After twenty-two years, Gary Gibbs is stepping down as the primary book review editor for the Sixteenth Century Journal. Gary established an innovative structure for the Book Review Office at Roanoke College, recruiting Whitney Leeson and James Ogier to serve with him as book review editors, along with Karen Harris as managing editor and a host of student interns as assistants. Their office was highlighted in the Roanoke College magazine as an example of the professional development opportunities the college offered, and served as a model for other academic journals housed at primarily undergraduate institutions. Under Gary’s leadership, the Book Review Office has sent out more than 9,000 books, with 93 percent of the books received sent out for review and more than 8,000 reviews published. Through in-person outreach at conferences and every type of electronic communication, Gary has created a data base of more than 3,000 reviewers on nearly every continent (he’s still looking for that elusive reviewer from Antarctica) and many island nations. He has sought out reviewers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, libraries, museums, and community colleges. More than a list of names, the reviewers are a network, showing off SCJ buttons, tee shirts, and certificates, and eating BRO candy, all ideas of Gary’s about how the journal could thank reviewers for their service.
Just as the reviewers are now an international and diverse group, so are the books reviewed, with books on early modern Asia, Africa, and the Americas added to those on Europe, along with comparative and global works. The SCJregularly reviews books published in nearly every country in Europe and some in Asia, in many languages. Gary expanded the chronological as well as geographic scope of the book reviews, selecting works of interest to early modernists that ranged from antiquity to the present. He made room at the table for underrepresented areas of specialization, including musicology, material culture, and archaeology. Under his leadership, the Book Review Office has sponsored pedagogy panels at the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference, and also at the annual conferences of the American Historical Association, the World History Association, and other learned societies, introducing the SCJto new audiences. These panels often became articles in the SCJ, enhancing the journal’s commitment to quality teaching as well as research.
Every survey of academic journals has found that the book reviews are what readers turn to first and read most thoroughly. For twenty-two years, readers of the SCJ have been able to rely on Gary’s leadership in this essential part of the journal. Speaking for those readers, we editors cannot thank him enough, and encourage you as readers to send him your thanks as well: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This spring, the Book Review Office moves to the Department of History at the University of Arkansas, where it will be under the able leadership of our new book review editor, Freddy C. Domínguez, a historian of early modern political culture and religion.