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American Quarterly 55.3 (2003) vi-vii
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This issue of American Quarterly marks the transition of the journal from its long and prosperous tenure at Georgetown University to its new home at the University of Southern California. Those of us who read American Quarterly are deeply indebted to Lucy Maddox for her impressive stewardship of AQ for nine productive years. With the collaboration of her Associate Editor Teresa Murphy, and her editorial team at Georgetown, including copy editor Kate Sampsell, Lucy's steady hand and infinitely careful and fair editorial style have served the journal extremely well. Lucy's dedication to AQ has been unparalleled in its history, and we gratefully thank her for her years of service and her work on the transition of the journal to its new home.
American Quarterly's move is logistical, yet also in many ways symbolic. This is the first time that AQ has been housed at a university on the West Coast of the United States. California has often been mythologized as the state that operates as a bellwether for the rest of the country—where political extremes are played out and demographic changes of race and ethnicity first make news. In addition, Los Angeles has been mythologized as a city of the future—as the apocalyptic postmodern city, the global city of the postnational future, or the city of reinvention.
The mythic Los Angeles is of course a well-crafted fiction, one that frequently displays an exceptionalist tone. Yet, it is hard not to see LA as quintessentially different from Washington, D.C., the home of American Quarterly (and ASA) for so long. The move of AQ from the seat of national government to the Pacific Rim territory of Southern California coincides in many ways with a set of shifts within the discipline of American Studies itself—toward interests in globalization and postnational studies, for instance. Yet, if American Studies as a discipline and American Quarterly as a journal are to continue to have relevance in the world of contemporary ideas, we must never lose sight of the continued importance of and the power wielded by nations (and the cities that constitute their symbolic centers of power). At this particular moment of history, when concepts of America have been deployed in the name of grief, war, and retribution, issues of nations and international relations have profound relevance.
Marking this transition thus challenges us to keep in mind the ways in which there is a Washington, D.C. within Los Angeles, just as [End Page vi] elements of LA exist within Washington. California may symbolize the future, yet it is a state with a complex history, a transnational history of Mexico-US border shifting, of nineteenth and twentieth century expansionism, and of concepts of the American dream. Even as AQ continues to move into new areas, it will also build on the valuable traditions in the field.
Associate Editors Katherine Kinney, Barry Shank, Raul Villa, and I are working toward making the tenure of American Quarterly at USC the project of a broad coalition of universities in Southern California. We begin by announcing our first conference and special issue.
Call for Papers
On November 14 and 15, USC and the Huntington Library will host a conference, "Los Angeles and the Future of Urban Culture," focusing on issues of transnationalism, urban space, and citizenship, race and belonging, with George Lipsitz delivering the keynote address. Conference information will be posted at: www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/pase/.
The first AQ Special Issue, to be edited by Raul Villa and George Sánchez, will build on this conference theme. While Los Angeles developed in exception to the classic norms of urbanism, some would argue that its exceptions became the model that other metropolitan regions would follow. Thus, the unique, often prefigurative, urban patterns and practices of Los Angeles, historically and in the present, call for new ways of seeing and thinking about urban cultures. The editors wish to reflect the diversity of Los Angeles and the critical strategies available to understand its institutions, communities, and cultures. Therefore, we are interested in receiving essays that are inherently...