Overview

Epoiesen- made – is a journal for exploring creative engagement with the past, especially through digital means (online here). It publishes primarily what might be thought of as ‘paradata’ or artist’s statements that accompany playful and unfamiliar forms of singing the past into existence. These could be visualizations, art works, games, pop-up installations, poetry, hypertext fiction, procedurally generated works, or other forms yet to be devised. We seek to document and valorize the scholarly creativity that underpins our representations of the past. Epoiesen is therefore a kind of witness to the implied knowledge of archaeologists, historians, and other professionals, academics and artists as it intersects with the sources about the past. It encourages engagement with the past that reaches beyond our traditional audience (ourselves).

The Background

We’ve managed to publish 4 annual volumes so far. The project of this journal has been cited as innovative, timely, and necessary. We open up opportunities for scholar/practitioners at all levels, whether in Academia or not, to envision new ways of engaging with the past. Epoiesen provides a venue for the more creative and untraditional outputs produced through the Public History programme and Digital Humanities M.A.. It also provides an opportunity for graduate students to have their theses and major research essays published.

Michael Gove, the Conservative British politician, said in the run-up to the United Kingdom’s 2016 referendum on European Union membership, “people in this country have had enough of experts”(1). And perhaps, he was right. There is a perception that archaeology is for the archaeologists, history for the historians. On our side, there is perhaps a perception that speaking to non-expert audiences is a lesser calling, that people who write/create things that do not look like what we have always done, are not really ‘serious’. In these vacuums of perception, we fail at communicating the complexities of the past, allowing the past to be used, abused, or ignored, especially for populist political ends. The ‘know-nothings‘ are on the march. We must not stand by.

In such a vacuum, there is a need for critical creative engagement with the past2. In Succinct Research, Bill White reminds us why society allows archaeologists to exist in the first place: ‘it is to amplify the whispers of the past in our own unique way so they can still be heard today‘(3). We have been failing in this by limiting the ways we might accomplish that task.

Epoiesen is a place to amplify whispers, a place to shout. Remix the experience of the past. Do not be silent!

1 Mance, H. (2016) Financial Times Jun. 3, https://www.ft.com/content/3be49734-29cb-11e6-83e4-abc22d5d108c.

2 see Holtorf, C. (2007) ‘Learning From Las Vegas’ The SAA Archaeological Record 7(3): pp. 6-10, http://www.saa.org/Portals/0/SAA/Publications/thesaaarchrec/may07.pdf.

3 White, B. (2016) ‘Archaeologists: Please Remember Why We Exist’ Succint Research Nov. 2, http://www.succinctresearch.com/archaeologists-please-remember-why-we-exist/.

The Rollout

We want to professionalize the journal, and create an opportunity for a PhD student or Postdoc to take on the role of Managing Editor. We want to be able to hire professional copy editor. We would love to hire a web editor to polish our site, and increase its reach.

The Impact

The training opportunities that this journal provides in the areas of public engagement, outreach, publishing, web technologies, digital rights management, data management, and archiving are hands-on, experiential learning activities that are otherwise hard to provide in the context of course work.

Many pieces of work that are submitted to us come from leading scholars all over the world, and can then be directly assigned as readings in a variety of classes–ranging from my own HIST3814 Crafting Digital History and HIST3812 topics in digital history, to the new Public History concentration at the undergraduate level, through to our world class public history graduate program. The journal and its works provides a public facing, real-world application of the teaching that we do in the Public History programme and Digital Humanities M.A..

Take a look at the work we have published so far at https://epoiesen.library.carleton.ca . We have published works of sound art; visual essays; reflective interactive fictions; graphic novels; comics; 3d internet-of-things enabled maps; and poetry. A community of practice is beginning to form around this practice, uniting retirees with undergraduates, new PhDs with established academics. The continued existence of Epoeisen makes space in the world for new ways of engaging with the past, new ways of writing affective history or archaeology.

We do not charge article processing fees to authors; your support enables us to continue to make publicly funded research available at no cost to whoever wishes to enjoy it.

Other Comments

Bound, printed copies of Epoiesen are available courtesy of the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

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