We consider essays—both traditional and multimodal—written by students in their first year of study at Notre Dame. We are especially interested in essays that are argumentative in purpose, with a clearly defined scope and audience. Specifically, our editorial board reviews and selects essays with the following criteria in mind:
Formal or Technical Merit
The essay successfully displays the essential elements of the genre. For a researched argument, for example, it incorporates a sufficient number of sources, places different arguments in conversation with one another, and combines types of arguments covered during the semester.
Strength of Argument
The essay has a clear, nuanced claim, and reasons for that claim are clearly enumerated, well-ordered, and fully defended. Evidence for the claims comes from credible sources, and sufficient reasoning is offered to defend each claim. Ethical, logical, and emotional appeals are appropriately balanced and employed ethically. Reasonable counterarguments are addressed fairly.
Strength of Prose
The essay is “clean," or generally free from unintentional grammatical, mechanical, and word choice errors. Sentences are appropriately varied in length and structure, with precise and flavorful word choice bringing clarity and precision to the content. The writer establishes a distinct and engaging voice, with the finished product reflecting a sophisticated control of language and diction.
The essay engages new ideas, proposes creative interpretations, perspectives, or solutions, takes on topics or problems not shopworn by college composition classes everywhere, or otherwise displays some willingness to expand the usual freshman comp class conversation. In other words, the essay takes some risks in its content or form, and those risks result in a product that should promote valuable discussion or otherwise challenge readers in a productive way.
Note: An essay need not be perfect in all categories. Strengths in one category can sometimes make up for weaknesses in others. Successful submissions will be at least good in all categories and extraordinary in at least one.
How to Submit
We are now accepting submissions for the 2015 issue of Fresh Writing. To be considered for the upcoming issue (due to be published in July of 2016), essays must have been written by a first-year student during the Spring 2015 or Fall 2015 semesters at Notre Dame. Though submissions are accepted on an ongoing basis, the final deadline for consideration for the next issue is January 1, 2017.
To nominate an essay, instructors should notify students of the instructor's wish to nominate the essay, then submit the essay on the student's behalf at https://uwp.submittable.com/submit/56855. Students should not submit their essays directly.
File format preferences
For traditional, print-based essays: .doc or .docx.
For audio: .mp3 or .wav
For video: .mp4, .mov, or .wmv
For initial consideration of multimedia essays, we will allow the submission of a URL to a file housed elsewhere. If the essay is accepted, however, we will need the original file to be housed on our own server.
Plagiarism & Copyright Statement
All submissions should reflect the student writer's original thinking, with any borrowed ideas or material appropriately cited within the text and on a corresponding list of Works Cited (preferably in MLA format, though we will allow other documentation styles).
For submissions involving borrowed images, video, sound files, or other multimedia, we hold the writer responsible for educating themselves on U.S. Copyright Law and Fair Use Doctrine (we recommend visiting the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center as a starting point). For the purposes of Fresh Writing submissions, we ask that any borrowed material included in the submission meet one of the following criteria:
a) the borrowed material is the writer's own, original work (e.g., a photograph taken by the student writer)
b) the borrowed material is in the public domain or otherwise free of copyright
c) the borrowed material is used with written permission of the copyright owner (must demonstrate this and provide appropriate citation information) or
d) the borrowed material is used in accordance with Fair Use guidelines (with appropriate citation information still provided).
If you have any questions about submission guidelines, please contact Dr. Erin McLaughlin, editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.