In the Spring of 2016, I received a Fellowship from the Center of the Humanities to support my work at the magazine Triple Canopy. Triple Canopy is a publication that exists in multiple formats: online, in print, and as events and exhibitions. This elasticity and their critical approach to publishing were what originally drew me to the organization. As an undergraduate, I wrote my honors thesis on feminist publishing, and I continue to be interested in publishing as an artistic and political act. Publishing is a mode of recording and circulating information, but it also serves to create publics, foster community, and ensure visibility. All of these aspects are particularly important for minority populations, whether that status is a product of gender, race, or class. As such, it is a rich field of study, one that is growing within Art History and other disciplines within the humanities. The study of publication is, it should be noted, inherently interdisciplinary.

In 2014, the summer before I began my PhD at CUNY, I participated in Triple Canopy's first annual Publication Intensive, a two-week summer program for designers, writers, editors, artists, and academics involved in publishing. Last spring, with the aid of the fellowship from the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research, I co-ran the third iteration of program alongside Triple Canopy Editorial Director Molly Kleiman. Together, we selected the participants, created the syllabus, invited guests, and planned studio visits. We also co-led the daily seminar sessions. Students in the intensive hailed from all over the world; the cohort included a book publisher from England, a graphic designer from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and an art student from Toronto. They met with editors of the magazine, practicing artists, publishers, and curators. We discussed architecture, race, public policy, archives, music, and computer programming.

PI_1.jpg#asset:12161Participants in the 2016 Triple Canopy Publication Intensive with students from the School for Poetic Computation. Courtesy of Triple Canopy

Working on the Publication Intensive was beneficial for me in many respects. Academically, I had the opportunity to explore a topic that is central to my own research. The ability to do so outside of the classroom, free from the confines and expectations of my discipline, was an extremely valuable experience that I know will come in handy as I continue to develop my own work. In this context, I was able to experiment with lesson planning, syllabus writing, and relating with participants. Professionally, I met people working in my field of study, an opportunity that is normally not part of PhD coursework. Discussing publications with these individuals also gave me new ways of thinking about how publications work and what they do. And practically, I gained hands on teaching experience, which supplemented the teaching work I already do as a graduate student.

What I found most exciting about the Publication Intensive, both when I participated in it back in 2014 and when I organized it two years later, was the intellectual rigor that was fostered outside of a traditional classroom context. Ultimately, this was a product of the dedication and intelligence of the participants themselves. I learned so much from my peers and the diverse perspectives they brought to issues that would have otherwise escaped my own intellectual purview. The possibility of creating these types of learning spaces—collaborative, non-hierarchical, malleable, and self-directed—is something I am very much invested in.


Maya Harakawa

Maya Harakawa is a PhD student in the Art History program at the CUNY Graduate Center, where her research focuses on urban history and issues of publicity, race, and gender in post-war American art. Her writing and interviews has appeared in numerous...