One of the most enjoyable parts of editing Fresh Writing is the opportunity to observe patterns and trends within each publication cycle. These trends emerge organically from shifts in pedagogy (e.g., evolving approaches toward teaching and learning); from trends in entertainment and popular culture; and from controversies---both local and global--that inform students' academic, civic, and personal lives. The shifting cultural and political landscape inevitably shapes the questions students ask and the arguments they encounter across media platforms, which, in turn, shape their research, critical thinking, and writing processes.
Thus, each volume of Fresh Writing, as with any edited collection, reflects culturally situated points of intersection and departure. This volume is no exception, as the essays in this year's issue feature a variety of points of overlap that should invite reflection and response on the part of readers--most notably, peers in other first-year writing courses.
Several student writers in this volume take up questions of global policy and conflict, such as Edward Connor Murphy's McPartlin Award-winning essay on the German-Greek diplomatic crisis and Elizabeth Russo's examination of a Honduran photographer's political commentary. Others turn their attention to policy controversies in the U.S., such as one student's speech detailing his experience as a student with DACA status. Many essays address policy issues specific to the U.S. public education system, including Maddie McCracken's critique of abstinence-only education, Daniel Rashid's examination of the ineffectiveness of Head Start, Brian Bingham's commentary on the economic implications of skyrocketing tuition prices, and Cosette Fehribach's argument for a shift in approach to arts education.
Discussions of identity politics reflect another important theme of this volume, including explorations of gender dynamics offered by Daniela Brkic's experience as a female soccer player in Croatia, to Ashtin Ballard's analysis of women and democracy in ancient Greek tragedies, to Allison Angeli's research-based critique of "fitspo" sites and their psychological impact on body acceptance. Several students engage questions of racial identity, as well, such as Courtney Becker's rhetorical analysis of the satirical film Dear White People, Gabriela Moro's research detailing the benefits and risks of minority student organizations, and Katie Mackin's comparative analysis of how Othello and the presentation of Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma reflects an evolving construct of black manhood.
Explorations of identity are also central to several essays that explore faith, service, and learning, such as Josh Pine's reflection on his experience as a Christian living in a Muslim village and Jens Henrik Munthe-Kaas' argument for redefining Western conceptions of volunteer work.
Of course, the themes described above are not exhaustive; they are merely starting points for placing the essays into dialogue with one another, and I encourage readers to identify additional points of overlap between the 27 pieces in this volume. Once again, this year's collection shows first-year Notre Dame students working across genres, media platforms, disciplinary conventions, experience, and personal value systems to engage difficult questions, to synthesize complex research material, to clarify difficult terms, and to ultimately move an important intellectual conversation forward. Congratulations to all of the writers featured in this volume, and best of luck for your continued success as writers and critical thinkers.
Erin McLaughlin, editor