It is with great pleasure that I present this Silver Jubilee issue of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. Shortly after I took on the editorship of this journal I realized that it was about to enter its twenty-fifth year of publication, a time that merited celebration of the past and thoughts on the future. I invited several scholars known for their work on women writers to commemorate this event by contributing short, informal essays to a special anniversary issue. With a nod to the title of the journal’s first editorial preface by Germaine Greer, “The Tulsa Center for the Study of Women’s Literature: What We Are Doing and Why We Are Doing It” (vol. 1, no. 1), the jubilee issue would be titled, “What We Have Done and Where We Are Going.” I welcomed academic overviews as well as more personal recollections of the authors’ own experiences, as students, teachers, and scholars of women’s literature, and I invited them to forward their ideas about what should happen next in the field along with a discussion of past accomplishments. My goal, I told the contributors, was to produce a wide-ranging collection of perspectives of the field that look both to the past and the future, noting what has been done but also inspiring work in aspects of women’s writing that seem most important to the contributors.
I began by inviting the journal’s prior editors. Although Germaine Greer unfortunately was unable to participate, I was very happy to learn that Shari Benstock and Holly Laird would contribute essays, and this issue begins with their thoughts. The remaining eleven contributions are organized, very approximately, with more personal reflections and commentaries on general feminist issues followed by essays devoted to work on a particular era or region. Of the articles focused on certain fields, several are connected with eighteenth-century studies. This is partly because three of the essays, Maram Epstein’s, Carla Mulford’s, and Susan Staves’s, are based on addresses they delivered at a plenary panel I organized to commemorate the journal’s silver jubilee at the South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Conference, which took place in Tulsa this past February.
The final two essays gesture toward the links between new and old, past and future, as they feature the Orlando Project, an online database devoted to the study of British women writers. Both are authored jointly by the co-investigators of the project, but I would like to give particular acknowledgment to Isobel Grundy, my primary contact at the Orlando Project, who devoted a great deal of time to email discussions with me as the essays developed from concept to manuscript, proof, and, finally, print. The first piece, “An Introduction to the Orlando Project,” is an Archives essay, devoted to an explanation of the database as an online archive, research tool, and teaching resource. The second piece, “The Story of the Orlando Project: Personal Reflections,” is the first essay in our new Innovations section, which features new approaches to the study of women writers. It tells the story of the Orlando Project, from initial conceptualization through many years of collaboration, hard work, revision, and, yes, innovation. The result of the long and intense labor of the many scholars involved in the project is a nimble and adaptable instrument for the study of past and present women writers, one well suited to a world marked by rapidly changing approaches to information acquisition and analysis. I look forward to featuring other new developments in the field in future Innovations pieces.
I believe that these essays speak for themselves, and they raise too many fascinating issues to be dealt with adequately in an editorial preface, so in lieu of a lengthy introduction I will only express my profound gratitude to the authors for their contributions to this anniversary issue. Some of them have been devoted members of the journal’s editorial board for many years, and they all have made valuable, even invaluable, contributions to scholarship on women’s writing and feminist theory in their various fields of expertise. I thank them for their willingness to participate in what I hope will be an ongoing discussion, branching out from this commemorative moment, of what is needed and desired for the future study of women’s literature.
My warmest thanks also to the journal’s managing editor, Sarah Theobald-Hall, to our editorial interns, Andy Trevathan, Sara Beam, and Courtney Spohn-Larkins, to Laura Popp, who has just completed a year of work-study with journal, to Lisa Riggs, who has just completed her term as book review editor, and to Karen Dutoi, who, after overseeing the book review section with Lisa for a year, has now taken on all the responsibilities of the book review editor. This was an especially complicated issue to assemble, with so many individual contributions, and I am grateful to the staff for their very hard work. I wish Lisa and Laura all the best in their future endeavors.
On the occasion of the journal’s silver jubilee I also would like to thank Roger Blais and the Office of the Provost at the University of Tulsa. Since its founding, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature has had the good fortune to be housed institutionally in the Office of the Provost, where it has enjoyed extraordinary good will. Without this administrative benevolence the journal simply could not have survived, let alone flourished, and so I am very grateful to Roger, his predecessors, his staff, and their predecessors for the many forms of support they have provided to this journal over the past quarter-century. I look forward to working with the Office of the Provost, the editorial board, journal staff, our authors, and our readers as this journal moves into another quarter-century of vibrant and vital scholarship on feminism, women, and writing.
Laura M. Stevens
University of Tulsa