Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Cultures – Kevin Riley and Josh Tiddy

The Mississippi Quarterly is a journal founded in 1948 published by Mississippi State University which is based in Starkville, Mississippi. This journal is dedicated to publishing scholarly work, especially in the field of southern studies. They publish scholarly essays, reviews, interviews, and other subjects. It exhibits the work of upcoming scholars of all kinds of topics. Each volume has a special issue attached to it that usually are edited by special guests. It is edited by three professors of the college. The managing editor is professor Laura E. West, assisted by editor Ted Atkinson (pictured to the left) who is an associate professor and associate editor Robert E. West. The journal accepts submissions from anybody that are reviewed for publication. The submissions must meet certain criteria for formatting. There is also a style sheet provided on the website to give people specific information on how to write their paper with respect to capitalization, punctuation, spacing, etc.

The Mississippi Quarterly is a heavily academic journal that is targeted towards people in the academic field. It appeals greatly to students on the Mississippi State campus or any students that are interested in Southern Studies. Students that study English or other literary applications are also likely to take interest in the Quarterly. College of Charleston, because of the present Southern Studies program, is an institution that likely houses many readers of The Mississippi Quarterly. Anyone can, regardless of whether or not they are a part of a Southern Studies program, subscribe to the Quarterly. Subscribers to the journal, while primarily Southern Studies Scholars, include any individual interested in research regarding Southern literature. The Quarterly can be purchased online for $30 a year. A yearly subscription provides 4 issues of the journal. It can be either in print or electronic.

The Quarterly has a strong emphasis on academic analysis of Southern Literature and has little interest in appealing to a popular audience. The journal does, however, frequently analyze pieces of popular literature that are related to Southern Studies. The study of these popular works likely attract an audience that has an interest in popular culture. This audience may discover an interest in the academic analysis of popular works. This is one way that the Quarterly appeals to an audience that is primarily interested in popular culture. Visually, the Mississippi Quarterly is very much an academic work. The reader will see very few pictures in the journal. It consists of in depth analysis with examples from and citations of the work in question. This format is visible when looking at excerpts from several different issues. The journal is almost entirely black and white. All of the visual aspects of the journal further suggest that it is targeted at a very scholarly audience that is interested in the analysis and research of literature, rather than entertainment.

This journal is unique when compared to magazines or journals that are related to Southern Studies. The history of the journal reveals that it was originally a broad, Social Sciences journal. It was titled, “The Social Sciences Bulletin.” It gradually changed into more of a humanities journal. In 1968, it adopted its current title. The Quarterly’s original broad focus and conversion to a literary culture analysis journal have had a positive effect on its credibility. Any group of writers with experience in a broad field that are able to specialize based on outstanding skills and interests will have an advantage over others. When compared to other Southern journals, The Mississippi Quarterly is uniquely equipped to provide analysis on Southern culture because of its specialization from a broader field.

The journal’s recent 2019 publication included analysis of and commentary on several important southern works. The first section in this issue featured an in depth, specialized analysis of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. The article was titled, “The Roots of Huck Finn’s Melancholy: Sam Clemens, Mark Twain, and a World of Pain,” by Robert Paul Lamb. Another article in the issue is called, “Small-Town Literature, and the Uses of Queerness,” by Nathaniel T. Booth. As suggested by the title, it touches on the relationship between Southern literature and queer identities. The publication consists of 7 articles, including the ones mentioned, that analyze pieces of southern literature and how they relate to broader Southern culture.

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