The American Studies Department received a small grant to plan an online journal, and started with a class called Engaging the Public in Spring 2010.
This issue represents the hard work, intellectual engagement, collaborative spirit, and commitment to social justice that distinguishes Macalester College students.
From the beginning, the guiding principle was that students should be the key decision-makers—to come up with a concept for the journal, develop its mission, think about what constitutes knowledge and cultural expression, and be conscious of their potential audience. This led to many weeks of discussion and debate, writing and editing, and finally consensus. By the end of that semester, the journal had a name, mission statement, submission guidelines, and a general theory about what the journal would be. These students became the core editorial collective; they believed strongly that the journal could be more collaborative and less hierarchical and that diversity of experience and perspective was valued above all else.
In Fall 2010 a second editorial collective was born as Engaging the Public had its second iteration. Among this group were some of the original collective as well as new students—most were somehow connected to the American Studies department but others brought new disciplinary and interdisciplinary insights to the project. This group spent a lot of time on the nuts and bolts of producing a journal. They learned how to make editorial decisions, layout pages, and solicit and manage submissions.
“As time passed we were delighted to find an eclectic array of research, poetry, visual arts and commentary arriving on our electronic threshold,” says Dean Jane Rhodes.
During Spring 2011 the final editing and layout had been done by a small and dedicated group— Spencer Retelle, Albert Trank, Kyera Singleton (pictured above), Lauren Elizabeth Johnson, and Nicholas Torres—who met weekly (and sometimes at night and during J-Term) to get the final product completed.
This issue represents the hard work, intellectual engagement, collaborative spirit, and commitment to social justice that distinguishes Macalester College students. There will be another Engaging the Public course in Fall 2011 and another issue of Tapestries next Spring. We invite others to join this exciting enterprise.
Engaging the Public
Students enrolled in this course form the editorial collective for the American Studies on-line journal Tapestries published on Macalester’s Digital Commons. Course content will focus on writing, editing, and the art of preparing a journal article for publication. It will also consider how to engage various publics, including students, the College, and local communities, through digital publishing. Students are part of a collaborative model for circulating scholarship, art and criticism. The class is involved in all aspects of layout and design and peer-review, and discuss issues including verifying facts, copyright, intellectual property, author rights, and open access.