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  • Publishing Romantic Scholarship in 2020
  • Bethany Thomas (bio)

The primary aim of Cambridge University Press is to create and distribute academic publications, and thereby disseminate knowledge and advance research. As one of the Commissioning Editors tasked with finding and developing those publications, it is my job to ask, "Where next?"

I took up the post of Commissioning Editor for Literature in January 2018. Inheriting a list which is already so well-established and successful makes the "where next" question more challenging but, in some ways, more important too. As we all know, the humanities are coming under ever-increasing pressure, and identifying and nurturing innovative and exciting new projects and publishing models has never been a more pressing task. Fortunately, I am confident our list in Romantic literature can continue to grow and take advantage of new developments.

Firstly and simply, but perhaps most importantly, is Cambridge's continued commitment to publishing the best new work in the field. It is a pleasure to read the proposals which are submitted to Cambridge Studies in Romanticism, a series established over 25 years ago under the editorship of Jim Chandler and Marilyn Butler, which continues to publish first, second and even third books from the leading voices [End Page 183] in the field. I look forward to reading many more in key areas such as gender and sexuality; sound and sense studies; disability studies; emotion and affect; the environment and cartography; race and immigration; the history of reading; animal studies; and many more.

In recent years we have also established new series which explore broader, more inclusive, more global and connected views of literary history. Our successful Literature in Context series place writers in their literary, political, intellectual, social, and cultural settings. Our recently established series Nineteenth-Century Literature in Transition takes a decade-by-decade approach, aiming to interrogate existing characterisations and explore themes relevant to present-day considerations. I am also keen to expand our publishing in women's romantic writing and experience, with various projects in development. An ever-increasing number of proposals now include a digital-humanities element in their approach or methodology, and Cambridge is also keen to explore digital-first models. The new Cambridge Elements programme offers authoritative, peer-reviewed, short-form scholarly research, organised into edited series, with the ability to include high quality color images, video, and audio files.

Open Access is of course one of the biggest considerations for academic publishers today, committed to changing forever the industry and the way knowledge and research are disseminated. Cambridge is committed to supporting the goal of open research, though exactly what that future will look like is still unclear. As a Press we are also keen to publish work from a diverse range of authors, and to promote inclusivity in the communities we serve, but this is an area where we can and must do better. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought these issues into sharper focus in recent months, but we must now focus on ways to diversify our author base, reviewer pool, and scholarly output to ensure long term and sustained structural change. [End Page 184]

Bethany Thomas

Bethany Thomas is Commissioning Editor for Literature at Cambridge University Press, responsible primarily for Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century British Literature, European Literature after 1700, East Asian Literature, and Publishing and Book History.



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pp. 183-184
Launched on MUSE
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