The mission of World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma's award-winning magazine of international literature and culture, is to serve the international, state, and university communities by achieving excellence as a literary publication, a sponsor of literary prizes, and a cultural center for students. Now in its tenth decade of continuous publication, WLT has been recognized by the Nobel Prize committee as “one of the best edited and most informative literary publications” in the world, and was recently called “an excellent source of writings from around the globe by authors who write as if their lives depend on it” (Utne Reader, 2005). WLT has received 23 national publishing awards in the past 17 years, including the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award in 2016. WLT is a proud member of the Community of Literary Magazines & Presses (CLMP).
Here is a list of some the many ways in which our mission connects us to the world:
- As of 2010, WLT has been awarding Walter Jr. and Dolores K. Neustadt Scholarships (a gift of Kathy Neustadt, Nancy Barcelo, and Susan Neustadt Schwartz) to enable OU students to take WLT courses, to attend Neustadt conferences, and to undertake undergraduate research projects.
- In the past two decades, WLT has broadened its editorial purview to include the other arts and culture, with an emphasis on essayistic writing that is engaging to nonspecialist readers (see Robert Con Davis-Undiano, "Back to the Essay: World Literature Today in the Twenty-First Century," Winter 2000).
- Since 2009, with funding from the Norman Arts Council, WLT has expanded its annual Neustadt and Puterbaugh events into a festival format—with music, theater, dance, and poetry in performance as well as film festivals—in partnership with the College of Fine Arts and the College of International Studies, and WLT-administered fellowships have given hundreds of students full-tuition scholarships and book stipends to take the Neustadt and Puterbaugh courses built around the work of visiting writers.
- WLT's expanded internship program gives students hands-on experience with editing, designing, and marketing a world-class literary magazine; many former interns have received job placements with book publishers and magazines throughout the country and have gone on to prestigious graduate programs and law schools (Columbia, Oxford, East Anglia, Princeton, Brown).
- Since 2003, WLT has routinely partnered with public schools around the state (including Norman, Tahlequah, Anadarko, and Lawton) to bring students to their Neustadt and Puterbaugh festivals, and laureates of the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature have visited schools and libraries.
- WLT's editors and contributing editors routinely travel to writers' conferences (AWP, ALTA, PEN World Voices, the Gothenburg Book Fair, Guadalajara International Book Fair, etc.) to meet with prospective authors/translators and to represent WLT.
- Since 2006, WLT has increased its bookstore distribution throughout the US and Canada through TNG.
- WLT launched a digital archive on JSTOR in 2009, including ninety-three years of legacy content (1927-2019), with full-text access to over 50,000 pages of back issues, licensed to over 2,000 libraries and institutions.
- WLT joined the Project MUSE digital platform in 2022, which offers more recent content (2009-present).
- WLT launched a digital magazine edition in 2010 for general readers.
- The then-managing editor of WLT, Daniel Simon, served on the Council of Editors of Learned Journals committee that drafted the position statement "The Contributions of Journal Editors to the Scholarly Community" (2004).
- Invited guest editors have contributed special sections to recent issues: Palestine Voices (Yousef Khanfar [Summer 2021]), San Juan, Puerto Rico (Jotacé López & Mayra Santos-Febres [Autumn 2020]), Literary Activism (Allison Hedge Coke [Autumn 2019]), Hong Kong (Tammy Lai-Ming Ho [Spring 2019]), Belief in an Age of Intolerance (Yahia Lababidi) [November 2017], New Native Writing (Jeanetta Calhoun Mish) [May 2017], etc.
- Grants from more than a number of external sources, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Oklahoma Humanities Council, Norman Arts and Humanities Council, Oklahoma Arts Council, Max Kade Foundation, the Institut Ramon Llull (Barcelona), and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (Taipei) have subsidized special issues of WLT in recent years.
- WLT's managing editor serves on the Oklahoma Literary Landmarks Advisory Board.
- WLT helped launch the fully bilingual quarterly journal Latin American Literature Today in 2017.
- WLT helped with the grant funding application, initial planning and budgeting, and 2010 launch of Chinese Literature Today, a new biannual journal based at OU and a book series published by the OU Press.
- WLT co-hosted the "China and World Literature Today International Conference" with Beijing Normal University and sent a delegation of several writers and scholars to participate (October 2008), and OU/BNU faculty collaborated on a special "Inside China" issue of WLT in July 2007.
- WLT is connected to the teaching mission at OU – the executive director, editor in chief, and managing editor all teach courses to hundreds of students through the Honors College, College of Law, Department of English, and the editor in chief serves on the affiliate faculty of the School of International & Area Studies and the Schusterman Center for Judaic & Israel Studies. WLT's executive director and editor in chief also serve on dissertation committees, faculty hiring committees, etc.
- Invited guest speakers from OU, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa participate in career roundtables on magazine publishing, as part of the editor in chief's annual course in magazine editing and publishing (ENGL 4113).
- WLT's editors serve on the vetting committee for the Ruby N. Courtney Writer's Scholarship, then send their recommendations to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
- Since 2009, WLT's growing social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube has helped us tap into the daily ferment of literary news and culture.