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From the Editor

MFS began thirty-eight years ago as a mimeographed publication circulated among friends in the Purdue English Department; since then, it has evolved into a major journal in the field with a circulation of 3,500 worldwide. Over those nearly four decades, MFS has published essays in general issues on numerous modern and contemporary authors and works, as well as special issues on a heterogeneous assemblage of authors and topics. What has characterized MFS as a journal, perhaps, is its openness to different critical, theoretical, and historical approaches to modern and contemporary literature. This is one quality that MFS will retain as it moves into its fifth decade and its fifth editor (my predecessors being Maurice Beebe, William Stafford, Margaret Church, and W.J. Stuckey). Whether for a special or general issue, we seek essays that offer intensive readings of modern and contemporary narrative texts through the lenses provided by historical, theoretical, and cultural discourses; we look for work that will engage important issues in the formation and reception of narratives; we will consider discussions of modern and postmodern narratives that attempt to account for how these works act as representations, and how they can be read. In seeking essays of this kind for MFS, we put into question—as contested sites—the terms for which our acronym poses: "modern," "fiction," "studies." What is the nature of the "modern" and modernity, its relation to the "contemporary" and postmodernity, and how are these reflected in the literature of a period that, in many ways, defies periodicity? How far does the term "fiction" (or, to employ my own preference, "narrative") extend, and where does the boundary line between "narrative" and "history" (more broadly, between the traditionally "literary" and "non-literary") [End Page 817] begin to blur? What constitutes narrative in its multiple forms: textual, visual, oral? Within the contexts that have come about as a result of the "explosion" of theory over the last thirty years, what is the nature of—what are the horizons of—our study of narrative? How should we proceed with our inquiries? It is our hope that MFS will attract essays that act under the aegis of such questions about our enterprise.

Readers of the journal will have noticed that some important changes have begun to take place at MFS over the last several months—changes that provide further indication of the directions the journal will take in the future. My predecessor, W.J. Stuckey, and the Managing Editor of MFS, Ellen Carol Jones, initiated these changes with the appointment of an advisory Board of International Editors. The members of this board, along with the board of Purdue Advisory Editors, serve as readers for those essays that are sent out after a preliminary editorial screening: a glance at the membership of these two boards will assure MFS contributors that their essays are being read carefully by knowledgeable critics; similarly, MFS readers can be assured that what we publish in the journal comes about as the result of a series of professional consultations and decisions. The labors of the advisory editors, we believe, will ensure that the essays published in MFS will be important engagements with the questions and issues I mentioned above. Another recent change is in the nature of the special issues (which we will continue to alternate with general issues): beginning with Volume 40, number 1, selected issues of MFS will be guest edited at our invitation by important critics outside Purdue in the specific areas of interest that a given special issue will undertake to examine. Our tendency, in assigning such issues, will be to encompass topics of substantial, current, interdisciplinary interest that explore evolving interdiscursive concerns. Volume 40, number 1 of MFS will be devoted to the "Cultural Politics of Displacement." and will be guest-edited by Barbara Harlow; future special issues will be devoted to "Autobiography, Photography, Narrative," guest edited by Timothy Dow Adams, "Postmodern Narratives," edited here, and "Narrative and Sexuality," guest edited by Judith Roof. Indeed, such special issues borrow upon a legacy already established at MFS with recently published and forthcoming special issues on "Feminism and Modern Fiction," "Narratives of Colonial Resistance," "Feminist...


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