Open Access

Most of Gary's work is freely available to read and download either here, in the OA archive CSeARCH or in Coventry University's online repository CURVE here 

performative project Janneke Adema has put together, based on our ‘The Political Nature of the Book: On Artists’ Books and Radical Open Access’ article for New Formations, Number 78, Summer, 2013. 

Radical Open Access network


Occupy: A People Yet To Come, and The First Sail: J. Hillis Miller - two new books from OHP

Open Humanities Press is happy to announce two new books:

 Occupy: A People Yet to Come, edited by Andrew Conio, with essays by Claire Colebrook, Giuseppina Mecchia, John Protevi, Rodrigo Nunes, Verena Andermatt Conley, Nicholas Thoburn, Ian Buchanan, David Burrows, Eugene Holland and Andrew Conio.

The First Sail: J. Hillis Miller, A Film-Book, with essays by Henry Sussman, Sarah Dillon, Charlie Gere, Nicholas Royle, Éamonn Dunne and Michael O’Rourke, Dragan Kujundžić, Julian Wolfreys and J. Hillis Miller.

 View the film below, and at the Internet Archive here:


Open Humanities Press: Funding and Organisation

At OHP we are often asked about our funding model, how we are staffed, what organizational support we have, and the traditional publishing services we provide to book authors (such as copyediting, layout, indexing). What follows is a version of a reply to one such request for further information.

 Open Humanities Press (OHP) is an international, non-profit, open access (OA) publishing collective specializing in critical theory. It was established in 2006 by Gary Hall, Sigi Jöttkandt, and David Ottina, in collaboration with a wider network of scholars, librarians, technology specialists and publishers. 

Taking the academic ‘gift economy’ as its model, OHP experiments with different, more resilient (we prefer that term to sustainable) ways of working. Most of OHP’s funding comes indirectly: via publicly funded institutions paying our salaries as academics, librarians, technologists and so forth (although not everyone who is part of OHP works for a university – or even a publicly funded institution, for that matter). We are thus simply ‘gifting’ some of the time we are given to conduct research and provide academic services for the profession (peer-reviewing, journal editing etc.) to create open access publishing opportunities for others.  It is worth noting that, as Sigi Jöttkandt points out, ‘this largely volunteer effort is the norm rather than the exception’ when it comes to no-fee journal publishing in many humanities fields, ‘in both OA and non-OA sectors’. Some scholars may be fortunate enough to be offered reduced teaching or administrative loads by their institutions for establishing and running publishing projects such as this one. Others may have PhD students or graduate assistants they can ask to help with some of the work. Still others may even be given an assistant, funded by the academic institution, to help with the editorial labour. Another indirect source of funding occurs via institutions on occasion paying for the hosting of content. (Thanks are due to our OHP colleague Marta Brunner for this last point.)

 Operating on an ‘academic gift economy’ basis can actually be a significant source of strength to many independent humanities publishers. For one thing, it makes it easier to publish highly specialised, experimental, inter- or trans-disciplinary research. In other words, it supports research that, in challenging established disciplines, styles and frameworks, often falls between the different stools represented by the various academic departments, learned societies, scholarly associations, and research councils, and that does not always fit into the neat disciplinary categories and divisions with which traditional and for-profit publishers tend to order their lists – but which may nevertheless help to push a field in exciting new directions and generate important new areas of inquiry.

Yet we are aware the ‘gift economy’ can also be a potential source of weakness. It opens up many such initiatives to being positioned as functioning on an amateur, shoe-string basis.  Compared to a series or list produced by a large, for-profit, corporately owned legacy press, open access presses that use gift economy as their model are far more vulnerable to the accusation that they are unable to sustain high academic standards in terms of their production, editing, copy-editing, proofing and peer reviewing processes. They are also more vulnerable to the suspicion that they are incapable of maintaining consistently high academic standards in terms of the quality of their long term sustainability, the marketing and distribution services they can offer, their ability to be picked up by prestige-endowing indexes, and all the other add-on features a legacy press can often provide, such as journal archiving, contents alerts, discussion forums, etc. As Gary Hall observes, while this also applies to ‘independent’ print journals, it is especially the case with regard to online-only journals, the majority of which are ‘still considered too new and unfamiliar to have gained the level of institutional recognition required for them to be thought of as being "established" and "of known" quality’.

It is precisely this perception of open access in the humanities that OHP is endeavouring to counter by directly addressing these issues. Its explicit aim is to ensure open access publishing, in certain areas of the humanities at least, meets ‘the levels of professionalism our peers expect from publications they associate with academic "quality"'. 

With regard to the ‘traditional’ publishing services we offer to authors (such as copy-editing): in the ‘start-up’ period of the book publishing aspect of our project (which ran from 2009-2014), some of these services were provided by our then collaborator, University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office - which later became MPublishing, and is now known as Michigan Publishing. It is this partnership with MPublishing that, to a certain extent, has enabled OHP to publish open access books without ‘author-pays’ publishing fees or external funding, and to maintain high production standards and achieve a certain level of prestige of the kind one gets from being associated with a legacy print press in the process. We say ‘to a certain extent’, however, because OHP has never been totally reliant on Michigan for these services – and is thus still able to offer them to authors now that we have brought our partnership with MPublishing to a close by mutual agreement.

 Not relying on author- or funder-pays models of publishing is important to us. Indeed, we are keen to explore publishing models that do not risk disenfranchising independent scholars, those in less wealthy institutions, or those with alternative viewpoints which do not necessarily meet institutional approval, be it at funding agency, university vice-chancellor or provost, research head or author processing charge (APC) committee level.  For this reason, we do not normally speak in terms of a funding model for OHP per se. Eileen Joy, who runs an independent open access publisher called Punctum Books, captures the spirit of this approach in the following terms:

rather than building one particular type of digital platform and asking authors to shape their work within that platform – whatever it might be – [OHP, but she is also referring to Anvil Academic here] have taken the riskier move of offering infrastructure and other types of support services that would be uniquely designed to meet the desires and needs of whatever creative and complex types of born-digital scholarship might be conceptualized by individual scholars, and I consider that incredibly progressive and exciting. (Eileen Joy, 'A Time for Radical Hope: Freedom, Responsibility, Publishing, and Building New Publics’, In The Middle, November, 2013)

 In sum, we are not in search of a one-size-fits-all solution to open access. Rather, each project that is ‘part of OHP’ – be it a journal, a book series, a blog or one of our Labs projects – is unique, inventing its own singular way of responding to its community’s needs. 



Videos from Radical Methodologies for the Humanities: Third Disrupting the Humanities seminar

On March 9th, 2015, the Centre for Disruptive Media hosted the third and final seminar in the Disrupting the Humanities seminar series. This seminar was titled ‘Radical Methodologies for the Posthumanities‘, and featured papers by Monika Bakke, Lesley Gourlay, Niamh Moore and Iris van der Tuin.

 The videos of the presentations and the discussions afterwards are now available. You can find them underneath or on the wiki here, as well as on a separate YouTube channel here. This isn’t a ‘normal’ edit, though: as with the videos of the first and second seminars in the series, we have tried to make the them more ‘interactive’ by annotating them in an extensive way: e.g. by adding references to some of the websites, projects, persons and concepts that were mentioned in the papers, as well as by directly inserting tweets from the seminar’s participants. You can find more information about this editing process here:

Most of the credit for this goes to our Media Production students at Coventry University, in particular Sharifah Mian, who has been heavily involved in conceptualising, planning, recording, and editing the videos. Some of the new elements we have introduced in the videos for the third seminar include working with transparent layers and in a sense ‘overlaying’ the presentations in an attempt to be less intrusive. We have also experimented with incorporating short videos of the annotations instead of screenshots. Although this may mean these inserts are harder to read in real time, the thinking behind this is that we are able to insert more material in a short-time span, where viewers/readers have the opportunity to pause the recording to read the additional material should they wish to do so.


Radical Open Access conference

Radical Open Access

15th - 16th of June 2015

Two days of critical discussion and debate in support of an ‘alternative’ vision for open access and scholarly communication. The aim of the conference is to explore some of the intellectually and politically exciting ways of understanding open access that are currently available internationally. A particular emphasis is placed on those that have emerged in recent years in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

This conference is organized by The Centre for Disruptive Media at The School of Art and Design at Coventry University. 

Attendance and participation is free of charge. 

Register and find out more at:

Confirmed Speakers: An Uncertain Commons, Janneke Adema, Dominique Babini, Armin Beverungen, Mercedes Bunz, Marcus Burkhardt, Joe Deville, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Christian Fuchs, Rupert Gatti, Gary Hall, David Harvie, John Holmwood, Sigi Jöttkandt, Eileen Joy, Chris Kelty, Sarah Kember, Andreas Kirchner, Christopher Land, Stuart Lawson, Tara McPherson, David Ottina, Nate Tkacz, Marisol Sandoval, Joanna Zylinska

Projects and Presses: Culture Machine, CLACSO, Discover Society, Ephemera, Goldsmiths Press, Journal of Peer Production, Journal of Radical Librarianship, Limn, Mattering Press, MayFly Books, MediaCommons Press, MLA Commons, Meson Press, Open Humanities Press, Photomediations Machine, Punctum Books, Scalar, Spheres, tripleC, Vectors




'There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. And just as such a document is not free of barbarism, barbarism taints also the manner in which it was transmitted from one owner to another. A historical materialist therefore dissociates himself from it as far as possible. He regards it as his task to brush history against the grain.'    

                   (Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History)

While open access has at long last entered the mainstream in the global West and North, it is a particular version of it that is being taken up so widely. Open access is currently being positioned and promoted by policy makers, funders and commercial publishers alike primarily as a means of serving the knowledge economy and helping to stimulate market competition. This version has become so dominant that even those on the left of the political spectrum who are critical of open access are presenting it in much the same terms: as merely assisting with the ongoing process of privatising knowledge, research and the university. 

Rather than ‘working with the grain’ of neoliberalism’s co-option of open access, the Radical Open Access conference will reclaim it by asking: what is the potential for supporting and taking further some of the different, more intellectually and politically exciting, ways of understanding open access that are currently available internationally? A particular emphasis will be placed on those that have emerged in recent years, in the arts, humanities and social sciences especially. Radical Open Access will thus provide the impetus for bringing together many of those currently involved in experimenting with ‘alternative’ forms of open access: both to discuss the long, multifaceted critical tradition of open access, its history and genealogies; and to examine a broad range of radical open access models. 

As part of its refusal to concede open access, the conference will endeavour to strengthen alliances between the open access movement and other struggles concerned with the right to access, copy, distribute, sell and (re)use artistic, literary, cultural and academic research works and other materials (FLOSS, p2p, internet piracy etc.); and to stimulate the creation of a network of publishers, theorists, scholars, librarians, technology specialists, activists and others, from different fields and backgrounds, both inside and outside of the university. In particular, the conference will explore a vision of open access that is characterised by a spirit of on-going creative experimentation, and a willingness to subject some of our most established scholarly communication and publishing practices, together with the institutions that sustain them (the library, publishing house etc.), to rigorous critique. Included in the latter will be the asking of important questions about our notions of authorship, authority, originality, quality, credibility, sustainability, intellectual property, fixity and the book - questions that lie at the heart of what scholarship is and what the university can be in the 21st century. 


Photomediations: An Open Book

We are pleased to announce the launch of Photomediations: An Open Book. The project redesigns a coffee-table book as an online experience to produce a creative resource that explores the dynamic relationship between photography and other media. Photomediations: An Open Book uses open (libre) content, drawn from various online repositories (Europeana, Wikipedia Commons, Flickr Commons) and tagged with the CC-BY licence and other open licences. In this way, the book showcases the possibility of the creative reuse of image-based digital resources.

Through a comprehensive introduction and four specially commissioned chapters on light, movement, hybridity and networks that include over 200 images, Photomediations: An Open Book tells a unique story about the relationship between photography and other media. The book’s four main chapters are followed by three ‘open’ chapters, which will be populated with further content over the next 18 months. The three open chapters are made up of a social space, an online exhibition and an open reader. A version of the reader, featuring academic and curatorial texts on photomediations, will be published in a stand-alone book form later in 2015, in collaboration with Open Humanities Press.

Photomediations: An Open Book’s online form allows for easy sharing of its content with educators, students, publishers, museums and galleries, as well as any other interested parties. Promoting the socially significant issues of ‘open access’, ‘open scholarship’ and ‘open education’, the project also explores a low-cost hybrid publishing model as an alternative to the increasingly threatened traditional publishing structures.

Photomediations: An Open Book is a collaboration between academics from Goldsmiths, University of London, and Coventry University. It is part of Europeana Space, a project funded by the European Union's ICT Policy Support Programme under GA n° 621037. It is also a sister project to the curated online site Photomediations Machine:

Project team: Professor Joanna Zylinska, Dr Kamila Kuc, Jonathan Shaw, Ross Varney, Dr Michael Wamposzyc.

Project advisor: Professor Gary Hall.

Visit Photomediations: An Open Book:

Follow us on Twitter: @photomediations
For further enquiries please contact: 
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