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A Brief History of CJIS

Evolving from a Newsletter edited by Professor Daniel Lenoski (University of Manitoba), the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies began at the University of British Columbia in 1975 with Professor Andrew Parkin as editor. As the official scholarly publication of the Canadian Association for Irish Studies, the journal was simultaneously an outlet for, and a reflection of, the growing critical attention being paid to Irish Studies, particularly to Irish literary figures such as William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney and Brian Friel. Professor Parkin remained as editor for fourteen years, by which time the journal secured its reputation as Canada’s ongoing scholarly contribution to the burgeoning international field of Irish Studies.

In 1989, Professor Ron Marken (University of Saskatchewan) assumed the responsibilities as editor of CJIS. He widened the editorial focus of the journal and brought the publication of poetry into continuing focus. He also published the still popular special issue on John McGahern. The journal moved to Memorial University in Newfoundland in 1994, with Professor Bernice Schrank as editor, and under her tutelage the journal published another special issue on Edna O’Brien and the 25th anniversary double issue that included a history of CAIS. In 2000, the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies was transferred to Concordia University in Montreal, with Professor Michael Kenneally as editor.

With the move to the Centre for Canadian Irish Studies at Concordia University, the journal embarked on an exciting new phase of its development. Its objectives are reflected in the new editorial, presented in Volume 26, # 1: “Reflecting the current vitality of Irish Studies, the journal will continue to evolve under the present editor. It will welcome submissions, in English and French, in a broad range of subjects within Irish Studies, from economics to folklore, anthropology to music, material culture to women’s studies, along with such traditional disciplines as literature, history and political science. CJIS will be particularly receptive to contributors who employ innovative methodological perspectives and can move authoritatively across several disciplines.”

In the spring of 2004, the editorial offices of the journal moved to the University of Alberta under the editorship of Dr. Jerry White. The journal has a special interest in the migration, settlement and accomplishments of the Irish in Canada and other countries. To that end, the editor encourages scholarly work on the Irish diaspora, especially comparative studies on the influence of Irish immigrants in their new settlements and their ongoing relationships with Ireland.

This more inclusive editorial focus not only reflects the widening ambit of Irish Studies, but also responds to those readers beyond the academic world who are eager to learn of new scholarship in the field. While at its core the journal will remain a refereed academic publication presenting new findings in scholarly research, it will also publish materials possessing both academic and general interest. This dimension of the journal will be reflected in the subjects of the scholarly articles themselves and in such new features as interviews, photo essays, brief profiles of Irish-Canadians, and an extended book review section. The modified design format has already helped to make the contents more attractive and accessible. Despite these changes, the goal of the Canadian Journal of Irish Studies will remain essentially what it has been from the outset - a forum for the work of scholars and cultural figures engaged in the dynamic field of Irish Studies.