Today, despite the storms and tides, [...] comparative literature continues along its path. Its dissemination throughout the world remains changeable and surprising.
These words, cited from Claudio Guillén’s prologue to the first edition of his classic work, Introduction to comparative literature (in Entre lo uno y lo diverso, 1985-2005) aptly convey some of the tenets of the vision of Between, the newly-launched journal of the Italian Association for the Study of Theory and the Comparative History of Literature.
Most notable is the will to respond to the current atmosphere of crisis – pertaining possibly to this particular field of studies, but even moreso perhaps to culture and the historical period in general – which is affecting literary and humanistic studies broadly, in Italy as well as in other ‘western’ countries.
This response incorporates comparisons: between models and proposals in constant evolution, between local and international perspectives, and between literary tools and those of other fields of knowledge for which literature may prove to be an unanticipated resource. It is precisely that: a comparison between the single and the manifold.
Accordingly, Between aims to provide an up-to-date observatory, a meeting place at which the methods and research that Italian comparative studies stimulate and participate in, can be brought to fruition. In this sense, the journal title alludes to the desired role of the trait d'union, linking Italy to other countries in Europe and beyond: at once those countries in which comparative literature studies have a firmly-rooted tradition and those in which the discipline is more recently established, yet display their dynamic nature and ability to enter into relation with the vibrant aspects of society and culture.
In order to fulfill its objectives, Between strives to be – from the very first issue – a prime setting in which to welcome and commend the proposals and ideas of young researchers, allowing them dynamic interaction with samples, theories and works from more experienced scholars. Indeed, we believe that allowing diverse and complementary resources to converge in such a democractic base, as it were, is a necessary preface to empowering and recognising the voice of Italian comparative studies within the supranational and intercultural discourse.
Serving this objective is the selection of a board made up of five members (relying additionally on the work of copyeditors at the University of Cagliari) as well as a broader academic board, including academics of different ages, areas of competence and origin, able to cover the different areas and varied scope – academic and geographical – in which comparative studies is operating.
The format Between has adopted reflects its above-mentioned objectives: as an online journal, to be directly accessible irrespective of geographical confines and to be constantly enriched, including outside of periodical deadlines. As far as possible, the masthead will develop open-access editions to facilitate, for example, timely discussion about topics and current issues affecting comparative studies. A discipline that does not limit its interests to the literary sphere; this vocation to cross over thresholds – not only amidst the various art forms, but also amongst these and other fields of knowledge and experience – instead inspires hope that in the forums and online discussions of Between, those who are not in the literary field by profession will also be compelled to take part.
Between will be published once a semester, with the first edition each year appearing on 30 May and the second on 30 November. Between supports the activity of Compalit-Association of Theory and Comparative History of Literature., deepening subjects at the center of the international debate in which the Association participates. The issues of the journal will therefore present a large monographic section, in which scholars and leading specialists will intervene on important research topics in the field of international comparative literature. This monographic section, entrusted from time to time to the care of different editors also external to the board and to the scientific committee, will be flanked by sections in which there will be space for reviews, discussions on works and issues of historical, critical or theoretical relevance, interviews.
Without a doubt, to withstand the storms and tides demands courage and patience. Auspicious are the words of one of the founders of Italian comparative studies, Remo Ceserani, with which he concluded his recent publication Convergenze (2010), notably devoted to the discourse between literature and other disciplines: We prefer “wolves to hedgehogs, and ardent optimists to catastrophists, as a matter of principle”.
Editors in Chief