Welcome to the first issue of First-Year Writing, a journal of student work produced in the University's common core writing course, ENG 1000c. We're excited to share such a diverse and creative collection of student writing, showcased here in a portfolio open to the St. John's Community.
I'd like to thank the Institute for Core Studies writing faculty for reaching out to students in their 2013-14 courses and asking them to submit to the journal. Our editorial process consisted of the writing faculty contacting a small number of students from their courses whose work was noteworthy and stood out--not "the best" of our student writing or anything like that, but rather intriguing and unique pieces that represented the range of student work that gets created in our ENG 1000c curriculum. Those faculty worked closely with the students whose work you see here, encouraging them to further revise their submissions for publication.
I'd also like to thank the contribution of three of our Writing Center consultants--Noshee Mahmood, Cara Messina, and Bailey Robertson. After students submitted to the journal they were encouraged to meet over the summer with these Writing Center consultants in order to further shape and copyedit those contributions. These three consultants also spent a lot of time designing the journal you see here--creating the banner, establishing the order of the content. I also want to thank Alison Perry and Tom Philipose for helping these Writing Center consultants throughout the summer on the project. And Dorothy Bukay too, Coordinator for the Institute for Writing Studies, for helping keep track of submissions and also final edits to the journal.
Most importantly, I'd like to thank the students for sharing their work with the St. John's community. We all know how intimidating it can be to share our writing with others. I'm not sure if they realize it yet, but by agreeing to be part of this journal, these writers are helping their peers in future ENG 1000c courses gain the confidence to push themselves as writers--to put their work out there, to share their ideas with others. And I'm personally delighted to see such a diverse group of students represented here, working in such a variety of forms and bringing so many unique perspectives. The most exciting thing about working at St. John's, for me, is that we have students who represent so many different cultures, geographies, religions, languages. That intense cultural diversity is, in my eyes, the single most important feature that puts our University on the map. We're very excited to showcase some of that richness here.
A few words about the course that brings you this work. The goal of our first-year writing course isn’t to “prepare” students to handle the literacy demands of all the disciplines of the University. That’s never possible in any three-credit course. Besides, all of us faculty play an important role in articulating, among our colleagues and with our students, the unique discursive and rhetorical conventions privileged within our departments. Ideally, all students should have ample opportunity every semester to explore different ways of making meaning through writing, in a range of forms and contexts. In the future we're hoping that work from students in the department of Arts and Design might be added to this journal, as well as more visual work from students enrolled in ENG 1000c.
The goal of the first-year writing course, among other things (our program has six program learning objectives which guide our curriculum), is to create an environment where students come to recognize themselves as writers. That might sound obvious, but it’s a complex enterprise that’s harder than it seems. It takes time and sustained, intense writing every week over the course of a semester. So many students come to college feeling intimidated about their writing. Oftentimes they’ve been conditioned to think of writing as little more than a task, a chore, a test, a formula. (And, while we’re at it, many of us faculty also feel intimidated and unsure about our own writing as well; it’s hardly unique to freshmen.) In our writing program we’re interested in creating an open, supportive, inquiring, and experimental writing workspace where students learn about themselves and each other while collaborating and offering peer feedback to one another. We want students to leave our course knowing that writing is a mode of thinking, not a limited set of scripts or templates. We want them to understand that they need to anticipate and sometimes negotiate with a range of audiences--but at the same time they have the right to express themselves, as do we all, on their own terms, in their own preferred modes of communication. Our program appreciates that students need to have an awareness of how writing is often interpreted and expected throughout the academy. But we also emphasize that our students are, by virtue of being here, active members of that academy too. Their voices, Englishes, and histories are as real and as valid as the discourses they encounter here.
Director, Institute for Writing Studies
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education