Undergraduate Magazines Provide Space For Creativity

Many students have worked hard on academic papers. They’ve spent an excess amount of time researching, brainstorming, outlining, and writing. They’ve stayed in consecutive weekend nights to edit and perfect each sentence. Finally finished, they’ve never been so proud. They hand their baby in to their professors with a smile, anxiously wait two weeks, and finally get it back with a beautiful red “A” on top. Of course they’re happy with the outcome, yet sometimes they feel unsatisfied. What happens now? Is their beautiful writing fated to join the ranks of crumpled-up papers at the bottoms of their backpacks?

Thousands of students have found themselves in this condition before, and they may just be overlooking the countless opportunities for literary publication here at Boston College. Whether a student’s masterpiece is creative, fictional, poetic, research based, or maybe even controversial in nature, there’s a place for publication within one of BC’s literary journals.

Chances are, students probably see fliers for several of these publications posted around campus, on the side of the O’Neill stairwell, on the bulletin boards in the residence halls, or maybe even on the back of the bathroom stall doors in various academic buildings.

Chances also are, students are overwhelmed by the number of different journals, unsure what distinguishes them, and, therefore, hesitant to submit a piece to any arbitrary email address.

This article highlights the basic spirit of several BC literary journals, hopefully inspiring students to change the crumpled fate of their prized writing, sharing it with others in the BC community apart from their adoring roommates and impressed professor.

Stylus is Boston College’s only official literary and art magazine. Founded by students in 1882, Stylus is the  oldest club at BC, and one of the oldest collegiate literary and art magazines in the entire country.

It is a student-run organization, which publishes a print version of the magazine twice a year. Back in the “good ol’ days,” Stylus actually functioned as the literary arts magazine and the newspaper, but ever since The Heights split off in 1919, Stylus has devoted itself exclusively to literary arts.

Stylus’ mission statement defines the publication’s aim “to cultivate literary and artistic excellence through publication.” In terms of submissions, Stylus accepts poetry, prose, and art (That’s right, doodlers, there’s a place for your masterpieces, too).

“Stylus is relatively unique in the way that it runs its review process,”Stylus Editor-In-Chief Sophia Gorgens, A&S ’15, said. Unlike other literary magazines that tend to function through a closed group of reviewers, Stylus welcomes anyone at BC to attend the weekly review meetings.

After attending three review meetings, anyone is permitted to vote on the submissions. One doesn’t have to submit work of his or her own in order to attend meetings, and, conversely, does not have to attend meetings in order to submit work. Interested in submitting? Email [email protected] Interested in getting involved on the review end of things? Attend one of the weekly meetings Wednesdays from 8-10 p.m. in Stokes S109.

An additional publication of possible interest for female authors is The Laughing Medusa, BC’s only all women’s literature and arts magazine. The Laughing Medusa’s mission statement defines its aim to “engage the Boston College community with the artistic works of diverse women. The journal provides a safe space for talented young women to express and examine our lives. We hope to emphasize and explore our collective humanity, and hope that all readers, female and male, can see themselves in the pages of this journal.”

The Laughing Medusa publishes once annually and is accepting submissions this year until March 16. The council of editors is comprised of a group of 12 women who meet to anonymously review submissions. Not only does The Laughing Medusa publish its annual literary journal, but it also hosts several events throughout the year, such as “A Room of Our Own,” described as “a night when the BC Community comes together to applaud and celebrate BC women in the arts.”

Additionally this year, The Laughing Medusa will be hosting an event called “Cadence and Caffeine” on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Stokes Chocolate Bar. The event will consist of an open visual art gallery as well as musicians and poetry readers, both male and female.

Through events such as A Room of Our Own and Cadence and Caffeine, The Laughing Medusa hopes to “give women in the arts a space where they can present their art to an encouraging audience, and be inspired to continue creating.” Interested in submitting or getting involved? Check out the Laughing Medusa Facebook Page or email [email protected] and all forms of art are welcome.

Less inclined toward the creative side with your writing? There’s still a place for publication. Elements, BC’s undergraduate research journal, offers an opportunity to publish research papers (1,500-5,000 words) that are “well written, well researched, and on an engaging topic.”

The mission of Elements is to “become a forum for the exchange of original ideas within and across varied research endeavors of fellow undergraduates to the greater academic community by fostering intellectual curiosity and discussion.”

By submitting research papers written for class, or perhaps a chapter from a senior thesis via [email protected], you could contribute to the Elements goal of “strengthening and affirming community of undergrads at BC.”

Perhaps you have a spirited opinion piece on a controversial issue? BC’s Dialogue is a “unique journal that focuses specifically on controversial, insightful essays that are meant to promote dialogue among students and faculty.” The publication isn’t political or artistic, but rather, an educational journal that thrives on publishing a wide variety of topics.

Last but not least, is Witness, a BC “forum committed to broadening and deepening the conversation about global responsibility, social justice, and citizenship.”
Witness defines itself as a “journal of social responsibility,” and welcomes expression, reflection, and critical dialogue that will “foster a spirit of solidarity as citizens of the world.” [email protected] welcomes any work that fosters an “awareness and ongoing discussion of social justice.”

Any style of expression is welcome, whether it is poetry, creative non-fiction, short fiction, feature articles, essays, criticism, interviews, reviews, photography, paintings, sculptures, videos, or even music (which can be featured and viewed at http://bcwitnessjournal.wordpress.com).

These countless literary journals only scratch the surface of the intellectual gold circulating BC’s campus every day. Individual clubs, departments, and organizations have their own publications, blogs, forums, and events through which students are encouraged to share their work.

If there’s one thing these numerous publications have in common, it’s their hunger for submissions. They all encourage writers to abandon their fear of submitting. Some writing may just end up going on to publication in educational textbooks for national use (Just ask Elements, it’s happened before).