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The “Southwest Review” reimagined

Cover of the Autumn/Winter 2017 edition of Southwest Review Photo credit: Micah Flores
Cover of the Autumn/Winter 2017 edition of “Southwest Review” Photo credit: Micah Flores

In print for more than a century, the Southwest Review begins a new chapter as Greg Brownderville, SMU professor and editor-in-chief, updates the look of the magazine and takes the initiative to advance its digital presence.

The “Southwest Review” is the third oldest continuously published quarterly in the United States. It was established in 1915 as “The Texas Review” out of the University of Texas at Austin, before it was moved to its current home at Southern Methodist University in 1924. The magazine was created to prove that there was a home for literature and the arts, even in unsung Texas, a region that was quickly transforming from a land of cattle and cotton to one of industry and urbanization at the turn of the 20th century.

Though the magazine has been in circulation for over one hundred years and has received some changes and updates over time, Brownderville knew that he wanted to take the magazine in a new direction. He wanted to modernize it by integrating it into a digital platform, hoping to make the magazine more accessible and approachable to modern readers. One of the first steps he took in the process was to work on creating an online presence for the “Southwest Review,” something that had never been done before.

“SwR never really had a web presence to speak of. It had an informational homepage on the SMU website but, as far as I know, that’s the extent of digitization that occurred before.” Brownderville said. “Having a website that’s posting content and pushing it out on social media and putting up some audio and video, nothing like that has ever happened at SwR.”

With the upcoming launch of the new website, where readers will be able to easily manage their subscription and view the magazine, Brownderville also hopes to increase online foot traffic by including web exclusives such as video and audio interviews, along with other forms of digital media. While incorporating brand-new content, the online exclusives will also reach far into the depths of the archives and recognize content from years past that has been untouched for some time.

“What we are going to do is supplement the print content with web-exclusive content. There will be some video and audio online, stuff you can do in digital but not in print,” Brownderville said. “We’ll be doing some book reviews that are just for online, and some stuff from the archives. We’ll find some cool stuff that was published in the SwR way back when, and we are going to bring it back to light, and put the spotlight on it.”

With all of the talk of web exclusives and digital formatting for the “Southwest Review,” the question of what will come of the print edition lingers in the air. For readers who prefer tangible print, there is good news, for the physical edition has also received an aesthetic makeover. With the help of Art Director and Designer Julie Savasky, the covers and illustrations inside will move away from plain text-focused titles to simpler and more contemporary designs, with an increased emphasis on visual aesthetics.

SWR Illustration.JPG
Illustration by Henn Kim that is paired with the short story "Getting What I Wished For," by Owen Goodwyne. Photo credit: Micah Flores

Brownderville hopes that the revamp of the website and the redesign of the print edition will pique the interest of potential readers, as well as maintaining the attention of veteran subscribers. He shares his hopes for the future of the “Southwest Review.”

“I would love for the Southwest Review to be something that people in Dallas are really proud of and plugged into. We need a great literary magazine to participate in local life,” Brownderville said. “This fall as we are rolling out the new website and publishing new issues, just give it a look. I think if people simply have a look, they’ll be hooked.”

The next issue will be available in October. The current and previous issues can be purchased online.

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