Writing and Editing
Whether you may be interested in journalism, fiction or poetry writing, creative nonfiction, editing, or publishing, and whether that interest amounts to a hobby or a vocation, you will find opportunities to learn and practice your craft outside of the classroom at Augustana. Our English majors impact the community-at-large by sharing their gift for language in multifarious capacities.
Mid-River Writers Workshop
Designed for talented high school writers, the Mid-River Writers Workshop is an intensive two-week summer program taught on Augustana's campus. Led by Augustana faculty members Kelly Daniels (fiction) and Rebecca Wee (poetry) in conjunction with other guest faculty and a visiting writer (most recently Eddy Harris, acclaimed travel writer and author of Mississippi Solo: A River Quest), the program is designed to be equivalent to a three-credit, 100-level college writing course. It features an extensive introduction to the techniques and methods employed by successful writers, and it also includes several day- and overnight-trips designed to highlight the importance of place, the natural world, and the writer's environment. Interested high school students should click here to see more information about the Mid-River Writers Workshop and to fill out an application for the upcoming summer's program.
SAGA is Augustana's art and literary magazine. This is where Augie's creative writers showcase their accomplishments to the campus community. Published twice yearly, the magazine accepts student submissions of poetry, fiction, and artwork, including drawings, paintings, and photography. At the publication of the Spring edition, the editors and a group of judges award over $2,000 in prize money to the year's best submissions. In addition to the welcome possibility of earning cash for their work, students who aspire to write professionally find that SAGA is a great opportunity to begin developing material for their résumés and portfolios. Finally, the magazine also offers to students potential editing experience: both the editorial board and the review board are composed entirely of students, and the magazine also has positions for student copyeditors, technical editors, and publicists.
Recently, SAGA has branched out to become more than just a magazine. The group's goal is to promote the arts on Augustana's campus to the greatest extent possible. SAGA has begun hosting events such as poetry slams and readings and hopes soon to host a yearly gallery walk featuring student art work. Click here to visit SAGA's website.
After Hours Poetry and Fiction
At After Hours, members of Augustana's creative writing community come together to hone their skills in a fun and pressure-free environment. Student and faculty writers participate in free-form writing activities and spend time critiquing one another's work in a workshop format. During the month of April, the designated National Poetry Month, the group hosts myriad writing-related activities for the promotion and celebration of the art of poetry, including sidewalk poetry chalking, poetry slams, special poetry and fiction readings, and poetry games (such as "Exquisite Corpse," a large-group surrealist game wherein a co-authored poem is constructed line-by-line). After Hours is an opportunity outside of the classroom for student writers to learn and share with their peers, to experiment with subjects and forms they might not otherwise have encountered, and to benefit from the advice and example of all of Augustana's fine faculty writers.
Augustana student writers find that the time they spend perfecting their techniques at After Hours is invaluable. Says English major Margaret Foley ('11) of her experiences, "After Hours allows the opportunity for Augustana writers to learn more about their craft and to hone it. Because of my attendance at After Hours, I have been exposed to writing techniques and exercises in a group setting. I have been able to form connections with other young writers like myself, through critique and praise. I look forward to every meeting--the caliber of the students and faculty involved in After Hours is a rarity, and I feel lucky to be a part of it."
Augustana's student newspaper, The Observer, employs an all-student staff of writers and editors. Published weekly, the paper offers students interested in journalism an excellent opportunity to practice their craft. Because of their ability to communicate compelling ideas and information in a lucid fashion, English majors are frequently employed by the paper. Students are paid for their work with The Observer.
Many English majors find employment and vocational experience at the Reading/Writing Center. The Reading/Writing Center (RWC) offers students assistance with writing, reading, and study skills. Students can consult the RWC's staff, consisting of both faculty and peer tutors, on all stages of the writing process. Tutors also recommend reading strategies to increase comprehension, retention, and vocabulary. Assistance is also available for writing résumés and application letters, improving test-taking skills, and preparing for graduate and professional school admissions tests. Additional assistance is offered to nontraditional students and those for whom English is not a native language.
Potential peer tutors are recommended to the RWC's director by faculty members, often their first-year writing instructors, as students whose excellent character and writing ability would make them capable peer tutors. And while the RWC hires tutors from every academic area, roughly one-third have English backgrounds. Tutors-to-be participate in two 1-credit training seminars, ENGL407 & 408, Tutorial Theory and Practice I & II, for intensive training on student learning methods and contemporary composition and tutoring theory. In addition to being paid for their work in the RWC and having a chance to use their gifts to help others, peer tutors gain experience that is relevant to many English-related vocations, including teaching, editing, and writing.
East Hall Press
Students interested in careers in publishing and editing enjoy at Augustana what students at many private liberal arts colleges do not: the chance to work and learn with a publishing company on their own campus. East Hall Press, under the direction of Karin Youngberg, Conrad Bergendoff Professor of the Humanities, has been in operation since 1969. Functioning as a niche press, East Hall publishes works of local interest--specifically, works about the Midwest, the Quad Cities, and the Mississippi River, and works by local poets and writers (both fiction and nonfiction). Having published in the past works such as Dick Stahl's After the Milk Route: A Collection of Poems (1988) and Roald Tweet's The Quad Cities: An American Mosaic (1996), East Hall's most recent project, forthcoming in 2009, is a collection of essays written by Augustana faculty in honor of the college's 2008 celebration The Year of the Book.
In ENGL403 Book Publishing, students quickly move from the fundamentals of book publishing to its advanced stages, as they make and implement choices about the design, style, format, and mechanics of East Hall's current book project. Taught and supervised by Dr. Youngberg, the students are nevertheless given editorial authority over most aspects of the book's publication. Many graduates of the course have gone on to careers in editing and publishing, and some have found further training at the graduate level at places such as the University of Denver Publishing Institute.
Local Culture Journal
"If the local culture cannot preserve and improve the local soil, then, as both reason and history inform us, the local community will decay and perish, and the work of soil building will be resumed by nature."
Thus warned essayist, poet, fiction writer, and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry in an essay entitled "The Work of Local Culture" (What Are People For?, North Point, 1990, 154-5). Local Culture, a student-published journal at Augustana, is dedicated to a belief in those prophetic words and the effort to stave off their fulfillment. Committed to reflecting upon and practicing sustainable and localized living, Local Culture publishes essays written by undergraduates at colleges throughout the country on ecology, sustainability, localism, environmental writers, and related issues.
The editorial staff of the journal is traditionally composed largely of English majors, in part because much of the impetus for sustainability-minded changes at Augustana has come from the Environmental Literature and Landscape Learning Community, a pair of complementary courses taught in conjunction by two faculty members: Jason Peters, English, and Jennifer Burnham, Geography. Through this learning community, many English majors have found a well-articulated and well-substantiated affirmation of their own commitments to environmental responsibility from the likes of essayists, poets, and geographers--and, critically, they have discovered tangible possibilities for putting those commitments to work on campus and in the community. Serving as editors for Local Culture, then, is a way for English majors to combine their skill as excellent writers, readers, and editors with their commitment to sustainable living.
Camel & Croc Award
Click here for information on this annual writing competition.