[Msa-discuss] query re M/m editorships, and thoughts re vote on editorial length of tenure

SUSAN FRIEDMAN ssfriedm at wisc.edu
Fri Feb 2 12:38:45 EST 2018

Hi All, I agree with Jessica, Cristanne, and Cassandra that a 5-year term
(with understanding of some work before and after) makes the most sense. I
speak as a former president of MSA who initiated the process with Bill at
Johns Hopkins UP that Paul Saint-Amour and Rebecca Walkowitz completed: to
give MSA editor(s) full responsibility for all the M/M issues, instead of
the one September issue that we initially had, under Cassandra's excellent
editing for some 10 years. I also co-founded an Oxford UP journal,
Contemporary Women's Writing for 6-7 years and so I am well aware of how
much work editing a journal is. No doubt there is a learning curve for new
editors and some advice to new editors once one's term is up. But a 5-year
commitment is doable, and it is clearer to members, I believe, than a
4-year term. Susan Friedman

On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 10:17 AM, Laity, Cassandra <claity at utk.edu> wrote:

> Dear All,
> I did not see this message either (?) I gather that you are deciding on
> the tenure of the MSA editor (?) I heartily agree with Cristanne and
> Jessica. I would just like to add: speaking as the one who originated the
> 5-year term--in consultation with Bob von Hallberg at JHUP Press in
> Delaware where we hammered out the deal--I found that it took 5 years to
> make a difference in the journal.
> M/M received the Phoenix award from CELJ for the journal that has most
> resurrected itself in 3 years on the basis of 2 MSA issues (which I sent in
> when applying). It took me 3 years to really establish new directions and
> 2 more to consolidate them.
> Special thanks to Debra Rae who has done such a great job!
> Cassandra Laity
> Prof. Cassandra Laity
> Editor, *Feminist Modernist Studies (FMS; *Routledge; 2017--
> *) http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rfmd20
> <http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rfmd20>
> <http://explore.tandfonline.com/cfp/ah/feminist-modernist-studies-launch-cfp>
> Former Co-Editor, Modernism/Modernity (JHUP; 2000-2010) *
> Currently, Visiting Scholar
> English Department
> University of Tennessee-Knoxville
> e-mail claity at utk.edu
> most recent essay, "Eco-Geologies of Queer Desire"
> https://academic.oup.com/cww/article/10/3/429/2447411/Eco-
> Geologies-of-Queer-Desire-Elizabeth-Bishop-s
> ------------------------------
> *From:* msa-discuss-bounces at muse.jhu.edu <msa-discuss-bounces at muse.jhu.edu>
> on behalf of Miller, Cristanne <ccmiller at buffalo.edu>
> *Sent:* Friday, February 2, 2018 10:21:05 AM
> *To:* Jessica Burstein; msa-discuss at chaos.press.jhu.edu
> *Subject:* Re: [Msa-discuss] query re M/m editorships, and thoughts re
> vote on editorial length of tenure
> Like Jessica, I apologize if there was some earlier stream on this that I
> did not read and I hope not to be repeating what others may already have
> said.  I just wanted to say that from my own perspective as former MSA
> President and 10-year editor of the Emily Dickinson Journal, from 2005-2015
> (less demanding than editing M/M'y but there's also a lot less support), 6
> months to a year really did suffice to get up to speed. One might still
> have occasional questions for a previous or more senior editor, but one
> certainly understands all the basic procedures and can already be thinking
> about or pursuing special issues, invited contributors, and so on.
> The time period for feeling settled in probably changes person to person,
> depending on other factors. And the MSA post on this subject is accurate in
> indicating that there is about a 6-month lead-in time when you're not yet
> editor but are doing a lot of shadowing and therefore essentially editorial
> work, as well as a few months on the other end when you're responding to
> the new editor's queries--although this may be modified by the fact of 2
> editors with staggered terms. I believe the point is that a formal 5-year
> term in effect feels like a 6-year term.
> Because of the 2 editors, and because 5 years does seem to me the
> reasonable term to work toward particular goals as an editor and see them
> through to fruition, I am inclined not to see the necessity for changing
> the official term to 4 years. If those incoming and outgoing (especially
> outgoing) responsibilities are more onerous than I imagine, perhaps someone
> could make a stronger case for the 4-year term. Editing a journal is like
> chairing a department--it takes a lot of time, and it takes a while to
> settle in to the role, and then to help guide your successor. Both can be
> hugely rewarding. One needs to know what one is signing up for (5 years +
> extra time especially before your term begins) but this to me does not make
> the current term seem wrong--especially given what Jessica says about there
> always being exceptional possibilities for someone to bow out early.
> Warm greetings to all in the New Year and I second Jessica's thanks to ALL
> M/M'y editors (especially founding editors Bob von Hallberg and Lawrence
> Rainey, and to Cassandra Laity for her many years of work in the field
> helping to set up the current so-much-more reasonable structures than we
> had 10 and more years ago).
> Cris
> Cristanne Miller
> SUNY Distinguished Professor
> Edward H. Butler Professor of English Literature
> Department of English
> University at Buffalo SUNY
> 320 Clemens Hall
> Buffalo, NY 14260-4610
> ccmiller at buffalo.edu
> -----Original Message-----
> From: msa-discuss-bounces at muse.jhu.edu [mailto:msa-discuss-bounces@
> muse.jhu.edu <msa-discuss-bounces at muse.jhu.edu>] On Behalf Of Jessica
> Burstein
> Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 5:43 PM
> To: msa-discuss at chaos.press.jhu.edu
> Subject: [Msa-discuss] query re M/m editorships, and thoughts re vote on
> editorial length of tenure
> This is in response to the vote on tenure of junior and senior editorial
> roles/ tenure of editorial time. I'm asking us all this, even as M/m
> editors will have things to say--if not time to say it.
> I apologize for  1. a horribly long email and 2. not responding if there
> was a previous thread of conversation on this. I have zero at stake in
> this; I just truly care about the shape of editorial function and authors'
> experiences.
> First, I'd like to clarify the vocabulary: what are the respective
> responsibilities of/distinctions (other who came in first) between "junior"
> vs. "senior" editorial roles? Too, if something is put to a vote at the
> journal, do editors have equal voting power; or is veto power accorded the
> senior editor; or is something else the case? Is some distinction being
> tacitly referred to beyond the training time? Is there a charter for the
> journal nowadays?
> Second, I take it that the current allocation of time and position is
> currently : 2 years as junior/3 years as senior? and that what is being
> voted on  is the proposition of  2 years as junior/ 2 years as senior? ( I
> am capable of getting lots of things wrong, so please someone correct me if
> that is one of them--I'm confused by the language of the vote's rationale,
> and/or the underpinning reality.)
> I think what follows is relevant even if what's at stake is simply the
> total editorial time of tenure. And bottom line: I don't think an editor
> gets up to speed in a year, however engaged, productive, and insomniac they
> happen to be. It will take 2 years.
> Third, it is my sense that 2 years in a senior role is not enough time to
> have an impact on the shape of a journal: you come in (you're
> "junior") and spend the first year  or so working hard but also mostly
> figuring out what goes where--a minimum of 1-2 years getting clear on
> process (which means both learning about the mechanics of office protocol
> alongside the immense task and honor of becoming an editor, as in actually
> working with authors) all the while picking up the transferred obligations
> of the office/editor that/who preceded you. This can be the hardest part
> for a vigilant editor. You're also (hopefully) learning from your fellow
> M/m editors, and it takes time to learn languages.  Even with amazing and
> vigilant outgoing editors and offices, transferring offices is arduous; and
> hitches between the transfer of MSS that are at any number of points along
> the editing pipeline are inevitable. (And hitches can be very very bad for
> authors.)
> OK. Those two years (or whatever the length of time is) are done, and now
> you are "senior": you know what you're doing, what's where, and--at long
> last my point--* can start really doing some of things that made you apply
> for the position to begin with.* You're reading those essays that come in
> over the transom, and going to conferences, and listening to papers that
> knock you out, and soliciting authors of 20 minute conference papers or
> what you will, fielding special issues, trying to make special issues
> happen. Etc. Now--if a 4 year editorial tenure is voted in-- you have 2
> years to get those things in and published, and then the office transfers
> to someone else. Some authors pony up right away. Most don't. Some--bless
> us each and every--are overly optimistic (and worth the wait). Then there
> are the readers you're bugging to pony up reports, and who may have
> disappeared or have had unforeseen things occur, and you as an editor know
> this is a great MS but it really needs more work, and well, THAT was the
> wrong reader for this MS--and and and.
> Oh yes: you're also in happy communication with the other offices, and
> offering (calming) advice to a junior/incoming editor who is quite possibly
> wondering whether they were insane to have said yes to what all this really
> means, and you're showing them how it gets easier once they are senior. Or
> they're telling you how great it is and you're wondering how to do it that
> other way. Or etc.
> Two years as senior is really a short time for shepherding a roster of
> authors through to publication--and of course you have to let go, but I'm
> talking about having time to have a serious crop of authors/projects guided
> through and happy, before beginning the transition to your successor, and
> not just throwing a bunch of stuff/authors at them and walking away,
> leaving the new junior/incoming to sort out everything on their own and
> deal with authors who may feel neglected.
> I would think 2 years in junior role and 3 years in senior--or forget the
> jr/sr: learning what you want to & can do and then doing it in the course
> of 5 rather than 4 years-- would benefit the journal's profile and an
> editor's abilities and chance to have an impact. And it's better for
> authors, I would hope--they're the ones that this is really about.
> Jumping between different editors is very difficult for an author. So my
> sense is 5 year tenure is better than 4.
> If an editor wants out early, that of course could happen. It's a tough
> job and not everyone should be expected to take to it--and there can
> (suddenly) be times when being an editor is not the thing one should be
> doing.
> I natter on about this in 3 capacities: 1. someone who was managing editor
> of M/m back when the damn thing was born; I have seen and heard
> (sic) a lot of things go wonky as well as well 2. someone who is pleased
> and honored to be on the advisory board now--and who periodically bothers
> our M/m editors with suggestions and requests and 3. someone who has spent
> aprobably too much time in other editorial offices. I love editing and
> editors and authors, not necessarily in that order. So I defer to other
> voices--I'm genuinely curious what MSA folk think--and applaud the past and
> current M/m editors --thank you, Debra Rae, Christopher, Kritish--who have
> done good works, and labored to make process more transparent, efficient,
> and enjoyable for all concerned.
> (You folks may be the ones who are all for this new time of tenure.) And
> thank you, managing editors: Caitlyn, John, and Matthew. You probably are
> the ones who should be casting the final votes on all this. But then, I'm
> biased.
> Thanks again for your patience.
> Best, Jessica Burstein
> --
> Jessica Burstein
> Associate Professor
> Department of English
> Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies University of Washington
> A101 Padelford Hall
> Seattle, WA 98195-4330
>         Director, London Study Abroad Program. Amy Feldman-Bawarshi,
> Academic Counselor for the London Program, is in the Advising Office:
> Padelford A-2E, within A-2B.
> https://english.washington.edu/study-abroad/2018/summer-
> quarter-london-2018
> Burstein Winter 2018 Office hours: Padelford A502, Tues/Thurs 11-12 and by
> appt.
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Susan Stanford Friedman
Hilldale Professor in the Humanities
Virginia Woolf Professor of English and Women's Studies
English Department, 600 N. Park Street
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706  Phone: 608-258-8080

*Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time*
Columbia University Press, August 2015
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