It’s been way too long since I’ve written on my website, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been doing a ton of writing in both 750words and in scrivener for my dissertation. So much writing, in fact, that I was able to show my advisor a shortened version of a chapter that I’ve been working on, and she liked it! That’s big news for me, since I haven’t really shown anyone my work since my summer research trips. Processing all of that information into a palpable format that is argument-driven has been quite a task and it’s really been an intellectually invigorating experience. That said, there is still a ton of work to do on the chapter — mostly integrating the relevant literature and framing the discussion on decolonial aesthetics — but I’m happy with the progress that I’ve made so far.

One thing that I definitely want to work on is the formal aspects of my writing and I’m going to read the book Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword to see if there are any helpful tips. Although it’s a bit premature to say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, now at least I know I’m in the right tunnel and entering at the right speed to graduate in a timely fashion. Will keep you updated on the progress of the dissertation and the other tons of projects that I’m working on!

small victory

All my hard-work spent tweeting during CAA a few weeks ago paid off when I was quoted TWICE in the online Art History Newsletter for my comments:

“Academic publishing as a colonization of intellectual property.”

“F1219 – yes, everyone in the rooms has memorized the library of congress call number for Pre-Columbian art history.”

And TWICE more in this episode:

” ‘Aztec rulers were cool and hot’ – Emily Umberger”

Love the idea of 4-dimensional calendars integrated into the Olmec landscape.”

This might not seem like much, but in this epic battle for a PhD, it’s certainly something!

The future of academic publishing

Today on the Chronicle website there are so many articles about the future of academic publishing that it’s almost hard to keep track of them!  Ideas range from crowd sourcing strategies of getting books published on demand to having professors write their own textbooks in a multimedia, interactive platform.  All of these ideas sound fantastic and while these suggestions are usually made from the perspective of the established scholar, I think what’s missing are the opportunities for grad students to insert themselves in these new publishing paradigms and detach themselves from the pressure and exclusiveness of university presses that have dominated traditional academic publishing.

At the core, our mission is to create and disseminate new knowledge.  This new knowledge generates discussion, debate, and hopefully more new knowledge.  But, how can we even get the ball rolling if no one can read our work?  The thought- and decision-making process are often blocked off, disassociated from the finished product.  Outlines, drafts, editorial comments — all neatly erased from the final book.  Rather than being driven by the end product, what would academia look like if we were more process-oriented, and, just maybe, let other people in.  What if you could publish a draft of an essay, get comments that you could immediately incorporate, and let your argument evolve from there?

Nina Simon experimented with this platform in her blog Museum 2.0, where she actively elicited and incorporated suggestions that readers made on her blog.  This process-oriented approach initiates different types of research data — suddenly, suggestions & recommendations from (anonymous) online readers becomes integrated into the fabric of the book, rather than after-the-fact in a book review.  Once the reviews come out, there’s not much that a author can do to effectively and publicly engage or refute them.

Furthermore, as an ABD student, I often feel isolated from my colleagues and professors.  Could we create an online community of people who are genuinely interested in a specific research topic?  Who can generate ideas for conference panels and future collaborations? I guess the issue boils down to this: will academic publishing, especially in the humanities, be a stubborn victim to eBooks, or can we reassert our relevance by being on the cutting-edge of the digital revolution?