By Danièle Cybulskie
The most exciting new scholarship often occurs at the crossroads of many different disciplines, and on the frontiers of new technology. This is the philosophy behind Accessus: A Journal of Premodern Literature and New Media, a free online publication sponsored by The Gower Project. Accessus looks at Western European literature written before 1660 CE, especially that of John Gower, in a way that “challenges academic borderlines, binaries, and traditional ways of thinking” (Introduction, p.1). Instead of the standard, paper format, Accessus’ articles include hyperlinks, pictures, videos, and other various types of new media, allowing contributors the freedom to share more than just words, and greatly expanding the potential for discussion and further scholarship.
While the work of John Gower is a major focus of the journal, even if you’ve never heard of Gower before Accessus offers a wide range of related topics to pique your interest. A quick glance at the “Most Popular Papers” on the website reveals a range of topics from lawyers, to disability in Lancastrian England, to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in performance, all of which are available free for anyone to download. One of Accessus’ founders and co-editors, Eve Salisbury, believes this open format is the journal’s great strength. “The most exciting thing about Accessus,” she says, “is that it is accessible to independent scholars, nonaffiliated faculty, and graduate students around the world.” Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Accessus has already attracted the notice of readers from as far away as Bangladesh and Bosnia, and its popularity is growing.
In order to ensure good quality scholarship, Accessus peer reviews all of its articles, so it’s an excellent and reliable source of information for researchers and casual readers alike. Because of its rigorous review process, Accessus is also a good place for premodern scholars to publish new and interesting work. Its biannual format means that original scholarship is available frequently, and you can sign up for email or RSS notifications to make sure you don’t miss out on new editions or announcements.
Anyone interested in premodern literature or culture, especially the work of John Gower, should check out Accessus for a new look at how traditional scholarship and new media can work together to push the boundaries of how we look at the past. For more information, or to submit an article, visit the Accessus website. Conference-goers who will be attending the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo this week can meet up with members of The Gower Project at the sessions on Gower and Performance (Saturday at 1:30) or Gower and Medicine (Saturday at 3:30).
You can follow Danièle Cybulskie on Twitter @5MinMedievalist