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.
For those interested in publishing articles that speak to an aesthetic problem in a canonical text written before 1900 by a Western author, that deeply and carefully contextualize the text in its literary and/or critical reception history, and that pay careful attention through close reading to problems of genre, form, or style, often as modes that themselves developed historically. Articles tend to be very dense, pulling to the forefront and then conducting thorough research on one thread of a canonical text. Almost without exception, articles explicitly state that they are focusing on a “previously unacknowledged” aspect of a canonical text. If your article doesn’t have that phrase, it probably is not right for this journal. Having a clearly stated intervention was not important.
Modern Philology describes itself as “Critical and Historical Studies in Literature, Medieval through Contemporary,” and many articles attended in detailed ways to a text’s critical reception, both in its own time and by modern critics and also to problems that were carefully framed as historical. Articles often take specific problems—often related to a lesser-known or underacknowledged text or portion of a text—and add texture and substance through careful historical situating, offering rich, detailed critical insights, sometimes relating to philosophical questions (materialism recurred, for instance) or aesthetic issues (of form, genre, or poetic history). Yet these theoretical problems are framed less as abstract connections or ideas than historical developments: they appear nearly always in a carefully-defined and researched historical context, which itself exists as a response to a scholar’s indepth account of critical reception of a text (sometimes as a catalog of responses and then, in another paragraph, specific extensions of one or two primary scholars’ ideas). These articles offer a wealth of indepth scholarly knowledge, and meticulously-researched citations, but sometimes the argument itself can feel buried amidst these many frames. The nature of the ideas, as a result, seem less intellectual-historical or theoretical in nature and more about literary history. More recent articles (2016-2017) seemed weighted towards problems of aesthetics, form, and genre and less on textual histories, material culture, and direct historical background and information. Another important note is the emphasis on earlier and quite canonical authors (often the focus is on a lesser-known text of those authors, or lesser-known moment in a canonical text): I saw many more articles on medieval through romantic writers than on nineteenth century and modernist writers. I noted only a couple of articles on works written in languages other than English (all but one western in focus).
Paragraphs are sometimes quite long, and thesis statements are sometime a bit buried; introductions, so heavily-filled with context and support, can be many paragraphs, and sometimes bleed into the article body. There are no true abstracts, and some articles didn’t seem to yield a thesis statement within the first few paragraphs at all.
Review by KT
Useful for Submission
Word Count: 10,000 words (including notes)
Issues per year: 4 (Feb., May, Aug., Nov.)
Current volume number in 2017: 114.3
Articles per year: (5-13/issue) 20-52
Citation style: Chicago, but with some practices specific to MP (see on website)
Abstract length (if required): no abstract required; abstracts not printed in journal
Upcoming special issues (if available): No special issues that I saw
Relevant Editors: Frances Ferguson (University of Chicago) is co-editor; as of July 2017, Ellen MacKay (Indiana University) will also be co-editor