Welcome to the fifth issue of WILLA! For five years now we have been publishing this journal for informational, pedagogical, and literary reasons. One of our chief aims is to improve English education as it affects the lives of girls and women, knowing full well that in advancing knowledge by and about females we also do the same for boys and men, for we are all in the classroom and the real world together. Yet much work remains to be done as this July 24 letter to the New York Times by Ellen S. Silber, director of the Marymount College Institute for the Education of Women and Girls, illustrates: "In a series of conferences that I administer ... I have found that not one of more than 80 participating institutions offers a course devoted to gender bias in the classroom. Clearly, many deserving girls will slip through the cracks before the necessary reforms are put in place" (A24).
WILLA, along with many others, is doing its best to keep girls from slipping through the cracks by offering sessions on gender bias at NCTE's fall, spring, and summer conferences; by presenting appropriate speakers and performers; by publishing brochures on reading lists and other significant issues, by publishing the journal and newsletter. Success, in equal education, opportunity, and recognition, will take a long time. For encouragement, let us keep Susan B. Anthony's words before us: "Failure is impossible." Still, we have the patience and the know-how where the education of our daughters, our sisters, our mothers is concerned. Remember that education, like democracy, is ever in the making, for we must always spin and weave new knowledge in with the old. Women know (Who better?) that knowledge is power and that knowledge knows no limits; and we will never limit our willingness to know and to convey our knowing, whether it be the usefulness of the eight parts of speech, the syntactical structure of an English sentence, or the literature reflective of all of our citizens, especially the female half.
I encourage you to consider the columns, the essays, and the poetry in this issue as they forward WILLA's aims, trusting that you will be informed and delighted as you read. Robin Milanovich's review of Peggy Orenstein's SchoolGirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap will fill you in on the inspiration for my editorial. Angeline Dvorak calls our attention to the role quilts played in our mothers' lives while Nancy Thompson addresses the significance of literary narratives. Janice Battiste focuses on the influence that Mary Moody Emerson had on her nephew Ralph Waldo Emerson, causing us to wonder, as does Dvorak, what these women could have and would have done had they been allowed to receive and use an education. "Revisiting Shakespeare and
Gender" by Gerlach, Almasy, and Daniel, shows how Shakespeare sometimes resisted the English Renaissance gender stereotypes. Dreher recounts how a student successfully strove to raise the pitch of his voice while Sharon Shelton-Colangelo relates the delights and difficulties of trying to create a student-centered classroom when feminist issues challenge that centeredness. Read Julianne White's analysis of mothers and daughters in Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White and rush out and read the novel. Day's re-imagining of the Gaia myth breaks new ground. The poetry by Sita Kapadia and Lee Ann Hughes demonstrates anew what words at their best can do. Leonore Hoffinann Walters' review of Marlene Schiwy's A Voice of Her Own: Women and the Journal-Writing Journey and Michelle Lee's Journals Spanning Time: Virginia Woolf, the Indigo Girls, Me indicate the value of the personal narrative in developing self-esteem.
Lastly, I want to thank Fran Holman for all that she did to summon WILLA, the organization, and WILLA, the journal, into being. A true founding mother, she obtained funding from her institution for the first issue of WILLA. Her work as co-editor and as managing editor has kept the journal fullspeed ahead.
© 1996, The Women in Literature and Life Assembly of the National Council of Teachers of English (ISSN #1065-9080). Permission is given to copy any article provided credit is given and the copies are not intended for resale.
Reference Citation: Gillikin, Jo. (1996). "From the Editor's Desk... ." WILLA, Volume V, p. 3.