Instructor, Creative Writing Program Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Entrepreneurial course taught by Professor Stanley
About Professor Stanley
The Business Of The Literary Journal
By Sara Karolak, AEL Intern
Ninth Letter, the collaborative arts and literary journal produced by the University of Illinois, has more than a few good things going for it. Just one year after its inaugural issue in 2004 it was named “Best New Literary Journal” by the Council of Learned Journals. Other accolades include both national and international awards for its innovative graphic design. Work from the journal has appeared in award anthologies such as Best American Short Stories, Best New Poets, The Pushcart Prize and Best American Nonrequired Reading, among others. It has also achieved the business success of distribution in Borders bookstores. To Jodee Stanley, editor of Ninth Letter and a 2007 Faculty Fellow of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, this type of recognition is certainly cause for celebration, though she believes the real success of the journal lies elsewhere.
“The best thing Ninth Letter has going for it is the constant renewal of energy,” Stanley says. “Exciting things are happening here, and with graduate students working on the journal, we’ll always stay on top of what’s going on.”
Ninth Letter is a collaborative effort of students in design and in creative writing.
Students in the graduate Creative Writing program at the University of Illinois enroll in CW 560: “Literary Publishing and Promotion.” A sister course in the School of Art and Design, ARTD 415, provides a framework for art students to work on the journal’s design and layout. Stanley, who revised CW 560 through her fellowship with the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, lists the course as a “working practicum to teach graduate students the basics of literary journal publishing and to introduce them to career and entrepreneurial opportunities in other types of literary arts organizations.”
“Writers have to manage the business of their own writing,” says Stanley. “What I try to do at Ninth Letter is expose students to various venues and models and help them see how they might go about producing their own journal or publishing their own work.”
These kinds of lessons have paid off, too. Graduates of the Creative Writing program have gone on to work in editing at university or commercial presses and some have even started their own presses. One of the first graduates of the program (and a student of CW 560) went on to form a design firm with an Art and Design student he met while working on Ninth Letter. Their firm, based in Washington, D.C., focuses on product development. “They’re incorporating things they learned here: how to edit text and how to design,” says Stanley.
From their involvement with CW 560 and Ninth Letter, students also learn how large the world of small press publishing actually is. “Students come in not even knowing what they don’t know about publishing, and they’re shocked to find out that all these small journals exist,” explains Stanley. “That’s valuable information for writers to have: where to send their work and where they might find jobs when they’re done.”
The jobs Stanley has found herself in have almost always been within the publishing world. Getting her start at the Missouri Review, Stanley went on to work at Ploughshares at Emerson College and the New England Review in Vermont. She also worked for a commercial publisher in Boston, which she credits for giving her “practical, business management experience.”
“You want to protect creative writing students from worrying about how to get published, and encourage them to be more concerned with producing good art, but you have to acknowledge that there’s a business side to it,” Stanley says.
The Ninth Letter provides art and writing students with entrepreneurial experiences and tools that aid them to pursue their creative dreams.
For Stanley, helping students realize the opportunities before them is a major reward of her position. “I really enjoy having young writers around,” Stanley says. “Getting to observe what they go on to do with their lives is an amazing thing.”
Enterpreneurial courses taught by Professor Stanley
CW 560, Literary Publishing & Promotion
A working practicum designed to teach graduate students the basics of literary journal publishing and to introduce them to career and entrepreneurial opportunities in other types of literary arts organizations. Students will attend weekly editorial meetings, complete weekly reading assignments, and will work 2 hours per week in the 'Ninth Letter' office, reading manuscript submissions and completing various clerical tasks for the journal.
ARTD 415, Ninth Letter
Students develop, design, and produce issues of the national literary and arts journal, Ninth Letter. Also involves students in curating and designing content for the companion website, ninthletter.com.
Visit Course Catalog website for course availability
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About Professor Stanley
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