The plan for an online quarterly magazine with a focus on style in the humanities came about in conversations held near the corner of Bowdoin Street and Harvard Avenue, in what is sometimes called (mostly in ads by realtors) the College Hill section of our town. So the name College Hill Review suggested itself first on geographic grounds rather than for any possible academic associations. After all, the practice of naming journals after places is a long-standing one, reaching at least as far back as the Edinburgh Review in Great Britain (1802) and, closer to our home, The North American Review (1815). We would willingly join this distinguished line.
The name justified itself for other reasons as well. The phrase College Hill suggests, at least to us, a bounded community, with a purpose to create and disseminate knowledge. As Paul Goodman argued in The Community of Scholars in 1962, colleges, walled off as they usually are from the larger society, consist primarily of a set of relationships among the teachers and the students, a community separate from and usually in tension with the society that surrounds it. With this definition in mind, we invite you through this publication to join our college by entering into a relationship with us, simply by reading the essays and other works that we'll be offering in each issue. If you are moved to respond to what you find—and what's the good of a relationship without a chance to respond?—the technology makes it easy. We accept electronic submissions of essays, articles, and creative work, and we'll be publishing letters from readers and comments on blog postings as well. We look forward to hearing from you.
The emphasis on style may need explanation. Given the direction and tone of much academic commentary in the arts and humanities, it may need defense as well. Our emphasis on style is meant to democratize the mission, and to exalt it. We all can sense the style of another person's work, if we choose to do so, no matter the ostensible subject or intent. Every performance, including books of history and criticism no less than imaginative works, presents an esthetic surface (to borrow terms elsewhere from Goodman) that we can react to. That is where style resides. Style is a source of the pleasure we get in reading, viewing, and listening. It's where the spirit manifests itself; it's how we get the sense from an imaginative work that we're in contact with another human being. An adequate examination of someone's style, in case it doesn't go without saying, includes the consideration of ideas, it just doesn't fetishize them. It illuminates the depths by attending to the surfaces.
We are proud to point out how the pieces in the first issue of CHR exemplify these principles. William Vesterman relates the sequencing of events in Lolita to Nabokov's themes of time and loss. Mary Akers' memoir recreates in language the comfort a young girl takes in the order of nature as against the disorder in her life. A gallery of photos by Ray Klimek turns inside out the conventions of NASA imagery the better to re-frame exploited portions of the Earth. In an essay by CHR editor James Barszcz, the sentence structure in Henry James's The American Scene is shown to convert the chaos of experience into life-giving art. Defending a thesis we've never seen elsewhere, Clifford Garstang explains how the current system of training in MFA programs leads to the realization of individual talent. And the quietly insistent voice in poems by Mark Scott helps us understand some unusual things—what it feels like to dance like a boxer, and how a peach-pit resembles a pen-cap.
We thank you for looking at CHR. We hope you will return and respond.
About the Editors
James Barszcz, the founding editor and publisher of CHR, has taught literature and composition at Rutgers University and the William Paterson College of New Jersey. He works in the telecommunications industry and pursues literary studies as an independent scholar.
Steven H. Jaffe is a historian, curator, and consultant living in Maplewood, N.J. He is the author of Who Were the Founding Fathers? Two Hundred Years of Reinventing American History (Henry Holt, 1996), and of the forthcoming New York at War: The City as Target and Stronghold (Basic Books, 2010).
Andrew Gyory is Executive Editor of History Reference at Facts On File. He has taught at Hunter College in New York City and Montclair State University in New Jersey and is the author of Closing the Gate: Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act (University of North Carolina Press, 1998).
Edward Myers is a freelance author of fiction, nonfiction, and children's books. He is also the publisher of Montemayor Press, an independent publishing company located in northern New Jersey.