All About Us.
Academic Archers started as an idle conversation on Twitter between urban academics Drs Cara Courage, Nicola Headlam and Peter Matthews around the planning and public consultation process of Route B, the proposed by-pass that threatened to bisect Bridge Farm and destroy Ambridge village life. The three mused on their fantasy Archers conference papers, musings that then came real with the first Academic Archers conference in 2016 - attened by over 100 academics and fans united by their love of the programme.
From the inaugural conference - The Archers in fact and fiction: Academic analyses of life in rural Borsetshire - Academic Archers formed, keeping the conversation going over social media, publishing a book of the papers (each chapter with a peer review by one of the Ambridge residents) and now meeting at conference annually.
Facebook group members
The Archers in fact and fiction: Academic analyses of life in rural Borsetshire
The first conference was held in 2016, with 13 speakers and papers from across academic disciplines, from analyses of rural accents and archaeology, through to back pain and the ergonomics of the tractor, a Shakespearean understanding of character Rob Titchener as Othello, and issues of social care and class.
The second conference was held in 2017 over two days, with over 30 speakers and 27 papers, and themes on country hobbies, education, geography, power relationships, bereavement and spirituality, online and social media, and a strand devoted to the Helen and Rob storyline. It also included a fieldtrip to The Archers heartland in Rippingale.
To select the conference programme, Academic Archers convenes a Listener Peer Review Panel.
Peer review, the gold standard for quality academic practice, is being modified in many disciplines in acknowledgement of the limitations of scholars speaking only to one another. Since an ethos of decentring and co-production has informed Academic Archers from the beginning we are keen to value different forms of expertise whilst retaining the features of rigour and credibility.
The aim of Listener Peer Review is a formative one – adding value and breadth to the quality assurance process. Following the Call for Papers we ask people to respond by sending short abstracts (200 words) of their proposed papers – the papers constitute the presentations that speakers will give at conference, the abstracts are a short summary of this.
The Peer Review is just that – a group of peers reviewing the abstracts to decide then who will form the conference programme. We are looking to fill the conference with interesting, well-argued and coherent papers which cover a broad range of topics and subjects from a range of disciplinary ‘homes’. We include listeners in looking ‘under the bonnet’ of the process.
For the 2017 conference 18 listeners reviewed all the abstracts received, and provided extremely helpful comments and decisions.
Academic Archers meets online on Facebook and Twitter, links to which can be found on the Contact Us page, and the 2017 conference was livestreamed on Youtube - all sessions can be seen here. Three podcasts (c10' each) in conversation with some of the 2017 conference presenters can be found here, here and here.