A brief history of Nineteenth-Century French Studies
Nineteenth-Century French Studies was founded in 1972 by Thomas H. Goetz at the State University of New York at Fredonia. A few years later, he organized the first annual colloquium in nineteenth-century French studies, held in Fredonia in 1975. Despite the similar names for both the journal and the colloquium, Tom Goetz always insisted on the editorial independence of the former, a stance that has been proudly maintained. Though scholarly trends have shifted over the years, the recognizable traits of the publication were established early on: to publish original research on "nineteenth-century French literature and related fields" accompanied by a healthy array of substantive book reviews in two annual double issues. From the outset, the Advisory Board has been a "working" board comprised of recognized experts across the range of our discipline, familiar with scholarly trends around the world, and who are willing and available to help in the evaluation of article submissions. Tom Goetz maintained that the journal's success was due in very large measure to the contributions of the Advisory Board, as true now as it was then. For his sustained contributions to the field, he was awarded the rank of Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes académiques in 1989 and, in 1991, SUNY bestowed upon him the title of Distinguished Service Professor.
In 1999, Tom Goetz was succeeded by Marshall C. Olds (University of Nebraska, then Michigan State University), under whose editorship the journal—now published by the University of Nebraska Press—added Associate Editors and Book Review Editors. In addition to the Editorial Board, whose members are deeply involved in the journal's daily operations, the Advisory Board has continued to evolve with the ongoing demands of scholarship in the twenty-first century and remains an active group heavily invested in the success of the journal. Nineteenth-Century French Studies soon joined the Project MUSE database and electronic subscriptions became available, making the journal's content readily available around the world. To increase the discussion of published scholarship in the field, in 2007 the journal began publishing additional book reviews on its web pages. Like his predecessor, Marshall Olds was recognized by the French government for his service to French culture and scholarship and in 2005 was named Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes académiques. From 2003 to 2011, while still at the University of Nebraska, he held the position of Willa Cather Professor.
Seth Whidden was named Editor in 2014. The new editorship brought a number of changes and initiatives. NCFS moved the entirety of its book reviews online to the journal’s new web pages. The journal increased the maximum length of article submissions, began inviting proposals for special issues and dossiers, and commissionned projects that complement the journal's long tradition of publishing article-length essays: invited essays of nearly double the length of a traditional article, and Incipit, a series of dialogic texts in which colleagues debate a matter of primary concern to the field. These ventures were launched in volume forty-four (2015–16), along with annual compliations of related NCFS content in support of the text chosen each year for France’s agrégation exam. In light of these efforts, in 2016 the Council of Editors of Learned Journals named Nineteenth-Century French Studies the recipient of its Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial Achievement. The journal will cap off its first fifty years with a special issue devoted to the legacy of the Paris Commune, published in March 2021 to coincide with the event’s 150th anniversary.
The journal's rich history is a testament to its enduring commitment to promoting the best scholarship in nineteenth-century French literature and related fields.