- About this Issue
Welcome to the Spring 2012 issue of the Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association. This issue is anchored by a group of essays brought together by past MMLA Executive Director Kathleen Diffley, essays articulated around the problems of cultural and literary reception of the American Civil War. Each of the authors involved (Julia Stern, LeeAnn Whites, Susanna Ashton, and Diffley herself) offers a different perspective on how scholarly study of the Civil War intersects with memory, identity, and culture in the contemporary world, showing us that (among other things) the Civil War remains very much alive—and highly contested—in 21st-century America, and not just in the academy. The other essays in this issue, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, also revolve around questions of violent conflict and our responses to it. Assad Al-Saleh offers a striking comparison of literary representations of warrior cultures in mediæval Japan and in Chaucer, understood in terms of relationships of power and control. In an article not remote from the concerns of the group of Civil War essays, Sara Lindey describes how children’s literature responded to the unbearable problem of slavery in antebellum America. Sean O’Brien turns to a different arena of New World conflict, the Dominican Republic, in his essay on The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, showing how history and intertextuality work together to create a demanding form of engagement for the reader of the novel.
As always, the JMMLA continues to be a lively forum for scholarship across all fields of literary study, welcoming the fullest possible range of subjects and critical approaches. The Journal is proud to remain a place where scholars can speak with one another across the boundaries of period, methodology, and discipline. We hope you find this issue stimulating to your own work, and as always we encourage our readers to contribute themselves to future installments of this ongoing conversation. [End Page i]