Falmouth course leader's feminist journal reaches publication milestone
16 November 2023
Dr Anna Misiak, Falmouth's Associate Professor of Film & Visual Culture and postgraduate course leader at the School of Film & TV, has just published the twelfth issue of MAI Feminism & Visual Culture (MAI), an online journal promoting radical, inclusive feminist creative practice, research and critique of visual culture. This latest focus dossier is entirely dedicated to reflection on Agnès Varda, and it follows from the previous more practice-based focus issue eleven, which centred on representing women's realities.
As co-founder and co-editor, Anna has been developing MAI since 2017 in collaboration with Professor Anna Backman Rogers from Gothenburg University in Sweden. A few years in, they were joined by a managing editor, Houman Sadri, Associate Professor of English at the University of South-Eastern Norway. With twelve issues – each the size of an academic book volume – and over two million website visits, MAI has become one of the leading independent peer-reviewed journals in feminist scholarship, with over 350 authors from different social backgrounds, research and creative practices.
With a commitment to open-access, community-driven academic publishing, MAI has excelled in bringing together established academics with early career researchers, providing mentoring opportunities to inspire the confidence of emerging scholars. Several Falmouth students and staff have become MAI authors, including Neill Fox, Kingsley Marshall, Carolyn Shapiro, Lizzy Orcutt, Kelly Parker, Dan McKay, and Jem Mackay.
The research activities involved in producing the website, which hosts biannual journal issues, are conducted voluntarily by a collective of academics. With chief feminist scholars among its contributors and board members, MAI shows that quality feminist work can be initiated and sustained without big budgets. MAI does not charge for publishing or readership. As a pioneering project, it formally tests the possibilities of genuinely open, accessible scholarship.
The journal provides evidence towards the feasibility of independent feminist research outside of male-dominated academia and the profit-driven publishing market
MAI articles have been widely cited. The twelve issues available to date have been edited in collaboration with academics from institutions such as Goldsmiths, King's College, University of York, Kingston University, Cambridge University, Edinburgh University and South Wales University in Australia.
As editor-in-chief, Anna sees the success of MAI as a testament to its intersectional and anti-patriarchal manifesto. She told us: "Committed to attracting wide-readership with female-themed scholarship and practice, managed by women and supported by voluntary labour by academics who act as peer reviewers and guest editors, the journal provides evidence towards the feasibility of independent feminist research outside of male-dominated academia and the profit-driven publishing market."
She added: "We are now securely set to run for three years with a solid publishing plan for the following six issues."
Houman Sadri told us: "To me, MAI is more than just a journal, in as much as each issue represents both an important political line in the sand and a true labour of love on the part of the editorial team. Many of our contributors feel this, which is why the pieces are so vital and, often, so raw. This issue is no exception, but the subject matter – essentially, the reality of women's lives – makes it all the more urgent and timely."
An Australian film and art critic, Adrian Martin, recently commented: "MAI is an extraordinary endeavour. Each issue is a massive collection of many kinds of materials: creative, academic, documentation and student work. I discovered from MAI many artists and writers I was not previously familiar with, and the journal's archive is an incredible resource. Explore it!"
Top image credit: Debs Paterson shooting a documentary about the making of Star Wars. Courtesy Directors Now.