Modern Languages

Open Access and Modern Languages Open – In Conversation with Luis I. Prádanos and Julia Waters

To celebrate 120 years of Liverpool University Press, we’re focusing on a different theme each month. During April, we’ve been focusing on Open Access. Modern Languages Open (MLO) is a platform for the open access dissemination of peer-reviewed scholarship from across the modern languages to a global audience. Recent publications which have been added to MLO include Luis I. Prádanos’ Postgrowth Imaginaries: New Ecologies and Counterhegemonic Culture in Post-2008 Spain and Julia Waters’ The Mauritian Novel: Fictions of Belonging. We spoke to these authors to find out more about their experience with Open Access and MLO.

What made you decide to explore Open Access for your monograph?

LP: I wanted my book to be freely available not just to other scholars with access to university libraries, but also to all students and activists that could find it useful. Also, I work as a professor in a public university and therefore I consider that my scholarly work should be public.

 JW: My decision to explore Open Access publication for my monograph, The Mauritian Novel: Fictions of Belonging, was motivated by its subject-matter, its likely readership and the timing of its publication. Due to be published in the year in which Mauritius celebrated 50 years of independence, when significant international attention was already being paid to post-colonial Mauritian society and culture, I was keen that my book be readily and promptly available. My book explores many of the historical, political and socio-cultural factors that make belonging – its key thematic and conceptual focus – such a central but fraught issue in contemporary Mauritian literature.  Open Access would make my findings available to a wide range of scholars working on related topics in different disciplines, as well as to scholars of Mauritian, Indian Ocean and postcolonial francophone literatures from around the world.  Key readerships for the monograph’s findings are from Mauritius, India, Africa and the Indian Ocean region. At £80 in hardback and £30 in paperback, the cost of conventional paper copies would have made my book prohibitively expensive for several of the book’s most crucial international audiences.

Do you think it was important that the topic of your work specifically be freely available?

 LP: Yes, my work challenges the dominant economic imaginary and its dependency on constant growth for exacerbating social inequality and ecological depletion. I did not want for my book to become one more commodity to fuel the growth machine I was criticizing. Capitalism is a theory of scarcity and it actually needs to create scarcity to be able to profit from something that is not scarce. Knowledge is abundant and does not get depleted when somebody uses it. Quite the opposite, the more knowledge is shared the more it grows. Capitalism creates perverse mechanisms to restrict access to knowledge in order to make it artificially scarce and be able to make it into a commodity and profit from it.

JW: My monograph is the first book-length study in English on twenty-first-century francophone Mauritian fiction. Its focus on the under-researched, affective dimension of belonging and its intersections with the ‘politics of belonging’, as portrayed in recent Mauritian novels, makes an original, significant contribution to the recent expansion of research on Indian Ocean cultures. Through original, close textual analyses of individual novels or pairs of novels by leading contemporary Mauritian writers, mine is the first book to examine Mauritian literary responses to the inter-ethnic ‘Kaya’ riots of 1999 and to the problems of belonging and exclusion that they exposed. Although published with a UK-based academic publisher, Open Access publication thus makes my book’s findings easily accessible to scholars, students and general audiences in the Indian Ocean region and beyond. My book’s new, multidimensional approach to understanding issues of belonging and exclusion in diverse, multi-ethnic societies will also, I hope, be of interest to a broader academic audience, who, with Open Access publication, are able to access my findings freely.

Has there, to your mind, been more engagement with your work due to it being Open Access? How do you think the MLO platform has encouraged people to engage with your work?

LP: Sure, I know that some professors are already assigning parts of the book into their courses because it is convenient and students do not need to buy anything. I also know that some people in Latin America and Spain are reading it because it is available open access.

JW: It is hard to tell, at this early stage, whether engagement with my work has increased as a direct result of its being Open Access. I think there will always be a place for traditional hard copies and library holdings: anecdotally, I think academics like to ‘try out’ books and articles online and then, if they find them useful, they still like to buy their own copy. I also think that reviews in academic journals and other fora still play an important part in promoting and disseminating new research. What has definitely been particularly gratifying, however, has been the response from the authors whose works I discuss in my book: they were pleased to be able to read my analyses of their novels ‘hot off the press’ and several have since been in contact with their responses and appreciations. I’m convinced that this kind of immediate, productive exchange between literary authors and academic critic, despite the great geographic distance, would not have been possible – or, at least, not in such an instant, interactive, responsive fashion – with more conventional publication.

How important do you think it is for modern languages research to become more accessible?

 JW: Modern Languages research is, by nature, multidisciplinary and speaks to multiple audiences in different countries and different cultural and academic contexts: notwithstanding the potential barriers of publishing just in English, Open Access does make this research more accessible to these different audiences across the globe.

With the increasing shift to Open Access how do you think modern languages, or the humanities as a whole, might be affected?

 JW: There will inevitably be a period of transition and adaptation, as Open Access gradually gains ground on conventional, hardback and paperback publishing. The economic model for publishing, particularly for small, academic publishers, will need to be radically rethought. But academics themselves have always been motivated more by making their research available to as wide an audience as possible than they have by financial profit: Open Access makes the latter ambition far more achievable. I am confident that Modern Languages research is well-placed to benefit, longer term, from the technological advantages of Open Access publication.  

For more information on Postgrowth Imaginaries please visit our website or read it for free on Modern Languages Open

For more information on The Mauritian Novel please visit our website or read it for free 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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Jewish Studies

Key titles to add to your Littman Library collection

Founded by Louis Littman in memory of his father to explore, explain, and perpetuate the Jewish heritage, the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization published its first book in 1965. It has gone on to publish many highly regarded titles and has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading publishers in the field.

To celebrate #LUP120, we’ve been focusing on Jewish studies and our work with the Littman Library. Below are some key books from our partner to add to your collection!

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Must A Jew Believe Anything? by Menachem Kellner

The crucial question for today’s Jewish world, Kellner argues, is not whether Jews will have Jewish grandchildren, but how many different sorts of mutually exclusive Judaisms those grandchildren will face. This accessible book examines how the split that threatens the Jewish future can be avoided. For this second edition, the author has added a substantial Afterword, reviewing his thinking on the subject and addressing the reactions to the original edition.

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Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History by Marc B. Shapiro

A consideration of how segments of Orthodox society rewrite the past by eliminating that which does not fit in with their world-view. This wide-ranging and original review of how this policy is applied in practice adds a new perspective to Jewish intellectual history and to the understanding of the contemporary Jewish world.

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Hadassah: American Women Zionists and the Rebirth of Israel by Mira Katzburg-Yungman

Hadassah is the largest Zionist organization in the Diaspora, the largest and most active women’s organization in Jewish history, and the largest women’s organization in the United States. The history of Hadassah is inseparable from the history of American Jewry and of the State of Israel; this is an extensive, diverse, and balanced contribution to both those areas as well as to the history of Jewish women.

Jewish Cultural Studies series

Under the general editorship of Simon Bronner, the Jewish Cultural Studies series offers a contemporary view of Jewish culture as it has been constructed, symbolized, produced, communicated, and consumed around the globe. The first in the series Jewishness: Expression, Identity and Representation examines the idea of Jewishness with provocative interpretations of Jewish experience, and fresh approaches to the understanding of Jewish cultural expressions. Most recently published was
Connected Jews: Expressions of Community in Analogue and Digital Culture, edited by Simon J. Bronner and Caspar Battegay. These essays consider how different media shape actions and project anxieties, conflicts, and emotions, and how Jews and Jewish institutions harness, tolerate, or resist media to create their ethnic and religious social belonging.

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Rediscovering Traces of Memory by Jonathan Webber, and photographed by Chris Schwarz and Jason Francisco

This much-updated second edition of a ground-breaking book expands the broad coverage of its stimulating approach. With forty-five new photographs and accompanying essays, it convincingly demonstrates the complexity of the Jewish past in Polish Galicia and the attempts to memorialize its heritage, as well as the unexpected revival of Jewish life.

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Hasidic Studies: Essays in History and Gender by Ada Rapoport-Albert, with an introduction by Moshe Rosman

Ada Rapoport-Albert has been a key partner in the profound transformation of the history of hasidism that has taken shape over the past few decades. The essays in this volume show the erudition and creativity of her contribution. Written over a period of forty years, they have been updated with regard to significant detail and to take account of important works of scholarship written after they were originally published.

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The Jews in Poland and Russia: A Short History by Antony Polonsky

This first volume of a three-volume series begins with an overview of Jewish life in Poland and Lithuania down to the mid-eighteenth century, including social, economic, and religious history. The period from 1764 to 1881 is covered in more detail, with attention focused on developments in each country in turn.

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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry series

Established in 1986 by the Institute for Polish—Jewish Studies, Polin has acquired a well-deserved reputation for publishing authoritative material on all aspects of Polish Jewry. Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 32 will be publishing later this year and will consider cantorial and religious music; Jews in popular culture; Jews in the classical music scene; the Holocaust reflected in Jewish music; and klezmer in Poland today.

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Jewish Theology and World Religions by Alon Goshen Gottstein and Eugene Korn 

The contributors to this volume represent a range of disciplines and denominations within Judaism and share the conviction that articulating contemporary Jewish views of other world religions is an urgent objective for Judaism. Their essays show why a Jewish theology of world religions is a priority for Jewish thinkers and educators concerned with reinvigorating Judaism’s contribution to the contemporary world and maintaining Jewish identity and continuity.

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Ideology and Experience: Antisemitism in France at the Time of the Dreyfus Affair by Stephen Wilson

This analysis of racism in late 19th-century France views the subject not in isolation, but in its social context, as an indicator and symptom of social change. It also provides general analysis of anti-Semitic ideology in France, and of the Jewish response to this challenge.

For more information about any of the above books, please visit the Liverpool University Press website.

 

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News

Liverpool University Press: Forward-looking for 120 years

This year Liverpool University Press will be 120 years old.

The UK’s third oldest university press, after Oxford and Cambridge, came into being on the 4th October 1899 with its founding Secretary/Director an Irish immigrant to Liverpool ‘possessed (of) a semi-divine inspiration, being endowed with a fertile imagination and a robust constitution,’  who left school at the age of 14 but rose off the back of an aptitude for languages to become the University Librarian and a globally recognised expert on the Romani.  John Sampson’s threads of migration, Ireland, languages, Romani Studies and Liverpool are of course still in evidence in LUP’s publishing today, so too the founding memorandum’s specification that ‘the work of the Press shall maintain a high standard of excellence.’

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John Sampson, founding Secretary (Director) of Liverpool University Press

Across 2019 we will be celebrating and exploring 120 years of LUP through events, blog posts, partnerships, archival research, an elegant anniversary logo, the hashtag #LUP120 and the opportunity to read some of our books and journals for free.

As with the scholarly communities it serves, LUP’s fortunes waxed and waned over many decades but the unfailing commitment of Press staff, authors and editors, and a wider community of scholars who understood the distinctive and important contribution of university press publishing, have helped to lay the strong foundation on which LUP stands today.  Publishing more than 100 books a year, 33 journals and a number of digital products, and still the only university press to have won both The Bookseller and IPG awards for Academic Publisher of the Year, Liverpool University Press has been widely acclaimed for its willingness to embrace change.  To that end, we have chosen to celebrate the future as well as the past in 2019 with the strapline ‘Forward-looking for 120 years.’

At a time when scholarly communication is undergoing scrutiny and the higher education policy sands are shifting, the importance of university presses has been largely under-articulated and we hope that this milestone anniversary is an opportunity to remedy that. For, as the introduction to The University Press of Liverpool: A Record of Progress, 1899-1946 (LUP, 1947) makes clear: ‘This is a continuous story which, in the main, is a tale of high ideal…  There can be no better advertisement of a University than a University Press steadily producing books of high standing and sending them all over the world.’

 

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