Gandy Dancer magazine offers new opportunities for student publishing

Geneseo's newest literary magazine Gandy Dancer brings a whole new level of publication to campus. While it is one of many student-run publications, including The Lamron, MiNT Magazine and Opus, it is the first to require a course to participate.

Professor of English Rachel Hall, who is behind Gandy Dancer's creation and the current faculty advisor said that, while student interest in a high-quality publication was high, the idea often became neglected when other classes got in the way.

She proactively decided to make it into its own three-credit course, “in order to sustain interest and involvement,” she said.

Many perks come from publishing in the classroom. Funding increases, so hard copies of the literary magazine will be bound like paperback books instead of stapled together. As students meet deadlines much more consistently when their grades are at stake, the magazine becomes a priority for those enrolled.

Hall described it as “almost an internship” because most work is done in the classroom, and it teaches valuable career skills for English majors, such as publishing, using online programs such as Adobe InDesign and critical analysis of literary works.

She said students will “learn a lot of skills here that they aren't going to learn in another English class but will be useful in [the] publishing world.”

The technology involved in Gandy Dancer increases its range of communication. While Hall calls herself a “handwriting person,” the students are embracing the challenge. Hall said she enjoys it as well, and it gives her a chance to “learn along with the students.”

The online edition also allows the magazine to include longer works of fiction; because printing costs are not an issue, pieces are chosen solely based on quality.

Also, due to its online submission process, the magazine can receive submissions from any State University of New York student. For its first official edition, which came out at the end of the spring 2013 semester, students from over 60 campuses entered submissions.

Electronic resources and digital scholarship librarian Joe Easterly offered extensive assistance and guidance in teaching Hall and the students the basics of online magazine editing and publishing.

As for its audience, Hall believes “there's something for everyone” inside the magazine, which features poetry, fiction, nonfiction and artwork. The group selects pieces based on their depth, and she said she hopes that reading the magazine will cause readers to rethink the way they view the world.

As Hall put it, “Everything in there should make you think about something.”