Student Publishing at Barnard
Barnard’s most well known student publications are its most enduring, including the Barnard Bulletin and the Mortarboard. But throughout Barnard’s history, its students have created dozens of short run and single run publications, often raising issues not addressed in the more well known publications. This exhibit highlights three themes found among these small run student publications housed in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections: Arts and Literature, Student Orientation Guides, and Politics and Activism.
Arts and Literature features Upstart, 1977-1986; Focus, 1948-1969; Barnard Literary Magazine, 1974-1985; Black Heights, 1979-1988; and Eve’s Rib, 1986-1988. Publications included in this theme highlight the literary talents and artistic projects of Barnard students across the decades. Some of the contributors to Barnard’s rich history of literary and arts publications have gone on to produce notable work outside of Barnard.
Student Orientation Guides features The Torch, 1959 and Reorientation, 1970 and 1971. Written outside of the official Barnard orientation program, these guides provide insight into Barnard life from the student perspective.
Politics and Activism features Why We Strike, 1970; Calendula, 1979-1981; Soul Sister, 1992; Proxy, 2006; and QZine, 2005. Publications included in this theme illuminate the plethora of student activist work throughout Barnard’s history. Particularly, these publications highlight the array of feminist perspectives held by students at Barnard.
View the exhibit in its entirely by using the navigation arrows below, or browse by theme using the navigation bar above. To view publications in full, search in the digital collections.
Running from 1977 to 1986, Upstart was the annual contemporary arts magazine created by Barnard College and Columbia University, and published by Barnard College. The magazine sought to forge a connection between the arts community on campus and the larger arts community of New York City. Through journalism, poetry, fiction, photography, artwork, criticism, reviews, and interviews, the magazine offered a format where student artists and writers could publish their work. In its inaugural issue, Upstart featured an interview with David Byrne, a review of The Patti Smith Group’s album “Radio Ethiopia,” and a conversation with the legendary performer and drag queen, Divine.
Barnard students have published a variety of literary magazines throughout the College’s history including but not limited to The Barnard Bear, 1905-1922 and 1944-1948; Focus, 1948-1969; Jabowoc, 1959; Fracus, 1964; Emanon, 1969-1973; Barnard Literary Magazine, 1974-1985; Black Heights, 1979-1988; Eve’s Rib, 1986-1988; Bottle of Wine, 1994; 13th Article 1996-1998; and Barnard’s most current literary magazine, Echoes, since 2006. Barnard students’ literary roots go back to 1902 when the Barnard Bear was initially established as a literary society which organized readings and discussions. In January of 1905, the Society published the “Bulletin Literary Supplement” in the Barnard newspaper. The success of the supplement gave way in December 1902 to the inaugural publication of The Barnard Bear, a quarterly literary magazine published by the Barnard Union, which was the 1904 consolidation of the Society and the Debating Club.
The monthly literary magazine Focus, succeeded the Barnard Quarterly and The Barnard Bear as the literary magazine of Barnard. While lack of funds contributed to the demise of the previous magazines, Focus used a cheaper form of offset printing which allowed it to cut costs. But in its first year, the Barnard Bulletin questioned whether Focus had remedied the problem of a lack of quality contributions. Reviews of the magazine also questioned why with an editorial staff of thirty-eight, the December issue of 1950 had only sixteen pages of content. In 1955, the staff decided to diversify the type of content they would publish, and include reviews and critical essays. Publishers were notified to send books directly to Barnard for review and a new section of theater reviews appeared. Majors in history, language, and the sciences were even encouraged to submit material. In 1960, a poem published in the Barnard Bulletin pleaded students to submit material to Focus. But nearly a decade later in 1967, criticism of the slender magazine persisted. One reviewer asked where the quality writing was, when so many students were enrolled in advanced writing courses and many others wrote independently. The reviewer suggested publishing prize winning poetry and short stories, rather than “clever, bizarre writing,” that for the reviewer, lacked quality.
The Barnard Literary Magazine succeeded Emanon in 1974 as the College’s preeminent literary magazine until 1985. The new literary magazine inherited the problems that Emanon had struggled with during its publication history, including lack of funding, submissions, and readership. Determined to revive the publication, the Barnard Literary Magazine held their first meeting in November of 1973 and opened submissions to critical work, translations, artwork, and photography, in addition to the traditional poetry, prose, and fiction. Submissions could be made by students, faculty, and alumnae, and for a few years the staff organized public readings in order to promote the magazine and its contributors.
Despite the enthusiasm of the new staff, struggles to keep the publication afloat continued. Even through the efforts to seek donations from alumnae, faculty, administrators, other individuals, and the Undergraduate Association, the publication still could not cover its $1400 in expenses. The magazine also had the challenge of dealing with an unusually large staff, including thirty-four members from a diverse set of majors. While staff contended that enthusiasm and talent was on their side, they still lacked patrons. In 1977, publication of the magazine was delayed from spring to fall because of poor communication with the printer, resulting from the large and disorganized staff.
Black Heights, published from 1979 to 1988, was a joint effort between students at Barnard College and Columbia University to showcase the creative work of African American students. The first issue of Black Heights paid tribute to Eubie Blake and Paul Robeson, two notable African American men. The first issue also featured a poem by Barnard alumna, Ntozake Shange ‘70. Throughout its run, the publication featured poetry, creative nonfiction, illustration, photography, and profiles on prominent African American artists.
The first issue of Eve’s Rib was published in December of 1986, with the intention of being a space where Barnard students could explore their love of art, but with an intentionally feminist perspective. Eve’s Rib was organized as a collective, and all submissions, so long as they were not racist, homophobic, or sexist in their content, were accepted. According to a note from the editorial collective, enclosed with the first issue, Eve’s Rib “was created in the spirit of experimentation, open discussion, and changing definitions of feminism; and of the close examination of values, language and artistic form, of group effort, mobilization and support; and of individual searching, questioning and growth.” To that end, Eve’s Rib includes poetry and fiction, as well as interviews with and profiles of feminist artists. The publication also includes illustration and black and white photography from students. In an article about the state of feminist politics at Barnard College, published in the Barnard Bulletin in 1988, editor Doris Ng highlights the necessity of publications like Eve’s Rib, even at a women’s college, noting that Eve’s Rib contains artists whose work requires thinking about women and their roles in society.
The Torch, published in 1959, was an unofficial student guide for incoming Barnard College students, written from the perspective of senior students. The Torch’s Editor-in-Chief, Elinor Yudin, was an active member of the Barnard Community, and held positions within the student government. The publication is divided into different categories, including “Lighting up New York,” “Lighting up the Barnard Community,” “Lighting up Columbia,” “Lighting up Barnard,” “Lighting up things yet to come,” and “Lighting up Honor Board” and are accompanied by hand-drawn maps. Editors used imagery of the torch as a light to guide one’s way, to assuage potential fears from students about attending school in Manhattan.
The Torch urges students to find their own way through Barnard, Manhattan, and the other boroughs, and encourages exploration of the variety of cultural and social events New York City has to offer. Yet the publication also implies certain expectations of Barnard College women. For example, The Torch ends with a sample excerpt of dialogue between a Columbia and Barnard student, and notes that “since this city of light is so vast and so diverting, and since we are a week behind in our reading assignments, we must return to Barnard, to our study lamps, to visions of the Greek Games torch, to the protecting rays of the Southern Lawn Lights.” The Torch simultaneously compels Barnard students to explore the world around them, but also to return to the relative “safety” of the Barnard College campus.
The Torch was likely an informative guide for students entering into Barnard in 1959, but unlike Reorientation from 1970, it does not assert a political stance as to the nature of the college, surrounding areas, or student involvement.
Reorientation 1970: A Barnard Action Coalition Guide to Barnard College was a guide distributed to new students during the first few weeks of the semester. The publication was meant to supplement the official Orientation program and publications like the Student Handbook, which was prepared by the Public Relations Office. Reorientation 1970 was published by the student group Barnard Action Coalition (BAC), which formed in the summer of 1970 from a number of student groups including the Barnard Women’s Liberation (BWL) group. BAC’s guide offered resources to students for health, navigating the Barnard bureaucracy, the political scene on campus and in the city, and more general information about exploring the urban landscape. Topics that may have been ignored by college sanctioned discussions are here explored without aversion, including “drug freakouts,” abortion, the herstory of Women’s Liberation and radical organizations.
Reorientation 1971: An Undergrad Guide to Surviving Barnard similarly offers an alternative to the official Orientation program. However, while Reorientation 1970 was published by the Barnard Action Coalition and emphasized radical politics, Reorientation 1971 was published by the Barnard Undergraduate Association and did not share this emphasis. Instead, Reorientation 1971 focused on the topics of student government, co-education, drugs, the neighborhood, and the administration.
Beginning on May 7th 1970, Barnard students joined the National Student Strike by organizing a strike on campus to oppose the Vietnam war. Why We Strike, published in June 1970 by the Barnard Strike Coalition, reconstructed the events of the strike and outlined the coalition’s three demands; 1) to end political repression, 2) to end the war in Vietnam, 3) and to end university war-related research.
The Barnard Strike Coalition was comprised of Barnard Women’s Liberation (BWL), D4M, Commuter Actions, and Faculty Group for Action, in addition to other independent individuals. According to an article in the Barnard Bulletin, the coalition sponsored workshops, forums, rallies, and projects focused in furthering the group’s three demands.
While the strike was not ineffective, some argued that it was stifled by a few faculty who scheduled tests and assignments during the time of the strike. Others argued that it was political apathy on the part of Barnard students that lessened its impact. The publication was directed at this latter problem and hoped to engage new students during orientation to political issues both on campus and in the world. The Barnard Action Coalition (BAC) remained on campus through the summer, to prevent the political energy from dying out.
“We, the Calendula Collective, have a wide range of opinions on women’s issues. While working together to identify our priorities from a feminist perspective, we found we differ in our desired goals and our methods of approaching them. We also disagree as to the extent that feminism itself can be defined. However, we all agree that we are feminists and that society, as it stands in our way, must change.” - Pilot Issue, 1979
Calendula: A Barnard Feminist Publication was formed during a Women’s Collective meeting in 1979 and ran until 1981. It’s name refers to the scientific genus marigold, but also references the Latin diminutive of calendae, meaning "little calendar,” and the Roman calends which refers to the first day of the month in the lunar calendar. Unlike other student publications, Calendula was published by a collective rather than a managing board, which meant the staff needed to reach a consensus on what to print. The publication takes the form of a newsletter and featured articles, reviews, poetry, a directory of campus groups, and calendar of events. One feature, the “quote of the month,” highlighted a chauvinistic remark made by a Barnard professor, calling attention to persistent discriminatory attitudes on campus despite feminist organizing.
Soul Sister was a publication created by BOSS, The Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters. At the time of publication in 1992, BOSS was known as the Barnard Organization of Black Women (BOBW). BOSS/BOBW was formed in 1968 amid political and social upheaval, both on and off the Barnard College campus. In an editorial published in the Barnard Bulletin in 1968, BOSS calls out the institutionalized racism at Barnard College, in particular the lack of African American faculty and the College administration’s disinterest in issues of racism on campus.
The inaugural issue of Soul Sister included writing from current and former members of BOSS. Articles, poetry, and illustrations touch on the myriad of experiences of black womanhood. Materials relating to the history of BOSS are also included in the publication, in a section titled “From the Archives.”
Proxy was a student created magazine that intended to present “a fresh face to time-worn thoughts on identity and social placement.” The goal of the inaugural issue in 2006 was “to examine the construction of identity in the African Diaspora and how that plays out in the lives of the people on campus.” This issue of the magazine contains articles on topics ranging from ethical implications of condom distribution in Africa, black women with eating disorders, an interview with Professor Jose Moya, and a photographic essay about muslims in Harlem. The magazine spans a lengthy 41 pages, and contains a diverse body of work.