Newspapers and other periodicals played an important role in the life of Victorian Britain, Ireland, and the British Empire. For the past 50 years, the journal Victorian Periodicals Review (VPR) has published research on the editorial and publishing history of those periodicals. Alexis Easley, editor of VPR and Associate Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, joined us for a Q&A after the publication of the 50th volume's first issue.
It is both humbling and deeply gratifying. Over the past 50 years, the journal has gone from being a photocopied newsletter to a major international journal. The rapid expansion of digital archives of newspapers and periodicals in recent years has led to immense growth in our scholarly community. It is thrilling to be part of this scholarly network—and to take part in the collective project of illuminating the fascinating history of the Victorian press.
The new issue includes a memorial to Michael Wolff, the journal's founding editor. How bittersweet is it to have his death come so close to the journal's golden anniversary?
His passing was very difficult for all of us in the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP). As our founding president and editor, Michael influenced the direction of our field in immeasurable ways. It was always wonderful to see him at our annual meetings and to receive his supportive emails. I and so many others benefited from his collegiality and advice. He was proud of what the journal had become—and saw its founding as one of his greatest achievements. I would also note that contributors to VPR often cite his work—particularly "Charting the Golden Stream: Thoughts on a Directory of Victorian Periodicals," first published in Victorian Periodicals Newsletter in 1967.
What kinds of special content can we expect in this 50th volume?
We have commissioned retrospectives from many influential scholars in our community, including Margaret Beetham, Laurel Brake, Patrick Leary, and Rosemary VanArsdel. We also plan to publish special illustrations, interviews, and info graphics. There are many surprises in store!
What is the excitement level of Victorian scholars with RSVP preparing to celebrate its golden anniversary next year?
Everyone is very excited! At our 2017 annual conference (in Freiburg, Germany) we plan to have a celebration which will include a display of various issues of the journal, 1967 to present. Members of the society feel a great deal of pride in their journal, so they will no doubt celebrate this milestone birthday with great fanfare.