Kevin Patrick Warstadt, MALS’17 and the 2017 Edward Connery Lathem ’51 Digital Program Fellow, offers an inside view of a conference focused on developing skills and knowledge for students involved in publishing.
The 2017 Northeast Student publishing conference was held on April 29th in the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning at Dartmouth College. The event, which aimed to provide students opportunities to learn about publishing and network with peers, had representatives from Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern, Plymouth, and even the University of Georgia. My hope, as a representative of Clamantis: The MALS Journal here at Dartmouth, was to connect with students from other schools, increasing readership of my own journal and potentially setting up collaborations in the future. The PubCon provided these opportunities and more.
The day began with an opening panel, featuring guest speakers Meredith Adinolfi, director of Cell Press, Francine A’Ness, Dartmouth assistant dean of undergraduate students, and Amanda “Spo!” Spoto, former editor of Clamantis. These opening speeches were an excellent start to the day, providing both practical insight into the workings of professional publications and abstract topics to contemplate throughout the day. After this opening panel, members of the conference were able to choose from two different workshops, to learn about a topic of their choice. I went to a workshop led by Meredith Adinolfi, in which we discussed management of staff and communicating with contributors. The workshop was informative and thought provoking, and has inspired the implementation of some new policies at Clamantis.
Following the first workshop sessions, we had a networking lunch. Students broke off into groups based on topics of discussion. I joined a discussion based on literary publishing. At this lunch, I was able to talk at length with some of the students from BU, and we’ve begun to plan a potential event in Boston in the future.
There were two more workshops after lunch. I attended one led by Professor Cynthia Monroe called “Deciding What to Publish.” We began the workshop with a discussion of professional publications and what made them successful. This discussion revealed the importance of developing an identity for one’s publication and demonstrating that identity clearly and consistently to readers and contributors alike. We then broke into groups and designed a journal theme based on example article prompts and images.
The conference ended with a discussion of the events of the day and a raffle. Two publications were awarded memberships to publishing organizations. We all parted ways, new journals in hand.
As I have said, my greatest hope for the Student PubCon was to make connections with students from other schools and improve circulation of student journals. Why is this important? There are a number of reasons. For one, it gets the work of contributors to a wider audience. Publishing in student journals, especially smaller journals, can sometimes be dis-incentivized by lack of impact. A wider readership makes publishing in journals more worthwhile.
Student publishing also provides an important service for writers going into the professional world. There can sometimes be apprehension publishing, but sharing material is an important part of the creative process for any artist. Student journals provide a lower stress entry into the world of publishing.
Beyond the concrete benefits, making connections between different publishing centers allows for art to flourish and more successfully do what it is meant to do. Publishing allows for the writer to spread his or her message and begin a conversation. These conversations through art allow for the expression of ideas in ways that often can’t be expressed through direct conversation. With this free flowing of ideas, we can all gain exposure to different views of the world and, in doing so, approach a greater understanding of the human experience.
This first student publishing conference was a great step in the direction of forming a robust and interconnected community in the northeast, but there is still much work to be done. Discussion for a future event has already begun, and if we can maintain the connections made at the Student Publishing Conference, the benefits may be even greater in the future.