Spring 2014

Editors and Authors

Listed in: English, as ENGL-397


Jennifer M. Acker (Section 01)


In 1980, on the eve of publication of his second short story collection, Raymond Carver wrote to his editor Gordon Lish and begged him to stop the presses. Carver felt Lish had edited the stories so dramatically the author could no longer claim them as his own. Yet this collection is an American masterpiece. What can we learn about the art and practice of editing from this relationship? How does one read and think like an editor? In addition to reading editor-author correspondence and the “before” and “after” versions of landmark literary works, including The Great Gatsby, students will read and analyze trail-blazing literary magazines, defunct and contemporary, that have shaped literary landscapes and authors’ careers.  Submissions to The Common, the Amherst College-based print and online literary magazine, will provide some of the course materials and opportunities for hands-on editing work.

Requisite:  One English course at the 200 level or higher required.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Visiting Lecturer Acker.

If Overenrolled: Over-enrollment will be handled on a case-by-case basis by the instructor, with attention to seniority and previous classes taken.


Artistic practice, Community based learning, Writing attentive


2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015