By all indications, criticism and scholarship on Willa Cather are flourishing: studies of this author and her work have increased dramatically in the past twenty years, from approximately fifteen to more than fifty scholarly and critical essays annually, and from an occasional book to eight in 1986-88 alone. Papers on Cather appear regularly in general national programs; conferences and seminars devoted specifically to her attract hundreds of participants each year. Such interest results naturally in the belief that Cather students would be well served by a specialized publication, one that, by focusing attention upon the quality and diversity of Cather scholarship, would complement both the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial Newsletter and the more general journals.
Selected essays from one such seminar provided the occasion to announce Cather Studies. As work proceeded to publish a volume based on papers presented at the Third National Seminar on Willa Cather (Hastings and Red Cloud, Nebraska, 1987), we soon realized that we had a foundation for Cather Studies 1, to be sponsored by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and in cooperation with the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation.
Many people have contributed to the success of the seminar series and to the establishment of Cather Studies—especially Mildred R. Bennett, late president and chairman of the board, Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation; Frederick M. Link, chair of the Department of English, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; Jane Hood, director of the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities; Judith Levin, Department of English, University of Nebraska–Lincoln; and the many scholars who generously contributed time and expertise. I am grateful also to the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities for major funding.