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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

An Interview with Prof. Wole Soyinka

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The acclaimed playwright and Nobel laureate on the creative process, the role of the political in art, and what young writers should be ready for.  ♦ 
Wole Soyinka is not only one of the most prominent writers of the African continent but one of the world’s greatest living playwrights. He is a writer whose work takes on civil and human rights violations and abuses across the world, especially in the African continent, and whose plays have been produced as movies or stage dramas globally and translated into numerous languages. His credits across the genres of drama, poetry, and prose include such notable works as the plays A Dance of the Forests and The Lion and the Jewel; collections of essays including Myth, Literature and the African Worldand poetry collections such as Idanre and Other Poems and Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known.
   In this interview, Wole Soyinka explains how diverse cultures, diverse literatures, and political tyranny and dictatorships in his environment influence his work. He also gives up-and-coming writers advice on how to use literature as a weapon for freedom and human rights.

Was writing ever a struggle for you, or does it come to you easily? Do you consider yourself a natural-born writer?

I am the kind of writer I would categorize as being very lazy, meaning, I do not struggle greatly on writing. If at any time I’m having difficulty writing, I choose other tasks and hobbies to do. I am not always compelled to write, but when I begin writing, it becomes very irresistible for me, and because I started it, I eventually need to finish it. The ideas and characters in all the plays I have written crowd my head and demand to be let out, so therefore, I am compelled right there. Another thing is that ideas can be stuck for months and years in my head, waiting to be let out. One example I remember is Death and the King’s Horsemen. I had the idea in my head and I thought about writing it immediately, but because other things were there, I had to leave it for something else. Then one day after teaching a class in Cambridge, I saw a sculpture of a colonialist named Winston Churchill close to the dining facility of the school. I used to look at this monument, and I always felt like pushing and kicking it, and on this particular day I recalled the story that had been stored in my head for so long, though you would be surprised how many years that story was in my head after the encounter with Churchill’s monument. It was in my head for ten years. After a decade, I got my typewriter out and started work on Death and the King’s Horseman, and within weeks I had finished working on it. Writing to me is an inspiration which you can never force. I am very aware there are other writers who sit down religiously every morning, drink their coffee, put a piece of paper in and sit looking at the paper for a long time until they have finished at least some numbers of pages. For me, I’m not like that writer, I have to be ready and the ideas have to develop for some time, and then I write when it is ready to burst.

Do you believe a play is complete when it is performed on stage?

For most playwrights, including myself, when they finish writing a play, they believe that is just the beginning of the job. When readers read a play, they all long to see it fleshed out on stage or produced visually as movie. I’m a fan of that kind of idea myself, which means I am not satisfied until I see my play on stage, and that’s what I call a finished product.

Can you explain how some of your work is influenced by diverse cultures?

My idea of the creative process is very simple. All cultures are related to one another in some way. I am an African playwright, and I can use a play written by Brecht and adapt it with African classics. I have consciously adapted from Greek classics, Euripides and Oedipus. That has been a creative experience for me. Whether that influences me or not, I can’t decide. It is for critics and reviewers to decide. Culture generally is comparative, which is where the joy lies. There is joy when you can relate and connect another culture with yours and feel [a certain] air to them all. For example, there are parallels I can use from my Yoruba culture and compare them with Greek mythology. Just like Loki from the Greek myth, the Yoruba god Eshu is also a trickster and rascal. I would say a lot of my influence comes from my Yoruba culture, [and] that’s enough for my creativity.

You are known to infuse politics into literature using it as a weapon. How do you do that?

Writers around the world have one weapon, which is literature. One of my plays, King Baabu, which I premiered at the National Arts Theatre in Lagos, is a loose adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. That play was used to take aim against the former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, and other African dictators who have sacrificed their people for their stupid ambitions.

What are some advice you have aspiring playwrights?

There are things young writers should be ready for. They should be ready for rejection. I always tell aspiring writers to acquire a basket to collect all their rejection letters and mail, and to continue writing until the basket is full or when your work gets accepted. Keep on writing even after all those rejections. I am not really good at teaching people creative writing, as what I teach is literary criticism and comparative literature. When I read a young writer’s manuscript, what I look for is the content of the work and not the structure of the writing. Various publishing companies would look for both content and structure before publishing. For me, I have to read the work first, and when something strikes me, then I feel compelled to critique the writer about it. Another main point is not to get carried away by any ideology, or to please any school of ideology. Many writers waste their talents because they want to be ideologically correct, and this leads them to produce work made up of propaganda, thereby becoming ideological orphans.
  • About the Author
    Oluwaseun Oladimeji is currently a junior at Miami University majoring in Public Health and Environmental Science. He loves reading and attending stage plays, listening to poetry renditions, playing and watching the game of soccer, and all forms of literature he can get his hands on, irrespective of where it comes from.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2018

    The Danger of the Daily Publication's Echo Chamber

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    Cyclical news stories and insular communities are causing a sharp uptick in the narrow-mindedness of today's media consumers.  ♦ 
    With the boisterous entrance of Donald Trump into politics, media platforms have switched their focus, shadowing his every move whether it be personal or international. The notifications that pop up on our screens, telling us what President Trump has tweeted, are equivalent to having daily fireside chats via radio with President Roosevelt in 1933. The era of social media simply being social is no longer the case, as outlets are more focused on celebrity minutia. This shift in news coverage and morphing purpose of social media to follow celebrity politics have changed the nature of daily news publications for good.
       Newspapers give the option of reviewing all news, as opposed to social media sites that allow you to specifically target news groups or outlets whom you choose to follow. At first it sounds productive to only see what you want to see, but in reality it’s causing stalls in government progress, lulls in productive conversations, and barriers between beliefs. Social media has helped construct a political echo chamber; many people are stuck in this echo chamber, bouncing around the same information and ideas because of their narrow views or interests.
       Daily publications used to mean that readers engaged with a variety of different newspapers that covered a variety of different topics and interests. Articles were well-researched, well-written, and relatively unbiased when it came to aligning with red or blue. Long gone are the days of newspaper delivery and unfolding a swath of black and white in front of you.
      Now, an estimated 61% of millennials garner news primarily through social media. The overwhelming worlds of Twitter, Facebook, various news outlets, and so much more information are packed into people’s lives, streaming constantly from phones in pockets and purses. Instead of long articles, we are delivered “truth” in short, sometimes ambiguous tweets. Things spin through the news cycle much more quickly, taking just a click to publish and a swipe to refresh for new content.
      This echo chamber is a result of partisan individuals choosing only to follow like-minded people, people who make them feel comfortable. The material readers engage with affirms their beliefs, further polarizing them along the political spectrum. Intellectual growth often comes when our views are challenged, but the political echo chamber allow no opposition, no challenge, just glorious affirmation.
        According to the Pew Research Center, when news comes primarily from online sources both parties are more likely to be extremely biased and closed off. About 51 percent of conservative Republicans said that reading one-sided news is ok. About 73 percent of Democrats and 77 percent of Republicans agree that they see a news media bias. What this is resulting in is a loss of moderate viewpoints, constantly being inundated with overwhelmingly partisan news moving us toward the extremes of the political spectrum.
       Although newspapers have always had an unspoken political party association, the correlation between news outlets and politics has grown stronger with the inauguration of our 45th president. News sources that disagree with the president are automatically labeled “fake news” while even slight praise to the administration is retweeted, re-blogged, and shared far and wide. People have stopped looking at opposing news views, comfortably content with the ever-refreshing feed streaming from their favorite media sources.
      With every curious click, whether it be a morning show page, an opinion article, or a politician’s reelection page, the user is triggering algorithms. These algorithms are designed to lead the reader to similar content that says the same thing but in a different way, or says the same thing but, this time, with pictures. The echoes get louder with every click. Every social media app has sponsored news posts that are inescapable and inextricably tied to your other web browsing.
       Another outcome from the difference in everyday publication is that the public is having more and more difficulty distinguishing opinion from information. Do people fact check or just automatically believe them? It’s so easy to believe something when it’s typed out and posted on a news website, or appears to be supported by photographic evidence. But we are misled all the time because of our diminishing ability to question fact. We all want to read things that flatter and complement our own personal beliefs, but don’t we all want to be right too?
       It might seem hopeless, but there are many ways to avoid being sucked into this wormhole. Aim to be well-rounded. Inform yourself with opinions from all sides. Make sure to get all aspects of the story before reaching a conclusion. Consider how social conditioning effects the story, think about whether or not there is discrimination involved, etc. It’s easy to believe your side of the story is the right one when it’s all you’ve heard. It’s absolutely vital to not let yourself be polarized by the algorithm, by your own sense of comfort. We must all (yes, all) be able to work together in order to do what is best for the country as a whole, and a filtered media diet is not the best start.
  • About the Author
    Sara Azalone is a junior at Miami University studying Political Science, Professional Writing, and Italian.

    Cloaked in Magic: Real-World Issues Disguised in the Wizarding World

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    J.K. Rowling has an expansive imagination, but some parts of the wizarding world aren't too far from our own reality.  ♦ 
    Sitting in a café in Edinburgh, J.K. Rowling put pen to parchment and created a magical world we all still dream of becoming part of. The wizarding world keeps multiplying, much like a Gemino curse, allowing fans to continually reengage with magic—but also with their own reality. The themes within the books transcend time and continue to remind us that even the most magical societies still are poisoned with anger and hatred.
       On the surface, the Harry Potter series appears to be a children’s tale filled with triumph over evil and entrancing new narratives, but below the shiny surface there are many issues that connect the muggle world to the wizarding world. The themes the books explore are mature beyond their years and serve as a mirror to the world around us.
       Issues of racism, classism, and outright discrimination are all very much present in Harry’s universe. In the books we see Voldemort rise to power, bringing hate and anger close behind him. Consider the Magic is Might monument which sits in the center of the Ministry of Magic, an executive hub for magical beings everywhere. It depicts a witch and wizard sitting comfortably atop a human chariot, a group of muggles painfully struggling under the weight, showing witches and wizards as individuals who see non-magic folk as inferior, as slaves. Consider Hermione’s social justice organization, SPEW, a group put together to literally advocate for the abolition of house elf slavery, drawing attention to the problems of human trafficking and slavery, still very much a part of our real world. What about discriminatory slurs, such as Draco calling Hermione a mudblood, Draco calling the Weasleys out for being poor, for being “blood traitors” and not honoring their “pure bloodline”? There are so many moments of hatred and prejudice throughout the books.
       The Weasleys are portrayed as the good guys, but even they are not exempt from holding their own prejudices—Ron is disgusted when he finds out Hagrid is a half-giant and is terrified when he discovers Professor Lupin is a werewolf. Ron, while at his core pure-hearted, has been socially conditioned to believe those different than him are inherently lesser or “bad.” Readers get to watch Ron grow and overcome his biases through positive experiences. Perhaps we as readers see ourselves in Ron (and Draco), realizing we need to addresses some of our own prejudices. Rowling did not create a perfect world, but one that is flawed and dynamic. When you strip away the fantastical aspect of witches and wizards, you are left with reality: entire groups of people facing systematic oppression enforced by people in positions of power.
        Sooner or later, everyone learns what pulls the carriage to Hogwarts. Death is arguably one of the largest real-world themes throughout the Harry Potter series. This should be no surprise though, seeing as to how large a role death plays in our own lives. All the characters penned by Rowling have gone through various stages of grief and loss of either a friend, a family member, or a loved one. Readers both young and old use these characters as mirrors for themselves, finding new ways to heal and cope. The series begins with the merciless murder of Harry’s parents, of course that’s going to affect him for the rest of his life. When Harry comes face to face with the Mirror of the Erised, his parents are once again smiling by his side—but this is not a possible reality, even with magic.
        Harry Potter is just as relevant now as it was twenty years ago. So long as there are people willing to speak out against injustice, the stories will be there to illuminate our paths, with Harry, Ron, and Hermione leading the way, standing up against slavery, against discrimination, against hatred, and instead helping those who are silenced or underrepresented. Harry Potter will continue to excite and engage fans because it challenges them to think about the world they live in, and if change can be enacted for the better because of it, then that’s magic enough.
  • About the Author
    Paige Landers is a junior Creative Writing major with a minor in Disability Studies at Miami University. Paige competes with the Miami University Equestrian Team and volunteers her time training future service dogs through 4 Paws for Ability; she is also a Disney College Program alumni. You can normally catch her out and about with a puppy by her side and a coffee in her hand!

    Why We Need Creative Classrooms

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    Ever wonder why so many students think reading is a chore? Maybe it’s because we teach it that way.  ♦ 
    Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, The Great Gatsby . . . I’m sure you’ve heard of these books before, and would I be correct in assuming you’ve read all of these due to school requirements as well? I thought so (though I’d be thoroughly impressed if not!). Today's students are taught the same lessons, themes, reading skills, and comprehension techniques from a commonly-thin selection of books with little-to-no variation between schools or even past generations. The books themselves might not necessarily be the problem—these books are classics and provide ample experiences for readers to learn from—but they do provide the exact same experiences decade after decade, taught in the same way, and that’s part of the problem.
       When a single book is selected to represent an entire genre, an entire movement, practice, and theme, then that book solidifies itself as a cornerstone, the foundation for all knowledge on that specific subject. In other words, these stories become textbooks, and we all know how textbooks work (and how students tend to think about them). They’re the standard-bearers of information that supply us with the necessary knowledge on a subject. Which is to say, like an obligation instead of something vital and creative or even fun.
       For far too many children, there is little creativity in the English classroom. Essays dictate whether or not we understand a subject, and perhaps more importantly to our teachers, professors, and the school board, they expose whether or not we actually read the book. Teachers have thus become literary babysitters, with little room to navigate the learning imagination, the one tool so crucial to each and every perspective of all the stories in our lives.
       For a student to make an argument based on lessons they learned from the book, when these same lessons have already been taught, and when the "correct reading" regarding themes and takeaways have been cemented firmly into the back of the instructor’s mind for years, there is little room for deviation. There is only one argument to be made, the same one that has been produced by every student at every school during every semester. And none of this sounds like a particularly inspired way to lead students toward the joy and surprise and rewards of reading or writing.
       If a student wants to go about their education in a more creative way, they must often push themselves to do so. Even with such a mindset, they are often stifled in favor of falling in line with the prompt given to them. Free imaginations, adaptability to new circumstances, and critical thinking are qualities all good readers must cultivate, but not allowing them to venture outside of approved course materials, with set outcomes, ends up limiting students' desire to read in the first place.
      What's more, teachers today face a number of obstacles previous generations didn't. According to a study done by Common Sense Media in 2014, 27 percent of 17-year-olds reported they “hardly ever” or “never” read for fun. Compare that to a similar study from 1984, when only 9 percent of 17-year-olds reported the same. This might not be exclusively the fault of canonical books, a rote curriculum, or teaching to the test; the internet today is intertwined in our daily lives, and the constant investment into news from all across the world is hard to look away from. So how are teachers trying to actually save the lost art of reading for pleasure, given the obstacles they face?
       A recent article in The Guardian collected a number of methods teachers have employed in order to assist young learners in developing a unquenchable desire to digest information via text on paper. These tools and activities include such seemingly simple ideas as personal challenges and classroom competitions to incentive reading, promoting reading as a creative escape from stress, and implementing randomized "Drop everything and read" periods, where students can escape from whatever task they're doing for ten minutes of reading. This particular idea encourages students to read anything so long as it is a book, and as a result many different types of literature have healthily invaded the classroom and inspired further exploration. While there is no one, "correct" way to approach these lessons—every student is a unique learner—these fresh ideas are a start and should be further cultivated to continue the efforts to reengage students with books.
      If we want to create a society of considerate, thinking individuals, we must allow (the sometimes strange) youthful creativity to run rampant. Giving choices and adapting to the student’s desires of literature in the classroom is a great place to start. Obviously we shouldn’t undermine the system that (perhaps ironically) led to a skeptical mind writing this argument. There can be a balance. But to start tipping the scale in the direction of a more individual-based desire to learn and create from the knowledge encountered, we must empower said individual to go beyond the scope of basic expectations.
  • About the Author
    Connor Paquette is a senior at Miami University working toward a Bachelor's in Creative Writing with a minor in English Literature. He has authored many short stories and is currently in the process of writing a fantasy novel, as well as a television drama pilot, a feature-length movie, and a children's novel. Connor is adept in graphic design and creates infographics for his hometown soccer team, FC Cincinnati, and contributes to a local blog covering the team called Orange & Blue Press.

    Monday, May 14, 2018

    Dystopian Fiction Is the New Realism

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    Dystopian fiction always rises in response to a difficult historical moment. We’ve been in one for a decade now.  ♦ 
    Ten years ago, the dormant subgenre of dystopian literature—which in most readers’ minds probably still meant George Orwell’s novel 1984—was suddenly brought roaring back to life with the release of the YA phenomenon The Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins’s trilogy of books stands as an example of the best qualities of dystopian fiction—in its questioning of the overly-wealthy and how those in power operate to hold onto that power; in its willingness to include diversity and speak for and to those groups who are marginalized and subjugated. The film adaption, as film adaptations are wont to do, omitted most of the commentary about race and power that exists in the novel—the olive-skinned protagonist Katniss was portrayed by the white actress Jennifer Lawrence, and the tensions between the poor community of people of color and the better-off white residents of District 12 was absent entirely—but the reception of both the books and the films marked The Hunger Games as a legitimate sensation, and their timing suggests why: the book debuted in 2008, the films in 2012, in the heart of the Great Recession.
       The commercial success of The Hunger Games inspired a number of YA imitators—chiefly Divergent and The Maze Runner—which didn’t have quite the mainstream appeal as the original, perhaps because these works didn’t speak to the moment in the same way: both incorporated class, and therefore power, distinctions into their narratives, but they lacked the hard-hitting commentary that characterized the genre and The Hunger Games. They even followed a similar outline and plot, including arbitrary divisions of people and a teen protagonist needing to be convinced that they are The Chosen One destined to save society. But The Hunger Games succeeded not just because it told a great story; it told one that audiences shaken by the threat of global economic disaster felt connected to.
       This perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise, as dystopian fiction, in addition to dealing with environments that are typically totalitarian, authoritarian, and environmentally degraded, has always stemmed from and reflected real-life events and concerns. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale correlates to the rise of the Religious Right in the 1980s; J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World derives from the concerns about environmental changes in the 1960s, after the impact of nuclear weapons were understood in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Speculative sci-fi author Octavia Butler incorporated her own experience as a black woman into her trilogy Lilith’s Brood, where the titular protagonist struggles with losing her autonomy to an oppressive force and being discredited by her former allies. The commentary on womanhood, namely black womanhood, pointedly addresses the unending quality of life gap between black and white Americans, between men and women. Dystopian authors often embrace rather heavy-handed literary techniques when it concerns self-insertion into their stories, true, but this personal experience colors the genre with genuine commentary on the world, rather than simply being imaginative stories well-told.
       What’s interesting is that The Hunger Games wasn’t an isolated hit but the start of a decade-long run where dystopian fiction, both new and old, has suddenly found mainstream success and renewed relevance. Whereas George Orwell’s 1984 was written in response to the rise of totalitarianism following World War II, it also appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding fears of technology and surveillance—see Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple Homepod—and even jumped into the #1 spot on Amazon following the tumultuous 2016 election. Likewise Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, based off the Phillip K. Dick novel of the same name, explores an entire alternate reality stemming from the Axis triumphing in World War II; it was adapted for Amazon during the divisive eighteen-month campaign for the 2016 presidential election that saw the rise of the “alt-right”—white supremacists whose views align with 1930s Germany. The Hulu adaptation of Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale premiered in 2017, the year of the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement. Even Netflix’s Black Mirror adopts stories that consider where technology can take us, or has already taken us, which seem both futuristic and as close as today.
       Dystopian fiction, in any of its storytelling forms, demonstrates increased connectivity to political turmoil and social unrest, and its rise in popularity over the past decade reflects our public concern and emphasis on troubled politics and the societal psyche. Sure, it’s scary to think about Big Brother or the Capitol, but when you read warnings from a voice that has experienced oppression, it means more and allows you to connect your fears to those portrayed in the work. Dystopian fiction remains in the spotlight not because it tells an otherworldly story but because the stories are grounded in reality: ours.
  • About the Author
    Alex Grana is a junior studying Professional Writing at Miami University. She is currently prepping for the LSATs and applying for law school in the fall. At Miami, she is a member of the feminist group F Word, College Democrats, and serves as the executive treasurer for the Miami Dance Corps.

    How Breaking into Publishing Is Like a Bad Romance

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    It’s not you, publishing, it’s me. (It might be you.)  ♦ 
    When I was a little girl, all I wanted to be when I grew up was Blossom from PowerPuff Girls. She had red hair, I have red hair; she was the leader, I believed I was a leader; et cetera. As I grew up, my dreams changed. For a long span of my life, I wanted to be a lawyer. Someone powerful, who can make a difference; eventually, I’d become a part of the Supreme Court Justice. That was the goal.
      Fast-forward to my junior year of high school when I was lost and had no idea in which direction my life was going to go. I knew I loved English, but aside from teaching, I had no idea what I could do with a degree in English.
       I got my first look into publishing when I was the editor-in-chief of my high school yearbook. I broke my neck editing that book—not literally—and I didn’t mind a second of the lost sleep or missed meals. For the first time, I found something that I was passionate about, something I was excited about.
       Come graduation and freshman orientation, my life was filled with “What are you going to do with that?” getting asked over and over and over again. Every time, I’d answer the same thing, “I’m going to publish books!” each time, my smile getting bigger. I could tell there’d be a long list of people I’d have to prove wrong—I could have a great career with an English degree!
       I could do what I loved!

    They Tried to Warn Me about You

    Everyone told me how exciting and awesome the publishing world is. Everyone thought you were so cool, and that we’d be a great match. A few people warned me about you: your low income and long hours and all that. But for whatever reason, until recently, no one thought to tell me that this industry is one of the hardest industries to break into, which I didn’t find out until I actually started to apply for jobs and internships.
      Luckily, I was able to gain a little bit of experience right after high school, when my best friend’s mother started her own little publishing company, and I learned a lot about the world that I wanted so badly to be a part and the excitement I had for the future built up. I thought you’d like that. I thought you’d be impressed.

    I Know You Saw My Application, Because Your Read Receipts Were On

    As time went on in my college career, though, my excitement toward finding a job in publishing began to lag as rejection after rejection came in. Yes, I know, ”expect rejection” is one of the first things you hear as you try to break into the industry. But it’s not just that I got rejected but how. You think rejection will mean, “Thank you for your time,” or, “Here’s how you can improve your application.”
      Instead, I found out I was rejected a different way: the start date for each job I applied for passed with my never hearing back, and I eventually got the hint that I was not wanted for these jobs.
       That’s right. The companies I applied to ghosted on me.

    Get Your Friend to Introduce Us

    I remember desperately wanting to work for HarperCollins in New York City. After seeing The Proposal and watching Sandra Bullock rock the publishing world and fall in love with her assistant (the always gorgeous Ryan Reynolds), I knew even more that the publishing world was for me, knowing full-well that my life wouldn’t end up exactly like this movie. My excitement built up even more when I found out a former sorority sister had a sibling who worked for HarperCollins. She put me in contact with her sister and I immediately started networking, trying to find some way into this big bad world of publishing. My mother’s words, “You need to know someone to get a job like that” echoed in my head and I smirked while typing the very enthusiastic email to my “way in.”
       A few days later I was pumped to see her response. My large grin fell with each word read as she explained that she didn’t necessarily work in the publishing department and therefore didn’t actually know anyone to the extent I needed. Cordially, I thanked her for her efforts and response and wished her well, as she had left HarperCollins to pursue law school at NYU.
       Now, instead of my mother’s words in my head, I had everyone I had ever told I was a creative writing major screaming, “What are you going to do with that?”

    Maybe We Should See Other People

    I soon grew irritable at the pure mention of the future. I obtained a few jobs that gave me an income—instead of a summer internship in New York City, I spent one summer working at a golf club, not exactly building my résumé—but no experience that would help me break into publishing.
       In an effort to build up some more skills that might make me more attractive to the publishing industry, I had an idea—I went to a friend whose major was marketing and decided that maybe I should focus on that aspect of it. Within a couple of weeks, she had helped me get a paid internship with Miami University’s Marketing and Communications office for the summer going into my senior year. I was ecstatic because the job included editing the content that thousands of high school seniors will see when they’re being recruited for the school. The relief I felt to have some kind of experience under my belt was amazing, and again it encouraged me to begin searching for big house publishing jobs, so I could brag about my newly obtained skills.
      And again, the job search went nowhere.
     That’s when I realized something: marketing had actually been good to me. Marketing appreciated my work. Marketing had been right there all along.
       I decided, for kicks, to try applying for jobs that focused more on marketing. Within an hour of sending in my first application, I was offered an interview. The joy, relief, and excitement I felt when I received that email was something I hadn’t felt when filling out applications and sending in résumés in a very long time, and that’s when I decided to stick with this journey. I’d been so focused on that attractive publishing job that I hadn’t seen the industry right in front of me.
    In some ways, this job search led me to lose my passion for publishing. I’m not sure if it was the constant rejection or the frustration, or the fact that publishing likes to play games. But I have accepted a marketing job for after graduation, and I have opened a window to the future. Who knows? Maybe I’ll fall in love with publishing again. But even if the breakup is for good this time, the future is still bright, and the options are infinite.
  • About the Author
    Alexis Hite is a senior Creative Writing major with a Marketing minor. She’s from Columbus, OH, and plans to move to Greenville, South Carolina, after graduation. She enjoys reading novels and BuzzFeed articles and works at Brick Street Bar & Grille in order to help pay rent and feed her two kittens, Cleo and Oliver. When she’s not at work, you can find her in her bed binge-watching shows on Netflix and Hulu.

    Millennial Students Defy E-Books for Traditional Books

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    When it comes to their studies, the generation that grew up with a screen in hand prefers old school to new school.  ♦ 
    Millennials are known for numerous traits that split them off from their predecessors in Gen X and the Baby Boomer generations—they make up the majority of people in the workforce, they’re the fastest-growing generation, and they hold views towards politics, marketing, education and religion that vastly differ from the aforementioned groups. As a millennial myself, I cannot deny that there are some traits that often make us look bad as a whole, and one, in particular, is our relationship to technology. While Baby Boomers grew up with television being the driving force of their childhood, Millennials grew up with the limitless world of the internet and, along with it, social media, Amazon, iPhones and, most notably when it comes to our reading habits, e-books.
       Of course millennials also grew up with the tried-and-true physical books that older generations depended on, the kind that requires the flipping of actual pages, but they were the first generation to have the ease and ability to read any book with a click of a mouse. So it’s interesting that 90% of millennial students, the generation most adapted to the use of a screen, prefer to use a traditional book for their studies, according to a new report.
       Why do students prefer to use traditional books when they have the instant world of online reading at their fingertips? According to Tech Times, students prefer traditional books over e-books because e-books are distracting, headache and eye-strain inducing, and cannot be highlighted or written on. Despite students being constantly submerged in a world of technology, the tactile and sensory experience of reading print, such as the smell of a book, and familiarity with the format convince students to unplug while studying and pick up a large, bulky chemistry book instead. The growing trend majorly belies the discrepancy that parents, teachers, and policymakers believe that students prefer the convenience and ease of the digital screen, whereas students actually perform better and comprehend more when using a traditional print book. Despite this, lawmakers continue to push forward with digitizing student’s education and materials. According to Forbes, California passed a law in 2011 requiring all college textbooks to be available in electronic form by 2020; in 2011, Florida lawmakers passed legislation for public schools to convert their textbooks from print to digital versions.
       The pros of reading digitally include being able to consume light reading such as news and other articles with video or digital components; however, for heavier reading, such as those with textbooks and academic articles, a physical book proved to be the better choice for student’s long-term retention. On the other end of the spectrum, critics of e-books for textbooks worry that while they are the presumed to be the future of higher education, they are being forced into student’s lives. and professors and students alike found that relying on a tablet or computer to view text was not only very distracting but also made way for other sources of enjoyment—social media, texting, and online shopping to name a few—to become much too frequent in lecture halls across the US.
       As an English major myself, many assume that if one is caught with anything other than a traditional book in hand, that its blasphemous work. While I do occasionally enjoy the smell of a hardback book and prefer to keep my books stacked throughout the nooks and crannies in my childhood home, I’m not some staunch overseer who thinks e-book users are “traitors.” I have purchased several e-textbooks for my various courses throughout college, especially online courses. That being said, I prefer to take notes from and highlight in traditional books when it comes to studying. I think this habit stems back to the fact that when I was in grade-school, e-books were not on the market yet. I grew up with bookmarks, dog-eared pages and a nostalgic appreciation for the “real” written word, per say. Regardless of one’s opinion on this stance, there should not be animosity for those who prefer e-books. They have plenty of benefits, especially for students who are always looking for convenience and, given the increasingly high costs of textbooks, an excellent way to get the material and also save a buck or two.
  • About the Author
    Julia May is a senior Strategic Communication and Professional Writing double major. She hails from Akron, Ohio and is an unapologetic Cleveland sports fan. When not doing schoolwork, she enjoys learning to cook a new recipe, being out on the lake, and reading a good book. After graduation in a few days, she will to move to Cleveland where she will work at Modgility as a Brand Journalist.