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James, you have a strong research interest in contemporary Native America novels and ethnic American literature, and you co-edited Studies in American Indian Literatures for five years. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your academic background?
James: While my first book was on late-twentieth century novels by Native writers, my research covers Native American writing from 1920 to the present. Most recently, I’ve become interested in recovering Native writers from the middle decades of the twentieth century and thinking about the formal, critical, and political reasons that they remained overlooked or neglected despite, in some cases, having strong national or even international reputations during their lives. My second book, The Red Land to the South, followed some of these writers into Mexico, where they encountered indigenous groups that inspired them to think about how to help their home communities upon their return. The trans-indigenous critical approach of this second book influenced my work as co-editor, with my long-time friend Daniel Justice of the University of British Columbia, on The Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature.
Douglas: I've been lucky enough to find work doing something I love, which is to read, study, and teach some of the best writing in our language. People sometimes have a hard time believing that there are still mysteries about Shakespeare and his works after all this time, but we really know very little about this great writer. Some of my current research involves dating his plays and poems, with an emphasis on determining the earliest part of the canon—what he wrote in the late 1580s and early 1590s. With desktop computing, we're able to perform increasingly sophisticated analyses of his words. In time, we're likely to gain a clearer picture of his working life than we have now.
Why were you drawn to take on the editorship of Texas Studies in Literature and Language?
James and Douglas: The journal is a very important piece of department and university history as well as one of the only non-specialist journals that publishes across historical eras, critical and theoretical divides, and national boundaries. We wanted to take up the challenge of editing such a journal.
What do you have in store for TSLL? How do you anticipate the journal changing?
We’ve redesigned the journal’s exterior and interior to give it a new, fresh look. Readers will see this rather dramatic change upon first picking up—or clicking on—the journal.
We intend to publish a rich and diverse selection of articles across eras and fields, and we have recruited some new editorial board members—Alexander Dick, University of British Columbia; Devoney Looser, Arizona State; Rafael Pérez-Torres, University of California, Los Angeles; Randy Schiff, University at Buffalo; Bart van Es, Oxford—to join us, our editorial assistant (currently Megan Snell), and the board members who are continuing their service.
We have also initiated a publishing internship program for undergraduate English majors. The students in that position (Hannah Blaisdell and Emily Varnell this year) will help us develop a more robust social media presence.
Will the focus of TSLL shift to any previously unexplored areas of literature?
Here two special issues bear mention. Our Modernism and Native America special issue will bring into the pages of the journal some new material, as will a special issue on filmmaker Wes Anderson.
In recent years, TSLL published special issues on Samuel Beckett (51:1), James Joyce's Ulysses (51:4), and the author J. M. Coetzee, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003 (58:4). A 100th anniversary volume (54:1–4) devoted issues to conference papers from the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies, a posthumous work of ecocriticism by a colleague in the UT English department, and Turkish letters. Could you say more about your upcoming special issues?
We mentioned the special issue on Modernism and Native America forthcoming in 59.3. In addition to provocative essays from Eric Gary Anderson (George Mason), Kirby Brown (Oregon), Michael Tavel Clarke (Calgary), Charles Rzepka (Boston University), and Melanie Benson Taylor (Dartmouth), the issue will include an oft-cited but not closely read letter-cum-drama manifesto from Cherokee author Lynn Riggs to his friend, the Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist Paul Green. We’re excited and grateful to have received permission to publish it from both the Riggs and Green estates. In the next two volumes, we’ll have special issues on Wes Anderson and Victorian Environments, edited by our department’s Donna Kornhaber and Allen MacDuffie, respectively.
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