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Spring 2015

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

Technical Editor

Kirk Greenwood

Managing Editor

Scott Eklund


Justin Lohr

Spring 2015 Editorial Board

  • Norrell Edwards
  • Peter Grybauskas
  • Nabila Hijazi
  • Lyra Hilliard
  • Katherine Kipp
  • Alexa Landrus
  • Heather Lindenman
  • Abbey Morgan
  • Radford Skudrna
  • Kshiti Vaghela

Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

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.

Happy Reading!

Justin Lohr
Editor-in-Chief, Interpolations
Assistant Director, Academic Writing Program

Spring 2015 Essays

Digital Forum

Inquiry Essay

Position Paper

Summary Essays