This is the first issue of The Spenser Review to appear in the journal’s new online home: Janeway, a nonprofit online publishing platform developed by the Centre for Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London. Our move commits the Spenser Review to the principles of open access as the International Spenser Society assumes financial responsibility for the journal. We hope that readers who find its content valuable will become dues-paying members of the ISS to ensure the Spenser Review’s future. The Review has evolved over several decades, from a print-only publication focused on conference abstracts and announcements, to a dynamic web-based presence which has become an invaluable resource for Spenserians.
The newly located The Spenser Review will continue to build on the outstanding work done by previous editors and book review editors and will maintain the central strengths of the journal: a focus on high quality, long-form book reviews, which become ever more important in a broader publishing landscape where space for reviews is shrinking, and an openness to a variety of work on Spenser, from historical and critical scholarship to a wide array of theoretical, experimental, collaborative, exploratory, and playful forms of writing.
The transition from the previous online platform to the new site has been overseen by an editorial collective comprising the officers of the International Spenser Society and the editors of Spenser Studies, assisted by a newly constituted editorial board and a new Managing Editor, Jacqueline Ly. The 2023 and 2024 issues will be edited by a series of guest editors, supported by this editorial collective. To reflect both this arrangement, and the relaunch of the journal as a suitable moment to capture and reflect upon the current state of the Spenser world, this first issue on the new platform is co-edited by the ISS officers, and it contains various accounts of the exciting Spenser-focused activity that has taken place at major conferences in late 2022 and early 2023. These include the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference; two iterations of the relaunched British and Irish Spenser Seminar; Spenser at Kalamazoo; and the MLA Convention in San Francisco. This last conference is the occasion for both a thorough overview by Claire Falck, and the longest and most unusual piece in the issue: an extensive interview, involving multiple Spenserians, concerning a “bespoke performance piece” that took place alongside the conference program, in which a Spenser scholar collaborated with a DJ and a designer to bring Spenserian and other early modern sonnets together with house music. Featuring embedded images and links to audio and textual documents, this piece exploits the technical capabilities of our new platform. We hope that it will inspire future collaboratiors to further innovations and experiments.
The pieces collected in this issue are intended to reflect the diversity of voices and approaches that have converged in the relaunch of The Spenser Review and that characterize the world of Spenser scholarship at large. They vary in voice, format, and approach; they are produced by and describe work by both established and emerging scholars. They encapsulate some of the many spheres of Spenserian criticism, conversation, and response at the current moment—something of the variety and vibrancy that The Spenser Review has made possible and that it will continue to foster and augment in its new virtual home.
Sarah Van der Laan