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Remembering Sylvia Townsend Warner

AlisonFox31 August 2016

Sylvia_Townsend_Warner_Society_800pxToday’s guest post is by Peter Swaab, editor of the Journal of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society and Professor of English at UCL.

I’m glad to report that I’ve taken on the editing of the Journal of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society, which is now published by the expanding UCL Press and has its home in the UCL English Department. The Journal was first published in 2000 and has appeared once a year since then, until this year only in a print version with limited circulation. Under the new arrangement it will be continue to published in a print version received by members of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society, but will also come out electronically, on open access to all. There will now be two issues each year; the first to be published digitally went live online in June and can be found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/journal-of-the-sylvia-townsend-warner-society.

Warner has a following and a growing number of admirers – she is for instance author of the month at the LRB bookshop this month – she remains undervalued and neglected. I hope the Warner Journal, with its newly extended reach and university press base, will make her much better known and more widely read and studied.  She was versatile and she was long-lived. Her first book, a collection of poems, was published in 1925. It was read and admired by A.E. Housman and W.B. Yeats and may have been read by Thomas Hardy. Her final book, a collection of astringent fairy stories, appeared in 1977, when the Sex Pistols were in their brief prime. In the years between she was enormously prolific in several genres: seven novels, around 250 short stories, a biography, poetry, a travel book, essays, translations from Spanish and French. She was also a composer and a musicologist before she turned to literature. She was a great letter writer too (three volumes are in print), with an intellectual energy, generous curiosity and verbal flair that never abated. Her friends spoke wonderingly of her rapidity of mind. On waking of a morning she could at once carry on the conversation of the previous evening, full throttle, no coffee needed. She lived most of her life with another woman, Valentine Ackland, was a member of the communist party, twice went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. She’d be around the table at my fantasy dinner party, along with Jean Renoir, John Keats and a few others who change from month to month.

What can literary criticism do with a writer of such fertility and scope as Warner? As yet, it hasn’t done nearly enough; there is, for instance, no critical monograph on her writing (though Claire Harman has written a fine biography). Her main genres – the historical novel and the short story – are often condescended to. Both her longevity and her versatility hinder the categorizing that helps writers onto curricula. Her career represents a challenge to current ways of thinking about literary history. Although her writing is formally audacious she does not fit readily into a story of avant-garde ‘modernism’.  Terms such as ‘intermodernism’ and the ‘middlebrow’ have been brought forward recently to challenge the straitjacketing narrative that sees experimental modernists on one side and all the rest on another. Such terms help a little with Warner, but she is too long-lived for the one, too difficult for the other. The categories, moreover, can be tendentious, with ‘modernism’, for instance, doing double service as partly a descriptive and partly an honorific category. And literary periodization is hard to apply cogently to such long-lived writers as Warner, West, Isherwood, Lehmann, or Rhys.

I’d like the Journal, like Warner herself, to have a crossover appeal within academia and beyond. There are five categories of contribution that I want especially to encourage:

  1. Writers on Warner, with (I hope) contributions from writers who are on record as Warner’s admirers (these include Colm Tóibín, Ursula Le Guin, Ali Smith, Sarah Waters, Adam Mars-Jones, Richard Howard, Wendy Mulford – and the list could go on).
  1. Works by Warner, both fugitive and uncollected pieces, and unpublished manuscripts from the extensive archives in the Dorset County Museum.
  1. Biographical accounts. Warner died in 1978, so there are many people who knew her, and she tends to be recalled vividly.
  1. Articles on Warner’s writings and also on those figures with  whom she could be associated either in her life or her literary affiliations. These include quite a range, among them the Powyses,  David Garnett, Bowen, Woolf and T.H. White in literary Britain, Proust, Colette and Huguenin in France, John Craske in the art world, Vaughan Williams, Ireland, Nordoff, Britten and Pears in the world of music.
  1. Reviews of books and editions that include discussion of Warner and sometimes of her literary or musical associates and friends.

The second number of the Journal to be digitally published is in preparation now, scheduled for publication in December 2016.

About the Author

Peter Swaab is editor of the Journal of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society and Professor of English at UCL. Prior to joining UCL in 1990, he was Research Fellow at Queens’ College, and Director of Studies in English at Corpus Christi College.

Un Manjar: Viral Chilean slang

AlisonFox22 August 2016

manjarsh-496x330Today’s guest blog is by Nell Haynes, Visiting Assistant Professor at Northwestern University and author of Social Media in Northern Chile.

In Chile, “manjar” is a kind of sweet sauce, similar to dulce de leche or caramel. It’s often used as filling in layer cakes or atop pancakes. It is almost universally loved for its smooth rich flavour. But ‘manjar’ is also used in slang to mean ‘rich’ or ‘sweet’ in other contexts as well. One may refer to a delicious holiday meal as ‘un manjar’ or equally to their love interest.

I had heard these uses of the word in Chile, and also being a fan of the sweet sauce, it made sense that it stood in for something to be savored. Yet when I attended a concert by American rock band Faith No More in Santiago, I was bewildered by the crowd’s repeated chanting of ‘un manjar! un manjar!’. Sure, the music was good, something to be savoured in the moment, but the food metaphor just didn’t seem apt to me. And the fact that it was being chanted in unison by thousands rather than whispered with a wink as that especially attractive acquaintance passed by, puzzled me even more.

But then I realised it was simply the buzz word of the moment. And not because of some fluke, but because, as is usual these days, social media had set off the trend, much as I explained for the resurgence of The Rhythm of the Night in Chilean night clubs in 2015.

In this instance, ‘manjar’ was thrown into heavy circulation when a youtube video surfaced of a Chilean campesino [person from the countryside] taking a long swig of very cheap wine, and then in a slow gruffy voice, proclaiming ‘un manjarsh’. Because of his accent and stereotypical campesino look, the man’s drunken proclamation was hilarious to young youtube viewers and as the video was passed around, use of the word ‘manjar’ shifted from occasional to self-consciously inserted into any possible exchange. Not only in spoken language, but Whatsapp messages, Facebook posts, Tweets, .gifs, memes, and even parody videos flooded Chileans’ internet. After a week or two the joke subsided, though when casually used, even several months later, the word still conjures the video of the campesino and his wine.

So, sure, this is just another story in grand quantity about how a word, idea, or image goes viral, has a short-lived moment in the spotlight, then fades from memory. But in this case, it also tells us something about nationalism and popular culture. Because manjar is considered something of a staple food in Chile, to call a person, food, or drink ‘un manjar’ not only says that the object is desirable, but that the person speaking about it does so from a particular position of being a ‘true Chilean.’ In some ways, urban youth may be lampooning the campesino with wine, but they are also identifying a similarity between him and themselves as Chileans. And when shouting it at an international rock concert, it claims the space and music as Chilean, not foreign, appropriating such rock music into a ‘true Chilean’ repertoire. I suppose it would be something like Americans chanting ‘apple pie’ at a U2 concert, claiming them as their own.

About the Author

Nell Haynes is Visiting Assistant Professor at Northwestern University, and author of Social Media in Northern Chile. Previously, she was Post-Doctoral Fellow at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, and  received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the American University in 2013. Her research addresses themes of performance, authenticity, globalization, and gendered and ethnic identification in Bolivia and Chile.

Anything but selfies…

DanielMiller15 August 2016

different-genres-of-selfies-768x1000In every respect we are delighted with the launch of our project. We now engage in daily interaction with the thousands of students registered on our FutureLearn course, plus many thousands more on the translated versions on UCL eXtend. The almost 20,000 downloads of our books is a real boost for Open Access.

But there has been one element that I found rather irritating. Here is a project that dealt with tensions on the Syrian-Turkish border, 250 million Chinese factory workers, the nature of Englishness, transformations in human communication, politics, gender, and education. Yet almost every single media enquiry, and we are happy that there were so many, seemed to focus upon the selfie and almost inevitably mentioned a specific kind of selfie taken in Chile of people’s feet. Which is why, given the choice, I would love to answer questions about our project on any topic under the sun – other than bloody selfies.

But as an anthropologist I have to transcend any personal feelings and always ask ‘why?’. My explanation is going to be as benign as I can make it – what I would like to believe to be the case – though certainly it may be otherwise. My supposition is that the selfie is iconic of social media because it speaks to the single dominant story we want to tell ourselves and which, by creating anxiety, also sells newspapers. We tend to argue that social media is the latest stage in an inevitable journey from the kind of intense kinship-based sociality studied by anthropologists to the fragmented narcissistic individualists studied as a kind of modern pathology by sociologists and psychologists. So the media and others find it strange that it is anthropologists, the group who are supposed to represent the other end of this story – kinship and tribes – who are talking about the selfie. Perhaps this represents a kind of profound disconnect.

It may then follow that the best way anthropology can be presented as a repudiation of this simple story is by noting that as anthropologists we have refused to regard the selfie as this icon of the fall of humanity from the graces of proper and intense sociality. A photo of unpretentious feet is the opposite of the self-absorbed look-at-me selfie of the face. If this explanation is correct it would be parallel to my early blog post about the ‘no-make-up selfie’ where adults in my fieldsite only started posting selfies when they found a cancer charity-based model which seemed to repudiate the association between the selfie and supposed teenage self-centeredness.

We do indeed repudiate the simple story of a decline in humanity and indeed we try and show why even these teenagers are more complex, mature and social than this story implied. If this is the case then I should be happy that the media has made our point so succinctly. Hopefully once that point has burst the selfie boil, this then clears the way for the media and others to focus on the way we tell a hugely different story of highly socialised and diverse social media that has important consequences for almost every other aspect of our lives. For example, the way we use our analysis to critique the very concept of ‘superficiality’ which is the premise of much of this discussion of the selfie. Perhaps now we can argue that in most respects social media takes society in the opposite direction: more social, less individual, closer to the way society is represented by anthropology and less close to the pathologies of the individual studied in psychology. At least that is the story I hope we will eventually be allowed to tell.

About the author

Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology at UCL and author of 37 books including How the World Changed Social Media,  Social Media in an English VillageThe Comfort of Things, Stuff, Tales from Facebook and A Theory of Shopping.  Find out more about the Why We Post series at  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/why-we-post.

This post is an updated/adapted version of a post that originally appeared on the Global Social Media Impact Study blog, using the title ‘Anything but Selfies’. It has been re-posted with permission.

Writing the Academic Book of the Future

Rebecca ELyons8 August 2016

The Academic Book of the Future is a two-year AHRC and British Library-funded project investigating the academic book in its current and emerging contexts. The Project has worked closely and collaboratively with a wide range of community partners, including individuals and groups from academia, publishing, bookselling, libraries, and other areas invested in the academic book in order to explore its possible future(s).

For the inaugural Academic Book Week (9-16 November 2015) we worked with Palgrave Macmillan on an innovative publication – a Palgrave Pivot called The Academic Book of the Future. It was innovative for the incredibly ambitious deadlines involved; the interdisciplinary (even experimental) nature of the content; the fact that most of the authors are not academics; and that it is Open Access, which makes it completely free to download.

The Project found the process of collaboratively creating this publication incredibly fruitful, not just in terms of the partnerships formed or the content created, but also for the new directions for working that were suggested by the entire process. It was a successful experiment in Practice-as-Research: the Project had dipped its toe in the water of one of the possible futures of the academic book, and had found the experience hugely rewarding.

Now, co-editors Dr Samantha Rayner and Rebecca Lyons are building upon this experience and working with UCL Press on an exciting new publication project called The Academic Book of the Future. As with the Palgrave Pivot, the spirit of innovation and collaboration – as well as academic rigour – is key. This new peer-reviewed publication will take the form of a BOOC (Book as Open Online Content – a term coined by UCL’s Professor Melissa Terras), which means that the content will take a range of forms and formats – traditional and otherwise – including textual pieces such as chapters and reports, but also videos, blogs, and even Storifies and curated email conversations.

We are delighted to be working with UCL Press on this project – they have fully embraced the spirit of innovation involved, and have offered both flexibility and dynamism in terms of the technical aspects of this new type of publication (the BOOC), as well as the consummate professionalism expected from a university press. Added to this, half of the Project team is based at UCL, and we are thrilled to work with this bright new internal partner.

We have written more extensively about why we’re publishing this BOOC with UCL Press on the LSE Review of Books blog, here: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2016/03/23/feature-the-academic-book-of-the-future-practice-as-research-by-rebecca-lyons/

About the authors

Samantha Rayner is Director of the Centre for Publishing and Senior Lecturer in Publishing at UCL. In addition, she is Principal Investigator on the AHRC/British Library Academic Book of the Future Project. Rebecca Lyons is Research Associate for the AHRC/ British Library Academic Book of the Future Project. Find out more about their publication, The Academic Book of the Futurehttp://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/academic-book-of-the-future

Thoughts of a Journal Managing Editor: The (Blessed) Proliferation of Academic Publications and the Challenge of Getting a Foot in the Door

AlisonFox19 July 2016

Today’s guest blog is by Ira Ryk-Lakhman, PhD student at the UCL Faculty of Laws and Managing Editor of the UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence.

Following the footsteps of my predecessor, Ms Diana Richards, I would like to share one of the main challenges that have accompanied my role as the Managing Editor of the UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence: getting a foot in the door in a world of prevalent academic journals and competing publications.

The UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence is a law journal edited and published by graduate (Masters and PhD) students of UCL Laws. The Journal publishes scholarly contributions from academics, researchers and practitioners, as well as showcasing outstanding research of post-graduate students at UCL. The Journal’s primary aim is to make a high-quality contribution to current debates on local and global issues of law and jurisprudence. We seeks to add to the vibrant intellectual life of UCL’s world leading law school, a place where originality and innovation are highly prized, and where the shared pursuit of ideas remains fundamental to the Faculty’s continuing success.

Importantly, the Journal was one of the first law journals in the UK to fully implement the open access policy and offer all its issues and contributions free and online since its very first issue in 2012. Today, many law journals worldwide too offer open access publications. This is of course a welcome step which bolsters academic debate and facilitates the engagement with the public. However, with this blessed progress gives rise to a newly found challenge – the competition over the quality and quantity of submissions, and the promotion of existing and upcoming publications. So how does a new, starting, or existing journal find its place in an online, accessible, digital world that offers hundreds of, professedly, similar platforms? The answer is rather straightforward in fact and comprises three main steps.

Step No. 1: “What are you?” Much like with everything else in life, running a journal requires some soul-searching. The editorial board would be smart to pre-define its identity, target audience, and goals. Are you a niche journal? Are you a generalist publication? Do you seek to prompt a specific field or methodology of research? Are you focused on a certain locale or jurisdiction? Do you aim for practitioners or academics? Would you allow students, or junior researchers to publish with you? The answers to these questions, and similar ones, assist in molding and shaping the identity of the journal.

Step No. 2: “Who are you?” Once the identity of the journal is clearer it is time to move to the second step, which concerns the people working on and with the journal. The human resources of a journal, any journal, are an integral part of its success. To illustrate, each member of the editorial board brings with him his own set of skills, views, and previous experience – use all of them. One of the questions we ask when interviewing applicants for an editorial position is: “what would you change or add to the journal as an editor?” Each potential member of the board has a different perspective, and as a result a different proposition. Be attentive and open minded. Additionally, each member brings with him his own connections, colleagues, friends, and affiliations. In other words: a list of potential readers, followers, and contributors. Finally, now that you know who you are, do not forget to put a face to a name. Many academics complain about the process of submissions’ review (and rightly so) – they do not know the people reading their work and their qualifications, and thus often doubt the views and editing suggestions. In fact, many potential authors prefer knowing the identity of the editorial board (as a whole, not the specific [blind] reviewers). It, in fact, will come as no surprise to learn that most people prefer having some (visional) idea how the people they work with look. If so, why should the work of the author and the editor of his contribution be any different? For this reason, it seems rather sensible to include not only a list of the editorial and advisory board, but also a short bio of each member of the board. This increases the Journal’s engagement with the authors and readers on the one hand, and builds a sense of community amongst the board itself. Further, under this second step, a journal would be wise to inquire who are the people and organizations that may find interest in the journal – non-profit organizations, research facilities, firms, faculties, and so on. These, in turn, may be happy to collaborate and sponsor a journal that coincides with their identity.

Step No.3: “Work with what you’ve got”. Now that you know what you are and who you are – use it. Here the journal is required to demonstrate creativity, innovation, and resilience, so as to be noticeable, accessible, and competitive with other platforms in the field.  For instance, publishing a call for papers on your (say) Facebook account would reach those following your account, but not others. Thus, it is necessary to publish the same CfP with other specialized social media groups and forums, online blogs in the field, specialized accounts that promote publications, etc. It is also useful to circulate said CfP amongst faculties and academic institutions. However, sending it only to UCL staff and students would reach a limited number of potential readers and authors, thus the circulation list ought to include the alma mater of each and every single one of the members of your board. These examples alone are illustrative of the manner a Journal is capable of reaching some thousands of people, free of charge. Along these lines, it is also advisable to be original and innovative. For instance: If you have sponsors, try to prompt cooperation with them – launch events, publications, meetings, etc.; if you use the UCL OJS service – personalize it to your logo, colors, forms, fonts, etc.; if you publish hard copies – send them to those who may be interested; consider launching a blog using the available UCL Blogs platforms, and so on.

Finally, the most important step of this three-step program is: repeat, repeat, and repeat. This will assist you to get a foot in the door and stay there.

 

About the author

Ira Ryk-Lakhman is a PhD student at the UCL Faculty of Laws. She is researching the protection and regulation of foreign investments in times of hostilities. Ira serves as the Managing Editor of the UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence and the UCL Law Journal Blog.

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Books on the Web, about the Web

AlisonFox27 June 2016

Today’s guest post is written by Ralph Schroder and Niels Brugger, authors of the forthcoming UCL Press book The Web as History: Using Web Archives to Understand the Past and the Present.

The World Wide Web has now been with us for more than twenty years. From its early incarnation as the Mosaic browser, to today’s ubiquitous uses of the Web as a source of information, entertainment, and much else, the Web has become part of our daily lives. It is therefore curious that scholars have thus far made little use of the Web as a source for understanding historical patterns of culture and society. Future historians and social scientists are bound to look to the Web, its content and structure, to understand how society was changing – just as they have used letters, novels, newspapers, radio and television programmes, and other artefacts as a record of the past in pre-digital times. What can we learn from the Web so far?

Our forthcoming book, an edited volume entitled The Web as History: Using Web Archives to Understand the Past and the Present (eds. Niels Brügger & Ralph Schroeder) will present a series of chapters about how culture and society has evolved with the Web. It will include a number of histories of national Web spaces, accounts of different domains such as government and media websites, and case studies of topics such as religion, and education, the online community of GeoCities, and the evolution of the abortion debate in Australia 2005-2015.

We believe that Open Access is a good policy: it has been shown to increase audience reach and access. Our book can also have plenty of images – pictures of websites: very important, for obvious reasons, in this case. Our book is about the Web, and will have a diverse readership, who can hopefully also find it easily online.

UCL Press has published an impressive set of books in internet research, especially How the World Changed Social Media, and other books in the Why We Post series by Daniel Miller and colleagues. The fact that the book can be both in print and online is the best of both worlds. Finally, they have a helpful team, good to work with!

About the authors

Ralph Schroeder is MSc Course Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. Niels Brugger is Professor in Internet Studies and Digital Humanities at Aarhus University, Head of NetLab, part of the Danish Digital Humanities Lab, and head of the Centre for Internet Studies. Their book, The Web as History, will be published by UCL Press in spring 2017.

1st Birthday Party for UCL Press

AlisonFox24 June 2016

Today’s guest post is posted on behalf of Paul Ayris, Director of Library Services at UCL and CEO of UCL Press.

UCL-Press-birthday-party-600x800

16 June 2016 was an auspicious day for UCL Press. This was the day when we held  a Birthday Party to celebrate 1 year of publishing activity.

100 people accepted the Press’s invitation to join them at the Party, which was held in Waterstone’s Bookshop. The Guest of Honour was Professor David Price, who spoke of his pride that UCL has established such an innovative publishing programme. UCL Press is the first fully Open Access University Press in the UK.

Following David Price’s speech, I gave a brief summary of the achievements of the Press in its 1st year of operation – over 30,000 downloads in over 160 countries. This is an amazing record for a young Press in its 1st year. I admitted that establishing the Press was my idea, but that it had needed the insight, expertise and support of very many people to make it happen. That the Press has achieved so much so quickly is really a testament to all their hard work.

The audience was then entertained by 6 UCL Press authors, who told us what they felt about working with the Press and why they had chosen UCL Press as their publisher. I was struck by two things. First, a number of authors who have published with us said they wanted to publish with us again. That is real praise. Second, some speakers spoke about the textbooks which they are publishing with UCL Press. I had a long talk with Deepak Kalaskar from the Royal Free about his forthcoming (July 2016) Textbook of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Commercial publishers have been slow to offer textbooks as digital textbooks, let alone Open Access textbooks. In its work on developing an Open Access digital textbook model, UCL Press is being truly innovative.

The audience toasted the 1st year of the Press, and wished it well in the next 12 months, with glasses of Prosecco. Cup cakes with the UCL Press logo iced on the top crowned a generous finger buffet, which was well received by those attending. The evening bodes well for the growing success of UCL Press.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services & CEO UCL Press

‘Open access will allow us to establish a much closer dialogue’

AlisonFox21 June 2016

Today’s guest blog is by Edward King, Lecturer in Portuguese and Lusophone Studies at the University of Bristol. His book, Technology, Posthumanism and the Graphic Novel in Latin America will publish in 2017.

Technology, Posthumanism and the Graphic Novel in Latin America will be the first book-length study of the graphic novel form in the region. Latin America is currently experiencing a boom in graphic novels that are very sophisticated, both in the concepts they are exploring and in the way they are reworking the genre. We believe that the graphic novel is emerging in Latin America and elsewhere as a uniquely powerful medium through which to explore the nature of twenty-first century subjectivity and especially forms of embodiment or mediatization that bind humans to their non-human environment. These can be very productively drawn out in relation to modes of posthuman thought and experience, and that is the focus of our book. We discuss a range of recent graphic novels from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay, all of which experiment in exciting ways with transmediality, the topological representation of space in the city, or embodied modes of perception and cognition. They are often concerned with finding a new form of ethics for a posthuman world in which agency is both dispersed beyond the human self and (paradoxically) rooted in the materiality of an embodied existence.

Publishing open access with UCL Press will enable us to distribute our research much more effectively. The community of scholars interested in Latin American culture, graphic fiction and the study of posthuman subjectivities is geographically extremely dispersed so being able to download the book from the internet should be a great help. Researchers and students in Latin America often find the cost of importing books prohibitive, so the open access route will allow us to establish a much closer dialogue with them. Furthermore, as our focus in the book is on texts that intersect with the technologies of the information age in a number of ways, it is appropriate that it bestrides both print and digital media.

About the author

Edward King is a Lecturer in Portuguese and Lusophone Studies at the University of Bristol. He is the author of Science Fiction and Digital Technologies in Argentine and Brazilian Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Virtual Orientalism in Brazilian Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). UCL Press will publis his forthcoming book (co-authored with Joanna Page) Technology, Posthumanism and the Graphic Novel in Latin America in 2017.  Sign up for more details here.

Housing – Critical Futures: ‘a critical issue at a critical time’

GrahamCairns17 June 2016

research programme led by AMPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society) and supported by UCL Press

The Housing – Critical Futures research programme confronts a critical issue at a critical time. In London, a leading capital of global finance, there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing for those that service ‘the service’ sector. The crisis is at levels not seen since World War II. In Beijing, capital of the 21st century’s political powerhouse, the displacement of long-standing communities is a daily occurrence. In Mumbai, thAmps finale biggest health risk faced by the city today has been identified as overcrowded housing, while in São Paulo, football’s 2014 World Cup took place against a backdrop of community unrest and the chronic living conditions of the poor. The private sector, the state and residents themselves are searching for solutions. Whether housing refugees in conflict areas, providing safe water to the households in the developing world, or ensuring key workers can live in the cities they support in the West, the question of housing is not only global, but critical.

In addressing these questions AMPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society) has partnered with institutions, organizations, individuals, activists, designers, theorists and, of course publishers. Our key publishing partner is UCL Press which has been fundamental in ensuring that the work of those we collaborate with reaches a wide and relevant audience on an open access basis. UCL Press has worked with us in developing a book series on housing that allows AMPS to bring together the ideas of diverse players internationally around the issue of housing. The Press is supportive of our interdisciplinary agenda meaning together we are able to present an amazing array of perspectives covering a range of issues. Whether it be architects dealing with design-led ideas, residents analyzing participatory processes, planners critiquing models of development, economists explaining financial frameworks at macro and micro levels, or activists campaigning for changes on government policy, UCL Press has worked with us to find dissemination routes.

The AMPS journal, Architecture_MPS is also published through UCL Press and while this is open to an interdisciplinary body of authors and is open to a much wider range of topics, UCL Press has welcomed our use of the journal to promote our housing agenda. We have developed a series of SIPs (special issue publications) with them and our first special issue, which will be published in September 2016, is focused on housing.

About the author

Graham Cairns is Director of AMPS and Executive Editor of the associated journal Architecture_MPS. He is currently based at Columbia University, New York, and is Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

More details:

Architecture_MPS journal: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/uclpress/amps

Housing Critical Futures Book Series: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/series/housing-critical-futures

‘We are all suburbanites’

Laura SVaughan16 June 2016

Suburban Urbanities is an edited collection that is the culmination of over seven years’ research into the urban form and social logic of metropolitan suburbs. The research considered the factors that contribute to the long-term success of suburban town centres. In order to do this we studied a century’s morphological evolution and land use patterns of twenty outer London suburbs as well as, more generally, how cities IMAGE 4_Scottgrow and take shape over time. The research took a multi-disciplinary approach, integrating urban analysis (using space syntax) with ethnographic studies of people, organisations and places on the one hand, and historical studies of land uses and urban form on the other. Towards the end of our project we sought out a comparative set of examples from the UK and elsewhere around Europe and the Mediterranean. The book takes these examples and organises these into three themes: Suburban Centralities – which has a focus on city-wide transformations, showing that local places are shaped and formed over time according to their accessibility to long-term patterns of human, social and economic networks of activity across scales; High Street Diversity – which has a focus on the high street, the active centre of urban and suburban centres. The last section of the book is called ‘Everyday Sociability’.  In addition to the case studies themselves, the book has a clear agenda, to challenge the perception that urbanity only exists in the city. Opening with a pair of theoretical position pieces, it argues that urbanity exists in a continuum from urban to suburban. When discussing suburban life it is vital to get away from the binary choice between suburban versus urbane. Indeed, we are all suburbanites in one way or another, given that urbanism is a temporal process.

As an early adopter of open access through UCL’s repository, UCL Press seemed like an ideal choice for Suburban Urbanities, given that it is a university press dedicated to full open access. A surprising bonus has been the fast turnaround, from submission in April 2015 to publication in November 2015. At the same time the visual and material quality of both online and print version is excellent – indeed, one of the book’s reviewers commented that it is “a book that looks and feels beautiful”. Most important for me has been the immediate impact of the book. Alongside its thousands of downloads (3750 at last count) in eighty eight countries, it has had impact in all sorts of unexpected places: featuring in The Atlantic in its CityLab blog and an activist in New Zealand has been tweeting excerpts of the book at his local planning authority to raise various policy issues. My hope is that it will continue to resonate far and wide as we continue to battle with the complexity of suburban urbanity in future years.

About the Author

Laura Vaughan is Professor of Urban Form and Society at the Space Syntax Laboratory, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, and editor of Suburban Urbanities. In addition to her longstanding research into London’s suburban evolution, she has written on many other critical aspects of urbanism today. Follow her on Twitter at @urban_formation.