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October 9, 2012

Did You Know?: Arthuriana

Dorsey Armstrong

Dorsey Armstrong, associate professor of English, is the editor-in-chief of Arthuriana, one of the most prestigious journals on Arthurian legend. (Purdue University photo/Steven Yang)
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Surrounded by shelves packed with maroon journals and a large foam replica of King Arthur's sword in the stone, Dorsey Armstrong, associate professor of English, prepares one of the most prestigious journals on Arthurian legend.

Arthuriana is the official journal of the North American branch of the International Arthurian Society, and the premier journal covering the Arthurian legend. Armstrong has been the editor-in-chief of Arthuriana since it moved to Purdue in 2009.

Articles within the journal examine all forms of the legend of King Arthur, from medieval times to modern interpretations in literature, music, television and art. She says the journal also excels in taking an interdisciplinary approach by including articles that examine pieces of the legend in different media. Each issue of the journal also includes book reviews of important scholarly works in medieval and Arthurian studies.

As editor, Armstrong is responsible for managing all submissions, securing senior scholars for the double-blind peer review, maintaining the subscriber database, editing and proofing final versions of the articles, organizing distribution and coordinating academic conferences that the journal sponsors.

Robyn Malo, assistant professor of English, serves as the associate editor; Mike Johnston, also assistant professor of English, has served as book review editor for the last three years; and several graduate students act as editorial assistants to help run the journal. Armstrong says this benefits the students because it involves them in every element of academic publishing from the submissions process to copyediting.

"I'd like to think we help to remove the mystery surrounding publishing, so it's less scary when they go to submit their own work," she says.

The journal serves a worldwide audience, as it was sought out by JSTOR and Project MUSE to be included in their online journal databases. Approximately 700 hard copies of the journal are circulated, and it also publishes articles in French and German.

Recently, Armstrong says, there has even been a growing interest from Japanese scholars for the Arthurian legend, as marked similarities have been found between their ancient warrior culture and the social structure of medieval European feudalism.

Arthuriana is published quarterly, which Armstrong says is relatively unusual for academic journals and indicates that the journal is truly engaged in what is happening within the field. 

"We're able to have an ongoing conversation worldwide on medieval studies, Arthurian studies, media and books," Armstrong says.

This also allows some issues to focus on specific topics.

"We had one issue published recently titled 'Arthurian Grrrrrls', which focuses on the use of the legend in modern times to try and construct certain images of femininity," Armstrong says.

In the future, Armstrong says, she hopes to increase the international presence of the journal with more articles in French and German. She also plans to include more articles from researchers in Spain and Italy, who are looking into their local versions of the legend.

"My job is to read the latest research and help make it publishable so we can continue to foster the growth of knowledge in the world," Armstrong says. "It's a marvelous experience and a privilege to be in charge."

Writer: Rachel Florman, rflorman@purdue.edu