The Columbia Review is the oldest college literary magazine in the nation, publishing its first issue in 1815. At that time the Review was associated with the Philolexian Society, the college’s literary society which was established in 1802. Then entitled Literary Monthly, the magazine underwent various changes throughout the nineteenth century, serving as a forum for both literary and social dialogue amongst students of the time.
In 1898, the magazine was revitalized under the guidance of John Erskine, Professor of English and founder of Columbia’s Core Curriculum. Renamed The Morningside, it was published every third Thursday of the academic year—at a time when a yearly subscription cost only a dollar. While Erskine only served as Chief Editor until 1903, he would continue to oversee the magazine for the next thirty years.
Sometime between 1910 and 1911, Erskine and a number of students gathered in Low Library to form the Boar’s Head Society, a group which would continue to meet until the 1970s. In addition to serving as a forum for the Review, the society held annual literary competitions and published winning pieces in the magazine. The competition was formerly judged by William Carlos Williams, and past winners have included John Berryman, Terrence McNally, John Hollander and Allen Ginsberg.
Under the guidance of Max Feldman, The Morningside officially became The Columbia Review in 1932. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s the magazine was supervised by Mark Van Doren, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, as well as Lionel Trilling. The Review has a rich history of Chief Editors, ranging from Whittaker Chambers to Paul Auster.
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