Celebrating Peer Review Week 2016!

by Lauren Naus on September 22, 2016

It’s Peer Review Week 2016! With this year’s theme being “Recognition for Review,” we at UTP Journals want to express our sincere thanks to peer reviewers for all of their efforts and contributions. Peer review is essential to scholarly communication, and we greatly appreciate our peer reviewers for continuously offering their time, expertise, and dedication to ensuring the quality and integrity of our publications.

In honour of Peer Review Week 2016, we want to help further the understanding of peer review and its essential role in scholarship today by sharing some interesting reads and useful online resources (courtesy of Publons, AAUP, and The Scholarly Kitchen):

Peer Review Resources

Best Practices for Peer Review

“Ask The Chefs: What Is The Future Of Peer Review?”

“Is More Recognition the Key to Peer Review Success?”

• “Peer Review in the Humanities and Social Sciences: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It?”

Join us in celebrating peer review and the important role it plays in scholarly communication by taking part in the conversation on Twitter (#PeerRevWk16 and #RecognizeReview).

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Discoverable Keywords of the New Modernist Studies

by Lauren Naus on September 7, 2016

Written by guest blogger, James Gifford

Modernism: Keywords is one of those books that calls out for reviewers. I should know. I’ve been called out to review it three times… But part of what makes this a productive project is that I could think of three different pathways into (and out of) the book without retracing my steps. While I’d like readers to come to the review, I’d rather they go find the book itself. Instead of answering the questions the book poses itself, Cuddy-Keane, Hammond, and Peat ask the reader “What are you going to make from this?” It’s a question every reviewer wants.

Freud asked Marie Bonaparte in confusion “Was will das Weib?”, or so Ernest Jones tells us. A better question for a blog is “What do reviewers want?” And it’s also vexed by the confusions of the reader’s desire muddled up with the object on which we fix attention. In other words, every reviewer wants something different. Happily here’s a book and a series (Keywords in Literature & Culture) that redefines itself to suit our protean wanting. It invites non-sequential reading and self-reflection in its scholarly Choose Your Own Adventure.

“Define”: The book’s richness comes from the difficulties of the two titular words. “Keywords” call to discoverability, and “Modernism” has been contested since it began (that is, if we’ve ever truly been “modern”). And for today’s readers in literary studies, the former calls to the ontologies of humanities computing while the latter lets us label the ever-new (and ever-nostalgic) cultural responses to plural modernities here, there, and everywhere. Despite the title’s concision, opening up “modernism” and “keywords” is no small task. Doing it in small pieces valuable to researchers and undergraduates alike is remarkable.

“Lineage”: Apart from books that pose the reviewers questions, we also love those that set up a family tree. Genealogies have dead branches and crazy uncles: did you know Uncle Bill now has a daughter younger than his grandsons? John is actually descended from Donne and Cowper too, but don’t get him started on it… Every reviewer loves the family gossip as one book leads to another or starts a feud. This project is no different. It moves forward from a specific set of scholarly traditions while also outlining the relations among each entry in the book: from the offspring to the kissing cousins.

“Update”: In this sense, Modernism: Keywords is also a major update that resolves feuds and brings two families together. The authors bring the critical paradigm of Raymond Williams’ 1976 book Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society to today’s research methods and digital resources. It’s James Joyce meets JSTOR, really. The kind of expansive and lateral scope of Williams’ project is, now, a part of our everyday. The authors offer a way of reading those connections just as much as the individual nodes in the network of terms.

“Digital”: From “big data” to bibliographic databases, we encounter breadth with every search and review. Where once Williams pressed other scholars to find connections across a wider cultural terrain, it is now our inescapable burden to limit connectivity and to narrow search results. Googling “modernism keywords” offers about 466,000 results in only .56 seconds. This kind of scope makes us question what a book even is today – perhaps it is no more than a set of searchable vignettes accessed through Google Books in our browsers rather than flipping paper between our palms. Cuddy-Keane, Hammond, and Peat answer this technological query by writing the book in these vignettes, but they resist the pressure to skim by setting out a dense series of interconnections. These print “links” alter how each entry may be understood by refashioning its relations.

“Modernism” also went through a major update. The New Modernist Studies emerged in the late 1990s, and it may be fair to say Modernism made itself new again as way of challenging its progeny in the post-modern.

The pressure here was to take that elitist and even fascist set of works locked into a canon of literary descent and open it to wider temporal and geographical frames. It also meant a wider set of reading publics, an expanding set of genres, diversified politics, and a capacious sense of what that most vexed of terms “culture” could mean. What was the modernist middlebrow in Toronto? Where was the modernist lowbrow exported? Who made up those readerships? This new modernism is now reaching the point of needing its own renewal, and Cuddy-Keane, Hammond, and Peat provoke part of that here.

How then could readers organize a keyword search of a modernism made new? Modernism: Keywords  is the answer. The second problem is why this book calls out reviewers? Because Modernism: Keywords “defines a lineage and updates” how we think of “digital modernism.”  So, yes, please do read the review – better still, read all three. But then go read the book.

James Gifford’s review, “Melba Cuddy-Keane, Adam Hammond, and Alexandra Peat. Modernism: Keywords“ is available in the University of Toronto Quarterly  85.3, Summer 2016. Read it at http://bit.ly/utqgifford or on Project MUSE.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Written by IJFAB Editor, Jamie Lindemann Nelson.

The World Congress of Bioethics, home to the biennial meeting of IJFAB’s sponsoring organization, the International Network of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, met in Edinburgh this past June. A highlight of the Congress for me was a reception during which the first ten years of the journal were soundly celebrated, highlighted by a terrific talk given by Françoise Baylis, a key player at the start of the journal who eloquently acknowledged the enormous contributions of Founding Editor Mary C. Rawlinson.

Neither Baylis nor Rawlinson were the only women scholars to be specially acknowledged at the World Congress, however. At the opening session, one of the conveners happily invoked Lady Mary Shepherd (1777-1847), a philosopher with Edinburgh connections who did distinctive work on the nature of causation, and the associated idea of the relation of the past to the future. In a city whose civic statuary features intellectuals as well as kings and generals, I didn’t find any commemorating Shepherd, although there was a large statue of one of her chief targets, a thinker whose work also concerned causation and temporal relations, and who apparently sported a golden toe.

If the past is any guide (and as even Shepherd’s foil Hume might admit, what else have we?), prediction is as precarious as it is unavoidable, and the more specific, the more likely to reveal the predictor’s hubris rather than the contours of what is to come. Still, I’m going to take heart from a dictum of Lady Mary, who memorably asserted that “the future is involved with the past” (Essay on Cause and Effect, 1824) and try to sketch a few ways in which the future of feminist bioethics may run, shaped in part by what happens in IJFAB’s pages, rooted in its involvement with the past.

Let’s start safely: feminist bioethicists are likely to take progressively fuller advantage of various intersectional resources and strategies available to them. The reflections of postcolonial thinkers, of disabilities scholars and activists, of race and queer theorists, of those who study the impact of class, inter alia, and the experiences of those whose lives are represented in these bodies of thought, will become more familiar parts of feminist bioethics. Further, the field is likely to continue the kind of thematic expansion that Jackie Leach Scully touched on in last month’s post—beyond reproduction, beyond the clinic and the precincts of policy, beyond even what is generally understood by notions such as the “social determinants of health.”

But what form might that expansion take, and would a field so expanded still count as “bioethics”?

Here, we leave what’s safe and move to what might at best be called intriguing. A possibility that intrigues me is that our community of scholar-activists will be hard at work at deepening our understanding of concepts basic to bioethics.

Consider, for example, the notion of the “human.” Feminist bioethicists have usefully thought about the human and related ideas in connection with the core areas of reproduction and research for decades; a way forward might lie in scrutinizing how that notion figures in newer discussions that lie further afield. For example, in the buzz surrounding the so-called “anthropocene”—a proposed periodization of the present that sees human impacts on the world as this epoch’s geographically distinctive feature—there might be both the opportunity and the need to gain a better hold on the varieties of ways human beings of distinguishable social categories have affected geological and ecological systems. So doing might well sharpen our sense of the anthropocene’s soundness as a category and of its practical challenges to well-being, and for how medical and other institutions ought best to respond to them.

Or perhaps we’ll see new investigations of how interacting structures of social power, such as class, ethnicity, ability range, and gender, should condition understandings of the “post”- or the “trans”-human and their implications for other conceptual distinctions—for instance, between therapy and “enhancement,” with their consequences for how medical power ought be directed.

And then there’s the concept of “gender” itself, which, to speak gently, tends to be quite differently understood by many feminist scholars than it often is by nonfeminists. The time seems ripe for expanded critical scrutiny of this core concept, given the prominence of how state legislatures in the United States, for example, are becoming sites where contests about how to understand gender are fought out, and certain understandings are invested with state power, the better to restrict the uptake of conceptions that challenge traditional perspectives and practices.

Continued attention to such fundamental ideas could refine feminist bioethical thought as it circles back to reconsider questions of health’s connection to patterns of inequality, to health policies, to clinical quandaries generally, and to reproductive and other issues that directly involve women’s health and women’s bodies, while that reconsideration itself continues to improve understanding of the concepts it uses. A similarly benign feedback loop might characterize those normative notions so familiar that could well be patented by feminist thinkers—the ethics of care, for example, or relational understandings of autonomy and knowledge. I expect these ideas will be further developed, more searching applied, more rigorously challenged, and more effectively encouraged to give rise to ever more adequate successors.

Of course, a large part of what’s so attractive about being part of this journal’s editorial quartet is the confident expectation that my anticipations about feminist bioethics will be exceeded (if not exploded) in fascinating ways. So, I’ll close with some remarks about IJFAB’s future, something my colleagues and I have a more direct role in shaping. I hope that those at hand for the next decanal retrospective will note with satisfaction that our authorship has become more consistent with our international scope, that our readership has grown larger and more inclusive, and that, topically, we have become even more bold. I even anticipate that each volume of the journal will contain more issues, better accommodating the growing number of bioethicists who write from feminist perspectives.

Yet, my chief hope for those who gather at the 2026 World Congress to celebrate the appearance of IJFAB’s twentieth volume is that they can point not only to the continued refinement of the intrinsic strengths of feminist bioethics, but also to the substantial and growing impact of its ideas on bioethics generally, and on practice and policy in health and social care throughout the world. If so, perhaps Edinburgh’s future adornments will include statues not only of a few women, but perhaps even a feminist bioethicist or two.

– Jamie Lindemann Nelson

* Editor’s Note: Please send expressions of interest to editorialoffice@ijfab.org.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Written by guest blogger, Verna A. FosterVerna Foster_MD_Blogger

A happy combination of circumstances led me to write about An Octoroon. I have been working on contemporary dramatic adaptations, especially plays that adapt other plays, for some years. I also take a perhaps critically unfashionable pleasure in nineteenth-century melodrama. So I was excited to read a couple of years ago that a young African-American dramatist, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, had written an adaptation of Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon. If I like this play, I decided, I will write about it.

Before I had even finished the Prologue, in which Jacobs-Jenkins as the character BJJ explains his feelings about being a black playwright and talks about melodrama with intelligence and an appreciation that appealed to my own pleasure in the genre, I was hooked. “I love this man,” I thought. The journey to completing my article “Meta-melodrama: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Appropriates Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon,” appearing in Modern Drama this fall, proved even more exciting than I had anticipated, allowing me to adopt all the approaches to drama that I find most fruitful.

I could work comparatively with Boucicault’s and Jacobs-Jenkins’s texts: the adaptation retains the plot (white hero falls in love with beautiful “octoroon,” who poisons herself rather than being sold to white villain) and much of the language of its source but also incorporates striking innovations, updating, for example, the dialogue and personality of the enslaved characters. I could demonstrate how An Octoroon worked in performance in Soho Repertory Theatre’s brilliant production of the play, staged in 2014 and 2015. And though semiotician Marco De Marinis once described the spectator as the “black hole” of theatre studies, I could fortunately ground my discussion of audience response (important to both Boucicault and Jacobs-Jenkins) in a huge number of reviews, blogs, and interviews engendered by Soho Rep’s production.

An Octoroon is a “meta-melodrama” (Jacobs-Jenkins’s own term). By drawing on Boucicault’s aesthetic techniques, Jacobs-Jenkins makes his play work as a melodrama, arousing in its audiences contrasting emotions of laughter, pity, excitement, and horror. At the same time through refocalization, an updated sensation scene, racial cross-casting, and other Brechtian techniques, he deconstructs Boucicault’s racist assumptions, making the nineteenth-century melodrama both appropriate and often uncomfortable for a racially mixed audience in the twenty-first century. Spectators found themselves getting involved in the action, laughing, and then questioning their own and other audience members’ laughter.

Jacobs-Jenkins’ well-attested manipulation of his audience’s response adds a new wrinkle to adaptation theory. For his own contemporary political purposes, he adapts not only his source play and the melodramatic genre in which it is written but also the response that genre typically elicits. Effectively, he adapts the audience.

Since writing my article on An Octoroon, I have become even more conscious of the valuable cultural work productions of the play can perform in creating a space for the often difficult discussion of race relations in America, a discussion that seems to be more necessary now than ever. In particular, Jacobs-Jenkins’s call for a multi-racial cast and for racial cross-casting (a black actor in whiteface, a white actor in redface, and a Native American actor in blackface) suggests both a comic undermining of stereotypes in the manner of Brecht and the kind of cultural and racial inclusiveness that has inspired audiences of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop Hamilton. If one wants to change the present, it is possible, in the theatre at least, to transform the past.

Verna A. Foster’s article, “Meta-Melodrama: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Appropriates Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon,” is published in MD 59:3, 2016.


{ Comments on this entry are closed }

With this post, we introduce a series by the new editors of IJFAB: International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics addressing issues of importance to feminist bioethicists around the world. We hope to pique your interest and that you’ll participate in the discussion by lending your voice to it.

This month’s contribution comes from Jackie Leach Scully, a professor of Social Ethics and Bioethics at Newcastle University and the director of its Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre. Scully is the author of Disability Bioethics: Moral Bodies, Moral Difference and Quaker Approaches to Moral Issues in Genetics and coeditor of Feminist Bioethics: At the Center, On the Margins. She considers the past and the future of publishing feminist bioethics and IJFAB.

September’s contribution will come from Jamie Lindemann Nelson, a professor of philosophy at Michigan State University, where she is also a faculty associate at the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences and core faculty at the Center for Gender in Global Context. Nelson is the author of more than 200 publications in philosophy, bioethics, law, and medicine, including three books (two coauthored with Hilde Lindemann), and two edited volumes. She will discuss the future of IJFAB and the topics and issues she expects the journal to explore in the coming years.

In October, Robyn Bluhm will discuss feminist bioethics and interdisciplinarity, as well as the relationships among feminist bioethics and other areas of philosophy. Bluhm is an associate professor at Michigan State University with a joint appointment in the Department of Philosophy and Lyman Briggs College. She has coedited two issues of Perspectives in Biology and Medicine on evidence based practice and is the coeditor of Neurofeminism: Issues at the Intersection of Feminist Theory and Cognitive Science.

Written by IJFAB Editor, Jackie Leach Scully.

IJFAB is turning ten, and a new editorial team taking over after a decade of skillful leadership by Mary C. Rawlinson, our founding editor. It’s a good moment to reflect on a number of things, including how feminist bioethics has changed in that time, and where feminist bioethics and this journal are heading.

When I first became active in feminist bioethics in the late 1990s, it was dominated by discussion of obviously gendered reproductive issues like abortion, surrogacy, and various kinds of assisted conception. The ten years since IJFAB 1.1 was published in 2006 have seen gradual acceptance that feminist bioethics is not solely concerned with those ethical problems rooted in the specifics of female reproduction. Of course, feminist scholars are still interested in, and writing about, those issues, and as novel reproductive interventions continue to move from the laboratory to the outside world, feminist bioethics has not ignored its responsibility to examine their implications for women. To take just two examples, the ethics of mitochondrial replacement or of uterus transplants has been extensively discussed on the IJFAB Blog and elsewhere.

But we’ve also seen a marked opening up of the range of topics considered legitimate issues for feminist bioethics to consider—and IJFAB has been instrumental in this shift. Alongside papers on mothering, new reproductive and genetic technologies, and infertility, volume 1, number 1 also focused on a feminist examination of heart transplants and a commentary on the Declaration of Helsinki “through a feminist lens.” Later special issues dealt with disability, biomedical research, psychiatry, and food. Papers in the open issues have tackled topics such as care worker migration, pandemics, vaccination, conscientious objection, and climate change, alongside broader theoretical work on vulnerability, epistemology, and autonomy.

So, feminist bioethics’ remit—or, at least, our understanding of it—has enlarged. But, of course, the world itself, and its concerns, hasn’t remained static either. In the last ten years, we’ve seen major biomedical and biotechnological developments, the emergence of new practices in health care and research, and issues of public health governance that all demanded bioethical and feminist scrutiny. (How successful any of that scrutiny was is a question for another time.)

As always, such field specific changes take place within social and political contexts – and the contexts themselves have undergone significant evolution too. To try to pick out “the most important” of these would be impossible, not least because of the interwoven complexity of the real world (something that feminist bioethics has always been rigorous about taking into account). High on any list would be the impact of globalization on health care, employment, migration, and communications; shifting patterns of inequality, and the increasing economic gulf in many parts of the world between classes and countries; and the rise of new states and economies, bringing different and often unfamiliar players to the landscape of international bioethical regulation and law. This last raises particular dilemmas for the North/Western scholars who make up the bulk of feminist bioethics, as we struggle to respond appropriately to cultures that we see marginalizing and oppressing women without perpetuating either that marginalization or the myth that the position of women in “our” societies is always and inevitably better than elsewhere.

Thus, it’s a fairly safe prediction that, over the next ten years, the world will continue to change, and the work of feminist bioethics will continue to respond to those technological, social, and political transformations. As one member of the new editorial team, I know I can speak for all of us in saying that we want to see IJFAB continue the tradition of our feminist foremothers: pushing at the taken-for-granted boundaries of the discipline and reaching into territory that might not seem, at first sight, to be obviously feminist or, indeed, bioethical. At our first editorial meeting earlier this summer, we discussed a number of ideas on possible subjects for special issues, including climate change and environmental catastrophe, war and conflict, the role of activism in bioethics, and more. We welcome offers from anyone interested in editing issues addressing these themes that take our substantive interests in exciting new directions.* There are other ways in which IJFAB has and will continue to be groundbreaking in bioethics: as someone with a background in life sciences who now works in philosophy and social science, and who has “done bioethics” around the world, I’ll be particularly happy to see us strengthening our interdisciplinarity and international cover. We’re open to suggestions for new features and formats as well.

We’re confident the upcoming generation of feminist bioethicists will be ready to tackle the emerging crucial bioethical issues of the years to come. IJFAB has an important role in that conversation, and we hope you will help us fulfill your expectations.

Jackie Leach Scully

* Editor’s Note: Please send expressions of interest to editorialoffice@ijfab.org.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Paradoxes, Politics, and Calculated Silence

July 22, 2016

Written by guest blogger, Patrick Lacroix Immigration and immigrant integration made a sudden and unexpected eruption into Canada’s federal election in 2015. The Conservative Party was determined to prevent Muslim women from wearing the niqab at citizenship ceremonies. The New Democratic Party’s commitment to civic nationalism and its openness on this issue may have cost it […]

Read the full article →

Graduate School, Academic Writing, and Identities Past and Future

July 18, 2016

Written by guest blogger, Scott Johnston  As I discovered in graduate school, and while researching the article I wrote for the CJH called “Boy Scouts and the British World: Autonomy within an Imperial Institution, 1908-1936,” identity is a curious thing. It is flexible beyond all logical reasoning, even allowing humans to simultaneously hold multiple contradictory beliefs. […]

Read the full article →

Medical History on the Move

July 15, 2016

Written by guest blogger, Lucas Richert The most recent issue of Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine is now available and it’s thrilling times for the new editors, Erika Dyck and Kenton Kroker. Tackling such engaging and topical subjects as transfusions in France, eugenics, HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, and Thalidomide, among others, the journal […]

Read the full article →

Truth and Reconciliation – Where Do Historians Fit?

July 13, 2016

Written by guest blogger, James Carson I recently attended my son’s high school graduation. At the end of the emcee’s recognition of territory the audience stood and erupted in a raucous ovation. There were even whoops, hoots, and hollers, a joy in something right was being done. Would this have happened ten or twenty years ago? […]

Read the full article →

Coming to Terms with the Murderer

July 7, 2016

Written by guest blogger, John Dale My essay grew out of work undertaken at York University on American novels with protagonists who were murderers. I found myself interested by the degree to which the reader became sympathetically engaged with the murderers and by the variety of methods employed by different authors to achieve this engagement; these […]

Read the full article →