Preface, Fall 2006, Vol. 25, No. 2

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Laura M. StevensUniversity of Tulsa
Vol. 25, No. 2 (Fall 2006), 209-220

“Women Didn’t Really Write Back Then”

Two years ago a graduate student of mine invited me to evaluate her teaching of an advanced writing course on depictions of Native American women. In the class I observed, the instructor was teaching The Female American, a novel first published in London in 1767 under the name “Unca Eliza Winkfield.”1 Winkfield, the novel’s protagonist, is a welleducated and resourceful young woman of English and American Indian ancestry who is stranded on a remote island in circumstances that imitate but revise Robinson Crusoe’s story. As the class engaged in a lively discussion of the novel’s treatment of gender, the instructor asked the students whether they thought the author was male or female. “Definitely male,” answered a female student. When the instructor asked her why she had so quickly assumed a male author, she replied, “because women didn’t really write back then.”

I am not sure if I am quoting the student’s exact words, but I do vividly remember gaping in astonishment at her casual, categorical dismissal of the notion that women ever wrote much in the past. What surprised me was not merely the denial of women authors “back then,” but the fact that this denial came from a student whose participation in the discussion revealed intelligence, advanced literacy, and awareness of the subtle role that hegemonic ideologies play in attitudes to gender. What followed on my part was the sort of chagrined recalibration of perception that humans so often feel when they are made aware of, say, a generational or cultural difference. It was an example of the sometimes comic, sometimes trivial, but always jarring realization that our different assumptions about the world indicate we do not, in effect, walk through the same world.

I have thought of this moment often over the past year as I have taken on the editorship of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. For most of this year I have been so immersed in learning the day-to-day operations of the journal and making decisions about particular articles, paragraphs, and sentences, that I have postponed articulating a vision for this journal. My vision has been emerging gradually through my engagement with these more focused matters, and no doubt it will continue to coalesce as long as I edit this journal. I begin with this remembered moment of teaching, for the classroom is the primary site of interaction between the academy and its outside. It is in the classroom that the infinitely specialized and sprawling enterprise of scholarly pursuit must find consolidation and clarity, and it is thus in the classroom that scholars must make hard choices about what counts, what works, what merits and garners attention, what is worth the precious time of the semester or hour. It is also in the classroom that the esoteric matters of intellectual pursuit find traction in students’ minds, slipping along patches of boredom or distraction but catching on the hooks of received wisdom, uncertainty, outrage, even—when we are lucky—fascination. Whether anything uttered or read in a course will find retention in a student’s long-term memory is a question few teachers can bear to contemplate for more than a grim moment, but most educators must hope that something from a student’s course of study will influence his or her future awareness. The classroom is thus where scholarly pursuit is challenged to press upon the edge of public discourse.

It is in the realm of teaching that we can most quickly witness the progress that the study of women’s literature has enjoyed over the past few decades. “Progress” is such a difficult word for scholars in the humanities, especially feminists, to utter, given the many cautions we have internalized against a Whig history that overlooks injustices and lost struggles. Such a word is hard to avoid, however, when we consider the general study of literature today and, say, three decades ago. In the fields with which I am most familiar, British and American literature, it is rare to encounter a survey that does not pay some attention to some women authors. The presence of women in teaching anthologies, literary encyclopedias, and editions geared to an undergraduate audience has increased exponentially, as has the number of literature courses devoted to women. The mere fact that the instructor whose class I observed was able to use a modern paperback edition of an obscure eighteenth-century novel with only a female pseudonym to signify the author says much about the great changes that have overtaken the teaching of women’s literature. The fields of British and American literature are hardly alone in having seen such a dramatic alteration in at least the basic level of attention given to female authors. In this way at least, the world has turned upside down.

As is obvious to any reader of this journal, scholarly progress has impelled pedagogical. It can be witnessed in the sheer quantity of dissertations, conference panels, articles, biographies, and monographs devoted to the study of women authors. Scholarship on women’s literature has both benefited from and propelled dramatic shifts in critical awareness, including the elevation of genres once deemed below most scholarly interest and the increase of interest in topics raised to public prominence by women. Certainly the horizon of scholarship that Germaine Greer contemplated when she founded Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature in 1982 is dramatically different from the one I see now.

There has been change, even progress. But do these alterations have staying power? What attention will women authors receive several decades from now? What will be the quality and tenor of the attention they do receive? When I ask myself these questions I again turn to teaching, and I am haunted by my memory of this bright young woman’s glib assumption that “women didn’t write back then.” I also am painfully made aware every semester that many of the wonderful editions of women authors that have been published in the last three decades have not remained in print. One can hardly take for granted that affordable editions of many women authors will be available from year to year for classroom use. Such fluctuations in publishing will not necessarily hinder scholarship, but it is in the arena of teaching that selections are made, tacitly or not, between those writers marked as curiosities who are the provenance of specialized scholarship and those who acquire the mantle of literary value.

Are we yet at the point, I wonder, when a basic awareness of women having written, let alone a sophisticated awareness of what at least some of them wrote and of the theoretical issues a contemplation of women and writing provokes, is necessary for a person to be considered educated? If this consensus exists now, will it exist later? As Greer so effectively demonstrated in her preface to the first issue of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, waves of interest in women authors, shown most prominently through patterns of anthology publication in Britain and North America, have risen and fallen several times in the past two centuries. She wrote, “interest in women’s writing has reached its present comparative level at various stages in the past and been unable to maintain itself at that level even for the duration of living memory” (vol. 1, no. 2, p. 12). Her observation was and still is a chilling caution to those invested in women’s inclusion in literary canons. Her words also, of course, demonstrated the need for a scholarly journal devoted to the study of women’s literature, for only sustained dialogue and study will ensure the long-term centrality of women to literary scholarship.

I quote from the preface to the first issue of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature partly because in my editorship I want to emphasize continuity with the goals and accomplishments of my three predecessor editors: Germaine Greer, Shari Benstock, and Holly Laird. My primary goal as editor will be to maintain this journal’s intellectual orientation and purview, especially its longstanding dedication to scholarship on women and writing and its engagement with feminist theory. Continuity does not preclude innovation, but it initiates change with an eye to forwarding original goals. Such attentiveness to origins strikes me as particularly important this year, as the twenty-fifth volume of Tulsa Studies is being published. The establishment of this journal was one of countless foundational moments for feminist scholarship that literature, along with so many other disciplines, saw in the 1970s and early 1980s. We seem now to be experiencing an era of commemorating origins and evaluating the state of the field. Anniversaries—of ground-breaking publications, of the establishment of journals, programs, and institutes devoted to the study of women—have brought about this broad-spectrum analysis, as have eulogies for pioneers in feminist literary study, such as Carolyn Heilbrun, in the Fall 2005 issue of Tulsa Studies, and Nellie Y. McKay, in the October 2006 issue of PMLA.2

In an effort to continue this important work of taking stock of the field, valuing what has been done and considering what should be done next, I have called for a special jubilee issue of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature to be published next spring. This issue will include a collection of informal essays by some of our board members and by well-known specialists in several areas of women’s literature. These essays reflect upon the past, present, and future of scholarship on women and writing. When read together, they will help us see past our own specialties to obtain a wide-ranging vision of the study of women and literature in many eras and regions. These essays will also, I hope, promote dialogue about the future of scholarship on women authors and feminist literary criticism. I therefore anticipate that this special issue will influence the future direction of this journal even as it celebrates its past. Alas, this particular exercise in commemorative analysis will take place through eulogy as well as anniversary. I am very sad to report that Lillian Robinson died in October of this year. It is hard to convey in words Lillian’s significance to Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. She was among the earliest members of the editorial board and a vibrant personal presence in Tulsa, first in 1983, as a resident in the Tulsa Center for the Study of Women’s Literature, and then in 1992, as the director of a summer institute. One of her areas of expertise was canon-formation, a topic of great importance to the study of women’s literature, and in 1983 she published “Treason Our Text: Feminist Challenges to the Literary Canon,” a bold assessment of the implications that feminist study has for the canon of literature in English (vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 83-98). The most widely reprinted essay in this journal’s history, “Treason Our Text” continues to shape discussions of canonicity, especially the roles of ideology and aesthetics in assessments of literary value. Her essay set many of the terms for the debates over canon formation that raged through the 1980s and 1990s, and her observations still hold great relevance today. Lillian asked hard questions in her work. Often she provided insightful answers to them, and when those questions were not of a nature that they could be answered in one moment or by one person, she provided the vocabularies and frameworks that would shape scholars’ engagements with those topics for a long time to come.

I never did have the honor of meeting Lillian in person, but I was lucky enough to have the chance to converse with her over email, as I enlisted her participation in the upcoming jubilee issue. In these exchanges I glimpsed the generosity and razor-sharp insight I already had associated with Lillian Robinson by reading her work. I now feel personally cheated of the opportunity to become better acquainted with a powerful intellect and a warm, fascinating person. She became very ill shortly after agreeing to contribute an essay to the jubilee issue, and so we were surprised and deeply touched to learn from Greg Robinson, her nephew and literary executor, that Lillian had been able to draft much of her essay in the last weeks of her life. Her friend and former student Michael Massing worked with her in this process and is now preparing her essay for publication in the Spring 2007 issue. That Lillian would devote a portion of her last days to delivering her comment on the past and future of work on women’s literature is vivid evidence of the passion she brought to feminist scholarship. Everyone connected with Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature will miss her greatly. We mourn the premature death of a great scholar and a fierce advocate for women’s causes.

The recent passing of a scholar who played such an important role in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature has kept me focused on issues of connectedness and continuity in the journal. I am mindful of the journal’s links to a past—both the recent past of the journal’s own history and the more distant reaches into earlier eras of women’s writing—and to a future in which we will see the emergence of new feminist scholars, new women authors, and new approaches to the study of women and writing. I also am aware of the role that this journal has played, and could play to a greater extent, in making scholars of different eras and regions aware of each other’s work. My plans for the journal are meant to foster the journal’s role in strengthening these various links: between generations of scholars, between eras of scholarship, and between regional or national traditions of women’s writing.

First, in the spirit of this commitment to continuity, I would like to highlight the journal’s traditional dedication to new research by actively encouraging the submission of more “Archives” essays. Archives pieces in this journal usually have been bibliographies or publications of previously unpublished work. I welcome contributions of these types, but I am expanding this category to include more personal essays describing scholars’ work in rare book rooms or archives. Very few publishing venues in the field of literature attend to the process, as opposed to the product, of research, and I would like the Archives section to provide one such venue. 213 In these new types of Archives essays scholars will tell the stories of their labor in rare book rooms, explaining how they made a particular discovery, how they made sense of what they found, and how such discoveries can inform current scholarship. Katharine Kittredge provides a model for this new kind of Archives piece in this issue with her essay, “‘It Spoke Directly to the Heart’: Discovering the Mourning Journal of Melesina Trench.” My hope is that these essays will remind us that the study of women’s literature still involves recovery work, and it will help us all learn where and how to find women authors whose work has still escaped modern notice. Such essays also, I hope, will bring some sense of shared enterprise to what can be lonesome work. I ask scholars who are interested in publishing an Archives essay that tells the story of their research or that describes a particular archive to send an abstract of no more than 200 words to the journal.

In connection with the call for more Archives pieces, I would like to encourage more submissions of “Notes.” Since I took on the day-to-day editorial duties of the editor in August, 2005, I have received about one hundred article submissions, but not a single Note. To explain the differences between Articles and Notes, I call our readers’ attention to our “Notes to Contributors,” on the inside back cover of this issue. Notes are shorter, they are more focused on matters of fact pertaining to biography or bibliography, and they place far less stress than articles do on delivering an original argument. Notes will go through the same dual-blind referee process that Articles do.

I hope to publish more Notes in the future, not least because this kind of publication can be especially helpful to scholarship as a collective enterprise, keeping us all up to date on the latest research. I do wish to stress, though, that my call for Archives pieces and Notes in no way implies an eschewal of theory. Indeed, I want Tulsa Studies to continue to provide a forum in which historical, text-based, and theoretical approaches to literary study coexist. It is my sense that publishing more focused and fact-oriented Notes and Archives pieces alongside Articles, some of which will have a strong theoretical component, will enhance the journal’s traditional openness to different methodologies.

The Spring 2007 issue also will introduce a new feature, “Innovations,” which will include short essays commenting on new research tools, scholarly enterprises, pedagogical approaches, or conferences that facilitate the study of women writers. The first Innovations piece will be an essay by the principle coinvestigators of the Orlando Project, Susan Brown, Patricia Clements, Isobel Grundy, Sharon Balazs, and Jeffrey Antoniuk, describing the process of developing this new online searchable archive devoted to British women authors. This piece will appear alongside an Archives contribution by the same authors, detailing the Orlando Project. I welcome proposals for Innovations essays. Please email or write to the Tulsa Studies office if you have an idea for an Innovations piece and would be interested in writing a short essay describing this new development in the field.

Finally, without neglecting the British and North American literatures in which this journal traditionally has been most active, I would like to expand upon Holly Laird’s efforts to publish more essays on work by African American women, Native American women, and women writers across the globe. I am attentive to the pragmatic difficulties attending the inclusion of more work on authors outside of North America and Britain—most notably, the challenges of recruiting specialist readers in several national literatures and checking references in many languages—but I would like to mark this as a desirable direction for this journal to continue taking. In furtherance of these goals I plan to announce several new appointments to the editorial board in the next two years. Some of these new appointments will speak to the journal’s long-standing areas of strength, but others will enhance the journal’s ability to recruit and evaluate work in fields beyond its traditional purview. Sarah Theobald-Hall, the managing editor, and I also have begun to discuss the possibility of establishing a process that would allow Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature to accept electronic submissions. Such a change would help us to operate within a truly global framework by minimizing the time delays and costs of international mail. We are proceeding cautiously because of the complications that electronic submissions pose for the preservation of blind review. I hope that we will be able in the next two years to set up an electronic submissions and review process that would connect us more easily with contributors and specialist readers around the globe.

My goals for the journal are ambitious, even as they emphasize continuity with preceding editors’ goals. I would not be able to begin contemplating these goals if I could not work with such a wonderful staff. This year has not been a quiet one for the journal: we joined Project MUSE, polished our new web site, began using a new desktop publishing program, and transferred our database of specialist readers from paper to computer, all while dealing with the usual work of seeing two issues through to print. In the midst of this busy year Lisa Riggs, our book review editor, suddenly had to undergo back surgery and endure a lengthy recovery. What was supposed to be a fairly typical semester for Tulsa Studies became one in which several people faced new challenges in their work for the journal. Lisa exerted herself to continue her work as book review editor during her recovery, and Karen Dutoi, our subscriptions intern, took on some of Lisa’s duties at very short notice. Andy Trevathan, who had just started graduate studies at the University of Tulsa, stepped up to assume some of Karen’s work, and Laura Popp, an undergraduate Film major at TU, became our first work-study employee, providing invaluable assistance in the office. Sarah Theobald-Hall oversaw all these abrupt shifts in our staffing with her usual collectedness and foresight, quietly stepping in to finish incomplete tasks. This semester has been one in which the staff shouldered each other’s burdens and adapted to an exhausting pace of change in the office. I am more grateful to them than I can say, and I am deeply honored to be part of this project over which we all labor.

This issue of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature is, in a formal sense, the first issue in which I act as solitary editor and Holly Laird in an advisory capacity as executive editor. In truth, however, the assembling of this issue has been a collaborative enterprise because these articles moved through the blind review process under Holly’s editorship and I then prepared them for publication. As I edited these six essays, I at first thought of them as an eclectic group, united only by their focus on texts published in the last two centuries. They span genres, topics, and geographical regions, ranging in at least one essay into French and Caribbean literature but as a group focusing predominantly on literature in English. In this way they exemplify much of the traditional range and emphasis of scholarship in this journal.

Perhaps because Lillian Robinson was on my mind after I had heard news of her death, I began to consider the similar ways in which they address a question Lillian posed in another of her ground-breaking essays, “Feminist Criticism: How Do We Know When We’ve Won?” This essay, which was published in the third volume of Tulsa Studies, tackled one of the most difficult and persistent questions scholars of women writers must address: “whether it is essential that scholarship on women writers operate within feminist assumptions and with a feminist orientation” (vol. 3, no. 1/2, p. 143). This question is at the heart of the feminist literary enterprise; for as she so forcefully argued, to ask such a question is to investigate “the extent to which challenges to the male-dominated canon also entail challenges to the dominant stylistic, thematic, and aesthetic norms” (p. 147). The six articles in this issue constitute similar responses to this question in that they all show a woman expanding or redefining a well-established genre in order to make room for her own concerns and artistic inclinations. In some cases a traditionally male form of writing is altered to make room for a woman, while in others a typically female genre or tradition is changed to expand the sentiments, topics, or styles connected by convention to a female voice. These articles therefore are linked in their shared projects of initiating feminist or proto-feminist revisions of genre.

The interrogations and re-castings of genre delineated in this issue begin in antebellum America. In “From Voice to Persona: Amelia Welby’s Lyric Tradition in Sarah M. B. Piatt’s Early Poetry,” Susan Grove Hall shows how Piatt participated in but subtly undercut the tradition of women’s poetry that was published in the Louisville Daily Journal throughout the mid nineteenth century. The features of this poetic style, which were dictated largely by the newspaper’s editor George D. Prentice and mastered by the poet Amelia Welby, include a melancholy affect emanating both from frontier isolation and grief over loved ones’ deaths, as well as a proclivity for highly personal and tragic disclosure. This poetry, which is an important precursor to twentieth-century confessional poems, drew upon influences ranging from Enlightenment rhetorical theory to Romantic and gothic literature even as it deliberately set itself apart from contemporaneous poetic lineages forming in the eastern United States. Piatt adopted the style and form that had proven so successful with the Louisville Daily Journal’s readers and appealing to its editor, but through the development of a brittle and wry persona she was able to attach the poetic form to intellectually sharper and more complex content delivered with ironic detachment. The result was a series of poems that expanded the tonal range and philosophical substance available to a woman writer publishing in a newspaper of the antebellum American West.

Marianne Van Remoortel’s essay, “(Re)gendering Petrarch: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese,” shows how Barrett Browning’s famous sonnet sequence remakes the Petrarchan sonnet, “a poetic genre governed by masculine principles,” for a woman’s voice by translating the metaphorical into the literal. When Barrett Browning reverses the gendered positions of speaking subject and beloved object in the sonnet sequence, the poet’s traditionally metaphorical descriptions of submission, illness, and imprisonment acquire literal significance, depicting the actual situation of the female speaker. Even as she alters the Petrarchan sonnet to articulate a woman’s expressions of love and explorations of her own subjectivity, Barrett Browning transforms a Renaissance genre for the aesthetics and moral sensibilities of a Victorian audience that sees, for example, female illness as signifying beauty and romantic love as leading to marriage. Another effect of her engagement with the Petrarchan sonnet is to scramble the usually stable relationship between the silent, elusive beloved who dissolves into language and the subject who finds increasingly complex articulation through meditation on unrequited love. In the case of Sonnets from the Portuguese, then, a woman’s appropriation of a masculine form of poetry involves the transformation, as Van Remoortel notes, of “the outworn amatory sonnet genre into a modern mode of self-expression.” A woman’s effort to re-gender genre thus can have consequences ranging beyond the articulation or description of gender.

This general observation also applies to Muriel Rukeyser’s engagement with epic, as Jenny Goodman demonstrates in “‘Presumption’ and ‘Unlearning’: Reading Muriel Rukeyser’s ‘The Book of the Dead’ as a Woman’s American Epic.” Rukeyser’s poem is a meditation on the Gauley Bridge disaster of the 1930s, in which several hundred laborers, most of them black, died from silicosis they contracted while employed by Union Carbide to drill a tunnel and hydroelectric plant in West Virginia. Goodman shows how Rukeyser makes room for herself within a male epic tradition by drawing upon other genres and texts, including thirties’ documentaries, extracts from the congressional investigation into the incident, and Egyptian mythology. Rukeyser revises the position of epic poet by speaking through roles and voices identified as feminine in mid-twentiethcentury America, such as social workers, even as she meditates self-consciously on her position as privileged white female witness to the exploitation and death of her country’s working poor and racial underclass. The impact of her revision is historiographic as well as literary, for, as Goodman notes, “Rukeyser . . . compose[s] a narrative of national redemption in which women become shapers of myth and history.” She also presents a narrative in which the anonymous victims of greed and irresponsibility are remembered alongside the heroes reified in traditional epic.

Feminist engagement with the literature of politics and nation also plays a significant role in Kevin Meehan’s essay, “Romance and Revolution: Reading Women’s Narratives of Caribbean Decolonization.” Meehan explores how three Caribbean women writers, Jaqueline Manicom, Merle Collins, and Merle Hodge, break with a predominantly male Caribbean novelistic tradition by decoupling tropes of heterosexual romance from narratives of political revolution. Rather than “presenting romance as something that sustains revolutionary development,” as Caribbean male writers of prose fiction have been inclined to do, these three authors either relegate romance to the background of their narratives or oppose it to their female protagonists’ struggle for empowerment and enfranchisement. Artistic innovation, through the implementation of devices such as journal entries or first-person narrative, simultaneously delivers political and generic critique by showing how Caribbean women writers “pose other narrative forms as more suitable for conveying the project of self-inscription,” especially within “the privatized status to which women are confined.” These novels and short stories thus compel scrutiny of women’s exclusion from revolutionary movements even as they bypass or critique the tropes and storylines traditionally used by male authors in the Caribbean to provide a microcosmic and personal depiction of political revolution.

The final two essays in this issue, which focus on novels published in the last decade, do not undertake a revision of genre so much as they expand upon what we might consider to be the patterns and foci of feminist narratives, which have tended to describe the disillusionment or empowerment of women whose race, class, religion, and ethnicity place them in positions of relative privilege. MaryEllen (Ellie) Higgins’s “Transnational, Transcultural Feminisms? Amma Darko’s Response in Beyond the Horizon” addresses the challenge of articulating a feminist philosophy with a globalist reach that does not merely reinscribe the concerns and entitlements of Western European and North American women. Higgins “explores the possibilities for transnational or transcultural women’s solidarity” through a reading of Darko’s Beyond the Horizon. She observes that this novel shows Western feminism repeatedly failing Mara, Darko’s Ghanian protagonist, who has followed her husband to Germany, and who suffers from domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, and disillusionment with the consumerist “freedoms” of Europe. The failure of feminist solidarity is seen most painfully in Mara’s relationship with Gitte, the German woman whom Mara’s Ghanian husband has married while telling Gitte that Mara is his sister. The novel does not simply present African and Northern feminisms as incommensurable, however. Rather, Darko “provides a model for transformative women’s movements that venture beyond the horizon of the monolithic category of ‘woman’ to attend to myriad forms of oppression in widely varying local contexts.” Through this reading Higgins asserts that only through an awareness of privilege and a commitment to particular rather than general feminist analysis can the bonds of transnational solidarity be forged.

Helene Meyers’s “Jewish Gender Trouble: Women Writing Men of Valor,” the final essay in this issue, shares with Higgins’s article an attention to narratives of women whose identity, whether defined through ethnicity, religion, culture, race, or nation, has not made them the traditionally privileged and majority subjects of what we might call feminist narratives of awakening. But while Darko shows women failing to cross the boundaries of nation and race to achieve solidarity, Meyers shows men achieving sympathy with and help for women through reference to their shared religion. Focusing on two novels, Dara Horn’s In the Image and Allegra Goodman’s Kaaterskill Falls, Meyers shows how contemporary narratives of Orthodox Jewish women trouble easy oppositions between feminism and religious tradition, going so far as to show men learning from Orthodoxy and its ethical code to become more supportive of female empowerment. These novels, she argues, feature men who “seek to live lives of menschlikhkeit (‘an ethics of compassionate decency’) through their intimate relations with women.” Horn and Goodman thus “trouble gender by re-presenting masculinity and imagining Jewish men as actively engaged in the cultural work of healing Jewish gender relations.” The result is an optimistic vision of the feminist potential that is latent in a male-centered religious tradition as well as a reconsideration of the broader relationship between masculinity and feminism.

I feel fortunate to begin my editorship of this journal by working with such an insightful collection of essays. I have been especially pleased to see how they speak to each other, together compelling a deeper consideration of what it means to write and read women’s literature. There cannot, and should not, be an easy answer to this question. In my editorship of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature I look forward to promoting broader awareness and understanding of women authors and feminist literary study. This task includes not only documenting the fact of women writing in many places and times, but also encouraging all of us to ponder how an awareness of women’s literature alters the reading, writing, and interpreting of literature in general. I hope that my work on this journal will play some small part in continuing this project.

Laura M. Stevens
University of Tulsa

1 Unca Eliza Winkfield, The Female American, ed. Michelle Burnham (Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 2001).
2 “Feminist Criticism Today: In Memory of Nellie Y. McKay,” PMLA, 121 (2006), 1678-1741. 220

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]