Miracle Monocle perseveres and publishes its 14th issue amid pandemic Tuesday, Apr 28 2020 

By Zoe Watkins–

In the need of new reading material during quarantine? The English department’s award-winning online literary journal “Miracle Monocle,” has just released its 14th issue after overcoming many setbacks.

“Miracle Monocle” publishes twice a year and brings together a wide array of literary work and visual art pieces. These are then handpicked by a student editorial staff led by faculty editor, Dr. Sarah Strickley.

Since there are over 500 submissions every issue, Strickley said that there is a selection process to pick what goes in the journal. During this process, the staff reads and responds to each individual submission.

“The pieces that gain the most positive attention in our submission management system process go to a second round of consideration. We then narrow down the picks from there. We also solicit pieces from writers and artists whose work we admire but those pieces represent only a fraction of our contributors overall,” Strickley said.

The latest 14th issue was a challenging one to publish. Strickley said that the COVID-19 pandemic caused many logistical challenges. For example, their weekly in-person meetings now took place over Zoom and communication among staff took place online using Outlook’s Teams function.

The staff also had to change dates for some future publications such as “Monster, which is the next installment in the print anthology series. It has been postponed until the fall semester.

Despite all of this, the staff still managed to put together a full issue, which Strickley described as truly beautiful.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we came in on deadline and I’m awed by the fact that four students wrote reviews of new books for Issue 14. Truly exceptional work,” she said.

Amy Dotson, a graduating senior with an English major and Creative Writing minor, served as an associate editor. Dotson said publishing the issue during a pandemic was strange. She said that the process of editing and coding pieces were the same, but there could not be a launch event for the issue.

However, Dotson explained that everyone worked hard on their own time to meet the deadline and gave praise to the work Strickley and assistant editor Adam Yeich put into the journal.

“It’s because of their tireless efforts that the journal is what it is. It’s a labor of love. And we all love it. So, we made it happen. Hopefully, this issue is a little ray of light for many in an otherwise dark time,” Dotson said.

She said her favorite part of making the issue was reading through all the submissions.

“People can send in some strange things, so going through submissions can be like winding a jack-in-the-box,” Dotson explained. “But that’s kind of what I love–how every time you open a new submission, you’re hoping it’s going to be the next incredible piece of work. And sometimes it is!”

Ashley Bittner, one of the two graduate editors for the “Miracle Monocle,” said going through the submissions was his favorite part as well, as they provided insight into a world that he has not seen or experienced yet.

“Papers come in from around the world, all writers with something to stay, and reading over it is very cosmopolitan,” Bittner said.

He said that his favorite pieces currently are Kendyl Harmeling’s “An Unbecoming End” and Emily Beck Cogburn’s “Crossing the River.”

Now with issue 14 released, Strickley described the end of this editorial cycle as bittersweet.

“I’m always excited to send a new issue into the world, but that also means that I’m graduating a staff, which is a real loss on both a personal and professional level. This time around that contradiction was even more pronounced for me,” she said.

Strickley said that they could have eased production or stopped altogether, but they persevered through it all.  She said that this semester had a moving outcome, however unusual and fraught it was.

“I want to thank my staff for renewing my faith in the project of the journal. It’s about bringing people together to celebrate art, right? In a time when we can’t occupy the same literal space, it’s more important than ever to come together in the realm of ideas. And that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Strickley said.

If you would like to check out the latest issue, go to http://louisville.edu/miraclemonocle.

File graphic// The Louisville Cardinal

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Literature conference returns to Louisville for 48th year Friday, Feb 28 2020 

By Zoe Watkins —

The 48th Louisville conference on “Literature and Culture since 1900” took place from Feb. 20 through Feb. 22 with various seminars being held throughout the Bingham Humanities Building.

Since its debut, this international event invites people to submit their own literary work along with topics that correlate to literature and culture. Through a rigorous process, select proposals and creative works are grouped together and prepared for a presentation.

Co-Program Coordinator Janna Tajibaeva explained the event focuses on 20th century literature, cultures, cinema and poetry.  Tajibaeva said the event is the longest ongoing conference in the midwest.

“Sometimes people will tell us that it is better to have it on campus than some other institution because it has some academic field. Nowadays, most conferences are held at hotels or convention centers,” Tajibaeva said.

Besides being around for 48 years, another specialty of the conference is that the event expands on a singular subject, said co-program coordinator Brandon Harwood.

“This conference tries to look at the ways that literature and the literary arts, which is a little bit broader, affects cultures and culture affects it. It asks political questions, religious questions. It asks how is it that literature is changing, how is it the way people digest literature is changing,” Harwood said.

He explained the event is forward-thinking and said the value of the conference lies in how it teaches people to look past just reading a good book and to start asking questions such as, “How does this literature piece affect society?”

The conference’s seminars ranged from creative panels that covered fiction, to lectures such as one titled “Nocturnal Variations: Revising the Night in Fiction and Film.”

“Since it’s at a university, it has a homier feel. Most of these people teach at universities, so it feels like they are gathering around and talking about these ideas that they usually teach. So now they get to listen to what other people think about it, dialogue about it and help further their own research,” Harwood said.

The event is semi-annually, so the next conference will be held again in February 2021.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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