Winner winner!

Cerae are pleased to announce the winner of our volume four essay prize.  This prize was awarded to an article submitted under our volume four theme of Influence and Appropriation.  We published two articles related to this theme, and it was a very hard decision as to whom the prize should be awarded, as both articles were of excellent quality and hugely interesting.  The committee have decided to award this year’s prize to Jocelyn Hargrave for her article ‘Aphra Behn: Cultural Translator and Editorial Intermediary.’

Jocelyn’s article, which draws on her PhD research on the evolution of editorial practice in early modern England, struck a particular chord with the committee as editors ourselves.  It was interesting to draw parallels between modern editorial practices and those of one of our predecessors in the historical periods that we research.

Please join us in congratulating Jocelyn.  As with all research published by Cerae, as an Open Access academic journal, her winning article is available to download for free by any interested party, so do go and have a read!


Open Access Publishing

Technology is changing academia.  The knowledge and research that has traditionally been written down in great bound volumes is becoming available as ebooks and online journals, and the models for disseminating this knowledge and research are changing.  Journals now offer institution membership for online access, and researchers can buy access to specific articles.  Alongside these paywall models, open access models are gaining traction.  Open access publishing is the term applied to scholarly research that is freely available rather than sequestered behind paywalls and subscriptions.  Open access articles are rigorously researched and peer-reviewed, producing high quality academic contributions, but they way that they are funded is obviously different to the traditional models.  Established journals are beginning to change their structures, but this is creating opportunities for new journals and new models of disseminating scholarly research.

Many open access journals, like Cerae, rely on the voluntary labour of academics, ensuring that the content that we make available for free is of the same high quality as traditionally published articles.  The pay-to-access journals rely on this same voluntary labour in many ways – academics do not receive money for published articles or for peer reviewing other scholars’ articles.  The established publishing houses obviously have more resources than voluntary organisations, but as the face of academic publishing is changing, so too, hopefully, will this.

There are subject specific open access libraries that are growing in influence and prestige, such as The Open Library of Humanities and The Public Library of Science.  Funding bodies, such as the RCUK and the Wellcome Trust, have made open access publishing one of the criteria of scholarships and grants, meaning that any research published by a grantholder must be open access.  Similarly, all work eligible for REF2021 must be available for free.  This gives an indication of how important the open access model is becoming in modern scholarship.  With tuition fees escalating and academic posts becoming unbearably competitive, the opportunity to research without necessarily being affiliated with a university can be seen as a positive development.

There are huge benefits to publishing your research in an open access forum.  Without paywalls and subscriptions, your work is more accessible, leading to increased citations, greater impact, and opportunities for collaborations that fuel great research.  As the open access movement grows, there is more prestige associated with the journals that publish this way – no longer is academia limited to a few established journals with their reputations and big bank balances.  The ethos of open access is mutual respect, which is borne out in the fact that academic rigour and the peer review process are proudly maintained.

Beware, however, of the predatory journals that are latching onto the open access hype.  You should not be asked to pay for your article to be published.  Any journal that asks for financial contributions towards peer review or editorial costs is not to be trusted.  You can refer to this helpful list if you are unsure whether a journal is predatory or not.

Cerae is proudly open access, run by excellent PhD and ECR researchers who believe in the importance of bridging gaps, opening opportunities, fostering collaboration, and making knowledge freely available to all.

Further reading:

The Right to Research Coalition

Directory of Open Access Journals

HEFCE  policies

Leeds IMC 2018: some thoughts and reflections


leeds 2The weather was amazing, the programme was jam-packed, there were dragons – the 25th Leeds International Medieval Congress was an amazing event!  As ever, there were far more panels and events than any one person could possibly attend, which can be a bit overwhelming, but as our previous conference tips post advised, take it at your own pace and don’t put pressure on yourself to attend something in every session, and you’ll be right.  Leeds isn’t just about the papers and the roundtables, it’s also about who you bump into in the tea tent and catching up with friends and colleagues over a glass of conference wine.   I caught up with old friends and made new ones every day, as I’m sure the other Cerae committee members did, too!

leeds 3

Vanessa, Emma, and Stephanie flew the Cerae flag proudly in our panel at 9am on the Tuesday morning, which took place in the suitably grand Nathan Bodington Chamber in the Parkinson building.  It was a great panel that really showcased the quality of scholarship that Cerae journal fosters through open access publishing.

My own Leeds experience was focused on women warriors, castles, and new perspectives on women in romance.  I gave a paper on remembering mothers in romance, and chaired a fantastic panel on queer identities in romance.  Previously, there hasn’t really been a lot of literature activity at Leeds, and, while I love hearing about history, archaeology and the like, I’m a literary scholar, so the increase in literary panels (four of which I helped to organise!) was most welcome.

There were also roundtables and discussion groups, which fostered a great sense of dialogue between established and up-and-coming academics.  I must admit that I flaked on a few of the evening roundtables, going back to my room to recharge before panel dinners and the SMFS banquet, but the ones that I did attend were brilliant.  I also attended an interesting but incredibly emotionally draining discussion on sexual harrasment in academia.  To read more on this, please see Gabby Storey’s summary of this on twitter.  This is an important issue, but by no means the only inequality that we need to tackle in academia.

On a lighter note – dinners!  I went to a wonderful dinner at Hansa’s with the organisers and panelists of our New Perspectives on Women in Romance panels.  We were all PhDs and ECRs working on romance in various ways, and it was just beautiful to get together and see what other women are researching.  The Society of Feminist Medieval Scholarship banquet was another highlight.  I can’t sing the praises of Roberta Magnani, who organised the banquet, too highly – she is like an academic fairy godmother, always championing young researchers and fighting the feminist fight.  You would be forgiven for thinking that the future of academia in the UK is very gloomy, but with women like Roberta there is always hope!

Leeds IMC is huge and I am but one little researcher, so this blog post does not do it justice.  There are things that I am still mulling over and will write about in depth in due course.  For now, please comment with your favourite moment or important issues that you want to see discussed, or contact us to write a blog post yourself.  Fresh perspectives are always welcome.

Tech Update!

Our wonderful web editor, Erica Steiner, has been an extremely busy bee in recent weeks, updating the Cerae website to make it more streamlined and easier to use.  You  should be able to find articles and blog posts with ease now – have a browse, let us know what you think.  All Cerae articles are open access and fully downloadable, so you can discover important new scholarship without university affiliation or nasty paywalls.

Erica has also created an page for the journal.  This is a new platform for us to share articles, blog posts, news, and CfPs.  If you’re on the site, please follow us and we’ll follow you back!

And as ever, we’re active on twitter and facebook.  As a postgraduate researcher, social media has been a complete lifeline to me – twitter is where I find out about conferences, CfPs, developments in my field, but it is also where I have made friends who understand this wacky academic life.  Thank you to everyone who follows Cerae, comments on our posts, and generally makes social media a lovely and important place to be.

Conference Survival Tips

It’s nearly conference season! Leeds IMC2018 is less than a month away and my twitter feed and inbox are full of tantalising posts about all the amazing conferences that are happening this summer.  Conferences are a fantastic opportunity to meet people, experience some fantastic papers, and generally remind yourself why you love academia after a hard year at the books, the marking, the teaching, the meetings.  Love them as we do, conferences are pretty intense and can be as exhausting (and expensive) as they are exhilarating.  With that in mind, here are a selection of tips on how to make the most of your conference attendance, keep the budget down, and remember to look after your mental, physical, and emotional well being.


  1. Write your twitter handle on your name badge.  I have made so many academic friends and contacts on twitter, who I have possibly partially recognised at conferences but been unsure about approaching.  A trend has started at the IMC and other events for writing your twitter handle on your name badge so that twitter friends can become IRL friends with ease.
  2. Say hello.  Dr. Sara Uckelman points out that big conferences can be lonely places.  If you see someone looking a little lost or awkward, ask them what session they have just been in.  Sara also says that you are likely to be that person at some point, and not to worry about it, as we’ve all been there.

Getting the most out of papers

  1. Sticky tabs.  I filled a whole notebook at the IMC last year.  Everything that I wrote was absolutely vital.  And I haven’t looked at it once since.  This year, I’m planning to take a pack of sticky tabs with me, so that I can signpost what is important and why for when I get back to my desk at home and open that thesis chapter.  This could get messy, but it’s definitely going to be colourful!
  2. Share the workload.  Each time slot at the IMC has about 50 sessions in it.  How can you possibly get the most of your time without Hermione’s time whizzy thing?  Even at a conference with only two parallel sessions, you could miss out on something relevant.  While it might be nice to sit with a conference buddy, consider splitting up, attending different sessions, and comparing notes afterwards.
  3. Plan your schedule.  Dr. Marjorie Harrington recommends planning out the sessions that you want to attend in a grid calendar and colour coding them by priority.  Don’t feel guilty if you don’t get to everything – focus on your priority sessions.

Eating and drinking

  1. Load up at breakfast!  Eating can be expensive when you’re away from home, and lunch is only sometimes provided at conferences.  If breakfast is included in your accommodation costs, eat well to get you through until lunch.  Maybe even sneak a banana or cereal bar into your pocket for an emergency snack.  Ssh!
  2. Drink water.  Writing those two words has just reminded me to text my little brother, as my response to his every complaint seems to be “drink more water!”  It’s my go-to solution for a reason, and staying hydrated at conferences is important.  You’ll stay more focused and possibly not suffer the after effects of the free wine as badly.  Plus, if you invest in a quirky water bottle, you might get some compliments and strike up some interesting conversations.
  3. Have a stash.  Dr. Alicia Spencer-Hall recommends having a stash of high-energy foods in your room and in your bag, such as granola bars.  “Conferences devour energy, you will likely need to supplement your normal intake to stay the course.”  Feed your brain, my lovelies!

Travel and accommodation

  1. Pack accordingly.  Alicia also reminds us that conferences are not normal life, and that you should pack things that you wouldn’t normally have in your bag but will make conference life a lot easier – business cards, sunscreen, hand fan, many pens, water bottle, anti-chafe stick, many pens…
  2. Carpool or book advance tickets.  Telling PhDs and ECRs how to keep the cost down is like teaching your grandma to suck eggs, right? (Whose grandma ever actually sucked eggs?)  But, here it is anyway – reach out at uni or on twitter and see if anyone is driving to the conference, and ask if they would like to split the cost.  Check for cheaper advance tickets, or try the fare-splitting trick that turns your journey into two or three journeys on paper, but without you having to change trains, at a fraction of the cost (is this myth – I’ve heard tell but never worked out how to do it?)
  3. Book appropriate accommodation.  Okay, you’re on a budget, but don’t be checking in to an airbnb shared with five strangers and a goat (unless that’s your thing).  We all have our own idea of what is roughing it, but it’s essential that you feel safe and comfortable in your bed at night and while you’re taking a shower.  If you don’t feel comfortable with a shared bathroom, pay the extra to book a private one and cut back in other ways.  If you’re booking accommodation without guidance from the conference organisers, check the location and make sure you know how to get to the venue.

Well being

  1. Don’t try to do everything!  Conferences are both time and money expensive, and you will put pressure on yourself to do everything that you possibly can – attend every session, all the keynotes and roundtables, all the drinks receptions…  Dr. Uckelman and Dr. S.C. Kaplan both recommend giving yourself some downtime – skip a session, sit in the sunshine, catch up with a friend, sleep!  You don’t have to be in conference mode the whole time, and you’ll probably get more from the sessions that you do go to if you take a break.
  2. Bring something to keep you focused.  Many people pay attention better if they have something to do with their hands.  Dr. Kaplan recommends bringing something to do with your hands, such as crochet, to help keep you focused.  You will know best what this might be, whether you’re a doodler or a crafter.
  3. Enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it.

Aphra Behn: cultural translator and editorial intermediary

Here Dr. Jocelyn Hargrave of Monash University shares with us a fascinating insight into the connections between academia and publishing, and how working in both fields has informed her research.  Her article “Aphra Behn: Cultural Translator and Editorial Intermediary” has just been published in Volume 4 of Cerae Journal and can be found here.

Editing, specifically, and making books, more broadly, have been mainstays in my professional life since the late 1990s—they have shaped the person I have become and continue to be. Once I graduated with Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of Sydney in 1997, I obtained an entry-level position at an educational publisher; within two years, I successfully applied for my first editorial position. I have continued to edit since then, either in-house or on a freelance basis, working principally on primary and secondary textbooks. It is an occupation that I never tire of, one that is truly humbling and rewarding.

I decided to return to academia in 2008 to complete a Master of Arts at the University of Melbourne. My professional passion shifted effortlessly with me: my thesis investigated how digital technology had been impacting to date on the Australian educational publishing industry. The research process—from devising my research questions to building knowledge, applying methodology and disseminating my results and conclusions—was intoxicating; the requisite detail of such work appeared to mirror editorial practice. I graduated in 2012 and immediately started considering my next research journey: my doctorate—a life goal since my twenties.

During a late-night journey from Melbourne to Sydney, puttering in my husband’s 1969 Austin, I experienced a genuine light-bulb moment: to combine research and the passion for my craft to investigate the evolution and development of editing. For this, it was necessary to relinquish twenty-first-century Australia and dedicate myself to early-modern England. Completed in the Literary and Cultural Studies Program at Monash University from 2013 to 2016, my doctoral thesis, ‘Style Matters: The Influence of Editorial Style on the Publishing of English’, had two objectives. The first was to complete a historical study of the evolution of editorial style and its progress towards standardisation through an examination of early-modern style guides (known as printers’ grammars at that time), such as Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises (1683) and John Smith’s The Printer’s Grammar (1755). Style guides provide rules to ensure editorial consistency both within and across all titles produced by a publishing company. They outline the rules governing, for example, grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalisation and italicisation; explain the parts of a book, their typography and typesetting; and feature proof-correction symbols to mark on page proofs to indicate authorial and editorial corrections to be incorporated by typesetters. The second objective was to explore how multiple stakeholders—specifically authors, editors and printers—either directly implemented, or uniquely interpreted and adapted, the guidelines of contemporary style guides as part of their inherently human editorial practice. One of the case studies in my thesis related to Aphra Behn.

To understand Behn’s editorial practice, I completed a close examination of her romantic novella Agnes de Castro: or, The Force of Generous Love (1688), which was originally written by Jean-Baptiste de Brilhac and entitled Agnès de Castro, Nouvelle Portugaise (1688). This study also entailed a comparative analysis with the contemporary style guide, Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises.

Metaphor and Meaning

With the publication of volume 4, ‘Influence and Appropriation’, we’ve asked our fantastic contributors to write a blog post about their work.  First up is Jenny Smith, whose paper explores the influential power of metaphor in early modern literature.  Her article can be found here: Necessary Abuse: the Mirror as Metaphor in the Sixteenth Century

Over to Jenny:

My interest in metaphor is part of a long interest in language as an organisational principle of thought. Cerae’s call for papers on the theme of ‘Influence and Appropriation’ was an exhilarating opportunity to explore how metaphor influences thought and how metaphors accumulate, or appropriate, meaning. A case study is the metaphor of the mirror in sixteenth-century counsel, that is, the literature of advice.

Metaphor was one of the most important tropes in classical and early modern rhetoric. Just as it is in 20th– and 21st-century linguistics and philosophy of language, throughout its history metaphor in particular was considered not just a literary ornament but a fundamental principle of how humans conceive of the world. I wanted to historicize that. What was it, why was so much ink expended on it, and how did the readers and writers of those textbooks use metaphor in their non-rhetoric-textbook writing?

Elizabethan sources showed metaphor working in a cumulative way, allowing people to connect dissimilar concepts to perceive a coherent whole:

‘Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

But … all their minds transfigured so together,
More witnesseth than fancy’s images
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.’

(A Midsummer Night’s Dream, V.I.18-27)

Most uses of the mirror in counsel either described the mind as a mirror, reflecting the counsel it received, or they described counsel itself as a mirror. Counsel could therefore have all the characteristics of a mirror: distorting, flattering to vanity, true and crystal clear, obscure and requiring painstaking interpretation, part of a chain of being, showing a positive or negative example for the viewer. As Spenser reminded Elizabeth in The Faerie Queene, counsel could be

‘nought but forgerie,

Fashion’d to please the eies of them, that pas,

Which see not perfect things but in a glas:

Yet is that glasse so gay that it can blynd

The wisest sight…’

(Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book VI, Proem, stanza 5, lines 3-7)

The mirror of counsel, like the mirror of Narcissus, could deceive a mind conditioned, as the Biblical mirror of St Paul had conditioned people, to ‘see not perfect things but in a glass’.

Mirrors of counsel could also function within the idea of a mirror as history, as in the Mirror for Magistrates, a text that reflects several ways of conceiving of history. The first, suppressed, edition was titled a ‘Memorial’, but from 1559 the title of ‘Mirror’ was so popular and appropriated so many times for other texts that the metaphor accumulated yet more layers of meaning.

The pedagogical practice of imitatio, that is the reading and imitating of many different authors as taught by Erasmus and other influential figures, was central to the persistence of all these layers of meaning shaping the Elizabethan world.

The sources were also immensely enjoyable to read. Elizabeth I has a reputation for being a crafty, canny and well-read writer; George Gascoigne and Stephen Gosson were delightful new discoveries who seemed to be no less so. My title is taken from Gosson’s Schoole of Abuse, a polemic against plays (by a former playwright), and from the rhetorical trope of catachresis, Latinized to abusio. Catachresis, as Puttenham said, is what happens when a metaphor seems too far-fetched, too awkward, too obscure. The tension between resemblance and difference in the two terms of a metaphor have influenced metaphor theory since Aristotle, and this tension fascinates me too. The mirror shows both resemblance and difference: when Paul described human understanding as seeing ‘through a glass darkly’, it was a metaphor for how metaphor works in cognition.

So forms of language do persist in interesting ways – not just metaphors but also rhythms and vocabulary. Reading Mark Turner, who moved cognitive linguistics into the field of literary criticism, I saw a passage whose balance of phrases is so Ciceronian, and the opening sentence ‘There is a system to imagination’ so reminiscent of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that it struck me as a proof of how the language of predecessors becomes an organising principle for the language, and perhaps the thought, of later writers. I don’t know whether Turner does this deliberately, but if he did he was doing imitatio in the best sixteenth-century style; Erasmus would have approved. The passage therefore seemed a case in point for my argument, and an appropriate conclusion.

I am grateful to Cerae’s anonymous reviewers, to the audience at RSA16, and to the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Monash and the Medieval and Early Modern Cohort at the University of Melbourne, for helpful comment on different aspects. The article therefore reflects the pleasures and wisdoms of scholarship and scholarly counsel.