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 the Centre for Canadian Irish Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, with Professor Michael Kenneally as editor. With this move the journal increased its emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches and innovative methodological perspectives, embracing 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.

In the spring of 2004, the editorial offices of the journal moved to the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Under the editorship of Professor Jerry White the journal broadened its interest in the migration, settlement, and accomplishments of the Irish in Canada and other countries, especially encouraging 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. A more inclusive editorial focus also saw the journal add new features such as interviews, photo essays, brief profiles of Irish-Canadians, and an extended book review section.

In 2010 the journal returned to the now School for Canadian Irish Studies at Concordia University in Montreal under the editorship of Professor Rhona Richman Kenneally. The journal remains a compelling site for research in literary criticism, history, and the other humanities, while reaching, as well, toward the fine arts and social sciences including visual and material culture, the built environment, communication and performance studies, sociology, anthropology, and other disciplines. A new element of the journal is the section A Treasury of Resources, which offers a contextual introduction to primary sources hitherto un­published, available only in obscure archives, or otherwise not readily accessible. Cumulatively, the issues will therefore comprise a growing collection of trea­sures, of interest to scholars as well as the informed public. The CJIS continues to serve as a forum that interrogates what is IRISH about Irish Studies, and to attract material that contextualizes the practices and ideas of that nation and its diaspora, against a wider international arena.

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