It has been an especially good year for Literary Editing and Publishing (Eng 305). Once in a while, you are blessed with a special class. This year I had an all-women team, which perhaps explains the quality of the work and the collegial spirit that was there from the start. In fact, I often felt I was just a spectator watching the students run the show. And a delighted spectator, who enjoyed every moment of our time together. I confess that when I wasn't with the students on Mondays and Wednesdays, I was often overcome by 305 nostalgia.
In the first part of the semester, the students put together a very fine Lit/Pub magazine issue filled with good writing and excellent editing. In the second part, they prepared exciting book proposals, both fiction and non-fiction -- so exciting, in fact, that I wouldn't be surprised to see some of them out in print one day. Editors and literary agents zoomed in from New York and revealed to a rapt audience the ins and outs of publishing.
The striking cover of the magazine by Jade Ramos – two girlfriends sitting at a café as they try to make sense of things – evokes the spirit of this post-pandemic phase as we emerge, eyes blinking and tentative, to face the insidious residuals of Coronavirus.
This same feeling of tentativeness pervades the short fiction of Autumn McIntyre, Yasmine Guiga, Olivia Kesselman and Madison Walters – we read about the friendship between two young women as it slips away; the confused anxiety around a possible pregnancy; couples breaking up and coming together at the New Year; a daughter confronting her mother’s infidelity, and her own sexual identity. In Kathryn Uliana’s quirky sketch, two strangers stuck in an elevator discover more about themselves than they perhaps wish to.
In the Non-Fiction section, Margaret Kovick looks back soberly at a brief encounter with an older man. Meg Gephart writes movingly about the loss of her grandfather. Alyssa Pasvantis tries to reconnect with her Greek community in Florida after the pandemic. Autumn McIntyre battles bravely with her eating disorder. Madison Walters wonders about the lives of her neighbors from her balcony. Julia Eisen writes to her former selves in a touching exercise in self-reflection. And in Lauren Neely’s humorous sketch, an apartment in Rome filled with American students complains about her untidy tenants while lamenting their imminent departure like a typical Italian Mama.
In addition to her cover and drawings, Jade Ramos has contributed two fine poems – on the strangeness of new love, and on oranges that sometimes cure illness and other times don’t.
When we first began putting together this issue of the magazine, we decided to work on the idea of relationships. It seemed an appropriate theme as we emerged from the contact-less, remote-living, zoom-zombie days of the pandemic. Over the past months “Relationships” morphed into the nervier, more upbeat, more assertive “Modern Affairs” – all in all, a promising sign.
Professor Andrea di Robilant, Rome, May 2022