In the Medieval Middle offers A Plea for Open, Collective Scholarship.
This is just to say that if we think keeping our scholarly work primarily out of public sight [except for the occasional conference presentation] until its penultimate moment of publication in a conventional venue such as the academic journal or book, at which point quite a few years of our lives [mainly spent in the solitude of studies and libraries or other semi-private spaces where we could manage a foothold] may have been devoted to that work whose “arrival” in print may even occur long after we have moved on to other projects, then we risk working too much in the dark, apart from the world which has bequeathed to us our objects and methods of study and reflection [I might also add here that this traditional way of doing things also keeps our work sequestered within the academy, and does not allow us to reach a more broadly public audience, which, in my mind, is a real perversion of the term “humanities”]. We also do our work largely apart from the very peers whom we hope will welcome and even love it when it is “finished.” Yes, for the kind of work we do, quiet is required, even long stretches of solitude [because this is when ideas often arrive to us that could never have arrived any other way and also because it’s hard to translate medieval Latin when people are milling all around you], but you’ve got to get outside every now then. And maybe also reflect on the fact that even the supposed inside/outside divide is primarily an illusion.
I agree. I do.
And yet, when I speak of creating a space for the graduate students (and us professor folks, too) to share their work, I get responses like, “I’m afraid someone will steal my idea.”
Yes, they might. But they might make it better. You might make it better for the responses you get. We might make it better by working on two parts together.
It’s something to think about.
Oh, and the article has some absolutely stunning artwork included.