16th Century Journal Edited by Roanoke Faculty

Roanoke College serves as the book review office for the prestigious academic quarterly

Roanoke College's Lutheran heritage isn't its only connection to the 16th century. In fact, the College's involvements with that amazing era are reaping such rewards both on campus and throughout the scholarly world.

For over five years now, Roanoke College has been the book review office for The Sixteenth Century Journal, a prestigious academic quarterly consisting equally of essays and book reviews that are written and read by scholars worldwide.

Dr. Gary Gibbs, professor of history, recalls the genesis of the big idea: "In the fall of 1999, I was talking to a colleague at a conference in Boston about the opening for a book review editor at The Sixteenth Century Journal: the Journal of Early Modern Studies. I wondered if the position might best be handled by a team at a school, as the workload had become too much work for one person to handle. Then it dawned on me: I was at the right school to lead a team to take on the task."

Dr. Whitney Leeson, associate professor of history, and Dr. James Ogier, professor of foreign languages agreed to be part of the team as well as other campus colleagues with experience in 16th-century studies. The proposal was accepted and in 2000, Gibbs became the official Book Review Editor, Leeson and Ogier became Associate Book Review editors and the College became the official home of the Book Review Office for one of the academic world's most influential humanity journals.

The Journal analyzes the extraordinary time that featured the works of Michelangelo, Raphael, Henry VIII, Charles V, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare and Montaigne to name just a few. It was the era of high Renaissance in Italy, Northern humanism, Protestant and Catholic reformations, European exploration of the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa, and, with expanded use of the printing press, an era of intellectual exchange. The Journal serves a circulation of nearly 3,000 scholars and librarians across the United States and around the world. Every issue contains at least 100 book reviews (in 9-point, single-space type) on a vast range of topics.

The task of turning out 100 book reviews per quarter - yes, that's 400 a year - entails receiving and assembling books for reviews; finding reviewers, keeping reviewers on deadline and their text on style, and putting everything in the right format to send to the publisher. "We have three editions going at any time," Gibbs says, "one is at the press; one is in the proofing stage, and one is in the process of creation."

Laura Roberts Gottlieb, who was one of the two student interns that provide assistance to the core group each semester, received an invaluable experience as well as a competitive edge in the ob market, which led to her current position as associate editor for American history at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers in Lanham, Maryland.

"Now that I'm in this job," Gottlieb says, "I realize how special Gary, Whitney and all my history professors at Roanoke are. They're fun, not pedantic; and they're open to working with students."