c/o Hannah Langer

c/o Hannah Langer

There was an undeniably electric energy in the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing and Criticism on Wednesday, Feb. 28, during the inaugural meeting of the Wesleyan Review of Books. 18 students from all grades gathered to discuss the magazine, led by Emmett Gardner ’26.

Gardner, inspired by the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, began the publication out of his sheer love for literature review.

“Unlike other publications, [the Wesleyan Review of Books is] an outlet for the somewhat scholarly exploration of literature,” Gardner said. “I say somewhat scholarly because criticism sits in this fascinating intersection between the deep treasures of academic inquiry and the creative impulses of the individual, between the beautiful personalities of great minds and their respective stores of knowledge, such that the genre of the critical essay reflects the whole of a thinker in a way that other forms of expression do not.” 

As issues of example magazines were passed around, the group discussed intentions for the publication and steps for moving forward. Gardner led the meeting with open-ended questions, interested in everyone’s opinions on the desired content and style of the magazine; nobody’s voice was ignored when discussing the future of the Review.

“We should interrogate traditional literature reviews in favor of collectivity,” Anna Logan ’25 said. 

Logan sits on the board of the Wesleyan Review of Books, alongside Gardner, Mia Foster ’25, Hannah Langer ’26, and Mahek Uttamchandani ’26.

The group agreed that the magazine should be centered around collaboration, with everyone contributing to decisions surrounding the books under review and other editorial decisions.

“I think what makes the Wesleyan Review of Books special is its fostering of student writing in the formal literary criticism realm, an area usually barred from student access,” Logan wrote in a message to The Argus. “We aim to be fluid and supportive, not a rigid, overly academic, stifling environment.”

The inaugural issue of the Wesleyan Review of Books—including criticism of newly released fiction, nonfiction, and Wesleyan University Press publications—is slated to be published during the Fall 2024 semester. In the meantime, the many passionate writers involved with the Review will continue meeting weekly, crafting complex criticism, and continuing to develop the publication, fueled by care and love for literary criticism.

 “Those who ‘review’ culture seem to be a wayward group today, [with] the actual utility and function of the ‘critic’ in our cultural ecosystem being largely unarticulated and, to many, non-existent,”  Gardner said. “I hope that within the Wesleyan community, the idea that criticism is an essential part of our society and an essential part of the artistic process is affirmed by our example.” 

Students interested in getting involved with the Wesleyan Review of Books should email Emmett Gardner ’26 at egardner@wesleyan.edu

Hannah Langer can be reached at hlanger@wesleyan.edu

Lyah Muktavaram can be reached at lmuktavaram@wesleyan.edu.

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