James Joyce Quarterly Archives - Kendall College of Arts and Sciences

James Joyce Quarterly

Catching up with Carol Kealiher

Last spring, we caught up with Carol Kealiher — the longtime and much-admired editor of The University of Tulsa’s James Joyce Quarterly. Sit back and enjoy Carol’s reminiscences and reflections.

How long have you been with The University of Tulsa? How/when did you get started at the James Joyce Quarterly and what is your role today?

woman with short hair and glasses wearing a blue top and holding a book entitled Finnegan's Wake
Carol Kealiher

I began my graduate work at TU in the early 1980s, hoping to get a quick master’s degree that would qualify me to teach English in the public schools. With that done, I found graduate studies so fascinating that I didn’t want to stop!

I was hired as the managing editor of the James Joyce Quarterly (JJQ) while I was finishing my dissertation and am just completing my thirtieth year of working at the JJQ. So, obviously, I still don’t want to stop!

I’d especially like to mention some of the outstanding professors here who have made work at TU so fulfilling. We still miss Joseph Kestner, a brilliant specialist in the classics and in Victorian literature and art, who left us too soon. Gordon Taylor, who taught American Studies, has now retired; he was a fascinating lecturer who made me a Henry Adams and Joan Didion fan. Holly Laird, fortunately, is still teaching and is an icon in feminist studies, and I will always be grateful to Bob Spoo and Sean Latham, the wonderful editors of the JJQ during my time here. Both have had fascinating careers: Bob attended the Yale University Law School and eventually returned to TU where he is now the Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law; Sean is the director of the TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies and the founding director of the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities. I am looking forward to working with Jeff Drouin and once again with Bob Spoo as the journal’s new coeditors.

What have been some of the changes that have occurred with the journal and scholarly publishing during your time with the JJQ?

The JJQ had just acquired a computer when I started my tenure, and I remember being saddled with a PC hard drive and Apple printer, which never worked together at all. We had only the most primitive kind of email with the typical squealing of an AOL account startling everyone on the staff when a message arrived. Also we had no way of producing camera-ready proofs then but had to use an expensive typesetter, and if we needed copies of anything we had to walk over to McClure Hall and ask to use a copier there.

We now have effective software to produce the text of an issue, which I can upload to our printing company in under five minutes, and we have the option of electronic proofs, although I’m old-fashioned enough to prefer hard copy at that important stage. We derive much of our current income in royalties from the compilation websites Project MUSE and JSTOR. Any person or entity in the world that subscribes to these sites can access most of the run of the JJQ and read essays dating back to our first issue in 1963.

The University of Tulsa has generously continued to support the JJQ and also our sister journal Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature (TSWL) through the years. My colleague Karen Dutoi has been an exceptional managing editor at TSWL.

What are some highlights – including, perhaps, memories of students and faculty members–that stand out to you from your career with the JJQ?

one man and three women standing side by side with their hands clasped in front of their bodies
Carol with three JJQ graduate assistants

The English Department was rather different when I began at the JJQ and perhaps could be described as more eccentric then. We used to have wonderful department Christmas parties, and the JJQ always sponsored a St. Pat’s Day party, complete with Irish coffee and Irish soda bread.

The most constant joy, however, has been working with many JJQ graduate assistants through the years. They have truly been the heart of the JJQ and have contributed a great deal to the excellence of the journal.

What are some of your favorite books? Favorite works by Joyce, even? Outside of your JJQ work, what do you enjoy doing?

I love Joyce’s writing, especially Ulysses and Dubliners, and I still reread Jane Austen’s works which I first discovered in high school. I find that her texts provide balance during turbulent times. I also enjoy detective stories, perhaps because most of them have a strong narrative thread that carries the reader along to the revelation at the end.

Additionally, I have fun keeping up with grandkids, playing ’50s and ’60s rock and roll on the piano, growing orchids and serving as a majordomo for some extremely spoiled cats.

James Joyce Quarterly announces leadership transition

man in a plum-colored shirt and grey blazer gesturing upwards with this right arm
Sean Latham

After 21 years of service, Walter Professor of English Sean Latham has stepped down from the editorship of the James Joyce Quarterly (JJQ) to take on new a position with The University of Tulsa. He will be succeeded by Chapman Professor of Law Robert Spoo and Associate Professor of English Jeff Drouin, who will serve as co-editors.

Latham arrived at TU in 2001 to lead the journal after completing his doctorate at Brown University. As editor, he oversaw the transformation of JJQ from a print-only publication into an innovative, hybrid publication with a sprawling global readership of scholars, fans, teachers,and students. During this tenure, he hosted the North American Joyce Conference, marked the centenary of Bloomsday and created the journal’s 50th-anniversary issue. In addition to producing over 70 issues of the print journal, he revived the celebration of Bloomsday here in Tulsa and returned the headquarters of the International James Joyce Foundation to TU.

“The James Joyce Quarterly brought me and my family to Tulsa,” Latham remarked, “and the community of scholars, fans and students that have gathered around it have made the Joyce world a second home.” His work as editor has taken him to symposia and universities around the world, from Dublin, Zurich and Paris to the world’s largest book festival in Shanghai. During his editorship, he wrote or edited 10 books on modern literature and culture, including editions of Joyce’s Dubliners and Ulysses, as well as influential studies on literary magazines, libel law and snobbery.

man smiling and wearing a white shirt, blue tie and blue blazer
Robert Spoo

More than anything, Latham has valued the opportunity to help shape the work of developing scholars: both the students who have come to Tulsa to study Joyce and the writers and researchers whom he has mentored through the challenges of a rigorous peer-review process: “The arrival of each new issue is a joy because I know the huge amount of work that our entire team has put into maintaining the journal’s reputation for excellence.”

Latham’s successors also came to Tulsa to pursue work on James Joyce. In fact, he took over the journal from Spoo, who, while then a member of the English faculty, had served as editor from 1991 to 2001. “I’m in the amazingly unique position of having preceded Sean at JJQ and now returning to it as he embarks for new challenges and opportunities,” said Spoo. “In addition to my work in TU’s College of Law, I remain active as a scholar of Joyce, so the transition will be a natural one for me, and I greatly look forward to collaborating with Jeff in guiding JJQ into the future.”

man wearing glasses, black shirt and black blazer
Jeff Drouin

Spoo will share the editor’s chair with Drouin, an expert on modernism and digital humanities. Drouin describes it as “an honor to become an editor of the journal that has guided research in Joyce and modernism for so many scholars over so many years. Bob and Sean as the two more recent editors, have both made a lasting impact that will allow us to carry the journal forward as the world moves in new directions.”

Stepping down from a position that has defined almost his entire professional life is emotional, Latham admits. “I do so, however, knowing that the journal will be led by an outstanding team who are certainly far better qualified for the work than I was back in 2001. And they will be supported by Carol Kealiher, our managing editor, and the dedicated staff of graduate assistants who have always been the real keys to the journal’s ongoing success.”

Latham will remain at TU and move to a largely administrative role leading the institution’s public humanities initiatives while developing the fledging TU Institute for Bob Dylan Studies.

The JJQ was founded by Thomas F. Staley at TU in 1963 and began its life as a modest passion project in a midtown Tulsa garage. It has since grown into the internationally recognized flagship of Joyce studies and a leading publication in literary studies more generally. TU itself is home to one of the world’s leading collections of Joyce’s papers and has been a research leader in the field of modern literature for more than 60 years.