Earlier this week, a friend and fellow undergraduate at the university asked me over text message, “Why do they call the journal the Ivory Tower?” His question echoes ones that we, the staff of Ivory Tower, hear regularly from our student peers.
“Don’t you think that comes off a bit exclusive?”
“Is the name supposed to be ironic?”
Such concerns are not unfounded. I do not know why, at the magazine’s conception, this particular name was chosen. For some, the image of an ivory tower represents a classical vision of academia. For others, it is a symbol of pretentious and absent-minded savants. For me, it will always be the home of a childlike empress in Wolfgang Petersen’s The NeverEnding Story.
Regardless of what the title may or may not have represented at any point throughout its history, I can only say with certainty what it represents now: a group of students inspired by a belief in the necessity of artistic expression and its power to enlighten, challenge, and captivate. Over the span of our year-long course, our staff (comprised of students from various academic backgrounds and our instructor, Dr. Jim Cihlar) collects artwork from our undergraduate peers at the University of Minnesota and organizes it into a cohesive whole. This collection is comprised of the very best fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art that students of our institution have to offer.
Ivory Tower is published annually. Each year, it is put together by an entirely new staff of students, eager and hopeful to leave their own mark on the magazine’s proud legacy. Each staff is allowed to chase their own collective vision for the publication in the form of its theme. As a means of combatting any misconceptions of pretension that the name Ivory Tower may convey, this year’s staff has chosen the theme of Woven Voices. As a publication with content both created and published by students, we have sought to erase any notion of elitism, and instead encourage harmonic unification of student voices. We look to be inclusive, not exclusive.
For a great number of students over the years, including myself, Ivory Tower provides the experience of becoming a published author, artist, or poet. In Woven Voices, we are extending our reach to undergraduates from backgrounds not conventionally associated with the worlds of Literature and Art. While students from our College of Liberal Arts are the most frequent contributors, we hope to acquire works from members of the Colleges of Science and Engineering, Biological Sciences, Design, and as many others as are willing to contribute.
In this, the tenth anniversary of our magazine’s ardent revival, we on the current staff aim to deliver a most cohesive, representative collection of student art. We are dedicated, but rely on the artistic passions of our peers to help us see this vision through.
If you are an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota and would like the opportunity to have your work published, please visit https://ivorytower.submittable.com/submit. We have categories for poetry, fiction, nonfiction, visual art, and the Weisman Art Museum’s ArtWords contest. Instructions for submitting are located on the page.
I am an English major at the University of Minnesota, and Co-Editor in Chief of the Ivory Tower Literary & Art magazine. I am most likely to be found at Espresso Exposé, sitting between a purple wall and my fourth cup of coffee, wishing my spacebar wouldn’t stick.