The Southern Literary Journal 35.1 (2002) iii
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The Southern Literary Journal has had few special issues over the years —the Fall 1998 issue on contemporary southern women's writing was only our second—and nineteenth century literature might seem an unlikely candidate for such a distinction. After all, every issue of the journal has articles on nineteenth century writing—on Poe, Douglass, Twain, Chopin, and Chesnutt, among other writers. In recent years, however, most of our articles—nearly eighty percent over the past four years—have dealt with twentieth century writers, many of them with contemporary literature. It was largely for this reason that we called for contributions to an all-nineteenth century issue. We received pieces on certain of the usual subjects—Twain, Chopin, and Chesnutt—but also on the lesser-known Sherwood Bonner, Ruth McEnery Stuart, and Anna Julia Cooper. The contributors' approaches range from (in one or two cases) rather traditional readings to regional and postcolonial theory. Most fall under the broad umbrella of historical and cultural studies. Of the critical triumvirate, race, class, and gender, race seems to predominate—although, in fact, particularly in the two treatments of Chopin included herein, one can hardly separate race and gender. In any case, we were encouraged by the number and quality of contributions—so much so that we plan another special issue, this one on autobiography, a year or so down the road.