- Epilogue:Milton Quarterly and Milton Studies at 50, Milton Scholarship in Century 21
The subject of this special issue, the relationship between Milton and the Americas globally defined, is one that the two publishing venues available to Milton specialists for almost five decades are favorably positioned to promote in the future. In providing brief accounts of the history of Milton Quarterly and Milton Studies, the following remarks showcase their past accomplishments and thereby make clear how each journal would welcome efforts to expand the study of Milton into Latin, Central, and South America, parts of the world that have yet to be heard from when it comes to literary criticism, critical editions, or translations of this author.
Currently in its forty-sixth year as the Milton Quarterly, the journal was founded as a newsletter in 1966 by Professor Roy Flannagan at Ohio University. Foregoing publishing traditional length essays of literary criticism in favor of becoming an accessible clearinghouse for all things Milton, Flannagan welcomed [End Page 245] brief explanatory, textual, and bibliographical notes with a limit of 1,000 words, as well as news about forthcoming books and recently defended dissertations. In turn, he provided anonymous reviews of books and abstracts of recent articles. In doing so in 1966, the same year Chaucer Studies was founded, Flannagan elected not to follow the model of Shakespeare Quarterly (est. 1950), the most prominent single-author journal at the time devoted to an early English writer. Instead, editorial practices in place in Seventeenth-Century News have greater affinities with the earliest issues of Flannagan's journal. Most important, his decision to create an academic publishing venue predicated upon accessibility and informality would have an unexpected, long-lasting impact both on the journal and upon the emerging Milton field at large. First, the decision created room for the founding of the annual publication Milton Studies by James D. Simmonds, from the University of Pittsburgh, who within a year announced that the new journal would showcase essays of literary criticism comparable to the work being featured by Shakespeare and Chaucer scholars in their respective journals. Second, the two journals quickly acquired distinct identities based upon the length of the essays each published. From the outset, notes and brief studies would be submitted to one, full-length articles to the other. So ingrained did this matter become that Flannagan's decision to change the newsletter into a quarterly a year after the publication of the first volume of Milton Studies and only four years after the Milton Newsletter had been introduced made no appreciable difference in terms of the number of submissions (though it did occasion a few longer essays than any sent in for consideration up to that point in time). Indeed, to this day, the current editor of Milton Quarterly receives queries from authors concerned that their essays may be too long to submit (based upon a policy change in 2005, length is no longer an issue).
Over the course of his 39 years as editor, Flannagan marked first his newsletter and then his quarterly with colloquial, journalistic prose. Implicitly, such writing discouraged academic stuffiness and overt pedantry of the kind Milton can effortlessly attract. At the same time, it appealed to a different audience—interested, [End Page 246] nonspecialist readers, independent scholars, and academics new to the field and not necessarily aware of customary practices. The desired effect of Flannagan's strategy did not emerge right away, but eventually it would come to shape the approaches to Milton that appeared in its pages. While it is difficult to determine how leading Milton scholars of the time reacted to Leo Miller's initial publications in Milton Quarterly in the early years of the 1970s, it is certain that they would not have known who he was. Miller had never published anything in an academic journal (though he had tried), had a day job running a travel agency, and clearly was not an academic. Yet by taking a risk on Miller that no one else would, Flannagan began publishing rigorous, archival-based scholarship that derived its findings from original manuscripts located in European chancelleries and private aristocratic houses to which Miller had gained...