New Issue: sx salon 31



A new issue of sx salon (31) is now available. Here are excerpts from the Introduction by incoming editor Rachel Mordecai:

Transitions are opportunities for reflection. Happily, the current transition in editorial leadership of sx salon (about which, more in a minute) has been expected for some time, allowing us to mark this moment appropriately with a special discussion section—guest-edited by outgoing editor Kelly Baker Josephs and outgoing book review editor Vanessa K. Valdés—that reflects on the field of online publishing and specifically on questions of speed, the archive, and the persistence (or not) of digitally published work.

The pieces collected here include reflective essays by Peter James Hudson of The Public Archive, by Vanessa K. Valdés, and by Jyothi Natarajan of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop website, as well as interchanges between Social Text Online editors Anna McCarthy, Tavia Nyong’o, and Marie Buck, and between Kelly Baker Josephs and the Caribbean Review of Books editor Nicholas Laughlin. The essays offer brief, compelling histories of the contributors’ respective platforms as they speak to Josephs and Valdés’s prompts, but the discussion also raises distinct questions of representation in digital space. Hudson begins with a frank assessment: “When it comes to the political efficacy and ethical obligations of digital platforms, The Public Archive: Black History in White Times has been an irresolute failure”—but then eloquently probes how valuable this type of “failure” might be. Valdés speaks cogently of the work done by, as well as the work that goes into, book reviews and of how the “more flexible” digital space enables the kind of serious creative play that “draw[s] new contours . . . of what discussion and dialogue can be.” Natarajan’s contribution emerges most directly from her involvement in redesigning the AAWW website; she discusses the role of intra-site linking and points out how, in contrast to print publication, “juxtaposition in the digital space [can] lead to a sort of time travel and a chance to mine the archive.”

Not quite “conversations” per se, the two collaboratively authored pieces included here assemble multiple voices speaking to the changes in online publishing in the last decade. The editors at Social Text began by answering Josephs and Valdés’s question about speed, but quickly found that they were preoccupied with other concerns of online publishing. In particular, they consider what it means to bring the academic nature of the Social Text Collective (which “seeks to expand and redefine what scholarship can do”) into the current noise and speed of the social-media-dominated web space. Finally, Josephs and Laughlin’s exchange, aptly entitled “Open Endings,” refers back to an earlier dialogue between the two (in sx salon 3) and reprises the conversation that has since continued between them “about writing, editing, Caribbean literature, and digital publishing.” Honest, provocative, sometimes poignant but never sentimental, Laughlin and Josephs’ essay-conversation strikes exactly the right note(s) for rounding out this discussion and marking sx salon’s current transitional moment.

Also in this issue, John Saillant reviews Crossing the Line: Early Creole Novels and Anglophone Caribbean Culture in the Age of Emancipation, by Candace Ward; Gabriella Rodriguez reviews Caribbean Critique: Antillean Critical Theory from Toussaint to Glissant, by Nick Nesbitt; Malica S. Willie reviews Slave Old Man: A Novel, by Patrick Chamoiseau; Njelle W. Hamilton reviews Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon, by Anthony Joseph; and Treviene A. Harris reviews Stolen Time: Black Fad Performance and the Calypso Craze, by Shane Vogel. Our Poetry and Prose section contains a moving short story by Cynthia James as well as two exciting multi-modal, digital-literature offerings: Urayoán Noel’s “Bagku” and “Cinquain sin quien,” and Joey De Jesus’s “Black Flag.”

And now for that transition I mentioned above. sx salon 31 is the first issue to appear under a new editor—me, Rachel L. Mordecai—and with a new book review editor—Ronald Cummings. [. . .]

For full description and articles, see

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