Volume 5 Introduction

Every year, students at the University of Denver are asked to write countless essays, and we are proud to showcase nine of the exceptional few in this year’s journal. As editors, we are privileged to have seen these authors through the evolution of their works from first drafts to final, journal-ready copies, sharing in their pursuits, thoughts, and discoveries. We are pleased to present the culmination of their months of hard work.

In their essays, Monica, Maggie, Kengo, and Olivia explore various aspects of storytelling, appreciating it as a mode of communication and a medium to consider broader aspects of society. Monica McFadden considers the various facets of telling stories and highlights the way in which people use storytelling, in any medium, as a way to relate to and understand one another. Monica incorporates some aspects of her own personal history with storytelling and displays a unique perspective based on her role as an avid reader and writer of a variety of genres. In a narrative exploration of her own family history, Maggie Sava also uses her personal history to cast a unique light on another period of history: Hispanic school desegregation. This personal retelling serves as a rich and expressive reflection of this period in Denver history. In his piece, Kengo Nagaoka guides us through his personal struggle as a passionate environmentalist who was raised on Alaska’s oil revenue. This juxtaposition is highlighted by the realization that his environmental motives, specifically divestment from fossil fuels, could be extremely detrimental to the prosperity of his home state. Straightforward and forthcoming about her own struggles with body image, Olivia Hayes makes use of her personal history to call attention to our society’s unhealthy relationship with weight and appearance. Using both research and personal experience, she provides a critical look at the ways in which women develop insecurities and the dangerous consequences of this relationship.

In their research-based essays, Brian, Nick, Cameron, Aubrie, and Jessica offer in-depth explorations of a wide variety of topics. Rather than including personal anecdotes, these authors have applied their insight and personal passion for the subjects to imbue their pieces with a lively, unique, and personal feel. In his piece, Brian Goetzinger explores the electrifying dynamic of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, emphasizing the ins and outs of auditions, funding, and a very special relationship to the audience. Though his piece focuses mainly on the research that he conducted, it is enriched by his own personal knowledge-base, being that he himself is a violinist. During a ride in a taxi with a driver named Richard, Nick Lewis began to recognize the distinctive nature of taxis. In his essay, Nick references both his interaction with Richard and research to explore the taxi as a space both separate from, and yet still intrinsically part of, the larger city through which it journeys, allowing for a unique relationship to develop between taxi driver and passenger. Cameron Hickert brings to light a fascinating Buddhist practice called sky burial, evoking our sympathy with its long history of misunderstanding and highlighting the importance of protecting other cultures. His personal experiences studying abroad in Tibet permeate his research, embodying his work with a deep-rooted humanity and connecting us with other cultures. Aubrie Blevins discusses a popular trend known as ‘slacktivism,’ a practice that requires very little effort or involvement in supporting social or political movements. She gained interest in this topic through her pursuit to learn more about inclusive excellence, a concept often supported by slacktivist campaigns. Looking at another cultural phenomenon, Jessica Garland investigates the different stages of social response to vampires and offers insight into a possible third stage that is only just beginning to emerge. Her personal experience reading science fiction as a child likely piqued her interest in vampires, along with other mystical creatures. In her work, Jessica references her own primary research in which she investigates how and why she believes this new response has manifested.

Despite differences in genre and writing style, all nine of these authors add a very personal, even intimate, take on things. While editing these pieces, it was clear to us that each author feels a strong connection to their topic. Whether it has to do with their hobbies, in Brian’s case, or the battles they have faced in the past, like Olivia, every author writes with the passion of a scholar investigating a favorite field of study, and they pass this enthusiasm on to readers. We are thrilled to be sharing the inspiring work of these authors with you.

– The Student Editors
Madison Bolotin, Carly Post, & Kay Takada


Featured Image © Neale Cousland | Shutterstock.com

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