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"Tell me, where all past yeares are": the South-Central Renaissance Conference, Explorations in Renaissance Culture, and the progress of scholarship and community.

THE SPEAKER OF JOHN DONNE'S "SONG" famously taunts his curiosity-seeking interlocutor with a catalog of impossibilities:
   Goe, and catche a falling starre,
      Get with child a mandrake roote,
   Tell me, where all past yeares are,
      Or, who cleft the Divels foot,
   Teach me to heare Mermaides singing,
   Or to keep off envies stinging,
        And finde
        What winde
   Serves to'advance an honest minde. (1-9)

Such "strange sights, / Things invisible to see" (10-11), the patently misogynist speaker cautions, are even more rare than "a woman true and faire" (18). Or, one might add, a professional society as steeped in professional bonhomie as its journal is in scholarly accomplishment. The South-Central Renaissance Conference (SCRC), founded in 1951, and its journal, Explorations in Renaissance Culture (EIRC)--which celebrates forty years of continuous publication this year--are just such wonders.

"Don't fail to stimulate your colleagues"

Less than ten years after SCRC's founding, Secretary Lorraine Sherley found reason to lament that the correspondence exchanged by the founding members that led to the creation of the society had been lost. Fortunately, she continued, the organization was still in possession of a notebook containing the hand-written minutes of these meetings. Some fifty-five years later, alas, we do not have even that. All that can be confirmed at this late day is that the first general planning meeting was held in 1951 in the Fayetteville, AR, home of Professor Earle Leighton Rudolph, and that later that year an organizational meeting took place on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman that was attended by seven people, among them, Jewel Wurtzbaugh (who would organize the program of the first actual conference the following year), (1) Edward Clark (who would serve as SCRC's first archivist), Albert Floward Carter (who in 1952-53 would serve as SCRC's first president), and Rudolph. The intimate nature of the early organization is indicated by the fact that Rudolph--who would prove one of the most influential early members, serving vigorously on various committees and ardently recruiting new members, and who at age 96 remains SCRC's oldest surviving member--was himself an American literature specialist who periodically taught a survey of Renaissance literature at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

In the years following World War II, as graduate programs were pressed to produce faculty to teach the sharply rising number of undergraduates flooding campuses under the G. I. Bill, a new professional spirit manifested itself in liberal arts studies, as witnessed by the founding of such organizations as the Milton Society of America in 1948 and the Renaissance Society of America in 1953. In 1951, when SCRC came into being, few academics enjoyed the luxury of air travel, and the professional community for faculty at small colleges and even at doctoral-granting institutions outside the Boston-Philadelphia-New York triangle often extended only as far as one could drive in a day. Thus, at a time when an overseas air mail query might take months to be answered, and when it might take a scholar two years or more to learn from journal reviews of the existence of an important new book and yet another year for one's campus library to secure and process that acquisition, an annual conference that brought together teachers and researchers in Renaissance literature, languages, history, philosophy, political science, music and art history in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, southern Missouri, and western Tennessee served a growing need for scholarly dialogue and from the start fostered a strong sense of community.

Many of SCRC's early conferences were small, attended by perhaps 20-25 people; that number might be enhanced by the host institution's non-Renaissance faculty and students. (2) (A surviving roster of participants at the 1962 conference lists only fourteen actual attendees, four pre-registrants who failed to attend, and five students from the host institution.) Such small numbers allowed the conference to organize plenary sessions at which all the attendees listened to and commented on every paper. From the start, the interdisciplinary range of the programs was remarkable. For example, at the 1958 conference hosted by Texas Christian University (TCU), twenty papers were presented across two days by faculty in English, History, History of Science, Architecture, Germanic Languages, Romance Languages, and Library on such topics as "Petrarch, Dante and the Mob," "The Development of the Metrological Process," "The Masque and the Strategies of the Restoration Heroic Example," "The Face-Motif in Hamlet," "Schaidenreisser's Odyssea," and "Some Remarks about a Genealogical Tree of the Medici Family." During the course of the conference, a visiting scholar "from England" (no other identification provided) "gave an account of the University of Birmingham's Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon," and a faculty host "reported on the holdings in Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton, and play quartos" in the TCU library--thus alerting attendees to resources both far and near.

Even fifty-six years after the event, the care and attention to detail taken by the TCU hosts to provide conference attendees with as rich an immersion as possible in Renaissance culture is striking. Not only was a group outing conducted to the Fort Worth Art Centre to attend an exhibit of Italian Renaissance textiles, but floral arrangements on the tables for the afternoon coffee break reproduced arrangements depicted in Botticelli paintings. SCRC Secretary Lorraine Sherley's description of the meeting's Friday evening banquet deserves quotation in full:
   The evening banquet arranged by the University class in Elizabethan
   Non-Dramatic Literature honoured the Four-Hundreth Anniversary of
   the accession of Elizabeth I. With John E. Uhler (English),
   Louisiana State University, presiding and with trumpets
   flourishing, a boar's head was brought into the hall. The guests,
   served by Her Majesty's Maids of Honour of the first decade of her
   reign, ate their First and Second Remove by candle light and
   listened to songs in honour of the Queen, sung by madrigalists of
   the University, under the direction of John W. Woldt. After a bowl
   of Wassaile, all adjourned to hear Doctor Surama Dasgupta, Reader
   in Philosophy, Lucknow University, on "Principles of Literary
   Criticism in India: The Classical and the Modern."

The evening lecture on the history of Indian literary criticism seems almost surreal coming after such a carefully orchestrated Elizabethan-themed event, but speaks to the willingness of members to profit from the local host's resources, however far afield from Renaissance studies. The conference closed on Saturday afternoon with "a high-spirited ... performance of Ralph's encounter with Barbaroso from The Knight of the Burning Pestle" by children from a local school.

To the extent that the 1958 conference is indicative of the efforts taken to plan SCRC's early conferences, it is little wonder that in a 1955 message to the membership, President Albert Floward Carter--who was spending a sabbatical year in southern California--noted the absence of such conviviality among his new-found West coast colleagues: "the culture lag in California means that there is no Renaissance conference. They're too busy writing books.... Don't fail to (you should pardon the expression) stimulate your colleagues."

In its early years SCRC operated on a shoe-string budget, the local meeting host paying for the printing and mailing of both conference registration materials and the society's mimeographed newsletter out of the meeting's registration fee. In 1960, however, an annual dues fee of one dollar was implemented. This was raised to three dollars in 1972, five dollars in 1980, ten dollars (five dollars for students) in 1989, and twenty dollars (ten dollars for students) in 1998--in large part as the society's numbers grew from 92 dues-paying members in 1966, to 130 in 1992 (with an additional 410 names on the mailing list), to over 150 registrants at the 2003 meeting (and an additional 600 names on the mailing list, the majority of them outside SCRC's traditional geographical region) and the cost of communicating with colleagues in pre-internet days grew.

The continuously vibrant health (despite modest size) of SCRC is indicated by the society's sometimes contentious relationship with the Renaissance Society of America (RSA). SCRC was founded two years before RSA and possessed a strong communal spirit and highly efficient organization, upon which RSA was grateful to draw when creating a national association. Thus, although founded to serve similar ends, the relation of the healthy, pre-existent regional organization to the nascent national association was never clear; SCRC was a smaller, independent affiliate but in no way a subordinate society. In its early days RSA regularly requested a copy of SCRC's growing mailing list, and asked each of the then-active regional Renaissance societies to name two representatives to serve on RSA's Advisory Council. Tension between the two organizations first arose in 1962 when RSA attempted to swell its ranks by pressing SCRC to require its members to join the national organization as well, which some members of SCRC's executive committee objected seemed to make membership in RSA a prerequisite to joining SCRC and to reduce SCRC to dependency on RSA, which had never been its parent organization. Recognizing the health of the regional Renaissance societies, RSA periodically held its own meeting in conjunction with one of them, and SCRC hosted the RSA conference in 1970 in Austin, TX, and again in 1983 in Memphis, TN. The attempt to co-host a third meeting in 1991 in New Orleans, LA, however, proved disappointing. After RSA voted in 1988 to meet in conjunction with SCRC in New Orleans in 1991, SCRC President Dorothy Brown of Loyola University in New Orleans began planning what was expected to be a lively event and raised an initial $5,000 from her campus administration to help defray the costs of the conference. A year later, however, RSA voted to meet elsewhere in 1991. In the wake of this upset, SCRC would continue to provide a subvention to its president or his/her representative to represent SCRC at the annual RSA conference, but the two organizations had developed such different expectations for their annual meetings that no further attempt was made to join forces. (3) In 1999, as SCRC's finances were reorganized in order to support the proposed expansion of Explorations in Renaissance Culture from one to two issues per annum, even this subvention was discontinued.

In addition to the first years of SCRC during which the pioneer members hoisted the frame of the organization into place, there have been two critical periods in the society's development. The first was in the 1970s as measures were taken to ensure the continuity of the organization as its founding members began to retire from teaching. In 1972, at the twentieth annual meeting, scrolls were presented to those members who had seen the organization through its infancy, bestowing upon them emeritus status. At the same time, an ad hoc committee was appointed to investigate the possibility of sponsoring a conference journal, and $700 was budgeted for this purpose. (The first issue of EIRC, as noted below, appeared in 1974.) In 1976, as the organization grew and its future planning became more complex, the membership voted to create the position of Executive Secretary-Treasurer in order to provide greater continuity in decision-making. Likewise, the position of Program Chair, which had traditionally been the responsibility of the local host, was transformed into Second Vice-President, thus ensuring that that person would rise two years later to the presidency, and in his/ her fourth year on the Executive Committee serve as chair of the Nominations Committee. In 1978, newly elected Executive Secretary-Treasurer Cliff Ronan incorporated SCRC in the state of Texas as a non-profit organization. (More than thirty years later, Ronan continues to serve as SCRC's resident agent in this regard.) (4) Around this same time, Edward Clark became SCRC's first archivist and deposited the organizations archive at his home school, Centenary College.

A second period of consequential growth occurred 1998-2002. Recognizing the need to embark on a program of controlled expansion in order to ensure SCRC's continued flourishing as academic trends were changing and other more traditionally-oriented professional organizations were struggling to survive, President James Baumlin invited to the 1998 meeting in Waco, TX, the long-time secretary (1974-97) of The Sixteenth Century Society, Professor Robert Schnucker. Schnucker challenged members of the Executive Committee to determine, first, the size of the conference needed to ensure financial stability without losing the intimacy that had been the hallmark of SCRC meetings since the organization's inception; and, second, the operational changes that would have to be made in order to reach and sustain this size. At an epic series of meetings in Savannah in 1999, the Executive Committee adopted the following recommendations made by the ad hoc committee chaired by Donald Stump:

1. Because department chairs and deans had grown reluctant financially to support travel to present papers at a regional conference--and because in 1999 less than half of SCRC's members were located in SCRC's traditional geographical region--the annual conference was renamed "Exploring the Renaissance: An International Conference" and future Program Chairs were encouraged to publish the annual Call for Papers as widely as possible. Within three years of taking this action, the conference program grew from an average of 75-80 papers presented at a meeting to 120-130, and was distinguished by the number of presenters attending from Canada, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere abroad, as well as for the broad representation of speakers from all parts of the United States.

2. Recognizing that university libraries were more likely to subscribe to a journal that appeared more than once a year, Tita French Baumlin, the editor of Explorations in Renaissance Culture, was authorized to expand the journal to two issues per annum and to accept refereed submissions that had not previously been presented on an SCRC conference program. SCRC held its breath as it committed to doubling its subvention to the journal to $1,800 per annum, which was a major commitment considering the organization's income at the time. But the expansion was facilitated by the generosity of Baumlin's home institution, Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University). The gamble proved successful. In the next several years institutional subscriptions increased dramatically, particularly overseas subscriptions, elevating the prestige of both the journal and SCRC.

3. Historically, the local host of the annual conference paid the expenses of the keynote speaker, inevitably a senior member of the profession. In order to attract some of the "rising stars" in Renaissance studies and thereby allow members to interact with the authors of recent books influencing professional thinking about Renaissance matters, the Executive Committee authorized the creation of the William B. Hunter Lecture which both honored one of the early and most distinguished members of SCRC and provided as a second plenary speaker at the annual conference the author of a distinguished first book. In addition, to honor longtime member Louis Martz, the Executive Committee created the Louis Martz Essay Prize, which guaranteed a generous cash award and a plenary speaking slot on the annual program. (In 2006, the essay prize was converted to an honorarium for a third plenary speaker at the annual conference, this one to be selected by one of the auxiliary organizations.)

Other innovations followed. In 2001, the Executive Committee voted to invite smaller Renaissance studies organizations to meet under SCRC's umbrella, most notably the Queen Elizabeth I Society (founded by Carole Levin and Donald Stump), the Andrew Marvell Society (founded by Phoebe Spinrad and revitalized by George Klawitter after it had lapsed), and the Society for Renaissance Art History (founded by Liana De Girolami Cheney). (A fourth group, the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, met with SCRC for several years in the early 2000s, but eventually decided to meet in conjunction with RSA.) The presence of these groups at the annual conference has enriched the program intellectually and socially, while raising attendance to a level that generates reduced hotel rates. In return, the auxiliary organizations now rotate selection of the Louis Martz speaker and periodically guest-edit a special issue of Explorations.

Similarly, following her appointment in 1996 as editor of the society's mimeographed or, later, photocopied newsletter, Phoebe Spinrad renamed the publication Discoveries and transformed it into a twice-annual print publication of scholarly notes and reviews. With generous financial support from her home institution, Ohio State University, she raised circulation to over 1,000, nearly a third of those being institutional subscriptions from college and university libraries. When she retired as editor in 2004, the Executive Committee charged incoming editor David Reinheimer with converting the print publication to an electronic format, thus supplying SCRC with an important web presence.

SCRC's primary web identity, however, was fashioned by George A. Klawitter, who created the society's web page in 1999 and served as webmaster until 2009. He was succeeded by Arlen Nydam, who electronically scanned onto the web page the society's print archive of minutes of past business and executive committee meetings. His work was made possible by the curatorial talent and commitment of David Hart, who joined SCRC in 1961 as a first year faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and who created a professional archive of the society's papers in time for the 2001 Golden Jubilee celebration. Frustrated not to be able to deposit the archive in the library of his home institution, which was also the affiliation of SCRC's first president and the site of the organizations second conference, Hart maintained the papers in a file cabinet in his living room until Jacob Blevins was able to move the archive to McNeese State University. In 2014 the archive moved to Torreyson Library at the University of Central Arkansas.

In 1999 Donald Dickson encouraged the Executive Committee to begin planning for SCRC's Golden Jubilee in 2001, the year coincidentally that Dickson would rise to the presidency. Special funds were appropriated by SCRC and supplied by host Texas A&M University that permitted a lavish opening night reception in the lobby of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library on that campus. Special invitations were mailed to as many surviving past presidents as could be located. Seventeen attended, including William B. Hunter who traveled from North Carolina to be present for the inaugural lecture in his honor. Two commemorative paperweights were created, one of which was distributed to past presidents at the final luncheon, and the other to all members in attendance. As the paperweights were distributed, Executive Secretary Raymond-Jean Frontain quoted Henry Vs exhortation to his troops on the eve of battle in Shakespeare's history play and emphasized the importance of memory to a society like SCRC:
   "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers" (and of sisters) have
   gathered in College Station in our flowing cups to freshly remember
   the joy of community that we have known. There are no battle scars
   here--a few egos bruised in the exchange of ideas these three days,
   perhaps, but such bruises mend easily. But the Executive Committee
   wanted every participant at this our Jubilee conference to carry
   home some memorial, something that can be placed at one's work
   station so that every time one looks up while writing a paper for
   some conference to come, one will be reminded of the joy and
   engagement that have been SCRC. For it is only by remembering what
   we have shared that we ensure that we continue to thrive.

Preparations are currently underway to celebrate SCRC's sixty-fifth anniversary at the 2016 conference in Austin, TX, which is the site of the organization's very first conference.

"a naive [or overly idealistic] idea about what is possible"

From the start, SCRC members were aware that the scholarship being presented at the annual conference merited as wide a circulation as possible. In January 1960, Rice Institute's Carroll Camden (who would later found the prestigious academic quarterly SEL: Studies in English Literature) edited nine of the papers presented at the previous years conference under the title Renaissance Studies as volume 46, number 4 of the series Rice Institute Pamphlets. Likewise, in spring 1961 selected papers from the ninth conference appeared in a special issue of Mississippi Quarterly, and papers from the 1970 meeting appeared in an issue of Forums, a periodical sponsored by the Southern Humanities Council.

SCRC's sponsoring its own periodical, however, proved a complicated matter. When the Executive Committee voted in 1960 to institute a membership dues of one dollar per annum, the money collected was earmarked specifically "to pay for the printing and mailing of the major addresses and the most valuable papers presented at the annual meeting of the South-Central Renaissance Conference." But it would be another decade before this ambition was realized.

The initial formal step for the institution of Explorations in Renaissance Culture occurred at the twentieth annual meeting of SCRC in New Orleans. At the business meeting on 16 April 1971 at the University Center Banquet Room of Louisiana State University, President Robert G. Collmer asserted that the organization was now mature enough to establish a journal. He suggested a committee be appointed to investigate funding possibilities for such a publication. A guest speaker at the conference, Professor Jerah Johnson of Duke University, related the details of the funding of the journal of the Southeast Renaissance Conference. A motion was ultimately made and carried to appoint an ad hoc committee, which would include SCRCs secretary-treasurer.

Explorations in Renaissance Culture received its official sanction at SCRCs twenty-second annual meeting. At the Executive Committees meeting on Thursday evening, 29 March 1973, at the Rice Hotel in Houston, TX, with Lawrence A. Sasek presiding, the committee agreed to recommend to the Conference a yearly volume of studies presented at the annual meeting. The Committee also recommended that the Conference subsidize the first volume in the amount of $700. On Friday at the organization's business meeting in the Warwick Hotel the motion to sponsor the journal was carried without opposing votes. At an informal business meeting in the Coffee Shop of the Rice Hotel the next morning, the Executive Committee discussed the challenges of finding an editor, a publications board, and a printer. Later that morning at the library of the University of Houston at a meeting to conclude the conferences annual business, President-elect Marjorie Lewis made clear she would carry out the Conferences purposes, especially in regard to the publication of an annual journal. That SCRC was fully committed to the project is obvious from her resolve and from their financial subvention. While the Treasurers report is not available for 1973-74, the previous year's report notes a balance of $670.04. Clearly, the $700 subsidy represents all the organization's funds and signals the group's strong determination to establish a journal.

An engaging record concerning the travails of getting the journal up and running survives in correspondence between President Lewis and Gary A. Stringer, then a junior faculty member at the University of Southern Mississippi. Bids were received from three institutions: Texas A&M University, Memphis State University, and the University of Southern Mississippi. Clearly Memphis State's offer provided the most generous financial and technical support. In these planning stages, the proposed journal was variously titled "Selected Papers of the SCRC," "Studies in Renaissance Culture," and finally "Explorations in Renaissance Culture." At one point, frustrated by some of the grandiose plans put forward by members of the Executive Committee, the ever pragmatic Stringer commented in a typewritten letter to a sympathetic Lewis dated 24 March 1974 that some colleagues have "a naive idea about what is possible," emending this assessment to "maybe 'overly idealistic' is a better term" in ink in the margin.

A medieval and Renaissance historian at then-Memphis State University, a World War II veteran and paraplegic who did much to make his university wheelchair accessible and for whom a Humanities Center at the University of Memphis is currently named, Marcus W. Orr (1923-1990) took on the task of shaping the journal's future. With financial and staff assistance from his university, he edited the first three volumes of the journal (1974-1976). The first issue was a most auspicious start for the journal and set the bar high for future volumes. That EIRC was a multidisciplinary journal was evident from its inception. With a historian at the helm and with two associate editors, both in English-Robert G. Collmer (Baylor) and Marjorie D. Lewis (Texas Christian)--the first three volumes contained essays from scholars of English and French literature, religious studies, history, and art history. Initially the journal published only papers presented at SCRC's annual meeting, though this stipulation was to change over the years. While its very name suggests the regional affiliation which helped it thrive, from the outset SCRC and its journal went far beyond a regional identity. While early contributors came from expected places like Tulane, Emory, Baylor, and the University of Texas at Austin, they also came from Syracuse University, Indiana University, California State University at Sacramento, and Western Michigan University. Because the by-then well-established conference was able to draw participants from far and wide, the journal was able to include works by often nationally recognized scholars from across the country.

On the cover of the initial issue there appeared a line drawing of a galleon that had been adapted by Jane Crowder from an engraving that appeared in Breydenbach's Peregrination (Lyons, 1488). It was intended to represent the grand exploratory voyages SCRC proposed with this publication and quickly became not simply the journal's but SCRC's logo. But though EIRCs cargo was rich, the sailing was neither smooth nor swift. There were frustrating delays in publication. In fact, when Professor Orr announced at the 1977 SCRC meeting in Fayetteville, AR, that Memphis State could not continue its support for the journal beyond volume 3, volumes 2 (1975) and 3 (1976) had yet to appear. He noted volume 2 was at the printer and volume 3 would be out in June, but that did not occur. In fact, minutes from the 1979 Exectuive Committee meeting indicate that volume 3 had still not been published at that time.

The journal's second editor was Gary A. Stringer, a Donne scholar who had published an essay (included in this volume) on "The Primrose" in the journal's inaugural issue, and who had been one of the driving forces behind the creation of the journal. While some of his SCRC colleagues may have possessed a naivete about the journal's possibilities, the clear-sighted Stringer possessed sufficient pragmatism and resourcefulness to establish the journal on a solid footing. His home institution, the University of Southern Mississippi, provided a modest financial subsidy for printing and mailing issues, but no released time for either Stringer or his colleague Jay Anglin, who would later join him as managing editor. Stringers editorship (1977-1983) saw an increase in associate editors and the addition of advisory editors, the result of changes mandated by the SCRC Executive Committee at the 1978 conference. At the 1980 conference the Executive Committee suggested the appointment of a managing editor and suspended for one year the editor's inability to consider papers not read at the meeting; any submission from an SCRC member could be considered during that time. Jay Anglin, a historian at the University of Southern Mississippi, became managing editor with volume 6. Since he and Professor Stringer were at the same institution, they were able to work closely together, and Anglin assumed duties beyond those of managing editor, including assisting in proofreading and mailing out the journal. In an after-luncheon talk he delivered at the conference as he departed the editorship, Stringer recalled some of the quirks and difficulties in editing, noting that when essays included foreign-language words that required accents, he had to buy a pack of stick-on symbols and physically insert them into the typeset copy since his university printer could not produce foreign-language characters. ("Some of the tildes ... were woefully oversized and looked like big, floppy sombreros over the 'n' they were supposed to affect.") Though Professor Stringer received no remuneration and worked on the journal on his own time, he has been duly rewarded by having his handwriting preserved for posterity with the cover of volume 7. The journal's multidisciplinary emphasis continued with essays on French literature, Latin poetry, and art history, for example. Professor Stringer also included an index for the first 9 volumes of the journal in his last published issue, a double volume for 1982-83. This is the only index that has been published for the journal.

Facing the monumental task of organizing the Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne (Indiana University Press, 10 vols., in progress), Professor Stringer, general editor for that project, stepped down as editor of EIRC, and Albert W. Fields (1927-2008) assumed that role, editing from 1984-1994. The financial resources that he was able to bring to the journal were certainly more than either previous editor (or any editor since) had been able to ensure. As chair of the English Department at Southwestern Louisiana at the time, he was able to enlist the support of the Levy Foundation for both the journal and SCRC. Flora Plonsky Levy of Lafayette, LA, had left a significant bequest to then-University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). The endowment, which began in 1980, had two purposes: to fund an annual humanities lecture and to establish a journal dedicated to the humanities. From 1984 through 1994 EIRC and SCRC benefited from this endowment. EIRC was deemed one part of the Foundation's journal, Explorations, and received a generous annual subvention. For example, at the 1986 Executive Committee meeting in San Marcos, TX, Fields reported that volume 12 cost approximately $3,000, of which the Foundation paid $2,500. The Foundation also contributed the honorarium that ensured that the conference's keynote speaker would publish his or her essay in EIRC every year. While SCRC benefitted financially, members of the Executive Committee were anxious to assure the integrity and independence of EIRC. From 1984-1994 the inside cover of EIRC listed the editorial board of the Levy Humanities Series, including such luminaries as Diana Trilling, Harold Bloom, Robert Coles, Shirley Ann Grau, and William B. Hunter. Fields was originally listed as a member of the editorial board and then as Managing Editor for the series. The facing page included information about EIRC and SCRC.

Fields' editorship was also the beginning of the association of Mark J. Zucker (Louisiana State University) with the journal. He first served as a member of the Levy Foundation editorial board and then from 1995 until his death in 2013 was an Associate Editor (Art) for EIRC. He insisted on reading every submission for art history and provided detailed commentary for editors. He was also a tremendous help in pointing editors in the right direction for art history referees for the journal, and even an occasional music historian. Once when the journal received a submission on poet Andrew Marvell and music, he directed the editor to a music historian who had done an undergraduate Honors thesis on Marvell, a perfect third reader for the essay. Whether he was in Louisiana, on sabbatical in New York, or in Austria for the summer, he kept the journal apprised of his contact information and always responded promptly to editorial queries and requests for help. The consistency and quality of his work ensured the continued quality of the journal. He is an excellent example of the many individuals who have supported the progress of scholarship and community.

Fields' editorship was marked by the financial stability of the journal, thanks in large part to its association with the Levy Foundation. At the same time library subscriptions continued to rise, including those from European libraries. Upon Fields' retirement from teaching and the conclusion of his ten-year stint as editor, the SCRC Executive Committee voted on April 6, 1995, to honor him with the institution of the Albert W. Fields Award, an annual cash prize for the best essay published in EIRC, a fitting tribute for an editor who had so dramatically enhanced the quality and visibility of the journal.

At the SCRC annual conference in Dallas in April 1994, Tita French Baumlin was elected the new editor. In St. Louis the following year she presented the Executive Committee with her first volume (v. 21, 1995). During her editorship (1995-2005) the journal benefitted from the strong financial support of her home institution, Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University). She worked diligently to increase the journal's visibility by establishing a site on World Wide Web and seeing to the inclusion of EIRC in various indexes, including the Art Index. As a result, institutional subscriptions increased from 66 to 82 by 1999. Charged by the Executive Committee with expanding the journal from one to two issues per annum, Baumlin was also freed to accept submissions by non-members. Submissions increased, including global submissions. With the Winter 2000 issue Angelia Northrip-Rivera joined the EIRC staff as Baumlin's Assistant Editor, duties she has assumed once more with this anniversary issue. Baumlin oversaw the publication of the first special issue on Queen Elizabeth I. "Images of Elizabeth I: A Quadricentennial Celebration" (v. 30.1, Summer 2004) was guest edited by Donald Stump and Carole Levin. The issue was enormously popular, with frequent requests for copies from non-subscribers. A number of the essays in the issue were reprinted elsewhere, and the issue eventually evolved into the expanded Elizabeth land the "Sovereign Arts": Essays in Literature, History, and Culture, edited by Donald Stump, Linda Shenk, and Carole Levin (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2011). Baumlin also laid the foundation for a special issue on art history, as well as a cluster of essays devoted to the work of long-time SCRC member John Shawcross. In spite of such challenges as the skyrocketing cost of paper that made each issue increasingly more expensive to produce, there was talk at the Malibu conference in 2005 of increasing to three issues a year with the third issue devoted to one of the allied organizations.

When health issues caused Professor Baumlin to step down as editor, she was succeeded by Frances M. Malpezzi. During the years that the journal was housed at Arkansas State University (2006-2010) and supported by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Department of English and Philosophy, EIRCs library subscriptions rose to an all time high of 95 paid subscriptions. In addition to domestic libraries, the journal's institutional subscribers were in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Israel, Australia, and even Handong Global University in Seoul, South Korea. International submissions were high as well, and the journal published essays by scholars from France, England, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada as well as the United States. The journal benefitted from the unremunerated work of Production Editor William M. Clements and from the highly professional services of the ASU Printing Department, especially Phareta Calkin, Institutional Printer. A special issue on Art History, guest edited by Norman Land; a special cluster of essays on John Shawcross' Intentionality and the New Traditionalism, guest edited by Paul Parrish; and a special issue on Andrew Marvell, guest-edited by Sean McDowell, appeared during Malpezzi's tenure as editor. The journal also became available (with a 5-year embargo) on library databases through Gale and ProQuest. Arrangements were made for a second Queen Elizabeth I issue (to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth I Society) as well as for a second art history issue.

These issues from the two affiliate societies saw fruition under the editorship of Thomas Herron (2011-): the Elizabeth issue, guest-edited by Carole Levin, appeared in Summer 2011 (37.1), and Vasari in Cultural Context, guest-edited by Liana De Girolami Cheney and Yael Even, in Summer 2013 (39.1). Herron has also published clusters of essays on Marvell, Mendicant Art and Architecture, and French across Borders (1200-1600): Cultural and Political Exchanges. The journal, housed at East Carolina University, again gained an assistant editor, Jonathan Reid. In addition, it saw a number of aesthetic changes, especially the re-design of its cover and the inclusion of color illustrations. It also gained an International Advisory Board, but experienced a decrease in library subscriptions to 77.

While we celebrate the journal's fortieth anniversary and applaud the dedication and professional service of all those who have assisted the scholarly exploration of Renaissance studies in this period, this essay and this volume must serve as a valediction as well. Spiraling printing and mailing costs had concerned the Executive Committee since at least 2004 when a Publications Advisory Committee was appointed to consider the emerging issues of electronic archiving and web publishing. When the recent and decidedly ambitious decision to print color plates and to use color on the cover caused costs to escalate even further, many wondered if it was fiscally prudent to continue print publication. Certainly the naivete or idealism that Stringer once attributed to some members no longer existed in the face of the journal's complex growth in the twenty-first century. As a result, the 2014 Executive Committee meeting was as decisive for the journal as that much earlier meeting in 1973 that authorized its formation. In Tucson, AZ, at the Wyndam Westward Look, the SCRC board voted overwhelmingly to accept the recommendation of editors Herron and Reid to turn over the journal to a third party corporate publisher. SCRC President Tim Moylan signed an agreement on June 3, 2014 with Brill, the for-profit publisher recommended by editors Herron and Reid. The contract goes into effect January 1, 2015, when the journal, the copyright to its title, and all back materials will belong to Brill rather than SCRC. The contract does stipulate that the society will be "properly acknowledged in the relevant parts of the publication," and that should Brill decide to cease publication EIRC will revert to SCRC.

This issue, however, looks not to the future but to the past, to the progress in community and scholarship made by SCRC and Explorations. SCRC remains one of the healthiest moderate-sized professional organizations. It has been able to retain a strong identity even though it has taken under its umbrella such equally strong groups as the Queen Elizabeth I Society, the Society for Renaissance Art History, and the Andrew Marvell Society, affiliates which field 7-10 panels at the annual conference, sponsor a plenary speaker, host a separate dinner for each group, and periodically organize a special issue of EIRC. It has been able to retain its identity, no doubt, because many members of the affiliate organizations are also long-time SCRC members and because each affiliate elects a representative to SCRC's Executive Committee.

But SCRC's greatest strength lies in its reputation as a congenial organization of scholars. James Lambert, now on the faculty of the American University of Kuwait, recently recalled the transformative experience of attending an SCRC conference in Houston while a student of Meg Lota Brown: "As I attended panels, I noticed that everyone--the seasoned scholars alongside the clearly inexperienced aspirers--shared conversations during the question and answer portion of the panels, and everyone listened to each other." After he had presented his paper, he realized that his audience was "genuinely interested in what I have to say.... What occurred was a conversation between peers instead of a lecture from the seasoned to the unseasoned." As Lambert recounts, the experience enabled him to find his own voice and to switch his emphasis from American to early modern British literature. The conference was a group that "spoke to one another without obvious hierarchy." This lack of hierarchy in the exploration of Renaissance culture defines not only SCRC but its journal as well. EIRC has not only published notable scholars such as Louis Martz, John Shawcross, and David Bevington, but also students such as Matthew Kendrick and Megan Little, whose 2007 essay was ultimately reprinted by Gale. EIRCs anonymous referees, certainly one of the journal's strengths, have helped shape and select material that would continue our mutual conversations about Renaissance studies. While few today might remember Albert Howard Carters name, his injunction, made while he missed the conviviality of his SCRC colleagues, has long been a driving force of both the organization and the journal. SCRC and EIRC have united us all in a progress of community and scholarship.


1951-52 Planning meeting University of Oklahoma; Norman OK

1952-53 Albert Howard Carter (U of Arkansas) U of Texas; Austin TX

1953-54 William Perry (U of Texas) U of Arkansas; Fayetteville AR

1954-55 Dick Taylor (Tulane U) Tulane U; New Orleans LA

1955-56 Albert Howard Carter (U of Arkansas) Louisiana SU; Baton Rouge LA

1956-57 William S. Burgett (U of Oklahoma) U of Mississippi; Oxford MS

1957-58 Kester Svendsen (U of Oklahoma) Texas Christian U; Fort Worth TX

1958-59 Waldo McNeir (Louisiana SU) Rice Institute; Houston TX

1959-60 Carroll Camden (Rice Institute) Mississippi SU; State College MS

1960-61 Patrick G. Hogan (Mississippi SU) Southwestern U; Georgetown, TX

1961-62 Gordon Eaker (U of Houston) U of Oklahoma; Norman OK

1962-63 Walter C. Richardson (Louisiana SU) U of Houston; Houston TX

1963-64 Lorraine Sherley (Texas Christian U) U of Texas; Austin TX

1964-65 Frank G. Halstead (U of Mississippi) Texas A&M U; College Station TX

1965-66 Panos Paul Morphos (Tulane U) Louisiana SU; Baton Rouge LA

1966-67 Louis A. Schuster (St. Mary's C) U of Mississippi; Oxford MS

1967-68 Helen S. Thomas (U of Houston) North Texas SU; Denton TX

1968-69 George W. Boyd (Millsaps C) U of Texas; Arlington TX

1969-70 George F. Reinecke (Louisiana SU, New Orleans) Centenary C; Shreveport LA

1970-71 Robert G. Collmer (Texas Tech U) Louisiana SU; New Orleans LA

1971-72 Peter W. Guenther (U of Houston) Texas Tech U; Lubbock TX

1972-73 Lawrence A. Sasek (Louisiana SU) U of Houston; Houston TX

1973-74 Marjorie D. Lewis (Texas Christian U) Memphis SU; Memphis TN

1974-75 Maurice L. Shapiro (Tulane U) Baylor U; Waco TX

1975-76 Marcus W. Orr (Memphis SU) U of Oklahoma; Norman OK

1976-77 Maureen McElroy (U of Texas) U of Arkansas; Fayetteville AR

1977-78 Albert W. Fields (U of Southwestern Louisiana) Centenary C; Shreveport LA

1978-79 David S. Berkeley (Oklahoma SU) U of Texas; Austin TX

1979-80 Davis W. Hart (U of Arkansas) Northeast Louisiana U; Monroe LA

1980-81 William B. Hunter (U of Houston) U of Texas; Arlington TX

1981-82 Lester Brothers (North Texas SU) U of Southwestern Louisiana; Lafayette LA

1982-83 James H. Sims (U of Southern Mississippi) Memphis SU; Memphis TN

1983- Robert Schmaltz (U of Southwestern Louisiana) Northwest Louisiana U; Natchitoches LA

1984-85 Paul A Parrish (Texas A&M U) Texas AdrM U; College Station TX

1985-86 Gloria K. Fiero (U of Southwestern Louisiana) Southwest Texas SU; San Marcos TX

1986-87 Michael Hall (Centenary C) Baylor U; Waco TX

1978-88 Jay P. Anglin (U of Southern Mississippi) U of Southern Mississippi; Gulf Park MS

1988-89 Dorothy Brown (Loyola U) Lamar U; Beaumont TX

1989-90 Dale G. Priest (Lamar U) Memphis SU; Memphis TN

1990-91 Phoebe S. Spinrad (Ohio SU) Loyola U; New Orleans LA

1991-92 Darryl Tippens (Abilene Christian U) Northeast Louisiana U; Monroe LA

1992-93 Thomas Moisan (St. Louis U) Trinity U; San Antonio TX

1993-94 Herbert Turrentine (Southern Methodist U) North Texas SU; Denton TX

1994-95 Susan Krantz (U of New Orleans) U of Central Oklahoma; Edmond OK

1995-96 Craig Kallendorf (Texas A&M U) St. Louis U; St. Louis MO

1996-97 Elizabeth Skerpan (Southwest Texas SU) St. Edward's U; Austin LX

1997-98 James S. Baumlin (Southwest Missouri SU) Baylor U; Waco TX

1998-99 Liana De Girolami Cheney (U of Massachusetts, Lowell) Savannah C of Arts and Design; Savannah GA

1999-2000 John Ford (Delta SU) U of Louisiana; Lafayette LA

2000-01 Donald R. Dickson (Texas A&M U) Texas A&M U; College Station TX

2001-02 Katherine Powers (California SU, Fullerton) St. Louis U; St. Louis MO

2002-03 George A. Klawitter (St. Edward's U) U of New Orleans; New Orleans LA

2003-04 Donald Stump (St. Louis U) St. Edward's U; Austin TX

2004-05 Raymond-Jean Frontain (U of Central Arkansas) Pepperdine U; Malibu CA

2005-06 Christine Getz (U of Iowa) U of St. Thomas; Houston TX

2006-07 Norman Land (U of Missouri) Our Lady of the Lake U; San Antonio TX

2007-08 Maurice Hunt (Baylor U) U of Central Missouri; Kansas City MO

2008-09 Christopher Baker (Armstrong Atlantic SU) U of Central Arkansas; Hot Springs AR

2009-10 Jill Carrington (Stephen F. Austin SU) Texas A&M U; Corpus Christi TX

2010-11 Brian Steele (Texas Tech U) St. Louis U; St. Louis MO

2011-12 Irving Kelter (U of St. Thomas) U of New Orleans; New Orleans LA

2012-13 Sean Benson (U of Dubuque) Creighton U; Omaha NE

2013-14 Debra Barrett-Graves (California SU, East-Bay) Arizona SU; Tucson AZ


Donne, John. "Song." The Complete Poetry of John Donne. Ed. John T. Shawcross. Garden City, NY: Anchor/Doubleday, 1967. 90. Print.


Unless otherwise noted, quotations come from the SCRC archives of General Business and Executive Committee minutes, or from correspondence among officers, deposited in the Torreyson Library's Special Collections at the University of Central Arkansas. The authors are grateful to past officers who answered their many questions about chronology and policy decisions, but particularly to David Hart, professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and SCRC Past President. As archivist (1997-2007), David undertook the Augean task of organizing SCRC's paper history, and as an SCRC member since 1961 he continues to be the most reliable "living memory" of an organization to which he has contributed so much.

(1) Jewel Wurtsbaugh was a formidable figure. A distinguished Spenser scholar (her book, Two Centuries of Spenserian Scholarship, 1609-1805, was published by Johns Hopkins UP in 1936 and was twice reissued), she taught for many years at the University of Oklahoma where one of her colleagues recalls her "tussle" with the city government. She lived close to campus on a quiet street named Jenkins Rear. This address offended her proprieties, and she plagued the city governors for years with demands that they change the name. "Finally Jewel wore them down, and they relented. They even let her pick the new street name. She was ecstatic. The street name was changed to Faerie Queen Lane." Of such stock was SCRC born.

(2) Initially SCRC sought to meet in conjunction with larger groups like the South Central Modern Language Association, but in 1954 the Executive Committee decided to hold the annual meeting independently of any other organization in order to maintain SCRC's highly distinctive charism. By 1957 the society was so well established, and its annual conference so lively, that it was able to begin planning two and three years in advance regarding meeting sites. Following the founding of the Southern Humanities Conference (SHC) in 1959, SCRC held several conferences in conjunction with theirs, largely because some SCRC officers were officers of SHC as well, but this did not continue beyond the mid-1960s. In more recent years, SCRC has experimented with co-hosting the annual conference with another regional Renaissance organization in order to stimulate broader dialogue. Thus, in 1996 SCRC met in St. Louis, MO, in conjunction with the Central Renaissance Conference; in 1999 in Savannah, GA, with the Southeastern Renaissance Conference; and in 2005 in Malibu, CA, with the Renaissance Society of Southern California. The 1996 joint meeting was deemed successful, but Central Renaissance Conference proved to be on the wane and has since disbanded. The 1999 and 2005 meetings, while genially hosted by institutions outside SCRC's traditional geographical area, were not deemed successful finally because it proved that each group had such well defined traditions that there was little opportunity for interaction. Thus, each of these conferences turned out to be two separate meetings held concurrently rather than a single meeting co-hosted by two sister organizations.

(3) A similar contretemps between the two organizations occurred in 2004. SCRC has traditionally consulted the published dates of upcoming RSA and Shakespeare Society of America conferences so as not to preempt its members' ability to attend either of these events, both of which--like SCRC--occur in late March or early April. But after losing its originally designated hotel, RSA changed the dates of its 2004 meeting in order to secure a replacement, and did so without considering the dates of the regional organization meetings. Because of this turn of events, that year's SCRC host (St. Edward's University in Austin, TX) stood to lose a significant amount of money. When SCRC's president protested this maneuver on RSA's part, SCRC was offered a page of free advertising for our conference in RSA's Renaissance Quarterly. Unfortunately, RSA was so late in releasing the issue that the advertisement appeared long after the published deadline for submission of papers. Thus, despite the popularity of Austin as a meeting site, SCRC's 2004 conference witnessed a serious drop in attendance and ran $5,000 over budget, the entire burden of which was privately assumed by the St. Edward's faculty member who handled the local arrangements that year.

(4) The need to seek non-profit status became clear as SCRC's finances grew more secure. The first surviving financial report reveals that in 1962 the organization had $21.64 on hand. By 1964 this had grown to $110.35, and $220.41 in 1966. By 1971, however, SCRC had a balance of $1,179.16 on hand, in large part because it was reserving money to support the proposed journal, and in 1978 (the year that non-profit designation was applied for) a munificent $2,226.64.
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Author:Frontain, Raymond-Jean; Malpezzi, Frances M.
Publication:Explorations in Renaissance Culture
Article Type:Conference news
Geographic Code:1U7LA
Date:Jun 22, 2014
Previous Article:Editors' notes and acknowledgments.
Next Article:Donne's "The Primrose": Manna and numerological dalliance.

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