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.
- Norrell Edwards
- Peter Grybauskas
- Nabila Hijazi
- Lyra Hilliard
- Katherine Kipp
- Alexa Landrus
- Heather Lindenman
- Abbey Morgan
- Radford Skudrna
- Kshiti Vaghela
During an interview last year, one of the authors published in the 2013-14 edition of Interpolations noted, “Before English 101, I didn’t think I had a place in scholarly discourse at all.” It’s a sentiment she’s hardly alone in sharing, and it speaks to the transformation that many first-year students undergo every year. Arriving in English 101 with little or no awareness of their place in scholarly discourse, students discover that, even in their first semesters at the University, they can enter into academic conversations and meaningfully contribute to them. Interpolations, then, furthers that goal of engaging students in important scholarly conversations by allowing the selected authors to revise their works and reach a global audience.
Consider the eleven pieces published in this year’s edition. Selected from over 330 submissions composed during the spring 2014 and fall 2014 semesters, these pieces are diverse, ambitious, and truly deserving of the label “scholarship.” Laura Nesbitt’s summary of David Foster Wallace’s essay “Consider the Lobster” compellingly represents Wallace’s inquiry into animal ethics while Becky Gellar’s essay “Predictive Genetic Testing Using Huntington’s Disease” opens up an inquiry of its own, urging for more nuanced conversation about predictive testing rather than the binary, oversimplified, and unhelpful discourse with which students and laymen are all too familiar.
This edition also features four excellent examples of the newest addition to the English 101 curriculum: the Digital Forum assignment. Tiffany Jachja’s “Are We Contributing to Digital Manipulation?” presents competing attitudes about the ethics of digitally editing images. Ben Dayanim and Alex Dang insightfully explore two other facets of digital culture: “Awareness. Action. Repeat.” showcases arguments on social media’s viability as a vehicle for social change, and “Gender Roles in Online Dating” tackles the oft-ridiculed phenomenon of online dating and explores how it may or may not be impacting the way we view gender norms. Finally, Jacob Bridgewatt’s “The Future of Space Colonization” projects far away from the present and brings to light the perspectives on human colonization of other worlds.
Rounding out this year’s edition are five Position Papers, all of which present urgent and exigent arguments on a variety of contemporary issues. Kelly Hillen’s essay “Social Media as a Causal Argument for Risky Behavior” details how social media has led to a rise in high-risk behavior among adolescents. In “The Rise of Neoconservative Foreign Policy,” Andy Dunn assesses the American media after September 11th, 2001 and points to new understandings for how we might think about media and the way it influences popular political attitudes. Taylor Friedman’s essay “Rethinking College Rankings” encourages similar reassessment, critiquing the popular U.S. News & World Report rankings and arguing for reconsideration of how we evaluate our colleges and universities. Finally, Judith Tsoi’s “Discriminatory and Unconstitutional: ‘English Only’ in the U.S.” and Ben Zimmitti’s “Rainbow Over Capitol Hill?” call for specific action on two pressing civil rights concerns: language discrimination based in proposed “English Only” policies and the bullying of sexual minority youth in schools.
I encourage you also to revisit the 2013-14 edition, which now includes video interviews with several of its published authors, who speak to the discoveries they made while working through the English 101 and Interpolations processes. Sometimes with joy, they reflect on how English 101 and Interpolations changed their perspectives on the writing process and the way they view themselves as writers.
Before concluding, I would like to thank our 2014-15 editorial board for their diligence and continued enthusiasm: Lyra Hilliard, Norrell Edwards, Amanda Giffi, Peter Grybauskas, Nabila Hijazi, Katherine Kipp, Heather Lindenman, Radford Skudrna, and Kshiti Vaghela. I would also like to extend a special thanks to our Technical Editor, Kirk Greenwood, for his continued help in recording and editing podcasts and to our Managing Editor, Scott Eklund, for doing so many things I’ve lost count of them all. And, of course, I thank this year’s authors, whose diligence and ambition in English 101 and throughout the editorial process have yielded excellent work.
In short, I hope that the eleven pieces in this year’s edition not only enrich your thinking about a variety of pressing issues but also challenge any preconceptions about English 101 and the work produced in it. Nearly 4000 students pass through English 101 every school year, and, as the pieces in this year’s edition show, much of the work they compose is urgent, imaginative, and important. Interpolations, then, celebrates some of the most exceptional work produced in English 101 and offers a window into the kinds of bold research that students engage in from the moment they enter the University.
Assistant Director, Academic Writing Program
Spring 2015 Essays
Are We Contributing to Digital Manipulation in Social Media?
Before the creation of social media and image-hosting sites like Facebook (launched in 2004), Instagram (launched in 2010), and Flickr (launched in 2004), edited images primarily belonged to print texts such as newspapers and magazines. In a society that sought entertainment primarily through
Awareness. Action. Repeat. Social Media and Advocacy in the Digital Age
There is no doubt that organizations all over the globe are making drastic changes to their methods of public engagement--how they interact with users.
Gender Roles in Online Dating
"If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain," Rupert Holmes could be a good match. Bonnie Tyler, on the other hand, is "holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night." We all have certain characteristics in mind when we're looking for a date.
The Future of Space Colonization
With private companies like SpaceX and Mars One planning on permanently settling people on the Red Planet within our lifetimes, colonization of other planets has become a pressing issue. Continue to the next page to explore the first of many different positions on the topic.
Predictive Genetic Testing Using Huntington's Disease
A predictive genetic test uses an individual's DNA to foretell the development of a disease prior to the appearance of symptoms. B.J.
Discriminatory and Unconstitutional: English Only in U.S.
It was a simple question, "How are you?" Nei ho ma?
I knew what he had said, and I knew how to respond in Chinese, "I'm good, how are you?" I formed these words at the tip of my tongue, said them in my mind, yet my throat constricted and I made no sound.
Rainbow Over Capitol Hill?
Audience Analysis: The audience of this paper will include United States Representative Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland’s 5th district, which encompasses College Park. Since 1981, Hoyer has sponsored several progressive pieces of legislation, including the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (“Steny’s Legislative Information”).
Rethinking National University Rankings
Every year when the popular American magazine U.S. News & World Report releases its "National Universities Rankings" online and in print, it sends shockwaves through the education world. High school students fixate themselves on the order and delete poorly-ranked colleges from their Common Application. College students hold their breath as they scroll down the web page, silently praying their school has not fallen in the rankings.
Social Media as a Casual Mechanism for Risky Behavior
Much of the data available suggests that the historical trend of risky behavior in adolescents has been decreasing, but spikes in recent years have proven the contrary to be true. Despite the enactment of many precautionary driver safety laws and programs to increase teenage safety on the road, 2011 marked the first year of increasing numbers of adolescent driving fatalities after eight consecutive years of decline (Copel).
The Rise of Neoconservative Foreign Policy
There may be no event as impactful in 21st century U.S. history as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda. Killing thousands of civilians, the coordinated airplane strikes comprised the largest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil, leaving the entire country shaken and confused. One of the first places people turned to make sense of the senseless was the news.
"Consider the Lobster": A Summary
David Foster Wallace's 2004 article "Consider the Lobster," originally published in Gourmet magazine, investigates a topic not generally covered by such publications—the sensations of one of the animals who becomes our food. Wallace, an American essayist, novelist, and English professor, dubs himself as readers' "assigned correspondent" of the 56th Annual Maine Lobster Festival (236).