Attendees at this year’s Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors Conference were fascinated by The Chronicle after current editor-in-chief Kayla Groth and associate editor Lauren Kimball presented Wells College's literary magazine Nov. 3.
“It was really interesting for people to tell us afterward that they had never heard of a publication running for this long and that they were shocked at the fact that we are a completely student-run magazine,” Groth said. “I think we went there with a goal to represent Wells and show a diverse perspective, and we accomplished that.”
Wells English majors Groth and Kimball traveled to SUNY Geneseo three weeks ago to attend the FUSE Conference. Its theme was “Literary Publishing 2023: Where Are We Going, Where Have We Been?” According to its website, “literary journals continue to create conversation and offer writers and readers a community. How has the conversation changed, expanded, or diversified since the first literary journals were published? How has the changing world impacted the conversation? What will this conversation sound/look/feel like tomorrow?” Wells was one of six other colleges and universities from Upstate New York and Pennsylvania that attended the conference and represented their literary magazines. Groth and Kimball presented on how to sustain a literary journal within a small community, and Groth said that was her favorite part of attending the conference.
“I remember we were both so nervous going into it, wondering if people would like it or understand where we were coming from, since Wells is so small compared to other schools in attendance, but once we got up there and started talking, you could just see everyone’s attention gravitating toward us,” Groth said. “We got lots of great questions and audience participation, and I loved sharing the story of The Chronicle. It honestly gave me a real sense of pride in my community and my school to host a panel like this.”
Kimball, who also serves as The Chronicle’s chief designer, said the conference took place at a good time for her and Groth because they’re currently in the process of redesigning The Chronicle, and stepping away from other obligations to focus on the goals for the magazine and receive input from other students outside of Wells was a great opportunity.
“It was a place to surface the thoughts that primarily swirl in the back of your mind through the publication process,” Kimball said. “During the conference, we had meaningful conversations about the history of our publication but also the future. We discussed whether or not it is worth it to digitize past editions of your magazine, what does the future of publishing look like, what is the role/impact of AI in the future of your literary magazine and publishing as a whole. These are discussions that are equally as important as they are difficult to have. Kayla and I left inspired, reassured, and excited for some projects that are on our radar.”
The Chronicle was first published in 1873 and remains fully student-run, but Groth said she appreciates the love and support they receive from Wells’ English department. Associate Professor of English Dan Rosenberg is the magazine’s faculty adviser and said he couldn’t be prouder of Groth and Kimball for their work.
“At other colleges, the editing of a literary magazine is often integrated into a course, where a professor oversees the process, reducing the student editors to assistants,” Rosenberg said. “For The Chronicle, I’m the assistant; I contribute only when asked, trusting Kayla and Lauren to develop a vision and create the systems required to enact that vision, and they do beautifully.”
Groth said attending the conference made her feel seen and heard as an undergraduate student editor, and hearing other perspectives and new ideas on how to improve The Chronicle for the future was invaluable.
“It can be so easy to get wrapped up in your own world and forget that there are things going on outside of your own magazine,” Groth said. “It was amazing to be validated and told ‘You’re doing great work here’ by renowned publishers, archivists, and other undergraduate editors. Lauren and I came back with so many new thoughts and plans for this magazine. We brainstormed ideas the entire way home.”