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Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
49th Parallel is a fascinating journal focused on the interdisciplinary study of America and Canada in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The journal takes its name from the 1,270 mile border between the US and Canada, and articles here range across the subjects of film, history, literature, photography, politics, popular culture, and the visual arts, examining each within an international comparative framework. The active editors are predominantly Ph.D students at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham, with associate editors (presumed advisory) from institutions across Europe and Asia. The editors solicit articles in English, of 6,000-8,000 words in length, as well as book, film, television, and web reviews approximately 750 words long.
I find the journal fascinating for two reasons: 1. for the breadth and variety of subjects it covers, and 2. for the distanced perspective of American and Canadian cultures it provides, coming mostly from non-North American sources. As to the subjects to be found here, an examination of different journal issues discovers articles on the Lost Cause (of the American Confederacy), American women and international labor organization, the Reagan era of American foreign policy and the Nicaraguan contras, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Canadians serving the Union in the American Civil War, immigration, mixed racial identities, UFOs, Mounties, gender, proto-feminism, Foucault, Shakespeare, and adolescent sexuality – just to scratch the surface of the subject matter. Article authors come from around the globe, mostly from outside Canada and the U.S., and provide valuable insight into how both these North American nations are perceived by the rest of the world.
Reviews are mostly book reviews, with a few media reviews tucked in sparingly, but the book reviews will be useful to cultural researchers. The journal site includes a Resources section with links to related journals and websites on American and Canadian culture. Some links in this section are broken, but others continue to provide useful information. The Search function on the site is not particularly useful (for example, a search for Bill Clinton found a single article, although I came across multiple articles about him as I browsed the system), but that’s not a deal-breaker for the title because it is indexed in both America: History & Life with Full Text and the MLA International Bibliography.
This is a useful source to steer researchers seeking a nonendemic view of North American cultures towards.