Main | Evelyn Underhill, The Church and War »

September 07, 2005

Quadriga Publications

Wheels Within Wheels

In this section, we’ll catalog and describe our series of peer-reviewed publications. We adopt the emblem of the wheel for this series as an allusion to Ezekiel’s vision of wheels within wheels on the divine chariot, to the wheel of Dhamma, to the Epistle of James’s reference to “the wheel of generation,” to the quadriga of medieval biblical interpretation, and many other wheels that cycle through religious and theological discourses.

We envision offering publications of varying scales, from articles or chapter-length essays to monographs. We will commission academic studies and teaching resources, which we will then mark-up for publication online, in PDF format, and in print from a partner on-demand publisher). We’ll also try to make available MP3 files of our publications.

Commissioned Publications
Academics write much all the time, for very little return. The Disseminary will commission works and publish them for distribution online. While some will quickly point out that online publications would fail to draw high-quality writing from estimable authors, we respond that the advantages of online publication would provide an attractive incentive for possible authors. Not every prominent scholar need contribute — but once one or two participate, the prejudice that online publication lacks scholarly heft will quickly evaporate.

Commissioned publications may vary in scope from full monographs to topical essays to chapter-length introductory treatments of fundamental topics. We especially look forward eventually to commissioning textbook chapters for use in introductory classes; teachers (and learners) may compile a collection of chapters to use as a single textbook, or select particular chapters as worthy of attention. The Disseminary can commission alternate chapters on the same topic, so that a teacher could choose a chapter on “Eschatology” (for instance) from among a range of available options.

Study guides
There exists on the Web a significant amount of highly-useful resources for religious and theological education. However, these resources are widely dispersed and while some indices (notably the “Wabash Center Guide to Internet Resources”) do exist, these indices rarely provide more than basic commentary. The Disseminary will commission five study guides that will direct the reader through a course of study that comprehends its entire subject area. For instance, a study guide on “mysticism” will note that the translations of Pseudo-Dionysius’s Mystical Theology available online are of significantly lower quality than that available through the Paulist Press Classics of Western Spirituality series. It would also note that the work of Maximus Confessor is not available online, and that the serious student should consult a print edition of his Chapters on Knowledge. The purpose of this would be to augment the study of figures such as Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena—of whose works good online editions are available—with the guidance necessary to enrich a student’s learning. The study guides, in effect, teach a subject rather than provide a list of information and links. To some extent, the study guides acts as a small, but reputable secondary resource on its subject. The study guide will also refer to other reliable secondary resources both on- and off-line.

A Note on Online Publication
The Disseminary project envisions not only the online distribution of its commissioned work (and edited classical sources), but also distribution in print. To that end, the text will follow a carefully planned mark-up scheme, such that a print-on-demand publisher could produce a limited-run edition of a selected text with only minimal set-up. Such print editions stand to return to their authors royalties over and above the initial commission.

Online publication offers a number of signal advantages. For instance, the potential audience for a work published by a standard theological publisher would number in the tens of thousands at most, with only a slender chance that a casual browser might come across it. On the Web, however, a project published online at no charge might easily attract the attention many thousands — potentially, anyone anyone with a connection to the internet — and a reader with casual interest may easily come upon the work by using a standard search engine. Internet users from any continent will have ready access to the work, in a variety of forms, and it will not go out of print. These advantages weigh enough that some authors will choose online publication over print publication — and as more authors choose the Web, the perceived distinction privilege of print publishing will dissipate.

Posted by AKMA at September 7, 2005 01:49 AM


Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?