- Dec 2016
In this respect this project wants to emphasise that we should have more in depth discussions about the way we do research.
Scholarly poethics is what connects the 'doing' of scholarship with the ethical components of research. Here, ethics and poetics are entangled and an ethical engagement is already from the start involved in the production of scholarship, it informs our scholarship. Whilst formulating a narrative around the idea of a scholarly poetics—what it would look like, what it could mean, imply and do and, perhaps most importantly, what it could potentially achieve—in relation to our publishing practices, I want to argue that we should pay more attention to how we craft our own poetics as scholars.
Just as we have internal discussions about the contents of our scholarship, about the methodologies, theories and politics we use to give meaning and structure to our research, we should similarly have these kinds of discussions about the way we do research. Thus we should also be focusing on the medial forms, the formats and the graphic space in and through which we communicate and perform scholarship (and the discourses that surround these), as well as the structures and institutions that shape and determine our scholarly practices. This ‘contextual’ discussion, focusing on the materiality of our (textual) scholarship and its material modes of production, is and should not in any way be separate from a discussion on the contents of our work. The way we do scholarship informs its ‘outcomes’, what scholarship looks like. It informs the kinds of methodologies, theories and politics we can choose from, and of course, vice versa, these again shape the way we perform our scholarship. A focus on scholarly poethics might therefore be useful in bridging the context/content divide.
So what then is the altered status of a (digital) scholarly poethics today? Which theoretical streams, disciplinary fields, and schools of thought (inside and outside of academia, connecting the arts and the humanities) have specifically incorporated attention to the practices and performances of scholarship and this internal/external divide? Here it would be useful to look to fields such as design, poetry, science and technology studies (STS), feminist theory, the (radical) open access movement, and—in some instances the digital humanities and in cultural and literary studies—where the way we conduct scholarship can be seen to have been at the forefront of academic inquiries. What can we learn from these discussions and how can we add to and expand them to enrich our understanding of what a scholarly poethics could be(come)? As I envision it a scholarly poethics is not one thing, not a specific prescriptive methodology or way of doing scholarship, it is a plural and evolving process in which content and context co-develop. Scholarly poethics thus focuses on the abundant, and continuously changing material-discursive attitudes towards scholarly practices, research, communication media (text/film/audio) and institutions.