College of Arts and Sciences

Department of English

ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance

Notes from the Editor

Laura Dassow Walls

Recently I was in need of the sort of small detail that one doesn't know one needs until one needs it urgently: the names of Thoreau's classmates at the Concord Academy. My search took me to the original Emerson Society Quarterly, where in the pages of “IV Quarter 1957” I found exactly what I wanted. Reading through the pages of Kenneth Cameron’s old newsletter brought a smile: I could see him typing them out, cursing with every typo, loading them into the mimeograph and cranking off the finished sheets one by one. His labor of love has evolved into today’s elegant ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance. That you now hold the first issue of ESQ's seventh decade represents something of a miracle—truth be told, of a succession of miracles, the result of dogged persistence down through the years by all its editors and the hard, sometimes heroic, labors of untold assistants and staff members.

Such are my thoughts as I step into my interim role, holding the reins while ESQ completes its transition to a new permanent editor. Only now am I realizing just what it takes to put this handsome volume into your hands, regularly and on schedule, every three months. For instance, take this issue's “Year in Conferences”: until I met with Marlowe Daly-Galeano and her willing band of student volunteers, I hadn't considered the sheer labor it takes to place so many reporters into the field, or how hard they must each listen and think as they attend their assigned sessions, or how challenging it is to pull together this extraordinary full-year synopsis of the entire field. To keep doing this work, ESQ must constantly fight for scarce university resources and strive to prove, with every issue, its enduring value.

It's that enduring value that must move all of us: in 1955, when he founded ESQ, Kenneth Cameron had a vision; page by page, he would collect, distribute, and archive the historical and interpretive work in the American Renaissance. Without this journal, how would our field continue to exist? This journal, this field, is a nexus where generations of teachers and scholars consider how America is written into being: dynamic, inclusive, ever-changing, arguing, rethinking,renewing what we thought we knew. I’m proud to be part of this tradition and grateful to all who make it possible: authors, editors, board members, staff, university administrators, and now, above all, you, our readers.

Here's to the next sixty years!

Laura Dassow Walls

Department of English, PO Box 645020, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5020, 509-335-2581. Contact ESQ