Sean Michael Morris
The place of the editor is not above the writer, but beside. Editors are not meant to correct but to suggest, not to admonish but to inspire, not to coerce but to collaborate.
To write is to enter a unique space of potential. To enter that writerly space as an editor requires that we recognize the fragility of the ecosystem of those words on the page. The first draft is a learning environment, a classroom for writer and reviewer alike — and all drafts are first drafts. No words nor any writer should ever be sacrificed upon the pointed pen of an editor protecting his reputation. The editor’s work is to preserve and refine, to shine and polish, not to sanitize, circumcise, or amputate. No words nor any writer should be left outside the gates. The editor need not guard the gate, for there are no gates worth guarding. The miscreant has a voice. The dropout has a voice. The insolent silent one in the back of the room, too, has a voice. The adjunct is a teacher when she writes. The undergrad, the grad student, the alt-ac and the post-ac — all teachers when they speak. The artist is a teacher; the poet, the musician, the anarchist, too.
Every voice is needed within academe, within education. The more we leave out, the less we have to offer. Gatekeeping corrupts — it does not fortify — ethos.
I have written before about the approach I’ve taken as an editor at Hybrid Pedagogy. During my tenure, I have insisted that the journal be a place for any writer with something to say about teaching and learning. The only merit a writer needs is a determination to work their craft upon the page, to listen, to speak, and to reflect. My inclusive approach has been born out of my time teaching Creative Writing and the critical pedagogy that our editors practice. My iron determination to offer authors publication is dogged. I prowl the gates of this journal, I do — but to keep them open, not closed; to invite in rather than keep out.
The more, in our case, does not only mean the merrier — the more is necessary.
In my time with Hybrid Pedagogy, I have run into and read many geniuses. Audrey Watters, Jonan Donaldson, Pat Lockley, Kate Bowles, to name just a very few. Bonnie Stewart I also count among that group. She recently posted “Open to Influence: Academic Influence on Twitter,” a radical abridgement of the first paper of her thesis. She begins her post with these four sentences:
I am the sort of person who was born to be elderly and didactic. Deep in my nature lurks the spirit – if not the vocabulary – of a teeny, slightly melancholic sixth cousin of Marcel Proust hankering to wax pensively about the eternal nature of change and What Once Was. Inside my head, it’s all Remembrance of Things Past, all the time. Not because I’m nostalgic – je ne regrette rien! – but because this appears, even at midlife, to be my only wayfinding strategy; reflective recall is how I make sense of the world.
For comparison, here are the first four sentences of her thesis:
Within the academy, signals of a scholar’s academic influence are made manifest in indices like the h-index, which rank output. In open scholarly networks, however, signals of influence are less codified, and the ways in which they are enacted and understood have yet to be articulated. Yet the influence scholars cultivate in open networked publics intersects with institutional academia in grant-required measures of “public impact,” in media visibility, and in keynote and job opportunities. How do scholars within open networks judge whether another scholar’s signals are credible, or worthy of engagement?
At least to a degree, her point in publishing her abridgement was to offer up the ideas of her thesis in her own voice, rather than the academic voice her profession expects. What’s interesting about this to me is that I came to know Bonnie through the voice of her blog — smart, witty, insightful, deliberate, balancing compassion as much as intellect, sting as much as salve. Both of the excerpts above are exceptional examples of good writing; but what the first offers me more than the second is a taste of what makes Bonnie Bonnie, a bit more of the whole of this scholar who is also a mom and Canadian, “elderly and didactic.”
What I long for from academia are more entirely legible voices, emotionally resonant and intellectually vital. Your teeth do not chew without your tongue. The intellect cannot be incisive without the muscle of the heart.
The writers who have published on Hybrid Pedagogy have had their work cited in research and other publications, and not a few of their articles have found their way into classrooms and conference presentations. But they have also joined the #digped community, rallied under five iterations of MOOC MOOC, and formed networks within networks as a result of their participation. The work of our editors, then, is the work of community leaders, thought leaders, liaisons, and Pied Pipers.
The editors we seek are those with a commitment to the voices of others, editors who will enjoy championing growing writers, who read empathically as well as critically, and who understand the precarity of the act of writing itself.