Saturday, March 21, 2015

On Enzo Condello

Enzo Condello is a poet/playwright. He migrated to Melbourne, Australia at five years of age. Enzo attended Fitzroy High in Melbourne, Australia and LaTrobe University, studying Literature and philosophy, and he went on to become a teacher. He has had poems published in several literary journals and writes blank verse plays. He has had five productions of several of his dramas and one videoed play, Nero and the Tragedy of Seneca (‘Condello is Shakespearean in stature and scope’ Australian Stage, reviews online) can be viewed on YouTube. Shakespeare and the Dark Lady of the Sonnets (‘Condello’s writing is skillful enough to stand with Shakespeare’s'The Age, 4 reviews online) has had three productions and was on the Victorian high schools yr. 12 Literature syllabus and was taught in high school in Missouri, US—it is also currently being studied at a university in Iran. The play will soon be receiving a season off-Broadway, New York City. The Tragedy of Lucrece (‘Condello takes up where Shakespeare left off,’Brenda Addie, Melbourne Uni.  reviews online) was staged in 2013.

Other new productions of his plays forthcoming are Savaronolathe Incorruptible, The Tragedy of Ned Kelly,  King Lear's Greek Holiday, a comedy and other plays. He has also half finished a long mini-epic poem The Wasteland Revisited,Post 1922,  influenced by a  loose combination of  T.S.Eliot’s poem and Dante’s Divine Comedy taking place in the present.

Enzo’s intention is to revive epic poetry and blank verse dramamodern, new and updatedto suit the present, utilizing the power of poetry in world  literature. ‘I am honoured to become acquainted with Condello’s art’Les Murray, poet

Friday, March 20, 2015

On Submitting an Article to Antipodes

In talking with some people who have written articles for our journal, some people who have referred to us, other editors on the listserv of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, and in my own experience as refereed of articles and author of reticules that are refereed, I have become aware that though the experience authors have with Antipodes is mostly typical of that which the academic article-writer generally faces, there are a few peculiarities to this particular journal that might be worth spotlighting. In the following, I speak only of refereed academic articles; not creative nonfiction, book reviews, poetry, and fiction, al of which the journal also publishes and which, other than creative nonfiction, are under editorships distinct from my own.

When an article is submitted through our Automated Submissions Process at Digital Commons (maintained for us by our publisher, Wayne State University Press) that article comes to me directly, not an editorial assistant or managing editor, I immediately diagnose if and see if it is a possibility for us. (We accept only digitized and emailed submissions, none on paper or disk).  For some in obviously good shape, I might go instantly to the referee process, but that is rare. Many I reject outright, without putting them through refereeing. These include articles obviously by undergraduates or high school students; unrevised and unrevisable conference papers; articles with obvious spelling or typographical issues (not ESL issues which our copyediting process is eel suited to handle, and which do not disable an otherwise good paper); and articles that clearly do not understand the nature of the journal, such as historical articles about the Australian bush in the 1930s to the most common, and least desired, sort of submission we get--the account of e. g. Mark Twain’s trips to Australia. Our original subtitle was A North American Journal of Australian Literature, and some were misled by that to think we focused particularly on  Australia-American literary relations. This is an exciting field, and one which has been given new life by Paul Giles' brilliant recent work, but we specialize in this no more than do ALS or JASAL or Southerly or Transnational Literature. Like these other fine journals, what we want is good work about the literature of Australia (and in our case New Zealand and related Pacific areas). Like these journals, you do not have to be Australian or to be an expert on Australia in general to publish with us: you need to write one good article on a subject that is pertinent to the journal's field, which can be e. g.  a writer of Australian birth publishing one science fiction nobel with no Australian content in Brussels, or, as seen in Gillian Dooley's piece of a few years ago with us, the Australian aspects of an international writer such as Iris Murdoch. We are now "a global journal of Australian/NZ literature” with the emphasis on ‘global.’ If an essay gains through the North American and world contexts we offer, so much the better, but we are not really looking for US content in our journal. Many times, I reject this sort of article out of hand, with apologies.

There is an intermediate kind of article, though, in which I see promise but which I think needs serious dressing-up, another coat of paint, before it is ready for refereeing. In this case, I will often engage in extensive commentary on the paper and/or correspondence with its author to help the paper get ready for refereeing. In doing this, though, I always assume the author can or will make the changes; in other words, by engaging with the author to this degree. I have, in my own mind, committed to letting the article go through the referee process, and live or die there.

I strive for two referees on every article. This does not always happen, though, on an author like Patrick White or Christina Stead, with a lot of scholarship on them, this is easy. On an author who is contemporary, with very little scholarship on them, whose texts themselves are not necessarily easy for a potential referee to procure, I hunt long and hard for that one referee, much less two. This is one of the many factors that makes our journal different from a journal covering the age of Chaucer or Romanticism; there is no one person who knows even the basics of the field, because Australian literature is a field that is still  being defined and broadened every time a new novel or poetry book is published. In this case, I expect the one referee to be particularly fair, as the decision will ride on their shoulders. Although our editorial board is distinguished and diverse, very often, given the wide amount of material--not just mainstream fiction, poetry, and drama but crime writing, fantasy, romance fiction, children’s literature, and work which experiments beyond genres or definitions, and so on, contained under the rubric 'Australian literature', I have to find referees outside of our Editorial Board community.

All refereeing is blind; the authors and referees never know who each other are. Given that we receive submissions from many parts of the world--the US, UK, Canada, China, India, Germany, Spain, Slovenia, and  of course, Australia and New Zealand--being refereed in Antipodes might well involved being read by a scholar from another nation than one’s own. This is part of the global reach and interaction our journal offers. Because of this, though, I always caution our referees to look to the subject at hand and do not speculate about the ethnic or racial identity of the author, or their gender, age, or employment status. The process must be clean, with no assumptions made. This is particularly true in the advice tot he author the referees are asked to give. With our automated system, as with most others, there are separate spaces for the referees to comment to the editor and to the author if the referee feels strongly that the essay is by a senior scholar or a beginning grad student (or "postgrad" as they would say Down Under) or an emeritus professor, this is the place to say so. But to make that comment to the author themselves can be really insulting. Whether the assumption are false or true, they can invoke academic hierarchies and global categories of privilege that are perilous. This is particularly true in the case of Australia, a multicultural nation dealing with demographic and generational change. Therefore, this sort of rhetoric is one we wish to strenuously avoid.

If any referee ever says that the writer of the article is refereeing is inferior because they belong to a certain racial, gender, ethnic, age, or national group, we will never use that referee again. We receive funding from the Australian public and we have a mandate form the Australian public's generosity to make sure every variety of Australian experience receives a fair reflection in our journal. In this light, snarky remarks in referee reports that are identity-based (even if they castigate old white men!)  have no place in our milieu. We want our referees to judge the articles against the standards the articles themselves aspire to, not to some standard solely in the referees’ head. We want them to be rigorous--we reject the balance articles that go through the referee process--but consummately fair, and always on the side of seeing potential in the article, publishable or no. It is this process that in our last few articles has produced scholarship by contributors from India and China that is absolutely on a par with those Americans and Australians we have also published. It also has enabled us to cover emerging areas like migrant and refugee writing, indigenous writing and LGBT writing, as well as featuring paradigms such as digital humanities, ecopoetics, the thought of neo-Marxists like Badiou and Rancière, and affect theory.

Many journals have only senior scholars referee papers. This makes sense when the subject is a long-established canonical, field, and which a concentration of seniority can help winnow out the overeager or merely trendy, Our journal, though often receives submissions about living authors still in their prime--Christos Tsiolkas, Randa Abdul-Fattah, Tony Birch, John Kinsella, Ceridwen Dovey, Carrie Tiffany, Eleanor Catton, Tara June Winch, Nam Le. Often these are writers that senior or emeritus scholars have not read or find somewhat baffling. Thus I seek to recruit more early career scholars whose arc of academic progress coincides with the life-trajectories of the authors under scrutiny, This is not always easy, and often junior academics have been told by their deans or chairs that refereeing does not matter, that it is not a credential one can use for tenure. And in fact too much evidence that junior-level faculty have been sending their time refereeing instead of doing work in the three traditionally denied categories of teaching, research, and service (the latter of which is far more often seen in the light of 'service to the institution' than 'service to the field', which would include refereeing). Often, tenure candidates are evaluated on the basis of articles in refereed journals. Of the refereeing is valuable to tenure and proton committees on the level of result, surely it should be as valuable to deans and chairs on the level of performance? In addition, I believe that refereeing is a rare and specialized skill, cognate to but not identical with other academic skills such as teaching or editing. To ask a newly tenured academic to begin to referee papers without ever having done it before is like throwing a newly minted PhD cold into the classroom--disastrous. We must train the referees of the future before we require their wisdom.

I have received several suggestions from fellow editors about how to entice junior academics to undergo just this orientation, and I hope to try out this valuable advice in the future. What we want to avoid is the model, too frequent in academic journals today, where the contributors are all up-and-comers, and their assessors are invariably senior scholars: so that assessment becomes a matter of generational reckoning tout court. Some of our best writing recently has been done by emeritus scholars like John Beston, a man in his eighties, whose articles are inevitably refereed by people far less experienced than them. I am very proud of the age and career diversity of our journal, where graduate students and emeriti, full-time and part-time academics, PhDs working within and outside traditional academia, senior scholars in Australian Studies and those who work in other fields but have one particular Australian interest or jeu d'esprit in their arsenal, sit amicably side by side.
Our referees are given two to five months to evaluate the articles, I do not want to rush them, but do want a timely decision. I require our referees to commit to that timeframe when they accept the assignment. This is all the more important due to the fact that, as we only publish twice a year, and we usually have an 18-month backlog, other journals will be better conditioned to bring out articles in a timely manner after acceptance. We can make up for that only by trying to shorten the referee process itself, while entirely retaining its anonymity and rigor and integrity.

Our referees are given four options--accept, make minor revisions, revise and resubmit, or reject. It is the 'revise and resubmit" that is the most problematic, as that can include work which is actually quite near to acceptance, as well as work that will require what in football is termed a Hail Mary pass to be good enough. In these instances, I try to be especially sensitive, in my letter to the author summarizing the referee reports, to give the author an accurate sense of the chances they have and the practicality of doing a large-scale revision. In some cases, an article with real value will just not get through the referee process, either because tow referees say no or because a valorous revise-and-resubmit just is not successful. At this point, even if I like the article, as editor I cannot intervene. What my responsibility is at this point is to assure the author that, though we cannot publish the paper, it may well be right for another journal. In addition. I make clear is is their paper, not them, that is being rejected. In 2002, after i had just tame over the editorship of Antipodes, I made the huge mistake of rejecting an article by a Canadian scholar by just passing along referee comments without cushioning them by my own reassuring words. The author, justifiably, has never submitted anything to us again. But I have learned my lesson.

Once accepted, the article is edited by WSUP's copyediting staff and by our own Associate Editor. It is then emailed to the author as proof in PDF form. The author has one or two weeks to approve changes. Often, in this part of the process, I myself do some more editing. A lot of this is to shorten the pieces down to their required length of 5000-6000 words. Antipodes publishes articles that, in today’s academic environment, are unusually short. We vie publish good old-fashioned notes of 1000-2000 word length--such as done superbly in recent issues by the South African polymath, Rodney Stenning Edgecombe-but even our full-length articles do not go over 6000 words. This principle was established by our nonpareil founding editor, the late Robert Ross, and happily continued under my own editorship. In general, academic articles have become longer with the average humanities article now circa 10000 words. As layers of theory are necessary to articulate; as a longer reception-history accumulates much of which must be cited in literature-review section and notes, and as journals demand a more interdisciplinary and applicable model of article that is not just a close reading of a given text that gets it right,’ the length of the typical article has inevitably expanded. Often, when I wish to give sophomore-level students relevant article sin a classic author, I go deep into the bowels of JSTOR and find an old article written by a musty Old Historicist or New Critic just because that generation of scholars knew how to make helpful points about single texts handily. Todays scholarly articles are winningly, far more multi-dimensional, acknowledging theory, the writer's own subject -position, and the article's role in, as the great scholar E. R. Curtius put it at the end of European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, 'restating tradition’. But Antipodes cannot accommodate 10000 word articles; our aim is to publish about a diverse set of literatures with articles by a diverse set of writers and in any given issue we want diversity of viewpoint and to divest ourselves of a dominant tone. Thus we seek, in the articles written for us, all the depth and dimensionality of the 10000 word article without the unnecessary detritus of such. The shortened length not only teaches authors concision and discipline, it can leaven any sense of trendiness or faddishness that might be the downside of the inclusivity and openness to new approaches mentioned above.

In particular, we use MLA style and prefer in-text citations and a limited amount of endnotes (never footnotes). If a point is important enough to be there, it should be in the main argument, if not, it is probably not worth making. This is hard to do, and I myself mostly write longer articles of 9000 words or so when I publish in other journals, Though we value engagement with the scholarly record and we want real scholarly articles, not just padded-out conference papers, which are almost automatically rejected--we do not want articles that seem haunted or inhibited by a particular previous scholar. One time I was editing an article just before proof stage, trying to get it from 6700 words downward. I noticed that a particular scholar named, say, Jones seemed to be haunting the article. I deleted all references to Jones other than in the Works Cited, then put in a new footnote, "Among the principal scholars of this matter is Q. M. F. Jones." Jones was duly honored, but our reader was given access to the current writer's arguments unimpeded by a cat-and-mouse game with Jones’s imposing legacy.

No author has, happily, ever objected to this kind of necessary  editorial surgery. But they do catch errors and typos at proof stage, and we are happy to that. We then send the completed and typeset journal to the press, where is it is quickly turned around, Contributors are asked to fill out a copyright and permissions form on which they also indicate their address' this will enable the press to send them their free contributor copy. We have not always been as quick with contributor copies as we would like, as the extra level of editing and quality control our new relationship with WSUP provides has retarded the process a bit however, we mean to speed this up in future issues. Each issue of Antipodes has cover art by a major Australian or New Zealand painter or photographer (recent issues have featured the work of Russell Drysdale, Hu Ming, Margaret Olley, and Dawn Csutoros), and we believe the journal is a treat graphically as well as content-wise; thus having one's own copy of it is something particularly valued by both us and our contributors.

This is the Antipodes process. In many respects it is generic. In others, like all unhappy families, all academic journals have their quirks and peculiarities. The above are ours.