a. What makes EJES distinctive? What, in other words, do we mean by ‘European’ in the context of this journal?
Although we wish EJES to privilege work of international quality produced within Europe, to interpret ‘European’ as a restriction on authorship by place of work would be unworkable and undesirable. As the official journal of the European Society for the Study of English, the journal will no doubt empirically target a primarily European readership. Yet to define its Europeanness in that way would only be to give it a geography, not a content, and, in relation to an increasingly de-territorialised discipline, perhaps an old-fashioned geography at that. Furthermore, any attempt to define a ‘European’ content risks a crass essentialist construction of a unitary Europe which defies the continent’s own history.
Yet we do seek to assert the character of our journal in a way that distinguishes it from other journals of English Studies, in a non-parochial manner yet distinctly ‘European’ way. To that end we wish to harness the specificities of the heterogeneous practices of European English Studies that allow us to attract contributors and readers ‘in Europe and beyond’.
b. The editors propose that what characterises the study of English through the larger part of Europe is its multidisciplinary, multicultural and, increasingly, multimodal nature. That is to say that in most of Europe the subject of English is made up, in diverse ways, of a range of disciplines or sub-disciplines, including Literary Studies, Critical Theory, Linguistics, Area Studies, and the study of Anglophone cultures. Each of these terms is itself plural in its conceptions, methodologies and practices, and each sub-discipline includes a variety of cultural forms, objects and media. ‘European’, in this sense, signifies the multifaceted view of the object of study and its corollary includes the potential for dialogue between the (sub-)disciplinary approaches which construct it.
To this end, we strive to ensure that each volume is constituted by a series of topics that lend themselves to address, in a dialogical manner, from a variety of disciplinary (or interdisciplinary) points of view. While some individual issues will, by their nature, have a strong disciplinary identity, others will similarly draw contributions from a range of disciplinary approaches. As the original editorial, cited in the journal’s Aims and Scopes, proclaimed: ‘the cause is debate’.
c. If ‘European’ stands for ‘multidisciplinary’, it also stands for ‘multicultural’. The editors understand multicultural here as the inevitable situatedness of the subject (both the subject who reads and the subject being read) in the various concrete cultural contexts in which English is studied throughout Europe: in other words, a location for the study which is itself already a linguistic and cultural relatedness, and not necessarily a merely a bilateral one
The fact that European English Studies assumes a variable but located intercultural relationship to its objects of study is not only a matter of the defining foreignness of the study of English in non-Anglophone cultures, but embraces the increasing ‘strangeness’, even for Anglophone scholars, of the texts and contexts of the canon as it expands in genres, modality, media and geography beyond the traditional realms of English or American Studies. A second defining characteristic of European English Studies (‘and beyond’) would then be the foregrounding of the study of English as one of cultural relationship. The editors hope that the Journal will also play a major part in this dialogue between the texts and contexts of English and those of other cultures in which it is studied and with which it interacts – once more, across the various disciplines that constitute it.
d. The editors further argue that that European English Studies are presently also characterised by their growth and mutability. There has been a massive expansion of English Studies in Europe over the last generation, and, through ERASMUS, TEMPUS, Bologna and, of course, ESSE, an equally impressive increase in contacts between its various localities which has provoked rethinkings and reconfigurations.
Once again, although of particular concern to scholars working within Europe, the changing nature of the discipline and its objects—the new cultural contexts, uses and locations of English(es) in the world – is not restricted to this geographical area.
The policy of EJES in its selection of themes will therefore also privilege, as characteristically ‘European’, an attention to such change, a continual questioning of the object of study, a constant attention to new texts and contexts, new approaches, new configurations, new interdisciplinarities, new objects of study, and the accompanying revision and revaluation of canons and methodologies.
e. Finally, we return to the potential audience for EJES. While aware of the dangers of generalisations regarding the heterogeneous and unstable construction of Europe, we are confident that EJES guest editors and contributors shall aim to address an audience that does not take the discipline, its objects, or its questions for granted as part of a single disciplinary or cultural project. In short, the vocation of EJES is to seek out and address a questioning and heterodox readership in the various contexts that make up English Studies in Europe, and beyond.