Meet and read: the point magazine
Reported by Madeline Happold and Megan Stringer, Co-Editors-in-Chief
The Point is a digital and print magazine based in Chicago composed of philosophical writing on contemporary issues publishing three times a year. Shredded had the chance to speak with them about their foundation, submissions and editorial process at Pitchfork Music Festival's book fort and publishing tent.
Shredded: To start, could you tell us a little bit about what The Point is and what you guys do?
The Point: The Point is a magazine of philosophical writing about everyday life. It was founded by three graduates in the Committee on Social Thought and U of Chicago in 2009. The program, Social Thought, is a Great Books program. The editors were reading all these fantastic, classic books and writing about them, but they didn’t really feel like there was a good forum for the kind of writing that they wanted to do. On the one hand they saw the publishing scene was kind of divided; there were academic journals that were, like, rigorous and there were serious thought being done in them, but the writing was dead and like three people read them, each article. And then, on the other side of things, there was literary publishing, sort of more mainstream, high-brow magazine like n+1, the New Yorker, Jacobin and so on.
There are kind of two types within that larger category, but those magazines were publishing some really interesting narratives that felt urgent and exciting but it wasn’t always as intellectual as the editors wanted. So the idea was that they wanted to have a magazine that would be contemporary, personal, urgent writing about the world that we live in.
Shredded: And you guys publish how often?
The Point: Three times a year.
Shredded: So you guys ask a question in every issue…
The Point: Yeah, in every issue there is a specific section that's dedicated to a specific question. So the editors come up with it for each issue.
Shredded: Gotcha, that’s the Symposium section?
The Point: Exactly.
Shredded: So, how do you figure out which question to ask?
The Point: There’s kind of a process. So, for the last issue, the Symposium question for the winter issue “What is America for?” is something that we had been thinking about and had planned since the early summer, so around June, before the election had even happened. There was just this sort of sense and zeitgeist that the election was gonna be some referendum on that question so we wanted to get a bunch of responses to it. For other Symposiums that are a little bit less time sensitive, like “What is poetry for?” That one we wanted to do because we’re interested in art and creative writing and wanted to get some responses to that question.
Similarly, I guess for the marriage Symposium “What is marriage for?” that came up around the time that gay marriage was being legalized around the country and we thought it was a question that deserved exploration for both as like a general question, “What is heterosexual marriage for?” or “What is gay marriage for? Why is that something that we value?" So that’s something that we try to do with every Symposium. We try to take something we cherish in the world and ask ourselves why we think they're important.
Shredded: Absolutely. So what is one of your favorite pieces you guys have published? Do you have a personal favorite?
The Point: It’s so hard for me to choose. I’ll do one from our last issue, I guess. I really liked the piece “Midwestworld” by Meghan O’Gieblyn, its a piece that’s about a living history museum outside of Detroit in Michigan that was founded by Ford. She writes about visiting the living history museum with her family right before the election. It’s a meditation also on post-industrial Midwest nostalgia.
Shredded: And the latest issue is from Winter 2017?
The Point: Yeah, we are coming out with one in a couple weeks and that Symposium is “What is comedy for?”
Contact Madeline by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram @madelinehappold.
Contact Megan by email at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram @meganticss.