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Interpolations is a journal of academic writing from the University of Maryland. Annually, the editorial board publish essays highlighting exemplary rhetorical work University of Maryland students first produce when taking English 101: Academic Writing.

Journal Information


Justin Lohr

Managing Editor

Scott Eklund

Technical Editor

Kirk Greenwood

Fall 2016 Editorial Board

  • Christopher Philpot
  • Audrey Farley
  • Nabila Hijazi
  • Maggie Ray
  • Joshua Weis
  • Micaela Cameron
  • Tamar Leroy
  • Cherie Walsh
  • Danielle Griffin
  • Kshiti Vaghela
  • Katherine Kipp Joshi

Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,
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.
Happy Reading!
Justin Lohr
Editor-in-Chief, Interpolations: A Journal of Academic Writing
Assistant Director, Academic Writing Program


Fall 2016 Essays

Digital Forum

Inquiry Essay

Position Paper

Summary Essays