JAF Welcomes New Staff, Including New Managing Editor

AFS News
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The American Folklore Society is pleased to announce changes to the staffing of the Journal of American Folklore and composition of its editorial team. Lorraine Walsh Cashman has agreed to serve as the journal’s first Senior Managing Editor, and Emma Bussard, a folklore master’s student at George Mason University (GMU), will be the new Editorial Assistant. 

Thank you to Amanda Ellard, who has contributed their time, organizational skills, attention to detail, patience, and grace as Editorial Assistant for the past two years. Ellard graduated with a master’s in folklore from GMU this summer, and is starting a PhD program in English with a concentration in Creative Writing at Ohio University this fall. 

The Senior Managing Editor will work closely with the JAF Editor-in-Chief Lisa Gilman, Professor of Folklore at George Mason University, to advance all editorial activities from manuscript submission to print. Cashman brings her history of working for many years at the American Folklore Society, along with extensive editorial experience, including prior work as a journal managing editor. AFS created the position with minor shifts to the existing staff structure, and Cashman’s knowledge and experience will ensure that the position meets JAF’s needs while intersecting with AFS’s overall work. 

AFS President Marilyn M. White stated, “Lorraine’s skills have long been invaluable to AFS, and we are grateful that she will continue serving the organization in her new role as Senior Managing Editor.”

The creation of a Managing Editor position comes after several years of strategizing about challenges facing the journal. Gilman explained: “When I took over the editorship of JAF, I committed to working with AFS to explore ways to create more opportunity for inclusivity in editorial roles and to ensure a continued high quality of production in a context of dwindling institutional support. After two years of discussion and consultation with JAF’s editorial team, the AFS Executive Board, and the AFS Publications Committee, we’ve concluded that this new Managing Editor position could help further both goals.” 

AFS Executive Director Jessica Turner worked with Gilman to create the position and will manage staff performance and budgeting. “Lisa’s leadership in ensuring support for the JAF editorial team is a creative and visionary solution that will help scholars in many kinds of positions manage this work regardless of whether they have the customary institutional support needed for previous editorships, and I am grateful for her work to widen the path while also considering long-term needs for AFS.” 

For many years, critical support for JAF has come from university partners that have provided direct and indirect funding (eg, graduate student funding and faculty course releases) and infrastructure (eg, office space) to support the considerable scope of the editorial work. While the financial benefit has been important, an unintended consequence has been to limit the field of potential editors to those who have such institutional support. Especially now that universities across the country have been disinvesting in journals, so that there are fewer and fewer institutions willing or able to host JAF, it has become harder to find people who can serve as editors. Moreover, the system has contributed to centering White scholars in editorial leadership given faculty demographics, while also excluding those working at non-research-focused universities and colleges, contingent faculty, and public and independent folklorists.

By creating and funding the part-time position of Managing Editor, AFS removes a significant barrier to entry for future editorial teams, and opens the door to more and different people to step into editorial leadership. The Managing Editor will bring intensive editing experience to complement the Editors’ leadership and provide continuity through editorial team transitions.

Gilman looks forward to another two years in her tenure with JAF: “I’m hopeful that this configuration will create new possibilities for the future.” 

Look for a call for the next JAF Editor(s) in the coming months.  If you’d like to learn more about the work of JAF, please contact Lisa Gilman at [email protected].

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