Emotional Control   /   Spring 2010   /    From the Editor

From the Editors

The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia has published The Hedgehog Review since 1999. During the same time period, we have also produced a small magazine, Culture (previously InSight). With this issue, we are bringing Culture “within” the pages of THR. In practical terms, this means a new look, a new format, a new editorial team, and a closer connection to the work and vision of the Institute. In reverse order, a few words about each of these changes.

The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture has two primary objectives. The first is to analyze and explain the cultural changes that our society is living through and the implications of those changes for human wellbeing. In our troubled times, we cannot hope to respond appropriately without a firm grasp of the animating ideas and the social forces that shape our world and our experience of it. While clear understanding is always difficult, it is especially challenging today. The reasons are many but the unprecedented change and flux alone, so characteristic of our world, strain our ability to differentiate the important from the ephemeral, the deeper movements of culture from the passing and inconsequential trends. The Hedgehog Review seeks to be a guide to understanding these deeper movements of cultural change.

The second objective of the Institute is to promote reflection on appropriate responses, asking what human dignity and a good society require and what social arrangements are necessary to sustain and satisfy those requirements. This task too is complex, rendered all the more problematic by our social inability to articulate what a good life and a good society might entail. Public languages of morality and social philosophy have been largely replaced with languages of individual autonomy, of self-fulfillment, and of life as an optimization project. These languages, and the institutional arrangements that carry them, reduce the good to matters of “choice” or “preference,” obscuring understandings of the human person and community and making it difficult to deliberate publicly on them.

Rooted in these objectives, our goals for The Hedgehog Review are to address the most pressing questions of our day, to foster public discussion and open up new vistas of understanding, and to challenge our readers to think more deeply about our world and their engagement in it.

With this issue, Joseph E. Davis, former Editor of Culture and Research Director at the Institute, joins long-time Hedgehog Review Editor Jennifer L. Geddes, as Co-Editor, and James Davison Hunter steps down as Executive Editor after ten years. We wish to take this opportunity to express our deepest thanks to Professor Hunter for all his service to The Hedgehog Review. He remains as Executive Director of the Institute, and you will hear from him from time to time in the pages of THR.

Paging through this issue, you will observe a number of key changes in format and design. Previously, each issue of The Hedgehog Review was dedicated in its entirety to a single theme. Each issue will now contain a thematic section, consisting of three or four essays and the ever-popular bibliographic review. This change makes room for a mix of other essays on a range of timely and interesting topics, reviews of a much wider selection of new books, short reports on new studies, interviews with leading scholars, art, and poetry. You will notice a livelier page layout, with our greater mix of genres of writing and the varying length of pieces reflected in an assortment of design elements. One thing that will not change is our aim to offer clear, jargon-free prose, accessible to scholars and educated lay people alike.

We are excited about this new chapter in The Hedgehog Review’s development and welcome any feedback you might have. Send comments, criticisms, praise, and/ or suggestions to hedgehog@virginia.edu. Who knows…maybe we’ll even start a “Letters to the Editors” section, if we hear from enough of you.

The world is rapidly changing, and the changes need careful navigation. Our hope is that The Hedgehog Review, as a forum for careful research and morally serious reflection, can nurture and assist in that urgent task.

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