In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introduction
  • David F. Bell, Pierre Cassou-Noguès, Paul A. Harris, and Eric Méchoulan

Periodically, we take stock of SubStance and provide a brief statement regarding initiatives and priorities in the journal's interests. Three years ago, we announced that "Exploring hybrid writing with theoretical impact is at the center of our current preoccupations."1 Since that time, the journal has made significant changes. This issue marks our fourth issue of publishing with Johns Hopkins University Press in a transition that recognizes our new publisher as a leader among university presses.

Our plan also expressed our intent to move toward publishing digital work that exemplifies theoretical thinking in nonlinear, experimental forms. In 2018, we launched Digital SubStance, a platform for "hybrid work that generates challenging conceptual frameworks, work that represents something more than a style, or, rather, truly a style: a creative way to address and express ideas or concepts, to push literary thought and thought about literature into new territories."2 We are committed to supporting innovative scholars and artists by providing a peer-reviewed publication venue for digital scholarship. While the profession has been moving in this direction, institutional structures have been slow to recognize digital scholarship consistently, substantially, or equally toward promotion, tenure, or career development. We hope to contribute usefully to that discussion. Our investment in this venture is also informed by a longer-term view of ensuring the robust presence, influence, and evolution of humanistic scholarship and creative work. New media, including digital platforms, open up opportunities to present work in different forms, in turn stimulating different pathways of thinking and working and different ways of reaching out to a broader readership.

Digital SubStance encompasses two kinds of open-access publications. Its Journal Supplements features intermedial content related to specific issues of SubStance. The special issue Rock Records (SubStance 146, 2018) includes theoretical writings from leading eco-theorists alongside artistic works that carve out a contemporary geo-aesthetics, as well as an excerpt from Roger Caillois's writings on stones presented for the first time in English. The Journal Supplements for Rock Records includes an exhibition of Viewing Stones, artist Richard Turner's multimedia renderings of his stone artworks, and an exhibit of Caillois's mineral collection and stone writings, which provide context for the excerpt published in the issue. [End Page 3] The special issue Dismantling the Man-Machine (SubStance 147, 2018) investigates contemporary representations of the human as a machine. The issue's Journal Supplements include a digital version of Sydney Levy's "Elove: What does Fiction Know?" that exposes and pursues the complex relationships among the concepts, and representations of robots discussed in Pierre Cassou-Noguès's essay for the issue.

Our second foray into digital publishing is SubStance@Work, a series comprised of born-digital works that integrate non-linear structure and multimedia content in innovative theoretical explorations. In assembling an Advisory Board for the series, we invited artists and academics committed to digital scholarship and art, whose work demonstrates sophisticated theoretical thinking across a number of disciplines, including film, philosophy, theory, media studies, and art. In the first project in the series, Phobic Postcards, Pierre Cassou-Noguès considers the irrationality of phobia. A phobia is a fear that has an object (contrary to Heidegger's Angst) but its object is absurd: there is no danger. Phobias seem to mark an uncanny limit to reason, to argumentation, to philosophy, a limit that this project explores through twelve videos and many notes. The second project, The Petriverse of Pierre Jardin by Paul A. Harris, is a work of Anthropocene theory and art that cements a breccia with traditions by cobbling together conglomerate materials, composing an uplifting landscape grounded in rock-gardening, geo-humanities, and earth art.

We wish to thank Melanie Hubbard, Digital Scholarship Librarian at Loyola Marymount University, for her work in designing Digital SubStance and assisting authors with their contributions to Journal Supplements and SubStance@Work. We conclude by renewing our invitation to approach us with inquiries along the lines opened up by Digital SubStance, including individual submissions of work designed for digital publication, proposals for special issues that would include both conventional scholarship and digital content...


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