Reviews of Peer-Reviewed Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences

We give you the scuttlebutt on academic journals—aiding you in selecting the right journal for publication—in reviews that are sometimes snarky, sometimes lengthy, always helpful. Written by Princeton University graduate students and Wendy Laura Belcher.


For those interested in publishing articles that deal with recent and emerging critical theories, particularly those that are material or object oriented and have a foundation in continental philosophy.

Ranked No. 12 out of all literature journals by Google Metrics in 2019.

As described by the journal’s website, Substance does not necessarily stand out from other journals of critical theory or comparative literature.

“In publication continuously since 1971, SubStance is a major interdisciplinary journal with a reputation for excellence. It is an international nexus for discourses converging upon literature from a variety of fields, including philosophy, the social science, science, and the arts. Readers have come to expect the unexpected from SubStance, and to experience a sense of participating in the formulation of emerging theories.”

This description is accurate, but to make it more useful for those looking to publish maybe the editors could put “social science” and “science” in bold…and write the whole description in French.

Even a cursory look at the journal’s editorial board points to Substance’s French connection. Both of the journal’s founding editors are French, three of the four current editors are either French or work in French Studies and the advisory board features names like Noëlle, Martine, Josette, Jean-Marc, Jacques, and Jean-Jacques. This does not mean the journal only publishes articles on French literature or culture, but it does have a marked impact on what critical schools are most represented – you can write on Wallace Stevens, as long it is through a derridian lense, etc.

This might explain why Bruno Latour and his branch of object-oriented theory is so well represented here, with recent special issues devoted to the Latourian ‘assemblage’ and the connection between the mineral and the human. SubStance publishes a lot of special issues, at least two of which grew out of seminar courses or conferences in Paris.

If you work on thing-theory and are well versed in continental philosophy, this is your journal. It publishes articles from the leading scholars (Catharine Malabou) in that discipline and even has Michel Serres on its advisory board. Otherwise, this is probably not a great option, especially given the number of special issues.

Useful for Submission

Word Count: 7000-8000

Issues per year: 3

Current volume number:

Articles per year: About 30

Citation style: MLA

Abstract length (if required): 100

Upcoming special issues (if available): Subtance usually publishes 1 (and sometimes 2) special issues per year. Recent special issues include: Dismantling the Man-Machine, Isabelle Stengers (a Belgian Philosopher of Science), Neuroscience and Fiction, Assemblages and Rock Records (This is just since 2015, the journal has a lot of special issues)

Relevant Editors:

David F. Bell, Duke University
Pierre Cassou-Noguès, Université Paris VIII
Paul A. Harris, Loyola Marymount University
Eric Méchoulan, Université de Montréal

(Almost every member of SubStance’s editorial board is either French or works in French Studies in some capacity).

Online?: Yes

Bibliography (articles in the journal consulted for this review)

Christopher Watkin, “Michel Serres’ Great Story: From Biosemiotics to Econarratology” Vol. 44, No. 3 (2015) 171-187.

Catharine Malabou, “What is Neuro-literature?” Vol. 45, No. 2 (2016) 78-87.

Razvan Amironesei and Louis-Étienne Pigeon, “Politics and Commonality of Sensation from a Reading of Merleau-Ponty” vol. 46, no. 1 (2017) 69-89.

Pierre Cassou-Noguès, “Introduction: Dismantling the Man-Machine” vol. 47 no. 3 (2018), 3-6.


About Wendy Belcher

Associate Professor, Princeton University, Department of Comparative Literature and the Center for African American Studies. Author of Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Instructor of Deep Reading Journals as Publishing Praxis.