Reviews of Peer-Reviewed Journals in the Humanities and Social Sciences

We give you the scuttlebutt on academic journals—aiding you in selecting the right journal for publication—in reviews that are sometimes snarky, sometimes lengthy, always helpful. Written by Princeton University graduate students and Wendy Laura Belcher.

Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory

For those with articles that put multiple texts or authors in conversation with each other or addressing non-canonical texts using cultural studies perspectives.

           Arizona Quarterly is a long-running journal that focuses on American Literary Studies, with interests in Film Studies and Cultural Studies. Begun in 1945, Arizona Quarterly is published four times a year (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter). It is run by the University of Arizona and published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Its editor is Lynda Zwinger. I believe the journal is peer reviewed, but it doesn’t state so clearly. The journal does expect submissions to remove all identifying information. In terms of contributors, the scholars came from everywhere, and were in many different positions, from high school teachers to graduate students to artists to writers to ladder faculty to lecturers and adjunct faculty to independent scholars.

Arizona Quarterly generally publishes seven articles per issue, and each issue contains only articles. The Winter Issue also contains an alphabetized index of the volume’s/year’s contributions. Some of the journals have six articles, and at least one had five. If there is a special issue, an introduction accompanies the articles. From 2009 to 2014, however, there was only one special issue: Migration and Movement(s) in Chicano/a Literature (70.2, Summer 2014). The special issue, like most other issues, had seven articles.

For the most part, the articles in Arizona Quarterly are focused on close readings. These readings are theoretically oriented, and often examine classic texts according to new ideas or questions. A good number of articles put two authors together that are not often placed together (such as Walt Whitman and W.E.B. DuBois, Walt Whitman and Walter Benjamin, and W.E.B. DuBois and Ralph Waldo Emerson). The pairings make sense, and in each case, the authors are considered as philosophers or theoreticians rather than literary figures per se. In terms of themes or trends, I noticed that the journal is interested in examining American Literature beyond the assumed canon. That said, the most written about authors were quite canonical. In terms of fields, Arizona Quarterly has a lot of articles engaging Anglo American Literature, African American Literature, Native American Literature, and Chicano/a Literature. There two articles on Asian American literature, one on Ruth Ozeki, the other on Sui Sin Far. Interestingly, both of these authors have significant histories in Canada. Arizona Quarterly also has an associate editor for film, so many of the issues had at least one article on film. One of the strongest themes that emerged in the journal was 9/11 and post 9/11 fiction. Other than that, another evident trend in the articles was the sort of metareflections on the field, such as articles on specific critical figures (such as Trilling, Du Bois, and Emerson), or articles on reading practices and aesthetic tendencies (such as ecocriticism, postmodernism, the so-called paranoid style of criticism, and punk fiction).

From 2009-2014, several authors were written about twice, and a select few were written about more than twice: Henry James (3), Gertrude Stein (3), Cormac McCarthy (4), Walt Whitman (5), Mark Twain (3), W.E.B. DuBois (3), Don DeLillo (3), and Willa Cather (3). (There were two articles on the film American Psycho and one on Bret Easton Ellis, which might count as three for Ellis.) This is a super canonical list. Some of the authors who had two articles published on their work were: David Foster Wallace, Leslie Marmon Silko, Charles Chesnutt, John Rechy, Helena María Viramontes, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau, Zitkala-Sa, William Faulkner, and Herman Melville. This list is still pretty canonical, especially in terms of who is taken up as a representative of a field. To get into non-canonical authors, I would have to read off names that appeared only once. The authors named above accounted for 50 of the 157 articles from 2009-2014, so at least 107 other artists or texts were represented (more than that, considering that several of the articles take up more than one author or text).

I focused on articles from the 2014 special issue, as well as some articles from 2010 and an article from 2012. In terms of the special issue on Chicano/a Literature, I found that the articles did not exactly chart out new territory within the field or expand the historical or geographic definition of Chicano/a Literature, but rather applied important trends within the field to certain texts. For example, Carlos Gallego’s article “Topographies of Resistance: Cognitive Mapping in Chicano/a Migrant Literature” does not really flesh out any new ideas about either cognitive mapping or Chicano/a Literature. Essentially, he builds upon what several book-length studies have done, and thus expands the number of texts that have been considered through the idea of cognitive mapping. Another article takes up “storytelling and dialectical form,” which is a long-lived concern for many fields (especially Proletarian Fiction, African American Literature, Chicano/a Literature), but applies to two new texts. That said, Marissa López, who published an article in the issue, wrote one of the most important recent books in Chicano/a Studies, Chicano Nations. López’s article takes up a contemporary Chicana novel and rethinks phenomenology and thing theory by theorizing the “stuff” in Black Widow’s Wardrobe, and how stuff gets used and interacted with. Undergirding these interactions is López’s attention to movement and migration, and how people interact with matter (as in, the stuff the universe is made of) is of central importance to movement. López concludes the article by returning to one of the many terms she identifies at the beginning of her article: emergent chicanidad, which she argues, “redefines the political subject as human/nonhuman assemblage…. [A]s instances of harmonious being in the world” (165-6).

Most of the articles in Arizona Quarterly are split into sections. The sections may be titled, but often they are in the form of stylized double lines: . The articles build up towards the thesis, which is nearly always placed at the end of the first section. López’s argument takes about seven pages to develop, whereas most others take two-three pages. Her article develops and defines a host of terms, which is not typical for articles in the journal. However, most articles are very theoretically sophisticated, but quite intelligible. I found the articles in Arizona Quarterly to be more readable than articles in PMLA, for example, largely due to clearer, less jargon-riddled prose. That’s not to say articles avoid jargon—it’s just that they explain and expand theory in ways that are relatively easy to follow.

by Francisco Robles

Word count: 6,000-10,000   

Articles per year:  25-30

Note: include an abstract when submitting (50-150 words)

Cite Style:  MLA

Disciplines: American Literature



Baros, R. Allen. “Exploring the Limits of Chicana/o and American Studies: Five Texts Every  Graduate Student Should Know.” Arizona Quarterly 70.2 (Summer 2014): 9-19.

Dunston, Susan L. “Physics and Metaphysics: Lessons from Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony.” Arizona Quarterly 66.4 (Winter 2010): 135-162.

Gallego, Carlos. “Introduction: Migration and Movement(s) in Chicano/a Literature.” Arizona  Quarterly 70.2 (Summer 2014): 1-7.

——— . “Topographies of Resistance: Cognitive Mapping in Chicano/a Migrant Literature.” Arizona Quarterly 70.2 (Summer 2014): 21-53.

González, Marcial. “Narrating the Inadmissible: Storytelling and Dialectical Form in Barefoot Heart  and Children of the Fields.” Arizona Quarterly 70.2 (Summer 2014): 58-83.

Hiro, Molly. “’Tain’t no tragedy unless you make it one’: Imitation of Life, Melodrama, and the  Mulatta.”           Arizona Quarterly 66.4 (Winter 2010): 93-113.

López, Marissa. “Chicano Vibrations: Notions of Vital Materiality in Lucha Corpi’s Black Widow’s   Wardrobe.” Arizona Quarterly 70.2 (Summer 2014): 143-168.

Stephens, Paul. “What Do We Mean by ‘Literary Experimentalism’?: Notes Toward a History of  the Term.” Arizona Quarterly 68.1 (Spring 2012): 143-173.

Wyatt, David. “September 11 and Postmodern Memory.” Arizona Quarterly 65.4 (Winter 2009): 139-161.


This entry was posted on June 14, 2015 in American Studies Journals, Humanities Journals, Literary Theory Journals.