Tag Archives: Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Words of the Week:

26 Apr

~five things you must read this week~ 

Op-Ed: Progressive News Organizations Fueled by Unpaid Labor from The Oberlin Review (Monday, April 25th):  Commentary Editor Monica Klein (OC’ 11) writes about the paradox of liberal newspapers and magazines demanding higher wages while simultaneously refusing to pay their interns.

It’s About Fit, Not Data from The New York Times (Friday, April 1, 2011): Oberlin College Dean of Arts and Sciences and chemistry/biochemistry professor Sean Decatur does some number-crunching to determine why the acceptance rate at academically selective institutions like Oberlin is lower than ever, despite an easier-than-before application process.

We Are All Writers Now from The Oberlin Alumni Magazine (Spring 2011 Vol. 106, No.2): Anne Trubek (OC ’88 and associate professor of Rhetoric and Composition) asks how social media is changing what it means to be a writer in this digital age, both for the professional and amateur.

A Match Made in Oberlin: Finding Love on Computer Date Night from The Oberlin Alumni Magazine (Spring 2011 Vol. 106, No.2): Amanda Nagay describes how in 1965, Oberlin freshman Paul Lewis launched what may have been one of the first attempts at an online dating source—and shares some surprising and heartwarming pairings.

Oberlin College graduates awarded fellowship to travel the world and choose a topic to study from The Cleveland Plain Dealer (Sunday April 24, 2011): Karen Farkas writes about two exceptional Obies awarded $25,000 fellowships to study international female distance runners and the lives of those on cargo freighters.

The Self Published Find their Promised Land…on The Internet

16 Mar

While browsing the archives of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine I came across an interesting article in their winter 2009 issue’s “Oberlin Writes” section.  In this article, OC class of 85 Alum Clifford Thompson discusses his self-publishing experience: “Instead of waiting for the publishing world’s elusive “Yes,” I could say “Yes” to myself; i.e., I could self-publish.”

Self-publishing, in which the writer pays to have his or her work printed, hasn’t quite ingrained itself into the mainstream writing community, probably because it doesn’t carry the sense of legitimacy that being published by an established house does.  That is to say, someone other than the author has found the work to be of quality.  In the case of the self-published author, the only meter of standards is the author himself.  If a self-published work is terrible, then it is to be expected.  And if, God-forbid, the work is a success (i.e. Eragon), a hole might very well appear in the special atmosphere breathed by the literati, exposing them all to untimely and painful deaths.  As Thomas McKenzie states on his blog, slushpile.net, “Some self-published authors…act like idiots and then wonder why they face such disdain.”  He goes on to argue, “When you self-publish, or go with one of the more questionable print-on-demand services, you are essentially going around [the established] system. You’re taking your ball, going home, and making up your own game in the backyard. Your game might be fun, it might be valid exercise, it might be the perfect thing for your situation, but it’s not the same way all the other kids play. And to pretend otherwise is to invite scorn and derision.”

Oberlin’s Thompson smartly addresses the stigma around self-publishing in his article.  “I find it helpful to remember that the content and value of the book do not change with each person’s reaction to hearing about it. And it is the book itself that matters.”  His concept seems to mesh perfectly with the ways in which modern modes of writing, sharing, and publishing are changing due to the Internet.  The canon of self-published authors is expanding daily as millions of loyal folks of drum happily away at their keyboards—posting to sites like wordpress, blogger, and others—because they are EAGER to share their writing with others.  Point being ultimately that publishing is in some ways entirely beside the point.  Most authors don’t introduce themselves as “published” or “self-published”; “I’m a writer” is most often sufficient and accurate.

Thompson sums it up better than anyone: “Gradually, the question becomes not ‘Why did he publish it himself?’ but ‘Is it good?’”