The Gorgon: Students’ Words Set in Stone

“Words are the only things that last forever; they are more durable than the eternal hills.” – William Hazlitt, English essayist

Within the many rows and shelves of the Institute Archives and Special Collections, there is a student publication collection that caught my eye recently. Its name is the Gorgon, and, being an old English major, hearing the name first gave me pause. Gorgons, referenced in Homer’s Iliad, are monstrous women with snakes for hair. Confused on how exactly that related to a student publication, I was surprised to find that the Gorgon was a literary type of student magazine. Suddenly, it clicked. We often hear that words, once written, are set in stone, so taking inspiration from an infamous Greek monster makes sense. How does it make sense though, exactly? Well, gorgons have a special talent. They turn onlookers to stone.

The Gorgon, which ran from 1961 to 1998, was a magazine dedicated to creativity and art within the Rensselaer community. Students could submit their own creative writing and art pieces to be featured, in whatever form they wished. There are poems, translated plays, drawings, paintings, short stories, and even music compositions within the many issues. I think one of the highlights of the Gorgon, though, is the incredible cover art. Take, for example, the image below. It’s the cover of volume 33 of the publication, circa 1977. I find it to be eye catching! (Pun slightly intended).

As most things tend to do, the Gorgon changed over time. From 1961 to the early 1990’s, the Gorgon was published as a magazine. In the spring of 1993, it was published as a Polytechnic insert, and in the fall of that same year, it was printed as a poster. In the fall of 1994, the Gorgon was published as a series of postcards. It went back to its magazine format until the fall of 1996, when it was again printed as a poster. For the last two years of its lifespan, however, it reverted back to being published as a magazine. Unfortunately, time, and students, move on, and the last issue of the Gorgon was printed in the fall of 1998.

Though the publication hasn’t run for over twenty years, the Gorgon was still able to accomplish what its namesake was famous for. The students who dedicated their time to the magazine have their artistic endeavors preserved within their own collection in the Institute Archives and Special Collections. It might not be stone, but with the help of the Archives, their work has certainly become cemented in Rensselaer’s history!

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2 Responses to The Gorgon: Students’ Words Set in Stone

  1. Susan Perkins says:

    It’s unfortunate that the Gorgon is no longer published at Rensselaer. We have many students with talents in writing and the arts, both traditional and tech-connected, and it seems like the Gorgon would be a great outlet.

    • Kelsey O'Brien says:

      I agree! I do believe there were a few other literary type publications after the Gorgon had its run, but I don’t think any are still active.

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