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Del director The legendary Stanley Fish has been enjoying a resurgence of his reputation as the American enfant terrible of the Humanities, a title always self-bestowed in pride and bestowed by others with disparagement , and maybe a little envy. Thinkers and writers long to have their ideas churn the imaginations and emotions of others, even if it's just "stirring the pot" to provoke unneeded conflict. The profession doesn't need another Stanley Fish, but the Editor of a respectable journal is supposed to urge a certain level of controversy on his contributors and readership: if there's nothing worth fighting about in your pages, there's probably not much worth reading. I confess, then, that I tried to incite discussion on two topics that had admittedly not been threatening to erupt in polemics but that I felt were ripe for reassessment. As readers can see in this hefty issue, we succeeded beyond even my own fondest dreams. As a former student of Lawrence Kiddle at one of the once prestige institutions of Romance Philology, the University of Michigan, I have observed with increasing sadness over the years how the foundational science of that field, historical linguistics, has fallen into decline . While not a full time historical linguist myself, like most of our readership I have relied on my training in philology to inform my work as a student of medieval texts. But the field and its true practitioners are vanishing from the academic landscape, at least in America, in part because its positivism is out of fashion, in part because the former ties of linguistics to literary and cultural studies have eroded, and in part because historical Romance linguistics has failed to develop strong institutional or intellectual bridges to programs in General Linguistics. I floated my perception about "The Death ofa Discipline" to Steven N. Dworkin, one of my early mentors and a frequent contributor to thisjournal, and asked him to marshal the collective wisdom of scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. The participants in Steve's Critical Cluster which headlines this issue strive to make clear that the field as an intellectual enterprise is alive and well, but almost all concede that it has lost momentum and support in academia - there are fewer and fewer students being trained in historical Romance linguistics and no jobs for them in modern language departments in the United States. 2 George D. GreeniaLa corónica 31.2, 2003 As for senior scholars, we in Spanish may soon suffer what our colleagues in medieval French have seen happen to them: the disappearance ofevery last working French philologist in American universities. While I applaud the vigor of the research programs of the individual contributors to this Cluster, we have probably lost a whole wing of medieval studies on this continent. And although serious young medievalists can, by dint of hard labor and summer workshops, acquire what they need in other support fields -I'm thinking of paleography, codicology, medieval Latin or manuscript illumination- historical Romance linguistics with its six generations ofamassed scholarship is too rich a field to tuck into on your own without substantial training and guidance. Will the next generation of American and Canadian Hispanomedievalists be crippled as researchers by this lack? Is historical Romance linguistics an essential skill for which the next cadre of . professional medievalists will have to seek training abroad? Does it survive in Spain itself only as a remnant of nationalism and myths of a nineteenth-century metaphysics of race? Does historical Romance linguistics offer anything ofvalue at all for cultural historians in general - will anyone besides other historical linguists want to read work in that field? I can only hope that the conversation launched so ably by the contributors to this volume is taken up among our readership, especially colleagues from within Spain. The second discussion topic I hope to promote was initiated for us by Regula Rohland de Langbehn in our last issue in her essay "Una lanza por el género sentimental ... ¿ficción o novela?" (La corónica 31.1 [2002]: 137-41). Again playing the instigator, I sent private invitations to a number of scholars who I felt were best able...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 1-5
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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