For many years students of the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts desired to publish a journal that would reflect the type of inquiry into, and ongoing interpretation of, the Western tradition that gives the school its unique character. Several times groups of students began work toward that end; but while these early efforts developed many good ideas, they were not able to see those ideas through to a concrete form.
In the summer of 2009, once more a small band of students coalesced around the idea of producing a journal, but this time with one important difference: Braniff graduate students, in a real, if modest, showing of republican virtue, had voted to levy a tax on themselves in order (in part) to provide financial backing for the undertaking. With preliminary funding in hand, and with additional support from the Braniff Graduate School, the student editors were able to organize the idea for a journal into a specific shape. With further support from the faculty and student body, the first issue came off the printing press in 2010.
The Braniff Graduate School is a unique and special place, and the journal is intended to represent its governing idea. But ultimately the journal will not only represent that idea, but also bring it into fuller consciousness. That means, for the future, the journal will foster an exploration into and greater awareness of the genre of writing appropriate to the purposes of the Braniff Graduate School. And, more broadly, the journal will help all of us in the UD community to search out and come to a better understanding of the depths of the soul of the Braniff Graduate School.
“I would like to commend the initiative and effort of the Braniff graduate students in bringing to fulfillment an aspiration that many of us have long nurtured. As we are all aware, the excellence of the University of Dallas is too little appreciated in the country at large. We need publicity, but of the right kind--the kind that a distinguished academic journal will bring us, that will make us better known for the truly remarkable academic work that is being done here. Over the years as a faculty we have read countless excellent essays written by our graduate students, essays that are of the very highest quality for the cogency and insight of their arguments, for their accessibility to the generally educated reader, and for their pertinence to problems of great concern to us as human beings. In all these respects they tend to differ considerably from the graduate research papers being written elsewhere. We have long needed a graduate journal to bring some of the intellectually compelling papers of our students to a wider audience. The more readers there are who pick up a copy of this journal and explore it, the more the radiant name of the University will shine.”
Ramify is a peculiar name for a journal and therefore one that warrants some explication. Ramify simply means to branch out. But to branch out means in the first place to have roots, to be grounded. Inquiry and education at our university have traditionally rooted themselves in the great works of the West, and the journal aims both to be informed by the Western tradition, and to sustain it by participating in its formation. It is in this sense that we can judge ourselves to be products of our tradition, who have been charged to branch out further: to ramify. In order to “commerce / With the great universe,” we must branch out in definite ways: in order to discover truth, we must develop various and particular lines of inquiry (see “Seed Leaves” by Richard Wilbur, reprinted in the first issue). In distinction from the specializing drift of academia at large, the peculiar virtue of the University of Dallas is to refer these particular lines of inquiry back to the whole from which they draw their meaning and humane interest.