Preface, Spring 2016, Vol. 35, No. 1

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Laura M. Stevens, University of Tulsa
Vol. 35, No. 1 (Spring 2016), 7-20

Women Visible

When I was twelve or thirteen years old, I decided one summer evening to take a walk around my neighborhood. It was a quiet area in the Philadelphia suburbs, predominantly white and upper-middle class with pretty houses, well-kept lawns, and no crime rate to speak of. I was dressed in generic American kids’ garb: jeans, a T-shirt, sneakers, and that totem of female puberty, a training bra. About a block from my house a car pulled up next to me with its windows rolled down, and a man, or perhaps more accurately a boy, somewhere in that space between sixteen and twenty—pale skin, short dark hair, basically good-looking with a bit of acne—leaned over the front seat to call out, “Hey, you wanna party?”

My heart pounded, but I sought to look casual, unconcerned. I could hardly bear to articulate to myself what he wanted. “No thanks,” I said, with fleeting eye contact and then a look to the side. Never had the houses along this street seemed so quiet, the smooth landscaping of the lawns so desolate. He shrugged and drove on, but then at the next intersection did a quick U-turn and headed back my way. This time the car was a little farther away, on the other side of the street, but he himself felt closer as he leaned a bit out the driver’s side window. “You sure?”

“That’s OK . . . no thanks,” I said back. And then he drove off.

This story is so unremarkable that it is hardly worth telling. My story is most of all one of good fortune and privilege, for I had a home to walk back to, with parents in that home who were horrified to hear what had happened. I also was lucky to have parents who did not seek to blame me for this disquieting event. The world in which my parents lived and their place in that world were such that they trusted the local police and immediately called them, fully expecting that they would respond. Indeed the police did, showing up within minutes to take a report, even as my father and I, in our own car (again, good fortune and privilege), drove around looking for the man. What a rare community this was within the scope of global space and human history, where police could take the time to show up and hear about an event that was not even a real crime. What a luxury of resources to be able to sound such an alarm for a mere girl. After all, what had even happened?

Nothing had happened. Nothing at all. A male had propositioned a female, she had declined, and he had (eventually) accepted that refusal. My youth was all that made the interaction anything other than mundane. But within this uneventful event, a great deal had happened to me. I will never forget the shock of being looked at and assessed, that sense of being suddenly enlarged under the microscope of a man’s casual gaze. How visible I was, and how vulnerable. And yet how invisible, for in this male’s eyes, I was mere flesh, all flesh. The web of thought and the sense of self through which I perceived the world were not what he saw or cared to see. Invisible also in the sense that I had no power, that I could too easily be disappeared from that quiet, empty street. But invisible most of all in that this was a quality I now fervently desired in response to the shame that his invitation made me feel. I must have done something to attract his unwelcome notice, I thought to myself. I wish he could not see me. Perhaps I should not be out here to be seen at all.

This event from my early adolescence kept running through my mind over the past few days, as I settled down to write the preface to this issue. It is not an event I have thought about a great deal over the years, so the resurfacing of this memory at this moment surprised me a bit. It does, however, connect obliquely with the questions I want to contemplate here: what it means to be seen and how the fact of being seen pertains to power.

This preface is the last I will write as Editor of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, for I step down from this position over the summer, leaving the journal in the hands of my current Co-Editor, Jennifer Airey. I have known for at least two years that this would be my final preface and for a long time have pondered what I would say. How to sum up eleven years of work on this journal? How to fit this phase of the journal within its thirty-five year history, linking my work with those of the journal’s three prior editors: Germaine Greer, Shari Benstock, and Holly Laird? What I have landed on is invisibility as a quality that links the subject of this journal—women and writing—with its labor and output.

The process of making someone or something unseeable is more complex and more devastating than may seem. Stories like the one with which I opened this preface capture the dynamics that tend to render women and their accomplishments invisible. They show how a kind of disappearance proceeds from the sensation of being excruciatingly visible. This incident from my early adolescence is not strictly a female one, but it describes an experience typical to many women. Such events, to say nothing of far worse ones, often proceed from the fact of being seen as female. I do not mean that all women are approached exactly in the way I was, but that moving through the world as a woman—that is, being marked as a woman by others, regardless of one’s own gender identity—means recognizing the vulnerability that follows from a kind of hyper-visibility. What woman is not aware of the knife’s edge she walks when she ventures into spaces where she will be seen? What woman does not hold as intrinsic to her sense of self the awareness of being watched and sexually assessed, with a whisper of violence behind every look? These are among the lessons of every introductory women’s and gender studies class, but they are also among the truths that cis- and transgender women along with some men already know. They are almost too obvious to merit comment.

To be seen is a basic human need, as anyone who has witnessed children calling to their parents, “Watch this! Watch what I can do!” will agree. This hunger to be seen voices a deeply seated desire to be witnessed, acknowledged, and above all valued for who one is and what one has accomplished. The very hyper-visibility of women’s bodies (and only certain bodies) obstructs the fulfillment of that need, for the male gaze of sexual assessment dismisses most data as beneath notice if those data do not speak to sexual desire. The impulse of patriarchy is to push women to the side—into shadows and most of all behind men. That this marginalizing or obscuring of women is linked to their physical hyper-visibility was made disturbingly clear last year when Nobel laureate Tim Hunt complained at the World Conference of Science Journalists that women scientists should be segregated from men because they are too emotional and too sexually distracting.1 In much of this present-day world, such notions are antiquated, even anathema, as was suggested by the international outcry Hunt’s comments provoked along with pressure to resign his post at University College London. Such shifts in conventional attitudes, however welcome, do not mean that women now move fully in the light of day, at least to the same degree that men do. Even in cultures and countries that concede gender equality, women often still operate, sometimes at their own initiative, under an umbrella of effacement. In the United States, this effacement of women as persons, creators, minds—all but bodies, that is, and only some (young, firm, sexually appealing) bodies—is present in multiple ways, including the dearth of women in avenues of political and financial power, the scarcity of women in science and technology fields, the discrepancies in prominent reviews of female- versus male-authored books, the poor representation of women artists’ work in galleries and museums, the lack of substantial and non-demeaning roles in Hollywood for women, and the fewer numbers of women in the higher ranks of academia and administration.2 All this is to say nothing of the ordeals experienced by women in many other parts of the globe today, especially those women who venture to be visible in places like schools or streets, or the actual dearth of females in some populations. The reasons for all these absences are complex, being interlaced with economics, education, ideology, religion, family demands, the cultural structuring of labor, women’s lack of confidence in themselves, women’s own fears of being seen. Analyzing all these causes is far beyond my purview or my expertise. Here I mean only to gesture to an unbroken thread of invisibility that manifests sometimes in an actual absence of women but also in a neglect of their presence and their accomplishments.

This sort of invisibility might be understood as parallel to or, in the case of African American women, overlapping with the condition of the African American narrator of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952), who is “invisible . . . simply because people refuse to see me.”3 As this unnamed narrator concedes, “It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen” (p. 3). It can feel safer, as my early adolescent self realized on her summer evening walk. There is also the increased potential for subversion. In Mary Doria Russell’s novel A Thread of Grace (2005), which tells the story of Jewish refugees and other civilians in northern Italy during World War II, Lidia Segre Leoni persuades her son to let her assist his espionage activities against the Nazis: “I can help you, Renzo. Old women are practically invisible, and that gives us a kind of power.”4 There is even the potential for seizing real power through invisibility, as one of Socrates’s students in The Republic argues when he tells of the Ring of Gyges. In this story, a mere shepherd rises to be king when he takes a magic ring off the corpse of a giant. The invisibility bestowed on the wearer of the ring enables him to seduce the queen of Lydia, assassinate the king, and seize the throne.5 In The Republic, this story frames the question of whether men would behave justly if they knew their behavior would not be witnessed by others, but it is crucial to Gyges’s actions and his success that he can choose whether to be unseen. This selective invisibility is quite different from that of Ellison’s narrator, which “occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact” (p. 3). The satisfactions of subversion for those who cannot make others see them may be real, but they are pinpricks of consolation in a vast canvas of injustice. How much better it is to be seen.

Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature is about the importance of being seen. It was founded to recover the female authors of the past, to undo their erasure and bring them into the spotlight of scholarship. Its individual articles, essays, and reviews are linked to each other through a focus on “women and writing.” This alliterative pairing has acquired new layers of nuance for our authors and editors over the decades as approaches to feminist scholarship have changed. Still, the core of the inquiry has remained constant. Here are the questions that I see binding together its diverse contents from the first issue to the present day: How does the history of literature look different when we attend to the writings of women? How does the fact of being a woman shape what and how a writer writes? How do sex and gender alter the circumstances through which texts are written and distributed, discarded or kept, openly acknowledged by authors’ names or veiled by pseudonymity? What have women writers in particular brought to interrogations of sex and gender? What do we mean when we talk about women’s literature, and why is such a category intellectually valuable?

This journal has been in existence for thirty-five years. Including the contents of the present issue, it has published a total of 421 articles, twenty Notes, thirty-one Archives columns, and ten Innovations essays. A great deal has changed in those years, including received definitions of literature and of women and the relative prominence of women in literary history. In Anglophone literature, for example, several women now are situated firmly amidst a collective scholarly sense of what texts should be studied and taught—that is, amidst what might be called, however troublingly, a canon. There are whole societies and journals dedicated to scholarship on individuals such as Aphra Behn, Emily Dickinson, and Jane Austen, along with several organizations and journals devoted to feminist literary history and scholarship. Women’s literature is widely understood to comprise its own field, even as many women writers have been integrated into general (that is, male) literary history.

As I have worked on Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature over the past eleven years, I have pondered the task of how exactly to articulate the ongoing need for a journal like this one in an age when the work of so many women writers holds such unprecedented centrality. As of April 2016, a search in the Modern Language Association’s International Bibliography for “Virginia Woolf” yielded 6,110 publications. That is not an invisible author. How can the continued need for a journal like this one be explained when an argument also can be made for studying these women’s writings as part of a sexually undifferentiated and integrated literary history? Is there a point where examining women’s literature as such is counterproductive to a feminist cause?

Perhaps there will be such a point someday, but (it will surprise no one to hear me say this) we are not there yet. There are several reasons why attention to women and writing—women’s writing and the feminist scrutiny of writing—is still crucial, and they are all anchored in this issue of invisibility. First, the prominence of a few women does not alleviate the invisibility of others. There are invisible women all over the world. Some are invisible in subtle ways, such as the erasure my younger self felt through the experience of predatory sexual scrutiny; others live unambiguously in the shadows, being pushed beneath the notice of their nations or communities, even their families. The occasional news story or United Nations report notwithstanding, they live and die as silent players in the world’s ongoing drama. To be sure, many men suffer from invisibility also, as Ellison’s novel devastatingly demonstrates, but this condition is in spite of their sex rather than a consequence of it.

The same pattern holds for literary history and criticism. There is a difference between including some women in a male-dominated canon and rewriting the history of literature so that it includes women alongside men with full attention to the impact of sex and gender on individuals’ access to the means of writing and the pathways through which they can bring their work to the attention of others. There is a difference between a more inclusive canon and an entire discipline of literary study that is wholly attentive to the ways in which humans contemplate and negotiate sexual difference.There is also a difference between the heightened visibility and respect achieved by a modest number of women writers and a humanistic praxis that is wholeheartedly attuned to how writing both evidences and offers a kind of power. All these latter tasks are, at least in part, before us still.

Even if all women writers were rendered visible, though, the journal still would serve crucial purposes both by attending to the fact of women’s writing and by prioritizing feminist approaches to their work. It is still, alas, the case that women are crowded all too easily out of conversations even when they speak very loudly. I do not trust that women’s work would continue to find acknowledgment in wider spaces, the spaces traditionally filled with men, if they did not have spaces all their own from which collectively to demand attention.

Finally, I feel passionately that there is ongoing intellectual value in presenting feminist analyses of women’s writings alongside each other even when those women are separated from each other by gulfs of space and time. One of the somewhat atypical features of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature among scholarly journals is that its purview is not bounded by geography or chronology. Relatively few journals of literary scholarship have such range, and the intellectual positioning of journals like this one often is in tension with a field that trends ever more towards specialization. Matching this stated scope with practice has been an ongoing challenge of the journal because of the vast scale of its subject and because of the linguistic challenges this breadth entails. Attending to women’s writing in a truly global arena was a goal Holly Laird emphasized under her editorship, seen most vividly in the special topics issue, “Where in the World is Transnational Feminism?,” which was guest edited by Shirley Geok-lin Lim. It is a task I also have prioritized through editorial board appointments, through the addition of literary translations to our Book Review section, and through the publication of an increased number of articles on non-Anglophone literatures. Of course, attentiveness on a truly global scale is an unreachable goal, for one journal cannot cover such a wide array of cultures, languages, and literary traditions, certainly not with anything approximating comprehensiveness. This would seem to be a built-in frustration of the journal: never to un-erase all the women. I would like to suggest, though, that in what would seem to be a frustration—the parts of women’s literature that the journal has not brought to light—we can actually see the intellectual necessity of a journal like Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature.

To read this journal as a whole is to see bits of this enormous scene—ranging from distant past to the present day—of women’s writing. There is incompleteness, even fragmentation. There is eclecticism and surprise in the grouping together of articles on topics as diverse as (in this issue) the life of the Tang dynasty poet Yu Xuanji, the afterlife of British Romantic author Mary Wollstonecraft, the autobiography of Turkish German lawyer Seyran Ateş, and the late twentieth-century depiction of African American maternal desire in Sapphire’s novel PUSH (1996). There are cavernous gaps of space and time among the authors and works studied so that to read this issue is to range from the ninth century CE to the eighteenth and then the twentieth or from Asia to Europe to North America with the turn of a page. These gaps, though, act in a kind of concert with the articles themselves to present an intertextual conversation. They heighten, through contrast, the continuities among the texts being studied, especially the profound self-consciousness—the sense of acting contrary to expectations, stepping out of bounds, and yet probably escaping notice—that governs how and what women write. Most of all, they help us see that the fact of absence and erasure, visible in the gaps, is central to the conditions of women’s writing and to a feminist literary history. These bits of invisibility make women’s writing more visible.


Undoing invisibility may be the core task of this journal, but invisibility also is a quality unfortunately pertaining to the journal itself. For example, you probably won’t read this preface. If you are reading it, and greetings to you, odds are you fit within a few narrow categories: authors published within this or another issue of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature; members of our editorial and advisory boards; the journal’s past and present staff; a few members of the University of Tulsa community who are acquainted with and care about the journal; friends and relatives of mine (Hi Mom and Dad) and of those in the categories above; and perhaps a few scholars exploring this journal as a publishing venue for their work. None of this is new, of course; scholarly publications rarely draw a crowd. However, there are readers of this preface who are more recently lost: most of all, those holding a paper copy of this issue in their hands, who encounter the preface as they browse through the issue as a whole.

As with most periodicals, scholarly and otherwise, the overwhelming majority of our readers these days encounter the journal through online interfaces rather than paper. Since 2007 the journal has been available at time of publication on Project MUSE, and five years after publication, it is archived on JSTOR. Abstracts of the articles along with the full text of the Editor’s preface and review essays are available on the journal’s open-access website. Both JSTOR and MUSE are, to my mind, forces for good. They have been lifesavers for many scholarly publications, making it possible through university subscriptions for journals to stay afloat financially in a time of contraction even as they facilitate and accelerate scholarly research. Delighted though I am with the inclusion of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature among the offerings of JSTOR and MUSE, I do feel that with the rise of digital reading, this journal has disappeared from readers’ awareness as a material object that is also an intellectually coherent whole. This disappearance has occurred because readers rarely find and read an entire issue now; rather, they locate and download articles through topic, author, or keyword searches. This is understandable, rational behavior, more suitable to task-driven research. I do it myself all the time. The ancillary intellectual results of this way of reading, however, include a tendency for readers to group articles less by their placement in a journal than by their topical proximity to each other, a topical proximity dictated by decisions on database search terms. This is not necessarily a bad development, but as a journal editor, and sometimes as a scholar, I feel some fragmenting of the conversation that a bound paper issue implicitly conveys. We continue to produce special topic issues, as do many other journals, but the curatorial function of a journal and its editors is increasingly invisible.

The drive for open access also paradoxically creates erasure. I dedicated an earlier preface to this topic, so here I will just say that the editorial team of Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature is in the midst of reaching some difficult decisions in response to new requirements by the United Kingdom’s Research Excellence Framework, known colloquially as the REF.6 The new requirements that scholars participating in the REF place their publications in an open access repository are an understandable response to the exorbitant prices charged by many journals in the science and technology fields. They fail to account, however, for the modest prices and precariously small budgets governing the operations of most humanities journals, which typically run at a loss with subsidization from their home universities. They render invisible the labor of assessing, editing, proofreading, and publishing scholarship in the humanities.7

We have decided, after a good deal of research and consultation, and pending approval by the University of Tulsa’s administration, to allow authors who are required by their universities to place a pre-published version of their article in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature in an open access repository after a two-year embargo. Twenty-four months constitutes the maximum embargo allowed for publications if they are to be eligible for consideration under the REF. The decision to allow pre-published versions in open access repositories, while problematic, seems the least damaging option amidst a set of choices that are all potentially destructive to the long-term health of the journal, costing us either authors or royalties. We are concerned about the confusion and discontinuity created when pre-publication versions of articles are made widely available. This option will, however, preserve some of our royalties by requiring that scholars click on the articles in JSTOR or Project MUSE in order to access the final published versions. Our hope is that while interested readers may make use of the open access copies for general reading or for the early stages of research, those wishing to cite an article from Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature will adhere to scholarly best practices by citing the actual version published in the journal. We additionally are concerned about reports we have heard—unverified at this point, but still concerning—about fees being charged to universities by businesses that aggregate open access repositories. Such operations seem to defeat the entire purpose of open access, directing payments that otherwise would help maintain scholarly journals to for-profit ventures.

These various forms of erasure confronting Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature are not unique to this journal. They trouble most humanities journals and thus are of immense importance to the long-term viability of the venues through which scholars in the humanities publish and read others’ publications. Yet few scholars seem to be aware of these issues. I mention these topics briefly here in order to inform those who do read our preface, encouraging them to educate themselves about the changing conditions in which journals operate. If journals are important to them—and surely they are—scholars need to understand how the approaches that they take to reading others’ work and distributing their own work can render invisible the actual journals in which that work is published. Self-posting of published articles without the journal’s permission is one example. Unstinting support for open access without attending to the effects on small publishers and modestly priced nonprofit journals is another. If there is one thing this editor of a feminist journal is sure of, it is that if a person, a form of labor, or a thing is rendered invisible too often, eventually she or it will actually cease to exist. This is, I am relieved and delighted to say, not an outcome I fear for Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature in the discernable future. It is, rather, a concern I have for many journals over a longer term. The future viability of journals is a topic we all need to keep in our sights.


Introducing new members of our editorial board is always one of my most pleasant tasks as Editor. With this issue I feel poignancy along with pleasure, as this is the last trio of distinguished scholars I have the honor of introducing to our readers.

Theresa Delgadillo is Associate Professor of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University, where she is affiliated with the Diversity and Identity Studies Collective and Latina/o Studies Program and also is an associated faculty member in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her scholarship and teaching focus on three areas: spirituality and religion, the African diaspora and Latinidad, and Latino/as in the Midwest. She is the author of Spiritual Mestizaje: Religion, Gender, Race, and Nation in Contemporary Chicana Narrative (2011), which received an Honorable Mention in the National Women’s Studies Association Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize Competition, and Latina Lives in Milwaukee (2015), as well as many articles in venues such as American Literary History, Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, the Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, and Blackwell’s Companion to African American Literature. Her article, “Singing ‘Angelitos Negros’: African Diaspora Meets Mestizaje in the Americas,” was a finalist for the Constance Rourke Prize for Best Essay in American Quarterly in 2006. She was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon / Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship and a teaching award from the Sphinx Senior Class and Mortar Board Honor Society at the Ohio State University. For 2014-2015, she was Director of the Interdisciplinary Latina/o Studies Program at the Ohio State University. She has been quite active in the leadership of the Modern Language Association, having served on the Executive Committee of the Division on Chicana and Chicano Literature, chaired the Division on Chicana and Chicano Literature, and acted as Regional Delegate to the Assembly. She also is in the editorial group for Mujeres Talk, an online venue for short-form research and informed commentary. Her future projects will focus on twentieth- and twenty-first century comparative ethnic, multiethnic, postcolonial, and women’s texts in the Americas.

Kate Flint is Provost Professor of Art History and English at the University of Southern California. Her research, which is both interdisciplinary and transatlantic, spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with areas of specialization including Victorian and early twentieth-century cultural, visual, and literary history; the history of photography from its inception to now; women’s writing; and transatlantic studies. Her major publications include Dickens (1986), The Woman Reader, 1837-1914 (1993), which won the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, The Victorians and the Visual Imagination (2000), which also won the Crawshay Prize, and The Transatlantic Indian, 1776-1930 (2009). She is General Editor of the Cambridge History of Victorian Literature (2012), has co-edited Culture, Landscape and the Environment (2000), and edited Victorian Love Stories (1996), as well as a number of works by Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, and Anthony Trollope for Penguin Classics and Oxford University Press World’s Classics. Additionally, she has published articles on Victorian, modernist, and contemporary fiction; women’s writing and feminist theory; and Victorian and twentieth-century painting, photography, and cultural history. She has held fellowships at the National Humanities Center, the Huntington Library, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center. She served as Chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California from 2012 to 2015. She is completing a book entitled “Flash! Photography, Writing, and Surprising Illumination”; her new projects deal with the ephemeral and the overlooked in the Victorian period, as well as with the internationalism of art in the nineteenth century.

Devoney Looser is Professor of English at Arizona State University. She is the author of two books, Women Writers and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750-1850 (2008) and British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820 (2000). She is the editor of Jane Austen and Discourses of Feminism (1995) and of the Cambridge Companion to Women’s Writing in the Romantic Period (2015) and co-editor (with E. Ann Kaplan) of Generations: Academic Feminists in Dialogue (1997). In summer 2012, she directed a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers on Jane Austen and her contemporaries. She is at work on two books. The first is a study of Austen’s reception, The Making of Jane Austen, out next year from Johns Hopkins University Press, and the second is a biography of the sister novelists, Jane and Anna Maria Porter. Her recent essays have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The Atlantic, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She has competed in a roller derby under the name “Stone Cold Jane Austen” and is one of the quirky subjects featured in Deborah Yaffe’s Among the Janeites: A Journey through the World of Jane Austen Fandom (2013).

As these three esteemed scholars join our editorial board, three others—Dorice Elliott, Roxanne Rimstead, and Victoria Stewart—will be concluding their three-year terms. I am so grateful to them, and indeed to all our past board members, for the time and support they have given to the journal.


This issue is a rare one in which none of our interns is concluding a term of appointment in the journal’s offices. Mine is the only goodbye. Megan Gibson continues her work as Book Review Editor, Annie Paige is midway through her tenure as Publicity Manager, and Amy Pezzelle is at the beginning of her term as Subscriptions Manager. This summer Karen Dutoi completes her sixth year as Managing Editor, while Jennifer Airey becomes the journal’s sole Editor. I could not be leaving the journal in more competent hands. In one sense this farewell is a formality, for my office remains right next to theirs, and I look forward to seeing them on an almost daily basis, supporting them however they need (but staying out of their way when I am not needed!). It is a farewell nonetheless, for I will miss the pleasures of working with this group on this particular project. The labor of the journal’s Managing Editor and interns is not usually visible to our readers or even to our authors whose words they have proofread and helped to polish. As is so often true of behind-the-scenes work, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature would have come crashing down long ago without their contributions, so I would like to express thanks one more time to all the journal’s interns during my editorial tenure: Lisa Riggs, Sheila Black, Elizabeth Thompson, Andy Trevathan, Courtney Spohn, Laura Popp, Sara Beam, Michael J. Griffin, Seung-a Ji, Kristen Leatherwood Marangoni, Jacob Ball, Carl Nery, Jennifer Krisuk, Lexi Stuckey, Matt Hepler, Melissa Antonucci, Jennifer Fuller, Ashley Schoppe, Lindi Smith, Mark S. Rideout, Linda Hudson, and Casie Trotter. Fondness and thanks go to Sarah Theobald-Hall, who was Managing Editor from 2003 through 2010, and whom I have missed since her departure for Dallas. Robert Spoo, a former member of the faculty of English who is now Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa, also has helped the journal in crucial but quiet ways, advising us on several complicated intellectual property issues. Carol Kealiher, Managing Editor of the James Joyce Quarterly and Director of Academic Publications, worked in our offices years ago when she was a student in the University of Tulsa’s doctoral program in English. Her steady presence next door and her friendship have made it a joy to come to work for so many of our staff and for me in particular. And finally, my profound gratitude to Karen Dutoi, who has held the journal together these past five years as our Managing Editor, and Jennifer Airey, with whom it has been a sheer delight to work as Co-Editor for the last two years.

I do have one more goodbye with which to wind up this last preface of mine. It is for my colleague Joseph Kestner, who died suddenly last August. The “In Memoriam” that follows this preface details Joe’s many scholarly accomplishments as well as his commitment to Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, a commitment that saved the journal at a perilous time. I would like to add some more personal comments here. Joe was my colleague for more than fifteen years. From my arrival in the department, he gave me the profound gift of unhesitating camaraderie, inclusiveness, and respect. It was a gift I felt powerfully, as a freshly minted Ph.D. who found herself, at the end of her first year, the only assistant professor in her department, far younger and less accomplished than her colleagues, uncertain of her place. Don’t worry, his interactions with me tacitly conveyed, you are where you should be. You belong. When Joe was in the department, one could not but be aware of his presence, which was conveyed most of all through the sensation of sound—his jubilant laughter and his booming voice. And yet when I think of him, the communications that first come to mind are the handwritten notes he, preferring to avoid email, would leave in my mailbox: “You might like this book!” or “Here is a conference that may interest you.” Amidst the drudgery of committee work and curricular reform, amidst the stress of preparing for my tenure review, his occasional notes called me back to a life of books and of the mind.

My fondest memory of Joe is my first. When I visited the University of Tulsa for my campus interview, way back when, I was as anxious as any fledgling academic jobseeker. My time in Tulsa entailed the usual array of meetings, meals, and presentations, but because of an airfare-dictated extra day in town, I experienced the startling pleasure of an afternoon with Joe in two of our local museums. I began this event on my itinerary rather nervous, not quite sure how I could manage to present myself as an intelligent creature during several hours of talk with such a distinguished scholar. What took place, though, was an afternoon in which I was allowed to forget I was at an interview and simply enjoy being where I was, amidst things of beauty. To be sure, Joe showed me what was in the Gilcrease and Philbrook museums, drawing on his richly detailed knowledge of art, but what I remember more keenly is how he showed me a way of inhabiting a museum that I had never really experienced. I have come to think of that way as the rhapsodic, but it was a rhapsodic mode rooted in undiluted attentiveness to the art. “Look!” he would exult, in front of a particular painting, “Look at the brushwork! Just look at the how the artist has captured the light!” That is what I remember most of all: staring at a nineteenth-century landscape and wondering why no one had ever asked me to contemplate the task of capturing the light. This is the lesson Joe taught so many: to look. Not even that, really, but rather this: to render see-able, and truly seen, what is merely visible. Joe, I promise I will.

Laura M. Stevens
University of Tulsa

1 Dan Bilefsky, “Women Respond to Nobel Laureate’s ‘Trouble with Girls,’” The New York Times, 11 June 2015,
2 On women in science and technology fields, see Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, Medicine, “Women in Science and Engineering Statistics,” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, accessed 21 April 2016, On reviews of women’s books, see Alison Flood and Michael Bonnet, “Gender Bias in Books Journalism Remains Acute, Research Shows,” The Guardian, 2 March 2012, On women artists, see Hilarie M. Sheets, “Female Artists are Finally Getting Their Turn,” The New York Times, 29 March 2016, On women in Hollywood, see Maureen Dowd, “The Women of Hollywood Speak Out,” The New York Times Magazine, 20 November 2015, On women in academia, see “Women in Academia,” Catalyst, 9 July 2015,; and Rachel Applebaum, “The New Glass Ceiling in Academe,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 30 July 2014,
3 Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (New York: Vintage International, 1990), 3. Subsequent references will be cited parenthetically in the text.
4 Mary Doria Russell, A Thread of Grace (New York: Ballantine Books, 2005), 297.
5 Plato, The Republic, trans. Paul Shorey, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), 2.359d-360d.
6 For the previous preface, see Laura M. Stevens, “From the Editor: Getting What You Pay For? Open Access and the Future of Humanities Publishing,” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 32, No. 1 (2013), 7-21.
7 For a more detailed treatment of some problems created by the open access movement for small humanities journals, see Karin Wulf, “Guest Post: Karin Wulf on Open Access and Historical Scholarship,” The Scholarly Kitchen, 25 March 2015,; and Stevens, “Getting What You Pay For?

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]