Casting the spotlight on more than two hundred writers over the years, The Hollins Critic has helped create a new set of luminaries: Truman Capote (1966), Robert Coover (1970), Jerzy Kosinski (1972), Fred Chappell (1973), and Athol Fugard (1978); it has promoted new works by established writers such as James Baldwin (1965), Vladimir Nabokov (1966), Robert Lowell (1967), Adrienne Rich (1974), Iris Murdoch (1976), Raymond Carver (1987), Andre Dubus (1987), and Maya Angelou (1991). It continues to introduce little-known writers, such as the Milwaukee poet Antler (1998). One of its most unusual articles examines the prose style of William Steinkraus, author of instructional books for horseback riders (2007), written by poet Henry Taylor, author of The Flying Change (1985).
Initially all Critic articles were contributed by a six-member editorial board led by the first co-editors, Rubin and John Rees Moore. George Garrett served on the original board with poets Howard Nemerov and Daniel Hoffman, and critics Richard Poirier, John W. Aldridge, and Walter Sullivan. A later board of contributing editors included Benedict Kiely, Robert Scholes, Henry Taylor, William Jay Smith, R. H. W. Dillard, and Rubin. Dillard became editor of the Critic in 1997, with Garrett and Taylor continuing as contributing editors. Cathryn Hankla became the first editor dedicated exclusively to poetry in 1997.
An introduction to a collection of Critic articles, The Sounder Few (1971), described the journal’s stance: “to look at the writer’s work to date and to do something more than merely offer a review of his books and something less than deliver a verdict on his writing.” Intended to be accessible to general readers interested in books, each issue is short enough to be read completely in a brief period of time. The essays are free of theoretical language and the editors impose no “house style” on their contributors.
To offer a coherent view of the development of contemporary literary writing, the journal’s editors have produced two collections of Critic articles: The Sounder Few compiled seventeen articles and a complete index to the journal as of 1971; the Twayne Companion to Contemporary Literature in English: From the Editors of The Hollins Critic (2003) republished 101 articles from 1975 until 2002, clearly outlining the breadth and depth of changes in American literary evolution in the last quarter of the twentieth century.