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Writing Program publication marks 10 years
“Intertext,” the student publication of the Writing Program, celebrated its 10th anniversary at the program’s annual reception on May 1. The departmental publication is produced, edited and written by students, and is intended to showcase the best of what students produce in Writing Program classes.
The publication also sponsors the Louise Wetherbee Phelps Writing Awards annually for the best lower and upper division selections published in the magazine. The awards are named after Phelps, the founding director of the Writing Program. This year’s upper division winner was senior Tom Breihan for his essay “Bluuuuurgh,” written originally for Anne Fitzsimmons’ Creative Non-Fiction (WRT 422) class. Breihan’s essay described the hard-core and punk rock music scene in Syracuse.
The lower division winner was freshman Jocelyn Smith for her research essay titled “The Band-Aid of Zero Tolerance.” The paper, written for Molly Voorheis’ WRT 105 class, criticized the policy responses in the wake of the Columbine incident.
Sophomore Michael Gallagher received an honorable mention for his white paper on the Biosphere Two Project written for Louise Phelps’ Technical Writing (WRT 307) class.
The winners’ work represents the recent curriculum changes and initiatives in the Writing Program, says Jeannette Jeneault, faculty coordinator and advisor for the publication. The upper division of the Writing Program was recently revamped and expanded to include a number of new courses. In place of the two offerings previously (305 and 405), the department now offers about eight different upper division courses each semester, ranging from civic writing to creative non-fiction. Also, the lower division required courses are being revised to put a new emphasis on advanced research skills, critical analysis and sophisticated argumentation. The curriculum changes are consistent with a signature experience in the University’s Academic Plan, which places an emphasis on elegant writing.
This year’s student editors wanted to showcase the best of these new courses and directions, Jeneault says. Smith’s essay, written for one of the pilot sections of the new 105 curriculum, demonstrates the elegance and sophistication this writing can achieve. Breihan’s creative non-fiction essay has its own polish as well, a result of a commitment by the program to teach this skill to those seeking it. Gallagher’s paper demonstrates the power of a well-written and carefully considered technical writing piece, putting aside the notion that technical means not readable. “In a word it’s about “portability” of both the writing itself, as well as the skills behind it,” says Jeneault.
“I was impressed with the range of selections this year,” says Margaret Himley, director of undergraduate curriculum. “The decisions this year were difficult due to the high number of quality submissions received, so all the writers should be proud to have even made it in. It is a testament to the quality of their work.”
“Intertext” is produced by the Advanced Editing (WRT 340) class offered each spring. This year’s class of seven editors (senior Jessica Cumberbatch, senior Patrick Dacey, junior Amy Dickinson, sophomore Gillian Dunn, senior Randall Monty, junior Alaina Potrikus and freshman Jen Wray) worked on numerous aspects, including publicity, selection, editing, layout, Web publishing and the development of teaching resources.
“It is rare to have a student publication with this longevity,” says Jeneault. “At first there is the excitement of a publication’s newness, and then comes the year-to-year challenge of keeping it growing.” Jeneault has been working on the publication since its inception under a grant obtained by Karen Notcher, then an instructor in the Writing Program. Seven years ago it became a formal course.
There have been many student editors over the years. Among the “Intertext” alums are Todd Wachtel ’94, a lawyer with the state of New Jersey; William Sutton ’99, a journalist on Long Island; and Katie Lucarelle ’01, a teacher in New York City. “Our biggest challenge has always been the representational nature of the publication. The range of work that students do in writing classes is enormous. Some of the projects might not translate to a wider audience, and some may require a move to e-book publishing in the near future. This problem, however, is fondly taken up by each group of editors, and their enthusiasm is contagious,” said Jeneault.
Jeneault recently ended her tenure with the publication. “This is my last year with the publication–for a while anyway. Now it is time for the next teacher to keep this all going. I’ll miss it, but after 10 years, it is someone else’s turn, and it is strong enough to keep going.”
Intertext is also available on the Web at http://wrt-intertext.syr.edu.