Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature Archives - Kendall College of Arts and Sciences

Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature

Exploring women’s literature: Past and present, local and global

Founded in 1982, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature (TSWL) is a scholarly journal dedicated to publishing and studying women’s literature from every historical period, nation and genre. In fact, it was the very first academic journal solely devoted to women’s writing.

cover of an issue of Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature depicting three white flowersHoused in The University of Tulsa’s Kendall College of Arts and Sciences, TSWL publishes two issues of leading-edge literary scholarship each year. Content ranges from critical articles and archive descriptions to information on innovative research tools and discussions on current issues faced by women in academia.

“Our society all too often considers women’s writings lesser, too emotional, insufficiently funny, out of touch with mainstream audiences. TWSL is dedicated to promoting women’s voices,” said Jennifer L. Airey, the journal’s editor and an associate professor of English.

Along with Airey, the journal is directed by Karen Dutoi, the managing editor. Each semester, a group of undergraduate and graduate interns aid in the editing and publication process. “Women are, and always have been, important contributors to literary and artistic culture,” remarked Dutoi. “Our journal is dedicated to the belief that women’s voices and stories matter.”

Global content and reach

A primary goal of TSWL is to spread scholarship to international audiences. Airey and Dutoi further this aim by including the work of international scholars in the journal and publishing their content on online databases.

two women in an office while wearing face masks
Intern Ciara Graham (PhD student, English) and Managing Editor Karen Dutoi

Archives of TSWL‘s past issues can be found on academic databases, such as Project MUSE and JSTORE. “The high volume of traffic our articles receive in full-text databases is representative of our reputation as a journal,” Dutoi noted.

For example, TSWL has been accessed over 140,000 times on Project MUSE at 2210 institutions in 68 countries. On JSTOR, the numbers are even greater: accessed over 1.4 million times at 6477 institutions in 138 countries. The journal’s top-10 most viewed articles on JSTORE have been cited a total of 470 times, and the journal’s website has logged over 19,000 visitors from 139 countries in the past three years.

Special issues

Scholars from diverse institutions around the world frequently contact Airey and Dutoi about specific topics related to women’s literature. These inquiries sometimes lead to the development of special issues of TSWL, with the interested scholars as guest editors. “Special issues give us the opportunity to delve more deeply into a narrow topic in a way that the journal usually does not allow,” Dutoi explained. “They enable scholars to highlight areas of inquiry that do not receive enough attention and draw connections between diverse perspectives on the given topic.”

infographic stating 33 special issues and forums published

TSWL has two special issues forthcoming this year. The first one is a two-issue volume (40.1 and 40.2) focused on “Women and Archives.” The authors included in these publications examine archival research and what it can reveal about well-known and understudied women writers. For Airey, one of the most exciting aspects of this volume is that several of the contributors “also dive into the archive process itself and explore how it can reinforce social inequities and engender counternarratives.”

infographic stating 2016 Voyager AwardIn fall 2022, Airey and Dutoi plan to publish a special issue on “Contemporary Black British Women’s Writing.” This issue will consider the literary innovations of British women of African and African-Caribbean descent since the 1990s. It will highlight the centrality of aesthetic creativity in writing by Black British women in order to acknowledge the investments and innovations they made that have challenged literary tradition.

Internship opportunities

Undergraduate and graduate students interested in women’s literature and academic publishing can apply for internships with TSWL. Graduate students can intern as part of their assistantships while undergraduates can intern as an independent study. Interns gain experience in the editorial process, expand their research skills and learn about project flow and management, all while corresponding professionally with authors, reviewers, vendors and other journals.

two women wearing face masks at a desk gazing at a computer monitor
Intern Danielle Calhoun (MA student, English) and Editor Jennifer Airey

“An added benefit,” Airey observed, “is that our interns learn from the humanistic content of the journal itself.” This close-up involvement with world-class scholarship “gives our interns a unique understanding of the discourses and debates involved with women’s literature.”

“Being the publicity manager at TSWL has been a great experience,” said Ciara Graham, a current graduate intern who is completing a doctorate in English. “I have learned how to use programs like Photoshop, which I never thought I would be able to get to grips with, and I have gained great insight into the academic journal publishing world. I hope to publish my own articles in the future and this internship experience is helping prepare me for that.”

Learn more about TSWL and the stimulating graduate programs available with TU’s Department of English Language and Literature.

TSWL a leader in the study of women’s literature

Nearly four decades ago, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature (TSWL) debuted as the first journal in the world dedicated to women’s literature. Since 1982, similar publications more focused on specific time periods have joined the field, but TSWL’s longstanding history of high-quality scholarship is prestigious among literary scholars.

“For a lot of people present at the emergence of women’s studies as a discipline and the recovery of women’s writing, we were the only resource, and we still hold that place in their academic hearts,” said TU Associate Professor of English and TSWL Editor Jennifer Airey.

The global evolution of women’s writing

Professor of English Holly Laird served as the journal’s longest-running editor — from 1988 to 2005. “When the journal started, it was based in the recovery of women writers, but early on more theoretical content was introduced,” said Managing Editor Karen Dutoi. “That was a significant debate in the early 1980s – what it meant to be an early feminist scholar. Three decades later, I feel like we have a much more solid sense of what women’s studies is and what it can encompass.”

A journal of worldwide acclaim

TSWLTSWL produces two issues per year (spring and fall) featuring six to seven articles about women’s writing of any genre, time period and nationality. Subscribers — both individuals and institutions — live across the United States and abroad. From studies of 6th-century Arabic poetry written by Al-Khansa to explorations of novels penned by contemporary authors, such as Zadie Smith and Sapphire, the journal is a limitless portfolio of women’s literature. Submissions are regularly received from across the globe, including France, Germany, Argentina and Korea.

Special issues have examined women’s writing related to young adult literature, 18th-century laboring class poets, breast cancer narratives and other dynamic subject matters. In addition to full-length articles, TSWL includes essays, book reviews and notes on recently discovered information or writers from the past. The journal reviews new tools for studying women’s writing, providing information about databases and resources centered on women’s roles in literature and the struggles they may encounter.

TSWL’s broad variety of content, along with other prominent TU journals, such as the James Joyce Quarterly, Nimrod International Journal and the Modernist Journals Project are valuable to writers and support TU’s reputation as a center for literary studies around the world. “When I was on the job market, I’d never heard of TU, but I knew TSWL, and that was a big deal for me to work at a university that housed such a well-known journal,” Airey explained.

Sharing the publication experience with students

Current TU students benefit from TSWL through graduate assistantships and undergraduate internships that offer exposure to and hands-on experience with the publication process. Publishing can be an intimidating and mysterious process for students, Airey said, but facilitating peer reviews and witnessing the formulaic, impersonal tasks of an academic journal can alleviate some of those fears.

“Students learn general trends on what submissions are typically rejected,” she stated. “Graduate students can learn what to avoid in their own publishing, and it makes them better editors and teachers.”

“They start to realize the people who are published in journals are not just some group of scholars on a high pedestal – these writers make mistakes too,” Dutoi added. “TSWL gives our students more confidence to find their own voice, put their writing out there and feel like ‘I’ve got this.’”

The spring 2020 issue of TSWL will go to print in April. Learn more about the journal and its history at tswl.utulsa.edu.