by Aleksandr Chebotarev
by Connor Buckmaster
For decades now, the study and practice of writing has been on a revolutionary roller coaster. Leaps in pedagogy surrounding college composition classes, translanguaging, and collaborative learning have changed the way college students today learn and produce writing. At the same time, the (dated) values of Standard American English, the five paragraph essay, and the thesis statement are still upheld in many pockets of American public schools. We wonder why Americans struggle to write, and there seems to be a host of answers: an inability to construct sentences, a fundamentally bad approach in teaching how to read, and a school culture which rewards surface learning and quick responses, viewing texts as inert information rather than an argument. The more and more we look, America seems to be in a literacy crisis.
by Taylor Blum
Ever since I was a child writing “books” in my third-grade class about a superhero cat that shot lasers out of its eyes, I knew I wanted to write novels. What I also learned growing up is that I enjoy acting and the comradery that forms between yourself and other actors on stage. After finally having the opportunity to act in college, alongside earning a BA in English and creative writing, I learned how these skills go hand in hand.
The most important thing I realized from my acting experience was how much dialogue affects my writing. Dialogue has always been so important to me–I can’t read something if I find the dialogue unrealistic or stiff. Honestly, the common mistakes of stiff, expository language makes me cringe and takes me out of the story. Dialogue is also something I realized is hard for writers to master. The good news is that when it comes to plays, dialogue is arguably the most important part. By reading a play, you can see how so much can be said with so little words, and by performing in a play, you become aware of your own voice and how conversations work. We’re often told in fiction classes to pay attention to conversations and to eavesdrop on people to understand how people talk, but this isn’t always manageable, and sometimes feels a bit weird to do. But when acting, it is your sole job to interpret the dialogue, to understand how to raise the subtext out of it, and even change the overall meaning of the words through your tone. This teaches you to understand when less is more in dialogue.
by Elizabeth Mosolovich
Halloween is a time for tricks and treats, when children--and some adults--run about in costume going door to door and asking for candy. Stories of monsters, ghosts, and witches become easier to believe as people decorate their houses with jack-o-lanterns, cobwebs, and gravestones. There are plenty of ways to get into the spirit of this holiday, including watching movies like Friday the 13th, or the more kid-friendly It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, as well as reading books like the old classic such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving or a new favorite like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz.
But Halloween is not for everybody. Though the holiday has become rather secularized, its origins are a mixture of pagan harvest festivals and the Roman Catholic feast days All Saints’ and Souls’ Days; therefore some Orthodox Jews and Muslims do not celebrate the holiday. Other Christian groups also refrain from partaking in Halloween festivities, as they dismiss the day because of its partially pagan beginnings and fear that celebrating Halloween equals celebrating witchcraft or Satanism.
And those attitudes are fine--everyone is entitled to their opinion and to practice their religious beliefs freely. However, when these religious beliefs, especially fears about the occult and witchcraft, involve suppressing people’s access to literature, it becomes a problem.
by Amanda Spadel
I didn’t always enjoy reading poetry the way I do now. There was a point in time when all I was interested in reading was fiction novels--especially when I first started having an interest in reading stories as a kid. Series such as Goosebumps, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Harry Potter intrigued my initial interest in reading fiction for young adults—particularly suspense and science fiction stories. But in recent years, I’ve become a frequent poetry reader too. Actually, I’ve decided that poetry holds the same meaningful impact that longer stories do, if not more.
In my opinion, the meaning in poetry can hold even more weight to young readers, especially if they don’t already avidly read. I’m not talking about introducing more traditional poems to young readers and have them relive the high school torment of figuring out a Shakespearean sonnet. Young readers should read more contemporary poetry because it’s current, most likely more relevant to their lives, and more importantly, a lot of contemporary poems seem more personal and transferable to audiences in today’s world where we are all pressed for time.