Monday, April 11, 2016

The Evolution of Mount Holyoke Literary Magazines. Part II

When Mount Holyoke’s literary magazine Tempo came to a close in 1953, students looked for another successful outlet to serve as the next generation of student-written publication. For many years Mount Holyoke published a first-year literary magazine designated specifically for that year's incoming class, thus they were named after that year's class animal, whether it be a sphinx, lion, griffon, or pegasus. Pegasus' magazine became particularly successful and consequently became Mount Holyoke’s official literary magazine in 1955. The promotion from first-year magazine to the stand alone magazine was very different from previous efforts to expand the audience. Instead of creating an entirely new literary magazine, students looked to an already successful outlet and chose to expand upon it.

Comparison of 1977 edition of
Pegasus with Spring 1978
Pegasus proved to be one of the most successful official literary magazines, and is still today Mount Holyoke's longest standing publication. The 35 years, from 1955 until 1990, that Pegasus was in production even surpassed The Mount Holyoke Monthly’s 26 years. During this time, the magazine evolved drastically and experimented with new design formats, art content, and photography. The Spring 1978 edition of Pegasus is a particularly interesting example of their experimentation towards format and presentation. This edition is more than double the size of previous magazines and includes large pictures of student art in a folio format. The editor's note mentions that this unique edition was an experiment in lowering costs of printing by typesetting and printing the entire magazine themselves. The folio style did not continue, however, and the next edition in summer 1978 returned to the previous booklet format. Pegasus introduced another format change beginning in the late 1960s where they enlarged the booklet slightly to better present student artwork.

The Common Wages
(1971- 1995)
Despite the success of Pegasus and its dynamic changes to keep the magazine modern and inclusive, the need for a new magazine arose in 1971. Since Pegasus lacked the space for stories longer than a couple pages, The Common Wages was developed to hold longer stories and writing samples that would not fit in Pegasus. While these two magazines were in publication, a third literary magazine was born called Vida. Vida was developed as a specialized magazine for bilingual students in collaboration with the Latina club on campus called La Unidad. Vida offered bilingual students the opportunity to submit writing in languages other than English and to expand the literary community at Mount Holyoke through a variety of cultural content.

Funky Lady
Canary Wine


In 1990 the long standing Pegasus was replaced with an all new magazine called Arsis, a word derived from the Greek poetic device meaning “to raise one’s voice.” The name was chosen to represent students' desire to “reflect a wide range of voices and ideas from the Mount Holyoke community” through their magazine. Arsis was also different visually, as the editors chose to make it “a smaller, annual-like style, and nothing too glossy.” Between 1993 and 1999 there were a series of name changes that were all short lived. The first name change during this period was from Arsis to Canary Wine in 1993. The new name was inspired by a sweet wine from the Canary Islands, which “like art, intoxicates those who drink it in.” Canary Wine lasted until 1996 followed by Funky Lady and then Calliope in in 1999. From 1999 until 2001 Mount Holyoke literary magazines made a brief hiatus while a new literary magazine was being designed.

The Blackstick Review
(2004- present)
Mount Holyoke literary magazines started back up in 2001 with a “new, eclectic, entirely student-run publication showcasing a myriad of paintings, photographs, poems and prose compositions,” titled Verbosity. While Verbosity was ongoing, another literary magazine was introduced called The Blackstick Review, reviving the name from Mount Holyoke's literary club Blackstick that was in existence from 1909 to 1961. In addition to publishing physical magazines, The Blackstick Review was also the first online literary magazine, making student writing available to all wherever they had internet access. This was a huge development for Mount Holyoke and the creative student community.Verbosity and The Blackstick Review continued simultaneously until 2013 when Verbosity ended. 

Today, Mount Holyoke's active literary magazines include The Blackstick Review and Moneta. So if you are interested in reading the student writing on campus, check out these two great publications!

Author Brittnee Worthy is a student Archives Assistant in Archives and Special Collections. To explore Mount Holyoke's literary magazines in person, visit Archives and Special Collections in the basement of Dwight Hall!


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