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Janus Head

A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature, Continental Philosophy, Phenomenological Psychology, and the Arts


by Claire Cowan-Barbetti, Co-editor



What is a “Janus head” and why would anyone want to name a journal after it?

Stone-carved reliefs of the face of Janus were often placed above doorways of old Roman homes, such as the one at Villa Madama at the foot of Monte Mario just outside Rome. Placed at the threshold, the image of the god conveys both a welcome and a demarcation of boundary. The visage of Janus is double, each face poised in opposite directions, a pliable symbol extending itself to spatial, temporal, political, and personal planes. The phrase “Janus-faced” as it comes down to us means “two-faced” or “deceitful,” but the original signification of the two-faced god meant vigilance and new beginnings, as we think of in the first month of the year, January. To quote from Bergen Evans' dictionary of Mythology, “It was a peculiarity of this god that the doors of his temple were kept open in time of war and closed in time of universal peace. They were rarely closed.”

From its inception in 1998, Janus Head, as an interdisciplinary journal, has aimed to be that opened door at the threshold of a newly charged dialogue among the disciplines. Disciplines themselves are human demarcations, boundaries built across the phenomenal field, both opening up and closing off the thought of one disciplinary domain or another. The interdisciplinary space, then, is one that seeks to give rise to other, provocative modes of revealing, to freshen the blood of the disciplines by interjecting and crossing different bodies of thought, to give credence to various manifestations of truth in human knowledge and experience. This journal is dedicated to the exploration of ideas and images as they unfold through both analytical and poetic modes of language. Visual art has its say in this space as well, for the immediacy and visceral amplitude of the image is the aesthetic reminder of the power of silence between words, the dense nexus of meaning that resides in the imagination before language.

Janus Head has published essays ranging a broad scope of topics, from Heraclitean philosophy to Kantian ethics, from Melville to Rene Char, from Heideggarean ontology to Derridean language studies, to name just a few. Poetry, the avant-garde as well as the quietly lyrical, takes an honored place in the journal, because it is in poetry, as one of our editors wrote in an early editorial, that Being and language fuse. Past contributors to Janus Head include Alphonso Lingis, Robert Romanyshyn, Claudia K. Grinnell, Margo Kren, Elizabeth Mesa-Gaido, Robert Gibbons, Ouyang Yu, R. Flowers Rivera, Jamie O'Halloran, Ernesto Grassi, Peter Caws, Frits Staal, Antoine Vergote, Evans Lansing Smith, Louise Sundararajan, Michael Sipiora, and Frank Edler.

Janus Head is published biannually, on-line and in print. The journal publishes essays, poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, art, and reviews. Annual volumes usually include one themed issue and one “open” issue, which considers submissions on any number of topics. Online readership has grown to a number of 10,000 unique visitors a month. In addition to presenting the current issue in full, the website offers access to the archives of past issues, as well as an extensive resource page featuring over 300 links to other journals, a listing of conferences and events, and reviews of books and films.

We encourage readers to view the current issue featuring the proceedings from the 2001 George Washington University Human Sciences Conference, Knowing Subjects: Human Lives, Human Worlds. Lewis Gordon, Jonathan Moreno, David Goldberg, and Virginia Held are among the writers contributing to this special issue.

Forthcoming in the fall is an issue centered on Magical Realism, featuring poetry by Virgil Suarez, Robert Gibbons, Todd Sanders, among others; and essays by Lois Parkinson Zamora, Wendy B. Faris, and Michael Wood.

For more information, please write to: editors@janushead.org

Claire Cowan-Barbetti
Coeditor
Janus Head
www.janushead.org