- Editors' IntroductionThe Next Phase of J19
With this issue we take on the editorship of J19. This is an exciting and intimidating task, made simultaneously easier and more daunting by the inspiring work of the journal's first editors, Dana Nelson and Chris Castiglia. In five short years, they created an influential forum for literary and cultural studies, combining long-form scholarly work with innovative features like the Pleasure Reading series and the Forums. As editors, we will honor their vision and protect their groundbreaking work, building on their success in order to guarantee the ongoing vitality of J19. Our first act as editors was to ask them to write Pleasure Reading pieces for all of us and we are delighted to include these essays in our first issue.
Although disseminating and archiving scholarship is J19's most important function, we hope to develop further the journal's capacity to serve, sustain, and nurture a diverse scholarly community of nineteenth-century Americanists. To be vital, a community must allow members to speak and listen both. One way we will try to realize this goal is to offer a means of responding in print to the journal's essays. Our aim is to provide a space for the open exchange of ideas so integral to our community's thinking, writing, and teaching, and, in the process, to ensure that readers turn to J19 not only when essays happen to overlap with specific research interests. We thus encourage readers to send us questions, comments, suggestions, and alternate views; we are interested not only in responses to arguments published in J19 but also in matters of general interest to our field.
At the same time, we are keenly aware that our community is not, and has never been, limited by the borders of the United States. Over the next few years, we will feature Forums organized by Americanists in [End Page vii] Europe, Asia, and South America that will, we trust, productively complicate our received notions of what scholarship in this field must look like. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that J19 reflects the cultural, intellectual, and institutional diversity of our field.
These are strange and interesting times to be Americanists. We chose the image on our first cover, A View of the Terrific Explosion at the Great Fire in New York (1845), as a way of registering both the danger of these times and the energy with which we will face it. [End Page viii]