Editor's Foreword

Matthew Steggle
Sheffield Hallam University

Steggle, Matthew. "Editor's foreword". Early Modern Literary Studies 11.3 (January, 2006):1.1-4<URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/11-3/editfore.htm>.

  1. With this issue Early Modern Literary Studies completes its eleventh volume and enters its twelfth calendar year of publication. A twelfth birthday is no occasion to announce a coming of age, but that landmark might justify the latest in a series of brief considerations at where we are at with the journal - and with electronic scholarship in this field in general.

  2. While EMLS has published, over the years, a number of articles and issues devoted to aspects of humanities computing, from electronic editions to virtual reality theatres, the five articles in this issue are not specifically inflected by humanities computing - they are in an online journal because scholars have chosen to put them there, in a world in which electronic publishing is increasingly taken for granted. By a quirk of scheduling, three of the essays are on Hamlet, that most self-aware of all Renaissance texts. Jason Gleckman reads Hamlet's scene with the players against Lukas Erne's work on Shakespeare and play publication, a book reviewed in EMLS in 2003; Reina Green continues an ongoing debate on the aural imagery in Hamlet, in which some of the scholarship she is in dialogue with, from earlier issues of EMLS, is hotlinked and instantly available for comparison; and Monique Pittman, in a contribution to the burgeoning critical interest in Shakespeare on screen, explores the representation of masculinity in Kenneth Branagh's film of the play. Dosia Reichardt's reassessment of the allusive meaning of Lovelace's 'Amintor's Grove' is one of a number of pieces EMLS has published on seventeenth-century poetry, while a dialogue with a previous EMLS Special Issue among other sources also informs Emily Smith's examination of the references to fashion in Margaret Cavendish's Natures Pictures.

  3. Nor is the power of an online journal to achieve quick interconnection of articles limited to explicit hotlinks like those above. For instance, searching the EMLS site, one can quickly turn up further relevant, peer-reviewed material on Hamlet; reviews of recent scholarly books on it; in addition, reviews of films and theatre productions of the play. To some extent, the success with which print journals have transferred themselves to full-text electronic archives such as Project Muse, together with the prevailing scholarly habit of citing such articles as if from their printed sources, have masked the scale of the electronic revolution in scholarship. EMLS shows more clearly the scale of that revolution, and also its as yet untapped potential.

  4. At this point, one could mention the journal's international reach both in terms of contributors (with six countries represented in this issue) and readers (with hits from, on average, around eighty countries a week recorded in the server logs); one might mention EMLS's influential book reviews; one might mention EMLS's own collection of reviews and awards. But the bottom line is that the journal's ongoing reputation depends on the articles it publishes continuing to be of high quality. This issue, I believe, will help to contribute to that reputation.

Responses to this piece intended for the Readers' Forum may be sent to the Editor at M.Steggle@shu.ac.uk.

© 2006-, Matthew Steggle (Editor, EMLS).