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Ad Alta: The Birmingham Journal of Literature is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal published annually at the University of Birmingham. As general editors, we are delighted to launch Volume XI of the journal, which is subtitled ‘Communities’.

In compiling this volume, we noticed a trend emerge out of the submissions: each piece speaks to various cultural communities in some way. Furthermore, in compiling this volume we became acutely aware of the value of the academic community. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown has ensured that the 2019-20 academic year has been like no other. As researchers, we have all been unable to access communal spaces. Our meetings have had to become digital. Some resources and facilities have become off-limits. And yet Ad Alta has survived – thrived, even – in these circumstances. In Volume XI, you will find pieces from researchers as far-flung as the United States, Italy, and Nigeria. Boundaries imposed by periodisation have been transcended, with texts from the 17th and 21st centuries – and everything between – analysed. We believe that this volume is truly interdisciplinary, as not only does it feature literary criticism, it includes multiple artworks and instances of creative writing, book reviews, and a note. As such, this journal demonstrates the ability of both practitioners and academics to address the same theme in two distinct, but related, disciplines. We are proud we can bring together both professions in this volume. This inclusivity, we believe, epitomises what the academic community should be – welcoming to all, irrespective of your geographical location, institutional affiliation, discipline, research interests, or method of output.

Cover of the journal

Producing this volume of Ad Alta has by no means been an overnight process. Firmly believing in the importance of transparency, we wanted to take a moment to clearly state the mechanisms we employed to review and accept submissions. Our call for papers launched in October 2019. Once we received a submission, we first screened it for suitability, then anonymised it and sent it to a relevant peer-reviewer from our team. For the sake of standardisation and best practice, we sent all of our peer-reviewers a guidance document that outlined the sort of feedback we were looking for, as well as key areas for them to focus on. Upon receiving their feedback and comments, the general editors then acted as a second reviewer and added their thoughts, anonymised all feedback, and sent comments back to the author. This then triggered a back-and-forth process between authors and editors, which enabled submissions to truly shine. Once final edits were settled, the entire editorial team reviewed each piece and democratically voted on which pieces would be included in the volume. Thanks to our team’s hard work, this volume was extremely rigorous in its acceptance process. Being included in Volume XI of Ad Alta is no small feat and we feel all those included should feel extremely proud of their work!

Throughout the submission and peer-review processes, we were awed by the quality of work we received from both domestic and international researchers, the generosity and acuity our peer-reviewers demonstrated in their feedback, and the immense, never-faltering efforts of the editorial team. As general editors, we are incredibly thankful to have been able to work with so many wonderful people this year. It was a delight to read so many high-quality submissions, and the guidance and input we received from our peer-reviewers and editorial team were crucial in achieving the high standard of this volume. A full list of the people responsible for making this volume of Ad Alta happen can be found at the beginning of the journal. Thank you – we are indebted to you all.

Ad Alta: The Birmingham Journal of Literature, Volume XI: Communities is now available online. Print copies will be available in Autumn 2020. Ad Alta will continue in the 2020-21 academic year. Please keep an eye out on our Twitter page for more information about being on next year’s committee, as well as for submission details for Volume XII. Alternatively, please email the General Editors at

Written by Liam Knight and Jayde Martin, General Editors.