I wrote last year’s editorial in the heat of the pandemic. I expected then that the situation would improve by now. With vaccines available and mitigation protocols in place, I had hope, and still do hope, that we would put the virus behind us. The operations of Contemporary Aesthetics, as an exclusively online publication, have not been significantly affected by COVID-19. We have, however, been challenged indirectly by the havoc wreaked by the pandemic on the work and family life of people who make the publication of our journal possible.
One of our major accomplishments in 2020 was the inauguration of a new platform to support the publication of CA. The success of this achievement can be measured by the improved ease of posting content, on our side, and by the positive feedback from readers, on their side. We are happy to have created and installed a foundation for publishing CA that should serve us well into the future. We continue to tweak some details from time to time to make accessing articles as smooth as possible and reading CA on different devices as easy as possible.
CA completed Volume 19 with articles on the kinds of diverse subjects for which CA has come to be known. As before, the authors hail from different disciplinary backgrounds, including art, ethnomusicology, and landscape architecture, as well as from different cultural backgrounds, namely Finland, Italy, and Turkey, in addition to the United States. We thank those authors who sought out CA to find a home for their work.
Over the years, some of our authors have used articles first published in CA as the basis for monographs published as books. This year, Silvia Casini published Giving Bodies Back to Data: Image Makers, Bricolage, and Reinvention in Magnetic Resonance Technology (MIT Press) which developed a theme from her article in Volume 8 of CA (2010). Another author will publish a book next year which incorporates an article recently published in CA. It is gratifying to know that CA provides an incubator for new work, and we will continue to support such endeavors.
Our operation is not possible without the service provided by reviewers who offer generous critiques and suggestions, not only for those articles they recommend we accept but also for those they recommend we reject. They are respectful of CA’s commitment to inclusivity of diverse approaches, voices, and subject matters, as well as our commitment to making the review process an opportunity for mentoring. For Volume 19, we are grateful to the following scholars who donated their time and expertise: Arnold Berleant, Jeanette Bicknell, Kristin Boyce, John Carvalho, Renee Conroy, Bradley Elicker, Cynthia Freeland, Lisa Heldke, Gioia Iannilli, Jakko Kemper, Alex King, Thomas Leddy, Eva Man, Mara Miller, Bence Nanay, Ossi Naukkarinen, Thi Nguyen, Ariane Nomikos, Roger Paden, Delia Popa, Larry Shiner, Zhuofei Wang, and Sarah Worth.
The current volume marks the twentieth anniversary of CA. We will be celebrating this milestone with the publication of Special Volume 10 reflecting on twenty years of contemporary aesthetics with articles contributed by invited authors. Each author was asked to comment on how aesthetics discourse has evolved in the last twenty years and what we can expect and hope for the next twenty years. We hope you will join them in reflecting on the past, present, and future of aesthetics.
When the founding editor, Arnold Berleant, established CA, the term “open access” was not part of the popular parlance nor were there other open access journals in aesthetics. It is quite remarkable that the publishing landscape has changed rather dramatically since, as there are now many open access journals in aesthetics. This speaks volumes about Arnold’s vision and foresight. At the same time, we are now challenged with finding ways to distinguish CA in this increasingly crowded field of open access journals in aesthetics. The board will be addressing what specific and unique contributions CA makes to aesthetics discourse and how we can more visibly mark that distinction.
CA is already distinguished by the global reach of both its authors and readers. In 2021, we received submissions from authors in Germany, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Turkey, and Russia, in addition to the Anglophone countries. Our readership also continues to grow globally and has been steadily increasing on all continents (except Antarctica!). According to data from the Rhode Island School of Design’s Digital Commons where our articles are archived, the number of downloads for 2021 increased by almost 10,000 compared to 2020. We are particularly heartened to learn from the data collected that CA provides resources for teaching as well as research.
CA is also distinguished by its commitment to promoting inclusivity and diversity by publishing articles on a variety of subjects, many heretofore unaddressed in aesthetics, approached from a variety of disciplinary, methodological, and cultural perspectives. We are an English language publication and, to that extent, limited in the global reach we aim to achieve. However, we do our best to overcome this limit by welcoming works by non-Anglophone authors and working with them if the substance of their writing merits extra assistance. We can all gain by exposure to materials that may not be familiar to us. We also continue to promote submissions and notices of recent publications that introduce recent works in aesthetics which may not be accessible to our Anglophone readers.
As always, I continue to benefit from the wise counsel of the editorial board members, in particular Associate Editor, John Carvalho, and Founding Editor, Arnold Berleant. I am grateful for their support and encouragement. The publication is not possible without the work by our most capable assistant, Lynnie Lyman, and copy editor, Anne Berleant. I thank them for their work without which we cannot function, although it remains invisible to readers. Finally, I thank our readers for their continuing interest and support.
As we usher in another year of living with the pandemic, we will do our best to turn the challenges posed into opportunities for exploring new avenues of aesthetics research, and we invite you to share your research with us by submitting your work to Contemporary Aesthetics.
Yuriko Saito, Editor