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Transmission in Motion

Seminar Blogs

“A new death of the author?” – Christl de Kloe

In the sixth Transmission in Motion seminar (and the first online version), entitled “Post-Publishing and Performative Publications”, Dr. Janneke Adema discussed how we can think about “new” and/or other forms of doing research, of publishing, and of distribution. She introduces the concept of post-publishing and discusses this concept through various projects of new and different publishing.

One of the ideas that she discussed was “anonymous” publishing. This anonymous publishing can question the idea of the autonomous subject/author and acknowledges that knowledge production is not an individual endeavor. I mean this in more ways than one, think for example about research that has been done as a group effort, but the most well-known scholar is most likely to be placed first on the actual book or paper. But also that what we know has been coming into being through our various pasts, interactions, training, experiences, and so on and so forth.

However, I do not think that anonymous publishing is actually an answer to questions regarding power structures within academia or an answer to the question of the ‘autonomous subject’. First, and in line with the first question asked after the talk, in the past, it has been mainly female authors who had to publish and write anonymously. I do not think that eliminating female authors from academia again might be the best move. Secondly, I think that in feminist (and other) discourses there is often already a notion of the situatedness of the author, which contributes to the knowledge that is generated there. This is thus also an acknowledgment that it is not ‘an autonomous subject/author’ but it acknowledges the situatedness which plays a role in generating knowledge. Thirdly, in our current polarizing society, I do not think that it is a good idea to remove the author of articles, books, blogs, and opinion pieces, especially at a time where the ‘traditional gatekeepers are demised’ (“‘Post-Publishing and Performative Publications’ – Dr. Janneke Adema (Coventry University)*” n.d.).  Especially now I think an author can be something of a quality- or checkmark. Fourth, I think that with our current academic system of referring and citing, authors already do justice to the idea that the author is not necessarily autonomous. I think through these systems you can show that you are leaning on others, who are part of the knowledge production. I, therefore, might even argue that the academic citing and reference system is already something that questions the idea of the autonomous author. I do think of course, that the current academic system with its metrics of citing and so on can be suffocating, however, I do not think that removing the author might necessarily be a good solution.


  • “‘Post-Publishing and Performative Publications’ – Dr. Janneke Adema (Coventry University)*.” n.d. Transmission in Motion. Accessed May 1, 2020. https://transmissioninmotion.sites.uu.nl/on-open-access-and-not-for-profit-publication-dr-janneke-adema-coventry-university/.