Since its appearance in 1967, Canadian-American Slavic Studies (CASS) has been one of the principal outlets for scholars doing new and cutting-edge work. Even a quick skimming of the table of contents over the past 54 volumes will find many seminal articles in the fields of Slavic history, literature, culture, folklore, religious studies, and other related fields. It is an impressive array that makes CASS one of the most important repositories of scholarship on things east of the Elbe. Most of the credit for that tremendous record belongs to Charles Schlacks, the founding editor of CASS, who turned over the journal to me in 2016 unofficially, and then officially in 2017. As the journal turns to only its third editor in more than half a century, we all – editors, contributors, and readers – must offer our collective земной поклон (our “bow to the ground”) to the founder of this journal with all appropriate recognition and gratitude.
During my editorship of volumes 50 (starting with no. 2), 51, 52, 53, and half of 54 (2016–2020), CASS published some 89 articles, 3 research notes, 3 tributes, 7 review essays, and numerous book reviews (edited expertly by my friend and colleague, Erika Monahan). We also welcomed four guest editors to take the reins for single and double issues of the journal – issues that already are being cited gratefully and extensively by colleagues. I believe that among these articles and other contents are some of the finest works of scholarship to appear during these years in any journal. Thus, as I depart the position of editor-in-chief, I owe my first word of thanks to the authors who trusted us with their work. Bringing it to print has been my privilege and pleasure. It is my hope that the past five or so volumes have lived up to the high standards set by the journal during previous decades.
Others, too, must be thanked. I owe a word of thanks to the people at Brill, who were the fine owners of this journal during my term in the editor’s seat. Ivo Romein, Marti Huetink, and especially Iedske van Coevorden have been supportive and resourceful at every turn, and their diligence and commitment to excellence have served as the solid and necessary foundation upon which I could take the journal in new directions. I also want to thank my employer, Westminster College (in New Wilmington, Penna.), especially our former dean, Jane Wood, who generously gave me the release time from teaching that I needed to make my job as editor-in-chief feasible and fully rewarding. I thank, too, the Westminster undergraduates who worked as interns on the journal. Drawn from Westminster’s History and English departments, these students were eager and able assistants who helped me get the journal out on time, four times a year, year in and year out. Each one affirmed the continuing vitality and relevance of a humanities degree, even in these crepuscular times for the liberal arts. Finally, the referees that read all the submissions (not just the ones that got published!) deserve a robust round of applause. This uncompensated and often unsung service to the field is the sine qua non of academic publishing. My referees bailed me out on innumerable occasions, taking assignments from me – often out of friendship – when they had other and better things to do with their time. I cannot, of course, identify them by name, but they know who they are and they know I am grateful. May we all be as generous and thorough as they were the next time someone asks us to take on the wearing work of being a journal referee!
The peer-reviewed journal article is right now in its heyday. As Robert A. Schneider, the former editor of the American Historical Review, put it, “it’s a good time to write an article” (Robert A. Schneider, “The Golden Age of the Scholarly Article Is Now,” Perspectives, 1 September 2006, pp. 39–40, at p. 40). He had lots of reasons to think so, but the reason that rings most true for me and my experience at CASS is that the academic journal is an increasingly flexible platform. Now more than ever, academic journals publish a range of academic genres: cutting-edge research articles; think-piece essays; narrow, single-source research notes; and expanded conference papers – just for a start. CASS has tried to welcome and expand into all these categories with the goal of making each issue of the journal a little different from the last one, and a little different as well from other journals. Without sacrificing quality – in fact, with a determined view to notching it upward – CASS has published quite a range of content, pulling the journal into the ongoing dialogue among journal editors and publishers about what the future of the academic journal ought to be. CASS has been responsive to new and creative ways to fill its pages and please its subscribers, in the same way other prominent field-specific journals have been. If now is a good time to write an article, it is also a good time to be a journal editor!
The dialogue about the future of the academic journal now has a new interlocutor to speak for CASS: Professor Carol (Kira) Stevens. I could not be happier, or more confident, about the future of CASS knowing that Kira will be at the helm. She brings to the position a long and distinguished record of her own publications, as well as a keen interest in the future of Slavic studies. She has also done this before: as associate editor of Russian History, Kira helped to save and grow that journal after its long-time editor, the ever-memorable Richard Hellie, passed away. Now, Kira will lead CASS as editor-in-chief into an uncertain but promise-filled future, notching upward still further the journal’s clout in the field and influence on the careers of its authors. I bid farewell to the editorship with a twinge of regret – no job that consumes so much of your time and thinking ends without leaving its emotional mark on you – but I am eager now to transition to seeing CASS from the other side: as a reader. I leave the journal in very good hands, indeed. Good luck Kira!