Mackenzie Mahoney Weeks, 2018 Public Fellow

English PhD student Mackenzie Mahoney Weeks worked with the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) as part of the Humanities Out There Public Fellows Program in 2018.

Public Fellow: Mackenzie Weeks Mahoney, English
Site: Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB)
Project: Produce issues of the LARB quarterly journal

What did you do at LARB last summer?
I assisted with the production of several issues of the LARB quarterly journal, a print publication that features original fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, poetry, and other pieces. My work always began with research related to each issue’s organizing theme (e.g. “romance,” “childhood,” “epistolary”).

How did your training at UCI help you at LARB?
I came to the job with a working repository of authors and texts that I could connect to literary- or arts-minded readers. My writing experience helped me edit and gave me confidence working with both fiction and nonfiction pieces and their authors.

What was the workplace community like?
Many of the people at LARB have backgrounds in academia, and they actively modeled for me what a lively, intellectual, humanities-grounded career outside of the university can look like. Everyone involved cared deeply about the arts and literature and was committed to fostering meaningful dialogue across the humanities disciplines in a broader, outward-facing venue.

How did working at LARB make you rethink what you do at UCI?
The community there really made me actively reconsider the impetus behind our work as humanities scholars. How does our scholarship engage the public and what responsibilities do we have to the public, as academics, as PhDs, and as people invested in the survival of the humanities?

What did you like best about your Public Humanities Fellowships? And what was challenging?
It was incredibly rewarding to work with the staff and editors at LARB. I learned a great deal about editorial work, collaborating with authors, pulling together a print journal, and running a successful nonprofit arts organization. Still, it was hard to transition back to an environment that, despite their many shared commitments, has markedly different priorities and practices than academia. I sometimes had to remind myself that we were addressing a different audience.

What advice do you have for future Public Fellows?
I would strongly encourage any grad students who want to explore opportunities outside of academia, or who have any interest in connecting their research to the “real world” to apply for this opportunity.