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The Student Writing Anthology (SWA) is created to continue the tradition of the Writing Program to make student work the center of our courses. Circulating and sharing the work of students attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a core component to ENGLWRIT 112: College Writing – the class for which this text is a required element. In this edition of the SWA we are excited to share the voices of students writing about a variety of topics that are relevant to them as they continue the journey toward social, cultural, and political participation along whatever path awaits.
As you begin your own journey in College Writing you may find the course a bit different than your previous writing experiences. As ya’ll read these essays – and others your instructors will share in your classes for you to understand, critique, and evaluate – you will find that the class offers you a time to grow as a writer/author/designer in an environment focused on your development. You will have the opportunity to work with topics that are both familiar and challenging; you will have the chance to look at your existing ideas and frameworks in new lights; and ultimately you will have an environment in which you are encouraged to set goals and work toward them with your writing community (both in your class and with those you are already connected).
College Writing students are sometimes astonished when they hear that it can be appropriate to use I and me in formal writing – and at times – it is vital to your message to incorporate personal experience in connection with other published authors. As you explore the options shared in the selections that follow, I hope you notice that these student writers are connected to their messages. They have found a way to bring their interests into their writing and work – that is a great way to learn – and College Writing is designed to open those doors for you.
You will notice that while these essays are grouped into units – they often differ drastically from one another in approach and focus. That is because this class focuses on the use of rhetorical principles to guide students through the writing process to help you continue to build on the skills you bring to the classroom. The focus of College Writing (the only class which meets UMass Amherst’s first-year writing general education requirement) is on working through the writing process. As a process-based class, this means you will get a chance to develop, draft, revise, and ultimately create a final product. Along the way you will work with your writing community to analyze how other authors have accomplished the same task, consider what you want to model from them, decide how you want to break away from convention, and a myriad of other exciting decisions that make up the writing journey. These essays are presented to represent the voices of our students in as genuine as way as is possible – and we hope you feel the connections and urgencies of each author.
The Writing Program is extremely proud to present this SWA edition as the first open access, free version. The support required to shift from a print publication to a digital one is tremendous. The adage that “many hands make light work” is certainly enacted in the book you are using. This process began with the students who worked with classmates to craft each version of these essays. Selection of these exemplar essays would not have been possible without the work of our review committee of graduate instructors – Bukem Reitmayer, Mitia Nath, Molly Hennigan, Shwetha Chandrashekhar, Sarah Ahmad, Nana Prempeh, and Assistant Director Peggy Woods. The digital publication process was made possible by the UMass Amherst Libraries Open Education Initiative grant and the hard work of several graduate instructors working to edit and format these texts in preparation for publication – Grayson Chong, Mitia Nath, Molly Hennigan, and Bukem Reitmayer. The support of the Writing Program Administrative Team was also crucial to being able to complete this project and share it with ya’ll. Without their confidence in the vital nature of providing free and open access textbooks for our students – this volume would not be complete. Thank you all – Director Rebecca Lorimer Leonard, Deputy Director Anne Bello, Assistant Director Peggy Woods, Writing Center Director Anna-Rita Napoleone, and Office Manager Heidi Terault – for believing in the need and in me during my first year as part of the Writing Program.
I have found that my first year at UMass Amherst was nothing like I expected to be – in all the best ways. May these essays help inspire you to find experiences and unexpected paths on your journey as well.
Elkie Burnside (she/they)
—Aug. 2022 Updates
We are proud to include in this version of the SWA a new ‘zine essay in the Circulating Multimodal Texts section. This addition helps to illustrate the way physical multimodal composing works as a compelling way to share and circulate messages. Additionally there is a downloadable PDF version of the textbook provided for users that prefer physical copies to work with and annotate. Audio versions of each essay are also provided in this update for users who would like to listen to the essays.