When the literary journal “The Believer” ceased publication, it made headlines and prompted a discussion of why many literary journals are shutting down. There are multiple factors that have led to literary journals ceasing production, such as not being profitable and a general disinterest from the public to read new issues.
While some argue that there are too many journals in existence and losing a few will not be a great cultural loss, they fail to realize that literary journals play an important role in higher education. Literary journals are a great learning opportunity for students and should continue serialization for their educational value.
Literary journals give students an opportunity to examine pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in a way they would not normally. Throughout primary school and higher education, students are required to read literary works considered to be influential and the best in their genre. While there is great value in examining texts that set the standard, most people cannot write on the same level as Keats or Gwendolyn Brooks.
Students can improve their writing by reading average and bad fiction submissions and thinking critically about why the piece isn’t working and how it can be improved. Choosing which pieces are worthy of publication and which aren’t helps students discern what makes good written work in a way you can’t get from only reading the classics.
Literary journals also offer students the opportunity to collaborate with others. While working with classmates is commonplace in college, having to reach out to people off-campus to complete a project is less common. When working on a literary journal, students work with writers and offer edits and suggestions to the piece they submitted. Staying in contact with a stranger for a project prepares students for the job force far more than meeting up with classmates to create a PowerPoint does.
Working on a literary journal is not an assignment you can complete in an afternoon, but rather a multi-month project. Tackling such an extensive commitment gives students an end goal to work toward and helps them set goals and break down how best to complete the journal by the deadline.
Furthermore, literary journals provide a venue for students outside of the classroom to submit to. Many literary journals on campuses are run by students and only accept work from undergraduates. This provides a platform for talented emerging writers to be published without having to compete against professionals who have been writing for decades.
Even if literary journals are not incredibly profitable and are not in high demand by the general public, they still serve an important academic role for students that can not be understated. Ohio University is fortunate enough to have the likes of Sphere and the New Ohio Review that allow undergraduates to have hands-on experience with publishing a literary journal, and I highly encourage students to get involved with them.
Charlene Pepiot is a senior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her, firstname.lastname@example.org.