Introduction: A Brief History of JNT

By Buss, Paul | Journal of Narrative Theory, Winter 2020 | Go to article overview

Introduction: A Brief History of JNT


Buss, Paul, Journal of Narrative Theory


This issue marks the beginning of the 50th volume of The Journal of Narrative Theory, and a brief comment about the journals origins and its relationship to another journal, Narrative, may help put this moment of celebration in a larger

perspective. The first issue of The Journal of Narrative Technique appeared in 1971. In the previous decade Eastern Michigan University had seen its enrollment quadruple, roughly, from 5000 to 20,000 students. As a university with roots tracing back to its founding in 1849 as a normal school for training teachers, that explosion in enrollment resulted in a significant expansion of the English department and its programs-and the hiring of new faculty. One of those hires was George Perkins, who brought with him a wealth of editing experience, and who with several other recent hires (Jay Jernigan, Paul McGlynn, and Martin Kornbluth) proposed that the department establish a new journal focused on narrative. For the first twenty-two years of publication George Perkins served as General Editor, with Barbara Perkins as Managing Editor. Three issues a volume, Winter/Spring/Fall, c. 300 pp. per volume, most of the essays in those early years focused on narrative problems within particular texts, especially novels from the 19th and 20th Centuries. Now in its fiftieth year of publication the English department at Eastern and the editors of JNT do wish to recognize the devotion and the stewardship of the Perkins during virtually the first half of the journals

history. In 1984 JNT sent out an invitation to scholars and students interested in narrative literature to join an association of prominent literary The Society for the Study of Narrative Literatures. Beginning its official activities in 1985, which coincided with the fifteenth year of the journal's publication, JNT became the official organ of that new society, with an expansion of the Editorial Board beyond members of Eastern's English department. In 1986 the Society began a series of annual spring conferences, initially with some support from Eastern Michigan, but a series that eventually brought the Society to locations throughout the United States and abroad. Eventually the Society (SSNL) becomes The International Society for the Study of Narrative, and at its 1991 International Conference in Nice, France, revising its bylaws, the Society withdraws its support for JNT as the Society's official journal. George and Barbara Perkins edit JNT Volume 22 (1992) and in the meantime write a prospectus for a new journal, Narrative, to be published by Ohio State University Press and edited by James Phelan-the first issue to appear in 1993.

The year 1993, then, witnesses the birth of Narrative as the official organ for the Society (ISSN), but it also marks the beginning of a more collaborative editorial operation for JNT at Eastern Michigan. What prompts this change in operation is the hiring, in the two decades straddling the turn into the twenty-first century, of a cadre of new department faculty well-trained in current theoretical developments and hence interested in fostering new directions for the journal as it transitions from JNT: Journal of Narrative Technique to JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory. Since 1998 the journal has, with each general editor serving roughly a four-year term, prospered under the guidance of Ian Wojcik-Andrews (Connecticut 1990), James Knapp (Rochester 1992), Craig Dionne (Carnegie-Mellon 1992), Laura George (Ohio State 1993), Joseph Csicsila (Nevada-Las Vegas 1998), Abby Coykendall (Buffalo 2002), Andrea Kaston Tange (Wisconsin-Madison 2000), Elisabeth Däumer (Indiana 1989), and Natasa Kovacevic (Florida 2006). Because the rotation has drawn on the varied theoretical strengths of these editors, interests especially in feminist, new historicist, and postcolonial frames, JNT has in the last two decades experienced a broadening of perspective that largely coincides with the highly distinguished personal publication records of the editors themselves. …

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