The 2018 issue of Harbinger, Stephens’ student-run literary journal, recently was named Outstanding Literary Arts Journal by Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society. This is the sixth win in nine years for the journal, which was honored for its latest win at the society’s 2019 convention in March.

Harbinger staff“One of the strengths of Harbinger is the College’s commitment to its success,” said Assistant Professor Kris Somerville. “With the support of the College and the early leadership of Faculty Emerita Dr. Judith Clark, we established an infrastructure for supporting a student-written, edited and designed magazine. It’s a formula that has proven very successful as evidenced by our many honors.” 

Harbinger has received the following honors from Sigma Tau Delta over the years:

First Place Awards

  • 2018 - “Negative Space”
  • 2016 - “Girls Like Us”
  • 2013 - “Bombshell”
  • 2011 - “Fight or Flight”
  • 2010 - “Unhinged”
  • 2009 - “Restoration”

Second Place Award

  • 2015 - "Do It Yourself"

“There’s now a rule that you can’t win two years in a row,” Somerville said. “Otherwise, I’d like to believe we’d have even more wins.”

At Stephens, the development and production of the journal is a class, structured like a real-world publishing internship, she said.

Students take the publishing internship for one credit hour in the fall. At that time, they focus on building interest in submissions. They also work on fundraising and learning what it takes to keep an arts organization going. In the spring semester, students focus on the editorial process. They select the final works and focus on editing, proofing, designing and publication distribution.  

“The students see the internship as an opportunity to create an artifact that speaks to their experiences,” said Somerville, who also is involved with The Missouri Review, a nationally respected literary magazine based in Missouri. “I love literary journals and get excited when my students discover that love and an interest in publishing as well.” 

Sara Barfknecht ’19, co-editor-in-chief for the 2019 Harbinger, says she credits Somerville’s enthusiasm and commitment with contributing to the success of the journal and considers it a privilege to work with and learn from her. 

“She has an undying amount of passion and expertise in the literary world,” Barfknecht said. “Harbinger, for sure, would not be what it is today without her.”

Her co-editor-in chief, Raina Johnson ’19, agrees and says she credits both Somerville’s expertise and the structure of Harbinger as a class with the success of the journal. 

“Because Harbinger is a class we are given more time and motivation to create,” Johnson said. “Most colleges don’t put the same amount of serious work into their journals as we do. I love the experience of working on Harbinger. I’ve learned so much, and I am still learning. Working on Harbinger has taught me that nothing can be done without support backing you up. It’s all teamwork and doing your part to make sure everything else moves smoothly for everyone else.”


Tags : Student Success, School of Creative & Performing Arts, English/Creative Writing

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