radical open access in Marczewska, Adema, McDonald & Trettien 2018

ally thought of
as unreadable, unwriteable, and unpublishable.
The concept of the ‘horizon’ also interest Joan Retallack, who in Poethical Wager
(2003) explores the horizon as a way of thinking about the contemporary. Retallack
identifies two types of horizons: the pseudoserene horizon of time and the dynamic
coastline of historical poesis (14). Reading Retallack in the context of OA, I would
like to suggest that similarly two models of OA can be identified today: OA as a
pseudoserene horizon and OA as a cultural coastline. One is predictable, static, and
limiting, i.e. designed to satisfy the managerial class of the contemporary university;
the other works towards a poethics of OA, with all its unpredictability, complexity,
and openness. OA publishing which operates within the confines of the pseudoserene
horizon is representative of what happens when we become complacent in the way we
think about the work of publishing. Conversely, OA seen as a dynamic coastline–the
model that Radical Open Access (ROA) collective works to advance–is a space where
publishing is always in process and makes possible a rethinking of the experience of
publishing. Seen as such, ROA is an exposition of the forms of publishing that we
increasingly take for granted, and in doing so mirrors the ethos of poethics. The role
of ROA, then, is to highlight the importance of searching for new models of OA, if
OA is to enact its function as a swerve in attitudes towards knowledge production
and consumption.
But anything new is ugly, Retallack suggests, via Picasso: ‘This is always a by-product
of a truly experimental aesthetics, to move into unaestheticized territory. Definitions
of the beautiful are tied to previous forms’ (Retallack 2003, 28). OA, as it has evolved
in recent years, has not allowed the messiness of the ugly. It has not been messy enough
because it has been co-opted, too quickly and unquestionably, by the agendas of
the contemporary university. OA has become too ‘beautiful’ to enact i

g and Publishing in
Response to Neoliberalism,” Ada: A Journal
of Gender, New Media, and Technology 4
(2014): doi:10.7264/N31C1V51.

³ see also: Janneke Adema, “Embracing
Messiness: Open access offers the
chance to creatively experiment with
scholarly publishing,” LSE Impact Blog,
18 November 2014, http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/


Kaja Marczewska

The Horizon of The Publishable



I won’t imply here that openness is the sole or even main reason/motivator/
enabler behind any kind of reimagining in this context; openness has always been
part of a constellation of material-discursive factors—including most importantly
perhaps, the digital, in addition to various other socio-cultural elements—which
have together created (potential) conditions for change in publishing. Yet, within
this constellation I would like to explore how open access, applied and valued in
certain specific, e.g. radical open access, ways—where in other implementations it
has actually inhibited experimentation, but I will return to that later—has been an
instrumental condition for ethico-aesthetic experimentation to take place.


Potential for Experimentation

Last year from the 23rd until the 29th of October the annual Open Access
Week took place, an international advocacy event focused on open access and
related topics. The theme of 2017’s Open Access week was ‘open in order to…’,
prompting participants to explore the concrete, tangible benefits of openness
for scholarly communication and inviting them to reflect on how openness can
make things possible. Behind this prompt, however, lies a wider discussion on
whether openness is a value that is an end in itself, that is intrinsically good, or
whether it predominantly has instrumental value as a means to achieve a certain
end. I will focus on the latter and will start from the presumption that openness
has no intrinsic value, it function


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