The Foundationalist sets its sights beyond the Bowdoin Bubble. The editorial magazine accepts submissions from undergraduates across the country, regardless of genre, length or theme.
Aleksia Silverman ’19 and Sydney To ’19 founded The Foundationalist in the spring of 2018. To explained that the title “Foundationalist” ironically refers to Foundationalism, the belief that all knowledge must be based off of non-inferential knowledge or justified belief.
“It’s ironic because our literary attitude is anti-foundationalist, anti-canonical and motivated by a wish to embrace minor literatures and more global critical positions,” To said in a phone interview with the Orient.
In its current form, the editorial board, which consists of 12 members including leaders Kyubin Kim ’22, Lily Poppen ’22 and Rachel Yang ’22, meets weekly to read and discuss submissions. The organization advertises for new submissions through “all-call emails,” that they send out to as many colleges as they can.
The board is currently reviewing over 100 submissions for Volume IV, which will be published at the end of this month. After discussing an individual submission, each member assigns it an “A” for acceptance, “B” for maybe, or “C” for rejection. Sometimes the board suggests specific revisions, allowing writers to edit their work and resubmit. As of the last volume, The Foundationalist published 24 percent of the total submissions it received.
Board meetings are an open platform for members to express their opinions on submissions which vary greatly in style and worldview. One example is a coded poem written by a Texas A&M student.
Kim appreciates these deviations from the artistic norms she feels dominate Bowdoin.
“I feel like Bowdoin oftentimes teaches in one style which is academic, and even in creative writing there’s a distinct creative writing style that you notice Bowdoin students have … quirky, satirical, dark but funny,” said Kim.
Co-leader Poppen expressed a similar sentiment, highlighting The Foundationalist’s emphasis on diverse written perspectives.
“Careers in English range from creative writing to editorial experience to copy editing, et cetera,” she said. “And we’d love to make a really holistic writing scene [at Bowdoin].”
Nailah Khoory ’22 and Liam Healy ’22 appreciate that The Foundationalist offers them an opportunity to read diverse student perspectives, Khoory has gained knowledge that she is able to incorporate in her poetry class this semester.
“What we talked about last year in The Foundationalist… I’ve applied that to my poetry class, and vice versa into The Foundationalist,” Khoory said. “It adds another layer when reading a professional poet’s work and then reading students’ work.”
The Foundationalist’s articles are published on a database called Academia through Bowdoin College’s English Department, where they have accrued around 11,000 views. While the publication’s leaders would like to create a magazine, they are unsure how they would share a paper publication with people around the world. In the future, when the organization has grown, leaders hope the publication will include photography and art.
While The Foundationalist has a chapter at Yale University and is soon opening one at the University of Iowa, Yang expressed difficulty in expanding the club’s reach to Bowdoin students.
She explained, however, that the Foundationalist plans to collaborate with other literary presences on campus to advertise and attract more members.
“We have a vision for the future,” Yang said.