Preface, Spring 2010, Vol. 29, No. 1

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Laura M. StevensUniversity of Tulsa
Vol. 29, No. 1 (Spring 2010), 7-14

From the Editor

I begin this issue with an affectionate and sad farewell to Sarah Theobald-Hall, who has resigned as Managing Editor of the journal in order to move with her family to a new city. This has been hard news for Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature and for me in particular. Sarah’s connection with the journal is a close one that encompasses many years, with her first working as a graduate student intern in 1990 and then as the journal’s Book Review Editor from 1992 to 1996. In 2002 she returned to the journal after a successful career doing development work for Tulsa-area non-profits to work as Managing Editor, first sharing the position for a year with Linda Frazier, who had been Managing Editor for seventeen years, and then succeeding formally to the position in 2003.

It is Sarah who deserves ultimate thanks for the journal’s consistently polished appearance, its new cover design, and its keeping to a regular publication schedule from year to year. These are the aspects of the journal that are most visible to our readers and authors, but they constitute only a portion of the immense contributions she has made to the journal. Sarah has run the journal’s office and staff over the past seven years with both skill and grace, providing a crucial core of stability while the editorship changed hands from Holly Laird to me, while the position of Book Review Editor saw transitions among our advanced graduate students, and while many aspects of the journal’s operations transitioned from paper to electronic formats. She has trained the many interns who have rotated through the office since 2002, and, perhaps most importantly to the editorial staff, her welcoming, calm presence in the office simply has made Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature a wonderful place to work. Finally, Sarah has become a friend even more than a co-worker, and I personally will miss her greatly. The rest of the staff and I wish her all the best for her new life in Dallas.
It is no small consolation to me to have a ready successor to Sarah, whom I am pleased to re-introduce to our readers. I say “re-introduce,” for in the last editorial preface I wrote, Spring 2009, I said goodbye to Karen Dutoi, one of our doctoral students who was just completing a term as Book Review Editor. I now welcome her back to Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. Since she started in the University of Tulsa’s doctorate program, Karen has been notable for her ability to combine organizational skills with intellectual heft, having served for example as President of our English Graduate Student Association while writing an impressive dissertation, “‘Yours in a mixture of anger and love’: Tensions in Female Friendship and Narrative in Victorian Women’s Novels.” She also has an article, “Negotiating Distance and Intimacy in Female Friendship in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall,” forthcoming from Brontë Studies, and she looks forward to remaining an active scholar in the study of Victorian women’s writing. I am simply delighted that she has agreed to become our new Managing Editor. I also would like to take this opportunity to thank our readers and contributors for the great patience they have shown as this transition in our editorial staff has slowed down our production schedule. Our highest priority over the next year will be to catch up, having the issues appear in synchronicity with their stated publication date. This strikes me also as the right moment to thank our authors, who have been consistently prompt in working with Sarah and me, and now Karen, in completing the work of copyediting, proofs, and permissions so that we can expedite this schedule.

Three years ago I invited the members of our editorial board, all of whom had served for between fifteen and twenty-six years, to join our advisory board. I then initiated a process of creating a new editorial board whose members would serve for three-year terms. Since then I have appointed three new board members with every issue, working towards the time when the board would be full with eighteen positions and when three members would cycle off every six months to be succeeded by new members. In the previous issue (Fall 2009), Kate Adams’s wonderful guest-edited issue on U. S. Women Writing Race, I did not announce any new appointments, and so with this issue I am very pleased to announce the final six appointments to our new editorial board.
Giselle Anatol is Associate Professor of English at the University of Kansas, where she specializes in Caribbean, African American, and children’s literature. She has published articles on figures such as Nalo Hopkinson, Derek Walcott, Audre Lorde, Paule Marshall, and Langston Hughes in venues including African American Review, Journal of Caribbean Studies, and MaComère: Journal of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars. She also has edited two collections of essays on J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, Reading Harry Potter (2003) and Reading Harry Potter Again (2009), and another essay collection, Bringing Light to Twilight: Essays on a Pop Culture Phenomenon, is forthcoming in 2011. Dr. Anatol was a Conger-Gabel Teaching Professor at the University of Kansas from 2001 to 2004. She is at work on a book, “The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampirism in Literature of the African Americas.”

Deborah Clarke is Professor of English at Arizona State University. A specialist in twentieth-century American fiction, she is the author of Robbing the Mother: Women in Faulkner (1994) and Driving Women: Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America (2007). She also has published many articles on figures including Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Edith Wharton, Barbara Kingsolver, Bobbie Anne Mason, and William Faulkner, in journals such as Mississippi Quarterly, American Literature, The Faulkner Journal, and Arizona Quarterly. Professor Clarke has been the recipient of a Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in her previous position at the Pennsylvania State University, she received the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award, the Excellence in Advising Award, the Pavoucek-Shields Faculty Award, the Atherton Award for Distinguished Teaching, and a Resident Scholar Award from the Institute of Arts and Humanities. She was elected to a three-year term as President of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, for which she previously served as a member of the Advisory Board, and she is currently Vice President of the Faulkner Society. From 2005 to 2008 she was a delegate to the Modern Language Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. She is currently working on a project tentatively titled “Alternative Economies: Debt, Credit, and Barter in Twentieth-Century American Fiction.”

Samar Habib is an affiliated scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Visiting Professor in San Francisco State University’s Department of Women and Gender Studies, where she is teaching Gender and Modernity in Arab and Muslim Communities. Her expertise encompasses women, gender, and sexuality in the Arab and Muslim world; queer theory; Palestinian literature and film; and the contexts of colonial oppression and post-colonial resistance. A graduate of the University of Sydney, she is co-founder and Chief Editor of the periodical Nebula: A Journal of Multidisciplinary Scholarship, editor of Islam and Homosexuality (2009), and author of Arabo-Islamic Texts on Female Homosexuality, 800-1500 A. D. (2009) and Female Homosexuality in the Middle East: Histories and Representations (2007), as well as articles in venues including The History of Feminist Thought (2010), LGBT Transnational Identity (forthcoming), and EnterText. Dr. Habib additionally has published many creative works including the novel A Tree Like Rain (2005) and the chapbook Islands in Space (2008). A board member of the International Resource Network’s (IRN) Middle East chapter, which investigates issues of gender and sexuality in the Middle East, she has been active as an advocate and public voice on issues dealing with homosexuality in the Middle East and with LGBT rights in an international arena; she served, for example, as a panelist for the BBC’s Arabic television program Ma La Yuqal (“What is Not Said”) and has done many interviews on these issues for a wide range of international media.

Susannah Mintz is Associate Professor of English and Associate Chair at Skidmore College. Her expertise covers several areas, including seventeenth-century British literature, disability studies, and contemporary life writing and memoir. She also is a published lyric essayist. Her academic publications include Threshold Poetics: Milton and Intersubjectivity (2003), Unruly Bodies: Life Writing by Women with Disabilities (2007), and articles on Aphra Behn, Katherine Philips, Anne Finch, Lucy Grealy, and Nancy Mairs. She also has co-edited, with Merri Lisa Johnson, On The Literary Nonfiction of Nancy Mairs: A Critical Anthology, forthcoming from Palgrave. Her personal essays and poetry have been published in venues such as Michigan Quarterly Review, American Literary Review, and Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts. Her essay, “The Dirty Little Secret of Sabbatical,” was named a Notable Essay in the 2010 Best American Essays. She is at work on a study of literary representations of pain.

Angela Sorby is Associate Professor of English at Marquette University. A published poet and scholar of American poetry and children’s literature, she is the author of Schoolroom Poets: Childhood, Performance, and the Place of American Poetry, 1865-1917 (2005) and two volumes of poems: Distance Learning (1998) and Bird Skin Coat (2009). She also has published articles in venues including Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, Raymond Carver Review, American Studies, and MLQ: A Journal of Literary History. Dr. Sorby is the recipient of several honors, including the Lorine Niedecker Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, a Schlesinger Library Fellowship from Harvard University, and the Vivian Pollak Scholar-in-Amherst Award from the Emily Dickinson International Society. Bird Skin Coat was awarded the Outstanding Title Recognition from the Wisconsin Library Association, the Brittingham Prize from Wisconsin University Press, and the Midwest Book Award (poetry category) from the Midwest Association of Independent Publishers. She is a board member of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Society and the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, she is Secretary of the Raymond Carver International Society, she has served as an International Mentor for the Kvinnforsk (Women’s Study Center) at the University of Hamar and the University of Tromsø in Norway, and she is currently a Fulbright Fellow at Xiamen University in China. Her current work in progress includes a monograph, tentatively titled Rank Amateurs: American Poetry at the Margins, and a poetry collection, The Frontier Room.

Chantal Zabus holds the IUF (Institut universitaire de France) Chair in Comparative Postcolonial Literatures and Gender Studies at two Paris locations, the University of Paris 13 and Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle, soon to be merged into the new “Sorbonne-Paris Cité.” A specialist in comparative literature; African literatures, linguistics, and diaspora; gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender-queer theory; critical theory; and women’s postcolonial literatures, she is the author of The African Palimpsest: Indigenization of African Language in the West African Europhone Novel (1991; second enlarged edition, 2007); Between Rites and Rights: Excision in Women’s Experimental Texts and Human Contexts (2007); and Tempests after Shakespeare (2002). She also has authored a wide range of articles on topics including globalization and colonization, genital alteration, and post-colonial responses to canonical English authors. Professor Zabus has co-edited Le Secret: Motif et Moteur de la Littérature with Jacques Derrida and co-edited, with Danielle de Lame, the two-volume Changements au Féminin en Afrique noire: Anthropologie et Littérature (2000), as well as, with Silvia Nagy-Zekmi, Colonization or Globalization? Postcolonial Explorations of Imperial Expansion (2010) and Perennial Empires: Transnational, Postcolonial, and Literary Perspectives (2011). She is serving on the Modern Language Association’s Advisory Board on Comparative Literature in the Twentieth Century and on the Editorial Board of Matatu: Journal for African Culture and Society. In addition to being Reviews Editor for Commonwealth, she recently has been elected Editor-in-Chief of the online journal Postcolonial Text. Her current work includes a monograph in progress on African same-sex desire in fiction and culture as well as a collection of essays co-edited with David Coad, “Transgenders: New Identities, New (In)Visbilities.”

As I am writing this preface somewhat after the fact of these board members’ appointments, I want to express not only my gratitude that such distinguished scholars have agreed to serve on this board but also the great pleasure I already have had in working with them. Because of its broad scope, at least in aspiring to publish essays on the writings of women across place and time, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature is unusually dependent on its editorial and advisory boards as well as its specialist readers, all of whom freely give of their time to assess the essays we receive on a diverse array of topics. I am additionally grateful to the advisory and editorial boards members for giving so generously of their time as I have consulted with them on a range of long-term planning issues. The journal has been most fortunate in being supported by this group of eminent scholars, and I look forward to continuing to work with them.

Traditionally the editorial preface of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature has provided a summary of each contribution to the issue. While this work has had the advantage of providing a space for noting aspects of overlap or resonance among the articles, the addition of abstracts for individual articles to our journal and web site now makes it somewhat redundant. I therefore will no longer provide an overview of our regular issues’ contents, although we will continue to do this for our special topics issues. For this issue I simply will call attention to a trio of essays, collectively titled “Anita Brookner in the World,” by Phyllis Lassner, Ann Norton, and Margaret Stetz. These essays began as a Modern Language Association Panel organized with the goal of “bringing attention to the unacknowledged breadth and ambition” of Anita Brookner’s fiction. I was pleased to have the opportunity to publish these essays and look forward to observing their impact on the ongoing study of Brookner’s work. This issue also features two extensive review essays, by Paula McDowell on recent studies of eighteenth-century British women writers and by Joseph Bristow on the important publications that the last few years have seen on Michael Field, as well as a new sort of Innovations essay, a review by Tamara Harvey of the 2009 Maine Women Writers Collection’s Symposium “Women in the Archives.” Two contributions, Ursula McTaggart’s article, “‘Opening the Door’: The Hogarth Press as Virginia Woolf’s Outsiders’ Society,” and Amy Elkins’s Archives essay, “Old Pages and New Readings in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando,” bring to Woolf scholarship an attentiveness to the material production of the writing she herself authored as well as the texts that she and Leonard Woolf, along with their employees and co-workers, shepherded into print. Alongside these publications on an author often studied in the pages of this journal are two firsts: our first publication on the Irish novelist Edna O’Brien, by Elizabeth Weston, and our first article on Turkish literature, a study of Zeynep Avcı’s play Gilgamesh, by Pürnur Uçar-Özbirinci. I hope all our readers will find something of interest among this eclectic grouping of articles and essays.

Over the past few years I have enjoyed some opportunities to speak on university campuses or at conferences about the selection and editing processes at Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature while providing some advice to prospective authors. We currently reject approximately 90% of our submissions, and many prospective authors are understandably interested in hearing what qualities we look for in our publications. After some reflection I have decided that it could be helpful to more of our readers and prospective authors if I published some of these comments. I would like to take advantage of the space offered by the editorial preface to present some general advice about submitting work to the journal.

First, as I have heard many fellow editors do, I will belabor the obvious: please read our submissions guidelines. A surprising number of submissions we receive need to be sent back to the author because they are too long or too short, they are not prepared for anonymous review, or they simply are not suitable for the journal, for example, because they do not deal with the general topic of women’s writing. I exhort all prospective authors to take the time to read our submissions guidelines, and indeed to read the guidelines for any journal in which you wish to publish before you submit your work. To skip this step often adds unnecessary time to the vetting process. Our submissions guidelines are published in every issue and posted on our web site. Please also take the time to remove your name or any self-referential endnotes from your article as this can undermine the process of double-anonymous review.

Second, for Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature in particular, I advise all prospective authors to keep in mind the breadth and diversity of our readership and our journal’s contents. While our authors can assume that our readers have a general interest and basic literacy in feminist scholarship, they should not take for granted that their audience will be well versed in the work of the author or recent scholarship on the topic that the article addresses. Our publications therefore tend to require a little more exposition than the same article would if published in a more specialized venue. Articles should be able to provide, succinctly, the background information that will allow an informed lay reader, or an academic reader specializing in another area, to be oriented regarding the basic significance of the author, text, or broader topic at the core of the article, especially as it pertains to broader feminist concerns. This does not mean, I hasten to add, that our articles should take on the tone or structure of encyclopedia articles, as their central goal should be the presentation of highly skilled and focused argumentation and interpretation. The best work will proceed in such a way that the expert and novice both feel engaged in the unfolding of the author’s argument. Indeed, truly skillful writing will make it seem that these parallel tasks, providing basic exposition and undertaking highly focused advanced analysis, are executed with an effortless grace.

Third, I think of scholarship as a conversation in which effective publications should be able to position themselves. Scholarly inquiry should not be a solipsistic enterprise, and this is especially the case for feminist work, which in its best form exhibits and grows from its roots in a collective intellectual and political enterprise. An effective article not only will contain a list of richly detailed citations, it also will position its own argument in relation to past and sometimes ongoing work in the field, showing how it builds upon prior work, differs from the claims made in other publications, and advances our understanding of various topics. I also encourage prospective authors, especially junior scholars, not to rush their work to the point of submission, but rather to take the time to ensure that they are well versed in the broader conversations that surround and inform their more focused studies of particular authors and texts.

Fourth, a publishable article should be able to transcend its own particularity, even as it undertakes a highly focused examination of a given topic. That is, it should directly convey to the reader an awareness of how its project bears upon larger scholarly discussions. Such an article will already contain the answer to the reader’s ever-present question: why should I care about this?

I probably do not need to note that these are necessary but not sufficient qualities of a publishable article. Because we can publish only about twelve articles a year, having just two issues per volume, we have to reject a great deal of work that is exciting and rich with potential. Writing decision letters for such articles unquestionably is the hardest part of my job, and I can only find consolation in what it means for the intellectual wealth of feminist literary study that we receive so many promising publications every year. With the caution that these comments should not be seen as providing a road map to successful publication in any mechanistic sense, I do hope that they will be useful to potential authors.

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]