Journals, Modern Languages

Charles Forsdick on publishing Modern Languages research Open Access

Throughout April, we’ve been focusing on Open Access content as part of our #LUP120 celebrations. Charles Forsdick is Chair of the Modern Languages Sub-Panel for REF 2021 and AHRC Theme Leadership Fellow for Translating Cultures. Charles has written Open Access articles for our journals Francosphères and Contemporary French Civilization, and for LUP’s platform Modern Languages Open. He shared the below statement on publishing modern languages research open access with LUP.

The serious commitment to Open Access that has emerged in recent years has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Modern Languages as our field struggles with questions of disciplinary identity and purpose. OA offers a chance for Modern Linguists to reach out to other fields and assert the catalytic potential of their research in interdisciplinary working; it also encourages sustained engagement with new audiences, both internationally and beyond academia, and as such can contribute to the development of a much-needed new public idea about language. It is not surprising that Liverpool University Press, now widely recognized as the leading Anglophone publisher in the Modern Languages field, has harnessed the potential of OA to enhance its activity in this area. Modern Languages Open is a pioneering platform attracting ever increasing attention: it blends the highest standards of content and production long associated with LUP’s journals with an innovative approach to more flexible forms of dissemination (ranging from shorter interventions to more substantial articles that many existing journals would be unable to accommodate). In addition, Francosphères, founded in 2012 in order to extend the boundaries of French studies in transnational and postcolonial directions, now benefits from LUP’s collaboration with Open Library of Humanities. This development will ensure that its articles –published in French and English – will now reach new audiences, most notably in the Global South, on which much of the work included in the journal focuses. My article ‘The Francosphere and beyond’, a study that explores ‘the boundaries of French Studies’, was published in the inaugural issue of Francosphères in 2012 and is as a result now available OA. Focused on France and China, the article explores the intersections of the French-speaking world with other cultures, languages and histories, and includes a case study on the deployment of Chinese workers at the Front in the First World War. It concludes with a reflection on the lieux de mémoire in France relating to these Chinese workers, and as such prefigures the forthcoming volume on Postcolonial Realms of Memory, coedited with Etienne Achille and Lydie Moudileno, due to appear with LUP in early 2020. The agreement with the Open Library of Humanities also means that all of the articles in the special issue of Francosphères on ‘Haiti in a globalized frame’, guest-edited with Martin Munro in 2015 and including some of leading scholars of contemporary Haitian literature and culture, are freely available with OA.

I have now published two pieces with MLO since its launch: a long article entitled ‘Beyond Francophone postcolonial studies: exploring the ends of comparison’ that links Francophone postcolonial debates with those in the areas of World and comparative literature; and a co-authored study on ‘Ethnography and Modern Languages’, a privileging of the ways in which the openness and curiosity on which Modern Languages in the UK have long been founded are to be understood as ethnographic impulses. I was also delighted to be amongst the signatories of Nick Harrison’s ‘Translation as Research: A Manifesto’, an intervention arguing that translation should be treated as a fully legitimate form of research. The reach of MLO has ensured the visibility of this document, whose impact on research policy – not least in REF2021 – is already evident.

Two articles of mine – the fruits of the AHRC ‘translating cultures’ theme leadership fellowship I have held over the past six years – have also appeared in OA versions in LUP journals. ‘Monuments, Memorials, Museums: Slavery Commemoration and the Search for Alternative Archival Spaces’ was published in the third volume of Francosphères and is another attempt to reach beyond the traditional boundaries of French studies, in this case in order to contribute to wider debates around slavery and the archive – thanks to its OA status, it is now amongst the most read pieces in the journal. ‘Global France, Global French: beyond the monolingual’ was published in Contemporary French Civilization in 2017. Scoping questions of language use in contemporary France, and focusing on the linguaphobia evident in a number of contemporary ideological, political, social and cultural contexts, the study has used the possibilities of OA to increase its reach (it is also amongst the most read articles in the journal thanks to this) and ensure visibility in wider current debates on the invention of monolingualism and the post-monolingual condition of the twenty-first century.

The possibilities afforded by publishing Open Access with LUP have had multiple benefits for my research: working with MLO and publishing OA articles in Francosphères and Contemporary French Civilization have increased the reach of my work, a benefit that has been further enhanced as a result of visibility on social media. As a scholar of the Francophone postcolonial world, I am pleased in addition that this work is now available without charge to researchers and readers in the Global South. OA means that my research is accessible by students in any institution in the UK or elsewhere and can also be read by general readers whose access has often historically been limited by journal paywalls. OA is revolutionizing publishing in Modern Languages. Initiatives such as MLO are rapidly eroding the methodological nationalism that perpetuates boundaries between single-language areas. The possibilities afforded by Open Access in other key journals are further enhancing the international and interdisciplinary dialogues essential to the renewal of our field. I am indebted to LUP for providing me with invaluable opportunities to contribute to these ongoing transformations in scholarly publishing.

Read Charles’ Open Access articles ‘Monuments, Memorials, Museums’ in Francosphères, ‘Global France, Global French: beyond the monolingual’ in Contemporary French Civilization, and ‘Beyond Francophone postcolonial studies: exploring the ends of comparison’ and ‘Ethnography and Modern Languages’, both on Modern Languages Open.

 Liverpool University Press is a proud supporter of Open Access publishing with over 40 OA monographs currently available. You can find out more about our OA policy here and browse some of our OA titles on the OAPEN library


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