After A Long Wait, An Abundance of Riches

That is, if by ‘abundance’, one means ‘two’, and by ‘riches’, one means ‘academic articles that have taken a long time to get reviewed, refined, and published’. After more than a year’s wait for each, the babies have been born…if by ‘babies’, one means…(see above for the definition being used here for ‘riches’). 

One is about Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartet–a set of four novels about Indonesian nationalism during the Dutch colonial period in Indonesia. Here’s a link to the article and the abstract: 

“The Evolution of Java-Men and Revolutionaries: A Fresh Look at Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartet (Published in South East Asia Research). Link here.

This article undertakes an in-depth exploration of the trope of human evolutionary development undergirding Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Buru Quartet – a trope that has hitherto received no detailed critical attention in Pramoedya scholarship. Drawing on the traditional Javanese values of Pramoedya’s childhood and the Marxist ideological values of his early adulthood, the Quartet casts the individual’s moral development from selfish individualism to selfless community-mindedness as the development from animalism to ‘modern humanity’. In the context of traditional Javanese and Marxist cosmologies, such self-denial ends in victory: respectively, the accumulation of personal power and the successful revolutionary replacement of capitalism with socialism. However, during his brutal imprisonment in the Darwinian wilderness of Buru, Pramoedya experienced an environment that rewarded animalism and made it difficult for those ascribing to ‘human’ values to survive. Originally composed in Buru, the Quartet bears the mark of its origins and its author’s disillusionment, portraying the attainment of Javanese and Marxist standards of humanity as a decision to defy the laws of natural selection and overcome one’s instinct for self-preservation. By dissociating the acquisition of humanity from the acquisition of power, the Quartet produces modified versions of the Javanese and Marxist moral human development based not on the expectation of success and the will to live, but on the expectation of failure and the determination to die.

The End. 

The other one is about Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go. Specifically, it looks at what Never Let Me Go has to say about biotechnology and religion and makes parallels between it, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and Paradise Lost by John Milton. Again, here’s the link and an abstract:

“The Tyranny of Purpose: Religion and Biotechnology in Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (Published in Literature and Theology). Link here.

Critics and reviewers of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go (2005) have often compared it to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), but have failed to explore their similarities in a more in-depth manner. A detailed and sustained comparison of the two novels reveals further connections between Ishiguro’s novel and Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667), yielding surprising insight into the deeply theological nature of Never Let Me Go and what it has to say about religious life and biotechnological creation. As it turns out, we may be sorely mistaken about the very features of religion and biotechnology that we tend to perceive as merits: namely, religion’s ability to provide its adherents with a sense of purpose, and the benevolent purposes for which biotechnological research is undertaken.

The End.

I certainly am happy that these things have gotten published, and that they’re publications that I feel quite proud of, though I realise that compared to some astonishingly prolific academics who have articles coming out all the time, having two out in a year is non-spectacular in the extreme. But as I continue to go through the process of writing, submitting, revising and resubmitting, and etc., I can’t help thinking a few things that are already apparent to a lot of other academics who’ve already put two and three together and are sharing their knowledge and insights in all sorts of radical and innovative ways outside of the peer-reviewed journal circuit.

One. This doesn’t seem like the most efficient way of disseminating knowledge. The review process does seem to take awfully long in many cases, though it’s at once understandable since reviewers are academics who are doing it for free, out of good will, and don’t have that much free time on their hands.

Two. It seems a shame that one can only access these articles if one is affiliated with an institution that has paid for access, or if one is willing to pay 28 dollars and 25 dollars, respectively, for each article. Again, I understand why: the editors and other staff for these journals must have money to live, same as any of us. And it makes sense that they get paid for their pains. And there are printing costs and server costs and probably other costs I can’t even fathom or think of right now. I don’t know how free-access journals get around this, or why more journals aren’t free to access. If anyone wants to provide more information in the comments section for this post, please do! If you don’t have free access to the articles above but you would like to read them though, then send me an e-mail at tiffanyatsao at gmail dot com, and I will be happy to send a copy of either or both to you!

Three: How many people will actually read these articles and find it a meaningful experience? Other than the people who will just read them just so they can cite them in articles or books they’re writing? I am really proud of these articles and the work I put into them, but in the end, I’m not a genius and does anyone actually care? 

Ah yes. Deep, profound thoughts. 

Till next time!

3 thoughts on “After A Long Wait, An Abundance of Riches

  1. Jo says:

    I agree there has to a better way to go about peer review without making journals both very difficult to access and very expensive. I wish I knew.

    We can pay a lot to make an article open-access in a non-open-access journal (which Investigators seldom choose to do- $3000 on salary support or open access?). But I also smell a rat when it comes to journal publication companies like Elsevier. They charge exorbitant amounts to manage journal websites ($200,000/year), when these charges don’t seem proportional to the amount of work actually needed.

    There’s a status quo that you’re perhaps alluding to, that doesn’t necessarily work anymore in the context of online journals. That is, most universities have drastically reduced the journals they buy in print, and online journals can be very, very cheap to run and still have high standards of peer review

    In Public Health, I’m not sure what would make articles more readable and reader friendly. I wish I did though.

    1. Tiffany Tsao says:

      Hi Jo!

      Thanks for the information and your insights. Some people have noted that it’s not so much the paper-printing costs that make up the bulk of publication costs, but rather the salaries that need to be paid for people skilled in layout, proof-reading, site management, etc. But still, as you point out, it may not necessarily be proportional to the amount of work needed.

      Justin noted that there are only a handful of journal management sites as well, so maybe they can charge higher management fees because there’s not as much competition?

  2. helen from Java says:

    I just thought of you today so went to check your blog. Congratulations on your recent successes (the novel, the articles, the teaching position). You seem to qualify their importance, but I think they are great and you should enjoy them. I’m sure you’ve worked hard for them.

    I have been meaning to email you separately to ask for your perspective on a couple things related to the academic world, but have been overwhelmed with work here. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to sit down and write soon.

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