English Studies has always been a wide-ranging journal that has both reflected and shaped the breadth of conversations in English Studies as a discipline, from early medieval manuscript study, to historical and social linguistics and on to contemporary developments in literary studies such as ecocriticism and metamodernism. This article collection presents the best of that diversity in ten articles we’ve published in the last decade.
Enjoy the following articles with free access, and scroll down for a Q&A with Editor Chris Louttit!
Q&A with Editor Chris Louttit
- Tell us a bit about who you are and your background prior to taking on editorship for the journal
After finishing off my PhD in the UK, I’ve been teaching for several years at Radboud University in the Netherlands. My main area of interest is Victorian fiction and culture, but I’m also fascinated by the afterlife of the period in fiction, TV and film and in the adaptation industry more broadly. Immediately prior to taking on the editorship for the journal, I’d been closely involved with English Studies as one of the book review editors, so I was already familiar with some of the history of the journal and the inner workings of its editorial office—the English Studies family, if you like. I hope my term as editor of English Studies will build on this familiarity. At the same time, I’d like the journal to be more innovative, and extend its reach into more interdisciplinary and inclusive areas. Over the past few years, I think English Studies has managed to do this most obviously in its special issues, and I’d like to see this extend into other aspects of the publication.
- What do you have planned for English Studies this year?
It goes without saying that 2020 has been an unusual year! But the editorial team has already been transformed since I started in January, with Rik Wolters taking over from Sophie van Os as editorial assistant, and the appointment of a new international advisory board. In shaping the new board, I tried to keep with the history of appointing board members who work in certain European countries, but also expanded the line-up to include a more diverse group of scholars. The coverage of research areas has also expanded beyond traditional fields we’ve tended to cover such as historical linguistics, medieval literature and other periods of modern literary studies into newer topics such as literary linguistics and popular literature studies. Moving into the winter, I’m also working on expanding our roster of book review editors, as I think it’s important for a major journal like English Studies to cover a healthy range of new work in its review pages.
- How do you plan to make the journal more engaging, especially to new audiences?
Over its more than a hundred year history, English Studies has tended to appeal to academic audiences. This will still be an important part of our remit in future, of course, but I’d also like to expand that by improving the visibility of English Studies online and on social media. The journal has already made steps in this direction by starting a Twitter account and creating video interviews. I’m looking to add to this by starting an English Studies Blog, and will be releasing a Call for Editors soon, so watch this space! Within the pages of the journal itself I think there’s also room for some innovation in formats beyond articles and reviews, and I’m particularly keen to start a series of ‘English Studies Interviews’ with cutting-edge scholars and creative writers. Again, stay tuned!
- Where would you like to see the journal go? How do you envisage aligning the journal with a more contemporary path?
The strengths of English Studies have tended to be in traditional areas such as historical linguistics, manuscript studies and close readings of literary texts from more recent periods. Building on the innovative approaches showcased in recent special issues, I’d certainly like to take the journal in a more contemporary direction, responding both to live social issues such as social and racial justice and the Covid-19 pandemic, to energetic new interdisciplinary fields such as the digital humanities, literature and the environment, and to practice-based areas such as creative writing and pedagogy. These are already playing an increasingly important role in the discipline, and I believe it’s important for a journal like English Studies to reflect and to drive such developments.
- A favourite article from the journal?
One of my favourite English Studies articles from the last few years is Susan K. Martin and Kylie Mirmohamadi’s ‘Harry Potter’s Secret: The Rise of Publishing Sensations from Mary Braddon to J. K. Rowling’. Its focus on literary celebrity and on the reading and circulation of popular literature especially appealed to me as a researcher interested in popular fiction in the Victorian period; what I find particularly novel about the article is the way it resists a narrow period focus, and instead draws out ‘those shivers of uncanny dis/identification’ between the twenty-first and nineteenth centuries.