Posted by Janet Li
I plan to submit my piece “Skyscrapers and Rice Paddies” (Project One) to World Hum. “Skyscrapers and Rice Paddies” focuses on my visits to my village in southwestern China and to the global city, Shanghai. I focused on the relationship between that of city versus country as a foundation to lead up to the tension between that of nature versus technology.
World Hum. World Hum is a travel website that focuses not only on the journey of traveling but also on “how travel changes us, how it changes the way we see the world and how travel itself changes the world.” Many of the stories on World Hum have been featured in anthropologies such as The Best American Travel Writing (the travel writing version of our Best American Essays book!). I think my essay might be a good fit for this publication because the primary focus of my piece isn’t necessarily what I experience directly while traveling, but more so the thoughts that stemmed from my experiences while visiting the two places (the village Fengyu and Shanghai). Travel to Fengyu made me think about the life that I have been used to and some of the issues that regarding nature vs. technology. However, currently, World Hum is not accepting submissions.
If so, I might look into another publication, such as a local literary publication from my hometown in Lousiville, Kentucky known as The Louisville Review. The goal of this literary magazine is to bring local readers work of both established and new writers.
Posted by: Rachel Revelle
I have possible routes for publishing both of my projects. First, I will try to submit my Project One piece, “Filling a Bookshelf,” to Encompass Ethics Magazine. Encompass is a Duke undergraduate publication sponsored by the Kenan Institute for Ethics. It presents ethics in enlightening and approachable ways, and from a variety of viewpoints, including students and faculty. It has put out two issues so far, and is distributed around Duke’s campus to hopefully broaden interest in ethical issues and how they apply to everyday life. The pieces tend to be 1,000 to 2,000 words, in a format similar to what we have been learning this semester, presenting real knowledge in a compelling way. They are interesting pieces either about personal experience or a topic relevant to the author. As one of Kenan’s Ethics Certificate Program students, I was asked to write a piece for their first issue last year on the ethics of being Greek, and enjoyed the process. I also know this year’s editor through my work with Kenan, so I will send him my piece via email and see if he thinks it fits with the next issue’s theme. If so, the Encompass team will review my piece, possibly ask for revisions, and then format it to fit next semester’s publication. I think that my bookshelf essay relates a way in which people represent themselves, a visible sign of a personal ethic, if you will. It also makes a case for the value of the written word, which is a big topic in today’s technological society. I would love to publish another piece in Encompass as a culmination for this class and my work with Kenan.
My second project, The Christmas Party, is very much oriented towards an audience of my hometown, Murfreesboro, North Carolina. I will therefore try to submit it to my local paper, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. The News-Herald is a daily publication that serves an area of four counties in northeastern North Carolina. They provide daily news, including sports, business, society, and opinion sections. Pieces can be short announcements to articles of several hundred words, to longer pieces of 1000 or more words. My essay may be longer than they would like and also does not fit into a clear news section, but I can envision it as a special holiday publication, since they run other things like “Letters to Santa.” My intent was to give tribute to a town institution and a holiday tradition, which I think the community would enjoy reading. The News-Herald staff is not large, and I have contacts there. I will first email my piece to the Advertising Director, simply because he is a good family friend from church. After asking for his feedback I will hopefully send it on to the main editor. I am excited to see what happens!
Posted by Grace Kohut
I plan to submit my first project, “since feeling is first,” to Eruditio, Duke’s yearly publication for academic papers. According to their website, they publish academic papers on wide range of topics from almost every department. Since full-length academic papers are normally long, I suppose their typical entry is at least 8 pages in length. It’s hard to tell, however, due to the journal’s format (3 columns per page). This is one of the potential conflicts I’m going to have with the publication. I spent a long time formatting my piece but I guess I will have to come up with a completely new design to comply with their three-column page.
I think my piece will be a good piece to submit because Eruditio deals with diverse topics every year. “Since feeling is first” is hard to classify in my opinion and I can’t necessarily see it published in a publication that specifies in anything. The piece is about reading, writing, e.e. cummings, discovery, and me. It’s diverse in and of itself so I thought Eruditio would be a good home for it. Thanks to Professor Harris for suggesting it!
Posted by Tim Xue
I am planning to submit my first project “The Wall: A Handbook on the Basic Elements of Tennis” to the publication On the Move.
On the Move is a bi-monthly newsletter published and distributed by Los Caballeros Racquet and Sports Club (Los Cab), where I’ve been a member since I was ten years old and where much of the autobiographical evidence from my piece is grounded. The one liner just below the title states the publication serves as “Your Guide to Los Caballeros Racquet and Sports Club’s Programs and Activities.” There are not many articles because as a newsletter, the purpose of the publication is to let the club members know what is going on at the club and get them further involved. What takes up most of the space are schedules and pictures of ongoing events, and the few articles that do appear usually accompany these and are fairly short in length. However, there are usually two or three longer articles published in each issue of On the Move. These typically profile a recent outstanding accomplishment by a member, a new tennis coach or fitness trainer, or a longtime member and his or her unique experiences at the club. The latter is what I will be targeting.
However, there are a few potential complications with submitting my piece. Most of these longer profiles take the form of a Q & A or a third person narrative. In addition, even the third person profiles, which tend to be longer, are still maybe only half as long as my project one. I began reading the newsletter regularly when I was in high school, and I only recall two times that I have seen an article of similar length and form to my project one (a long first-person narrative) published in On the Move. Because it is a relatively short, informational publication, I will have to make a strong case if I am to convince the editors to devote a full page to my piece, as there are usually at least three articles per page.
I believe I can argue my case well, though, because I strongly believe my work is a great fit for the publication. Two of the central focuses of my work, Wojtek and the wall, are rooted at Los Cab—Wojtek has taught hundreds of children, teenagers, and adults tennis throughout the years, and I know for a fact that there are people besides me who practice at the wall. My piece also contains elements that appeal to non-tennis members as well. The themes of disciplined learning, agony over injury, and recovery as a journey that pervade my work are things many athletes have experienced and (I think) would enjoy reading about.
If my piece is accepted, there is one minor change to the form of my project one I am considering. I may get rid of the tennis handbook elements and definitions and adjust the title to broaden appeal. The handbook elements only add enjoyment, I think, if you play the sport and understand the implications. In addition, it may be difficult maintaining the form given the publication’s format constraints; I may just use dotted lines separating the four sections. As for an adjusted title, I was thinking along the lines “The Wall: A Story of Embarrassment, Learning, Injury, and Rediscovery.” Of course, this is all experimental at the moment, and I would be open to the editors’ suggestions.
I’d like you to ground your next piece for this course in what I’ve called person-based research. Identify someone you’d like to write about, make an appointment to talk with her or him, do some background research, take notes while you’re talking, record your conversation if you can.
Person-based pieces tend to be most interesting when there is an idea or question or issue driving them. That is, you want to identify someone you want to talk to and write about for a particular reason: they’ve done some work you admire, had some experiences you want to find out more about, know something you want to learn about.
Your piece may take any of several different forms: a question-and-answer interview, a survey or grid, a discussion about a particular issue, a narrative profile. If you need to talk with more than one person to write the sort of piece you want, that’s fine. You should also feel free to supplement your piece as needed with video or audio.
If at all possible, you should ask the person you interview to read the piece you end up writing, so they can confirm that you’ve represented them accurately and fairly. If you decide to develop and revise this piece, I will insist that you obtain the consent of your subject in writing.
The deadline for this piece is 11:00 AM, Tues, 10/26. Please post your work to your personal dropbox folder.
Posted by Joe Harris
For next week I’d like you to write in response to a text that interests you. By text I mean an object or event that has been crafted to convey meaning. A text is something you can cite and quote directly, and that your readers can access independently of you. The text you write about may be in any medium: print, digital, video, audio, graphic, spatial, sculptural, etc. You can even write about a performance or scripted event—so long as it has been “textualized” or recorded in some way.
It may seem odd to be reading Sarah Vowell in conjunction with this assignment, but I think she actually offers a compelling example of how someone can write about texts—both those found on site and in archives—in ways that tell us as much about her as what she is reading or observing. I’d encourage you to think about how you might make your writing as lively, informed and idiosyncratic as hers.
Make sure to include a complete reference to the text(s) you are responding to. If you can, please supply a hyperlink to the text or send it to me as an email attachment. If neither of those options is possible, please bring copy of the text with you to call on Wed, 10/6.
Your deadline is Tues, 10/05, at 11:00 AM. Please upload your piece to your personal dropbox folder, or send it to me as an email attachment.
This is a fairly open assignment. There is only one rule: You must write about an event that you have recently participated in or observed (or both). If at all possible, I’d prefer that you not write from memory, but rather that you write about an event or activity that occurs sometime this week. Take notes if you can—either during the event or soon afterwards. Your aim should be to describe what happened as fully, accurately, and vividly as you can.
Deadline: Tues, 9/21, 11:00 AM. You can either email your piece to me or post it directly to your Dropbox folder.
For next week I’d like you to write a brief piece in which you describe a place or object that is important to you. As with your account of a past event or experience in X1, you don’t need to define the exact meaning of what you’re writing about, but you do want to describe something that really does hold meaning for you—that you can imagine developing into a longer essay.
For a strong example of an essay that centers on a particular place, you may want to read Christina Pena’s “Not Drunk Enough.” For a piece that begins focuses on an object—in this case, jigsaw puzzles—read Caroline Hanson’s “Shades of Sky.” Both essays were written in this course last spring. They are both posted, with the permission of their authors, in Reserves.
Logistics are the same as for X1. Allow me to mention a few details, though, that you should keep in mind for any piece of writing you submit to any course or publication.
- Make sure your name and title are at the head of the document.
- Create a header and/or footer that includes your name, assignment, page number, and date.
Deadline: Tues, 9/14, 11:00 AM. Please send your piece to me as an email attachment.
Please describe a past experience or event, something that’s happened to you, as exactly and evocatively as you can. Try to recreate the event in a way that makes your readers feel like they are experiencing it along with you.
What you write does not have to be a complete essay. In fact, you may find it easier to imagine this as a section of or a scene from a longer piece. You also don’t have to interpret the event you describe. Your task for the moment is to render or evoke it.
The event you write about does not have to have been especially dramatic or life-altering. It may simply be something that sticks in your memory, for whatever reason—a trip, a conversation, an evening with friends or family. The one thing that you do need to be sure of, though, with this piece and all the others you write for this class, is that you write about something that you are willing to share, to make public—because the odds that we will discuss your piece in class next week are actually fairly high (probably about 1 in 5).
If you feel stuck for a subject, you may want to look at the pieces by Lopez, Marcus, Orr, or Van Meter in Best American Essays 2009. All of them do a strong job of evoking a personal experience.
Length, format, deadlines
I anticipate that most responses to X assignments will run about 500 to 1000 words. If it turns out that your writing runs longer, that’s fine. If you write something much shorter than 500 words, make sure that the quality of your piece offsets its brevity. While the writing you do for X assignments is meant to be exploratory, I will expect you to compose these pieces with thought and imagination and to edit them with care.
Please email your piece to me as a Word (.docx) attachment. Use this formula to title your document:
Deadline: Tues, 9/07, at 11:00 AM.