Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction

We invite you to experience Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, a journal devoted to publishing notable, innovative work in nonfiction. Given the genre’s flexibility and expansiveness, we welcome a variety of works ranging from personal essays and memoirs to literary journalism and personal criticism. The editors invite works that are lyrical, self-interrogative, meditative, and reflective, as well as expository, analytical, exploratory, or whimsical. In short, we encourage submissions across the full spectrum of the genre. The journal encourages a writer-to-reader conversation, one that explores the markers and boundaries of literary/creative nonfiction.

Fourth Genre is thrilled to announce the results of the 2014 Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize! See information on the winner and finalists on the Prize page.

Current Issue

FG 16.2 CoverFourth Genre 16.2

“In our editorial staff meetings, we have talked about trigger warnings and the issues of access and censorship they bring up for us as editors and curators of nonfiction. We know stories are powerful and they can be dangerous, as Thomas King intimates when he writes, in The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative, “You have to be careful with the stories you tell. And you have to watch out for the stories that you are told. For once a story is told, it cannot be called back. Once told, it is loose in the world.”

The fact that we want to be careful with the stories we give space to in Fourth Genre does not mean we shy away from hard stories. Quite the opposite. There are essays in this issue about war crimes and war wounds, about marital infidelity, about a frightening storm at sea and a frightening storm on the high plains, about environmental poisoning and family tensions. We cannot possibly know what sensations or memories will come to you when you read. We can’t possibly anticipate what will be painful or distressing for any reader at any moment in time. We can’t tag everything, protect readers from harm, from life in an often violent and unjust world.

We know literature can’t be kept safe because life is not safe, as Roxane Gay writes in “The Safety of Illusion/The Illusion of Safety” (, one of the few essays against trigger warnings that we love: “I don’t believe in safety. I wish I did. I am not brave. I simply know what to be scared of; I know to be scared of everything. There is freedom in that. That freedom makes it easier to appear fearless—to say and do what I want.”

We may not be able to anticipate everyone’s triggers, but we want to. We appreciate trigger warnings because of how they represent a longing to be safe and protected and a deeply held fear that it may not be possible in our current world. We appreciate them because they are an attempt, mostly by young people online, to untangle themselves from the many roots of violence and to make spaces more accessible. We appreciate them because we, too, believe that it is possible to create more accountable and accessible spaces through conscious practice.”

—From the Editor’s Note: “On Readers, Triggers, Access, and Accountability,” by Laura Julier and Kathleen Livingston

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This journal is available through JSTOR and Project MUSE


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