The mission of World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma's bimonthly magazine of international literature and culture, is to serve as an engaging, informative index to contemporary international literature, and to serve the international, state, and university communities by achieving excellence as a literary publication, a sponsor of literary prizes, and a cultural center for students. Now in its ninth decade of continuous publication, WLT has been recognized by the Nobel Prize committee as one of the "best edited and most informative literary publications" in the world, and was recently called "an excellent source of writings from around the globe by authors who write as if their lives depend on it" (Utne Reader, January 2005). WLT has received a dozen national publishing awards in the past ten years, including the Phoenix Award for Editorial Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals in 2002.
Here is a list of some the many ways in which our mission connects us to the world:
- As of 2010, WLT has been awarding Walter Jr. and Dolores K. Neustadt Scholarships (a gift of Kathy Neustadt, Nancy Barcelo, and Susan Neustadt Schwartz) to enable OU students to take WLT courses, to attend Neustadt conferences, and to undertake undergraduate research projects.
- In the past ten years, WLT has broadened its editorial purview to include the other arts and culture, with an emphasis on essayistic writing that is engaging to nonspecialist readers (see Robert Con Davis-Undiano, "Back to the Essay: World Literature Today in the Twenty-First Century," Winter 2000).
- Since 2009, with funding from the Norman Arts Council, WLT has expanded its annual Neustadt and Puterbaugh events into a festival format—with music, theater, and poetry in performance as well as film festivals—in partnership with other departments on campus, and WLT-administered fellowships have given hundreds of students full-tuition scholarships and book stipends to take the Neustadt and Puterbaugh courses built around the work of visiting writers.
- WLT's expanded internship program gives students hands-on experience with editing, designing, and marketing a world-class literary magazine; many former interns have received job placements with book publishers and magazines throughout the country and have gone on to prestigious graduate programs and law schools (Oxford, East Anglia, Princeton, Brown).
- Since 2003, WLT has routinely partnered with public schools around the state (including Norman, Tahlequah, Anadarko, and Lawton) to bring students to their Neustadt and Puterbaugh festivals, and laureates of the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature have visited schools and libraries.
- WLT is frequently reviewed in print and online publications (Utne Reader, NewPages, the Isak and Three Percent blogs, etc.) and has won a dozen national publishing awards in the past ten years for editorial, design, illustration, and events, including a Pushcart Prize for Li-Young Lee's "Seven Marys."
- WLT's editors and contributing editors routinely travel to writers' conferences (PEN World Voices, the Gothenburg Book Fair, Guadalajara International Book Fair, etc.) to meet with prospective authors/translators and to represent WLT.
- Since 2006, WLT has increased its bookstore distribution throughout the US and Canada through Ingram Periodicals, and circulation of our print edition is up 30 percent in the past five years.
- WLT launched a digital archive on JSTOR in 2009, including 80 years of legacy content (1927-2007) with full-text access to over 50,000 pages of back issues, licensed to over 2,000 libraries and institutions.
- WLT launched its MetaPress digital edition in 2009, a primary-source online hosting platform for 38,000 scholarly publications, featuring current WLT content from 2009 to the present.
- WLT launched the Zinio digital magazine edition in 2010 for general readers.
- The editor in chief of WLT is a professional member of PEN American Center, the U.S. branch of the world's oldest international literary and human rights organization.
- The managing editor of WLT served on the Council of Editors of Learned Journals committee that drafted the position statement "The Contributions of Journal Editors to the Scholarly Community" (October 2004), and WLT is a participating member of CELJ.
- Invited guest editors have contributed special sections to recent issues: Science and Literature (Pireeni Sundaralingam) [January 2011], Writing from Modern India (Sudeep Sen) [November 2010], International Short Fiction (Alan Cheuse) [September 2010], Science Fiction (Christopher McKitterick) [May 2010],
Taiwan (Michelle Yeh) [January 2010], Korea (Jonathan Stalling & Eungwi Chung) [January 2010], Catalan Literature (Lawrence Venuti) [September 2009], etc.
- The editors of WLT were invited to attend the American Literary Translators Association conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2003 to talk about the role of translation in WLT's editorial mission.
- WLT applied for and received grant funding from the Institut Ramon Llull (Barcelona) and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (Taipei) to subsidize the September 2009 and January 2010 issues of WLT, devoted to Catalan and Taiwanese literature, respectively.
- WLT's managing editor serves on the Oklahoma Literary Landmarks Advisory Board.
- WLT's book review editor hosts an on-campus student book club.
- Since 2008, WLT has published an annual Chinese edition in cooperation with Beijing Normal University's School of Chinese Language & Literature, with an editorial board consisting of Howard Goldblatt (Notre Dame), Haiyan Lee (Stanford), and Michelle Yeh (UC-Davis).
- WLT helped with the grant funding application, initial planning and budgeting, and 2010 launch of Chinese Literature Today, a new biannual journal based at OU and a book series published by the OU Press.
- WLT co-hosted the "China and World Literature Today International Conference" with Beijing Normal University and sent a delegation of several writers and scholars to participate (October 2008), and OU/BNU faculty collaborated on a special "Inside China" issue of WLT in July 2007.
- WLT is connected to the teaching mission at OU – the executive director, editor in chief, and managing editor all teach courses to hundreds of students through the Honors College, College of Law, Department of English, and College of Liberal Studies, and the editor in chief serves on the affiliate faculty of the School of International & Area Studies. WLT's executive director and editor in chief also serve on dissertation committees, faculty hiring committees, etc.
- Invited guest speakers from OU, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa participate in career roundtables on magazine publishing, as part of the editor in chief's annual course in magazine editing and publishing (ENGL 4113).
- WLT launched an online book club in 2010, with discussion questions and supplemental features tied to a book featured in the Notebook section of every issue.
- WLT routinely partners with Cleveland County's Pioneer Library System to participate in NEA Big Read events, community outreach, etc.
- WLT is the campus sponsor of the Bruce Granger Dissertation Fellowship for PhD students in American Studies, and WLT's editors serve on the vetting committee for the Ruby N. Courtney Writer's Scholarship, then send their recommendations to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
- WLT launched a Facebook page in 2009 to connect with readers.