One of the purposes of an academic community is to facilitate the exchange of ideas among its members.
This journal provides one place where we foster students’ voices in the University of Maryland’s vibrant academic conversations.
In each issue, our writers read and analyze, inquire and argue, bringing academic insights to bear on exigent civic issues.
- Christopher Philpot
- Audrey Farley
- Nabila Hijazi
- Maggie Ray
- Joshua Weis
- Micaela Cameron
- Tamar Leroy
- Cherie Walsh
- Danielle Griffin
- Kshiti Vaghela
- Katherine Kipp Joshi
Whether this is your first experience reading the student-produced work in Interpolations or the most recent of many, I welcome you to the 2016 edition of the University of Maryland’s Journal of Academic Writing.
Think of the word ”creativity.” What do we associate it with? Where do we expect to find it?
Certain genres come immediately to mind: poetry, visual art, theater, ground-breaking scholarship. But how about English 101? How often do our thoughts go there?
Sadly, probably far less often than they should.
I’ve thought a lot about this during my last four years on the editorial board of Interpolations and my two years as editor-in-chief, about the low expectations that surround the work occurring in first-year writing. I’ve made the case against such attitudes over and over again, arguing to a variety of audiences that first year writing can be a space for imagination and exploration, an end in itself and not just a means towards creativity in other courses. In fact, it’s an argument I make on the very first day of every English 101 class I teach. Before the syllabus, before the course policies. Before presenting any of those tools, I make the argument that first-year writing is a place for originality, ambition, and huge ideas.
And what do I show them as evidence of this claim? Interpolations, of course.
As I end my tenure as Editor-in-Chief, I find myself again astounded by the creativity, ambition, and quality of the pieces published in Interpolations. Some part of me always expects to reach a saturation point, that is to say that after having graded hundreds and hundreds of English 101 projects, after having read and commented on literally tens of thousands of pages, I’ll have seen it all and there will be no more surprises. And yet, that has never proven to be the case. Brilliance and imagination continue to emerge from the students who take our English 101 courses, and this year’s edition of Interpolations is as much a testament to this as are past editions.
Although a smaller edition than previous ones, the scope and range of topics in this year’s edition seem huge. Selected from nearly 300 submissions, the pieces in this year’s edition pose urgent questions about a wide range of topics. Corinne Farley’s summary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy Stories” provides an insightful look into a classic piece of literary scholarship, concisely yet comprehensively presenting Tolkien’s argument. Meanwhile, Muneebah Quereshi’s Inquiry “Urdu Kis Ki Zaban Hai?” interrogates the various competing claims about who “owns” Urdu and raises important implications for how we think about the complex intersection of identity, politics, and language.
In addition to these two pieces, three other pieces extend the scope of the edition by investigating everyday phenomena that we take for granted. Sarah Bender’s “An Assessment of Community Water Fluoridation” raises new questions about a public health intervention that has been common practice for over seventy years. Meanwhile, the two Digital Forums in this year’s edition, Emily Shue’s “Young Lives on the Big Screen” and Nancy Jin’s “Clickbait v. Journalism,” open up critical inquiry into two staples of pop culture, presenting key trends in the conversations surrounding the ethics of child involvement in reality television and the role of “clickbait” language in online media.
Before concluding, I would like to thank our 2015-16 editorial board for their diligence and enthusiasm: Christopher Philpot, Audrey Farley, Nabila Hijazi, Maggie Ray, Joshua Weiss, Micaela Cameron, Tamar Leroy, Cherie Walsh, Danielle Griffin, Kshiti Vaghela, and Katherine Kipp Joshi. I would also like to extend a special thanks, as always, to our Technical Editor, Kirk Greenwood, and to our Managing Editor, Scott Eklund. And, lastly, I of course want to thank this year’s authors, whose commitment in English 101 and throughout the editorial process have resulted in the remarkable work before you now.
I hope that you find the pieces in this year’s edition as engaging and rewarding as I and the other editorial board members have and that they serve for you, as they have for me, as evidence that first-year writing should be among those places that we first think of when we imagine the words “creativity” and “ambition.” Much as our University’s English 101 students surprise me on a regular basis, I hope these authors and their ideas surprise you as well.
Editor-in-Chief, Interpolations: A Journal of Academic Writing
Assistant Director, Academic Writing Program
Fall 2016 Essays
Children and Reality Television-Young Lives on the Big Screen
“Children and Reality Television-Young Lives on the Big Screen”
Argument of Inquiry
When I was younger, I pestered my mom to tell me how to say things in Pashto (our family language) and Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. As I grew older, I sought to learn more about Urdu, and my efforts led me toward poetry and Indian Bollywood movies, which I thought to be only in Hindi. While watching, however, I noticed characters using Urdu words like khuda and bahar, which mean “god” and “spring,” respectively, of which the Hindi words are bhagavaan and vasanta.
An Assessment of Community Water Fluoridation
Water treatment is a vital public service that ensures that our water supply is safe to drink. However, issues regarding water treatment generally attract public attention only when the safety of water for consumption or recreation is called into question. A questioning of water safety often prompts a response, governmental or humanitarian; however such responses sometimes not only fail to solve problems, they exacerbate those problems.
Reestablishing the Value of Fairy-Stories
J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1947 essay “On Fairy Stories” explores the nature of fairy-stories as a genre. Tolkien is best known for his fantasy novel (published as a trilogy), The Lord of the Rings, but he wrote “On Fairy Stories,” first delivered as a lecture in 1939, several years earlier as part of the Andrew Lang lecture series. In typical philological fashion, Tolkien discusses the definition of fairy-stories, their origins, and their purpose in order to capture their true value.