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Shadows Casts Long Literary Reach into Creighton’s Past

ShadowsIf you're looking for a window into Creighton's history, you'd have a hard time finding a better one than Shadows.

The magazine and the student organization that publishes it have been around in one form or another for over 107 years — making it, according to some accounts, the oldest student-run organization at the University still in existence today.

Vol. I, No. 1 of The Creighton Chronicle was published in October 1909; at that point, it was a monthly publication and served as Creighton's foremost news source. When The Creightonian emerged in 1922, the publication was renamed Shadows. It was renamed the Creighton Quarterly Shadows in 1932, and continued as such through May 1941, when the publication was put on hiatus. It was rebooted in the spring of 1963, again as Shadows.

Shadows 2004Glimpses into a Century of History

Britt Pollack, current student co-editor along with Brandon Crawford, takes her time showcasing a handful of editions of Shadows tucked away in a musty closet in Creighton Hall. There's the latest issue, published in April 2016, and issues dating back to the 1970s. All are strikingly different in feel and appearance.

One, from spring 2004, features a wax seal that, when broken, reveals an interior stuffed with short stories and artwork. Another, from late 2001, is presented as loose pages in a box with a dark logo. Its editors, it appears, have been tinkering with its appearance and format since it was first published as The Creighton Chronicle in 1909.

The magazines are windows into both the literary tastes of its editors and into life at Creighton and beyond over the last century.

In a fundraising feature for the Christmas 1922 edition of Shadows, a writer imagines Creighton playing a football game in a yet-to-be-built stadium. "In the greatest game ever fought on a Creighton gridiron," he says, "the Blue and White team played the moleskin warriors from Lincoln to a stand-still on Creighton field yesterday afternoon before a crowd of 17,000 people."

In the June 1929 issue of Shadows, student Cecil Steele asks, "Have You Heard the Latest?" The latest, of course, is news of a new art being born: the talkie, or talking movie. "In some ways," he writes, "this premature and violent death of the silent picture is distinctly unfortunate." He asks, "is there any hope that the talkie will become a cultural influence helping the masses to a better appreciation of the finer, subtler things of life?" Occupying the last page of this edition is an advertisement for Camel cigarettes. "Blow a mellow cloud in the face of adversity," it calls.

Homecoming Game The May 1941 issue of the magazine, at that point called Creighton Quarterly Shadows, is an unintentionally foreboding edition.

In an article titled "Creighton and National Defense," Col. Robert J. Halpin, then professor of military science and tactics, provides details such as the 115 cadets from Creighton that were commissioned between 1937 and 1940; the approximately 1,825 students that had recently completed a course in the fundamentals of military science; and the many Creighton graduates on active duty with the armed forces.

The final written segment of the edition reminds students that they'll still have their Christ-centered, Jesuit education from Creighton "when the last gun has become silent and has crumbled away into dust." Later that year, the United States would declare war on Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Shadows would begin its hiatus that lasted until the spring of 1963.

A 'Diverse Range of Voices'

Today, Shadows, now an annual affair, lives on not only as a literary magazine and continued glimpse into the creativity and lives of Creighton students, but also as an opportunity for the students involved in its publication to learn what it takes to moderate, edit, publish and maintain a literary magazine.

"One of the really special things about Shadows is that it represents the diverse range of voices on campus," said Dave Mullins, English professor and current faculty moderator of the literary magazine. "It speaks to the diverse nature of a liberal arts campus. I think it shows what a good job Creighton does educating its students broadly within the creative arts."

Pollack agrees. "I'm always impressed by how much creativity and creative potential there are here at Creighton," she said. "Even what we turn away isn't necessarily bad."

Camel AdShe considers herself fortunate to have the opportunity to co-edit Shadows and be involved in the process. "Selection is always difficult, but it's a great exercise in sharing feedback and understanding different perspectives," she said. "We try our hardest to take a subjective approach to literature, and that often leads to substantive debate."

Though it's impossible to know what the student editors of The Creighton Chronicle or Creighton Quarterly Shadows would think of the Shadows publication and student organization as they stand today, one has to imagine they'd be pleased that there is still a group of students on campus crafting Creighton's student literary voice.

Indeed, the core principles of the magazine have remained the same since it was first published over 100 years ago. The latest edition of Shadows may not feature cigarette ads or calls to build football stadiums, but it's still a remarkable window into life at Creighton and just how varied and special its students are.

To access online archives of Shadows, Creighton Quarterly Shadows and The Creighton Chronicle, please click here. For questions about current issues of the magazine, please contact shadowseditor@creighton.edu

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