Sagetrieb’s End

As we briefly mentioned back in February, in our announcement of the joint release of Sagetrieb 20/Paideuma 40, Sagetrieb has concluded its run as a scholarly journal, with the work it covered now encompassed by Paideuma. In the coming year we are going to revisit the contents of the journal in celebration of the work done by the hundreds of scholars who contributed to it in its two decades of production. A complete list of contributors is now available at the Sagetrieb blog (here). Below is an excerpt from the introduction to that final issue, explaining our decision and recounting in some of the journal’s history:

With the present volume, Sagetrieb now ceases publication. Burt helped to plan this conclusion and he hoped to see it through; his gathering of new essays on George Oppen was intended for the final issue. The work of the journal will continue, however, as it has for the past half-decade, within the pages of Paideuma, whose expanded mandate since volume 35 has covered all poetry in English from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Yet despite this continuity, the end of the journal will be met with sadness by the scholars it long served, who will remember a time when no other venue was available for their work. That the situation is so greatly improved makes the discontinuing of the journal a bittersweet sign of its success. Today, serious study of H.D., Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, the Objectivist poets, the language writers, and other once-marginal individuals and groups can be found in a broad range of journals, including the most prestigious in our discipline. Within this new environment, the maintenance of two journals, never easy, ceased to be necessary. Moreover, the division of subjects between the two, ever evolving, had become quite fuzzy in recent years, fuzzy enough to make a combining of efforts logical as well as thrifty. Our decision to end Sagetrieb (unofficial for some time, as no new issue has appeared since 2006) was difficult to reach, but seems inevitable in retrospect.

Sagetrieb Vol. 1 Issue 2

Sagetrieb Vol. 1 Issue 2

A brief history of the two journals is perhaps in place here. Paideuma was founded in 1972 as the journal of Ezra Pound studies. Under the editorship of the late Carroll F. Terrell, it created a forum for exploring critically and sometimes poetically what Hugh Kenner, at just that moment, was formulating as the Pound era. There was room in those early years for references to the other modernists and to the younger poets indebted to Pound, but their relationship to Pound dominated — little appeared on those figures independent of him. Sagetrieb was thus formed in 1982 to provide an ampler forum for exploring the Poundian version of modernism and what was coming to be called postmodernism (“the poets of the Pound-Williams tradition” as Sagetrieb’s early mastheads put it). As it evolved under Burt’s editorship, however, Sagetrieb delineated a field of study for which Pound alone could not account — a point touched on by Kaplan Harris in his reflections on the journal, published here as part of this final issue. With Paideuma’s own, recent evolution away from a single-author focus, Sagetrieb’s vision of the field became, de facto, Paideuma’s as well. What began, then, as an elaboration of the Paideuma project became, in the end, a corrective to it, producing as its final achievement a changed Paideuma with a more capacious view.

In retrospect, the turning point came in 1993, at the first of our decades-themed conferences, on the poets of the 1930s generation, dubbed “The First Postmodernists.” For four days in Maine, the writers of Paideuma and Sagetrieb engaged in a shared dialogue that crossed and recrossed the lines of commitment defining the two journals, implicitly calling into question the need for such boundaries. Ten years down the road, in volume 32 of Paideuma, then-editors Laura Cowan and Joseph Brogunier registered some of the implications of that dialogue, revising the journals’ mandates: Paideuma would thenceforth expand to cover all the modernists of the Pound era and Sagetrieb would be a journal devoted to the postmodern. In the long term, however, this would not prove a workable distinction. Quite apart from the arbitrariness of the line dividing the two literary periods or the fact that so many of the earlier figures worked well into and even past the lifetimes of the later ones, there was an insistent need for scholarship in which the two periods were taken up together. This holistic if not totalizing impulse kept faith in its way with the journal’s original inspiration, Pound’s poem containing history. Even the name Paideuma points toward a productive engagement with these tangled periods. As Pound notes in the text we print on the inside cover of each issue, the word Paideuma denotes “the tangle or complex of the inrooted ideas of any period” — and “period” itself is surely one of those ideas. Taken together, Paideuma and Sagetrieb describe a single epoch, the long twentieth century, now extended into the twenty-first. The plethora of that epoch is the proper subject of the new Paideuma, and this has been its mandate since volume 32.



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