Wednesday, January 05, 2011

the motif of the university-based literary magazines in Cleveburgh: factory rust belt chic

2010 saw a lot of great artistic accomplishments in Youngstown, including the launch of an additional university-based literary magazine, simply named "Jenny".

from Jenny's website:
"Like many struggling postindustrial cities across the country, Youngstown, Ohio is a place defined by images of ruin and rust, and there are few images more striking than that of the Jeannette Blast Furnace.

“Jenny,” as plant workers called her and as Bruce Springsteen referred to her in his 1995 song “Youngstown,” was one of two furnaces located at Youngstown Sheet and Tube.

It [Jenny] was a place where things were made, shaped, created.

While the absence of our blast furnaces has been felt in terrible ways throughout our region, our fire has not gone out.

In the aftermath of de-industrialization, we are not a people without industry. Youngstown is not done creating, not done making.

We are each of us, every day, telling stories. Here in the pages of Jenny, we aim to display some of those artifacts made by wordsmiths and visual artists alike.
The motif of romantic rust belt infrastructure, with strong ties to "making things" is clear in Jenny, but what about elsewhere in Cleveburgh?

let's look around the region . . .

we've got the "Rubbertop Review" at the University of Akron.
(most recent rust belt chic cover here)

we've got the "Hot Metal Bridge" at the University of Pittsburgh.
(most recent rust belt chic cover here)

we've got "Whiskey Island" at Cleveland State University
(most recent rust belt chic cover here)

So here's a question:

Why is rust belt chic such a dominant theme of late in the literary magazines of the mega-region's largest cities?

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editor's note:
details on submitting work to Jenny can be found here.

1 comment:

Christopher Barzak said...

Thanks for the shout-out, John. My own feelings about why the rustbelt romanticism is a predominant motif now is because it's a generation of people living here who have grown up in an atmosphere of disappointment at the state of things, being surrounded by elders who don't see the good because the world they inhabited disintegrated. But the younger folks look around and see possibility and magic in what is here, rather than focusing on what is not. That's a generalization, surely, and there will be people of my generation and younger who don't see things that way. But I think for creative types it's a perspective of embrace instead of revulsion. I'll speak for myself, at least, and say that's what it is. My parents always taught me to work with what's at hand, rather than focusing on what you don't have. And that's been the way I do everything in my life, this magazine being an example of that.

Thanks again.