Fanny Fern’s Obscurity and Male Dominance in Literary Circles

Written by Julia Schoos

Fanny Fern wrote as if the Devil was in her—or so spoke Nathaniel Hawthorne. Born 1811 as Sarah Willis, Fanny Fern was the first female newspaper columnist in the United States, and by 1855, the highest-paid columnist of the 19th century. However, while her contemporaries Thoreau, Whitman, and Emerson are considered household names, Fern’s name is almost shrouded in obscurity. Her works, now lauded as dynamic and potent, are most often encountered in collegiate classes with an eye on feminist literature—a bizarre turn of events, considering that she outsold all of her male contemporaries during her lifetime. Is it really such a bizarre turn of events?

Continue reading “Fanny Fern’s Obscurity and Male Dominance in Literary Circles”

Kazuo Ishiguro, the Nobel Prize, and some advice about ploughing on

Written by Delia Davis 

On Thursday, the Swedish Academy awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature to Japanese-born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. “In novels of great emotional force,” wrote the academy, Ishiguro “has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” Ishiguro’s oeuvre includes novels, screenplays, short stories, and even lyrics. Some of his more prominent works are The Remains of the Day (1989) and Never Let Me Go (2005).

Continue reading “Kazuo Ishiguro, the Nobel Prize, and some advice about ploughing on”

Hothouse Cover Contest Open to All Majors EXTENDED DEADLINE!

Calling all artists, photographers, and graphic designers: Hothouse Literary Journal needs a cover design for our journal coming out this May! Please email your design to by March 24th (we’ve extended the deadline!)


-Preferably has “Hothouse Literary Journal” somewhere on the design.

-Can be anything from a photograph to a drawing to a collage. We only ask that it’s your original work!

-Can also have a back cover design, if you wish. A back cover design is NOT REQUIRED. Email for examples of past covers or stop by Brad Humphries office in Parlin 114 to check out physical copies of previous journals.

Hothouse Cover Contest Open to ALL MAJORS!

cover contest.png

Calling all artists, photographers, and graphic designers: Hothouse Literary Journal needs a cover design for our journal coming out this May! Please email your design to by March 20th.


-Preferably has “Hothouse Literary Journal” somewhere on the design.

-Can be anything from a photograph to a drawing to a collage. We only ask that it’s your original work!

-Can also have a back cover design, if you wish. A back cover design is NOT REQUIRED. Email for examples of past covers or stop by Brad Humphries office in Parlin 114 to check out physical copies of previous journals.

Submission Period Closed & a Thank You!

Our 20unferth16-2017 Submission Period is now officially closed! We received almost 200 submissions this year. This  wouldn’t have been possible without all of you. We sincerely thank you and look forward to reading and publishing your work.

‘Received’ confirmation emails went out today. Writers can look out for an email concerning publication decisions in late February to early March. More details about our release event in May at Malvern Books will be announced soon.

Thank you writers!


(Photo: UT’s very own Deb Olin Unferth!)

Hothouse wants your academic essays!

cat2_essaycontest-288x300English and Creative Writing Majors, congrats to you guys for completing another grueling semester! You probably already know that Hothouse is now accepting fiction and poetry submissions until January 22nd, but did you know that we accept academic papers too? That’s right, all the hard work you put into writing those papers on Jane Eyre or Franz Kafka have the potential to be PUBLISHED. Send the nonfiction board your favorite English or Film paper for a chance to put your name out there. Nonfiction accepts anything from personal memoirs or cool stories to feminist ramblings on Margaret Atwood’s latest novel. This is a great opportunity to build your resume and just an overall fun experience in general! We can’t wait to read your work!
If you have any questions about the submission process, feel free to contact the Editor-in-Chief at or check out the Hothouse blog for more info.
-Meredith Furgerson, Nonfiction Editor

Literary Charity Projects Happening Around Austin

The holiday season is a season of giving. Check out one of these two literary charity projects if you’re looking to give back this new year!

1. The Inside Books Project

During the holiday season, it’s especially important that we extend our charity and generosity to populations that are typically overlooked and forgotten. The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, and Texas has the nation’s largest state prison system—we also have the largest incarcerated population in the entire United States. Due to the overcrowding of our prisons, as well as the cutting of funding towards educational materials and prison library systems, many inmates lack access to educational materials and books. Fortunately, the Inside Books Project, a volunteer-run, non-profit organization situated in Austin, is dedicated to providing books and educational materials to prisoners across Texas. Inside Books receives letters from inmates requesting types of books/specific subjects (e.g. poetry, books about religion, Spanish-to-English dictionaries), and volunteers read the letters, grab a book or two off the shelf, and write letters responding to inmates’ requests. If you’re going out of town for the holidays, don’t worry: the project is year-round, and you can also donate money or books to the project in lieu of volunteering. Having volunteered at the Inside Books Projects a couple of times, I can honestly say that it’s an incredible experience; some letters are inspirational, some are truly heart-breaking. Volunteering for just two hours changed my perceptions of the prison systems and who comprises the incarcerated population, and was great opportunity to give back to an underserved community. The Inside Books Project helps inmates in their rehabilitation and preparation to re-enter society and generates discussion about how we think about prison in our society. Here’s a link to their website for more information about volunteering:

-Luis De La Cruz, Poetry Board


2. Street Lit

Organized from the ground up by a UT student, Street Lit provides homeless individuals in the Austin area with a much-needed opportunity to immerse themselves in literature and creativity. Through books and creative writing workshops held at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), Street Lit creates an environment of support where homeless individuals may coalesce and restore their spirits with the electric power of words. When it comes to staving off hopelessness and isolation, books are an invaluable, necessary tool. So if you’re feeling generous this holiday season, consider giving this local literary effort a boost! Bring your books to the collection box located in the English office in Calhoun! Monetary donations are accepted too, and they help keep this wonderful community charity afloat. Check out for more information.

~Delia Davis, Fiction Board 

9 Cozy Books To Read by the Fire

Looking for a good book to cozy up with around the fire? Grab a recommendation from the Hothouse staff that’ll surely warm your cheeks and heart this holiday season.


Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Some may recognise this title from the Studio Ghibli 2004 film of the same name (which is brilliant if you also want a film recommendation), but Howl’s Moving Castle was originally a fantasy novel published in 1986 by British author Diana Wynne Jones. The story takes place in a fairytale type land where magic is commonplace. The novel’s heroine, Sophie, is expected to take over the family hat shop rather than follow her own path. Through a series of events, Sophie is turned into an old woman by a witch and begins her quest to reverse this spell, striking a deal with a fire demon that dwells in the wizard Howl’s magical house. Howl is a hugely powerful wizard but can be vain, moody, and self-centred but also has a good heart (think Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes), and Sophie becomes his cleaner as she tries to work free of the spell.  The story follows their experiences in the magical land, with Howl’s house being able to be present in four different locations depending on how you exit the door. Thus, readers get four times the magic and adventure. The book is written in a witty and engaging way, beautifully visualising its characters and the lands they find themselves in. In terms of genre, the novel is considered fantasy, but I would compare it more to a fairytale than, say, the magical realms in Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. The book dances between classic fantasy tropes and new, engaging depictions of “the wizard” and “the heroine” archetypes.  It’s funny and touching, imaginative and clever, making it a great choice to curl up on the couch with in front of your own friendly household fire demon.

~Eliza Day, Fiction Board

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

“So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things.attachmentsushardcoverhires One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.” Curling up in front of the fire with Attachments by Rainbow Rowell over Winter Break is certainly something you can add to your pile of good things. This fun, heartfelt novel is sure to keep you as cozy and warm as that comfy blanket you’ll be wrapped in while reading it. So slip on those fuzzy socks, pour yourself some hot chocolate, and settle into the world of Lincoln O’Neill, a 20-something “internet security officer” whose job is to monitor his company’s work email for anything inappropriately non-work-related. Sounds like a pretty dull life, huh? Well, it is, until the hilariously entertaining and remarkably personal email conversations between Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder start showing up through Lincoln’s security software. He knows he should turn them in, but he can’t seem to deny himself the amusement of reading their messages. From witty banters about how hot Colin Firth looks in period dramas to detailed and intimate exchanges over their individual romantic troubles, the two friends essentially spell out their entire lives for Lincoln to read, and he eventually (and inevitably) feels like he really knows them. But he doesn’t. He’s never met them, not physically. This becomes somewhat problematic, especially when Lincoln realizes he’s starting to fall for Beth. Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met? Is there such a thing as love before first sight? You’ll have to read to find out!

~Kendall Talbot, Marketing Board

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

What better way to relax by the fire than with a classic 19th century novel? Dickens uses his eloquent prose to create vivid imagery of nature scenes while following Pip’s journey to become a gentleman and win the heart of Estella Havisham. Great Expectations is the perfect fireside book, a riveting tale full of adventure and romance that touches on themes such as the power of deception and loyalty to family. As one of the first Realist novels, Great Expectations stood as a highly progressive novel in its time in the way it blurs the lines between social classes in society.

~Xavier Richardson, Poetry Board

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is an oldie but goodie for a lot of folks out While the later books deal with more serious topics and center around a more angst-filled Harry, the first book in the Harry Potter series is a light and easy read sure to bring that nostalgic feeling back into your heart—at least if you’ve ever read the books before. Most people are plenty familiar with Harry Potter, but if your only exposure has been the movies, picking up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a good entry into the series and a comfortable way to spend an afternoon. The writing in the first book is on par with a middle school or even elementary school student, so even someone completely new to Hogwarts should have an easy time jumping in. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a feel-good book where magic is real, anything is possible, and evil is always defeated in the end. Curl up with it under a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate this break, and let the magic begin.

~Morgan Southworth, Nonfiction Board

Winter Stroll by Elin Hildenbrand

51xveuwk2cl-_sx329_bo1204203200_When cozied up around the holidays, the only type of books I want to read are filled with nostalgia, cheer, and the beauty of relationships. This is not a time for depressing tales and gross introspection. Something as sweet and intimate as my glass of eggnog will do just fine. Elin Hildenbrand’s entire collection of novels are set in the town of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts in the most picturesque of communities. Usually heartbreak or a saucy romance initiates the novel, but the stories serially conclude with the warmness of companionship and the overwhelming magic of the Nantucket community. Her novel Winter Stroll, unlike most of her other summer books, is set around the holidays and follows the family and relational drama that accompanies Christmas reunions. Sprinkled with savory meals and fond memories, the reminiscence of past Christmases, and the strength of familial bonds, this is the perfect winter book to warm your hands in.

~Abigail Gamm, Poetry Board

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

Child of God tells the story of a deranged and destitute man who lives alone as an outcast in the mountain woods of 293625Appalachia. This truly disturbing tale of innocence, obsession, and necrophilia is one that will inspire you to curl into a ball and try your hardest to forget how dark and evil humankind can really be. A nice fire in the background might make the disgust and intrigue you feel more bearable and comfortable, as well as contrast the chilly mountain wind you’ll be reading about. Although certainly not a light holiday read, Child of God presents a story that will challenge you and your ideas of morality, as well as probably creep the bejeebers out of you. Give it a go.

~John Calvin Pierce, Poetry Board

Persuasion by Jane Austen

persuasionOkay, I know the first thing you think of when you hear “cozy book” may not be Jane Austen, but hear me out. Persuasion is by far the most dangerously underrated Jane Austen book out there – why reread Pride and Prejudice for the tenth time this holiday season when you can start anew? Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliot, a young (unmarried) woman who missed out on her chance at love after rejecting the love of her life, Captain Wentworth, due to his status. Years later, Anne finds herself thrown into Captain Wentworth’s company again while visiting her sister. Add in the fact that Anne’s family is heading towards financial ruin, while Wentworth is richer than ever. You can slice the tension with a knife, which makes the book that much more enjoyable. One of my favorite parts of the book is the heroine, Anne, who has to be Austen’s most realistic female lead ever. She’s not as quick as Elizabeth, as stubborn as Emma, or as mousy as Fanny; instead, she creates a character that readers can easily identify with. If you’re still not convinced, just wait until you read a certain letter that will make you forget all about some guy named Darcy.

~Sara Leonard, Nonfiction Board

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At the age of 26, Cheryl Strayed began her solo trek across the Pacific Coast Trail in an effort to rediscover herself mti4odm2mdq1njyzmdi5mju4and truly mourn the loss of her mother. Although she begins and ends the journey alone, Cheryl meets other hikers along the way that define her experience more than her time alone does. They instill in her a confidence and willpower that she might not have found anywhere else and teach her necessary skills for the trail. Wild is the perfect novel to pick up during the holidays. Whether surrounded by friends and family or sitting peacefully near a fire, you’ll enjoy this amazing adventure and the beauty of the trail community.  

~Madison Brock, Fiction Board

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

secrethistoryIt’s cold outside, there’s a steaming mug of hot chocolate in your hands, and there’s a fire crackling beside you. All that’s missing is a good novel – but fear not! The Secret History by Donna Tartt is the ultimate fireside read. Taking place on a cold winter campus is a tale filled with intrigue, bacchanals, and eccentric college students whose tastes chill to the bone. In part psychological thriller, the story presents itself to be thoughtful and yet beyond our grasp. Tartt’s first novel tells the story of Richard Papen, an economically downtrodden boy who abandoned California for the looming heights of Vermont’s Hampden College to study the Classics. What he doesn’t quite anticipate are the questionable ambitions of his fellow students, the debauchery he finds himself surrounded by, and the emotional turmoil he is plunged into once their dionysian frenzy goes wrong and their weakest link must be taken care of. Shocking and compelling, the pages seem to fly. When I first read this novel per the recommendation of a friend, I could not put it down. In the way Henry Winter says “I love Homer,” I can only say that I love Donna Tartt for this novel and I cannot recommend it enough.

~Julia Schoos, Poetry Board


All book covers courtesy of Amazon.

8 Books Set During the Holidays to Make for Merry Reading

Looking for a good book to make your holiday fantasy a reality? Check out one of these eight stories set during the holidays to make for merry reading!

1. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

carolThe Price of Salt tells the story of a young shop woman named Therese who falls in love with an older customer named Carol. If you’re wondering why this sounds familiar, it’s because the 2015 Todd Haynes’s film Carol is based off of this novel published in 1952 by Patricia Highsmith, under the pseudonym “Claire Morgan”. The novel is set around Christmas and offers an incredibly nuanced and complex character study of two women in an explicitly lesbian relationship during the 1950s. The novel asks what price a person must pay to live a life true to their identity, and the struggle in which a person attempts to discover what their self is, and the contradictions and carefulness in identifying that. It’s a novel about suppression until the point of combustion, and it’s beautiful, riveting, delightful and heartbreaking. Also if you’re feeling extra, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara’s performance as Carol and Therese, respectively, in the film adaptation are captivating and ethereal.

~Dan Kolinko, Fiction Board

2. Tinsel by Hank Stuever9780547394565_p0_v2_s192x300-1

As the years go by, you start to notice that Christmas begins to lose the glow it used to have for us as children. The days of believing in Santa are long gone, the stress of buying the perfect presents for everyone sets in, and it seems to become less about warm memories and magic than about money (or lack thereof). Yet, there are people that persist every year, searching for that thing that makes Christmas the special tradition it always was for them as a child. Set in our very own Frisco, Texas, Tinsel follows three people in their quest for keeping the holiday spirit alive, whether it’s elaborately decorating “McMansions” with ornate Christmas trees, creating light show extravaganzas in people’s front lawns, or simply struggling to make Christmas a memory worth treasuring for one’s children. Hank Stuever presents an honest and funny portrayal of the holiday spirit in today’s frenzied consumer environment.

~Jennifer Velazquez, Nonfiction Board

3.steadfast-tin-soldier-1 Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Anderson

Deviating from the typical holiday cheer, this thought provoking tale of Christmas Morning told by the toys who must now share a nursery is a timeless fairytale, but without any faries.
This holiday season, I encourage you to read this story in as many different translations, versions and retellings as you can. Experience a variety of illustrations, and revisit the motley assemblage of characters. A story of thoughts rather than deeds, Anderson reminds us that our worlds are dictated by our perceptions.

~ Madeleine McQuilling, Nonfiction Board 

stephanie.jpg4. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories – edited by Stephanie Perkins

No one does warm fuzzies quite as well as YA authors. My True Love Gave to Me is a collection of twelve romantic holiday stories written by bestselling Young Adult authors such as Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman, David Levithan, and Kelly Link. While all of the stories have similarly happy endings and adorably sweet romance plots, I think my favorite aspect of this particular anthology was just how diverse all of the characters and stories were. My True Love Gave to Me has it all — small-town sweethearts, a spooky Krampus, Santa’s adopted daughter and her elf crush, a church on fire, and much more. If you find yourself marathoning Hallmark holiday movies or simply want something lighthearted that will keep your heart warm this winter, then this collection of stories is for you.

~Hillary Sames, Fiction Board 

An anthology of winter-themed short stories by twelve different young adult authors, this book is perfect for the holiday season. Each unique romance has a different cast of characters and story that leave you with all the warm fuzzies. I’d be here all day if I gave you a rundown on each story in the anthology, but trust me when I say that not a single author disappoints in their allotted section. From Holly Black to Kiersten White, Stephanie Perkins chose the best in the business for the job, as well as contributing a lovely story herself. If you can somehow get your hands on the incredibly gorgeous UK edition with gold details and pink sides of the pages, all the better. However you choose to enjoy this gorgeous work of literature will leave you ready to celebrate the holidays and spread plenty of cheer during the coming winter months.

~Alex Arias, Marketing Board

grinch.png5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Another Christmas is approaching. You’re older now, the breaks seem shorter, and the holidays don’t give you that warm and fuzzy feeling they once did. Presents aren’t as big of a deal and family even forgets to give you presents now. To make up for the dwindling Christmas spirit, you pull out your smartphone, send meaningless texts, play some games, and maybe even tweet a little. But that can get old after a while so you put it down and twiddle your thumbs, alienated further from the Christmas spirit that all of the children in your family seem to have, as the happiness shines bright in their eyes and the glow in their cheeks almost warms your heart. But let’s stop here. Please, save yourself from another subpar Christmas by making some hot chocolate on the stove, putting on some cozy socks, and pulling out How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Yes, what better way to get into spirit than by reading a classic that celebrates the true meaning of Christmas? So embrace your inner kid again, let the hot chocolate warm your soul, and learn along with the Grinch as he makes his way down to Whoville. And after you’ve finished the story (it’s awfully short and sweet), and as your heart expands three times its size, pass it on to someone else who needs a little pick-me-up this holiday season.

~Lauren Ponce, Fiction Board 

6. Let it Snow by John Green, Lauren let-it-snowMyracle, and Maureen Johnson

This trio of excellent writers really know how to get you in the holiday-feels. Each author creates a magical romance set during the holidays. I guess there’s something about snow, a warm fire, and a hot cup of cocoa that stirs the romantic side of people. Each author does well to build a world that a reader can get lost in. I originally picked up the novel because John Green’s name was on the cover (I was in a John Green phase – but who hasn’t been in one of those recently) but I loved each story completely. If you want to really get into the holiday-spirit, pick up this novel! You won’t be disappointed.

~Bianca Perez, Marketing Board 

little-women7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The holiday season is a good time for a return to old favorites, and for me, that means snuggling up in a warm blanket with a hot mug of cocoa and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Part one begins and ends at Christmas time and follows them through the year between, as they navigate the strange period between childhood and adulthood. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy learn at every step that family and friends are the most important things in life, and even when times are hard, love and kindness can make a very merry Christmas, indeed.
~Rebecca Skrabanek, Nonfiction Board

8.The Gift of the Magi by O. Henrymagi.jpg

The story is set on Christmas Eve and follows the main characters of Jim and Della, husband and wife, as they try to find the perfect Christmas presents for one another. There is just one problem. The husband and wife  are both poor. To find a present worthy of their spouse, both characters give up their prized possessions for a bit of extra money. O. Henry uses the story to teach the main characters and readers a lesson: all you need is love.

~Tracy Yager, Nonfiction Board