Penn State University


Evaluating and Publishing Comparative Scholarship: Perspectives of Journal Editors

MLA08 Session 181. Evaluating and Publishing Comparative Scholarship: A Roundtable with Journal Editors

Sunday, 28 December, 8:30–9:45 a.m., San Francisco Marriott

Program arranged by the Association of Departments and Programs of Comparative Literature.

This roundtable will address issues in the evaluation of comparative literary and cultural scholarship; it allows journal editors to provide their input on where they see the field headed in terms of their local editorial policies, choices of special issue topics, submissions, and decisions. Readers and contributors will have a chance to demystify the publishing  process by interacting with the people behind the names.

Each editor will give prepared remarks of 10 minutes or less. The remaining 15-30 minutes will be open to general discussion and questions from the audience. You are invited to come with questions big and small, general or specific to your own submission (or editorial) experience.


The Journals and Their Speakers

1. CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture (ISSN 1481-4373)


Brief description: CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, the peer-reviewed quarterly of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences is published online in full text and in open access by Purdue University Press ©Purdue University and in hard-copy annuals in the Purdue University Press monograph series of Books in Comparative Cultural Studies & CLCWeb publishes scholarship in the widest definition of the disciplines of comparative literature and cultural studies designated as "comparative cultural studies." The journal encourages scholarship in a global and intercultural context and work with a plurality of theoretical approaches and methods. In addition to the publication of articles, CLCWeb publishes review articles of scholarly books and publishes research material in its Library Series.

Speaker: Steven Totosy de Zepetnek taught in the University of Alberta Department of Comparative Literature 1984-2000 and he is now professor of media and culture studies at the University of Halle-Wittenberg and professor of literature at National Sun Yat-sen University. For lists of his publications, see


2. The Comparatist


Brief description: Awarded the 1996 Phoenix Prize for Editorial Achievement by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, The Comparatist is a dynamic, well-established journal of comparative literature. It has appeared annually since 1977 and is currently sponsored by the University of Georgia..

The Comparatist has traditionally published comparative work involving literary and cultural movements, literature and the arts, relations between European and non-European literatures, and inter-American literary exchanges. More recently the journal has also focused on third world, Afro-Caribbean, and Central European literary phenomena. Each issue features eight to ten articles clustered around major comparative-thematic topics, such as "Theoretical Dialogues," "Post-Colonial Perspectives," "Comparative Poetics," or "Eastern-Western Relationships." A substantial review-section evaluates important theoretical and practical concerns involving cross-cultural literary study. As a forum for literary comparatists, the journal encourages a stimulating interplay of intertextual and comparative methods, of theoretical-historical analysis, and of critical interpretation.

Speakers: Dorothy Figueira, editor-in-chief of The Comparatist, is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Georgia. She holds graduate degrees in the history of religion and theology from Paris and Harvard and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Comparative Literature. Her scholarly interests include religion and literature, translation theory, exoticism, myth theory, and travel narratives. She is the author of Translating the Orient (1991), The Exotic: A Decadent Quest (1994), Aryans, Jews and Brahmins (2002), and Otherwise Occupied: Theories and Pedagogies of Alterity and the Brahminization of Theory (2008). Such is also editor of La Production de l'Autre (1999) and has written more than thirty articles and given more than eighty conference papers. She is currently Vice President in the International Comparative Literature Association (serving as president from 2008-2009), and an elected officer in the American Comparative Literature Association and the Southern Comparative Literature Association. She has held American Institute for Indian Studies, Fulbright Foundation and NEH Grants. She has been editor-in-chief of The Comparatist for the last two years.

Jenny Webb is currently the Managing Editor for The Comparatist. Her work on other academic publications includes Scandinavian Studies (Production Manager), the ICLA Bulletin (Production Manager), as well as Recherche Littéraire. After receiving an MA in Comparative Literature from Brigham Young University, Ms. Webb established a business focused on producing publications that uphold the highest standards of scholarship and academic design, including volumes in series such as International Studies in Literary Culture and Histoire comparée des littératures de langues européenes.


3. Comparative Literature


Brief description: "Founded," according to the original 1949 masthead, "at a time when the strengthening of good international relations is of paramount importance," CL was created by a group of American scholars in part to replace Revue de litterature comparée, which had been forced to suspend publication during the Second World War. After several attempts to locate this new journal at other universities failed, Chandler Beall, a Professor of Romance languages at the University of Oregon, convinced its President, Harry K. Newburn, to finance Comparative Literature for a trial period of three years. Comparative Literature has remained the property, and been under the direction, of the University of Oregon since that time. It is currently the official journal of the American Comparative Literature Association.

Since that first issue Comparative Literature has of course evolved--expanded, really--in ways that have reflected changes in the field it represents: the advent of the "new criticism" in the early 1950s, the growing influence of literary theory in the late 60s and 70s, the "globalization" of comparative literary studies since then.   The journal is currently under the editorship of George Rowe and in 2008 had approximately 2400 subscribers, about 600 of whom reside outside the United States.  The journal's editorial board is sympathetic to a broad range of theoretical and critical  approaches and welcomes submissions that explore important issues of literary history not confined to a single national literature or address significant problems in literary theory. 

Speaker: Christopher Braider received a B.A. in French and English and a Ph.D. in French Literature from Trinity College, Dublin. Since leaving Harvard University for the University of Colorado in 1992, he has chaired the department of French and Italian and the department of Comparative Literature and Humanities, and has served as Acting Director of the Center for Humanities and the Arts. He is currently a member of the editorial board of Comparative Literature.


4. Comparative Literature Studies


Brief description: Comparative Literature Studies publishes comparative articles in literature and culture, critical theory, and cultural and literary relations within and beyond the Western tradition. It brings you the work of eminent critics, scholars, theorists, and literary historians, whose essays range across the rich traditions of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. One of its regular issues every two years concerns East-West literary and cultural relations and is edited in conjunction with members of the College of International Relations at Nihon University. Each issue includes reviews of significant books by prominent comparatists. Since 2002, CLS has embarked on an ambitious series of special issues that cover a variety of geographic areas (Al-andalus and its Legacies, Literatures and Theories of Africa), and address recent developments in comparative scholarship (Globalization and World Literature, Intra-American Comparison).

Speaker: Thomas O. Beebee was born in Santa Monica, California, in 1955. Seeing that the future was blackouts, he fled as far east as possible, and received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and both his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He taught German at Bowdoin College from 1984 to 1986, when he joined the faculty at Penn State. He became Associate Professor in 1991, and Professor of Comparative Literature & German in 2000. His fields of specialization in research and graduate teaching are: European literature of the early modern period; criticism and theory; epistolarity; translation studies; and law and literature. His publications include the books Clarissa on the Continent, The Ideology of Genre, and Epistolary Fiction in Europe, Geographies of Nation and Region in Modern European and American Fiction (forthcoming Purdue University Press 2008), and Millennial Literatures of the Americas 1492-2002 (forthcoming Oxford University Press). He has served as associate editor of Comparative Literature Studies since 1992, and as editor-in-chief since 2001.


5. Symploke


Brief description: Symplokēis a comparative literature and theory journal. The editors' aim is to provide an arena for critical exchange between established and emerging voices in the field.

We support new and developing notions of comparative literature and theory, and are committed to interdisciplinary studies, intellectual pluralism, and open discussion. We are particularly interested in scholarship on the interrelations among philosophy, literature, culture criticism and intellectual history, though we will consider articles on any aspect of the intermingling of discourses and disciplines.

The journal takes its name from the Greek word symplokē which has among its various meanings interweaving, interlacing, connection and struggle. The journal's editors believe that continuing change in the humanities is contingent upon the interweaving, connection, and struggle between traditionally independent domains of discourse. One of our broader goals is to contribute to the opening of alternative academic frontiers by providing a forum for scholars of varying disciplines to engage in the intermingling of ideas in innovative ways.
The division of intellectual authority and the drawing of academic boundaries have revealed their limitations, and it is our contention that now is the time to seek what lies beyond the limits of disciplinarity. We see this journal as involved in not only the exploration and extension of interdisiplinary studies in the humanities, but also in the promotion of a trans- or extra- disciplinary perspective. Symplokē was awarded the Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement (2000) by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ).

Speaker: Jeffrey R. Di Leo is Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, and Associate Professor of English and Philosophy at the University of Houston-Victoria. He is also vice president of the Southern Comparative Literature Association. He is editor and publisher of the American Book Review, founder of the journal Symploke, and editor of the book series, Class in America, published by the University of Nebraska Press. Professor Di Leo has a dual Ph.D. in Philosophy and Comparative Literature from Indiana University. His teaching and research interests include ethics, contemporary innovative literature, classical American philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of language, and literary and cultural theory.


Updated 11 August 2008 by Atia Sattar