The Feature of the Month is a new genre developed from the 'Fine of the Month' in the Henry III Fine Rolls project. They are short articles which allow new thinking, problems and other items of interest arising from the project's research to be made available very quickly. The intention is that they should be accessible to a wide readership while, at the same time, dealing with matters of specialist interest. In particular, they enable some of the challenges that have been encountered during work on the database to be highlighted and discussed, as well as other issues that relate directly to the project's main themes.
Reading something in a new genre is itself a challenge. It is always tempting to treat it as if it is in a genre with which you are already familiar. For example, academic readers might approach Features as they would an article in a journal. The Features are more provisional and experimental than that. They are, instead, an attempt to capture something of what goes on when members of the project team and their colleagues meet together, and one of them explains to the others something odd, troubling or simply curious that they have noticed or been thinking about. Normally much of this discourse would never be heard by anyone else, of course, even if it might eventually appear less starkly years and months later in an academic publication. It is hoped that the Feature will make this part of a project's life more accessible, even if it represents only a small proportion of the topics that are discussed informally.
The 'Feature of the Month' has been running since June 2009. By the end of the project there will be twelve of these mini-essays in all.