MLA 2015: What Does It Mean to Publish? New Forms of Scholarly Communication

Session# 176
Thursday, January 8
7:00–8:15 p.m., East 17, VCC East

Sponsored by the MLA Advisory Committee on the MLA International Bibliography

Combining the immediacy of a blog post with the rigor of a refereed journal, “middle state” publishing is gaining ground in the humanities. How does middle-state publishing — also known as “grey literature” — challenge our notions of what makes something “published”? Scholars wrestle with the import of this question for hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions, while librarians, archivists, and the MLA International Bibliography struggle to document and preserve emerging forms of scholarly communication. The panelists in this session will engage with some critical questions: What does it means to publish? How might institutional repositories constitute a form of publication? How do new tools and methodologies suggest new categories for indexing and analysis? How do new categories of scholarly publication challenge and change how we keep the scholarly record? How do we archive emerging material?

Virtual Verse in the Library: Capturing Online-Only Poetry for Scholarship and Preservation
Harriett Green, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana

The publication of original literary works on the Web in recent decades has marked a new era of literary expression, as well as a democratization of literary culture. But discovery and documentation of online-only or “born-digital” literary works are extremely limited: Many online-only works can only be accessed through known item searching. Furthermore, many print journals publish selected works only on their websites, but these works frequently are not indexed in the same manner as works published in print. In light of these issues, the authors conducted an IMLS-funded investigation during 2013 on access, use, and the publishing of online-only poetry. This paper draws upon the surveys and interviews conducted with nearly 200 creative writing faculty members, librarians, and small press literary publishers to offer an unprecedented examination of online literary publishing practices and discoverability of online-only poetry. The paper analyzes the subjects’ responses on accessing online-only poetry, reading and publishing practices, and the role of online publications in scholarly communications among literary writers. The paper synthesizes these responses to explore the impact of online journals on literary publishing, and examine the role of stakeholders in supporting discoverability and access to online-only poetry. The paper also considers current and potential tools to facilitate access to online-only literary works, such as an index or mobile applications. Ultimately, this paper reveals how the digital evolution of literary publishing requires literary artists, scholars, and information professionals alike to engage collaboratively in the essential work of making digital literature accessible to all.

“Tales from a Silver Medalist: Publishing an Interactive, Collaborative Article in JITP (Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy)”
Amanda Licastro, Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy is working to remix the scholarly journal in a myriad of ways, concentrating on enacting a publication model in which both the form and process adapt to meet new modes of composition. Focusing on a transparent and collaborative peer-review process, this presentation will chronicle the production of the award winning article “Digital Literary Pedagogy” as an example of how editors of online academic journals can work with contributors to expand the definition of publication in innovative ways. This article is the result of a collaboration between two of the journal editors and an assistant professor who integrated the journal into a course on nineteenth century reading technologies. The JITP editors interacted with both the students and the professor, serving as mentors for the student projects, thus mimicking the guidance JITP offers authors through the process of submitting to the journal. The final product includes an interactive timeline, video captures of the in-class meetings, short-form articles from both the professor and editors, as well as a “meta” section showing the collaborative Google Doc drafts. This experimental approach challenges the traditional model of a scholarly article, especially in terms of authorship and peer review. While this article was named first runner up in the short-form category of the DH Awards, this presentation will also explore the difficulties in constructing and presenting truly multimodal scholarship.

“Capturing New Modes of Scholarship in the MLA International Bibliography”
Barbara Chen, MLA

The publishing field had been relatively static for the first 90 years of the MLA International Bibliography’s existence but this is no longer the case. Scholars’ engagement with new types of e-publishing has caused changes in the Bibliography’s inclusion policies as well as bibliographical descriptions. Barbara Chen, MLA Bibliography editor, will explain current practices for new types of e-content and elaborate on expectations for the future.

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