In the Spring of 2016, I had the honor of joining the Journal of Folklore Research as Coeditor with Michael Dylan Foster. In the fall of 2016, Michael became Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Davis. His colleagues at Indiana University and all of us at JFR miss Michael, but we wish him the best in his new endeavors.
Now the sole editor, I cannot take credit for soliciting or accepting the articles in the present issue, but I was proud to be a part of their development in later stages. I want to express my sincere gratitude to Michael for showing me the ropes at JFR and for leaving the journal in such good shape, just as Michael thanked his predecessor Jason Baird Jackson, and Jason thanked his predecessor Moira Marsh, and so on. This chain of transmission, stretching back to Richard Dorson who founded JFR in 1964, puts me in mind of my first involvement with the journal. From 1995 to 1997 I served as Editorial Assistant under the guidance of Mary Ellen Brown, Editor, and Inta Carpenter, Managing Editor. They were both outstanding leaders and mentors devoted to handing down the orientations, expectations, and skills necessary for cultivating quality scholarship. In their own ways, both were enlightening, discerning, congenial, and (perhaps most appreciated at the time) patient, during and after my apprenticeship.
With continuity and change in mind, I cannot but echo Michael’s observation in his introductory note as Editor that JFR is a tradition. Like most folklorists, I think of specific traditions and tradition in general as both noun-like and verb-like. JFR—no less than mumming or myth, basketry or ballads—is both a resource of handed down exempla and a process of creatively recycling inherited knowledge and metaknowledge to meet present needs in changing contexts.
Many things will stay the same at JFR. We specialize in folklore and ethnology, and I want to promote the journal’s longstanding international scope. At the same time, while I have personal interests in verbal art and oral literature, historical traditions and social [End Page 163] memory, and public performance and ritual—areas well served by JFR in the past—I want to welcome submissions in areas such as material culture and ethnomusicology that are in our wheelhouse but perhaps less often seen in our pages. Note that in addition to conventional research articles and special issues devoted to a central topic or theme, JFR publishes different kinds of work in sections such as Forums, Dialogues, Translations, Fieldwork and Methods Notes, and Encounters with Folklore. Each is described on our website (under About the Journal, Focus and Scope, at www.jfr.indiana.edu/), which I invite you to explore.
One addition to our current format that I would like future contributors to consider is a section entitled “In Retrospect,” which we launch with this issue. In this section, typically three scholars will offer shorter contributions (roughly 2,500 words a piece) that take a fresh look at a seminal text. The goal is not only to situate the text in its original context but also to discuss its lasting or newfound applicability today. Here I must give credit where it is due. I base In Retrospect on a similar feature entitled “The Backward Glance/Radharc ar gCúl ” in the Irish studies journal New Hibernia Review. This feature was suggested originally by the late Lawrence W. McBride and instituted by my friend Jim Rogers, Editor of NHR. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I thank Jim and NHR for the inspiration (and permission) to let our journals’ traditions cross-pollinate.
Featured in this issue’s In Retrospect is Séamus Ó Duilearga’s Seán Ó Conaill’s Book (1981 ), a classic repertoire study that pioneered field methods we recognize today and anticipated contemporary perspectives on the central role of the individual in shaping tradition. The book deserves to be better known outside of Ireland, to be appreciated for its place in the intellectual history of our discipline, and to be reconsidered for its contemporary relevance. Other books that would be excellent candidates for In...