Epoiesen – A journal for creative engagement in history and archaeology

My sabbatical so far has been shaping up as a series of small experiments in other ways of ‘doing’ archaeology and history on (mostly) the web, where ‘doing’ is a general purpose verb for teaching, writing, thinking, communicating, etc. So far, I’ve failed productively in Michigan, given a couple of talks at Carleton (on OA, on SNA in Roman archaeology), helped promoted ‘Mobilizing the Past’ , found some cash and put together a data viz competition in archaeology, built a board game with Tom Brughmans and Iza Romanowska featuring trade and the Roman empire (this took most of October and November. It’s currently in alpha, and I’ll share more on this in due course), data mined the trade in human remains on Instagram with Damien Huffer, and have nearly completed transcribing a traveller’s diary to Egypt in 1874, around which I’m building a visual novel.

It’s been a lot of fun.

Some things I’ve long been thinking about however are the things that we publish. Look at the HeritageJam. Where could one publish that kind of work? The creative work that enables the visualization, the reimagining, the remixing of the past? (HeritageJam triggered the cascade of thoughts that leads to this present moment, as it happens). The DHCommons Journal is one possible venue, of course, and a good one. It is an ideal spot for publishing the ‘paradata’ that surround a project. But what I’ve had in mind is more like a literary journal, a creative space, for projects at the intersection of music, art, glitch, bots, games,  poetry, prose, 3d modeling, interactive fiction, and so on, with archaeology and history: things that wouldn’t fit in a ‘normal’ journal. On the journal site would be published something akin to an artist’s statement. The creative thing itself, if it’s code based, could be deposited in the repo (and have its own DOI and citation) – otherwise, could just point to wherever the canonical version of it lives/may be found in the world. 

ἐποίησεν (epoiesen)- made is a journal for exploring creative engagement with the past, especially through digital means. It publishes primarily what might be thought of as artist’s statements that accompany playful and unfamiliar forms of singing the past into existence. These could be visualizations, art works, games, pop-up installations, poetry, hypertext fiction, procedurally generated works, or other forms yet to be devised. We seek to document and valorize the scholarly creativity that underpins our representations of the past. Epoiesen is therefore a kind of witness to the implied knowledge of archaeologists, historians, and other professionals, academics and artists as it intersects with the sources about the past. It encourages engagement with the past that reaches beyond our traditional audience (ourselves).

Our library has support for OA journals, and so it looks like I’d be able to do this completely open access and charge no article processing fees – I have an indication from our library that we’d be able to host this journal for at least five years (complete with DOIs, and indexing). We also have a Dataverse code repository.

So what about peer review? Well, I’m into open review, dialogue, responses. This journal would seek out at least two reviewers for every submission, to write ‘responding to…’ pieces, which themselves would be published with their own citation, DOI, etc. The Hypothesis web annotation architecture would be built into the site. Publication would happen on a rolling basis, with each year’s materials being retroactively organized into an ‘Annual’. Submissions would be in markdown, and the site generated from those files (pandoc to create pdfs for folks who need that sort of thing for annual reports and so on).

That’s the big idea then. Interested? Drop me a line. I’d like to have this thing up and running by the end of the next term (so April-ish). By posting this blogpost, I’m hoping that this’ll provide the kick in the pants that I’ll need to keep this thing going.

(featured image: Wikimedia, ‘Nike between two youths, with Nikosthenes’ signature (ΝΙΚΟΣΘΕΝΕΣ ΕΠΟΙΕΣΕΝ) on the neck. Side A from an Attic black-figured Nikosthenic amphora, ca. 530–520 BC. From Cerveteri (Caere).’ _ )