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.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to our 2018 issue of Interpolations.
In University of Maryland’s Academic Writing classes, we challenge our students to engage in the field of rhetoric through the tasks of researching, analyzing, and, ultimately, participating in complex conversations themselves. We understand that this undertaking is not easy, and, as a result, we delight in our students’ desires to not only succeed in the class, but also grow as academic writers, researchers, and thinkers. Throughout each semester, our students dive deeper into the course’s focus on inquiry, rhetoric, research, and the writing process--concepts that we find integral to succeeding as both an academic writer and as an individual engaged in civic and social issues. The selections for this year’s issue demonstrate the diligence and perseverance of our students as they tackle those dual responsibilities of commitment to scholarship and society, as well as our students’ interest in complex, ever-evolving, and timely issues. In this issue, we can truly say these pieces showcase our students’ abilities to research and write with precision, demonstrating their commitment to continual academic growth.
In concrete ways, the themes explored in this issue of Interpolations grew out of changes that were made to the standard Academic Writing curriculum. Starting in Fall 2018, our standard syllabus refocused the Summary and Rhetorical Analysis assignments to concentrate on themes of diversity, power, inclusivity, and equity. Our 2018 issue provides both a summary and rhetorical analysis of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s inspiring Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” in which Adichie discusses our critical need to look past misunderstandings and single narratives before we judge other people, places, or cultures. Nirmeen Shumpert captures the complexity and power of Adichie’s speech in her summary; José Hannan builds on Shumpert’s summary by providing a breakdown of the nuanced rhetorical strategies that make Adichie’s speech successful, as well as the continued timeliness of her message. In addition to Shumpert and Hannan’s pieces, Madison Stech details Roxane Gay’s commitment to an inclusive definition of feminism in her summary of Gay’s essay “Bad Feminist.” Sara Heckelman’s analysis of Lynn Z. Bloom’s essay “What is Good Enough Writing Anyway?” shows a skillful understanding of Bloom’s relationship with her audience and how she adjusts her essay accordingly.
Although our inquiry and digital forum selections explore different topics, our two authors achieve similar success in demonstrating their understandings of how communities are impacted by exigent issues. Layo Adewole’s Inquiry “Mental Health: Let’s Talk About It” investigates the many catalysts impacting black communities in relation to mental health treatment. Adewole draws our attention to the internal and external factors that complicate her issue--such as history, community, stigma, family, and religion-- and, through a thought-provoking Inquiry driven by a desire to understand this issue on a deeper level, draws our attention to an ever-growing and ever-serious crisis. Savanna Wright’s Digital Forum “Debating the Electoral College” opens with an overview of how the electoral college is intended to work, before embarking upon an exploration of whether or not the electoral college still provides the best method for choosing our next President. Each page provides a different position that responds to her initial line of questioning, leaving the final conclusion (should we abolish? revise? preserve?) up to the reader.
Finally, our position papers tackle exigent issues that impact our campus communities more than we may realize. Raphael Erfe’s position paper, “One Man’s Food Waste is Every Man’s Problem: The Role of Marketing in the Food Waste Issue” argues that food retailers and businesses need to recognize their role in contributing to the United States’ immense problem with food waste, and provides ideas for how to tackle this unsettlingly large problem. His paper should be required reading for all students attending college, as it will surely change one’s relationship with food purchasing and wastefulness. Jacob Cohen’s paper, “Protection Against Ideas: Campus Safety in the 21st Century,” tackles an issue significant to all in academia--the intersection of campus and student safety with constitutional rights and the purpose of an education. Through inclusion of the University of Maryland’s approach to this issue, Cohen provides an examination of what free speech and safe space means as a universal definition of campus safety continues to change.
Before concluding, I would like to thank our dedicated 2018 Interpolations board, without whom this issue would not be possible: Scott Eklund (our Managing Editor), Amanda Allen, Katie Bramlett, Amanda Fiore, Nabila Hijazi, Dara Liling, Samantha O’Connor, Nataliya Pratsovyta, Radford Skudrna, Joshua Weiss, and Rahel Worku. Thank you for your continued dedication to our students’ success and to strong academic writing, both with your work for Interpolations and within your own classrooms. Finally, in closing, I want to extend our gratitude to the heart and soul of this publication: our student writers, whose hard work and substantive revisions during the editorial process have made possible the issue that you see today.
I hope you enjoy this outstanding student writing!
Fall 2018 Essays
Summary: “The Danger of a Single Story"
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "The Danger of a Single Story" Ted Talk, in July 2009, explores the negative influences that a “single story” can have and identifies the root of these stories. Adichie argues that single stories often originate from simple misunderstandings or one’s lack of knowledge of others, but that these stories can also have a malicious intent to suppress other groups of people due to prejudice (Adichie).
“Bad Feminist”: A Summary
In her 2012 article “Bad Feminist,” published by VQR, Roxane Gay suggests that many of the tensions and negative connotations that accompany the term feminism can be attributed to a damaging, socially-constructed concept deemed essential feminism.
“Debating the Electoral College”
Abolish? Revise? Preserve? Investigating the Electoral College after the 2016 Election
“Debating the Electoral College”
Mental Health: Let’s Talk About It
At one point in time, there were at least three subjects that were considered inappropriate to talk about, at least in public: religion, sex (encompassing gender, gender identity, and orientation), and politics. In today’s evolving society, those conversational restrictions have become less and less prevalent as all three branches of the U.S. government attempt to adequately address those topics publicly on a regular basis.
Protection Against Ideas: Campus “Safety” in the 21st Century
The audience of this paper are college students and administrations throughout the United States. This paper was sent directly to the office of Lee C. Bollinger, the President of Columbia University, because of the particular relevance the topics discussed have to the current, politically correct climate of the university.
Waste is Every Man’s Problem: The Role of Marketing in the Food Waste Issue
The target audience for this paper are food retailers, suppliers, and businesses because they are utilizing different marketing strategies and practices that contribute to food waste. The United States is leading in food waste globally, and many of its citizens are unaware of the extent of this problem, most importantly business owners and companies.
Rhetorical Analysis Essays
A Rhetoric of Guided Empowerment: Lynn Z. Bloom’s “What is Good Enough Writing Anyway?”
It is hard to imagine that college writing professors, experts in their field, could be at fault for leading their students towards writing, reading, and thinking in a less than exemplary manner. Nonetheless, a chronic problem of acceptable, mediocre writing is sweeping college campuses worldwide.
Rhetorical Strategies in “The Danger of a Single Story”
In July 2009, Nigerian born author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered her TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,to articulate to an educated audience how stereotypical judgments are dangerous because they are incomplete. She bases her argument, that listening to only one perception of a group of people unfairly simplifies the reality of that group’s lives, using a series of anecdotes.