Students do it all

RevUU: a literary magazine by students for students

Guest speaker Ellen Keith bestselling author of The Dutch Wife RevUU
Guest speaker Ellen Keith at the bookshop Aleph for the launch of RevUU, the online literary magazine made by UU students. Photo: RevUU

It all started two years ago. Twenty students of different nationalities were given the task to publish their ideas on a literary work of their choosing. As part of the course ‘Art of Criticism’, Dr. Mia You provided students with the opportunity to write, edit and publish their own work in a magazine created by themselves. But that was not all. The students were to build an online platform, carrying sole responsibility for the editorial and design aspects of the magazine. In addition, the students had to do their own public relations and marketing. The first issue of RevUU hit the web in the autumn of 2020. It was an instant success.

Despite it being the first edition, the Autumn 2020 issue quickly generated a loyal reading audience and the magazine has seen an increasing following on social media ever since. Students create an issue twice a year: one in the autumn, as part of the course curriculum, and another one in the spring, open to all UU students. The entire magazine is in English and each article must address a unique and relevant topic. “For the autumn issue, students are restricted to writing reviews, feature articles or creative critical pieces on a fairly recent literary work,” explains Neelam Reddy, a Canadian Master's student. “The spring issue, though, allows for a bit more freedom. Students can write essays, creative writings or articles on literary works written long ago.”

Being completely student-run, it is always a matter of waiting to see how the collaboration on the magazine goes. Students have to divide roles amongst themselves and peer review each other’s work. Neelam, who worked on the latest issue, says there were never any major problems. “With the sorting of responsibilities, we divided the classroom into different sections. I am interested in marketing, so I knew I wanted to be in the ‘publicity and marketing’ section. However, the first five minutes or so, I was the only one in there,” she laughs. “That kind of surprised me since I think marketing is a fun field to explore, but pretty soon students started to join me and several teams took form. I became the head of mine. Other students joined the editorial team that is responsible for rigorously reviewing all the articles and coming up with a theme for the magazine. Others took up a position in the design team, which is the one responsible for all the artwork and web design.”

Neelam Reddy Head of Publicity  Marketing of RevUU Autumn

Neelam Reddy, head of publicity RevUU

Working on something this challenging and not getting paid for it requires a certain amount of dedication. According to Neelam, all the students are excited about the experience. As a matter of fact, a lot of them go on working on the spring issue of the magazine after they have finished the course. “It’s wonderful to have something tangible,” Neelam adds, “something that allows you to say ‘I have a published piece of work’ after the programme. But you also do it on your own so you can experience things you usually don’t learn until you are out there, joining the workforce. It is really valuable to get some hands-on experience in a class setting.”

Surfacing and resurfacing
The Autumn 2022 issue of RevUU is titled "Surfacing and Resurfacing". New and innovative ideas play the leading role alongside old beliefs that have been revived. This issue’s theme does not only resonate in the articles. Every year, the students involved try to reinvent the magazine and add something new to it. This year is no exception: the students completely redesigned the magazine’s website, as well as the look and feel of the magazine and the social media campaign. To top it off, Neelam and her team organised a proper magazine launch. An all-evening event at the Aleph bookstore with guest speaker Ellen Keith, the bestselling author of The Dutch Wife, as one of the highlights.

For Neelam and her team, the launch was their baby. The finale to a valuable experience. “The other departments have the actual magazine as a result of their hard work,” Neelam smiles. “For me and my team, this launch was the end celebration. It was both rewarding and trying, but we had a full house and it was a great success. It is unclear what the future holds for the magazine but me and my fellow students encourage others to participate and submit material. RevUU is a unique literary platform made by students for students and we can only hope for many more issues to come.”