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AFS Seeks Proposals for the JAF Editorship

Tom DuBois and Jim Leary of the University of Wisconsin, the current editors of the Journal of American Folklore, will be stepping down at the end of their term in late 2015. The American Folklore Society’s Executive Board gives its deepest thanks to Drs. DuBois and Leary for their outstanding service to our Society and field, and now invites proposals from candidates for the editorship of the Journal. We welcome proposals from both single candidates and multiple co-editor candidates, so when we say "editor” below we also mean "editors.”

The deadline for proposals is March 1, 2014.

The Journal, published continuously since 1888, is one of the most prestigious and respected journals in the field of folklore. The Journal publishes articles, reviews, notes, opinion pieces, creative writing, and comments on practices related to folklore and folklore study throughout the world. The American Folklore Society is the owner of the Journal; since 2002, the University of Illinois Press has published the Journal for the Society.

Journal editors customarily serve for a five-year period, working in concert with:
  • Student or other assistants, usually paid for by home-institution support supplemented by AFS funds, who help administer the manuscript review and editing process
  • An editorial board, chosen by the editor, which provides counsel and outreach to the field
  • Five review editors (for books, sound recordings, films and videos, exhibitions and public presentations, and digital resources), appointed by the editor, who are responsible for their parts of the Journal
  • The AFS Publications Committee, which provides advice on publications policies
  • The staff of the Journals Division of the University of Illinois Press, who take the Journal from manuscript to finished publication
  • The AFS Executive Board and Executive Director, to whom the editor provides a report each year

The editor has final authority and responsibility for the contents of the Journal, including absolute authority to accept, edit, and reject all manuscripts, including reviews. The editor’s decisions in this area are not subject to review by any AFS officer or employee.

Successful candidates for the editorship will provide evidence of:

  • A compelling editorial vision for the Journal
  • Extensive knowledge of the field, and a strong reputation within it
  • Secure commitments of institutional support for the costs of operating the editor’s office, including some appropriate combination of space, equipment, supplies, editorial assistance, and release time
  • A grasp of the major issues surrounding scholarly publishing in the humanities, including those concerning online publishing and open access
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Strong editorial experience
  • Strong organizational and deadline-meeting abilities
  • Excellent oral communication and persuasive skills, indicating the ability to be proactive in acquiring excellent submissions for the Journal

The Society provides an annual amount to the Journal’s editorial office to help offset operating expenses, including student assistance, office supplies, and travel to conferences to hear new work and solicit that work for the Journal. Each year, the editor presents goals and a budget request for the year to come to the Board as part of the Society’s annual program and financial planning process. As indicated above, we expect that the editor’s home institution will also provide support for the editorship.

The Society will ask the editor and her/his institution to sign an agreement describing the responsibilities and authority of the editor, her/his institution, the Society, and the University of Illinois Press. Candidates interested in reviewing the current version of this document can request a copy from the AFS Executive Director’s office.

We encourage candidates to contact the current editors ( or AFS Executive Director Timothy Lloyd ( with their questions. More information about JAF is available on the AFS web site (at and

The three elements of a proposal for the editorship are:

  • A letter articulating your vision for the Journal, detailing your accomplishments and abilities in the areas mentioned above, and describing the commitment of your institution to support the editorial office
  • Your current CV
  • A letter from the relevant institutional official confirming the commitment of resources to the editor’s office for a five-year period (2015-2020)

The deadline for submitting proposals to AFS Executive Director Timothy Lloyd ( is March 1, 2014. Please submit your proposal as a single PDF attached to an email.

The Board plans to select the next editor in spring 2014, to allow for more than a full year of transition to the new editorship. We will schedule a question-and-answer session with the new editor at the Santa Fe annual meeting in October 2014 as an opportunity for the editor to discuss her/his vision and plans with the membership. The Santa Fe meeting will also serve as a prime acquisitions opportunity for the new editor.

The new editor’s first issue will be due at the University of Illinois Press in mid-summer 2015 and will appear in early 2016. The current editors will have contributions in the JAF pipeline that will help the new editor with that first issue at least.

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