FUSE Conference at Bennington College
What’s the Big Idea?
November 6–7, 2014
To view the schedule: Bennington Schedule
The FUSE conference in Bennington took place over two days—November 6 and 7—and featured speakers, student and faculty panel presentations and discussions, two skills sessions, a journal showcase, and open mic night. An optional half-day excursion was planned on Friday afternoon to the nearby Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, renowned for its French Impressionist collection—a jewel of a museum.
As prologue to 2014’s conference, we invited everyone to consider FUSE—this congregation of student editors and faculty mentors—through a larger lens. With the increasing publication of undergraduate literary journals online, we saw that communities of writers and editors were eager for more inter-connectedness and wider readership. The FUSE Conference focused its efforts on how to help make that happen—and will continue to do so. But with the 2014 conference, we also wanted to open an inquiry that may deepen and expand these aims.
What’s the big idea? That’s what we wanted to ask ourselves. That is, if we form these connections, and if we increase visibility and readership, what might we make of that, in a larger sense? Here’s one example: a Bennington student who edits the plain china anthology was in Tunisia for spring term to investigate the effects of the Arab Spring. As a result of her work with the anthology, she wanted to investigate international publications that focus on sharing individual perspectives between groups that may be in conflict, with particular interest in the Middle East. She proposed a presentation for FUSE 2014. Another proposal came from a student at the University of Pennsylvania who started The Adroit Journal, which has student editors from around the world and contributors ranging from high school students to established writers.
So: We thought about ideas that break boundaries, that perhaps raise the question, Do these collections of young voices matter? And if so, how?
We hope the conference became a call for lit journals across the country to connect actions to aims. Aims: wider readership, more heft. Actions: think bigger: read each other’s journals; actively curate, communicate, collaborate. Consider the building of a community that will not only showcase the best work of young writers across the country—journals without borders, say—but also demonstrate the ways in which your voices matter.