One of the key challenges of a new project such as sdvig press is of course obtaining academic credentials. It is all very well to design a nice logo, think of a name, publish a few books and make them available online. If the quality of the books is up to standards and we maintain a certain production over a number of years, we might even accrue a certain amount of name recognition and respect. But in order to get initial funding and to really get the project going, it is also paramount to demonstrate the project’s legitimacy and seriousness immediately.
The most obvious way of quickly demonstrating that we are not just a vanity press reprinting some public domain stuff (I am surprised at how many of the texts we are intending to re-issue have already been reprinted and are available from huge, miscellaneous catalogues, often at not especially cheap prices) – is to have recourse to the trusted institution of the editorial board. The prime reason for establishing an editorial board for each of our series is of course to obtain crucial advice and guidance, and make sure the books are indeed up to the quality we want them to be. But at the same time getting half a dozen of respected specialists to sign up and show support for each of our various series would mean obtaining a visible and immediate endorsement from the academic establishment.
Last week I therefore set about writing a few emails in order to put together the editorial board for our flagship “figures of structuralism” series. I have an existing network in that field, but I also wrote to a couple of people whom I have never met. The answer has been extremely quick and positive. We already have 6 board members from all over Europe:
Natalja Avtonomova of the Russian Academy of Sciences, a leading Russian philosopher and former colleague of Jacques Derrida at the Collège international de philosophie in Paris;
Tomáš Glanc of the Humboldt-University in Berlin, a highly respected expert on Jakobson and Central and Eastern European literary theory;
Tomáš Hoskovec, Masaryk University in Brno, the acting secretary of the Prague Linguistic Circle and a keen agitator for the cause of European structuralism
Mihhail Lotman of the University of Tartu, an international eminence in verse theory and semiotics, as well as, incidentally, the son of the great semiotician Jurij Lotman;
Michal Mrugalski, a Humboldt-scholar at the University of Tübingen with rare knowledge of Germano-Russo-Polish intellectual exchanges;
Michael Silverstein, University of Chicago, a former student of Roman Jakobson and a world-class theoretician of semiotics and linguistic anthropology;
Christian Puech of the Sorbonne in Paris, the man who has done most to further a broader historical understanding of structuralism in France;
Klaas Willems of the University of Ghent, a distinguished linguist with a very strong background in the epistemology of linguistics and philosophy of language.
Needless to say, I am much honored and absolutely excited at this response and am looking forward to editing the series even more than I was up to now. I am pretty confident we can get a similar response for our other series as well. In any case, this bodes very well for the future of sdvig press. The rapidity of the response to my solicitations leads me to think, moreover, that the sdvig press initiative is in fact responding to a latent need in the academic community for ambitious publishing ventures, and that the scholarly manpower, so to speak, is just waiting for the opportunity to collaborate.
It’s been a great Open Access week for us.