Seeking a road map to the periodical world.
October 7, 2010 11:04 AM   Subscribe

What are good resources for magazine/journal literacy, maps of the terrain of the periodical world?

Is there a short, accessible guide to the Wide World of Periodicals that college students could use to get up to speed? Some short rundown of the different sorts of magazines, journals, and topics, complete with the names of the well-known ones in each niche that an educated general reader should have heard of, and would know to look at to find out what people are saying in the various realms of politics, culture, etc.? I feel sure that some smart reference librarian has written such a guide, but don't know where to find it.

Motivation: In a college class on argumentation, I have asked my students to find interesting example arguments in their general reading. But, as it turns out, they sometimes don't know where to look: their existing reading habits often don't range far beyond the NYT, WSJ, Time, Newsweek, perhaps the New Yorker, and a handful of other news outlets. In fact nearly none of them appear to know of the existence of the wide range of political magazines (The Nation or The New Republic), cultural/literary periodicals (NYRB, LRB), general-audience science and scholarly journals (Science, Nature, The American Scholar). Their information-literacy education seems to have covered how to assess the credibility of things once found, but not how to browse before finding something, nor what is out there to be browsed. I'd love to have a resource that they could use as a starting point for their exploration of the library's periodical section, since otherwise its size and unorderedness can be very intimidating.
posted by RogerB to Education (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'll say this first: I am not aware of an almanac for the general reader which details the kind of information you're seeking.

The very closest thing, though, might be the left-hand column of Arts & Letters Daily.

I'm a college student myself. I received my education in periodicals from reading The New York Review of Books, which is pretty promiscuous with references and cross-references to others journals and newspapers and magazines. A lot of people, I think, see the Review as a kind of center of gravity of the American intellectual scene. Just browsing the contributor list—which usually mentions the other publications for which they have written—gives a pretty good sense of what's out there.

Regarding The New Republic, which I think is a fine but sometimes very flawed magazine, I think your students may appreciate this essay:
posted by trotter at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is a sort of annotated guide to literary magazines here:
posted by mattbucher at 7:32 PM on October 7, 2010

Maybe the best place to start would be your institution's library? At my university, librarians compile guides to different subject areas listing key journals in each area.

If that's not possible, hundreds of libraries use libguides to do pretty much this, and they're publicly available online. You can see a list of participating institutions and browse subject guides here. Apologies, I know this is a little clunkier than you were looking for and there's a lot of opening times and catalogue searching tips mixed in.
posted by the cat's pyjamas at 6:08 AM on December 10, 2010

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