Academic journal article Twentieth Century Literature

Reviews

Academic journal article Twentieth Century Literature

Reviews

Article excerpt

Welcome to the first issue of the book review section of Twentieth-Century Literature. Why has this section come into existence? Is there a need for it?

Journals in other disciplines, such as history, offer review sections that span scholarship across the entire field. There is, for example, no publication in literary studies comparable to the Journal of American History, which publishes short reviews of almost every published book of academic history, in addition to covering museum exhibits and documentary films. A conscientious reader of JAH can thus be confident of being kept intellectually up to date. PMLA does not take on such a task. Perhaps it is impossible, given that English and foreign-language departments together employ far more faculty members than do history departments, and thus generate far more books to be reviewed. At any rate, the task of reviewing academic publications in literary studies has fallen to the more specialized journals. Modern Fiction Studies, Contemporary Literature, American Literary History, and American Literature, among others, all publish excellent reviews and review essays, and American Literature performs a useful service through its very short notices of an extensive range of new books.

Still, worthy books go unreviewed or underreviewed. All of us who have published academic books (or all save a very fortunate few) know well the feeling of ushering that child of our labor, heart, and intellect into an abyss populated only by other unnoticed monographs. And the problem is not just injured vanity, nor is it some unreasonable glut of publications by the university presses. …

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