About the Journal

Editorial Policy

College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies is dedicated to publishing original and innovative scholarly research across the various periods, intellectual fields, and geographical locations that comprise the changing discipline of Anglophone and comparative literary studies. The journal is committed to the renewal of critique as a historically determinate, self-reflexive, and socially substantive practice, which in resisting “empathy with the victor” (Benjamin) remains perpetually dissatisfied with each new consensus. We are convinced that literature remains a significant locus for such a renewal, since in seeking to establish a space “outside” normative social values, literary (and other) texts continually stage and restage the discursive, disciplinary, and institutional limits that enable such norms, and so work to reveal critique’s complicity with them. In interrogating critical practice, the journal aims to investigate its involvement in broader parameters of public debate organized by such enduring (though mutating) political demarcations as that between private and public, the national and the global, or indeed between the cultural and the political itself.

Rather than restricting its scope to a particular national, chronological, intra-disciplinary, or identity-based focus, College Literature therefore welcomes submissions from across the range of scholarship in literary studies. It invites studies that explore how changing structures of social experience (such as the transnational reach of culture, or the transgressive power of sexuality, or the excessive potential of the past over contemporary interpretation) call on us to rethink existing critical assumptions, conceptual terms, and historical frameworks. But the journal is also interested in asking how we are to orientate critical inquiry once those assumptions are brought into question, and in examining the resources for historical understanding and rational critique that may yet be available. Consequently, alongside work that reconsiders “traditional” or “conventional” critical orthodoxies, College Literature also welcomes scholarship that questions the “new orthodoxies” which themselves developed as radical critiques of those existing positions, but which are also embedded within specific intellectual trajectories and historical configurations of experience.

Journal History and Awards

Since its foundation in 1974, College Literature has been one of the premier literary studies journals in North America. Consistently innovative, it pioneered the uptake of theoretical approaches to literature in the 1980s, and led debates around the corporatization of the university in the 1990s and the 2000s. In becoming increasingly more comparative and international in scope over the last two decades, the journal has anticipated the contemporary interest in globalization and thinking transnationally. The journal is published in partnership with Johns Hopkins University Press.


College Literature is a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, and has won numerous awards, including Best Special Issue (2006) and an Honorary Mention in the Council of Editors of Learned Journals Horizon Award (2010).