publishable in Marczewska, Adema, McDonald & Trettien 2018

studio, The
Post Office, a project of Coventry
University’s Centre for Postdigital
Cultures and due to the combined
efforts of authors, editors, designers
and printers.

Table of Contents

Post Office Press
Page 4

The Horizon of The Publishable in/as
Open Access: From Poethics to Praxis
Kaja Marczewska
Page 6

Design by: Mihai Toma, Nick White
and Sean Worley
Printed by: Rope Press,

The Poethics of Openness
Janneke Adema
Page 16

Diffractive Publishing
Frances McDonald & Whitney

olitical project driven by experimental
impetus, into a constrained model, limiting publishing in the
service of the neoliberal university. Following Malik, she
argues that OA in its dominant top-down implementation is
determining the horizon of the publishable. Yet a horizon also
suggests conditions of possibility for experimentation and
innovation, which Marczewska locates in a potential OA ethos
of poethics and praxis, in a fusion of attitude and form.

This pamphlet explores ways in which to engage scho

ransforming materially how
we publish, how we read and write together, McDonald and
Trettien explore the potential of thresholds as a model for
digital publishing more attuned to the ethics of entanglement.

Post Office Press


The Horizon of
The Publishable
in/as Open
Access: From
Poethics to

maintain by contributing to it for the sake of career progression
and a regular salary. This transgression is unlikely to be noticed
by my publisher (who probably does not care anyway).1 It is a
small and s

m, and a characteristic commitment
to the latter that publishing OA makes necessary, is the central
focus of my paper. As I will argue, this is perhaps the greatest
paradox of OA: that in its fixation on issues of openness, it is

The Horizon of The Publishable


increasingly open only to the kinds of publications that can be
effortlessly slotted into the next institutional REF submission.
But, by doing so, OA publishing as we have come to know it
introduces significant constraints on the forms of publication
possible in academic publishing. In this paper, I consider OA as
a limit to what can be published in academia today, or what I will
refer to here, after Rachel Malik, as a horizon of the publishable.
‘Publishing,’ writes Malik, ‘or rather the horizon of the
publishable, precedes and constitutes both what can be written
and read. […] the horizon of the publishable governs what is
thinkable to publish within a particular historical moment […]
the horizon denotes […] a boundary or limit’ (2015, 709, 72021). Malik suggests that a number of distinct horizons can be
identified and argues that the limits of al

esses and relations between them as well as the role
of institutions: commercial, legal, educational, political, and
cultural. It is the conjunction of practices and their contexts
that always constitutes, according to Malik, various horizons
of the publishable. For Malik, then, there is no singular concept
of publishing and no single horizon but rather a multiplicity of
practices and a diversity of horizons.
Open access could be added to Malik’s list as another practice
defined by its unique horizon. Fol

ole of a horizon
in its own right; that it defines and delimits the possibilities of
what can be made public in academia. If seen as such, OA is more
than just one of the practices of publishing; it has become the


Kaja Marczewska

horizon of the publishable in academic publishing in the UK today.
The new horizon in academic publishing seems increasingly to
only allow certain accepted forms of OA (such as the PDF or
the postprint) which under the guise of openness, sharing and
access, replicate the famil

a publishing model which evokes the philosophy of openness
and access. In a shift away from a diversity of forms of OA
towards standardised OA platforms, OA has become inherently
antithetical to the politics of OA publishing.

The Horizon of The Publishable


What follows, then, is that any work that takes advantage of its openness and circulation
in digital spaces to experiment with ‘the how’ of publishing, in the current knowledge
economy inevitably becomes the negative of publishable, i.e. the unpublishable. OA as
platform capitalism is openly hostile to OA’s poethical potential. In other words, the
REF-able version of OA takes little interest in openness and delimits what is at the
heart of the practice itself, i.e. what can b

a boundary or a
limit and towards the horizon as a possibility of experimentation
and innovation. I want to conclude with another proposition,
which gestures towards such rethinking of OA as a more open
iteration of the horizon.

The Horizon of The Publishable


I have referred to OA publishing as a practice a number of
times in this paper. A decision to use this term was a conscious
attempt at framing OA as praxis. A shift away from poiesis–or
making–and towards the discourse of praxis–action or

ic the
work of scholarship.
Doing OA–open accessing–implies a way of thinking about
what producing various forms of knowledge should stand for.
In other words, open accessing does not suggest a continuous


Kaja Marczewska

The Horizon of The Publishable



¹ For a discussion of the effects of similar
practices of academic book sharing
on publishers, see Janneke Adema,
“Scanners, Collectors and Aggregators. On
the ‘underground movement’ of (pirated)
theory text sharing,” Open

Kember, Sarah. 2014. “Opening Out from Open Access: Writing and Publishing in Response
to Neoliberalism.” Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology 4.
Malik, Rachel. 2017. “Horizons of the Publishable: Publishing in/as Literary Studies.” ELH 75
(3): 707-735.
Retallack, Joan. 2003. The Poethical Wager. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Srnicek, Nick. 2017. Platform Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.

² see: Sarah Kember, “Opening

access offers the
chance to creatively experiment with
scholarly publishing,” LSE Impact Blog,
18 November 2014,


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—in


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