Fall Term Class Spotlight: The Miscellany

Many are not aware that between the years 1960 and 1980, Carleton was the publisher of a nationally renowned literary magazine, to which this blog owes its name. This coming fall term, Professor Michael Kowalewski will teach a course on the Miscellany, revisiting an oft forgotten sparkle in Carleton’s history.

The founder of the Miscellany was Reed Whittemore, a Carleton professor who taught from 1947 to 1969. After Carleton, Whittemore entered into national notoriety with twelve published books of poetry and two appointments to the position of United States Poet Laureate.

The Miscellany was Whittemore’s second literary magazine. His first, Furioso, he began with his roommate, James Angleton, as sophomores at Yale. Furioso went dormant for a period when the two men enlisted in WWII. Upon returning from the war, Whittemore revived the magazine on his own and continued to publish it throughout his first few years at Carleton. When Whittemore could no longer afford to publish Furioso, he worked with Larry Gould to create the Miscellany, a similar magazine to be funded by the college. By carrying over Furioso’s recognizable mascot, the imp, and some of its regular columns, Whittemore allowed the Miscellany to capitalize on much of the first magazine’s acclaim.

The imp, displayed proudly on the home page of this blog and in the hallway of second Laird, is a chimney sweep tasked with keeping the magazine (and second Laird) clear of pretension, arrogance, and stuffiness. An obvious example of the imp’s symbol at work, is the catalog of authors who appeared within the pages of the Miscellany. Among the catalog of authors were more than twelve winners of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as work written by Carleton faculty and authors less widely known. The Miscellany made space for alternative voices and placed them alongside renowned authors.

Students who take Mike’s course will have the exciting opportunity to explore this rich history in closer detail, while investigating Carleton’s archived collection of the Miscellany. They will encounter the work of writers such as John Dos Passos, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ralph Ellison, published by the Miscellany.  While exploring the role of the “little magazine” in American publishing, Professor Kowalewski will expose students to Carleton’s past while envisioning possibilities for its future. We at the Second Laird Miscellany strongly encourage any who can, to join him in studying this fascinating topic.

Mike urges any students who are interested but lack the prerequisites to come speak with him.

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