Last Look: Elysian Magazine

Elysian Magazine

Aurora University has a long tradition of student literary magazines encouraging students to sharpen their writing skills and explore the creative process.

The first literary magazine debuted in 1933, and was named Wings in the Dawn, after the mythical winged horse Pegasus rising out of an aurora. The early issues showcased a collection of the best poetry from the student newspaper, The Aurora Borealis. Student drawings of Pegasus, and later birds in flight, graced the cover of each issue.

Wings in the Dawn (later renamed Wings of the Dawn) continued to publish once or twice a year for 55 years, until 1988, when it underwent a series of name changes. Over the next three decades the literary magazine published under the titles AU Review, Sparks and Cinders, Lorem Ipsum, and Nolos. In 2018, the magazine returned to its Greek mythological roots and was renamed Elysian, meaning heavenly, or like paradise.

Reading through issues of Wings in the Dawn in the archives at Phillips Library serves as a window into the creative lives of some of the people who built AU. The 1935 issue includes a foreword by Mark Trumbo ’37, who later became a dean at the college. The issue also identifies James Crimi ’38 as the winner of short story and essay contests. Crimi served as Aurora College president in the 1960s and early 1970s, and Crimi Auditorium is named after him. Ethel Tapper ’35, who was a librarian and instructor from 1937 to 1970, wrote a timely essay titled “The Effects of Fascism Upon the Intellectual Groups of Italy.”

Moses C. Crouse, longtime professor of religion, appears in the 1936 issue as winner of the short story contest and in the 1942 issue as a poet. The 1943 issue of Wings in the Dawn is dedicated to Stanley Perry, a lover of the creative arts who was a member of the class of 1917, an AU professor of poetry and drama, a dean of the college, and the namesake of Perry Theatre.

Last fall, Elysian moved online to the student-created website It publishes artwork, photography, poetry, prose, and short fiction submitted by students, staff, and faculty.

“While the modes of publication have changed,” said Sara Elliott, associate professor of English and faculty advisor to Elysian, “the role of creative expression in the AU experience and in the process of discovering what matters remains.”