Pen to paper: A selection of society publications

Find out which societies have been putting pen to paper in their own publications

Within the hive of Trinity and among its vibrant societies, the writing produced by students seems to be the honey of academic life; a pleasant by-product of diligence and labour. A culture of publication is well-established within the College community, with Trinity boasting both the oldest student magazine in Ireland, MISC., as well as the nation’s oldest arts publication, Icarus. The network of student societies across Trinity also plays host to a handful of self-published magazines and journals which seek to encourage students to write in both a literary and educational manner. Publications across the College such as The Historian, The Attic, and Iris seek to foster the literary ambitions and written talent of students across a multitude of disciplines, generating content that is both informative and entertaining. 

The Historian, a bi-annual publication produced by DU History, is not merely a vessel for analysing the past, it also serves as an insight into the operations of its committee members and their dedication to organising stellar events. Currently, in the midst of its seventh year of print, the publication successfully combines informative and cogent historical analysis with accessible and entertaining content. 

Topics covered within The Historian transcend a number of historical categorisations. Broad concepts such as social, political, and military history rub shoulders on its pages, as seen in articles on the history of the British curry house and the South African Rainbow Nation. Contributors are not constrained by temporal or geographic boundaries either, as seen with analyses on de Valera’s policies and the last Welsh rising of the 1400s. The publication fosters an appreciation for history amongst both readers and contributing writers, providing an outlet for students to delve into the topics that interest them, as well as affording both the casually interested and avid historians alike the opportunity for enlightenment. 

Features such as Historical Horoscopes also lend themselves to the enjoyable reading experience of the magazine, as does its comparison of each society member to a historical figure. The publication also features a Year in Review section, featuring highlights of the social calendar of the society’s last session. No doubt this year’s highlights section will look somewhat different, exchanging photos from the annual Apollo Ball for screenshots from Zoom calls.

Following in the antiquarian vein of The Historian, the recently established Iris is a publication produced by the combined efforts of the Classical and Archaeological Societies at Trinity. The online journal strives to make ancient history engaging for all manner of audiences. Perhaps the newest society publication to grace the circuit, Iris is entering into its third year of sharing wonderful facts about the ancient world. Its youthful status, when compared to longstanding publications such as The Historian, poses no obstacle to the magazine, as its writing staff clearly boast a wealth of talent.  

Surveying the most recent issue, Iris is evidently as visually appealing as it is intellectually stimulating. The magazine has been interspersed with vibrant colour and fitting illustrations such as a pomegranate for Persephone, or a pair of knitting needles lodged within a skull for an article detailing their use as an emergency archaeological implement during the discovery of the skeleton of the Australopithecus africanus.

Recent features within the publication seamlessly blend archaic knowledge with contemporary culture, as evinced by an article comparing the plotting structures and themes of Ancient Roman comedy to anime. Topics such as the influence of a cult of Hermes upon the philosophy of Plato and thematic overlaps between Mesopotamian and Greek myths are presented to the reader in a highly accessible format with any non-classicist finding educational and literary merit in its articles. The magazine is also eager to target the seemingly ever-present prioritisation of Western narratives within Classical discourse, as the upcoming issue of Iris is based around the thematic axis of History and Archaeology outside of Eurocentric thought. 

The editors are unafraid of having some fun with the publication as demonstrated by Tag Yourself: Greek gods and goddesses edition, present in the final pages of each issue. For a fledgeling publication, Iris is evidently driven by an excellent focus and strong editorial vision. Like its Grecian namesake, the goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods, this magazine has a bright and informative future ahead. 

Considering the intrinsic link between reading and writing, it is no surprise that the society linked with the celebration of the written word would seek to compile and distribute some compilation of its members’ work. The Attic, the Literary Society’s vehicle for publishing its members’ creative output, is a staple of the society publication scene. The journal plays host to some of the College’s finest poetry, drama and prose output, and encourages students from all academic walks of life within Trinity to submit their work. The Attic’s online presence seeks to garner submissions by denoting the pleasures of having one’s work shared and consumed:

“It is nice to be read.  If you send in your work it will get read.  And if it gets published, it will be read by even more people.  If your piece doesn’t get published, so what?  What do we – the editors – know?”

LitSoc has an extensive history of publishing its members’ work, with its initial collection, Fighting for the Sofa, appearing in 1997. In 1999, the journal became The Attic, a moniker that has remained ever since. Copies have formerly been distributed online and in print, with the physical editions often being available in time for Freshers’ Fair. Recent issues of the publication have showcased literature that explored the role of Irish women within society, the experience of falling out of love, and the physicality of death. The mediums employed by these writers are as diverse as their thematic content, with sprawling descriptions plucked from novel extracts sitting alongside short, powerful free-verse poems. The Attic demonstrates the fact that the College’s literary legacy is far from a relic of days gone by, but rather, a healthy and active aspect of student life.  

The merits of society publications are innumerable; they provide a creative outlet, a method of promoting the subject and society through online proliferation, and can be a means of developing one’s confidence in writing beyond the classroom. Education, accessibility and the evolution of ideas synergise within these magazines and journals. As Ruth Atkins writes in the 2017 edition of The Attic, “we write, and should write, so that others will read it. We write to make an impact”.