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A preface...

...for every undergraduate who happens to pick up this volume. Whenever.

This is the best time of your life. You get that, right?

Look here, five sprightly essays written by dead-clever students typing furiously about classic stories that matter to them and have moved them. That's all it took. But it can only happen in this Utopia you find yourselves in -- in serious and committed undergraduate life. All this mountain of effort -- months of reading, thinking, editing, revising, banging foreheads against the doorjam at 3 am when you can't think of a better metaphor than doorjam -- all this stomach-jellifying hard work subsidized by simply being in college, marinating in the society of eager readers and thinkers and guessers and what-if lovers and their sometimes amazed teachers.

You know this is a rare treat, right? And you may never experience it again. Pinch yourself. Notice the buzz. Take notes. Because in a year or so, weeks in some cases, a lot of you will be leaving the groves of academe to agonize inside the blinkered world of bottom-lines, of bland and obvious utility, of bloody-minded seriousness. A world that doesn't give a toss what you may think of the deliciously impractical hints and allegations raised in the next black-and-white pages of the eternal book that you are right now holding in your hands.

Oh, bland new world that has such creatures running it! Because these five essays are magic! They can defy time. I guarantee you 250 years from the very moment that these particular liver-spotted fingers are typing this phrase -- "this phrase" -- some inquisitive soul will be reading these pages again, in some form, and being delighted to see what five young scholars once had to say about Tristram Shandy and William Faulkner and Paul Auster and John Lyly and Confucius.

This is art. This is criticism. This is news that stays news. Enjoy.

And pass it on.

Michael Olmert

Department of English, University of Maryland

Journal Information


Jamie Lee

Managing Editor

Megan Cooley-Klein

Layout Editor

Laura Pavlo

Graduate Student Reader

Amy Merritt

Editorial Board

  • Robert M. Berman
  • Aidan Boyd *
  • Tajah Ebram *
  • Brady Fauth *
  • Corinne Galanko
  • Mary Garhart
  • Shannon Goff
  • Shane Goodhue *
  • Ariel Jones *
  • E. Jackson Molleur *
  • Theresa Park
  • Monica Parks *
  • Yevgeniya Portianko
  • Charles Powell
  • Laura Russell
  • Ethan Salem
  • Lenaya Stewart
  • Emily Tuttle
  • Madeline Wilson *

Those with an asterisk (*) provided additional editorial support.

Assisted with Journal Production

  • Amy Merritt
  • Professor Thomas Moser
  • Catherine Bayly

Spring 2013 Essays

General Essays