Introducing the Publishing and the Publicly Engaged Humanities Working Group

In August of 2019, NHA and Routledge, Taylor & Francis launched Publishing and the Publicly Engaged Humanities, a free-access collection of humanities articles and book chapters that feature public engagement. The collection, drawn from across the Taylor & Francis books and journals programs, illustrates a range of ways that publicly engaged scholarship can lead to—and enhance—publication. The initial collection included 10 publications, which we augmented twice to include new articles and book chapters.

One year later, we have again added to the collection with new publications from a wide range of humanities disciplines. In the Journal of Homosexuality, for example, David K. Seitz explores the value of community-engaged service-learning for LGBTQ studies students. Jeremy Wade Morris, Samuel Hansen, and Eric Hoyt’s recent contribution in the Journal of Radio and Audio Media, meanwhile, reflects on the PodcastRE Project’s work curating and preserving podcasts. 

While the robustness of this collection speaks to a variety of ways to publish publicly engaged work, we also know that publishing on publicly engaged work presents certain challenges, both for scholars and publishers. For example, publicly engaged work is about process and methodology as much as it is about outcomes. What options exist for including all aspects of a project’s processes and methodologies, including failures and adjustments where applicable? Further, publicly engaged scholars work often with scholarly and public partners who are collectively engaged in building the public humanities as a field of research and practice. How can all the voices involved in a project’s lifecycle be included in a project’s publication? 

To better understand these challenges and how to overcome them, we have convened a working group of publicly engaged scholars, publishers, and program directors. The working group is producing a white paper that outlines four challenges and model practices that have been implemented to make publishing public and publicly engaged humanities scholarship stronger and more inclusive:

  • The Value of Publishing Public Humanities Scholarship, Catherine Cocks (Michigan State University Press) and Anne Valk (CUNY Graduate Center);
  • Capturing the Process of Public Humanities Scholarship, Barry M. Goldenberg (El Camino College) and Dave Tell (University of Kansas);
  • Inclusivity in Publishing Public and Publicly Engaged Humanities Scholarship, Janneken Smucker (West Chester University) and Rebecca Wingo (University of Cincinnati); and
  • Public Humanities and the Publishing Lifecycle, Darcy Cullen (University of British Columbia Press) and Friederike Sundaram (Stanford University Press).

These four areas of challenge will offer windows into the possibilities and potential pitfalls of publishing publicly engaged humanities scholarship, which we hope will be encouraging to both scholars and publishers.

The development of the working paper is ongoing, and we would welcome feedback as it comes together. There will be two formal opportunities. First, we plan to hold an open workshop in November to introduce and interrogate the findings to date. Second, we will open a peer review of the working paper to ensure scholarly rigor and encourage wider engagement. To learn more, offer insights, or keep abreast of the group’s development, please email co-conveners Daniel Fisher or Katherine Burton.

Read more: humanities for all