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    Latest Topics


    Should modern newspapers publish more poetry?

    Newspapers, though changed and challenged by the digital age, still offer a unique platform for community exchange and cultural expression. However, most larger newspapers only actively solicit letters to the editor from their readers—not poetry, art, short stories, or photography.

    Are newspapers missing an opportunity to regularly engage in these art forms, or are these art forms meant only for specialized publications and magazines?

    Furthermore, if more poetry were added to newspapers, how would it extend or shift cultural conversations? Does poetry invite a dialogue or merely distort facts with feeling? Does poetry belong in a “factual” space? And, finally, on a practical level, how might a newspaper regularly engage with poetry, for the benefit of itself and its readers?

    • This is an amazing topic! And a very topical one as well. I think putting poetry into newspapers would be a quiet but powerful step in giving people the chance to re-explore verse beyond a classroom setting. It is startling to see how far poetry has faded into the background of our world today. Often, it seems like people see poetry as a complicated, puzzling realm of writing that they can't simply read without much poetic expereince. But poetry is the roots of our written words--the foundation of where story and song found their home in our earliest ages. In a way, poetry is a cornerstone of our shared human culture--and incorperating it into the public press might be a subtle but potent reminder of this. It might help people see that poetry doesn't belong to any one group of readers, that anybody can enjoy a poem whether they are familiar with it or not. I also think it's a nice idea to have a small snippet of abstract beauty fixed between a dense forrest of headlines. – mmclaughlin102 1 year ago
    • Very eloquently said, @mmclaughlin102. I especially like your point about poetry being woven into our cultural fabric as the foundation of story and song. When reading your note, I kept thinking of a phrase, “to democratize poetry”: that is, to widen the voice, participation, and understanding of poetry. If poetry is seen as being only for specialized audiences, newspapers could have a role in widening its audience and accessibility (to re-democratize it, if you will). Thought provoking. – KatieM 1 year ago
    • In the Victorian era, many writers believed that writers and poets would replace religion and the church. While I do not think poetry will have that much power in a modern context, I believe that poetry has the potential to be highly useful in a medium such as newspapers. Poetry has the ability to invite dialogue about certain topics that are relevant today, such as colonialism in Kipling's "The White Man's Burden". As others have noted, there is this air of complexity around poetry and I strongly believe that by having poetry in the newspapers, more people will gain exposure to this style of writing and be more comfortable around it. Poetry has the ability to tell stories of personal experiences, and important historical events and encourage conversation about relevant modern topics. Without a doubt, I believe that poetry deserves a place in newspapers. – ethan 1 year ago

    Does the Internet increase or decrease the permanence of writing?

    The Internet has wielded unprecedented impacts on writing: from methodology, to modality, to publication, to dissemination, to memory. In all of these cases, the Internet has (seemingly) offered expansion. New, inventive methodologies; an ever-changing landscape of modalities; an explosion of publication avenues; a global, instantaneous system of distribution; and endless memory and storage.

    However, with the absolute profusion of writing (from documents, to webpages, to web-text, to user-generated content like Facebook and Instagram, etc.), it feels as though writing is getting lost. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become crucial, and writers and companies struggle to craft their content to be relevant and, most importantly, to be seen.

    The writing is certainly stored online, but does storage equate to permanence? Does storage equate to memory? Do permanence and memory even matter, if the writing cannot be found?

    • This is very insightful. I agree that the profusion of writing to the web is draining something from the act itself; in the same way that Walter Benjamin saw a loss of aura or essence from the creation of art as a result of industrialized mass production (specifically with photography and film as opposed to painting/sculpting and live theater respectfully). Ultimately, storage does not equal permanence. The internet may disappear, just as many of us book-lovers fear that books may altogether disappear one day (a good example is in S. Delaney's "Nova", in which books are a long-lost phenomenon of the past; something many have attempted to replicate and few have succeeded. The insipidness of the internet, the growth and prevalence of online art, interaction and writing, is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the ways in which these writing forms often present is not healthy. This writing often places value in the perception of the audience over the reality of the writer. Plus, there is no guarantee that the internet is truly permanent. The internet can fail, just like the banks; and the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Banking systems have nothing on the internet in terms of size and spheres of influence. What happens then? We start from scratch I guess. – skjamin 1 year ago
    • The internet certainly changes our relationship to memory and other forms of communication. Multiple articles and researchers have pointed out that people are relying less on memory and more on the ability to instantly search and find information when needed. Similarly, Plato rejected writing, as it declined the oral tradition and would reduce the amount of information that people would have to memorize, thus decreasing the art of memorization. The internet, with the ability to quickly search for information is taking this a step further, as people store less in their minds and are reliant on quick searches to yield information. Stephen Hawking in “Life in the Universe” notes that the rate at which new knowledge is produced is so rapid compared to times in the past, that it is impossible to become a true generalist a la Davinci, Francis Bacon, and Newton. The age of the “Renaissance Man” may have come to an end. Instead, now we must increasingly specialize our knowledge consumption to become well-read enough to produce knowledge that is useful in that field. We see this through the increasing specialization in the sciences: one is no longer a physicist, but a theoretical, experimental or quantum physicist. In these very specialized fields, individuals certainly have a permanence of knowledge pertaining to their focus areas, but one quickly discards information not related to their chosen field of study. From our understanding of neuroscience, we know that if pathways are not frequently used, they wither and it becomes more difficult to retrieve information stored on those pathways. However, the ability to quickly find information does not decrease the art of composing ideas. The internet, and computing technologies in general, are a tool that reduce our need to memorize hard facts, but still it is a fundamentally human activity to synthesize this information to create knowledge. I think the bigger question is “How has the ability to rapidly retrieve information effected our ability to produce knowledge outside of our specialized focuses/fields of study?” – Solomon 1 year ago

    Why do books hold more enduring value than magazines?

    Books and magazines have been outlets for creative expression since printing presses made them viable options for creative production. Today, though, the magazine industry seems straddled over digital and print options—and after the editions are printed, they are slowly extinguished in a swirl of ephemeral media (print letters, circulars, magazines), while books re-circulate in libraries, used bookstores, and personal collections.

    Is it fair and accurate to say that books hold more enduring value than magazines? If so, why do books hold their value more so than magazines? If a book held the exact same content as a magazine, would its life cycle be different? Is the fate of these publications dictated by their binding and paper type, or are there cultural undertones that determine if these media flourish?

    • There are surely many ways that one could approach this topic -- historically, materially, economically, reception studies, seriality studies, gender studies, etc. -- but for the sake of a Helpful Note, I will comment on only one dimension of the issue: for roughly the first two hundred years of the existence of "the novel" as a distinct literary genre, the vast majority of novels were originally published serially in magazines. I'm not sure if this factor simplifies or complicates your original query, but it offers tangible cases with which we might respond to your "If a book held the exact same content as a magazine" hypothetical, since the complete works of Charles Dickens (for example) can be described as being (more or less) identical to content that initially appeared in magazines. What this essentially tells us is that the "book-magazine dichotomy" began simply as a difference in media, whereby the connotations of them emblematizing key differences in content/form/genre came later. For me, this brings to mind two follow-up questions: 1) Would the novels of Dickens have been able to achieve the degree popularity of popularity they went on to enjoy if they had never been decoupled from the material vessel of magazine pages and republished as autonomous books? 2) Given that novels today are seldom published initially in magazines, what factors lead to the separation of content/form/genre that we now associate with the two variants of print media, and how has the concretization of those associations impacted our subsequent expectations and/or beliefs about each medium's limits and potential? – ProtoCanon 1 year ago

    Covers, Creativity, and Copyright: The Implications of Copyright on YouTube Covers

    An entire YouTube industry runs on musicians and artists creating covers of popular songs. As an avid listener of many such artists, I enjoy their covers; however, I have often wondered about the copyright implications. Since music/lyrics are the creative products of the original artist, are they technically protected from being remade into "covers"? Or is a cover seen as symbiotic with the original work, increasing the original work’s popularity/renown?

    I’d love to see an article delineate the copyright implications of YouTube covers and/or the relationships between the original artists and the artists producing covers.

    • It might be interesting also to compare the music/covers industry (which I believe is relatively restrictive) to other Art forms! Also I would love to know how different songwriters (both successful and emerging) view Copyright... As a songwriter I can't imagine most successful artists having a problem with emerging artists using their music to develop their audience/sound, CF their labels/managers shutting Youtube videos down.... – NedMortimer 4 years ago
    • We seem to be in a wild west period of YouTube copyright rules right now! An article discussing fair use of music covers would be a good read. It would also be interesting to see how other types of videos(gaming, edits, etc.) are similar or differ from music covers. – MattWalker 4 years ago
    • It is not uncommon to find other YouTubers using cover versions of original songs, I assume this is a loophole to avoid copyright issues. However, this practice creates a demand for song covers. This might be worth exploring within this article. – BoluBello 4 years ago
    • Great topic. I'm just guessing here, but I suspect that the answer to both answers would be "yes." Songs are protected by copyright laws, and covers do help a song stay alive and relevant. My second guess (I'm not a lawyer) is that copyright laws might need to be looked at closely. It's possible that covered songs on YouTube fall in the category of "fair use," especially if they're not done for profit. – JamesBKelley 4 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    This was a good read, and I think it’s an interesting idea to ponder. I faced the same question after watching The Greatest Showman because the storytelling was on point but the accuracy was not necessarily there. Your question “Does history matter if the movie is awesome?” encapsulates my inner debate. I still haven’t fully made up my mind one way or another, but it’s a great topic to discuss!

    How Important is Historical Accuracy in Films?

    This article is really interesting, and it documents some things I’ve noticed in my own reading. In one of my creative writing classes in college, the professor asked us to bring an opening line to one of our favorite books, and many brought contemporary first lines that were short and “punchy.” I brought the opening line of Oliver Twist, which is a solid paragraph. It was likely lengthier than all the others combined, yet it has a richness and depth to it that gently invites the readers into the book (as opposed to reaching out and “grabbing” them). I may have received some strange looks that day in class, but I can’t help but wonder, are we losing something valuable when we try only to appease our short reading spans instead of letting our writing gently unfold?

    How time and readers' expectations have affected opening sentences

    I love this article’s point; passion and perseverance can take a drop of creative talent (no matter how large or small) and make it flourish. If exceedingly talented writers ignore their gift of writing, their talent will atrophy, but if a novice perseveres, their talent will blossom. Everyone has the ability to create incredible things—if they have but the inclination, passion, and perseverance.

    Are Creative Writers Taught or Talented?