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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Future of the New England Review

The LA Times book blog, Jacket Copy, recently featured this post about the suddenly imperiled New England Review, which has been told by Middlebury college that it has until 2011 to become self-sustaining. Like many university-affiliated literary journals (including HFR), the university supplies office space, some salary money, and printing costs for the journal. With under 2,000 subscribers, the journal is not a money-making enterprise. But (and here I'll speak for HFR), a university-based journal provides other, less tangible revenue. Its existence enlivens the university's literary community. It supports the graduate and undergraduate communities by providing opportunities for editing and interning - real-world applications of what is taught in creative writing classrooms. It brings attention to the university, and its creative writing programs. It creates a relationship between the university and the larger community of readers and writers. It provides opportunities for dialogue, conversation and scholarship. It allows the university to give back to the larger world, supporting the work of emerging writers and artists. It creates jobs in the arts, a valuable enterprise for an institution that trains students in the arts.

According to the post, Boston University's Partisan Review and Duke's DoubleTake folded after support was withdrawn in recent years, and LSU's Southern Review is currently under threat as well.

Literary journals need your support: as writers, as readers, as supporters of education and the arts. Still not convinced? Try this blog post on for size: Ted Genoways of The Virginia Quarterly Review on the importance of literary journals and presses. Please consider making your voice heard by subscribing to your favorite journal, or with an email showing your support.


Aaron said...

Doubletake was a great magazine, and I was sorry to see it go when it finally folded.

I think that schools need to think about their literary magazines in a different way. In a science major, it is expected that the student will have to spend some time in a lab. Literary magazines are the laboratories of the creative writing undergrad and the MFA student. They allow a practical experience in the real world of literature that cannot happen in a classroom. To have a creative writing program without one (without a good one) denies the student the knowledge of the process they will face once they attempt publication. Also, with all the MFA programs turning out would-be writers by the bucket-full, it is the programs that have journals that will produce the literary editors with the vision and insight that will be needed to produce the magazines that publish them all. Publishing is it’s own tricky science, and real education in it is lacking. Part of that may be that right now the industry is undergoing a major metamorphosis, an upheaval brought on by New Media. But that only means that people with experience to curate for a reading public will be needed to help put the old model to rest and mid-wife the new one.

There was an article in the New York Times about a month ago about universities selling off the contents of their museums to help close their funding gaps. Putting literary magazines up for the chopping block is just more of the same false economy. Nothing will be gained that is in any way tangible to education, and much will be lost, not to be recovered.

Kyle said...

This is terrible news. Thanks for sharing this, though. I agree that "literary magazines are the laboratories fo the creative writing undergrad and MFA student." I'll definitely post something on First Person Plural about this.

evanjamesroskos said...

I saw a panel with the editors for the NER last summer and they were openly opposed to some of the reinvigorating ideas that Genoways and others have brought to the Virginia Quarterly. This is a prime case of a journal that will have to make a sacrifice in an effort to not only get new readers but also to survive.

I was actually disappointed by their attitude towards online journals. When compared to Genoways' enthusiasm for the various new ways a journal can reach people, NER came across as out of touch with the financial realities of University publishing. I hope NER survives, but it's going to require a major philosophical shift that will fail if it is simply done to survive and not because of an inherent belief in the changes.

Anonymous said...

What is the deal? This comment is part in response to the comments left on the linked sites herein. Why on earth would the inventive collective of the university literary journal be so undervalued by its benefactors? I'm sorry. Luddite or not someone needs to argue for the matter at hand: physical matter in your hand. Enter a specific story or a specific journal or a specific author into a search engine three years ago and chances were you'd get it in the first few hits. Now the internet is a trash heap of links and twits and you-tube satire. Gimmie a piece of goodgosh paper with some words on it so that when the archives link goes down with the next set of graduate student editors or undergraduate I.T. folks I can still read it. I know. I could always print it out if I want to hold it in my hands and refer to it at my liesure. Exactly. When did a convenience become such a lauded death-knell to quality?