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.

MLN (Modern Language Notes)

For those interested in publishing articles that explore French, German, Hispanic, or Italian literature, film, theory and pedagogy.

MLN may not be quite as well-known as other literary journals, like PMLA and SubStance, but if you are looking for other double-blind peer-reviewed journals that publish similar sorts of articles and have “comp-lit-y” vibes, this is an excellent choice. While PMLA doesn’t favor close readings, MLN often publishes readings of a single French, German, Hispanic or Italian novel.

Articles dealing with feminism and pedagogy have increased over the past few years. Most articles deal with 20th-century and contemporary works, but you can find recent ones about Dante and Montaigne, too. The journal’s website is not updated regularly, but it is a good idea to keep an eye out for their “theme” issues. The latest one was about Elena Ferrante (articles about translators and translation appear quite frequently in the journal).

The journal publishes five different issues a year, one devoted to comparative literature and one each for French, German, Hispanic, and Italian. That means that if you want to submit an article devoted to, say, a French author, you must email the editor in charge of that volume. In other words, you must email the correct set of editors (they vary depending on the language).

Most comp lit issues of the journal revolve around a theme (scenes of writing, translation), while the other language-themed issues revolve around canonical 20th-century authors and theorists, as well as some 21st century authors (Barthes, Proust, and Beauvoir recur in the French issues; the 2021 Italian issue is devoted to Elena Ferrante; Benjamin, Adorno and Freud show up frequently in the German issues).  You do not need to write a comparative study of two different modern-language novels to be published in the comp lit issue. In fact, some comp lit articles compare two Anglophone authors like Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick.

Although the aim of the journal is to introduce “contemporary continental criticism into American scholarship,” not all of its articles seem particularly “continental.” For instance, one author draws heavily on the writings of American queer theorist Mel Y. Chen to make claims about Hèlène Cixous. While Cixous might work in the continental tradition, she spent most of her career in the US. Chen, meanwhile, is a professor at Berkeley and publishes with Duke UP.          

Articles are usually about 7,500 to 8,000 words long and contain subheadings, but they differ tremendously depending on which type of issue they appear in. Some introductions are four paragraphs long and contain clear theses, while others are only a few lines long and rather vague. The thesis can almost always be found at the end of the intro. Some authors include outrageously long block quotations in their introductions. Authors make quite modest claims to significance.

Most articles include at least 20 works cited, but these often include a variety of novels and not a great deal of recent scholarship. On average, there are about 20-30 footnotes per article, but some have as few as 5. Perhaps because the journal publishes articles in multiple languages, its editors seem quite flexible when it comes to strange punctuation.

Many of the authors published are full professors, but there are a fair amount of graduate students and postdocs (as well as some professional translators).

Word count: 9,000 words or less        

Issues per year: 5 (and sometimes 6)      

Current issue: Volume 137, 2022

Articles per year: 27-33    

Citation style: MLA (Modern Language Association of America) style   

Abstract length (if required): 100 words or less                   

Online? Online and in print       

Submission method: By email (still)

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Journal’s JCR Impact Factor (if it has one): .5 or under  

Citations per article:   30 or less            

Endnotes per article: 20 or less   

Bibliography (articles in the journal consulted for this review)

“Images, Self-Narration, and Radical Pragmatism in Simone de Beauvoir’s Les Belles Images,”

“Maternal Troubling Bodies in Slavenka Drakulić and Elena Ferrante,”

“Teaching Feminisms: The Legacy of Sara Castro-Klarén”                                             


About Wendy Belcher

Associate Professor, Princeton University, Department of Comparative Literature and the Center for African American Studies. Author of Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Instructor of Deep Reading Journals as Publishing Praxis.