... was fueled in small part by a recent toss-away Speech Act of mine, and can be read at Quod She. Thanks for starting it, Dr. V.
Here's what I wrote over there, corrected ever so slightly:
It's a great set of questions, Dr V, and I'm glad that my frivolous comment masquerading as a Speech Act helped spur something deeper.
Anything peer reviewed typically counts highly to both a college/university tenure committee and to an outside reviewer of a tenure case. Period. It doesn't usually matter at all whether it is a journal or a collection of essays so long as it has been declared kosher via this secretive process which only allows truth to emerge. [Though I have served on a university T&P Committee in which different disciplines sometimes attempted to impose their own ratings -- i.e., an analytical philosopher who decreed that refereed journal articles were the gold standard; he declared this for no good reason that I could discern other than that this is what people in his field say to each other, and so it seemed to him a universal verity]
Personally, I think this reliance upon the magic phrase "peer reviewed" is an excuse for evaluators NOT to use their own brains, to read something and judge it for themselves. Anyone who thinks about peer review for more than a few seconds will immediately realize what a fallible system it is, susceptible to abuse and to favoritism at every turn.
As to the Medievalist Trifecta [of JMEMS, Exemplaria, and Speculum]: what Karl doesn't know is that when you complete it as I've outlined, a secret committee of medievalists who watches over such things sends you a small bouquet of flowers, a medal, and a certificate suitable for framing.
One more thing: it was JMEMS's obsession with special topics that allowed me to place an essay there (in an issue on medieval race, just as I was working on the topic). Exemplaria worked because I proposed and assembled a cluster myself (on medieval noise) ... and Speculum accepted my piece because at the time I submitted there was a sympathetic editor there whom I suspected would send my essay to readers who would take it seriously, and not to some dessicated crank who would inveigh against use of theory, style, or whatever else was causing scholarly dyspepsia on that day. Thus, I believe, did the first mention of Deleuze and Guattari make its way into Speculum. Writing for that journal was really an exercise in adapting my methods to its love of Latin and its copious footnoting of obscure works in multiple languages. It was actually a lot of fun to do that essay, a little piece called "The Flow of Blood in Medieval Norwich."
On a related note, that same Speculum editor is the one who plucked my edited collection The Postcolonial Middle Ages out of the "Also Received" dustbin (where the books go that will not be reviewed in the journal; it's that list of doomed orphans at the back of each issue). He reviewed the volume himself, sympathetically. Peer review gone right? No, a further example of the fallible chain of human actors who have a profound influence upon work they may or may not take with appropriate seriousness. I could go on and on about the license to be crazy or mean or police-like that the anonymity of peer review can grant ... but I want to stress that my "Trifecta" essays saw light of day not because peer review declared them to be True, but because of strategy, opportunity, and realization of the network of human actors behind publishing. [Also in there, I would like to think they had something valuable and original as well. I don't want to make it seem that I'm saying you can write anything and publish it so long as you pitch it correctly ... two of the three of the essays I'm speaking of benefited immensely from the serious, helpful, and probing comments of the readers.]
And I add, now: for these reasons medieval studies owes a great debt to scholars like Bonnie Wheeler and Al Shoaf who have nurtured challenging and unconventional projects and who have gently guided to print writing that could easily sink should peer review go wrong.