[UPDATE] CRITICISM special issue: "Open Source Culture and Aesthetics" / Deadline: 01/15/10

full name / name of organization: 
Criticism: A Quarterly Journal for Literature and the Arts

Criticism is a peer-reviewed publication edited by Jonathan Flatley and published by Wayne State University Press. It provides a forum for current scholarship on literature, media, and visual culture. A place for rigorous theoretical and critical debate as well as formal and methodological self-reflexivity and experimentation, Criticism aims to present contemporary thought at its most vital. Interested parties should submit a 300-word abstract and brief (1-3 pp.) CV to both Antonio Ceraso (aceraso@depaul.edu) and Jeff Pruchnic (jeffpruchnic@wayne.edu) by January 15, 2010. Full essays will be due by April 15, 2010.

SPECIAL ISSUE: "Open Source Culture and Aesthetics"

The term "open source" first emerged in the field of software programming in the late 1990's, when it was used to indicate users' ability to access, modify, and collaborate on software source code, as well as to provide a more business-friendly term for such practices than "free software." In the intervening decade, the term has spread into various areas of cultural/economic production, becoming a catch-all expression used to indicate the transparency and collaborative character of production in fields as diverse as music composition, journalism, visual arts, and even pharmaceutical research. Far from a narrow technological movement seeking efficiency and information transparency, open source - together with associated concepts such as open author, crowdsourcing, and peer production more generally - might be considered an emerging dominant form of cultural/economic production. We are seeking essays that examine open source as a concept and/or praxis or address its impact on contemporary culture and aesthetics.

Possible topics include:

  • Open source practices as forms of labor and/or power: Open source has generally been treated as a form of resistance to an expanding intellectual property regime. How might open source be understood as a form of power itself? How does open source organize and transform labor? How might extant critical categories, such as "multitude," "general intellect," or "bipower," help us understand and engage open source as a cultural, political, and economic phenomenon?
  • Open source as subject or practice of visual, electronic, or mixed-media arts: How might we theorize the aesthetics of open-author cultural productions? What common tropes (crowds, swarms, complexity?) have developed around open source practices, and how might they affect the way these practices function? What existing cultural resources have been used to promote, depict, transform, or engage open source production?
  • Open source, open author, and crowdsourcing as an emerging political culture: How has open source been used for political marketing? What rhetorical forms does open source draw on? How might we situate open source in the context of postindustrialism and globalization discourses? What forms of political subjectivity might open source practices enable or constrain? What relationships exist between open source practices and theories of organizations, crowds, or collectivities?