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Report of the Committee on the Future of Lumen

Members of the Committee: John Baird (University of Toronto), Philip Knee (Université Laval), Benoît Melançon (Université de Montréal), Mark Phillips (University of British Columbia)


October 2001


Lumen began (as Man and Nature/L'Homme et la nature) in 1982 as a volume of selected papers given at the annual conference of the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and has continued on thatbasis to the present. The Editor of each annual number of Lumen is the organizer (or the organizing committee or subset thereof) of the conference to which it relates. It should be noted that conference budgets include a line for support of Lumen, typically in the region of $2500, and that publishing conference proceedings is an allowable item for conference grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, so that the conferences provide a significant subsidy to enable the production of Lumen, a subsidy which, in the lucky years when the conference receives a SSHRC grant, comes from the granting agency.

Problems have arisen. Long delays in publishing certain volumes have caused libraries to drop subscriptions, and despite various efforts to regain lost ground, circulation outside Canada is small, and within Canada does not extend much beyond the membership of the Society (approximately 325). Small circulation makes Lumen a less desirable place in which to publish significant work. Submissions of papers delivered at the conference have been declining. The 2000 conference had the greatest number of 20-minute papers at any conference in the Society's history, yet of the 180 actually delivered, only 22 were submitted for publication (15 by graduate students, of the 60 who gave papers at the meeting).

In 2000, responding to concerns expressed by members, Professor Frans De Bruyn, Secretary-Treasurer of CSECS, prepared a report which was discussed at the 2000 Business Meeting. A committee (John Baird, Philip Knee, Benoît Melançon, Mark Phillips) was established to prepare recommendations for the 2001 Meeting. These follow. In view of the fullness of Professor De Bruyn's report, these are presented with brief discussion only. The general intent of the recommendations is to strengthen editorial direction of Lumen, and to integrate Lumen more consistently with the operations of CSECS.

  1. One option would be to cease publication entirely. That would release a certain proportion of the membership dues for other purposes, which might include additions to the Society's Bulletin. On the whole we believe that the time has not yet come to discontinue Lumen, and that a determined effort should be made to restore and improve it before it is cut off.

    Recommendation 1. Lumen should be continued and improved.

  2. It has been suggested that Lumen should become a regular quarterly journal, and/or that it it should become an on-line publication. While there are good reasons to publish more than once every twelve months (reduced postal costs being one of them), the Society's membership is too small to support a regular quarterly, either intellectually or economically, and the institution most likely to support an eighteenth-century journal is already supporting one in a field in which many Society members work; Eighteenth-Century Fiction is published out of McMaster University. The committee believes that on-line journals have not yet established themselves as the equal of print journals, and in any case a move to Web-only publication would require resources which the Society does not presently have.

    Recommendation 2. That Lumen should remain a print journal for the time being.

  3. While the quality of individual volumes has been high, Lumen suffers from lack of consistency in editorial policy, and lack of general direction. It could hardly be otherwise, since each volume is essentially a one-off undertaking. The committee believes that it is necessary to appoint an Editor and a Business Manager to serve five-year terms.

    Recommendation 3. That CSECS appoint an Editor and and a Business Manager of Lumen, each to serve for a five-year term.

    Recommendation 4. The Editor and Business Manager shall be assisted by an Editorial Committee, made up of the Conference Presidents for the next three conferences, and the Conference President of the previous conference, who will rotate off the committee when the volume for that conference is published.

    Recommendation 5. Conference topics, which will also be the topics of Lumen numbers, will be determined at least three years in advance of the conferences being held, and will be approved by the Editorial Committee of Lumen, and the Executive of CSECS.

    Recommendation 6. The Editor and the Business Manager, in consultation with the Editorial Committee, will prepare a plan for the future conduct of Lumen, and submit the plan to the Executive for its approval no later than January 15, 2002. The Editor and Business Manager will present annual reports of their activities to the Executive and to the General Meeting of the Society.

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