For the fourth year in a row, Fresno State’s locally grown, nationally known literary magazine, The Normal School, has earned high marks for gender parity in a nationwide report. The magazine also had four essays mentioned in the newest editions of the annual Best American series.
The Normal School was again celebrated in the highlights of the 2017 VIDA Count, an annual report that examines gender parity and inclusion in national literary publications by counting the number of women writers, non-binary writers and writers of color who are published or reviewed.
In its June report, VIDA singled out The Normal School for having 57.4 percent of its 2017 bylines by women, ranked sixth for gender parity among 24 national publications in its Larger Literary Landscape VIDA Count. While the mark was down from the magazine’s 67.1 percent in 2016, it still placed The Normal School among the nation’s best, alongside literary magazines such as Ninth Letter (61.3 percent), the Missouri Review (61.1 percent), and Prairie Schooner (59.7 percent).
The Normal School — one of the few small-market magazines produced out of a graduate Master of Fine Arts program, as opposed to a large corporate entity — fared better in the VIDA Count than many other major publications in its class, including The Believer (33 percent of bylines by women), the Harvard Review (38.1 percent), the Southwest Review (39 percent) and the venerable Gettysburg Review (40.9 percent).
Earning mentions in the Best American series — the annual anthologies published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that serve as the premier annual showcase of literary writing in the country — gives The Normal School more national accolades. The Best American series books were published in October.
Earning “Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2017” recognition in Best American Essays 2018 were:
- Ann Hood, “What They Saw” (fall)
- David Lazar, “When I’m Awfully Low: On Singing” (spring)
- Brandon Lingle, “Stop-Loss” (spring)
- Ander Monson, “The Sadness of March: In Search of Extreme Emotion” (spring)
Professor Steven Church, one of The Normal School’s founding editors and its current nonfiction editor, also saw one of his nonfiction works recognized in Best American Essays 2018. His essay “On Water Heaters, Earthquakes and Encountering the Dynamic Sublime” from Hotel Amerika (winter) was noted.
Founded in 2008, The Normal School is staffed by graduate students in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing. Prof. Church serves as the faculty coordinator for the magazine, which provides students with real-world experience in publishing and editing.
The College of Arts and Humanities provides funding support for The Normal School. Visit The Normal School online to buy the magazine.