How do we interact with our parents, siblings, aunts, peers, police officers, presidential candidates, school administrators, news channels, literary heroes and antiheroes? How do we judge ourselves based on these interactions, and how do others? All of which are ways of asking, simply, how do we interact with our selves?
The theme of identity is always present in BC’s First-Year Writing Seminar and, arguably, all writing but this year’s submissions revolved around a more specific, uncomfortable theme. These authors were obsessed with exploring how identity—race, gender, age, nationality, and kinship are among the multitude—affects interaction with others.
This exploration posed some meta-challenges for us Fresh Ink folk. How does our identity—as, for example, female BC undergraduates who are also interested in writing—affect our reading and preferences of student submissions? Are we harboring any feelings of jealousy when reading a powerful personal narrative on drinking at BC or fighting a sense of elitism when spotting a split infinitive in a weak introduction? If we prefer meditations over research papers, do we have to grant more forgiveness to the authors of the latter, and how much?
Of course the most haunting question is whether the essays that challenged us, intrigued us, touched us in some way, fingerprints across our vision, will hold the same if any appeal for other readers. But interacting with such topics as a parent’s death, a woman’s safety when travelling, a black man’s safety when existing, a young couple’s sexual activities, and an author’s possible prejudice toward his own characters, we suspect they will.
But what interaction matters, which is remembered, if a conversation beyond small talk does not take place? Instead of demanding a call to arms or a plan of action, most of these student writers demand only that we stop looking away from these issues disguised as cultural norms. We hope that you will enjoy, interact, and discuss these essays in order to continue the conversation they began.
A few words about theme: opinions expressed by authors in Fresh Ink: Essays from BC’s First-Year Writing Seminar, do not necessarily reflect those held by BC’s students, faculty, administration or trustees.
A few words about form: this online format (use of left justification rather than paragraph indentation, or double-spacing between paragraphs, or lack of hanging indents for sources in the Works Cited pages) differs from standard academic essay submission requirements. For information on standard essay formats and Modern Language Association style, please see Purdue Owl, found here: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
A few words about intent: these essays were produced within BC’s First-Year Writing Seminar. Indeed, though each essay might be exemplary, we editors think of them as examples rather than models. Students in FWS produce an array of essays across academic styles like these. We invite student readers, instructors and general readers to read, reflect, converse, imitate, diverge, and to write.