Clarkson prof Serio presented Distinguished Editor award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals
Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 10:19 am

The Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) has presented Clarkson University Humanities Professor Emeritus John N. Serio with the Distinguished Editor award for his editorship of the Wallace Stevens Journal, which he edited for nearly thirty years while a professor at Clarkson.

The council, a consortium of over one hundred academic periodicals, presented the award at this month's Modern Language Association convention in Seattle.

In an era in which Stevens was at the heart of successive critical paradigms (formalist, phenomenological, deconstructive, historicist), Serio kept the journal open to all viewpoints while privileging none.

As one board member noted to the judges, Serio "always seemed to know when interesting new approaches to Stevens were in the air."

Serio also explored the many dimensions of a poet -- often thought difficult and obscure -- and provided a cumulative portrait of a writer far more many-sided than his routine classification would lead people to believe.

This was also demonstrated by the way in which the journal contained not only academic articles, but also personal remembrances and poems either about Stevens or in his manner.

The design of the journal made a quantum leap under Serio's editorship, with eye-catching covers, clean layout, and meticulous proofreading as hallmarks.

Serio is also renowned as a nurturer of academic writing.

In the words of a senior scholar at a major university, who credits his own success partly to Serio's effective editing, "John's method is collaborative."

Another scholar described to the judges how Serio's honest criticism and tireless encouragement over a number of years were crucial to her own professional career.

A letter to the judges from a young Stevens scholar also testified to Serio's effectiveness as mentor: "[Serio] practically taught me how to write professional criticism with his stewardship of my first article."

Another contributor said: "I've never received such useful or constructive feedback from any other editor."

Serio routinely engaged in such constructive collaborations, usually without acknowledgment, with both younger scholars and senior authorities whose articles needed the special care that only a diligent and responsive editor could provide in order to bring them to fruition.

Finally, Serio was an active force beyond Stevens scholarship in sharing his editorial wisdom with scholars in other fields, as well as promoting the cause of learned journals in general.

The CELJ honored Serio, a major force in American humanities scholarship, with its Distinguished Editor Award for 2011.