Preface, Fall 2002, Vol. 21, No. 2

Download PDF

Holly Laird, University of Tulsa
Vol. 21, No. 2 (Fall 2002), 227-230.

Scholarly journals depend so heavily on an exceedingly transient academic readership that we are perhaps inclined to celebrate our innings more than other institutions; a bookstore, for example, is less prone to hail the world vociferously with five-year, ten-year, and fifteen-year anniversaries. And our anniversaries begin, naturally, sometime in the fourth year of every half decade, remaining still fresh early in the sixth. Still, it seems no small accomplishment to the learned journal’s pitifully unrewarded editors when a journal is here one year later, and another year yet again. Thus, the attainment of the twenty-year mark and the achievement of that mark at the turn of the twenty-first century in 2002—as Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature has just done (1982-2002)—seems an attainment little short of millennial triumph. We do not expect everyone to exult with us, but we certainly do wish to spread the news and frame the moment. For me personally, the current issue is, moreover, a small miracle. Rising to the occasion of “the adoption issue,” the essays in these pages, by turns buoyant, brainy, fierce, warm, and explosive in their arguments, herald the times with major, sorely needed changes in thinking about parenting. Simultaneously, publication here of Frank Felsenstein’s work on the Thorp Arch Archive marks a milestone in eighteenth-century studies, particularly in relation to the famous working-class poet Ann Yearsley.

But, as it happens, a very different set of wishes from that of timing was predominant in bringing the current issue into being. Indeed, while the previous issue, “Feminism and Time,” was conceived, wrought, and completed with the turn of the century fully in mind, none of those of us who worked toward the current issue ever thought of it in terms of a particular moment either in this century or in this journal’s history—even though several contributors to this issue do register the crisis, and meditate the aftermath, of September 11, 2001. For parents, particularly the parents here, who have been rendered deeply thoughtful about parenting by the adoption process, war is the worst of possible reminders of the dangers amid which we foster “our” children. Undaunted even so, challenging yet another unthinking opposition—this time the opposition so often assumed between “own” and “adopted” (as Janet Beizer expressly urges)—this special issue insists upon a broader, surely more efficacious understanding of affiliation in this world, beginning (where so many things can begin) with the family. What brought this issue into existence were the deceptively simple questions of what adoption is and does and of why it matters, as viewed from the transformed perspectives of “academic” women and men who have engaged directly in adopting children. In the preface to “The Adoption Issue,” I introduce those perspectives in greater detail.

As further chance would have it, the recent discovery of new letters and poems by the “milkmaid” poet, Ann Yearsley, made rapid publication of this Archives section desirable. Thus in this special issue, we also present Part I of “Ann Yearsley and the Politics of Patronage: The Thorp Arch Archive” by Frank Felsenstein. Supported by grants from the Leonard Hastings Schoff Publication Fund of Columbia University Seminars and from the West Yorkshire Archive Council, Professor Felsenstein articulates the complex patronage system enwinding, yet also enabling, the publications of Yearsley—the now-canonical working-class woman poet of the late eighteenth century. Nearly a decade ago in 1993, Tulsa Studies published an exciting stash of poems by Yearsley, edited by Professor Moira Ferguson. Complicating Ferguson’s argument, Felsenstein analyzes Yearsley’s partial complicity with the patronage system. Part II of “Ann Yearsley and the Politics of Patronage,” scheduled for the Spring 2003 issue of Tulsa Studies, will present Felsenstein’s edition of the new letters and poems by Yearsley that he uncovered.

Several groundbreaking news items that I announced in the previous issue should be reiterated here. First, in April Tulsa Studies joined JSTOR’s new Language and Literature Collection and its stellar archive of scholarly publications; this means that all except the most recent five volumes of Tulsa Studies are now available electronically to our readers and scholars.1 Following the lead of PMLA in its initiative to enroll major scholarly journals in this archive, we saw this as an opportune moment to broaden our presence in library archives and make Tulsa Studies that much more accessible to a widening readership. So many issues and articles in so many of the past twenty years of publication remain as fascinating and pointed today as they were when first printed: from Germaine Greer’s inaugural essay on L.E.L. (1.1); through Shari Benstock’s theoretically informed issues and debates, Nina Auerbach’s prescient “Nation and Time,” and (since 1988) our numerous internationally recognized issues, “Toward a Gendered Modernity,” “South African Women’s Writing,” “After Empire I and II,” “On Collaborations I and II,” “Political Discourse/British Women’s Writing, 1640-1867,” “Women Writing Across the World,” and the prize-winning “Redefining Marginality”; to our groundbreaking archival features, including previously unpublished manuscripts by authors such as Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and Ann Yearsley, or bibliographies of authors like Grace Paley and Carolyn Kirkland, and many articles much-sought-after for reprinting in anthologies elsewhere.

Also in the electronic medium, accompanying publication of this volume, we have posted an internet version of Tulsa Studies’ twenty-year index (printed in the previous issue, Vol. 21, No. 1) on Tulsa Studies’ homepage, thus creating immediate easy access to information about past issues (see We are grateful to our editorial intern, Christine Cavitt, for producing this important index of our most recent back issues. For copies of any of the most recent issues that you are missing (that is, volumes 16-20, since issues will not be available through JSTOR until they are more than five years old), simply write to us, as usual, at Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, University of Tulsa, 600 S. College Ave., Tulsa, OK 74104-3189. The prices for back issues of the journal remain an extremely affordable $7.00 (domestic) and $8.00 (non-U.S.).

I would like too to call the attention of Tulsa Studies readers as well as feminist modernists and feminist Joyceans to the fact that in the week of 16 June 2003, the University of Tulsa NEH-endowed Comparative Literature Symposium and Sean Latham, new editor of the James Joyce Quarterly, will host the 2003 North American James Joyce Conference in the halls of T.U. We look forward to the exciting return to this campus of Shari Benstock, feminist scholar and theorist and former editor of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature; Karen Lawrence, feminist and modernist scholar and Dean of the School of Humanities, University of California, Irvine; Thomas Staley, Director of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin and founding Editor of the James Joyce Quarterly; Robert Scholes, rising President of the MLA; and Robert Spoo, immediate past Editor of the James Joyce Quarterly and a former editor of the Yale Law Review. Notable events during the conference are likely to include a trip to OK Mozart; the opening night Bloomsday banquet; a display of the famous Joyce materials at McFarlin Library; a reception hosted by the James Joyce Quarterly; and a roundtable of past James Joyce Quarterly editors.

Both the previous special issue on “Feminism and Time” and the earlier special forum on “Problems of Beauty in Feminist Studies” have proved so rewarding that we hope to repeat their successes with another future issue again derived from papers sponsored by the Women’s Studies Division Executive Committee of the MLA. For this December 2002, Shirley Geoklin Lim has organized a tripartite series of sessions on transnational and international feminist studies: “Transnational and/or Transgender Cultural Productions” with speakers Gillian Whitlock (Queensland), Kenneth Chan (Singapore), Susan Rudy (Calgary), and Tina Chen (Vanderbilt); “Feminism in the Shadow of Global Capitalism,” chaired by Sidonie Smith (Michigan), with speakers Nina Y. Morgan (Kennesaw), Susan Alice Fischer (Medgar Evers, CUNY), and Yi Zheng (Tel Aviv); and “U.S. Women’s Studies, International Women’s Studies, and the Practice of Literary Criticism” with Marguerite R. Waller (U.C., Riverside), Jane Lilienfeld (Lincoln), Harriet Davidson (Rutgers), and Lori Rowlett (U. Wisconsin, Eau Claire). In addition, the executive committee is cosponsoring a cash bar this year with the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. If you can find your way to New York City this December, be sure both to visit these MLA sessions and meet us at the cash bar.

Although I have saved it for last, our most important news of all is a major change of the guard in this journal. So closely identified as Linda Frazier is by readers, authors, students, and the Tulsa community with Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature that it is next to impossible to imagine the journal without her. Nonetheless, after sixteen years of extraordinary dedication, intelligence, and cheerfulness devoted to this journal, Linda Frazier will step down as Managing Editor and, as of September 2003, will be replaced by former Book Review Editor Sarah Theobald-Hall. Hard as I tried to talk Linda into remaining with the journal (“just a little while longer”), she richly deserves the retirement she seeks. She leaves behind her innumerable gifts to the journal and its people—from the acuity of her copy-editing (in several languages) that brought so many articles to a bright finish; through her management of staff, budget, and production in frequent storms; to her seemingly infinite good will and the deep mark she thus made in every life that has passed by her desk. With tears, I watch her leave. Yet she is replaced by someone with remarkable talents, intelligence, steadiness, and commitment to Tulsa Studies. If it has to shift hands, Tulsa Studies could not be shifting to better hands than Sarah’s. Please join me in welcoming Sarah Theobald-Hall to the managing editorship.

Holly Laird
University of Tulsa


1The full list of journals in this collection includes African American Review, African Languages and Cultures Supplement, Alif, American Literary History, American Literature, American Speech, Boundary 2, Callaloo, Chinese Literature, College Composition and Communication, College English, Comparative Literature, Diacritics, ELH, French Review, The French Review Special Issue, German Quarterly, Hispania, Hispanic Review, Italica, Japanese Language and Literature, Journal of African Cultural Studies, Language, MELUS, MLN, Modern Language Journal, Modern Philology, Nineteenth-Century Literature, New England Quarterly, New German Critique, New Literary History, PMLA, Poetics Today, Renaissance Quarterly, Representations, Review of English Studies, Rhetoric Review, Shakespeare Quarterly, Social Text, Speculum, Studies in English Literature, Studies in the Renaissance, Transition, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, Twentieth Century Literature, Yale French Studies, and Zhurnal Ministevsta Vyshego Obrazovaniya.

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]