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  • Editor's Note
  • Nicole Tonkovich

The twenty-five years since Legacy's founding can be measured in statistics: The journal comprises more than fifty issues, printed by four different presses, prepared by seven editors and a dozen or so editorial associates, aided by countless graduate and administrative assistants, not to mention the silent but absolutely necessary work of unpaid reader/consultants, who have anonymously evaluated essays and written wise and useful critiques. My first task is to thank you all.

The hours these colleagues have devoted to Legacy are not unrewarded, even if they were unremunerated. The greatest reward of our work is traced in the academic genealogies of four generations of scholars who have devoted part or all of their intellectual energies to the journal. This intergenerational bond is evident everywhere—in citations and bibliographies, in prefaces and forewords, at conferences and in regional chapters of the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, and, in the issue before you, in the expressions of those who have written in celebration of the journal's anniversary.

As we editors conferred about how best to mark this occasion, we agreed that we should try to represent those generations and invited a group of scholars who represented the founders and their students, whose work laid a strong foundation for our research, and their students' students, a younger cohort of scholars, whose graduate training did not begin with their being forced to make the argument for the intellectual respectability of focusing on American women writers. Now their graduate students are moving into the field and beginning to submit essays to the journal.

The responses of many of those whose work has been foundational to Legacy's development have been crafted by Jennifer S. Tuttle into two thematic parts. We all felt it necessary to remember the conditions of our existence: to recount the challenges faced by the first generation of scholars who established the legitimacy of our work and to celebrate their courage and their foresight. Thus, a large part of our first conversation offers an anecdotal account of our past. Then, seeking to match the vision and foresight of our exemplars, and remaining committed to collaboration and conversational methodologies, we asked the Roundtable discussants to consider new directions we might take, [End Page vii] some of them in response to the wealth of new technologies that make our work simultaneously easier and more complex, others of them less reactive and more directive as we seek ways to refine our theories, hone our methodologies, expand our focus, and sharpen our critique.

We see these Roundtable conversations as a beginning point for other discussions we hope to continue in the coming year—at conferences, on the SSAWW listserv, by e-mail, and in person. The Roundtable discussions also were the point of departure for several of us who have written longer essays here. Theresa Strouth Gaul, Sharon M. Harris, and I have each written essays that imagine the new goals, directions, and potentialities for our future work. Susan Belasco and Karen L. Kilcup have added essays that extend these new directions into the infrastructures of the classroom, the library, and the Internet.

In the next quarter century, we will continue to honor the best scholarship of the past while modifying and advancing its aims. With this anniversary issue, we reiterate our commitment to recovery work and to archivally based research methodologies, as well as to strengthening the infrastructural support for those activities. Retaining the journal's current focus on American women's writing from roughly the sixteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries, we also intend to sharpen and redefine several of our key terms—American, women, and writers—in ways that are suggested in several of the essays included in this issue.

The Roundtable conversations make it clear that readers value not only the scholarly essays we print, but also the features that distinguish Legacy from other academic journals. In this issue, we recognize that unique part of our identity in several ways. First, as a anniversary gift to readers, founding editor Joanne Dobson has allowed us to print a chapter from her forthcoming novel. Anna's Book imagines the nineteenth-century women...


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