Spring 2012


It is a pleasure to introduce the second volume of The Paper Shell Review, a literary journal conceived by University of Maryland undergraduates with the aim of showcasing the best of undergraduate scholarly and critical writing. As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Dirda noted last year, an undergraduate journal devoted to such writing, and not to poetry and ficition, is somewhat unusual, especially because most undergraduates regard poetry and fiction as more creative forms of writing. But anyone reading the essays in this journal will see how artistic scholarly and critical writing can be. To write well about literature, you need to engage the words of authors creatively, and you need to be aware of just how challenging it is to offer fresh prerspectives on literary works that in many cases have long critical histories. The undergraduate authors in this volume are fully up to the challenge. 

The essays presented in The Paper Shell Review's second volume work with a range of critical approaches, and are united by their close attention to literary works themselves. Four of the essays are written by students from the mid-Atlantic (two by University of Maryland students and two by students up the road at The Johns Hopkins University), with the fifth essay demonstrating the journal's new global reach (the author is from the University of London). In terms of chronological sweep, we move from Shakespeare to Laura Esquival, or, to put this another way, from Claude Fretz's account of Shakespeare's subversion of genre to Toyin Ola's account of Esquival's subersion of the partiarchal history of magical realism. Gwen Kelbly shows how different readings of Hamlet emerge from the first two quartos, and she rejects the claim that one quarto version is better than another. For those who suspect that there's a fine line between criminals and defense lawyers, I recommend Emily Johnson's capacious study of the figure of the defense lawyer in eighteenth-century British fiction. Finally, Daniel Baldwin offers a new sympathetic reading of the often negatively-viewed Silla in Paule Marshall's Brown Girl, Brownstones

It is difficult to start up a literary journal, and it is even more difficult to sustain the effort after the excitment of producing the first volume. You need committed editors and exceptional writers, and The Paper Shell Review is fortunate to have both. Looking ahead to 2013, there are even greater challenges, for like everything else in the humanities these days, the journal may need new sources of funding (there are talks of budget cuts). I would encourage admiring readers to consider making a donation when the editors begin their work on the third volume. 

-Robert S. Levine

Robert S. Levine is a Professor of English and a Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author most recently of Dislocating Race and Nation (2008) and the new General Editor of The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 

Essay Information

Submit essays using the Paper Shell Review Submission Form

Journal Information

Sohayl Vafai

Managing Editor
Rebecca Shin

Layout Editor
Laura Pavlo

Editorial Board Leader
Stephanie Knauff

Editorial Board
Abby Shantzis
Allison Hartley
Amanda Ostria
Dean Delasalas
Evan Higgins
George LaValle
Gwen Kelbly
Kathleen Harrelson
Kelley Sullivan
Matt Desrochers
Megan Perry
Michael Gregory
Robert Wolfe

Articles copyright © 2012 the original authors. No part of the contents of this Web journal may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without permission from the author or The Paper Shell Review.