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ELH 72.2 (2005) vii-ix

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From The Editors

We are grateful to Robert Griffin for organizing this special issue of ELH in tribute to Ronald Paulson on the occasion of his retirement from Johns Hopkins University. Ronald Paulson's extraordinary contributions to the study of the eighteenth century are manifest in his numerous books and essays on virtually every major literary figure of the period, from Swift, Pope, and Fielding, to Wordsworth and Byron. Most notably, his vision of eighteenth-century culture has embraced the visual arts, with a set of magisterial books on Hogarth; English artists such as Turner, Stubbes, and Constable; but also continental artists, including David, Tiepolo, and Goya, have fallen under his capacious purview.

Paulson joined the Hopkins English department in 1967 and almost immediately served as Chair, until he left for Yale in 1975. Upon his return to Hopkins in 1984, he once again assumed the chairmanship and, additionally, the position of Senior Editor of ELH, which he held from 1985 to 2001. He has been a valued colleague for many years, and, as the essays in this volume testify, an inspiring teacher. We fully expect that his retirement will not represent a slackening of his extraordinary scholarly productivity, and we look forward to the continuing unfolding of his inspiring interdisciplinary vision of the culture of the long eighteenth century.

From The Contributors

Ronald Paulson's achievement, epitomized in the list of publications at the end of this volume, speaks for itself and will continue to do so. But the values of scholarly inquiry manifest themselves as well in the training of graduate students. As a supervisor, Ron did not impose his own views but, with the goal of making us independent, entered into the spirit of our projects while providing professional expertise and critical perspective. Having been welcomed into Ronald Paulson's conversation, we discovered an intellectual landscape with a radically egalitarian ethos—our scholarship, his own scholarship, and the scholarship of numberless others who were subject to the same bracing [End Page vii] candor and rigorous standards. For most of us, that conversation has been a sustaining force throughout our careers. We are grateful, because Ron's criticism derived from a deep concern to make us better scholars and better thinkers.

The essays in this volume (ordered by the date of the Ph.D.) were written by Ronald Paulson's students to honor their teacher. At the least, we hope they honor him by reflecting something of the intensity of his commitment to comprehensive scholarship as the basis for significant argument.

From J. Hillis Miller

It gives me great pleasure to share in this celebration of Ronald Paulson. I have known him for several decades and have come to think of him as a slightly recalcitrant and stubborn younger brother. It was my strange privilege to preside twice over his appointment, at two different universities. I was Chair of English at The Hopkins when we appointed him there, and then I was Chair of English at Yale when we appointed him there. I do not know which was the greater honor for him, or whether either was an honor at all.

Paulson's "campus visit" to Yale was something of a fiasco. He stayed at our eighteenth-century house in Bethany, Connecticut. To honor him at the small dinner party we gave, we lit fires in all our fireplaces, upstairs and down, something we had never done before. Doing that, we discovered, filled the house with smoke. Our distinguished guest spent most of the night with his head out the window to get some fresh air. We were lucky he did not go straight back to Baltimore, which of course he ultimately did. He and I were close colleagues at Yale, and I remember him as a powerful and effective Director of Graduate Studies in English there.

I recall best, however, the original Hopkins process of appointment. Earl R. Wasserman had for many years been the sole Professor of English at The Hopkins for the period from 1660 to 1830. There were giants in the earth in those days. For...


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