July 06, 2012
Danielle Lacey

SLU Literature Journal Celebrates Milestone Year

This year, "African American Review," one of the most prestigious journals published at Saint Louis University, marks its 20th year under that title.

Cover of the African American Review, Vol. 43
Interested readers can find back issues of African-American Review online at JSTOR and Project MUSE.

Throughout its history 45-year history, the purpose of African American Review has been clearly established. Founded in 1967 as Negro American Literature Forum, the journal sought to educate people about the burgeoning African-American literature field.

"It gave scholars more of a voice and let readers know there were alternatives out there for self expression being rendered by people of color," said current editor Nathan Grant, Ph.D. Grant is a professor with the Department of English and also teaches courses for the African-American Studies program.

In its early days as Negro American Literature Forum, the journal consisted of scholarly notes and queries, and book reviews. As the journal matured, it published more critical essays and creative writing, including creative fiction and poetry. In 1992, the name was changed to African American Review and its mission expanded to include poetry, theater, film and the visual arts.

The journal has received a slew of honors for both its academic and literary merit. It has been awarded the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Award for Best Special Issue and three American Literary Magazine Awards for Editorial Content. The Review has also received grants from the National Endowment for Arts, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.

In 2005, former editor-in-chief of the Review Joe Weixlmann, Ph.D., was also awarded the "Distinguished Editor of the Year" by the CELJ. Weixlmann, former SLU provost and a professor with the Department of English, brought the journal to SLU from Indiana State University.

Grant credits the journal's success in the field with the editorial staff's attention to detail and maintaining positive relationships with contributors.

"We are in constant and first-name contact with authors, creative writers, book reviewers, painters and other artists," Grant said. "It is only that kind of verbal collaboration that brings about that sort of technical accuracy."

As the Review starts its 21st year, Grant hopes to be able to publish more artwork.

"I think visual culture is very compelling, and therefore, very important," Grant said. "It's been my dream to have more visual art in our pages. More Kara Walker, more Martin Puryear."

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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