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Past Issues of Legendary Literary Magazine Now Online

TriQuarterly’s lively archives feature great writers of past half-century

  • Early stories by Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, Susan Sontag and more
  • Archives reflect ‘explosively creative’ time in literature, particularly short fiction
  • Entire print history of TriQuarterly available to public at no charge
  • Video, audio, integrates publication’s storied past with contemporary works
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The rich, historical archive of TriQuarterly, Northwestern University’s groundbreaking literary magazine, is moving online. The digitization gives readers unprecedented access to early works of writers like Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike and Susan Sontag.

The older content also will include audio renditions of poetry, literary video essays, interviews with previously published authors and other features that blend the treasures of the past half-century with the creative works of the present.

The collaborative effort “represents a significant milestone in the use of ‘digital humanities’ at Northwestern in the way it brings previous work back to life and makes it available to people everywhere at no cost,” said former TriQuarterly editor Reginald Gibbons. He headed the magazine from 1981 to 1987, the longest editorship to date.

Over the next year or so, Northwestern University Library will upload the first 137 print issues of TriQuarterly, named for the three academic (winter, fall, spring) sessions when it was originally published. TriQuarterly moved online in April 2010. The change increased readership, making the publication more accessible, Gibbons said.

“We’ve worked to keep it contemporary yet also respect the tradition,” said Harlan Wallach, associate director for media and design for Northwestern University Information Technology (NUIT) Academic and Research Technologies. “We’re continually evolving what it means to be an online literary journal from a technological perspective.”

TriQuarterly is edited by graduate students in the MA/MFA in Creative Writing program at Northwestern's School of Professional Studies. Supervised by faculty and available around the world, the literary magazine has long been considered a peerless resource for readers and for those who study late 20th century and 21st century writing.

 “TriQuarterly’s earlier history is the documentation of an explosively creative time, especially in short fiction,” said Gibbons, the Frances Hooper Chair in the Arts and Humanities at Northwestern.

The special issues from the 1960s to early 1990s include a massive, groundbreaking issue on the history of the “little magazine” in America; the early book-length collection of essays on Jorge Luis Borges and the first collections of essays about writers Vladimir Nabokov and Sylvia Plath.

“They are now fascinating windows on writers, topics and places that were part of the continuous remaking of literary culture, both in the U.S. and abroad,” Gibbons said.

More information on special issues can be found in the article “TQ Print Issues Now Online.”

Past meets present

TriQuarterly emerged as a national magazine back in 1964.  The first editor, Charles Newman, designed a radical departure from other literary journals, putting artwork on the cover. Literary historians credit TriQuarterly with changing the look, presentation and feel of the literary magazine of America, Gibbons said.

Writer Rosellen Brown, who had her first piece published in TriQuarterly in 1970 (Issue 18), called her correspondence from Newman “the most wonderful letter of acceptance I’d gotten from anyone.”

“Charles Newman, who was kind of a quirky editor there, wrote essentially one line: ‘You must be beautiful, which I have taken to heart and may be the only such assurance I had in my not-so-beautiful lifetime,” Brown recalled in an interview. “But I thought, ‘Oh, there’s a man who really did love this story.’”

Brown, who went on to write 10 books and is on the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, reflected on how the affirming experience of editing the galleys of the story while in the hospital after delivering her second child.

“I thought’ this must be an augury of the fact that, yes, I will be able to go on writing,” she said. “TriQuarterly has been such a marvelous discoverer of writers and perpetrator of good writing by people whose names had already been made.”

TriQuarterly includes fiction by: John Barth, Anthony Burgess, John Updike, Juan Rulfo, Robert Coover, Angela Carter, Cyrus Colter, Maxine Kumin, Julio Cortázar, Grace Paley, Italo Calvino, Mario Vargas Llosa, Tobias Wolff, Ursula K. Le Guin, Norman Manea, James Alan McPherson, Cormac McCarthy, José Donoso, Leon Forrest, Russell Banks, Joyce Carol Oates, Kobo Abe, John Cage, Rosario Castellanos, Bruce Chatwin, Hélène Cixous, Amy Hempel and Stuart Dybek.

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