and Donnie Darko
|Session 2, Friday 12th
Kwasu David Tembo is a PhD graduate from the University of Edinburgh’s Language, Literatures, and Cultures department. His research interests include – but are not limited to – comics studies, literary theory and criticism, philosophy, particularly the so-called “prophets of extremity” – Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, and Derrida. He has published on Christopher Nolan's The Prestige, in The Cinema of Christopher Nolan: Imagining the Impossible, ed. Jacqueline Furby and Stuart Joy (Columbia UP, 2015), and on Superman, in Postscriptum: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Literary Studies (2017).
|Lonely Heisei Japan: On Murakami Ryū's In za miso sūpu
|Session 2, Friday 12th
M.A. (Magister Artium) in theatre studies (major), German literature, Japanese studies. Doctoral candidate and research associate at LMU Munich. Dissertation deals with: Terayama Shûji (1935–1983); writer, theatre and film maker; key figure of the counter culture in postwar Japan
|Sherlock And Sha:rokku: Detectives With ASD. Will East And West Ever Meet?
|Session 3, Saturday 13th
PhD in linguistics (2007). Graduated the Institute of African and Asian studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University in 2000, majored in Japanese language and International Economic Relations. Defended PhD thesis on the problem of translating Japanese onomatopoetic words into Russian, field of scientific research – translation, semantics, teaching methods of Japanese language. Author of the Japanese-Russian dictionary of onomatopoetic words, a teach-yourself guide on Japanese language and guidebooks on Japanese onomatopoetic words and numerals. Also published several articles on translation and semantic problems of Japanese onomatopoeia and a number of articles on problems of Japanese language education (in Russian).
|The Fear of Belonging: The Simultaneity of Loneliness and Popularity in Dear Evan Hansen
|Session 3, Saturday 13th
Rebecca Lewis is a doctoral researcher at the University of Westminster in London. Her thesis focuses on cultural policy, globalisation and representation in the South Korean television industry. Her further research interests are in audience studies and cultural production, particularly in relation to young adults and teenagers.
|From Misfit to Leader: Towards a Revisionist Representation of Otaku and Hikikomori in Japanese Video Game Persona 5
|Session 3, Saturday 13th
Born and raised in Rome, Italy, I have studied Japanese language and literature at "Sapienza" University. Currently, I'm enrolled in the PhD program of the same institution for a research on the representation of male same-sex love in Japanese court literature. So far I have been to Japan to take part in two study and research programs. My area of interest includes the history of sexuality, Japanese classical literature, and Japanese contemporary popular culture.
|Janée N. Burkhalter
|‘Gus, don’t be the comma in Earth, Wind & Fire’: Understanding Psych’s (sometimes) lonely blerd Burton Guster
|Session 4, Saturday 13th
Janée N. Burkhalter, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Marketing and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs in the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University, USA. Dr. Burkhalter teaches and researches at the intersection of entertainment, marketing strategy and social media. She is a marketing scholar, educator and strategist with practical experience in marketing communications, career services, entrepreneurship, diversity & inclusion
|So Many Ways to be an Outsider – “Nerdism” and Ethnicity as Signifiers of Otherness
|Session 4, Saturday 13th
Dr. Sharon Coleclough completed her PhD in Cinematic Performance at the University of Salford in 2014. A Senior Lecturer in Film Production and Sound Design at Staffordshire University, her work combines the theory and practice of moving image production; focussing upon the ways in which meaning is created through the technical application of craft. Recent publications consider the relationship of BAME actors to lighting and camera for Viewfinder Magazine with an inspiring lecture series submission requested by Learning on Screen on the same subject. Sharon works internationally on a collaborative digital project, “The Laptop Tour” which considers the ways performance can be realised through the use of technology.
|A place where everybody is a legendary hero… and a total dork” – Representing the American Nerd Community as an Antidote to Loneliness in G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel Comics (2014-2019)
|Session 4, Saturday 13th
Alena teaches at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Oldenburg (Germany), where she completed her PhD in English literature in 2020. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, Afrofuturism and postcolonial science fiction and graphic novels.
|Communicating isolation and sexual negotiation: Nagata Kabi’s My Lesbian Experience with loneliness
|Session 5, Saturday 13th
Marta Fanasca obtained her PhD in Japanese Studies at The University of Manchester and she is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Higher School of Economics, Saint Petersburg. Her work investigates gender performativity, Female to male (dansō) crossdressing and the commodification of intimacy in contemporary Japan. She has published several articles focused on the dansō phenomenon in Japan. Her research interests involve and put together Japanese contemporary culture and pop-culture, queer theory, gender and media studies.
|Consumable Bodies, Consumable Self: The Queer Potential of Otaku Subjectivity in Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken
|Session 5, Saturday 13th
Christopher Smith received a PhD in Japanese literature from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and is currently an Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese Literature at the University of Florida, where he teaches courses on modern Japanese literature, manga, and anime. His research focuses on postwar Japanese literature, particularly contemporary literature (Heisei-Reiwa), as well as Japanese pop culture, including manga and anime. He is especially interested in examining how literature and culture represents, manipulates, and ultimately plays with Japanese history, examined through the lenses of nationalism, national identity, the historical legitimation of power, and postmodernism. He recently published a translation of Tanaka Yasuo’s Somehow, Crystal (Kurodahan Press).
Get in touch if you'd like to attend, and haven't already registered - there's no charge!
March 03, 2021
This week, Exchanges is hosting a session on the IAS’ Accolade researcher development programme loosely titled ‘developing your publication strategy’ (Thu 4th March). I’m delighted that for once I’m only hosting the panel rather than being the main speaker. Instead, we’ll be joined by a range of other academics from both the institution and beyond to share their insights, thoughts and advice on the publication experience. I’m hopeful we’ll have a lively debate.
As part of this session, we’re also inviting questions to be put to the panel ahead of time via email or on Teams. Naturally, people are more than welcome to suggest questions ‘from the floor’ on the day in person or via chat too. Hence, if you’ve got a burning query all ready to go – don’t keep it to yourself, but get in touch.
I’ll try and capture some of the essence of the session for a later blog post – or at least as much as one can when one’s the session chair (never easy to take notes then!).
February 25, 2021
Through its analysis of artistic takes on nerds, our issue aims to intervene in the debate about technologies' and popular media’s influence on social bonds, with a particular focus on loneliness. We suggest a broad understanding of loneliness that includes a wide range of societal issues such as stances vis-à-vis society, the positionality of nerds within or outside of it, their intergroup behaviour dynamics and belonging, their feeling of loneliness both derived from physical and/or emotional isolation, or even conceptualised as loneliness within a group. The issue will hence analyse varying cultural representations of the nerd’s relationship with society in order to critically discuss how various art forms approach the notion of the “lonely nerd”.
We want to ask questions such as: Can we still find common characteristics in representations that are not overtly about nerds? Is loneliness inextricable from any representation of nerds, or do we see narratives where nerds actually become, quite anticanonically, the centre of their community, as small as it may be? And if so, what do these representations tell us about their culture? Are they representational? If this is the case, how can it be used to interrogate relevant phenomena of isolation and loneliness in general? Possible topics include, but are not limited to, fictional explorations of nerds and loneliness (Call for papers, Exchanges, 2020)
We’re delighted to announce a two-day workshop as part of our preparations for our ‘lonely nerds’ special issue, to be hosted by the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick, Friday and Saturday 12th/13th March. This online event will be a chance to hear papers from the authors contributing to this special issue on a range of topics concerning the representations of nerds in cultural milieu around the world.
Hosted by myself, in partnership with Dr Ben Schaper (University of Oxford) and Dr Filippo Cervelli (SOAS, University of London), it will be two highly engaging, insightful and challenging talks given by speakers from around the globe on a diverse and fascinating topic.
To reserve your place contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no fee for attending.
Event Schedule (Fri 12th-Sat 13th March)
Friday (Day One)
15:15-16:45 Session 1
- Guido Furci (Paris 3, Sorbonne Nouvelle): Through the Nerdish Glass: Rereading Antiheroes in Modern Italian Culture
- Benjamin Schaper (University of Oxford): Conquering the Meatspace: The Reception of David Fincher’s The Social Network (2010) in Baran bo Odar’s Who am I (2014)
- Aneesh Barai (University of Sheffield): Child detectives, specialist knowledge and the sociable genius: Detective Conan and adult-child identities
16.45 Tea break
17:15-18:45 Session 2
- Filippo Cervelli (SOAS, University of London): Saved by the Nerd: Otaku and the Space of Family in Summer Wars
- Kwasu D. Tembo (Independent Researcher): The Jackal and the Genius: Jake Gyllenhall's Representation of the Pathology of the Occidental Nerd in Nightcrawler and Donnie Darko”
- Carolin Fleischer-Heininger (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich): Lonely Heisei Japan: On Murakami Ryū's In za miso sūpu
Saturday (Day Two)
10:30-12:00 Session 3
- Natalia Rumak (Lomonosov Moscow State University): Sherlock And Sha:rokku: Detectives With ASD. Will East And West Ever Meet?
- Rebecca Lewis (University of Westminster): The Fear of Belonging: The Simultaneity of Loneliness and Popularity in Dear Evan Hansen
- Daniele Durante (University of Rome, Sapienza): From Misfit to Leader: Towards a Revisionist Representation of Otaku and Hikikomori in Japanese Video Game Persona 5
12.00-13.00 Lunch Break
13:00-14:30 Session 4
- Janée N. Burkhalter (Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia): ‘Gus, don’t be the comma in Earth, Wind & Fire’: Understanding Psych’s (sometimes) lonely blerd Burton Guster
- Sharon Coleclough (Staffordshire University): So Many Ways to be an Outsider – “Nerdism” and Ethnicity as Signifiers of Otherness
- Alena Cicholewski (University of Oldenburg): “A place where everybody is a legendary hero… and a total dork” – Representing the American Nerd Community as an Antidote to Loneliness in G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel Comics (2014-2019)
14.30-15.00 Tea Break
15:00-16:30 Session 5
- Marta Fanasca (University of Manchester): Communicating isolation and sexual negotiation: Nagata Kabi’s My Lesbian Experience with loneliness
- Christopher Smith (University of Florida): Consumable Bodies, Consumable Self: The Queer Potential of Otaku Subjectivity in Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken
- Ozgur Cicek (Freie Universität, Berlin: Young, male, and unruly: The representation of nerds in Turkey between 2000-2020
16.30-16.45 Tea Break
16.45-17.15 Final Discussion