E 380E • Practicum in Editing
Five years ago the graduate students in The Department's Creative Writing Program inaugurated a literary journal called the Bat City Review. The journal has received, in this very short time period, national acclaim. Works from the journal have been featured on poetry daily websites, reviewed favorably by national publications, and included in prize-winning book collections. Published annually, edited and managed entirely by Creative Writing students, BCR is a jewel in the Department's treasury. As the faculty founder, principal instructor, and ongoing editorial advisor, I worked to develop and maintain what might be called a culture of the journal and to ensure that the editing experience remains pedagogically valuable to the students who undertake it.
This course, then, is both a practicum for editing a literary journal and an introduction to the role of literary journals in the U. S. during the last century. Theoretically, the course raises questions of aesthetic value and editorial judgment: in fact, we begin by reading Descartes's "Discourse on Method." Often this involves understanding how a particular work, whether poetry or fiction, operates within its own genre (and this involves identifying the genre in the first place, not always an easy task, especially if the genre is being bent by the work in question or the reader is unfamiliar with the generic conventions that are being bent). So, one strain of course preparations has to do with this issue of establishing a basis for aesthetic evaluation, which is quite different from liking the work that you like.
A large part of the course will also be discussion and evaluation of actual submissions to the journal, both poetry and prose. These submissions run into the thousands for poetry, several hundred for fiction. So, this is a hands-on course.
Descartes, "Discourse on Method"
The Little Magazine in America: A Modern Documentary History, ed. Elliott Anderson and Mary Kinzie
Selected journal readingGlimmer Train, Missouri Review, One Story, Tin House, Poetry, Zootrope, Agni, Mid-American Review