The final issue of The Egoist, modernism’s archetypal little magazine, appeared in December 1919. It had run for five years, during which time it had seen circulation fall from 2,000 to 1,500 to 1,000 to, at last, 400 copies. 1 During the war it suddenly downsized from weekly to monthly distribution. Even with these cuts, costs so exceeded earnings that the magazine required the support of a patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver. What make the magazine famous today are the hugely compelling reasons to buy it, apparently overlooked on a mass scale. During its short run, The Egoist published a serial version of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the literary criticism of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, and selected installments of Ulysses. Its pages were an important forum for Vorticist and Imagist poets, a space for them to share technique and work out historical narratives that would center them as schools. Pound served as literary editor; Eliot as assistant editor; Wyndham Lewis drew editorial cartoons. But there were also plenty of reasons not to buy the magazine. The editor, Dora Marsden, insisted on printing at the front of the book her own philosophical writings, which ran for many pages and contributed to philosophy more smoke than fire: “VI. Observations Preliminary to a Definition of ‘Imaginary’”; “XV: The Constitution of the World and the Character of our Scientific Knowledge.” 2 Contributors such as Richard Adlington indulged in a level of self-regard that could be off-putting. (“I almost fancy that Mr. W.S. Blunt and I are the only English poets living,” he remarked.) 3 Then again, this was also the tone of Pound and Eliot, and when history settled they turned out to be right. The buy essays literary practices and values of which they were respectively the chief advocate and theoretician dominated literature’s guiding forces for the following century.


My advice on the college essay For some of you, it’s about that time: time to finish or start your endless and tiresomecollege essay (insert loud boom of thunder and lightning flash here, possibly maniacal laugh if you so choose). This is often the cause of much stress for students applying to college, as they struggle to try and capture themselves in just a few pages of writing. With seemingly so much at stake here, it’s no wonder that one of the most common questions I am asked while talking with students, parents, and high school counselors is: What do you look for in a college essay? It’s a very good questionwrite my college paper, and honestly, one of the hardest to answer. However, after having had to answer it more than a few times, I have managed to come up with what I think is about the best answer I can give. Well, the best answer I can give prefaced by a few key points: 1. I am Jesse Hernandez, a real person (at least that’s what they tell me), and as such, I have my own opinion, background, ideas, humor, etc. Most admissions counselors are like this, with very few exceptions (I won’t name any names). What I like may not be what another person or admissions counselor likes or prefers. This has been proven on more than one occasion when I have listened to multiple admission counselors answer the “college essay” question. The bottom line is, there is no “magic bullet” essay out there that will be a hit with every admissions counselor. So, my advice is not universal.

the planet

The words speech writers they wrote were uttered by the most important and powerful men on the planet, yet they remain largely anonymous. Until now. Presidential speechwriters from the past four administrations gathered March 8 at American University to share stories and insights from their years in the White House. The keynote session of the 2011 Speechwriters and Executive Communicators Conference hosted by AU’s School of Communication provided a window into the fascinating process of penning presidential prose. Moderator Leonard Steinhorn, a SOC professor, began by asking each panelist sitting before a packed packed house in the spacious School of International Service atrium what it’s like knowing the words they write will be analyzed by journalists and studied by historians for years. Sometimes. “The truth of it is you’re painfully aware that not everything a president says is worth remembering or carved in granite or put in Bartlett’s,” said Jeff Shesol, a speechwriter for President Clinton. “The speeches that are a very big deal in the moment—the State of the Union—often [are] not going to be historic. Most State of the Union addresses are completely forgotten. That in a way is liberating, to just write the best speech you can in the moment.”

CD somewhere

Three college essays Visiting my parents over winter break, I took the opportunity to pull a lot of my old documents and photos off the family computer. I’m sure I had them on a CD somewhere, half-archived, half-labeled, but I didn’t want to take any chances, didn’t want to lose any of my high school essays or 3.1-megapixel photos. That computer is on its last legs, and it won’t be long before it refuses to cooperate altogether. Back in Oberlin, I started sifting through the old files. It turns out there really wasn’t too much stuff worth saving. I don’t particularly care to read three-page essays I wrote when I was 16 (though I find it surprising I wrote more then than I do now), and it hasn’t been long enough for me to feel nostalgic looking at the photos. Still, the whole educational folder just takes up 2.25 gigabytes. That’s practically nothing these days, so I might as well keep these files around a bit longer. I did manage to find my college admissions essays, however. I find them to be strangely relevant now, as I’m about to enter my last semester as an undergraduate and as 17- and 18-year-old students around the world anxiously await news of admissions decisions from the institutions they have applied to. I completed three college applications: Oberlin College, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, and Lawrence University. I wrote three essays: a standard personal statement essay, an essay describing my interest in music, and, of course, the “Why Oberlin?” essay. Over the next several days, I’ll be publishing these essays on this blog, complete college essays with annotations and updates.


Master of Arts in Professional Writing As we’re all very aware, the computer and the internet have revolutionized communications and thus the training and expected skills of communications specialists. Unlike the professional and technical writers who formerly dealt primarily with the written word in print documents, today’s writers are thought of more as communications specialists with required expertise in a much wider range of skills and media. Where once it was sufficient to write clear and effective prose, it is now necessary to create and execute complex information strategies involving both visual and verbal elements and media ranging from print to on-line to multi- and social media. The goal of the M.A. in Professional Writing is to prepare students for careers as writers, communications specialists, and information designers working in this new era. Why then do professional writers we continue to call ourselves a writing program? The answer is quite simple: While we are strongly committed to preparing students to understand, use, and be creative in current and emerging media-and we provide a range of courses to help them do so-we are equally committed to the belief that strong writing skills are foundational to both current and as-yet-to-be-dreamed-of approaches to excellentcommunication.