It’s been almost four months since the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies came to life online. So many have played vital roles in realizing the launch of a journal dedicated to L.M. Montgomery, Canadian icon, international bestseller, multi-faceted artist, and beloved creator of Anne of Green Gables, as well as many other characters and places. Many of you have also reached out to offer congratulations and musings on the journal and the history, state, and future of Montgomery studies.
We, Kate Scarth and Emily Woster, the journal’s inaugural editors, celebrated the journal’s launch with a “Welcome to the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies,” which you can read here. We reached out to our wonderful interdisciplinary, international editorial board for their responses to the “Welcome Message” and to the launch of a Montgomery journal. Many members of the editorial board, particularly Betsy Epperly and Mary Rubio, offered feedback on the “Welcome Message” that greatly enhances its reflections on Montgomery Studies. Here to continue the celebrations are some of the editorial board’s responses to the journal launch and its welcoming message.
Betsy Epperly, founder of UPEI’s L.M. Montgomery Institute, author of the first scholarly book to explore Montgomery’s fiction, The Fragrance of Sweet Grass, and honorary journal editor, writes,
In their “Welcome” article, Emily Woster and Kate Scarth provide a really helpful, succinct recounting of the convergence of the two lively Montgomery readership “streams”: the popular and the critical/scholarly; they hope this first-ever journal dedicated to Montgomery will also “help shape future currents of Montgomery studies.” The broad and deep currents of reading (not to mention the enormous amount of talent) represented by the board for the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies – whose members are sensitive to the many forms of relational tensions within and around Montgomery’s work and legacy – ensure that “exciting conversations” are indeed going to be initiated and shared widely through this online journal. Congratulations, all ‘round! More, please.
Lorraine York, editorial board member and Distinguished University Professor of Canadian Literature and celebrity culture at McMaster University, writes:
Early in their welcome to this new L.M. Montgomery journal, Kate and Emily offer the striking observation that, “Given her tendency to remix and combine genres, from epistolary novels to scrapbooks, we believe Montgomery would be intrigued by the possibilities of this online platform.” Indeed! If you have held Montgomery’s scrapbooks in your hands, seen them in the online exhibition “Picturing a Canadian Life,” or on Pinterest (yes: they pop up there!) you can sense Montgomery’s delight in bricolage, collage, pastiche. How fitting, then, that Montgomery and readers who value her work, should make the transition to this most assemblage-loving digital world. As a scholar fascinated by the phenomena of celebrity in the digital age, I’m excited by the prospect of online discussion of the works of one of Canada’s early literary celebrities, and I particularly look forward eagerly to reading what emerging scholars will have to say about Montgomery in the years to come. As Anne Shirley reflected, “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about?”
Margaret Steffler, Trent English Professor of Canadian fiction, women’s writing, and children’s literature, as well as an editorial board member, shared the following:
Kate Scarth and Emily Woster’s welcome to the Journal of Montgomery Studies tells the intriguing story of the development of Montgomery Studies, reminding scholars and fans of key moments and movements in the academic and popular reception of Montgomery’s work. The enthusiastic and determined commitment of readers, critics and fans over the years and around the world has moved assessments of Montgomery and her writing far from its early designation of “mediocre.” Recognition of the breadth and diversity of Montgomery’s work places importance and value on its “multi-faceted” nature. The insight provided by the journal into the life lived by Montgomery as a woman in a particular time and place deepens and enriches readers’ relationships with her creative achievements and with her role as a writer. It just seems so appropriate and right that this compelling body of work by Montgomery, based on Montgomery and about Montgomery, is going to be explored in an open-access online journal that can accommodate so much more than print and image and can include different forms of submissions from a wide range of contributors. I wholeheartedly agree with Kate and Emily that “Montgomery would be intrigued by the possibilities of this online platform.”
Another editorial board member, Lesley Clement, the L.M. Montgomery Institute’s current visiting scholar, is looking forward to being the journal’s next co-editor (starting on July 1, 2020):
What an amazing venture this journal is, and what an amazing job Kate Scarth, Emily Woster, and the entire team have done behind the scenes for this launch. The technological and legal intricacies alone would have daunted less intrepid spirits, not to mention their anticipating all the potential questions that might arise about style, format, content, and dissemination. As incoming Visiting Scholar, I very much look forward to stepping up and into the role of co-editor in July. I could not have asked for better pioneers to clear the paths as I join them in the journey over the next couple of years.
We’ll end this piece with words from another honorary editor. Mary Rubio is Montgomery’s biographer and co-editor with Elizabeth Waterston of the journals, as well as co-founder of the first journal—CCL/LCJ: Canadian Children's Literature/Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse—to give Montgomery in-depth attention. Dr. Rubio provided much thoughtful feedback on the “Welcome Message” as we wrote it, and to mark the journal’s launch, Dr. Rubio reflected on Montgomery’s literary reception and legacy:
I am so glad that you have the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies up and running…. How pleased L. M. Montgomery herself would be that her writing is still so influential and revered, not only by her ever faithful public, but also by academic reviewers who chart and interpret her impact around the world.
I reflect on how all has evolved, up to the journal, particularly as I watched the TV news on D-Day today, and saw all kinds of correspondences and ironies:
Newspaper reviewers did the reviewing and assessing in her day, and serious scholarly journals were only beginning — Canadian Literature only started in 1959 in British Columbia, for instance. In the early 1920s, Montgomery was working through and with the Canadian Authors Association and Canadian Women’s Press Club to establish a professional class to take Canada’s national literature seriously. With Montgomery’s reverence for learning, and her own formidable intellect and reading range, she put huge effort into developing and recognizing a “Canadian literature."
The McGill Fortnightly Review, which was only a little folded paper academic affair, had been started by F. R. Scott and others in 1925 to guide and foster a new Canadian literature, and Deacon’s opinionated book of “criticism” in 1926 (Poteen), picked up on the idea of Modernism. The McGill FR published the gifted Scott’s devastating satiric poem “The Canadian Authors Meet” in 1927. It’s interesting that although male poets of the old styles of writing were mentioned in passing in that poem, the entire poem focusses, with really trenchant satire, strictly on women. Scott was a talented young poet, for sure, unlike Deacon who was an ambitious opportunist…. Tearing down a powerhouse like Montgomery, who was much more learned than he was, was his goal, and her popularity and influence was easy to attack through Modernism, which he had latched onto.
…Montgomery was fighting this in the late 20’s and early 30’s…. What a final decade she had: She had just won her lawsuit against L. C. Page in the USA, only to invest her money in investments that would evaporate in the Great Depression of 1929. She was coping with the multiple problems of Ewan and her elder son. She was watching the sounds of war start again in Europe. She was worrying about the war taking her sons, especially once Stuart had his medical training by the time of her final years.
I … hop[e] that wherever Montgomery’s spirit resides, she knows that her name and writing have survived everything including the war that she saw coming. And her books have inspired endless readers. Female critics, starting with Elizabeth Waterston, back in 1966, have given attention to her life, appreciating her gifts and achievement ... and followed by so many other really superb critics, like Betsy Epperly, who starts off your articles. Many others will carry on.
L.M. Montgomery now is positioned with some of the other important nineteenth-century female authors she admired — those who have their own journals, devoted to their own work.
I am so happy that you have the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies going now, and online!! Huge congratulations!
What are your thoughts on the launch of the journal? What do you see in the future of Montgomery studies? Let the journal editors know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgement: Banner image of Orange Flower. Anne Victoria Photography, 2018.