PAPER DREAMS: A Teacher’s Resource Guide

Whether the pedagogical goal is analysis, comparison, or simply exposure, literary magazines are the literature of the moment, and students benefit from such contemporary reading. – Nicholas Ripatrazone

Paper Dreams

MADISON, NJ — Nicholas Ripatrazone’s essay, “Teachers: Use Literary Magazines,” argues for giving English, publishing, and creative writing students access to the current publications that inspire and sustain contemporary literature and culture. Perhaps you already ask your students to subscribe to McSweeney’s or The Paris Review, or to research online journals like Pank, > kill author, or Annalemma. Maybe your students get hands-on experience by working with on-campus publications. But how can students appreciate and become part of the larger conversation and world of literary magazines?

By learning from those who have done it and those who are doing it now.

Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine is organized to help educators, students, and literature enthusiasts trace the history of literary magazines, and become informed in the ongoing conversations of editors and writers as modes of publishing, technology, and taste change over time.


• Inspirational essays and articles for the purpose of editing, reading, and writing
• Experience of successful editors and writers (the how and why of submitting/publishing creative work)
• Opportune for eliciting in-class discussion and debate that can always be related to present/future industry concerns
• Opens up the vast world of literary magazines with many new examples of publications to peruse, read, and study.

Ideal for students of: creative writing, editing, publishing, and English


“Objects Filled with Objects,” an essay by the editor, Travis Kurowski, details the mission of the book and gives a succinct description of the importance of literary magazines and their history. Also included in the front matter is Billy Collins’s poem, “Literary Magazines,” and Jill Allyn Rosser’s satirical essay, “Reasons for Creating a New Literary Magazine.”

Section I investigates the origins of literary magazines, including research and examples of some of the earliest of these publications such as Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, ranging from the 1600s to modern day with Eric Staley’s essay, “Influence, Commerce, and the Little Magazine.”

Section II covers writing on the modernist magazine, including essays on particular publications such as Dial, Little Review, and Poetry, as well as essays on their cultural impact by Ezra Pound, Jay Neugeboren, Abby Ann Arthur Johnson, among others.

Section III picks up where the previous section left off after modernism when the landscape for literary magazines changed drastically after World Wars I and II. This section tracks the changes in publishing from the mimeograph machine, as expressed by Kyle Schlesinger in “The Letterpress in the Mimeo Revolution,” to the early emergence of the web as seen in Ralph Lombreglia’s conversation with Frederick Barthelme in “The Web is a Gun.” Also worth exploring are the new editorial philosophies in Peter Gizzi’s essay, “On the Conjunction of Editing and Composition,” among others.

Section IV describes the exciting present for literary magazine and publishing in the face of the e-revolution and predicts what this will mean for the future. In this section of roundtable discussions and interviews focused on the extreme space and possibility for imaginative forms of the “magazine,” modern writers and editors voice their hopes and concerns for the ways the future will change how and what we read (with contributions by Jodee Stanley, Roxane Gay, Ian Morris, Benjamin Samuels, and more).

Section V collects 14 essays by current American writers on their experiences, and comments on the state of literary magazines including work by T.C. Boyle, Aaron Gilbreath, Rick Moody, Stacey Richter, and Laura van den Berg.

Section VI presents four manifestos by editors of prestigious magazines, including The Dial, Poetry, Tri-Quarterly, and n+1, explaining the important work that writing and publishing are both capable of and answering the question, “Why do we do this anyway?”

Section VII’s Appendix Materials provide tips and helpful notes for aspiring writers and editors, such as Katie Chase’s essay, “Submitting to Literary Magazines”, a quote history of literary magazines that provides an ideological timeline for students, and an annotated bibliography to assist in future research.

Online Bonus Material

In the spirit of continuing the conversation, Atticus has been active updating our website with posts, links, and further conversation accessible to all.

Be sure to check out the following:, the accompanying website to the book–explore this literary magazine gallery curated by Travis Kurowski–perfect for futher research and examples.

“Loving Lit Mags” Recommendation posts–in this series of guest blog posts, Paper Dreams contributors and other experienced writers and editors share their favorite literary magazines and experiences.

• The “Loving Lit Mags” Six Degrees Left roundtable conversations–after the publication of the book, eight writers and editors came together to discuss all facets of the current literary magazine in five posts published on the Atticus Books blog. Join in with Richard Peabody (Gargolye Magazine), Travis Kurowski (Luna Park), Steve Himmer (Necessary Fiction), Roxane Gay (Pank), Dave Housley (Barrelhouse), Kelly Forsythe (Phantom Limb), Jen Michalski (jmww), and Jessica Poli (Birdfeast).

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