Preface, Fall 2011, Vol. 30, No. 2

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Women and Anglo-American Periodicals

I am delighted to be publishing this special topics issue on women and Anglo-American periodicals. The project had a slow, almost organic development, coming about not through a formal call for papers but rather through an accrual of submissions connected to this topic as well as through conversations with scholars I knew to be working in this area. Housed in the department that cohosts, with Brown University, the Modernist Journals Project, I have been aware for some time of the ways in which a focus on periodicals has almost entirely recast modernism, learning also about the complex questions that are introduced through efforts to examine these documents systematically as artifacts and objects of serious research. Noticing a similar surge of interest in this topic in the era I study, the eighteenth century, I was struck by parallels and resonances between the projects I was encountering on periodicals in earlier and later eras, especially as they attend to questions of authority, canonicity, the means of textual production, and other questions central to feminist literary scholarship. Periodicals obviously are important to the story of female authorship, but also to a broader, richer narrative of women’s involvement in the production and consumption of the printed word. One cannot really understand the history of women as editors, for example, without considering their involvement in overseeing the publication of many periodicals; nor, conversely, can the history of this publishing form be told without careful attention to female editors, authors, critics, audiences, printers, and subscribers, let alone to women as objects of both visual and textual representation.

The moment seemed right for Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature to consider how feminist literary history looks when it is refracted through the lens of periodical studies. These articles offer only a sampling of what is a vast and vibrant field of inquiry; indeed, we easily could have published a double issue on this topic, and the list of scholars I would have liked to invite to contribute to such a project has grown quite long over the past year. The decision to focus on periodicals from Britain and the United States also was not one I reached easily. I am certain the field would benefit from more collections that bring together work on periodicals in different countries as well as more studies that individually undertake comparative work. This special topic issue’s relatively narrow geographical and linguistic scope is in part a reflection of the submissions we were receiving, although I am glad to say that more recently we have been seeing submissions on non-Anglophone periodicals. This decision also is the result of—and a necessary concession to—my goal of using the issue to view periodical studies as they intersect with the examination of women’s literature over three centuries. Space and language, that is, have been narrowed in deference to a more expansive treatment of time, coming close to encompassing the full history of periodicals since their inception.

However incomplete any assortment of articles on such a vast topic must be, my hope is that this particular collection advances both periodical studies and feminist literary criticism by showing how closely intertwined these two arenas of inquiry are in the long story they tell. From article to article we encounter significant changes—especially in the ongoing enlargement of a mass consumer culture—with important effects on women’s history and literature as well as on the circulation and content of periodicals. Much, however, remains almost eerily the same, such as the dynamics surrounding the construction of authorship, the landscape of debate over the roles of women in public discourse, and the basic features of a mass audience’s interaction with ephemeral print. Offering some representation of the kinds of work being done right now on periodicals and women, these essays also pose important questions still demanding answers, and they gesture to horizons for new and ongoing work.

Beyond these very brief comments I will not present a review here of the ways in which these essays speak to each other, as Manushag Powell already has delivered such an articulate and insightful response to the collection with her afterward. I am grateful that she agreed to this task, and I am highly gratified to have worked with such a patient, generous group of authors who have produced—if I may boast on their behalf—such excellent work. Finally, I owe a great deal to our managing editor, Karen Dutoi, and the office staff, as I have taxed their energy and time with such a large issue.

In closing I have one last comment: it is striking to me as a journal editor that this explosion of interest in print periodicals coincides with a dramatic restructuring, if not a collapse, of the printed periodical industry as we have known it. There is no lack of commentary on this phenomenon, much of it drawing upon the genres of elegy, jeremiad, or rant. It seems safe to say that we now have available to us highly detailed analyses of the problems we face in considering the current state of both commercial and academic periodical publishing but relatively few viable proposals to move forward. In the preface to the next regular issue, I plan to deliver some brief, perhaps foolhardy comments on academic publishing from my perspective as an editor of a scholarly journal. I hasten to add that I do not have outright solutions to offer but rather some thoughts on how we might look toward solutions if we consider carefully how we assess the value of intellectual labor, as well as what happens when we think of texts—printed or electronic—as free.

With this issue I am very pleased to welcome three international scholars who have joined our editorial board. Siao-chen Hu is Research Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy in the Academia Sinica, Taiwan. A specialist in early modern Chinese literature, especially Ming- Qing narrative and women’s literature, she is the author of 新理想、舊體 例與不可思議之社會──清末民初上海「傳統派」文人與閨秀作家的 轉型現象 (2011; The unfolding of a conflicted new world), 才女徹夜未眠 ──近代中國女性敘事文學的興起 (2003; Burning the midnight oil: the rise of female narrative in early modern China), and many articles in journals such as Bulletin of the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy, 中國 文學報 (Journal of Chinese Literature), and Research on Women in Modern Chinese History. She is also the coeditor, with Wang Ayling, of 經典轉化與 明清敘事文學 (2009; Transformations of literary canons and Ming-Qing narrative literature), and she has published widely in essay collections focused on Chinese women’s literature including The Inner Quarters and Beyond: Women Writers from Ming through Qing (edited by Grace Fong and Ellen Widmer, 2010) and Text, Performance, and Gender in Chinese Literature and Music: Essays in Honor of Wilt Idema (edited by Maghiel van Crevel, Tian Yuan Tan, and Michel Hockx, 2009). She received the Academia Sinica Research Award for Junior Research Investigators and the Taiwan Wu Dayou Research Award from Taiwan’s National Council of Science. She currently is writing a manuscript on Ming-Qing literary representations of China’s southwest.

Jacqueline Labbe is Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies and Chair of the Graduate School at the University of Warwick. She is the author of, among many other publications, Romantic Visualities: Landscape, Gender and Romanticism (1998), The Romantic Paradox: Love, Violence, and the Uses of Romance, 1760-1830 (2000), Charlotte Smith: Romanticism, Poetry and the Culture of Gender (2003), and Writing Romanticism: Charlotte Smith and William Wordsworth, 1784-1807 (2011), which was nominated for the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize and the European Society for the Study of English Book Award. She additionally has engaged in a great deal of editorial work, including volume 14 of The Works of Charlotte Smith: Poems (2007), Smith’s The Old Manor House (2002), several essay collections on Romantic literature, and special issues of Romanticism, Women’s Literature, and Romanticism on the Net. She has served the field nationally and internationally through several posts, including a term as President of the British Association for Romantic Studies (2003-2007), as a member of the Advisory Committee of PMLA (2009-2012), and as an invited member of the GRE European Advisory Council. Her current projects include two monographs: “Reading Jane Austen after Reading Charlotte Smith” and “The Dark Decade: Charlotte Smith’s Novels and Fin-de-Siecle Grief.”

Joanne van der Woude is Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen. A scholar of early American literature, comparative colonial studies, and literary translation, she is a contributing editor of the Heath Anthology of American Literature, seventh edition (forthcoming 2013). She also has published articles in Early American Literature, American Quarterly, and Common-place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life, along with several book collections dealing with psalmody, translation, the Huguenot diaspora, and colonial American literature. She has received fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the John Carter Brown Library, and Columbia University’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities, among other universities and foundations. Having completed a manuscript titled “Becoming Colonial: Indians, Immigrants, and Early American Aesthetics,” she is writing a new book, “American Aeneids: Conquest and Conversion in Poetry from the Americas.” She also is working with Patrick Erben to translate and edit a collection of Dutch and German poetry from early America.

Delighted though I am to welcome our new board members, I am also saddened to pair these greetings with farewells to Eve Tavor Bannet, Jean Marie Lutes, and Susan Strehle, who have completed their three-year terms on the board. They have been especially dedicated board members, and I would like to thank them for their very hard work. As is always the case with our former board members, I hope for and look forward to their continued support and advice.

 

Thanks to Karen Dutoi, operations continue to run smoothly in the office. I would like to welcome Melissa Antonucci, who has just begun a three-semester term as our Subscriptions Manager. Having conveyed my gratitude and farewell in the last issue to Jacob Ball upon the completion of his internship, I am surprised and pleased to welcome him back to the office, as our graduate dean Janet Haggerty has kindly granted us an extra internship for one semester. Jacob is devoting this time to beginning a longterm project of posting abstracts on our website of every article published in the journal since its founding. Beginning with our most recent issues, we are contacting authors with invitations to compose abstracts or give us permission to do so on their behalf. I hope that this project will help researchers running general keyword searches as well as more casual readers interested in browsing our site. Abstracts for the most recent issues are now available at www.utulsa.edu/tswl.

Laura M. Stevens
University of Tulsa

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]