Lessons in Generative Design, Publishing, and Circulation: What EM-Journal's First Year Has Taught Us

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Presenter: Jana Rosinski, Chelsea Lonsdale, Becky Morrison, Derek Mueller, Adam Nannini
School Affiliation: Eastern Michigan University
Email: Jana Rosinski Chelsea Lonsdale Becky Morrison Derek Mueller

Contents

Introduction

This PraxisWiki entry began as a digital-pedagogy poster session presented at the 2012 Conference on College Composition and Communication. It includes the editorial team's reflections on developing EM—Journal, an undergraduate, writing-studies journal at Eastern Michigan University. From devising solutions to low-cost publishing, to creating infrastructure, to its impact on our teaching and learning, the editorial team narrates their experiences with this new publishing venue. The QR codes throughout were featured on the poster during the interactive gallery. By scanning a code with a mobile device, the audience could listen to the audio clip hosted at each link. In this webtext, click on the links below the QR codes to hear longer, aural versions (with transcripts) of the written excerpts presented here.

Backstory

EM—Journal is a flexibly refereed online journal featuring writing produced by students of Eastern Michigan University. The journal showcases a variety of documents (articles, essays, reports, etc.) written and designed by students enrolled in EMU's First-Year Writing (FYW) program, in selected Writing Intensive (WI) courses affiliated with the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program, and in upper- and lower-division undergraduate courses in the Written Communication major and Writing minor. The concept for EM—Journal was derived from Intertext: A Student Publication of the Syracuse University Writing Program (http://surface.syr.edu/intertext/) and Artifacts: A Journal of Undergraduate Writing at the University of Missouri (http://cwp.missouri.edu/artifacts/). A proposal for EM—Journal received unanimous support from EMU’s Written Communications Committee in November 2010, and work on the journal began in earnest in January 2011.


Purposes

1. EM—Journal offers writers a supportive, personalized experience with refereed publishing processes.
2. EM—Journal places student-authored texts into public, search engine-indexed circulation while representing the interrelationship among different units within the writing program.
3. EM—Journal selectively showcases for all interested constituencies and audiences the writing produced throughout the FYW and WAC programs, the Written Communication major, and the Writing minor.
4. EM—Journal provides an archive of writing understood to be public, and, as such, available for reference in other courses and related instructional contexts.
5. EM—Journal complements ongoing, program-wide assessment efforts insofar as it may aid faculty in articulating program priorities, strengths, and values.
6. Over time, EM—Journal may be incorporated more fully into the Written Communication curriculum in additional ways, such as to discuss/frame/study technical infrastructure or editing processes, to redesign interfaces (e.g., students develop new layouts periodically), or to expand it as a venue for student-designed promotions of courses, student groups, campus activities, or for displaying local Public Service Announcements (PSAs) or advertisements.


Issues in the First Year

1.1 Elements: Pop culture parodies of The Elements of Style.
1.2 Multigenre: Studies of genre as invention heuristic in academic writing.
1.3 Women and Gender in Writing: Artifacts and representations of women and gender.
1.4 International Economics: Investigations of international trade relations.

Issues 1.1-1.4
Issues 1.1-1.4

Traffic

While most of our hits have been from Eastern Michigan University and the surrounding area, the journal has found a number of global readers as well.

Regional Visits
Regional Visits
Would a regional print journal that features student work have audiences in Iran, the Philippines, Algeria, South Africa, or Madagascar?
Global Visits
Global Visits


Low Road Publishing - Jana Rosinski

Web publishing reframes text design by removing the framing contingencies that come with paperbound publications. Issues of time, materials, cost, circulation, and accessibility become malleable, able to adapt. The design is composed as content takes shape on the web space, but never becomes “set.” A flexible publishing model works with content and design; negotiating terms that serve the purpose of the publication in as many incarnations as can be imagined.

Design - Adam Nannini

Creating an online journal to publish student work carries with it many concerns, problems, and possibilities that are not present in a print journal. With a print journal, the dimensions, the margins, the background, and so forth are relatively straightforward. With an online journal, the template is wide open, but considerations like browsers, screen size, search engine optimization, and screen readability come into play. Because of my web design experience, I was able to receive a fellowship to work with Dr. Derek Mueller at the outset of this project, helping to bring his idea to reality.

Horizontal Scholarship - Chelsea Lonsdale

I wasn’t expecting EM—Journal to be a source of exposure for the classroom, but I found myself on numerous occasions pulling it up to show students what ENGL 328 was about. This opened the door to further conversations about publication beyond the classroom—here was an agent that provided an accessible place for undergraduate student writing to be noticed, with the plus that it was managed by other students.

Continuations - Becky Morrison

Oftentimes our students have a difficult time writing to an audience which reaches beyond just their teacher, let alone their classroom or peers. EM—Journal gives us, as instructors, the opportunity to show our students that there is a broader audience for their writing. The journal also allows our students to gain a sense of purpose for their writing outside of the limitations the traditional conventions of a classroom genre might set for their work. In addition, instructors can use EM—Journal as a pedagogical tool in their classrooms to show students exemplars of work across disciplines and of a broader audience.

Extracurriculum - Derek Mueller

In the beginning, one motive for EM—Journal was to establish a self-sponsored glue piece—a mild, strategically applied adhesive we could use to raise an integrated profile across writing units like WAC, the first-year writing program, and the undergraduate major. By self-sponsored, I mean it was a low budget undertaking, which allowed us to build it entirely on our terms.

EM—Journal - The Envy of Hyphens Everywhere

EM—Journal's tear-tab octopus graphic
EM—Journal's tear-tab octopus graphic

The phrase "the envy of hyphens everywhere" riffs on the em-dash-inspired name of the journal. The phrase appeared on one of the posters featuring the octopus with tear-tab legs and was one of the off-beat phrases we experimented with to draw attention to the journal's promotional, tear-tab flyers, which said, "Do you want this octopus to have fewer legs?" The octopus meme has been successful for grabbing the attention of passersby. It's also been fun to see progression of tentacle removal as the academic year has progressed.

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