- Editors’ Introduction: An Open Letter to Our Readers
We thought we'd break with usual practice in our introduction for this volume. Though we feel slightly like an editorial version of Jane Eyre using direct reader address, we wanted you to feel included explicitly in helping us celebrate our fifth year of production. Like everything in academic publishing these days, the world of journals is an increasingly fraught one. We're justly proud that with the help of the team at Duke University Press, the support of our editorial board and our extensive team of outside peer reviewers, the continuing high quality of manuscript submissions, and the ongoing interest from you, our readers, Pedagogy has not only survived but is thriving.
Pedagogy has come a long way since we first envisioned, in the mid-1990s, a generalist journal devoted to theoretical approaches to teaching across the entire discipline of English. At that time, no single English studies journal focused exclusively on teaching, and those that included articles on pedagogy were specialized in subfields of English, like composition and rhetoric. As a profession, we weren't learning enough from each other through the dissemination of pedagogical scholarship across institutional levels and subdisciplines. Now twelve commentaries, seventy-six articles, forty-two From the Classroom contributions, and sixty review essays later, we feel as though Pedagogy has made a good start toward fulfilling the goal we set forth in our mission statement of "assert[ing] the centrality of teaching to our work as scholars and professionals." But, of course, much more remains to be done. [End Page 1]
This anniversary gives us opportunity to remind ourselves again what the core values of the journal are. At heart, we strive for something that might be called incarnational teaching—that is, the embodiment of principles in practice. Thus, in the articles we have published, we have continually tried to strike a balance between well-articulated theory and well-envisioned praxis.
One important part of this project is the inclusion of student perspectives—what we called in an earlier introduction "real students in imaginary classrooms." Though we have had contributions from graduate students and have run many articles in which undergraduate students are quoted, in this issue we're pleased to feature for the first time an article written by an undergraduate, Abram Van Engen (in this case, a recent graduate on his way to graduate school). The Commentary section in which Van Engen appears has been a site in the journal for asking some of the most important questions in the profession; here we are asked to think about the "passion" for reading and for learning that brought most of us into the profession and continues (if we're lucky) to draw our students.
A second important priority for us has been to publish articles from a broad range of perspectives. In this issue, Calvin Thomas's "Moments of Productive Bafflement, or Defamiliarizing Graduate Studies in English" is exactly the kind of contentious, opinionated piece that we hope will spark conversation. Some of you (like one of the outside reviewers) will hate the piece, no doubt, or be irritated at the tone or offended at a claim. For example, at one point Thomas refers to undesirable jobs as those "at some East-Jesusy locale where you never imagined for a moment that you would even have to stop while driving through, much less live, much less for the rest of your professional life." Since we both teach at schools in the Midwest (often seen as a cultural desert), Marcy in a rural college town and Jennifer at a small religious college, we suppose we're at exactly such institutions, and we disagree about their desirability, Jesusy or not. Yet Thomas asks us to consider not only what we tell our graduate students about the job market and the profession, but what we tell ourselves about who we are and what counts as success within that profession. Maybe, like the other two outside reviewers, you'll find Thomas's piece intriguing. We've chosen to run it right after Van Engen's commentary because...