After 21 years of service, Walter Professor of English Sean Latham has stepped down from the editorship of the James Joyce Quarterly (JJQ) to take on new a position with The University of Tulsa. He will be succeeded by Chapman Professor of Law Robert Spoo and Associate Professor of English Jeff Drouin, who will serve as co-editors.
Latham arrived at TU in 2001 to lead the journal after completing his doctorate at Brown University. As editor, he oversaw the transformation of JJQ from a print-only publication into an innovative, hybrid publication with a sprawling global readership of scholars, fans, teachers,and students. During this tenure, he hosted the North American Joyce Conference, marked the centenary of Bloomsday and created the journal’s 50th-anniversary issue. In addition to producing over 70 issues of the print journal, he revived the celebration of Bloomsday here in Tulsa and returned the headquarters of the International James Joyce Foundation to TU.
“The James Joyce Quarterly brought me and my family to Tulsa,” Latham remarked, “and the community of scholars, fans and students that have gathered around it have made the Joyce world a second home.” His work as editor has taken him to symposia and universities around the world, from Dublin, Zurich and Paris to the world’s largest book festival in Shanghai. During his editorship, he wrote or edited 10 books on modern literature and culture, including editions of Joyce’s Dubliners and Ulysses, as well as influential studies on literary magazines, libel law and snobbery.
More than anything, Latham has valued the opportunity to help shape the work of developing scholars: both the students who have come to Tulsa to study Joyce and the writers and researchers whom he has mentored through the challenges of a rigorous peer-review process: “The arrival of each new issue is a joy because I know the huge amount of work that our entire team has put into maintaining the journal’s reputation for excellence.”
Latham’s successors also came to Tulsa to pursue work on James Joyce. In fact, he took over the journal from Spoo, who, while then a member of the English faculty, had served as editor from 1991 to 2001. “I’m in the amazingly unique position of having preceded Sean at JJQ and now returning to it as he embarks for new challenges and opportunities,” said Spoo. “In addition to my work in TU’s College of Law, I remain active as a scholar of Joyce, so the transition will be a natural one for me, and I greatly look forward to collaborating with Jeff in guiding JJQ into the future.”
Spoo will share the editor’s chair with Drouin, an expert on modernism and digital humanities. Drouin describes it as “an honor to become an editor of the journal that has guided research in Joyce and modernism for so many scholars over so many years. Bob and Sean as the two more recent editors, have both made a lasting impact that will allow us to carry the journal forward as the world moves in new directions.”
Stepping down from a position that has defined almost his entire professional life is emotional, Latham admits. “I do so, however, knowing that the journal will be led by an outstanding team who are certainly far better qualified for the work than I was back in 2001. And they will be supported by Carol Kealiher, our managing editor, and the dedicated staff of graduate assistants who have always been the real keys to the journal’s ongoing success.”
Latham will remain at TU and move to a largely administrative role leading the institution’s public humanities initiatives while developing the fledging TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies.
The JJQ was founded by Thomas F. Staley at TU in 1963 and began its life as a modest passion project in a midtown Tulsa garage. It has since grown into the internationally recognized flagship of Joyce studies and a leading publication in literary studies more generally. TU itself is home to one of the world’s leading collections of Joyce’s papers and has been a research leader in the field of modern literature for more than 60 years.