Greetings, everyone! This voice, our voice addressing you now, is the newly minted collective voice of the Steering Committee of the BABEL Working Group, chosen by election earlier this month. Here we are, gathered together in a first speech act to introduce ourselves and say a bit more about BABEL. BABEL strives to be a non-hierarchical collective, a gathering of academics, para-academics, and students, artists, and makers of all sorts. BABEL conducts ongoing experiments in how intellectual life can be simultaneously more wild and more just. Many, but not all, of these experiments have taken place in the domain of medieval studies. We, says the committee, are thrilled to be helms-people of BABEL at present, and look forward to listening to you, testing which ways the winds blow and the currents pulse, and helping set our course. We will serve fixed terms, expiring on a rolling basis, allowing for new committee members to be chosen by nomination and election. Here are the individuals who compose “us”:
Karl Steel, www.medievalkarl.com
Lara Farina, http://english.wvu.edu/facu/lara-farina
Chris Piuma, http://chrispiuma.com
Jonathan Hsy, https://gwu.academia.edu/JonathanHsy
Sakina Bryant, https://sonoma.academia.edu/SakinaBryant
Asa Simon Mittman, www.thematerialcollective.org; http://myweb.csuchico.edu/~asmittman; https://csuchico.academia.edu/AsaMittman
Julie Orlemanski, http://english.uchicago.edu/faculty/orlemanski
Jeffrey Cohen, http://jeffreyjeromecohen.net
At present, the Steering Committee is testing and playing with how we might best be a part of BABEL’s future. To that end, we’d love to hear from you. We welcome ideas, concerns, and suggestions. And we plan to set up some formal structures for gathering points of view from outside the Committee – and for the Committee to share our reflections, concerns, and plans-in-the-making. The first of these structures are social media forums, including a Facebookgroup and Google+ community, both called BABEL Futures. Their purpose is the two-way exchange of BABEL related plots, information, and possibilities. We encourage you to join!!
Thanks to recent discussions (like Mary Kate Hurley’s thoughtfulposting at In the Middle, and the comments it engendered) and to the survey conducted after the 2014 BABEL conference in Santa Barbara, we have already at hand a number of perspectives on BABEL that we can reflect on and imagine turning into concrete changes and practices. Together, these perspectives demonstrate that BABEL is a big tent: it contains, shall we say, dabblers as well as BABELers – both those who are passing through, in the transient constellation of a conference session or an online conversation, and those who are deeply embedded in BABEL’s growth and change over the last few years. Whether you’re in the thick of it or in the shallows, in the middle or on the fringe, we’d like to hear from you. What kind of creative and intellectual spaces can BABEL construct and support? How might these spaces exist within the fleeting face-to-face encounters of conferences, the media of publishing, or the broader worlds we inhabit?
You can expect to hear more from us soon, including details of where the good ship BABEL might be heading and details of how we can collectively set its course. In the short term, do join our facebook group and Google+ community. We hope these will be forums for interacting, conspiring, and collaborating, and we will also use them to make announcements and share information. Make of them what you will. The floor is open. And sometimes it will be a dance floor….