Did you know that Fairfield University offers a course in which student editors can work together with a faculty advisor to produce a digital journal that lives at Fairfield U? That, as editors, you can interact with and shape the manuscripts of student authors from Ivy League schools?
Digital Publishing in the Humanities is this course. It is an opportunity that I presume not many students have heard of. Students work toward publishing Apollon, a digital journal for undergraduate research. It is a little known fact that Fairfield University has been host to the Apollon for ten years now.
So why don’t more students know about this course? It is a course like no other at Fairfield and one that I have enjoyed tremendously, having taken it this semester.
For background, Apollon is a digital journal for undergraduate humanities research. It receives submissions from international students and publishes articles focused on a variety of disciplines in the humanities: literature, history, philosophy, social justice issues, art, and politics. Students enrolled in the HUMN 3210, have the unique opportunity to work as editors for Apollon and obtain hands-on learning experience in the field of publishing. There is a rotating faculty advisor who oversees the project every semester. This semester, we have been lucky enough to work with the wonderful Dr. Sakly, who has helped take all four of us enrolled in the course through the publishing process.
What truly sets Digital Publishing in the Humanities apart from other classes is its deviation from the typical classroom environment. This course is not taught in lecture style, but rather is a collaborative effort between students and faculty to publish the Apollon journal. It is this classroom dynamic that allows students to take on leadership positions and take full ownership of the journal’s final product. Our voices are truly heard as students as we get to argue and make our points in the deliberation process.
Each of us in the class takes on a specific role in the publication of the journal: Managing Editor, Copy Chief, Tech Editor, or Social Media Editor. As social media editor, I have been responsible for creating and designing advertisements to be printed out as flyers or posted on social media that promote the journal.
On top of these individual roles, each of us serves as a copy editor: reading manuscripts and selecting finalists for publication and corresponding with authors. In the beginning of the semester, we did a lot of heavy-lifting, reading over 30 manuscript submissions and selecting criteria for acceptance. An added bonus is that each class we get to deliberate over pastries and croissants. Once we have selected nine manuscripts for publication, we began the close-reading process, editing for style, grammar and meaning. With each of us overseeing the production of at least two articles, we have composed reader reports and track changes to be sent to authors. Once we receive final edits, we will move forward with collaboratively designing the final publication, Apollon XIV, on our website.
Issue XIV is an issue that the entire Apollon team is proud of and excited for. We have selected some incredible manuscripts for publication, all of which connect through an underlying theme of flipping power binaries. Articles themes include how 17th century painters imagine animals putting humans on trail, how Black creoles used language to turn the tables and express power and agency over colonizers, and how Western liberatory feminism posed a universal discourse that excluded all non-white women. These are only a few of the thought-provoking themes that will be included in our upcoming issue. Be on the lookout for Issue XIV of Apollon in early May of 2022.
In working for Apollon, there are times when we may get a wild request from an unexpected place. Just recently, we were asked for permission to cite our journal from an inmate working on his undergraduate degree. This request has assured us of the impact of our journal and been a reminder of the redemptive power of education.
One extremely valuable skill that I have learned through this publication process is professional correspondence. Throughout the entire process, we have been responsible for corresponding with the authors whose work is to be published this semester. We have drafted and sent receipts of manuscripts, letters of acceptance and rejection, track changes and suggested revisions, as well as updates as to revision deadlines. Being able to effectively communicate these aspects to our authors has been extremely important, and I can now say that I know how to draft and send a professional email. This is a skill that will be needed in any field of work.
In addition to all of the tasks and responsibilities in editing and publishing these manuscripts, we have been trained in Squarespace and Google Analytics, discussed copyright law and policy, and participated in a resume workshop. We are even to participate in Fairfield University’s Innovative Research Symposium, this coming Thursday April 21, to present our journal. Again, all of this training, workshops, and presentations have taught me many valuable skills that will translate not only into the world of publishing, but into any career field.
If the course I have described sounds remotely interesting to you, or if you wish to gain real-life experience in the publishing field and learn quality, career-building skills, then I urge you to sign up for this class. It can count as course or even internship credit.
Make sure you keep Digital Publishing in the Humanities in mind for class registration.