Brittany MacLean, a pre-junior International Area Studies major and current PBQ intern, participated in University Research Day today, where she presented a project she did for PBQ as a Humanities Fellow last summer. The project was undertaken in anticipation of PBQ’s 40th birthday this spring, an effort to make sure the history of the magazine is not lost.
“With the 40th anniversary approaching and the new website having just launched, this is the perfect time to be researching the history of the mag, who has worked there, who it has published, and even just its general impact in the field,” MacLean said. She explained that she started with the bare bones of the magazine, literally going through each issue, from the first one in 1973, and made a list of every author PBQ has published, which issues they were published in, and which of their pieces were published.
MacLean also documented the succession of editorial boards over the years, noting that different trends could be seen with each editorial staff. “I noticed that the founding editors, whose vision initially was to start a great magazine for the local literary scene, seemed to, naturally, publish local artists,” she said. This is different than subsequent editorial boards, she noted, who, after realizing the magazine had continued to thrive through decades, shifted their focus to growing a national presence.
She also conducted research on individual authors through Internet searches, but acknowledged this was not the most effective method: “I think a better way to explore the impact of PBQ on individual authors’ careers is from the mouths of the authors themselves. I’m going to work with this upcoming summer’s fellow on focusing the research in more. I’m going to suggest surveying authors on their experience with the magazine and just any memories they have of the magazine. For example, I’m really eager to hear what authors reactions were to PBQ’s website launch in 1999, it being one of the first to move onto the web. That sort of anecdotal information and personal narrative is ultimately what I think will resonate with our readership more.”
MacLean definitely saw a difference between the work she did and the other posters’ (which numbered more than 500) at Drexel’s Research Day. “It’s hard to compete with students who are doing more quantitative studies, because I think there is still the notion that that type of research is the most beneficial. But I hope my presence here shows that all avenues of research are important and can make a difference,” she said. “It’s great that my work has been able to give us some numbers, such as how many authors were republished from issue to issue, how many female versus male editors we’ve had over the years, or even just how many authors we’ve published, just to name a few. But the nature of the field is one of language, of storytelling, of poetry.”
When asked if she had any closing remarks, MacLean said, “Overall, I’m extremely proud of the research I did for PBQ, and am honored that they selected me as their fellow. Though the work of this project is far from complete, I feel I have laid the necessary framework for future fellows, who I look forward to working with in order to continue to unravel PBQ’s unique story.”