The Madison Journal of Literary Criticism by Lilly Kiel

0mjlc2.pngThe Madison Journal of Literary Criticism is a journal based in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their mission: “A space for undergraduate students of literature to publish their scholarly work and engage in contemporary literary debates.” The publication consists of 8-15 essays and is released every April. The four main points they look for in submissions are “originality, eloquence, internal coherence, and quality of engagement with academic scholarship.” Thoughts and work are meant to intertwine and create pieces that displaying debatable literary concepts.  The publication is run by students along with their two editors-in-chief, Eliza Weisberg and Kristina Sherk (1).

As I perused the journal’s website, I started to flip through their 5th volume from Spring 2015. Some of the essays consisted of topics such as industrialization in Lord of the Rings and fiction as a “cultural work.” Students will take pieces from other authors and give theories and thought-provoking ideas as to why they see this piece of work in a certain light. Each submission delves into specific texts and pick at the small details and expand them and some prompt many ideas that could be shadowed by other initial pieces of said text. Due to length of the pieces, only seven pieces got published in this volume. If there were any more than seven, the journal would be very big (2).

Their submission guidelines are very defined. They require an essay style format for submitted pieces and they must be concise with a clear theme. I find the submission guidelines very articulate though they greatly differ from The Great Lake Review. The GLR allows a little more freedom compared to The Madison Journal of Literary Criticism. But, none the less, each journal differs and this way of submission works for the journal aesthetic they are trying to achieve (3).

On the other hand, I found their way of tackling which essay gets published to mirror the style of the GLR. Each submission is read in rounds and the essay must be read by all members of the staff before being discussed in a group. If a piece does not make it to the following round, it’s not considered for the journal. The ones that make it through each round are then compared to fellow chosen essays and thoroughly discussed as to which deserve to be in the journal. Despite the journal’s mission stating that they publish no more than 8-15 pieces, I found that each volume had no more than 7 or 8 essays in them since each essay is extensive and needed a lot of room. I assumed this was due to cost issues.

mjlc.pngAlong with the actual essays and journal itself, I really like the gothic design of the journal. Each volume has dark, monotone features to it with a horror-like theme. The 2013 issue looks like a movie poster for a horror movie. The journal’s homepage also goes along with the journal’s design, keeping it dark yet professional.

To my surprise, these types of journals aren’t uncommon. Columbia University has had one since 2002 and also run by undergrads, Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism (4). There’s also Essays in Criticism at Oxford University (5),  the Journal of Literary Theory (6), and the list goes on. Journals that involve critique on all types of literary pieces are intriguing and I would love to submit a piece to one of them. I think it’s marvelous that not only can undergrads publish their own literary journal but publish one that’s as intriguing as The Madison Journal of Literary Criticism. I think it would be interesting if the GLR did an edition like these journals of literary critique. It would be interesting to see what kind of submissions they receive.

 

Bibliography

  1. The Madison Journal of Literary Criticism. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017
  2. The Madison Journal of Literary Criticism. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017
  3. The Madison Journal of Literary Criticism. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017
  4. “Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism.” Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism | Department of English and Comparative Literature. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.
  5. “Essays in Criticism | Oxford Academic.” Oxford University Press. Oxford University Press, 01 Jan. 1753. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.
  6. JOURNAL OF LITERARY THEORY. De Gruyter Press, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.
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