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Florida Atlantic University Faculty Help Acquire Valuable Literary Journal


Florida Atlantic University Faculty Help Acquire Valuable Literary Journal

April 2nd, 2013 (Jupiter, FL) –At Florida Atlantic University's Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, student research has always been a top priority. Although Wilkes Honors College students put forth great efforts to complete their personal research projects and fulfill their academic research goals, the faculty on the MacArthur Campus also dedicate much of their time and energy to overseeing research projects, advising students on their academic coursework, and working to acquire new research tools to benefit students in their scholarly endeavors. Recently, two Florida Atlantic University English faculty members joined forces to acquire the McSweeney's Quarterly Concern for the MacArthur Campus library collection, an addition which promises to provide students with a wealth of valuable literary information and potential research material.

Dr. John Joseph Hess and Dr. Julieann Ulin both became familiar with the McSweeney's Quarterly Concern while they were working on their individual graduate research. It did not take long for either of them to realize that htey had found a literary treasure. The journal, which began in 1998 as a venue for publishing only works that had already been rejected by other magazines prides itself on its unique content and innovative form. Dr. Hess insists that it is this dual focus that makes the McSweeney's Quarterly Concern such a valuable tool. "The journal is set apart from many other print and online fiction journals by an emphasis on book design," he explains. "From individual booklets housed in a box to a fake mailing envelope, three books held together by magnets, or a collection of stories housed in a box shaped like a human head, no two issues of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern are identical. This constant variety reflects the ongoing commitment of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern to the book as a physical art object." Dr. Ulin agrees that the journal's aesthetic arrangement is one of its greatest qualities. "In an age in which many literary journals are moving toward online publishing, McSweeney's celebrates the physical material in which literature circulates," she states. " McSweeney's is not trying to simply preserve and revere the literary journal but is instead challenging our conception of the textual form."

While the journal's innovative form is a delight to its readers, the real treat is the text contained within its innovative packaging. "Some issues incorporate previously unpublished or uncollected fiction by contemporary authors," says Dr. Hess. " McSweeney's Quarterly Concern 36, for example, includes an excerpt of Michael Chabon's abandoned second novel. This novel had remained unpublished since Chabon discarded it to write Wonder Boys (1995). McSweeney's 36 is therefore the only available resource for Chabon scholars interested in this otherwise unpublished work."

Upon becoming a member of the English faculty on the MacArthur Campus, Dr. Ulin was approached by Ethan Allan, the Director of the Jupiter Campus Library, and asked to provide recommendations for research materials to be implemented in the MacArthur Campus collection. She was quick to recommend McSweeney's, and the library staff began working diligently to acquire the journal. Although subscribing to the journal was a relatively easy process, Allen and the other library staff members felt that it was important to also acquire as many of the available back issues as possible. "Getting the back issues was difficult," Allen explains. "Some are available and some aren't, some have just been taken out of print." However, after a great deal of time spent researching all the journal's issues on the McSweeney's website and working with the acquisitions staff on the Boca Raton Campus, the MacArthur Campus Library was able to acquire almost all of the previously-published issues, providing students and faculty with an extensive collection of McSweeney's publications. Allen feels that the journal has brought something truly unique to the Jupiter Library. "It's definitely a keeper," he states. Although the library is beginning to downsize its collection of print journals due to the proliferation of online journals, Allen insists that McSweeney's is here to stay. "You can't replace it with an online version. The text could be replicated, but it wouldn't be the same," he states.

Both Dr. Hess and Dr. Ulin feel that the journal has the potential to greatly enhance literary research on the MacArthur Campus. Dr. Ulin has already begun to implement McSweeney's as a research tool with her students, using it as the basis for the major research project in her class on American contemporary literature. As a result, she has seen students develop many exciting research topics on works published in McSweeney's or the nature of the journal itself, allowing them to connect to contemporary literature in new ways. Dr. Hess has also begun to assign research projects for his students, based on texts from McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Furthermore, both professors feel that the journal could be very useful for their own research. "I'm currently working on an article on James Joyce's use of specific musician in Ulysses that is based upon an article about this musician featured in a McSweeney's imprint," explains Dr. Ulin. Dr. Hess also anticipates great potential for research from the journal. "Due to its significance to contemporary literary culture, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern is important to my own research on contemporary U.S. literature. I am delighted that Florida Atlantic University possesses a nearly complete collection."

McSweeney's Quarterly Concern is a showcase of innovative book design and great contemporary literature. However, its acquisition for the MacArthur Campus Library displays the willingness of Honors College faculty and staff to work diligently with their partners throughout the University to provide the very best research materials to their students, and to promote the use of new and exciting research tools. The Honors College community expects a great deal of excellent scholarship to develop as a result of the dedication and hard work of Florida Atlantic University's talented research faculty and capable resource staff.

Byline: Megan Geiger (HC student)

Last Modified 11/21/13