A Brief Look Backward and Forward from EMLS' Second Issue
Raymond G. Siemens
University of British Columbia
Siemens, Raymond G. "A Brief Look Backward and Forward from EMLS' Second Issue." Early Modern Literary Studies 1.2 (1995): 1.1-7 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/01-2/foreword.html>.
- It gives me great pleasure, for a number of reasons, to write this brief foreword to this, our second, issue of EMLS. The four months since our first issue have seen much change both outside of and within our journal. In the larger academic world, there has been a growing awareness of and interest in journals which publish in electronic form. With the British Library report of last year that documented the untried state of electronic journals still fresh in the minds of many, the past few months have been marked by a series of events which suggest, as Germaine Warkentin (founder of the Ficino discussion group) has recently noted, a "radical re-structuring" of scholarly journal publication in our own country, Canada, and beyond. Among others, these include:
- an engaging debate on the subject of electronic publication begun by Stevan Harnad and Steve Fuller in the May 12th issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement;
- the publication of Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing, edited by James O'Donnell and Ann Okerson (Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries), which chronicles a related though earlier debate (a review of it is here);
- the widespread availability of the new MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (Fourth Edition) which outlines, within its section on Citing Online Databases, a useful method for citing material from electronic journals and other on-line resources (pp. 160 ff.);
- the further growth of the HyperJournal discussion list, which deals exclusively with journals in this medium and houses a valuable archive;
- and the announcement of several new electronic journals (these can be found in the NewJour Archives), as well as some established journals that will appear in electronic form (several examples are found among the changes which have recently taken place on the Project Muse home page).
- Closer to home, figures gathered in the four months since our first issue show that EMLS has enjoyed a considerable and consistently growing readership. Before our first issue in late April, our sections cataloguing discussion groups, on-line resources, and electronic texts of interest to our readers were accessed several hundred times per month; since then, that figure has grown. Readership of EMLS 1.1 had, by early July, exceeded one thousand and five hundred, and has continued to increase as the new academic term draws nearer. Internally, organisational changes have been made to accommodate the growing participation of our readership. In this vein, we are pleased to welcome Joanne Woolway, formerly our editor of reviews, as an associate editor and Patricia Badir as an associate editor (reviews), both of whom will be assuming these roles as we prepare for our third issue; as a member of our Editorial Board, we welcome John Archer. The summer has also seen the continued improvement of our electronic resource pages, under the management of David Gants and Perry Willett.
- The release of our second issue coincides with the conclusion of conceptual and physical development on Interactive EMLS (iEMLS) under the guidance of members of our editorial and advisory boards, led, early on, by Stephen Matsuba and, later, Jeff Miller; Jeff, who is responsible for EMLS' site management and on-line development issues, as well as other matters related to our medium of publication, deserves a special note of thanks for his contributions to EMLS and, in recent months, iEMLS.
- As the name Interactive EMLS suggests, this area of our site is an extension of what EMLS itself offers as a journal, with an eye to fostering an on-line environment for academic interaction within the community of readers we serve. iEMLS is intended to be developed and expanded through reader participation; it is, essentially, a framework for a group-driven repository of materials of interest to those reading, researching, and studying the early modern period, and will develop along with the materials, resources, and proposals received.
- iEMLS sections such as Works in Progress and Prepublication Material allow readers of EMLS to seek a wider forum for their work as it takes shape, possibly soliciting comment from others as it evolves, and to make their work available in the period following its acceptance and prior to its publication, electronic or otherwise. The Conference Materials section is intended as a forum for conference organisers, participants, attendees, and others; here, readers will find calls for papers, conference advertisements and programmes, papers and addresses from past and forthcoming conferences, and other materials. The Resources section is a space for readers of EMLS to make on-line resources -- including those of a collaborative and continuously-evolving nature -- available to the larger academic community; links to on-line resources at other sites will continue to be gathered on the WWW-Accessible Resources page. Lastly, the Virtual Seminars section is intended to facilitate discussions on specialised topics proposed and led by our readers.
- With the unveiling of iEMLS this month, readers will find information about our first virtual seminar, led by Luc Borot, which will discuss More's Utopia as political literature and will take place this fall, running concurrently with and incorporating students from his seminar in Montpellier. Other materials are also available, such as Richard Marius' keynote address from the Thomas More conference at Baltimore's Loyola College earlier this year, previously unavailable electronic transcriptions of Milton's four divorce tracts (The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Colasterion, The Judgement of Martin Bucer, and Tetrachordon), and more. As of the date of EMLS 1.2's publication, further material has been received; it will appear soon, as will other materials that we receive in the future.
- The general model (that of the repository) which has informed the development of iEMLS is nothing new; neither, for that matter, is the idea of the journal which informs that of EMLS. However, recent technologically-oriented trends in academe -- particularly those which relate to the exchange and dissemination of academic materials, some of which are noted above -- urge that, in addition conforming to traditional notions of what it means to be an academic journal, electronic journals must also work towards offering to its readers the best innovations on that model allowed by the medium. To that end, I am very pleased to introduce iEMLS, and to welcome, in addition to the involvement of our readers in iEMLS, further input from its participants regarding its future development.
1. Peter Vickers and John Martyn, eds. The Impact of Electronic Publishing on Library Services and Resources in the UK: Report of the British Library Working Party on Electronic Publishing. Library and Information Research Report 102. London: The British Library Board, 1994.
2. From a note posted to Ficino, 14 June 1995.
(RGS, updated 7 February 1998)