Early Modern Literary Studies: An Editor's Prefatory Statement
Raymond G. Siemens
University of British Columbia

Siemens, Raymond G. "Early Modern Literary Studies: An Editor's Prefatory Statement." Early Modern Literary Studies 1.1 (1995): 1.1-7 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/01-1/emls_int.html>.

The invention of printing, though ingenious, compared with the invention of letters, is no great matter. . . . But the most notable and profitable invention of all other was that of SPEECH, consisting of names or appellations, and their connexion; whereby men register their thoughts; recall them when they are past; and also declare them one to another for mutual utility and conversation; without which, there had been amongst men, neither commonwealth, nor society, nor contract, nor peace, no more than amongst lions, bears, and wolves. (Hobbes 17-8)

  1. In discussing the subject of speech in the first part of his Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes would place it within the context of the print technology of the day, ultimately urging that the matter of a communication -- situated in the "names or appellations" which allow people to register, recall, and convey thoughts -- greatly outweighed in importance the medium which carried it. Closer to our own time, D. F. McKenzie would locate Hobbes' thoughts at the centre of what was a rising controversy surrounding non-traditional textual media; in the Panizzi Lectures at the British Library in 1985, he began to document the redefinition of bibliographic concepts of text, stating of the same passage that:

    [Hobbes] reminds us here of what we are now having to relearn: that print is only a phase in the history of textual transmission and that we may be at risk of overstating its importance. (McKenzie 52)

    Now, in early 1995, the atmosphere is such that one might comfortably apply both Hobbes' and McKenzie's thoughts to the situation which has arisen out of the increasing presence and growing acceptance of the electronic medium as a disseminator of ideas among members of the academic community. Ten years ago, as the potential for the computer to serve in this role was just beginning to be debated by those in the Humanities, this application would have been much less comfortable.

  2. Without forgetting about the pioneers of electronic discussion groups for academics -- Willard McCarty of HUMANIST, Germaine Warkentin of FICINO, and Kenneth Steele of SHAKSPER -- nor the trailblazers of electronic journals in the Humanities, such as Eyal Amiran and John Unsworth of Postmodern Culture and James J. O'Donnell and Eugene Vance of the Bryn Mawr Classical and Medieval Reviews, it is thus in the relatively calm wake of Hobbes, McKenzie, and more recent innovators that I have the pleasure of introducing Early Modern Literary Studies: A Journal of Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Literature. As part of this introduction, a few words about Early Modern Literary Studies (EMLS) itself are in order.

  3. EMLS is published three times a year for the on-line academic community by the University of British Columbia's English Department, with the support of the University's Library and Arts Computing Centre. Ours is a refereed journal, published in electronic form, which serves as a formal arena for scholarly discussion and as an academic resource for researchers in the area. Our articles examine English literature, literary culture, and language during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from a variety of perspectives. Well-considered responses to our papers are published as part of a Readers' Forum. Our reviews evaluate recent work as well as academic tools of interest to scholars in the field.

  4. Also associated with EMLS are two collections of internet-accessible scholarly materials which will be of interest to our readership: Interactive EMLS and EMLS On-Line Resources. While one might not expect this type of resource to be found in a journal in print form, our Interactive EMLS houses a pre-print exchange for forthcoming works, conference materials (announcements, calls for papers, abstracts, and the texts of delivered papers), and works in progress; virtual seminars are also sponsored and facilitated. EMLS On-Line Resources gathers and maintains links to useful resources on the internet, including relevant on-line academic discussion and news groups, electronic texts, archives, libraries, search tools, and more.

  5. Our Editorial Group invites contributions of critical essays on literary topics and of interdisciplinary studies which centre on literature and literary culture in English during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as relevant reviews, bibliographies, notices, letters to the Editor, and other materials which will be of interest to our readership. Submissions and suggestions for material for both Interactive EMLS and EMLS On-Line Resources are also encouraged and welcomed.

  6. EMLS does not appear in print form, but can be obtained free of charge, along with Interactive EMLS and EMLS On-Line Resources, in hypertextual format on the World Wide Web at


    The journal, alone, is also available in ASCII format for retrieval using GOPHER at

    edziza.arts.ubc.ca /english/EMLS

    and by electronic mail subscription by sending a message to


  7. If you are reading this on-line, however, you are likely already familiar with what we have to offer and the means by which we offer it; and, I hope, you are already comfortable in suggesting to us ways in which EMLS can best serve its readership. In that spirit and without further ado, then, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to this new venture with the hope that, within, you find much that is interesting and worthwhile. Just before closing, though, I would also like to thank generally the many people who have lent their time and expertise over the past several months to assist in the formation and publication of EMLS; this group includes more people than I am able to mention individually in this brief note, but their help has been as invaluable and essential as my gratitude is truly genuine and heartfelt.


Works Cited

[http://asgard.humn.arts.ualberta.ca/emls/EMLS footer.html]

(RGS, 11 December 1997)