The executive editors are pleased to launch the inaugural issue of Panorama, the first peer-reviewed, open-access, electronic publication dedicated to American art and visual culture (broadly defined), from the fifteenth century to the present day.
As the official journal of the Association of Historians of American Art (AHAA), Panorama seeks to further the organization’s commitment to the advancement of American art history by offering a venue for the dissemination of innovative scholarship: work that will reflect the lively, diverse, and dynamic state of the field, while exploring new paths of inquiry. Befitting the broad view taken by the journal’s title, we anticipate a publication that engages deeply with disciplinary traditions, even as it nurtures experimental, hybrid approaches. We seek to promote interventions that will make a lasting impact on the field, while seizing the timeliness and flexibility of our online medium. We hope to stimulate lively engagement between the local-rural and the global-cosmopolitan. And finally, we understand “American” to be a plastic term—connoting both a problem still in need of interrogation and a concept still open to unforeseen interpretations.
All of these goals are furthered by the current issue. Maura Lyons’ “Wounded Landscapes” uses eco-critical methodology to probe the multiple symbolic roles played by nature, and its visualization, in the Civil War North. In their collaborative article on the aviation pioneer Art Smith, Noelle Belanger and M. Elizabeth Boone probe hitherto unsuspected links between nocturnal aerial acrobatics, astronomical photography, and Bergsonian notions of space and time. And in “The Language of Line,” Louise Siddons explores the autographic role of mark-making in the work of immigrant printmaker John H. Winkler, who found in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the Second Etching Revival frames for the visual expression of his own cultural and linguistic alienation.
Our inaugural Bully Pulpit section examines a brief but highly significant episode of crisis and disciplinary self-analysis that took place in American departments of art history during the twentieth century. Lauren Kroiz’s essay “Parnassus Abolished” leads the section by analyzing Lester Longman’s short and controversial tenure as editor of the CAA journal Parnassus (1940-1941). A brief excerpt from her ongoing research, the piece tells the story of how Longman passionately urged a more productive union between art historians and creative artists, in order to the further the goal of educating a more thoughtful, critically-minded American citizenry. Six colleagues with widely differing views comment and reflect on Kroiz’s findings, which are vitally relevant to contemporary questions about the political, pedagogical, and cultural responsibilities of our field and its practitioners.
Finally, we seek in the Book Reviews to include a rich selection of groundbreaking publications representing the present state and future directions of scholarship in American art and visual culture.
This inaugural issue of Panorama marks an accomplishment shared by many. It is the result of endless and uncounted man- and woman-hours put in by numerous members of the AHAA community. From the first inklings of an idea, to the careful development of that hunch into a mission; from the drawing up and staffing of positions and committees, to the intellectual provocations and conversations in the form of manuscripts and their review; from the evolution of a visual and technological presence, to the opening of this format to global access: this issue is as much a finish line as it is a starting point. In this sense, Panorama truly reflects the input and ingenuity of the professional organization it is meant to serve and advance. We, the editors, have been buoyed by this work and are proud to steer its course. And, as always, we invite your input and your contributions.
The Executive Editors
Ross Barrett, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina
Sarah Burns, Professor Emerita Indiana University
Jennifer Jane Marshall, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota