Rhetorikos Celebrates Composition Students' Work

Rhētorikós: Excellence in Student Writing continues to showcase the work of students who have demonstrated the Ignation principle eloquentia perfecta, the ability to present clear and persuasive arguments, in this case through academic writing.

Rhētorikós is the biannual online journal that publishes the best essays from Fordham’s core writing classes, Composition I and Composition II. Essays are submitted on a voluntary basis by Composition teachers and are then evaluated in a blind review process by the journal’s editorial board.

“I've found that students love to feel empowered, and that’s exactly what Rhētorikós does for these young authors,” said Mira Sengupta, who serves as the journal’s co-chief editor with her colleague Christy Pottroff. “It gives them the opportunity to share their knowledge and research with the larger Fordham community.”

Originally the brainchild of Allie Alberts with the help of Professor Moshe Gold, Rhētorikós aims to print nine to twelve essays each semester. If a student’s essay is accepted for publication, the student receives substantive feedback from the editorial board. The student then works closely with his or her professor to revise the essay for publication.

Rhētorikós gives all students an extra incentive to write compelling, persuasively argued essays,” said Kevin Stevens, a Composition teacher who has seen his students’ work published and aided them in the revision process. "I'm extremely proud of and impressed by my students' diligence and determination to produce their best work, and I'm thrilled that Rhētorikós rewarded their efforts by publishing their essays."

Composition teachers encourage their students to write about what interests them, and the published essays reveal that students’ interests are both significant and diverse. Past essays have, for example, discussed city planning in Atlanta, GMOs, wealth inequality, and New York City architecture. Social justice is always a huge concern.

“I've learned so much from these bold, young writers whose essays have tackled a number of provocative issues,” said Sengupta.

Kevin Moran, a freshman at Rose Hill and a former student in Stevens’s class, had his essay “Expanding Civil Rights: How Can the US Eliminate Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace?” published last fall. Currently, it is legal in twenty-eight states to terminate or withhold employment on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation. Moran argues that a judicial ruling that protects individuals from this kind of discrimination would likely be the most effective and timely remedy to the problem.

“This is an issue that I am very passionate about because injustices and inequalities always disturb me—especially when these injustices are protected by or enshrined in law,” said Moran.

Luis Benitez, also a freshman at Rose Hill, had his essay “Digging for Gold and Finding Sexism” published last fall. The essay discusses sexist undertones in modern language, specifically analyzing the use and evolution of the word “gold-digger.”

“Word-histories reflect so much, including how the underrepresented and oppressed groups are targeted in many ways, even through the use of language,” said Benitez.

Moran’s and Benitez’s essays are published among seven others in the fall 2015 issue and can be accessed online. Past issues are also available in the archive.

The English department looks forward to future issues of the magazine. The editors of the journal hope that, among other topics, upcoming submissions will focus on election-year politics. The editors also welcome multi-media essays.

“I’m excited by the real political implications the online journal holds for the relationship between humanities and public life,” said co-chief editor Pottroff. “The journal reflects the values of humanities education and, importantly, has the potential to broadcast these values widely.”

For more information, email rhetorikos@fordham.edu.