Shift: Graduate Journal of Visual and Material Culture (hereafter referred to as Shift) is an initiative that was created in 2008 by Founding Editors Susan Cahill and Sarah E.K. Smith at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Re-envisioned as a mobile, inter-university project since 2010, this annual online refereed journal is dedicated to providing graduate students researching visual and material culture with a venue to present current and original scholarly research and visual art works. Shift is published once a year in October.

From its beginning in 2008, Shift has been committed to promoting the study of visual and material culture, broadly defined as the cultural construction of visual and material experience in media, arts, and everyday life. This scope does not limit the topics, disciplinary approaches, time periods, or geopolitical sites that may be addressed by works published in the journal. Rather, the journal seeks to expand the ways in which cultural products, located within studies of visual and material culture, can be discussed.

Shift welcomes submissions of scholarly articles, exhibition and book reviews, as well as documentation of visual art works or related projects that are suitable for online publication. Only current graduate students are eligible to submit work for publication in Shift. Authors must be enrolled as active graduate students by the deadline for submissions. In this case, it is acceptable that students whose work is published will have graduated by the 01 October launch of the journal.

In addition to providing an inclusive forum for graduate students to publish their work, Shift seeks to offer graduate students the opportunity to organize and manage an academic, refereed publication. While the administrative composition of the journal includes professional, academic, members who are not currently graduate students, their roles are supportive and advisory, and should never usurp the roles occupied by graduate students. This administrative structure connects scholars at different levels of their careers and forms a larger network for those who locate their work in the field of visual and material culture.

Institutional Mobility

The first three issues of Shift were produced while the publication was based entirely at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. As of October 2010, when work on Issue 4 began, Shift became a mobile publication, with its editorial and administrative components moving between host institutions every three years.

This three-year cycle is designed to encourage smooth transitions between host institutions and to ensure the journal’s continuity. Shift’s mobility allows graduate students working at universities beyond Queen’s to become involved in the journal’s production process, and facilitates the atmosphere of inclusivity and flexibility that Shift seeks to foster as a scholarly publication. Using Shift’s Constitution as a guide, each host institution has the opportunity to publish issues that showcase its academic strengths, shifting the journal’s content and appearance to reflect the interests of its graduate students.

Founding Co-Editors
Susan Cahill
Sarah E.K. Smith