Sunday, 5 March 2017

A Cultural History of the Songster

While Paul Watt and I were working on our four-volume collection Bawdy Songbooks of the Romantic Period (2011), with Derek B. Scott, David Gregory and Ed Cray, we discussed the possibility of continuing our collaboration, and directing scholarly attention to the songsters that were at the heart of the collection, by holding a conference and/or editing a collection of essays. In the end (i.e., over the last six years), we did/have done both.

Although our book, edited by Derek, Paul and I for Cambridge University Press, is not officially in print until 23 March, it has appeared on Google Books here, today, so I thought I'd use this excuse to post the very cool cover art and thank my brilliant co-editors for making this collection possible.

I also wanted to repeat something I have had reason to say many times before (such as here), Government bodies (I am looking at you ARC), and Universities, are obsessed with "Evidence of Impact." I can trace the prompt for two collaborative enterprises, an essay ("Fanny Hill, Lord Fanny, and the Myth of Metonymy") and an edited collection (Bawdy Songbooks of the Romantic Period), both of which were published in 2011, to August 2000. And I can trace the prompt for the present collaborative enterprise to those 2011 publications. The second time-frame is shorter (six years instead of ten), which I can probably credit to Paul and Derek, but they are still long. Likewise, the time-frame for other scholars using our publications is almost as long and so, only now, are citations for these publications beginning to accumulate and multiply.

In November 2010 I wrote:

When it can take a decade … between the prompt for an article and its publication, and when it can take three years between the submission of an article and it being printed, there seems little chance that an ARC final report, submitted on the day your funding stops, will capture even a fraction of your "Research outputs" and, as for "Evidence of Impact," it could be years again before any of the arguments [you] have presented gain any traction.

While we wait for "evidence of impact" to accumulate for today's publication, we will each keep ourselves busy with our next projects. Meanwhile, here is the cool cover art I mentioned:

BTW: The first title for our book was The Nineteenth-Century Songster: A Cultural History; our second A Cultural History of the Songster: Cheap Print and Popular Song in the Nineteenth Century, but we got rolled. CUP didn't want "Songster" in the main title at all, and I note that the sub-title is missing from the "About this book" page on Google (here). As you may have guessed, I didn't agree with CUP's arguments for changing the title, and that is why I am using the sub-title here!

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