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Broadsides: Modern echoes of a historic medium

We are delighted to introduce our latest initiative to expand the NACBS online presence: Broadsides. This digital publication offers a communal-but-curated space to host scholarly discussion on any topic of interest to our membership.


Broadside describing a comet that passed over Britain in 1807. "Observations on the comet." Wellcome Collection. Public domain.

Broadsides will serve as the official blog of the NACBS and its launch today represents an important step in our efforts to establish new, accessible, and inclusive ways of communicating online together. We are enthusiastic about the potential this forum holds as a space where the ideas and activities of our members can help drive the organization in new directions. We are also hopeful that Broadsides will highlight the vibrancy and relevance of British Studies at a time when doing so is crucial.


With such lofty goals, it was difficult to select a name that adequately conveyed what we hope to accomplish. Ultimately, we decided to name the blog after the printed ephemera that many of you are already familiar with and that we felt aligned nicely with our plans.


So, why Broadsides?


First, there were some clear similarities in terms of format and reach. Blog posts are significantly shorter than other scholarly outputs like journal articles or books. This condensed format fittingly echoes historical broadsides which were typically single sheets of paper, printed only on one side. Broadsides were also designed to reach a large audience – something we are likewise aiming to achieve. We hope that anyone interested in British Studies will find something of value in our new publication.


There are also important functional similarities. In the past, broadsides served a variety of purposes like conveying news, discussing current events, promoting particular causes, announcing official proclamations, or documenting public events and meetings. The categories we’ve established for organizing Broadsides reflect a similar range of purposes. “Making Connections” highlights pieces that link research with the latest news or offer a historical perspective on current events. “Our Community” features official communications from the NACBS (not proclamations, we promise!). Likewise, any official statements concerning advocacy or support will be found there. “Practice” includes posts that consider issues of pedagogy, research methodology, and faculty support. Member reviews or analyses of works of literature, art, music, and more can be found in “Reviews.” And “Of Interest” provides a convenient catch-all space for any creative works that may not fall clearly in one of the other categories.


Finally, we are optimistic that the “Annual Conference” category will become a productive venue to consider issues, both big and small, related to our annual meeting. We envision a diverse range of topics from discussions about best practices for an inclusive conference to “dispatches” from the event itself which could include anything from panel summaries to reflections about member experiences. In short, Broadsides can play an important role in our efforts to “keep the conversation going” year-round. Take a moment to check out the inaugural post in this category, which poses a question about Indigenous erasure and representation sparked by a decorative medallion on the façade of the Lord Baltimore Hotel, where this year’s meeting will take place.


"Most importantly, broadsides were a timely and topical method for sharing information and encouraging conversation; we hope our Broadsides will do just the same."

We are excited about the lineup of engaging posts that are already at various stages in our editorial pipeline. From here, we will work towards a weekly or bimonthly publication schedule depending on the time of year. Be sure to check back next week for a piece on slavery, restorative justice, and the upcoming coronation.


As of now, we are officially open for business and would love to hear from you! If you are interested in contributing to Broadsides please follow the submission guidelines outlined here. We are open to a broad range of ideas and welcome your feedback! Please reach out to me at digital@nacbs.org with any pitches, topic suggestions, potential authors, or ideas you may have for new categories or series.


No analogy is perfect and it’s true that we won’t be replicating all of the uses of historic broadsides (we have no ballads in the works, nor will we be advertising any products or services, for example!). We felt, however, that the format and purpose of our efforts were analogous to this earlier medium and that it would make an appropriate namesake for our new project. Most importantly, broadsides were a timely and topical method for sharing information and encouraging conversation; we hope our Broadsides will do just the same.


 


Amanda Banacki Perry is the Digital Media Director for the NACBS. She stepped into this role last fall and is excited to continue working to strengthen our online community. Her current research explores the social and cultural world of British diplomatic statebuilding after the First World War.



 

The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the original author/s and do not necessarily represent the views of the North American Conference on British Studies. The NACBS welcomes civil and productive discussion in the comments below. Our blog represents a collegial and conversational forum, and the tone for all comments should align with this environment. Insulting or mean comments will not be tolerated and NACBS reserves the right to delete these remarks and revoke the commenter’s site membership.

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