Sunday, July 28, 2013

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last post on the old site! Moving to Georgetown proper...

My signature line still directs here because there is much reading from the first years of this office that may be of interest before you jump to the new site.

It has been a great run on Blogger since 2006, but we have finally moved to a fresh, new blog on the Georgetown University web site. We were always invited to be there, but technical difficulties kept us camped out on Blogger. Please click here to visit the new site. And please update your links if you are graciously sending readers our way. Thank you for three and a half great years!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Robert Boice does it again, this time with hypnosis

Anyone who works in scholarly publishing with faculty members will sooner or later probably encounter the work of Robert Boice. I've blogged about him before, because his research on how productive scholars publish is the very best in its field. Today I'm re-reading his book Advice For New Faculty Members, which ought to be republished as Thoughts for Anyone on Any Faculty at Any Level, because trust me, there are plenty of associate and full professors who also need to read this stuff.

Boice makes an interesting connection between people who are willing to tolerate ambiguity long enough to get through the prewriting stages, and those who are hypnotizable. Since I'm a huge fan of deep-relaxation hypnosis, I paid attention. Here's what Boice says: "People who display the most resistance to being hypnotized display obvious commonalities; they are most unwilling to go along with suggestions, to suspend suspicion and disbelief, to trust themselves and the hypnotist. These 'low-susceptibles' also struggle the most as writers. Why? They have not learned to trust general images and rough wordings that could be put on paper or screen in advance of formal writing. Instead they work cautiously, looking for perfect sentences to begin with, listening too soon to internal editors (those voices of authority figures who remind us of rigid rules and standards about writing), and doubting too readily" (125).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Duke University Press and Stanley Fish

A change of emphasis was a revelation

Today a faculty member shook her head in amazement. Her schedule was completely different and more productive now, thanks to one simple change. Formerly she had spent her in-office time planning classes, as many newer faculty members do before they have taught long enough to be able to rely on tried-and-true syllabuses and lesson plans from previous semesters. Then she would try to fit her scholarly writing in on the weekends, when she was also juggling family time, including helping her kids with their homework.

Another faculty member suggested a simple switch. By writing on the weekends, she may have been subconsciously telling herself that scholarly writing was less important than teaching, whereas we continually emphasize that they are of equal importance, and that it is never acceptable to push writing aside in favor of teaching during the academic semester. So the faculty member suggested that she begin working on her writing during the week, and move the class planning to the weekends, thereby making writing the senior partner in the relationship.

The change was miraculous. She kept exclaiming in the meeting today how remarkable it was to get more writing done during the week, and then think about her lesson plans on Sunday afternoons (she saves Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sunday mornings for her family). This switch moved her writing into a more prominent role, and because she got more done she wasn't going into the weekend with guilt about her work.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Modeling resilience

(Part 2 of 2) The 8 a.m. Tuesday faculty book group discussed modeling the perfect response to hearing "no" from an editor. After much back-and-forth, here is the final list that we agreed was probably best:

1. Accept the reader's report with a combination of gratitude and confidence -- gratitude that a fellow scholar took the time to respond to your work, even negatively, and confidence that your work is strong and that this is about words on a page, not your worth as a scholar or a human being.

2. Read the report carefully and think about what is on-point and what isn't. Be honest here, and be willing to hear the comments for what they are... learned opinions, and neither garbage nor gospel. This is a kind of careful, balanced listening that goes beyond a knee-jerk "Yeah, okay, I get it" and ventures into the realm of the deeply collegial.

3. Be sure to respond to the editor with consistent professionalism. Save any grumbling for your best friends over a glass of wine later. Thank your editor for soliciting the comments, and assure her or him that you are going to ponder them carefully. If the door is closed at the press to that particular work, leave with warmth and good wishes -- you may be back someday! If the door is still open to revise and resubmit, promise to do that promptly, and set a schedule that will work for both of you.

4. Immediately make a written plan for revising the work if necessary and going to another university press. Come see me for examples of written plans -- we have everything from formal, Franklin/Covey style, to models that work with Google calendar. Whatever you use, make sure it is a proven tool and get your plan down on paper with due dates and a deadline.

5. Be of good cheer. It is honorable to have tried ambitiously, whether or not you immediately succeed, and it is even more honorable to try again. People admire colleagues who fight the good fight, and who remain upbeat and academically productive no matter what. You will find yourself with unexpected friends, sometimes among the powerful who got where they are with a combination of perseverence and resilience. Join their number, and congratulate yourself that you did not emulate the herd by running, but you stood with the leaders.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ouch, but in a good way

(Part 1 of 2) I just received some tough feedback on a book. So herewith a response: criticism is a gift, and hard criticism is one of the greatest things any fellow scholar can do for you. A true professional's one and only response to negative feedback on work should be "Thank you," followed by a serious and thoughtful consideration of each of the critic's points. Sometimes critics are wrong (and we've seen that from time to time in Booklab from peer reviews), but sometimes they are absolutely on-point correct, and other times the truth is in the middle. It is imperative, however, for any serious scholar to get and read the criticism, and to recognize it for the blessing that it is.

Wendy Belcher tells an interesting story about a scholar whose article was ripped at a top journal. The scholar revised based on the valid points, and submitted to a second journal, where it was ripped again, albeit more gently. After that revision, the scholar went to a third journal of equally superb quality, where it was accepted, along with editorial comments that they rarely see a piece so strong on the first bounce.

Amen. Therefore I nod to all critics in gratitude, and I will revise immediately (no waiting) for the good of the book, for the benefit of my colleagues, and for my own personal sense of professionalism and academic integrity.

Wendy Belcher Knows Who We Are

Wow, this is great. JW from the Articles-Only group subscribed to Wendy Belcher's monthly e-mail newsletter (one that I somehow managed to miss even though I visited her website), and today she forwarded it to me. This blog is in there! Belcher found the 60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing, and she wrote about it.

Soon we will migrate to the Georgetown University servers, and to celebrate I will offer up some prime real estate and make Belcher's website a permanent feature of the new links list, along with information. If you want to sign up for "Flourish," her free electronic newsletter for scholarly writers, go to and click on "newsletters" at the left. I'm going to do that now!

A list of back issues is here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Treadmill Desk is Here!

A while ago I blogged about "The Booklab Workout," and jokingly noted that treadmill desks are becoming popular among writers. Well, I'm laughing no more. The idea stuck with me and I've finally built a treadmill desk. Pre-made ones retail for $2,400 online, but that seemed silly, so I bought a good model used treadmill on Craigslist for $380, and propped up my wooden desk over it. I'm standing, walking slowly, and typing this now. It's easy and fun, and in the past hour I've walked 7/10 of a mile (about the right pace if you don't want to be distracted while you work).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What ever happened to the 60 journal days?

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

If you're wondering if I gave up on the 60 Days project, I most certainly did not. It's time to start over again with the book Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, after what I considered a necessary breather. Yes, the project resulted in an article in six weeks rather than twelve, but the pace left me tired, and other things got pushed aside to finish and submit that article. I'm proud of it and happy with the result (nay, thrilled), but the last couple of weeks have been spent regrouping. Now I'm ready to start over again. Instead of blogging daily, however, I'll change the structure to a weekly blog for twelve weeks to see how long it takes to produce a second article.

One of the most interesting things about the exercise was how easily the scary prospect of article writing was vanquished with the help of a good book. I had trembled at it for years, and dodged it by focusing on books. Whether or not that article is accepted is almost irrelevant (although it would be nice to hear something positive). What matters more is that I enjoyed the scholarship for its own sake and it resulted in a well-researched, personally satisfying piece. Some well-published authors admit that they only do it for the money, or the recognition, but I trust that writing for the satisfaction is also deeply important. That article made me happy, and such joy is now something that I hope to share with even more Booklab authors.

How authors write

I'm enthralled about how authors write. Also fun is going to readings, where they discuss their process. Some crabby writers claim they hate this question, asking what difference it makes if they use lined yellow legal pads, voice dictation, or a Ouija board. But in the aggregate it does matter because there are so many interesting ways to do a job. One of Booklab's faculty authors sent along this article from The Wall Street Journal about how writers write. It's terrific.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Zotero? Oh, Oh, Oh!

I am so pumped about Zotero. it is a FREE scholarly citation and information-gathering program that works in Mozilla Firefox. One of the faculty members from Government/SFS recommended it, and it blows EndNote or RefWorks away. Fantastic. I will still use RefWorks for scholarly citations when I'm in Georgetown's own online catalogue, because it is integrated with Georgetown's system. But then I'll export the data to Zotero. In fact, Zotero is so great that I made a donation online to the foundation.

What to Read When Stuck in Traffic

The Washington, DC area is notorious for its traffic. According to The Christian Science Monitor, we have the second-worst commute times in the nation, right after New York. I was born in DC and grew up in its suburbs, so I know that firsthand from years of my own commutes while working in the city and putting myself through college.

So what do Booklab authors who live outside the city do? Many listen to audiobooks -- that's not new in and of itself. But one of them discovered something that got me thinking excitedly about its implications for scholarly publishing. He listened to David Hackett Fischer's well-reviewed Washington's Crossing, and found himself making surprise connections between themes in that book and his own work writing about more recent societal issues. He developed a whole argument that grew out of something he heard in Fischer, and it now appears in his manuscript with credit to Fisher's book.

A long discussion ensued about reading more generally in the history of a nation or region one writes about. We are rarely as broadly educated as we should be, especially people with doctorates whose reading tends to the narrow and targeted. This author's experience inspired me to think about a better grounding in the history of any culture, even while writing about aspects of it that may be many generations later, and about the value of audiobooks in the drive-time commute to get there.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Signing up for Table of Contents Delivery

A member of the Articles-Only group alerted me to the value of receiving Table of Contents e-mails from relevant journals. I tested this by visiting Oxford Journals online, and lo and behold it's an easy signup process. I will do this for all the relevant journal publishers in my field (Oxford, Johns Hopkins, Wiley-Blackwell, and more). The advantage of being able to glance over a regularly sent TOC and keep up with scholarly readings sounds wonderful.

Oxford Journals eTOC Page

Johns Hopkins University Press, Project Muse

Duke Journals Online

Thursday, October 29, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Days 29-30

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

Okay, it was not supposed to happen this way. The plan was to write and submit a scholarly article to a journal in 60 days (72 calendar days, but only counting weekdays), but thanks to Wendy Belcher's wonderful book Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, I did it in exactly half that. Wow. Weird. Of course, it was already something I had research on (we all have files of research, yes?), and I knew quite a bit about about the topic generally, but still. Six weeks?

I don't recommend that pace. The only reason it went so fast is because the querying process in Week Four and the journal research preceding it yielded an unexpected treasure -- an on-target call for papers at a superb journal. The material was due almost immediately, but it was so appropriate for what I was writing that I could not resist. Future projects will go at a better pace.

Thanks also to the Articles-Only faculty writing and publishing group, without whom I would not and could not have done it. You all taught me how to write and submit a paper, along with Belcher's brilliant text.

And who knows? Submission is only the start. There's still peer review...

Time to write another article!

NaNoWriMo Loves You

Picture sez it all. November!

(Jennifer, this is all your fault.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Days 23-28

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

You may wonder what happened to the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing. Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is great. Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks really works, and I'm finishing up my article. The bad news was that the week Belcher had us querying journals I got a live one on the hook that was eager to see my article within two weeks, so I've spent the past couple of weeks in a frenzy trying to finish it. This isn't binge writing the way Silvia and Boice discuss it. We consider a binge to be a writing marathon brought on by a combination of procrastination, guilt and a looming deadline. No, this is just a surprise deadline -- if I hurry I can submit a piece that is on-target for a terrific journal, but they need it soon because the submission date for a special issue had just passed when I found them.

For the rest of the 60 days I'll go back to daily blogging. That was fun, and since I've been writing every day there is a lot to say. And since this article is just about done in six weeks versus twelve, I'll start a new one and blog about that. It would be weird to write two journal articles in 60 days, but miraculous things happen at Booklab.

Finding versus making time

One of our faculty authors sighed and started to tell us all this week about how she "just wasn't able to find the time" to work on her overdue book, because her daughter has swine flu, her department hosted a conference, and her husband had to go out of town to meet with caregivers about his mom.

She was just launching into the final busy anecdote when she realized how much she sounded like the people in the Paul Silvia book (How to Write a Lot) where he laughs at the notion that one "finds" time for writing. You make time. After all -- she said after she caught herself saying this stuff -- she had "found" time to watch the news on TV, and shop for and bake something for a school sale. When it occurred to her that she could have recorded the TV show, bought some cupcakes at her favorite neighborhood shop for the sale and gotten some of her writing done, she smiled. I never preach here (I'd have to preach holding up a mirror, because I do this stuff, too, although at the moment I'm deeply into that article).

Writing doesn't have to take long. We only ask for an hour a day, although you can give it more if you're so inclined (a typical Booklab faculty member with a family does between 1.5 and 2 hours a day five days a week if a project is underway, and adds weekends only if it is due). Just that small commitment can yield more than most professors ever produce, and it can easily result in two articles per year and a book every two-three years.

Monday, October 19, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Days 21-23

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

This is an update with three days' worth of posts rolled into one. Why? Because the query process that Belcher recommended during Week 4 in Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks yielded a great result and also a nightmare -- a journal wants to see my paper in the next couple of weeks! That's not an acceptance, it is only an invitation to submit, but after I sent the abstract and an inquiry, the managing editor wrote back with encouragement.

The purpose of the inquiry, per Belcher's recommendations, was to make certain that the journal would accept a submission for a special topic issue (the deadline had just passed when I learned of it); that it didn't have a multi-year backlog (some journals do); and that they didn't already have plans to publish something else too similar to mine.

This kind of process can save you months, perhaps even years. Now I'm deeply into Week 5 and doing major restructuring based on it. Whew!

Update on last week's William Morris Endeavor Agency event

I've been running around all week with no time to blog (mostly working on the article, and blog posts will come soon), but I had to stop and say what an amazing time we had on Thursday with Eric Lupfer as our guest. The praise has continued to pour in for his candid talk and his accessibility afterward, waiting patiently to speak with a line of faculty and guests. Thank you to everyone who came and made it such a full house, and thank you to Eric who was such a great sport.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 20

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

Writing a query letter to editors is one of the most contentious issues on campus when it comes to scholarly publishing. Faculty are massively confused about inquiry versus submission, and there is a hoary old "rule" floating around that says you can only contact one publishing outlet at a time, and only with a full submission. I think I've used the word before, but I'll say it again, "Balderdash." That may have once upon a time been the story in academia, but real editors at real publishing outlets (great ones, the best, and an amazingly wide array) say differently.

Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks agrees, much to my relief, and all of Week 4 was devoted to choosing a journal. It ends by having the article author (you, me) write an inquiry to editors. She provides a model, and a long rationale about why this makes sense, not only to get a sense of whether you should even submit your article to that journal, but whether it is functional, whether it has a backlog of several years (some do), and whether a forthcoming article is too similar to yours for a journal to even consider one of your type. So today I'm writing my query letter. After ranking the journals from my earlier post on who they are and what they publish, I will send it to five of the 21 journals I have identified as potentially right for work like mine.

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 19

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

Revising my abstract again? Yes again -- one interesting feature of Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks is how often Belcher has you re-think your abstract and argument. She feels that most articles, especially in the humanities, are insufficiently argued, and she brings you back to those important places again and again. This is not the assignment for today, but she has taught me the habit. This week is about seeking the right journal, and I'll do a blog post on query letters in the next entry.

For the record, it is only four weeks into a 12-week program, and I already have a 33-page draft. That doesn't mean terribly much, since if length were any indication of quality then all knowledge would have been gathered by now (I'm astonished at the sheer number of books and journals published every year -- so much stuff!). But it feels great to have words on paper, and to know what my job is every day. This has been a remarkable experiment, and I hope to repeat it Spring semester with a new article (probably with one blog post on the book every week).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Portrait of the Prodigal as a Profiteer

You can win free books and a t-shirt by visiting England Rents, Rants and Raves and entering the fierce competition celebrating Denis Lipman's new book A Yank Back to England: The Prodigal Tourist Returns. Michael Dirda of The Washington Post loved it, and Michael York, who has had a long and varied career, but whom I best remember in 1973's Lost Horizon (a film that perhaps wasn't terribly well reviewed but that I enjoyed at a young age) says, "A perceptive, engaging and informative take on contemporary England as seen through the eyes of a fellow expatriate who writes with humor and affection. The cast of characters has an almost Dickensian vivacity." I've managed to dig up two England photos from 1986 (it's all part of the rules)... hurry to send in your own. The one above is from a bus as I first entered London on the ride from Gatwick Airport. I've been back several times now, but that was my first time abroad as well as my first time in England, so it was eerie and special.

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 18

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

In two more posts I'll be 1/3 of the way through this project. So far I have a 25-page manuscript that reads fairly well although it has quite a few holes in it that must be patched by visiting the library and consulting physical sources (i.e. I've done what I can from my office and online). More and more research can be done electronically these days, but there is still plenty that sits on library shelves. Hmmm, how long will that be the case?

Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks spends this entire Week 4 focusing on selecting a journal, and I feel as though I did that in one fell swoop on Saturday, two posts ago. So I may wrap up days 19 and 20 in the next post, and then move on to Week 5.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 17

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

What do you do when good journals publish bad articles? One consequence of studying journal articles this semester (in addition to my usual focus on scholarly books) is reading more key journals, where most of the articles are quite good and sometimes excellent. But once in a while a clunker gets through. I'm still fuming at one I encountered on a woman writer whom I have studied for some years. The article was published rather recently, yet seemed ignorant of the previous decade's scholarship on that particular woman, attributing an anonymous broadsheet newspaper to her that previous scholars demonstrated she probably did not write, mis-stating the circumstances surrounding her arrest, mis-identifying with whom she was arrested, and (to add insult to injury), citing Foucault and Habermas as somehow having commented on the result. The Foucault quote was particularly tacked-on and clumsy -- it wasn't quite "'Books are good, notes Foucault," but it was close.

So how did this mess sneak past the censors in a journal that I won't name because it should have known better? Sometimes it boils down to a common problem that most editors acknowledge but none know how to remedy: the vulnerabilities and perils of peer review. When peer review works it is a rigorous way to subject new work to scholarly scrutiny. When it fails (and it sometimes does), several possible things can happen:

1. Sometimes peers don't review. If a scholar is very late reviewing a promised article, a desperate editor can end up enlisting an alternate, perhaps at the last minute;

2. Sometimes peers do review, but incompletely. Skimming an article and approving it even when it has unfamiliar content (such as, in this case, references to an author who is obscure even for area specialists) is fraught with peril. Just because the article's author gets Samuel Johnson right, for example, doesn't mean s/he has done a good job with Frances Burney, and it behooves the peer to spot-check some of those lesser-known facts. Many don't;

3. Sometimes biased peers do the review. In Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, Belcher cites incidents (although she doesn't name names) when an article went to a peer reviewer who recognized it as the work of a particular author and approved it because of a sense of collegiality. This conflict of interest isn't supposed to happen, but it does. It is particularly a problem when an author is the student of a board member at the journal, yet does not disclose that to the editor, and the board member does not recuse him or herself.

I love editors, and I can't think of a reason why one of them would knowingly pass a substandard paper through their system. They have too much to lose, and most of the ones I've met are ethical simply because the unethical ones all went into other fields where the rewards for malfeasance are richer. But peer reviewers are another matter altogether, because they comprise such a wide range of individuals with varying degrees of interest in the outcome.

What's the moral of the story? For one thing, those of us who value good scholarship can offer to participate in peer review. The more we agree to review and do so in a thorough yet timely fashion, the better for our professions overall. Editors need this support, and those of us who want to publish in the best journals owe it to our colleagues. One of the first things you can do after publishing some key articles and (if your profession demands it) your first major book is to turn around and give back to the system that benefited you by becoming a scrupulous peer reviewer. You don't have to do it very often, and if you're busy you can't, but even one article per year will help the system. If we widen the pool of potential peer reviewers, and if every good scholar begins to consider this service part of her or his professional mission, better articles will result, and fewer clunkers will sneak through.

Friday, October 09, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 16

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

Do you want to get blown away? I mean seriously impressed? Then have a look at this amazing list, which is only for one literary field! There are 26 journals on the main list, and 15 on the "of interest" list, for a stunning total of 41. Please tell me if I missed anything.

This will be a long post, because I have been researching possible journals to which I will submit my public guinea pig, an article-in-progress in Restoration and early eighteenth-century studies. Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks suggests a detailed search process at the beginning of Week 4. There are a lot of great journals out there.

This is not the place to debate impact factor and other key issues (I've discussed it a number of times with editors at the annual Blackwell conference in DC, and in other contexts), but it is reasonably straightforward to work with a good reference librarian and construct a solid list of journals to consider for your various projects. If you live in a town that lacks this splendid resource, the internet yields much on a search of journal rankings.

Following is a list I find quite staggering. I consider myself in a "narrow" field, but oh heavens the choices for potential publication depending upon the project, its scope and parameters. One of them is my first choice for the article I'm blogging about, but creating this list really flapped my brain about the possibilities, and how straightforward it would be to re-think a piece that was rejected at one place, elevate it to better scholarship, and submit it somewhere else.

I personally consider all of these to be first-tier journals, and I welcome input from others on that assessment. They are in alphabetical order, along with one paragraph from the journal's own copy.

Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation (University of Illinois). Welcomes essays concerned with the application of contemporary theory and methodology to all aspects of culture 1660-1800, including literature, history, fine arts, science, history of ideas, and popular culture.

Eighteenth-Century Fiction (McMaster University). An international quarterly, published in French and English, devoted to the critical and historical investigation of literature and culture of the period 1660-1832.

Eighteenth-Century Life (Duke University Press). Committed to interdisciplinary exchange, Eighteenth-Century Life addresses all aspects of European and world culture during the long eighteenth century, 1660–1815.

Eighteenth-Century Studies (Johns Hopkins University). Publishes different modes of analysis and disciplinary discourses that explore how recent historiographical, critical, and theoretical ideas have engaged scholars concerned with the eighteenth century. The official publication of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS).

ELH: English Literary History (Johns Hopkins University). Since 1934, ELH has published studies that interpret the conditions affecting major works in English and American literature. The importance of historical continuity in the discipline of letters remains a central concern for ELH but the journal does not seek to sponsor particular methods or aims.

English Manuscript Studies: 1100-1700 (The British Library and the University of Chicago).

Forum for Modern Language Studies (Oxford University Press). Publishes articles on all aspects of literary and linguistic studies, from the Middle Ages to the present day. The journal sets out to reflect the essential pluralism of modern language and literature studies and to provide a forum for worldwide scholarly discussion.

Huntington Library Quarterly (University of California Press). Publishes articles on the literature, history, and art of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries in Britain and America, with special emphasis on: the interactions of literature, politics, and religion; the social and political contexts of literary and art history; textual and bibliographical studies, including the history of printing and publishing; American studies, through the early nineteenth century; and the performance history of drama and music.

Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (Wiley-Blackwell). Formerly British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Publishes articles relating to the eighteenth century, on specific questions of interest to eighteenth-century scholars, as well as on interdisciplinary questions.

The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society (Oxford, for the Bibliographical Society). UK scholarly journal for the study of bibliography and of the role of the book in history.

Literature and History (Manchester University Press). Unique in its plural identity, it is a biannual international refereed journal concerned to investigate the relations between writing, history and ideology. It provides an open forum for practitioners coming from the distinctive vantage points of either discipline (or from other adjacent subject areas) to explore issues of common concern: period, content, gender, class, nationality, changing sensibilities, discourse and language.

MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly (Duke University Press). Open to essays on literary change from the Middle Ages to the present, and welcomes theoretical reflections on the relationship of literary change or historicism to feminism, ethnic studies, cultural materialism, discourse analysis, and all other forms of representation and cultural critique.

Modern Language Review (Modern Humanities Research Association, UK). Sibling publication to Yearbook of English Studies, published by the same Association. Papers submitted to one will be considered for the other.

Modern Philology (University of Chicago). Concerned with literary works, literary traditions, and literary criticism-we do not intend to compete with our cousin journal, Critical Inquiry, in range of material treated-and we are not concerned with Western classical literature-here we do not intend to compete with our sister journal, Classical Philology. But we are not, except in these ways, a specialized journal. We will publish work on literature from the (date of) the medieval period in the West forward, and not only in the Western tradition.

New Literary History (Johns Hopkins University Press). Focuses on questions of theory, method, interpretation, and literary history. Rather than espousing a single ideology or intellectual framework, it canvasses a wide range of scholarly concerns. By examining the bases of criticism, the journal provokes debate on the relations between literary and cultural texts and present needs.

Novel: A Forum on Fiction (Brown University). Dedicated to promoting critical discourse on the novel and publishing new and significant work on fiction and related areas of research and theory.

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America (Bibliographical Society of America). Contributions to the Papers may deal with books and manuscripts in any field, but should involve consideration of the book or manuscript (the physical object) as historical evidence, whether for establishing a text or illuminating the history of book production, publication, distribution, or collecting, or for other purposes. Studies of the printing, publishing, and allied trades are also welcome.

PMLA: Papers of the Modern Language Association (MLA). Welcomes essays from its members of interest to those concerned with the study of language and literature. As the publication of a large and heterogeneous association, the journal is receptive to a variety of topics, whether general or specific, and to all scholarly methods and theoretical perspectives.

Philological Quarterly (University of Iowa). Welcomes submissions on any aspect of medieval European and modern literature and culture. Special issues on particular themes, under guest editorship, also appear regularly in our pages, as do solicited book reviews. Some of the articles we publish pay close attention to textual detail, while others take textuality itself as a central analytical category, a realm that includes physical bibliography, the sociology of knowledge, the history of reading, reception studies, and other fields of inquiry.

Prose Studies (Routledge). Forum for discussion of the history, theory and criticism of non-fictional prose of all periods. While the journal publishes studies of such recognized genres of non-fiction as autobiography, biography, the sermon, the essay, the letter, the journal etc., it also aims to promote the study of non-fictional prose as an important component in the profession's ongoing re-configuration of the categories and canons of literature. Interdisciplinary studies, articles on non-canonical texts and essays on the theory and practice of discourse are also included.

SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 (Johns Hopkins University). SEL focuses on four fields of British literature in rotating, quarterly issues: English Renaissance, Tudor and Stuart Drama, Restoration and Eighteenth Century, and Nineteenth Century. The editors select learned, readable papers that contribute significantly to the understanding of British literature from 1500 to 1900.

Signs (University of Chicago Press). Publishes pathbreaking articles of interdisciplinary interest addressing gender, race, culture, class, nation, and/or sexuality either as central focuses or as constitutive analytics; symposia engaging comparative, interdisciplinary perspectives from around the globe to analyze concepts and topics of import to feminist scholarship; retrospectives that track the growth and development of feminist scholarship, note transformations in key concepts and methodologies, and construct genealogies of feminist inquiry; and new directions essays, which provide an overview of the main themes, controversies, and approaches in recent scholarship in particular fields and introduce this work and its theoretical and conceptual innovations to an interdisciplinary audience.

Studies in Bibliography (University of Virginia). Presents a wide range of scholarly articles on bibliography and textual criticism. A forum for the best textual and bibliographical work being done anywhere in the world, a role it seeks to maintain under the editorship of [Fredson] Bowers's successor, David L. Vander Meulen.

Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture (Johns Hopkins). Annual volume that features significantly revised versions of outstanding papers read at national and regional conferences of ASECS and its affiliates.

Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature (University of Tulsa). Devoted to the study of both literary and nonliterary texts--any and all works in every language and every historical period produced by women's pens.

Yearbook of English Studies (Modern Humanities Research Association, UK). Sibling publication to Modern Language Review, published by the same Association. Papers submitted to one will be considered for the other.

LIST TWO: Journals of great interest, but not quite in my discipline or methods:

The Age of Johnson (AMS).

British Journal of Aesthetics (Oxford University Press). An international forum for debate in philosophical aesthetics and the philosophy of art. The Journal is published to promote the study and discussion of philosophical questions about aesthetic experience and the arts.

The Cambridge Quarterly (Cambridge University Press). A journal of literary criticism which also publishes articles on cinema, the visual arts, and music. It aims, without sacrifice of scholarly standards, to engage readers outside as well as inside the academic profession.

Comparative Critical Studies, formerly New Comparison and Comparative Criticism, now merged (Edinburgh University Press for the British Comparative Literature Association). Concerned with with comparative literary and critical studies internationally and in the U.K., from whatever standpoint.

Eighteenth-Century Ireland (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick). The refereed Journal of the Eighteenth-Century Ireland Society / Cumann Éire san Ochtú Céad Déag.

Journal of the History of Ideas (University of Pennsylvania Press). A medium for the publication of research in intellectual history that is of common interest to scholars and students in a wide range of fields. It is committed to encouraging diversity in regional coverage, chronological range, and methodological approaches. JHI defines intellectual history expansively and ecumenically, including the histories of philosophy, of literature and the arts, of the natural and social sciences, of religion, and of political thought. It also encourages scholarship at the intersections of cultural and intellectual history — for example, the history of the book and of visual culture.

MLN: Modern Language Notes (Johns Hopkins University Press): Critical studies in the modern languages (Italian, Hispanic, German, French) and recent work in comparative literature provide the foundation for the articles and notes in MLN. Every volume contains four single-language issues and one comparative literature issue.

Oxford Literary Review (Edinburgh University Press). Britain's oldest journal of literary theory. It is concerned especially with the history and development of deconstructive thinking in all areas of intellectual, cultural and political life.

Paragraph: A Journal of Modern Critical Theory (Edinburgh University Press). Publishes essays and review articles in English which explore critical theory in general and its application to literature, other arts and society. Regular special issues by guest editors highlight important themes and figures in modern critical theory.

Parallax: A Journal of Metadiscursive Theory and Cultural Practices (Leeds, UK). I don't have a link or more information for this journal.

Philosophy and Literature (Johns Hopkins University Press). Explores the dialogue between literary and philosophical studies . . . aesthetics of literature, theory of criticism, philosophical interpretation of literature, and literary treatment of philosophy. ... challenges the cant and pretensions of academic priesthoods through its assortment of lively, wide-ranging essays, notes, and reviews that are written in clear, jargon-free prose. (Love that last bit.)

Poetics (Elsevier). Interdisciplinary journal of theoretical and empirical research on culture, the media and the arts. Particularly welcome are papers that make an original contribution to the major disciplines - psychology, sociology, and economics - within which promising lines of research on art and culture have been developed including economic sociology and the sociology of culture.

Poetics Today (Duke University Press). Brings together scholars from throughout the world who are concerned with developing systematic approaches to the study of literature (e.g., semiotics and narratology) and with applying such approaches to the interpretation of literary works.

Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century (Oxford University for the Voltaire Foundation). We welcome work across a broad range of disciplines and critical methodologies, reflecting the diversity and global network of exchange that characterises the Enlightenment.

Textual Practice (Routledge). Works at the turning points of theory with politics, history and texts. It is intrigued by the processes through which hitherto marginal cultures of ethnicity and sexuality are becoming conceptually central, and by the consequences of these diverse disturbances for educational and cultural institutions.

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Days 14 and 15

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

After a several-day hiatus while I prepared for the publishing roundtable at the Holocaust Museum and while dealing with faculty book emergencies. It has been a great week, but my journal article suffered, so now I'm back on track and ready to start Week 4.

I'm closing Week 3 with an acknowledgment, however -- to really understand the book Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, it's going to take more than 12 weeks. Yes, it's a straightforward guide that holds your hand, but it is also packed with information about how journal editors think and what journals need today. It will be our text for next semester as well, and I envision using it in the foreseeable future and working through it again and again, learning more each time. Every time I start at the beginning, it will be with the hope of learning anew.

Thanks to this book I have now moved journal publishing to the core of my theory about writing scholarly books. Journals are key, and they are superb places to share data, expand and explore ideas, and to focus minutely on issues that may grow into book chapters and topics. I don't think of journals as scratch pads -- they are much more elegant than that and the work in them should be polished and excellent. Instead, I think of them as places where ideas can flourish in a shorter form, and where scholars can gather in conversations that don't happen in quite the same way in books. I look forward to a long and rich career writing journal articles from now on.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Dr. Ariel Glucklich, "Dying For Heaven"

Available November 3, 2009, from HarperOne:

E-Books in the Classroom--Scholarly Communications Symposium

To Booklab faculty authors:

The Georgetown University Libraries present the Ninth Scholarly Communication Symposium, 'E-Books in the Classroom: Implications for Teaching, Learning, and Research.' Electronic textbooks are finally becoming a viable option in higher education. E-book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s E-book Reader are more affordable and more adept; meanwhile, Kindle can now read formats such as Adobe PDF natively, making it possible for students to load personal documents and combine electronic sources from a variety of platforms. Many academic disciplines are also adopting online teaching tools that embrace collaboration and interactivity, allowing far greater flexibility than traditional print options. The implications of these developments are profound, not only for scholars and students but also for librarians, administrators and publishers. Speakers will include:

Ted Striphas, Assistant Professor of Media & Cultural Studies, Director of Film & Media, Indiana University, Dept. of Comm & Culture. Professor Striphas argues that, although the production and propagation of books have undoubtedly entered a new phase, printed works are still very much a part of our everyday lives.

Robin Schulze, Professor of English, Penn State University. Professor Schulze is leading a pilot program within Penn State’s English Department to see how the Sony E-Book Reader can be better integrated into the curriculum. She will discuss her experience with this program at Penn State, while sharing her views on the viability of electronic texts in specific disciplines.

Diana Donahoe, Professor of Legal Research and Writing, Georgetown University Law Center. Professor Donahoe is the author and creator of, an interactive, online case book published by Aspen Publishers. The e-book is used across the country in legal research and writing courses to more actively engage students in the classroom and to provide innovative teachers with a platform for teaching digital-age students.

Friday, October 30, 2009 from 10:00am to 11:30am
McCarthy Hall, McShain Lounge

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Booklab at the Holocaust Museum

My friend Steven Feldman is the Book Publications Officer at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, part of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. This morning I'm part of a panel he organized on book publishing. More about it in a later blog post, but that's why the blog has been quieter. I'll have updates on the 60 Days of Journal Article Publishing soon as well.

Monday, October 05, 2009

If you tell the world you want to publish in a certain journal, does that jinx it?

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

After writing the most recent post about selecting a distinguished journal as my first choice once I determined that two others were not right for my article, I had a chilling thought. Blogs are public. What if the editors of the third journal (one I rank at the very highest level) somehow hear about my tiny blog, and do not take kindly to being considered after the other two? Or what if the hubris of even suggesting that I could simply write and submit scholarly work to such a lofty journal with a successful outcome would damn it from the start? Am I risking being cut down by lightning? Is this just goofy?

Out of concern for all of these things, I have gone back and excised the title of the new journal. Anyone who wishes to may ask me for its identity, and I will happily share.

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 13

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

After an insecure weekend, things are back on track with the article I'm writing essentially in public. This is all happening in order to test the usefulness of Wendy Belcher's Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks, and also to make myself write and publish more by setting up public accountability. But a bout of insecurity hit when I realized that this piece doesn't feel right for 18th-Century Studies -- an interdisciplinary journal that does not focus exclusively on literature -- nor does it have a PMLA feel to it. Then I remembered a superb journal I've read since grad school and so long admired. It focuses on some of the minuter issues of English literature that my paper addresses, and it is all-literature all the time. Perfect. I have now made it my first-choice journal.

Deep breath. Easier said than done. Courage, etc.

When I looked up its submission guidelines, I found a lovely treasure: it offers suggested articles at its website that can be used as models. How fortuitous this is. Since Wendy Belcher recommends using models as a way to understand what a journal selects and why, this page will be an ideal resource for the study I'm crafting.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

More listening, less speaking

Does anyone have any recommendations for wonderful books on listening? As much fun as it is working with faculty authors, I can sometimes hear myself speaking a bit too much. Advice, advice, advice. Sometimes authors just need an ear, yes? And although I always endeavor to provide that ear, I want to listen even more, while speaking even less.

Words are helpful when asked for. But as the sages say, God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason

38 University Presses at MLA 2009

Wow. I've been to great university press events before, such as the Association of American University Presses convention in Philadelphia last June, but it is still so exciting to count 38 university presses that will be represented at MLA in December. Some of my four readers will yawn and say it's not such a big deal, university presses are always there, but this is the first time I've approached MLA with quite this focus.

When you go to a university press booth, whom do you meet? As nice as it would be to fantasize that the editors are sitting there all day every day waiting to talk about books with whomever strolls up, that isn't the case. Editors will be in and out depending on the value of the conference to their publishing area, and whether or not they have pre-arranged business with booth visitors.

I will contact all 38 university presses during the month of October (2 per day for 19 days) and ask the following key questions: who will be at your booth in December; how do you prefer to interact with potential faculty authors; what do you want us to understand about your booth ahead of time (i.e. what materials/people do you send to a conference and why); and (big picture question) what is the meaning of conference representation for your press? How do conferences help the press?

Getting ready for MLA in Philadelphia

Booklab now offers pre-conference planning, and we're in the early stages of figuring out exactly what that means. The short answer is that many faculty make book deals at conferences, so they become high-value activities in publishing. We're putting together a strategy to start thinking about conferences a year or even two years ahead of time in order to have a wonderful experience there that includes establishing key publishing contacts.

But beyond book publishing, a flourishing scholarly career includes membership and participation in the appropriate professional organizations. Although I'm a life member of the American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, I've only gone to some of the conferences, and I'm guilty of having reduced the annual Modern Language Association conference to an afterthought (or worse, a job-hunting event). Now it all moves front and center as I resolve to (a) become an active, contributing annual participant in these two professional organizations; and (b) encourage and guide the authors who work with Booklab to do the same for their respective groups.

This means Philadelphia for the MLA in December, and I will also blog about it. Advance duties include learning what publishers will be represented there; guiding my authors to think ahead about prospectuses, sample chapters, and appointments with editors; making my own appointments at the event in order to meet even more university press people; and finally, grasping conference culture as its own professional milieu and discovering new and exciting ways to participate in conferences actively, rather than in my old guise of the slightly edgy lurker.

Name the source of that quote

One of our authors read in a book that you should "touch your work every day," meaning that you should keep the project you're writing in a place where you can find it, and you should sit down to visit the work each day even if only briefly, in order to move things along. I completely agree with this. Some days it feels as though all I can commit to is opening the computer file, but once I begin then the body in motion does truly tend to stay in motion, and often I keep writing. Science is cool that way.

But what is the source of the quote? In an online book search (including Amazon's nifty advanced feature) I got nothing when I hunted for it. In a regular search (Yahoo and Google) I came up with two websites that mention it, and a commenter attributes it to a magazine editor and author named Kurt Rheinheimer. Any other suggestions?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 12

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

Okay, for every triumph there must be a corresponding writing crisis, or at least that seems to be the pattern of my life. Remember the article that was "writing itself"? Hah! Famous last words. I'm suddenly a bundle of insecurities about it, and starting to question everything (the decision to change from the interdisciplinary project, the suitability of this one to the journals I love, my worthiness to breathe the same air as the scholars I admire).

The only comfort I take is that struggling is more appealing than smug, so running into problems now could potentially be endearing. If writing this paper was simply a matter of "typing it up" (to quote author David Gewanter from a really funny anecdote I may later relate), then what would be the point of having Booklab or thinking together or uniting faculty in the shared cause of Writing (and Publishing) A Lot?

Wendy Belcher's book Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks is still brilliant, and I trust it. This struggle is normal. Besides, it's only the start of Week 3. There's time! There's time! I'll sleep on it and write more about the sorta-crisis tomorrow.

Thank goodness for the structure of the book.

Friday, October 02, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 11

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

This is the start of Week 3 in the workbook Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks . Week 3 contains a great deal of detail in the teaching section, so much so that I'm going to spread it out over a week instead of trying to read it all at once. Author Wendy Belcher analyzes the main reasons why journal articles are rejected -- she should know, since she edited a journal for 11 years. She then discusses how to make arguments substantive enough to warrant inclusion in a journal, and also where/how to place arguments within both the paper and the abstract.

I'm still ecstatic about this book.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

30 Days of Return to the Journal Experiments

The literary journal experiments went on hiatus while I dealt with the influx of new faculty scholarly authors to Georgetown's Office of Scholarly and Literary Publications. But we have one fiction group, and I promised to write with the group for all of October -- 30 glorious days -- even though I'm also working on a scholarly article with the Articles-Only group. Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks is going so wonderfully that it makes sense to take on a new thing now that the old thing is well on its way.

This means structure, dates, deadlines, goals. For October 'tis thus: produce a piece for The Georgia Review to submit by October 23. Why that date? Because October 31 is the deadline for a call for submissions, and I want to send it one week early. That will mean devoting a special hour each day for 23 days to this one creative writing task.


1. Although I'm typically more of a morning scholarly writer, I choose evenings for this writing, from 8-9 p.m. If that time is filled because of an evening event, I will spend a quiet hour before leaving for said event, or a quiet later-night hour after coming home.

2. Even though I don't know what to write, I will trust that coming to the page will yield something. Much of this theory comes from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way that several of the fiction group are reading and working through together.

3. No matter what happens, I will keep this commitment every day, and I will submit something, however poor and miserable, on the 23rd. This is writing as bricklaying, writing as plumbing, writing as a regular-person job. Artists take commissions all the time, and this is my commission.

4. To prepare myself for this I will read back issues of The Georgia Review and blog about them. This office is also a subscriber, but knowing a literary magazine well is a good way to submit to it successfully.

5. We're all in this together. I'm writing with them and they're writing with me. Teamwork.

The image above, of an albino peacock, is a hint of what the call for submissions is about.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Leech lover

I have an internet problem, I admit it. But I don't have to accept it, and this week thanks to a suggestion from a faculty author I looked into software to tame the web. The author suggested Freedom, but it is only for Macs. Then I read about Leechblock, downloaded it for Firefox, and got busy setting it up to block certain sites after certain lengths of time.

This article by Farhad Manjoo of the The New York Times is illuminating and also a little nauseating -- he's right when he says of RescueTime, "[it] keeps track of everything that happens on your computer, and then reports your habits in a series of charts and graphs. I found the software’s analysis tremendously illuminating. I learned, for instance, that during a typical month I spend more than 70 hours surfing the Web, much of it on news and social-networking sites. By comparison, I spend only about half as much time in Microsoft Word, which, as a writer, is where I do my work. Seeing these stats knocked me over; clearly, I wasn’t using my time very wisely."

Me either.

And so far so good with Leechblock, but I'll post an update later.

William Morris literary agent Eric Lupfer at Booklab

Eric Lupfer of the William Morris Agency will be my guest for a Georgetown University faculty book talk at noon on October 15. If you are a Georgetown faculty member and would like to attend for lunch, chat and a Q&A, by all means let us know by sending e-mail at the right or contacting me in person.

If you are not a faculty member but would still like to attend, non-faculty can participate in all Booklab offerings on an academic/course fee basis. Please contact us for more details!

Want to know what an editor thinks? Ask an editor.

Some authors spend a lot of energy trying to guess what editors want. They think about it, read books about it, ask their mentors, and ask one another. The people they tend not to ask, however, are the editors themselves, often out of a misplaced sense of propriety.

Here are some typical misconceptions:

* That you only get one chance to query an editor about your book. Not true! You asked a simple question, you didn't key someone's car or threaten their families. You can certainly ask again in the future, especially if you have significantly re-thought your project.

* That you are "out" at a press for future books if they turn down one of your pitches now. Again, nonsense! Most editors won't even remember who you are if it never got past the inquiry stage.

* That it is easier to publish at a lower-tier house than at a higher one. Actually, the opposite is sometimes true. There are exceptions, and prestige is a relative thing depending on your field and the standards for promotion at your institution, but many editors at higher-tier houses report frustration that they sometimes never even see certain projects because of erroneous author assumptions about how unapproachable those editors must be.

* That you have to hold your mouth exactly just so and submit one particular way versus another or they'll never look at it. In reality, any good editor is happy to consider a good pitch, however it arrives. Some of them don't even know what's on the publishing house website about the "rules" of submission. Most are fine with an e-mailed inquiry, and 85% of the editors I speak to want to use e-mail for everything... most don't want paper at all, although a minority still do. The ones who do will tell you after you inquire.

The bottom line is to let editors decide what editors want, and the only way to do that is to ask them. Learn to write amazingly effective, to-the-point inquiry letters that say succinctly what you're working on, how you think it fits with their stated list/press/vision, and why you're the perfect person to write this now. Then get those letters out there, to editors you admire and would like to work with. The less you second-guess editors and the more you give them the opportunity to think for themselves about your research and whether it will work for them, the better.

Oh-so-true illustration from that old internet classic, i can has cheezburger.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 10

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

It's the end of Week 2, and I'm so happy that I'm probably boring all of the faculty book writing groups with joy. Working with the book Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks has yielded a miracle: The Article That Writes Itself.

As background, I began this semester planning to write a different article, but the workbook and feedback from the articles group convinced me not to do it, at least not yet. The article was based on a conference paper I gave at Notre Dame some years ago, and although it succeeded as a paper on a panel, the project was deeply interdisciplinary. Author Wendy Belcher's brilliant workbook helped me figure this out before I invested weeks in research and writing, however. Instead, I was able to see that now is not the time; after I've published a few articles I can re-consider it, from a stronger basis of having established myself as a scholar in that field.

Instead, I turned to an old cliché from the business world by going for "low-hanging fruit" -- reaching for a topic I understand well (it comes from the book I'm writing), and exploring it in more detail in a journal article. This is a perfect balance, because the level of detail required for the article would be ridiculous in a book -- it wouldn't even make sense in a long footnote -- but it is perfect for scholarly consideration in a self-contained published piece. I have the joy of running down these long, twisty alleyways of scholarly research, but without being pulled off of the main task of writing the book. The two projects nurture one another, yet they are not the same, i.e. the article does not incorporate much content from the book and anyone would consider them substantively different.

There is also a negative meaning to low-hanging fruit... the sense that such projects can be easy, obvious, and in many cases somewhat overripe and past their prime. Tenure committees are good at seeing through these sorts of c.v.-padding ploys. This is a potential problem, but also one that Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks addresses with its exhaustive list of projects in which one out not to get bogged down, or that may be considered too low-value for tenure and promotion. I've made certain that my article is potentially of high academic value.

Therefore I'm thinking of low-hanging fruit in the positive sense: this project is a natural outgrowth of my research, and it will help other scholars. It is interesting, it's arguably important, and because I know the subject so well it does feel as though it is writing itself. I'm working hard at it, but the labor is such a pleasure because thanks to author Wendy Belcher, I know and understand my daily writing tasks. The Articles-Only Group meets on Thursday, and I'm ready to greet it with the kind of scholarly excitement I haven't felt in many years.

I'm a little ahead on the blogging front with this book, so I'll post again after the Articles-Only group meets on Thursday.

Such compelling excuses

Some members of the scholarly book groups and the article group are starting to e-mail in with excuses (I have trained them please not to phone). From scheduling to grading to general mayhem, a small percentage of Booklab authors are letting life sweep writing out of the way. We've had engaging discussions about how scholarly writing and publishing is as important as teaching (not more important, not less). It's different, though, because teaching always happens. No excuses. Faculty show up for every class period unless something has been prearranged with ample advance notice.

So question: if you don't show up for your book group, what will happen? Answer: nothing. The group will sail on. Its members will publish (we are publishing -- it's a miracle to observe!). Only you will know what's happening in your own world, on your own c.v. But if you are always there for your students, year in, year out, then it is also possible to make certain that you are always there for your scholarly writing. We've already proven your time at the page need not be long or burdensome. Curious about this? Then send e-mail for more information.

(The above photo depicts teaching in Healy Hall, one of my favorite venues. I have taught many a class there.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 9

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

After working through the exercises in Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks and getting up to this point, I realized that I needed to change projects. The beauty of this book, however, is that it brings this sort of crisis point at the beginning of the writing process, not at the end after you've already done so much work. The key problem with my original article idea -- based on that old conference paper -- was its interdisciplinarity. That's fine at a conference where work is as much entertaining as it is informative, and you can cross boundaries without fear of being called out for not being an expert in the second field. But journals demand more, and for a 12-week project I just didn't have the serious scholarly background in either music or medicine necessary to publish the article I originally planned.

Instead, I broke the "rules" slightly by launching a new piece, albeit one based on a section of my book that is also underway. This is going much better, partly because I'm already immersed in the necessary literature because of the work for the book, and also because it is 100% on my home turf academically. I don't have to stretch into a new field or two. This feels entirely natural, and the research has been such a joy that I don't mind writing something fresh for the 12-week project. As I continue to blog this book there may be snags, but right now I can see my way through the next ten weeks, and it feels great.

The picture above offers a large hint as to what I'm writing about.

Friday, September 25, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 8

It is just so much easier living through other people vicariously. Now that I'm working on publishable pieces alongside the members of the articles-only group, it's obvious that my "Go get 'em" style needs work. Specifically, perspective. It feels weird to corral scholarly research for potential submission. Today as I ponder the next step in Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks I feel interestingly vulnerable.

Besides the first article that I vetted with the group yesterday, I'm going to begin researching a second article to write along with the Spring articles group. That should create a nice balance -- research one while writing another, and then moving them through the pipeline. The goal? Two or three per year. Seriously. Watch this space for details.

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Change your pattern, change your output

One of our faculty authors ran into the classic problem of getting sucked into department busywork/life if she tried to write in her office. From colleagues, to students sitting in the hall waiting for her even if it wasn't her office hour, to mail in the cubbyhole, the office was turning into the last place she could work productively. So she signed up for a carrel in the library, and she began going there when she arrived on campus instead of directly to the department. It's working. She gets a couple of hours of writing done before she ever sets foot in that beehive known as the typical academic department. Then no matter what happens the rest of the day, she has done her writing.

Quote from one of the groups

Today Michael told one of our groups something he learned in a theology class: "Discipline takes desires and turns them into destiny."

I found a couple of other versions online:

Discipline, not desire, equals destiny
Discipline + desire = destiny

I like them all. Know any others?

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 7, Part II

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

You knew I was going to say this, but it wasn't that bad. I read my assignment from Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks to my articles group this morning, and they liked it. Okay, they had to sort of say that because I'm leading the group and there's a kiss-kiss factor, but it felt like more than that. One of the group members actually had a piece of music by my composer on her iPod! He's sufficiently obscure that it truly pointed to a connection that went beyond just "getting it."

They brought up the same issue that I worried about -- that it might be overly interdisciplinary, but one of the group members suggested that I consider a different journal as well -- one more targeted to the aspect of my paper that focuses on medical history. That's a great idea, and it will make a great fallback strategy if my first-choice journal doesn't bite.

But the relief was that it went over very well... and that I'm still working on it, but now with feedback from two writing partners. Whew. Onward.

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 7, Part I

ANXIETY. There, I said it. The idea of speaking to a scholarly writing partner now about the article I'm going to produce in the next 53 days is making me squirm. I don' wanna do it! As my brother -- who sent me the above -- quoted from one of our favorite comic strips, Pearls Before Swine, "Stay home. Play Wii." And of course that's all I want to do, but instead at 10 a.m. I will face the articles group with (gulp) my assignment from Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks .

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

60 Days of Scholarly Journal Article Writing -- Day 6

For background on the 60 Days of Journal Article Writing, please click here.


Although I don't want to give away too much of the book Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks on this blog, I will say that by the beginning of the second "week" (really a five-day period that you can schedule during the work week or run consecutively, as you wish) I'm starting to get a bigger-picture sense of her logic, and this book really does work. It will clear out the cobwebs whether you are on your first article, or your fifth. I love this book and I can envision publishing many articles with its sensible help as a guide.

Today's exercise requires a partner, so I'm going to wait until the articles group meets tomorrow morning and then ask them all for input. It's great that Belcher includes partner exercises, because it forces you (against all instincts, sometimes) to socialize your work before writing too much of it. By getting authors to achieve certain points of clarity early, Belcher gets to the heart of various complaints that journal editors have about articles that are fuzzy or of uncertain value.

One note about discussing work with an academic partner. I feel shy about it! Even though I run groups at Booklab, for some reason I really want to hide my work right now, but Belcher advises the opposite. This feels scary, vulnerable, weird, you name it.

(The image above is from a book I'm reading on writer's groups. I'll report on it later, but it seemed appropriate for this partner-writing exercise.)

More on pre-conference planning

One of Booklab's faculty authors returned from a recent conference with feedback on how his pre-conference preparation went. He viewed the university press booths completely differently based on discussions we had about publisher lists. One of the presses had been courting him, and he was able to see what else they published in his field, look at the actual books, and speak to an editor.

One of the advantages to going to the booth at your professional association's big annual meeting rather than just looking at catalogues is specialization. The press will go out of its way to identify itself to you and your colleagues in terms of your specialty. Also, book are expensive and time-consuming to gather (most libraries won't have all of them), so you'll be able to go through many of them all at once and make more informed decisions about the suitability of a particular publisher for your work. Imagine how much easier it will be to create a targeted prospectus with this kind of understanding.