Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

PBK on American Scholar

Phi Beta Kappa has put out a press release about Anne Fadiman and the changes at TAS:

Editorial Transition at The American Scholar

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 2; The Phi Beta Kappa Society, publisher of The American Scholar, has announced the end of the seven-year editorship of Anne Fadiman as of fall, 2004.

John Churchill, Secretary of the Society, said, “I know that I speak for everyone associated with Phi Beta Kappa and for the journal’s readers in saying that Anne Fadiman’s editorship has been a great source of pride and admiration. Under her leadership, The Scholar has been superbly edited and has brought its readers lively, well-written, and intellectually engaging essays. It is with much regret that Phi Beta Kappa has decided that our needs would be best served if Ms.Fadiman did not continue her editorship of The Scholar.”

Under Anne Fadiman’s guidance, The American Scholar has won three National Magazine Awards, including one in 2003 in the “Best Essay” category for her own work, “A Piece of Cotton.” Ms. Fadiman has brought the work of many of the nation’s most talented writers to the pages of The Scholar, and has, by intent, established it as a haven for the continued cultivation of the essay as a literary form.

Support for The Scholar represents about a quarter of Phi Beta Kappa’s budget. In order to reduce the magazine’s operating deficit, the Society will seek cost-saving measures across its editorial and management operations. While the reasons are budgetary, the transition implies neither that editorial expenses have exceeded budgeted amounts, nor that The Scholar’s budgetary challenges are purely editorial.

After careful study of the overall situation, Phi Beta Kappa has determined that, in a period of budget restraint, the Society cannot sustain the editorial structure of The American Scholar as Ms. Fadiman has conceived and developed it. The Society will continue to support The Scholar as a leading journal of cultural and intellectual affairs.

“I feel sorrow and disappointment that my years at The Scholar will be coming to an end sooner than I had hoped,” Ms. Fadiman said. “But I’m grateful to Phi Beta Kappa for having chosen me in the first place, and for granting me an unusual degree of editorial independence during seven memorable years. No editor could be more blessed than I in her writers, her staff, or her Board.”

Ms. Fadiman will edit two more issues of The Scholar beyond the current Spring 2004 issue. Her final issue will be published this fall. Phi Beta Kappa will announce shortly its search for her successor.

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and largest academic honor society. It has chapters at 270 colleges and universities, and more than half a million members. The Society’s mission is to promote the liberal arts and sciences, to recognize academic excellence, and to foster freedom of thought and expression.

Ironically, the latest issue just hit the newsstands. Articles by Natalie Angier, Annie Dillard, Ana Marie Cox– obviously they weren’t getting their money’s worth.

[To the tune of Eric Clapton, “Layla/Derek and the Dominos,” from the album Crossroads (Disc 2).]

1 Comment

  1. I happened to pick up (as in look at, but not buy) the new issue of The American Scholar last week at the Border’s near Union Square in SF. It impressed me as a wonderful collaboration of writers, journalists, academics, and readers. I can imagine, though, how costly it is to produce. It’s a shame that Phi Beta Kappa is not able (or willing?) to secure adequate patronage. Why has good editing come to be seen as expendable?

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