Oxford American editor Roger Hodge image

  • Via an Oxford American video
  • Oxford American editor Roger Hodge

Roger Hodge, the new editor of the Oxford American magazine, spoke to a full crowd tonight at the Clinton School. With prompts from moderator Jay Jennings, he talked about his time at Harper’s, where he spent much of his professional career, “clawing his way to the top” from an intern in 1996 to editor, a position he held from 2006 until 2010. Lewis Lapham, long time editor of Harper’s had been a mentor, he said, imparting to him the “importance and sancity and the power of the first person singular.” Which I think means he believes in empowering writers (Lapham has used the first-person singular line before, including in his praise for Hodge in the OA release). Inspired by working at Harper’s along with “a group of people who…have now taken over magazines,” including Mother Jones co-editor Clara Jeffrey, GQ editor Jim Nelson and Texas Monthly editor Jake Silverstein, he said he hopes to foster a similar culture, where talented, if often unproven, editors and writers can flourish.

Later, after a question from someone in the crowd about the ownership structure of Harper’s, he joked that he wasn’t going to say anything bad about Rick MacArthur, the publisher and primary benefactor of Harper’s who fired Hodge in 2010, if that’s what the questioner was after. (He’s been more candid elsewhere.) He also sidestepped an opportunity to be critical of his predecessor, Marc Smirnoff, when asked what he didn’t like about the magazine, saying things like every editor does things differently, that he “will enter into a conversation with the traditions of this magazine with the same amount of respect I expect our writers to approach their material” and that an editor should be a coach, not a dictator. Adding more character- and narrative-focused literary journalism is a priority, he said.