Urban cultural studies: getting oriented, getting published

Workshop 5 – 28 June 2019

Benjamin Fraser from the University of Arizona led Workshop 5, in collaboration with Mari Paz Balibrea (Birkbeck). As the concluding workshop in the series, it was designed with two aims in mind. On the one hand, as a reflection on the emerging field of Urban Cultural Studies and its interdisciplinary approach bridging the Arts and Humanities and the Social Sciences. On the other hand, to provide participants with the opportunity to get specific advice on making their research publishable.

The day opened with a talk by Benjamin Fraser on the methodological questions involved in conducting Urban Cultural Studies research. He looked back at the development of Cultural Studies, discussing previous confrontations and intersections between the Humanities and the Social Sciences, emphasizing the blending of textual analysis, cultural context, and theoretical ground and exploring the current (inter)disciplinary landscape of journal publishing. Using examples from his own research and from the pages of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, the academic journal that he founded and edits, he mentioned a range of cultural texts including literature, poetry, theatre, film, comics, popular music, performance, painting, video games, and architecture.

The rest of the day was practical in focus and aimed to help participants advance a scholarly agenda related to urban culture. It covered information about transforming the PhD thesis into a book, the publishing landscape and the publication process. Participants were invited to compile their questions about these matters in small groups. Led by Fraser and Balibrea, the themes were then explored with the larger workshop group. Topics included: publishing and the academic job market; practical details concerning the submission process such as dos and don’ts when turning a thesis into a book; how to identify a suitable publisher; organization and submission of a book proposal; the peer-review and revision processes for books and articles; suggesting possible readers of your proposal and manuscript to a press; communication with acquisitions editors how many proposals to send out at one time; the relationship between articles and books and whether to publish articles/chapters separately that might be included in the book; proofing your book; indexing your book, identifying prospects for promotional blurbs and endorsements on the book cover; promoting your book pre- and post- publication; strategic details concerning the development of a research profile, professional advancement in the UK and US contexts.

In a relaxed environment and with ample time to explore specific issues and concerns brought by students’ own situations and experiences, this was a most productive session to conclude our series.

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