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Student Represents MVNU at Writing Conference

The editor of MVNU’s Penmarks Literary Journal attended an Honor Society Convention to present a seminar with three other students from different universities on the literary journal identity in small publications.

Hannah Christopher represented Mount Vernon Nazarene University at the Sigma Tau Delta 2018 International Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The highlighted theme this year was Seeking Freedom. Christopher said main sessions featured guest speakers such as famous authors and scholars. Students and professors gave presentations at a variety of breakout sessions.

Christopher and three other students from the Midwest presented in a Roundtable discussion called “Read this before? Creating Publication Identity.” The presentation focused on different methods of marketing literary journals on small campuses, including finding a niche, reaching out for submissions, the role of editing, and targeting to various demographics.

Christopher was given the opportunity by Dr. Dora Hawthorne, the MVNU’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter adviser. Hawthorne forwarded an email to Christopher from a presenter looking for students to lead sessions.

She submitted her concept and was approved.

Over the past year, Christopher then connected weekly with the other students working on the presentation through Skype to discuss the tentative list of topics.

“We really wanted to bring in what the audience of our roundtable wanted to discuss,” she said.

Christopher said they built flexibility into their presentation.

“We allowed the audience to negotiate the presentations. It was very Q&A and we were able to learn from them in that way as well,” Christopher said.

Christopher said her participation in the convention gave her a new outlook on MVNU’s own literary journal and ideas on how to further it.

“Meeting these people over the course of a year provided me with perspective on how we operated Penmarks and how we can operate it in the future,” Christopher said. “With this experience, we have generated ideas that other universities are using that may work for us as well.”

Christopher said they received good feedback from the attendants of the roundtable. She also brought copies of Penmarks to show at the conference, and received a lot of positive feedback.

“I was surprised by how we held up against other universities. I thought we would be an underdog compared to Miami and other universities there,” Christopher said. “We were a lot better than I thought we were.”

Christopher said it bolstered her confidence.

“When we exist in this bubble [of a small campus], we don’t really know how effective we are, and how meaningful we are being,” Christopher said. “It was interesting to see other people have an interest in Penmarks and others have the same struggles in the publishing cycle.”

Penmarks Journal of Literature and Art presales are going on now through April 20. The annual reading event of the literary journal will be at Schnormeier Gallery on April 24.

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