The first chance to get your copy of the 2013 volume of Writers Magazine – UP’s student-run creative writing journal – will be at the launch party in the UP Bookstore (Pilot House), following Founders Day events on Tuesday April 9th from 5-6:30.
Founders Day consists of more than a spectacular lunch for scholarship recipients; it also serves as a chance for seniors from different departments to show off their senior capstones! At 10:15 Ian Clark, Alex Dickinson, and Monica Down will present their literary-critical capstone projects in BC 207, and at 11:15 Evan Gabriel, Jose Huerta, and Corey Fawcett will present their creative capstone projects in Franz 206. To further coerce you into attending these sessions, here are a few words from some of the presenters:
Q: What will your speaking about on Founder’s Day? What is the subject of your senior capstone?
Evan Gabriel: Through a collection of personal nonfiction essays, my senior capstone investigates the role of a traveler; specifically, the first-hand impressions of a Westerner in a country that is 98% Muslim. Religion isn’t the focus, rather it’s a consistent background theme in a narrative that focuses on Morocco as a whole, that means the people, places, and experiences I had there, weather they were good or bad.
Ian Clark: I’ll be presenting on the theory of individuality as presented in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Alex Dickinson: I’m writing on Walden by Henry David Thoreau and attempting to rationalize it with contemporary environmental ethics and practice.
Corey Fawcett: I’m going to talk about my fiction story, “To Swallow an Orange.” It’s about a strained mother-daughter relationship, and has elements of magical realism.
Q: Why should other students come learn about your capstone? What is the “So What” that we should be looking for?
Evan Gabriel: The so what: America gets a bad wrap abroad. America gets an especially bad wrap in the Middle East–so we’re told by our media channels and papers. I spent three weeks in Morocco during the Arab Spring of 2011. Two weeks before I left, a tourist cafe was bombed in the heart of Marrakech, one of my stops, and I was advised not to go. Yet the peace and acceptance that I found during those weeks deviated so vastly from Western media’s portrayal of the Middle East and Maghreb countries that I felt compelled to share those experiences. My thesis is that you shouldn’t blindly listen to what you are told about far-off corners of the earth. You should go, you should eat the food, and you should listen, because once people see you are interested enough in them to travel that far, a peculiar connectivity sets in and permeates everything else.
Ian Clark: My capstone essentially addresses the idea of a constantly changing self; in other words, I’ll be talking about Joyce’s conception of a non-static self that is always in flux. It’s basically a literary version of cubist expression.
Alex Dickinson: I’m taking a work that many take out of context or see as an inspiring but dated work, and trying to show its relevance and value today.
Corey Fawcett: To my knowledge, I’m the first person in a long time to write a creative fiction piece as a thesis. I would love to see a more formidable creative writing community on campus, and perhaps my thesis will inspire some people to that happen.
Q: What is one piece of advice you’d like to pass on to underclassmen for their senior capstones?
Evan Gabriel: For capstones, select a topic you love enough to write on day after day.
Ian Clark: Advice for senior capstones: start early. It’s pretty manageable if you work on it a little bit at a time, but if you leave it to the last minute then you will hate yourself.
Alex Dickinson: As for future capstone writers: write as much as you can get down on paper and don’t worry if it’s not your best. Not your best is a hell of a lot better than nothing, and it will be good when you’re finished going through it a time or two. Also, find something that interests you, see what others are saying about it, and don’t be afraid to change your mind!
Corey Fawcett: It’s hard to set a detailed timeline for yourself if you’re writing something creative, but you’ve got to do what you can to follow it as you would with any other academic paper. Also, keep your mind open to inspiration and new ideas at all times. Sitting down in front of your computer to write your story shouldn’t be the only time you’re thinking about it.
The following is a guest post written by Junior English major Will Lyons. (If you are interested in providing your own guest post please contact Leah Becker at email@example.com or Dr. Hiro at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Imagine what it would’ve been like to work for the University of Portland’s student newspaper, The Beacon, in 1970. On deadline night, the flaky art columnist comes running through the newsroom office door and desperately hands off his final copy to the living section editor. After a final glance for spelling errors, a designer carefully cuts the typewritten document with an exacto-knife and pastes it on the final template to be driven downtown to the printer before the 9pm cut-off.
Adobe InDesign suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
With two years behind me as a writer for The Beacon, I’m beginning to think about what my future in journalism might be, and so are the thousands of aspiring journalists across the nation. No one knows whether or not there will be jobs in a field once known as one of the most respected in the U.S. And if there are jobs, they may not be ones worth having.
The number of clicks on links, web hits, and twitter followers unfortunately are the new paradigms for successful newspapers, not in depth reporting or muckraking. Many journalists write 5 to 6 small news briefs everyday as opposed to one well-researched story a day in order to drive web traffic and to feed the Internet culture’s diminished attention span. The journalists still employed aren’t doing what they signed up for. So what’s a young Walter Cronkite to do?
One answer is to change the journalism game. A new role for journalists could be to do what they do best: to seek the truth, but to then galvanize public opinion behind their findings. Today’s emphasis on the individual and personality makes celebrity one of the most powerful tools to change our culture and fix society’s problems. If charismatic journalists with easily understandable and well-supported claims came to rule pop culture maybe the discourse on politics could change.
[Read more…] about Journalism’s Powerful Future
Familiar to most English majors is that moment of panic when we think about life after graduation. Some have their careers planned out, whereas some take opportunities as they come along, but leaving college and beginning anew is a universally daunting task. To acknowledge and address these anxieties, the English Department has assembled a panel of recent alumni to tell us their stories and answer questions–this Friday, February 1st, from 3:30-4:30pm in BC 207.
As a preview, alumni Erin Kelley from the class of 2010 answered some questions about her transition from college to becoming a Nike Digital Producer. Here are some of her words of wisdom:
What did you do before graduation to prepare for life after college?
Erin: This is simply one of the prices you pay as an English Major (unless you plan to teach). While your nursing/teaching/non-humanities friends are completing their clinicals (or what have you), you’re in the library researching for your upcoming paper on Swift’s nuanced critique of colonialism in Gulliver’s Travels. Unfortunately, your future employer probably doesn’t care a whole lot about that. My recommendation is to find an internship, (yes, even if it’s unpaid) that will allow you to get your feet wet in an industry you find interesting. I started my first internship the summer before my senior year, so when I graduated it was as though I already had a year of experience, which was a huge asset when I started looking for a full-time position.
I know, I know you’re so busy with taking seventeen ridiculous credits, and writing for the Beacon and let’s not even mentionthat thesis you’ve been putting off for months… but, trust me, make the time for an internship now and you’ll be so happy later on.
How did you find out about/receive your current position?
Erin: I have had mixed experience with finding jobs, but my first recommendation would be to start networking. Set some time aside to research informational interviews, and get in touch with UP alumni and friends that graduated before you. It may feel like you don’t know that many people, but if each person you speak to refers you to three other people, then that network can expand exponentially.
Additionally, go to as many relevant networking events as you can. You may feel awkward and out of place, but these socials are a rich opportunity to meet valuable contacts. I spent almost two years working at Google, and I got offered that position simply because I met the right person at the right time and place. The ratio of available jobs to unemployed people is daunting—you may have to hunt for a decent opportunity, but it’s out there if you’re determined to find it.
What was the hardest step towards finding a job after college?
Erin: This is the most difficult part about finding a job after college: no employer, no matter how simple the position they’re hiring for, wants to hire someone without any experience. At some point, you may end up feeling that it is impossible to find a job because every position requires experience, but you have no opportunity to get that initial experience. It is not impossible, though it can be deeply frustrating. The best advice I can give you is to look for experience in less conventional places and early on. Apply for any internship you can find. Offer to do contracting work. Shadow your current professional references. Pursue relevant experience, even if it’s unpaid, as it can really pay off down the road.
If you’ve expired all these options, consider starting a blog or a YouTube channel. Show your potential future employer that you know how to take initiative. Parlay that experience into your resume. Above all, stop thinking of professional experience as previous jobs you’ve held, and instead think of how your extracurricular experiences have informed and shaped your professional development. Frame your experience in that context and you’ll succeed.
What English-like hobbies do you keep outside of work?
Erin: I spend a great deal of time, outside of my “day job,” writing and otherwise managing my personal style blog (www.stumptownstil.com). It’s a lot of work, but it’s my creative outlet and therefore I believe it is essential to my sanity, even if it does drive me to the edge of said sanity some days.
The story goes like this: for years I firmly believed that I would work as an editor in the publishing industry after college. Of this, I was unquestioning, as though it were my predetermined fate. Specifically, I wanted to work as the editor of a fashion magazine. Around 2008, when traditional media (and the entire US economy) were essentially going to hell in a hand basket, I realized that this might not be the best long-term career decision. I made the difficult choice to go in a different career direction when I graduated, two years later, and honestly, I don’t regret having done that. I did, however, miss my fashion-editor aspirations. After I got my feet underneath me as a professional, however, I realized that while I would never live out that dream, I could still incorporate that passion into my life. I decided to launch a blog last year and, while my name isn’t up there with Anna Wintour’s, I still have the opportunity to do what I love and, really, that makes all the difference!
While UP students are gearing up for finals here in Portland, one English Major, Junior Sarah Hansell, is studying somewhere very different. Here is her story:
Almost three months after arriving in Rome, I can’t believe that in just three short weeks I will be back on American soil, the people around me speaking English (in a wonderfully American accent), the signs in a language I can understand, and the drivers politely avoiding proximity to pedestrians. After having been abroad for almost a semester, I have never appreciated home more. I can’t wait for Mexican food, free water at restaurants, smooth pavement, and not being bombarded by vendors whenever I venture too close to touristy destinations.
In English 317- Composition Theory & Practice the students recently wrote what Dr. Larson calls “Literacy Narratives,” which focus on how one becomes a writer. One such exemplary exploration of writing composed by Philip Ellefson is included below.
An introductory note from Dr. Larson:
“One of the first things I try to do in English courses is to get students to take ownership of the identity of “writer.” Most of us imagine that noun as referring to a published professional, when in actuality it evokes an activity we do daily. Writing has become a massive part of all of our lives. Several decades of experience apprenticed us into the complicated vocation of writing, and stories and wisdom can arise from that training, if we’d only shine a light on it. Here is one student’s response to that call.” -Dr. Larson
By Philip Ellefson
In one of several family Subarus, on a hot summer evening in eastern Washington, I sat with my brothers as we drove somewhere – I don’t remember now where we were going. The windows magnified the heat of the sun, and the air conditioning blowing on the highest setting made little difference. My brother slid a new CD into the CD player. An acoustic guitar was plucked and the voice sang: “Please slow it down. / There’s a secret magic past world / that you only notice when you’re lookin’ back at it / And all I wanna do is turn around.”
[Read more…] about F-A-N: Philip Ellefson’s Exploration of Writing