It's Friday afternoon and I'm in the office, marking dissertations (some good, some bad and some ugly). On my colleague's desk is a review copy of the Cambridge History of British Working Class Fiction, which includes a chapter co-written by me and a distinguished academic from Cardiff Uni. Slightly annoying that his copy has appeared and mine hasn't, but never mind.
People in the humanities are a bit wary of jointly-written articles, because unlike science it's not traditional and therefore the REF Gods might look down on it. The thing is though, I really enjoy working with other people. They're usually clever than me and it takes much more determination to delay or disappoint somebody else. I'm so lazy that I'd rather do the work on time and up to scratch than deal with the guilt that I habitually let wash over me when my solo work is late or rubbish.
As well as the chapter on Welsh working-class fiction, I've written some other things with other people in the past couple of years:
1. Journal article on Doctor Who, Star Trek and Foucauldian technologies of the self (forthcoming in the Journal of Popular Television) with a colleague.
2. A chapter on jazz in contemporary fiction in this book with a different colleague.
3. A journal article on media representations of the Co-op Bank crash with a critical management scholar from another university (under review).
4. A journal article on neoliberalism and pornographic fan fiction with one of my PhD students (under review for a Journal of Popular Culture special issue).
Two of these were my idea, and I've also been asked to help with another colleague's work on new religious movements' use of social media, plus my ongoing politicians' novels project has room for collaboration. If we hadn't worked together, none of these pieces would exist, or at least not in the present form. I've learned from my colleagues and hopefully they've learned something from me – proper punctuation placement, if nothing else. Between us we've probably done a better job than we would have individually, and my intellectual scope has been widened (an alternative reading is that there's no solid core to my research, but that's an argument for another day).
All together now: 'collaborations don't work'…