This issue of South Central review is devoted to the American Renaissance, and representative writers including Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. It includes articles by distinguished senior scholars and more junior scholars whose work has shaped, and continues to shape a field of literary study that embraces some of the most important, influential and fascinating writers this country has produced. The topics chosen and the approaches taken in these essays vary considerably, but their combined effect is to remind readers not only of the ethos of the historical moment but of the complex sensibilities and relationships that inspired and sustained these writers in their lives and in their work.
Recent issues of South Central Review have been devoted, in part or entirely, to the crucial year of 1917, the major historical turning point of World War I, Putin's Russia, and the work of Tzvetan Todorov, so an issue on the American Renaissance takes us in a markedly different direction. But that is not the reason why this issue was conceived, nor is it the reason that such a distinguished group of specialists in the field agreed to write for our pages. This issue of South Central Review is intended to celebrate the career and scholarly contributions of Larry J. Reynolds, Thomas Franklin Mayo Professor of the Humanities and Distinguished Professor of English at Texas A & M University.
An internationally recognized specialist of the American Renaissance and author of ground-breaking books including European Revolutions and the American Literary Renaissance (1988); "These Sad But Glorious Days": Dispatches From Europe, 1846–1850. By Margaret Fuller (Co-Edited with Susan Belasco Smith, 1991); Devils and Rebels: The Making of Hawthorne's Damned Politics (2010); and Righteous Violence: Revolution, Slavery, and the American Renaissance (2011)—and numerous articles in leading journals such as American Literary History, American Literature, American Transcendental Quarterly, ESQ: Journal of the American Renaissance, and the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review—Larry Reynolds's contributions to his discipline also include a distinguished teaching career in this country and abroad. [End Page 1]
Reynolds has taught at Texas A & M University since receiving his PhD from Duke University in 1974. He has also held Fulbright professorships in Croatia (then Yugoslavia) in 1990 and at the University of Ghent in Belgium, in Spring 2001. Among his many contributions to the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts, and more generally the intellectual life of Texas A&M University, Larry co-founded and directed the Interdisciplinary Group for Literary Historical Study, IGLHS. The remarkable success of IGLHS resulted in its transformation into what is now the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research. In addition to numerous other editorial duties, Larry has served with great distinction as an Associate Editor and member of the Advisory Board of South Central Review for two decades.
When we asked the contributors to write an essay in honor Larry Reynolds's career for this issue, all agreed with great enthusiasm. Some had known Larry as a colleague and friend and others had had the privilege of being his student. All recognized the quality and importance of Larry's many contributions to his field, his professionalism, and his collegiality. But what makes Larry Reynolds truly special to all who know and work with him is his personal and intellectual generosity, his thoughtfulness, and his genuine passion for and belief in the value of literature and the humanities. These qualities are not only inspiring, but they are crucial in a time when academia and especially the humanities are increasingly under fire in this country. In this sense, an issue devoted America's rich literary heritage and in honor one its most eloquent champions and critics could not be more timely. [End Page 2]