Letter from the Editor

In preparation for writing this welcoming letter to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, I have been reading the letters of Rosa Luxemburg. This may seem an unlikely gesture, but Luxemburg was an astute reader of literature, a talented artist, an avid concertgoer, a keen observer of nature, a mushy romantic lover (her affections extended to her beloved cat Mimi), and of course, a brilliant economic and political theorist, dynamic speaker and revolutionary activist. Something of this polymath sensibility that can encompass the visual and literary arts, nature, politics, love, critique, analysis, and action stirred my interest in this dynamic project, which promises to offer a compendium of the finest critical thinking about the broad concept of literature available around the world. I hope it will intrigue you.

This project is conceived as a continuously-evolving, up-to-date digital encyclopedia, a scholarly alternative to crowd-sourced general reference materials proliferating online that relies on the extensive commitment to publishing literary works of Oxford University Press. We envision a wide-ranging and category-busting resource for scholars and students that will make the case for literature as a capacious and multifaceted form of human communication across the ages and around the globe. This resource will provide links to a vast array of on-line materials hitherto centrally unavailable.

The fact that Oxford has asked me to lead this project suggests that neither “literature” nor “encyclopedia” will be narrowly defined. The essays, ranging from broad interpretative essays to specialized entries , will be written by internationally renowned experts in the many areas that make up “literature” broadly understood with as wide an international spread as possible—leaders in the multiple fields and modes of thought that comprise “literature.” Peer-reviewed and frequently updated, this site will offer students and scholars a reliable and innovative source that we hope eventually becomes the go-to reference for the various fields opened by the study of literature—that is to say, almost everything: music, art, politics, society, sexuality, psychology, language, and on and on.

The possibilities of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature can occur now in the digital age. Visual and audio materials will enrich the articles in ways that print encyclopedias could not. The deep cross-linking between resources, such as archives and digital libraries, opens the possibility for rethinking how research is done, providing an unprecedented seamless experience through a single platform. Through scholarly round-ups, written by senior scholars and upcoming students, this project is designed to create opportunities to mobilize the community of scholars around it.

Please join us in this exciting endeavor.

Paula Rabinowitz
Editor-in-Chief, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature