My first semester at West Georgia, I took an English class with Dr. Leah Haught that began my three-year long experience working with LURe. New to the school, I had no idea what UWG’s English Department had to offer in terms of extracurricular activities, but my new friend Angel, the Editor-in-Chief of LURe at the time, invited me to LURe’s next meeting. Though I had little-to-no experience in editing or publishing, the LURe team focused on training me and my fellow staff editors so that we could content edit the incoming submissions. I spent that spring semester pouring over undergraduate work from my peers at West Georgia, and even had the opportunity to have my own work, dealing with the characterization of Lancelot in Le Morte Darthur, considered for publication.

For me, it was so exciting to be featured in a publication, especially for my academic work. I spent at least a month on the research and writing of that paper and remember being so proud when I finally submitted it for a grade. The following semester, Dr. Haught suggested I submit my essay for possible publication. Though I was unsure, I listened to her advice. The day that I held the printed copy was unreal. I never thought I would see my name in a print publication before I finished my undergraduate degree.

The next year, I took a more active role in LURe, as we began to focus on reaching a wider audience and receiving submissions from all over the country. Angel and I continued to work together, this time making an effort to increase LURe’s social media presence and work on a marketing campaign, so we could increase the amount of submissions we received. Throughout this process, I began to value the power of language even more, because our efforts did not go unnoticed. Launching @lurejournal on Twitter made a huge difference in LURe’s visibility as a literary undergraduate research journal and allowed us, as a group, to work toward reading a diverse pool of essay submissions. Not only was I able to hone my social media skills, I enjoyed talking to other literature-minded people across the internet and sharing the ways in which they could also be published. This experience in setting up LURe’s social media and marketing campaign led to invaluable opportunities for me outside of LURe as well; because of this experience, I was accepted into an internship and have developed as a writer, which has led to countless opportunities for presenting my own research.

I’ve been asked by friends before why I work on LURe, and my answer is never simple. Normally, I say that I work on LURe, because I enjoy the work. And yes, it is relevant work experience on my resume, but LURe has also been much more than that for me. I’ve read a multitude of essays from students across the country and have learned so much from my peers, more than I thought possible. Now, as a soon-to-be-graduating senior, I am the Editor-in-Chief of LURe, which I never would have expected three years ago. Since August I have worked with Dr. Haught, as well as our graduate assistant, Hailey Hughes, and our Director of Communication, Keri Jones, to continue improving the journal. At one point last semester, Dr. Haught referred to the upcoming edition of LURe as my “baby,” and I really do feel that way about the journal. In the three years I have been on staff, the journal has grown, not only in staff, but in submissions, published essays, and visibility. I also know that once I graduate in May and begin graduate school elsewhere, that LURe will still thrive, because there is such a need for an undergraduate research journal that celebrates students’ academic work in the humanities.

-Sydney Bollinger, February 2018

This is my last semester as an undergraduate English major at the University of West Georgia, and I aim to earn my master’s degree in English from UWG as well. I joined LURe under the impression that it would be a nice extracurricular for my major, mere editing practice, but as I enter my second year working with the journal, I can look back and see just how diverse the opportunities were and how one’s unique skill set can fill those prospects in unpredictable ways.

As a newly declared English major in my junior year, I was seeking out an opportunity to utilize and improve my writing skills to go along with my major. It was another English major friend of mine who recommended I join LURe, the Literary Undergraduate Research in English Journal that the university hosted. I was told it would be a good chance to practice my editing skills and was immediately interested in the prospect. The only experience I had with LURe at that point was when I participated in the annual Undergraduate Research Conference sponsored by UWG’s English and Philosophy departments and LURe, presenting my research essay from an American Literature course with other students. Thanks to the efforts of both the English department and the LURe team, I was given the opportunity to share my research outside the classroom environment and witness the release of the 2016 edition of the journal at the end of the conference. Here, I saw the results of the hard work the LURe staff had put into the journal the previous year, and I couldn’t wait to join in for the 2017 edition as a member of the editorial staff.

The fall semester of 2016 was when I was brought more directly into the fold of LURe. My first semester as an official member of the editorial team was an exciting one. LURe had received over fifty submissions for possible publication, a record amount, with numerous submissions originating from outside of the UWG system—another big accomplishment! With so many submissions, it was more important than ever that the editorial staff work hard to carefully consider each manuscript. This was where I began to practice the editing I had initially anticipated. Editing was an experience that I was not too familiar with outside of my own work and some of my friends’. Reading a stranger’s essay gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with other trains of thought and writing styles while also gaining experience in spotting problems in papers that would need to be corrected prior to publication. The entire experience allowed me to rehearse detail-oriented content and line editing, a very valuable skill as an English major. It also gave the editing team insight into publication selection and professional correspondence. The amount of time and work it took to complete the editing and organization for the edition gave me a new appreciation for professional editors whose work impacts our daily lives, though it’s often taken for granted.

I initially assumed editing would be the only skill I would be honing while working with the journal, though I quickly realized the journal would offer me so much more. From the summer of 2017 to the present day, I earned an important role with the LURe team using graphic design and social media, two mediums I hadn’t expected to use when I joined the year prior.

First, I took on the task of creating graphics for social media and the LURe website. Another staff member re-designed the journal’s logo, and alongside her design I created various images to generate a new cohesive design across the LURe sites. I had previous experience in basic graphic design, and consider myself generally artistic, so I enjoyed combining my interests in ways I had not expected when I joined LURe. I felt proud seeing my work being exhibited on the sites as well as on the walls on campus, even more so when I helped design the new cover for the 2017 edition of the journal. During the entire process, I practiced visual cues through my designs, making sure every piece connected to the overall theme we had established for the journal while also ensuring it creatively and coherently engaged the audience who would be viewing it. The experience was fun and a great opportunity to employ my artistry within the professional environment of academic journals.

During that semester, I also became the social media manager, running LURe’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and occasionally the website, promoting the journal and updating followers on calls for papers, LURe events, and conference information. In this sense, I practice social media marketing. These days, most of us use social media, but rarely do we have the chance to use it for a larger purpose beyond our daily lives, where the focus is trained on a grander idea or company and not the self. Doing so forced me to consider my audience and message with intent, rather than conforming to the echo chamber. Social media presence only becomes more important as we move into the future, and the experience of running an organization’s social media allowed me to practice maintaining professionalism along with engagement.

I had no idea that I could gain such experience when I decided to join the LURe team, but I am grateful that I can say I was able to utilize unexpected, yet useful, skills in my extracurriculars. Though I initially joined LURe to enhance my editing skills—and no doubt was I able to do that—I found that there is a wider opportunity to use one’s individual skills in any given field.

The final product of our hard work from the spring and summer came to fruition in October of 2017 at the annual undergraduate conference, the same one I had attended the year before at UWG where I was first introduced to LURe. This time, I felt much more involved, as the members of LURe worked alongside the English department to spread the word for students to participate in the conference. Thus, not only did we hold a call for papers for the journal, we also called for papers for the undergrad conference, making that two different events in the year to exhibit the research students have worked so hard on. I participated once again in the conference, presenting a paper from a Film as Literature class focusing on cyborgs; the panel I was on specifically focused on the feminine agency in cyborg films. Afterwards, the LURe staff gathered for a Meet the Authors event to celebrate the release of the 2017 edition of the journal we had worked so hard on throughout the year, and seeing the physical journals on the table (framed around the cover I had designed) filled me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Standing alongside my fellow LURe staff members, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for the future of LURe. During my master’s degree, I hope to continue my involvement with LURe and working with continuing and new staff to bring out the best of the journal’s potential moving forward.

As a member of the LURe journal staff, I have participated in reviewing, editing, and publishing manuscripts, but I was also able to leave a significant and unique mark in the form of graphic design and social media management, promotion, and engagement, all of which are aspects to an academic journal that are often forgotten. I am very grateful to be a part of the team that allows me to utilize these skills as well as publish amazing volumes of student research that are oh-so familiar to an English major.

-Keri Jones, January 2018

It was a quarter past six on a warm fall evening. Sydney Bollinger, the editor-in-chief of LURe, and I, a newly-minted graduate assistant at UWG, sat across from each other in a local coffee shop, our laptops on the tables in front of us. From afar, it might have looked like we were concentrating on an intense game of Battleship, but it was crunch time: the final, copy-edited version of the LURe: Literary Undergraduate Research Journal was due in just a few days. Our editorial staff complied the issue’s articles in one universal Google Doc folder, replete with marginalia and line-edits. I scrolled down and down and down. This would be a massive undertaking, indeed.

“I’m going to start approving these line edits. Do you want to look at some of the bibliography pages?” Sydney asked.

“Yeah, and then, we can switch if we can get tired.” I said, and stood up to order a frozen cappuccino.

For the next two hours, Sydney and I approved line-edits, collaborated on final editorial decisions, and consulted Purdue OWL’s MLA Formatting and Style Guide to double-check MLA 8 guidelines. My frozen coffee thawed and became slush, but we finished. As I reflect on that evening, it occurs to me that if Sydney and I hadn’t worked together, I would have been too overwhelmed to finish the final stages of this issue. Shout out to the rest of the editorial staff: your marginalia and line edits were invaluable in helping us agree on important decisions; one of our staffers, for instance, offered an example of how to appropriately cite sources from the same author. It might sound cheesy or a little cliché, but I valued and learned about effective team work as a new member of this staff. Almost everyone as a horror story about working on a class project with their peers; maybe you did all the work, while the rest of the group rode on your coattails, or one group member didn’t contribute at all, so the rest of the group had to pick up the slack. Our editorial staff delegated duties effectively and helped each other. Like, when we needed some additional eyes to complete various revisions on bibliography pages, two of our new staffers offered to help.

As someone who came on staff during the final stages of the publication process, I was also amazed at the quality of work we published. From an analysis of disability in Melville’s Moby Dick to an article centered on Katniss in The Hunger Games, I was impressed with the divergent content and in-depth analyses in this issue. It was gratifying to feel the weight of the book when I picked one up at the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Speaking of the conference, I had the good fortune of attending and listening to passionate students discuss their research. Dr. Haught, our faculty advisor, asked me to monitor the refreshments, direct lost students to their presentation rooms, and attend presentations. I snagged an oatmeal cookie and settled in for a panel on Chaucer’s work. As I munched on my cookie, I was pleasantly surprised that each panelist adopted an appropriate “Chaucerian” accent when quoting from their primary source. The panelists discussed gender roles, Judaism, and answered audience questions like seasoned professionals.

One of my favorite panels that I attended was a panel entitled “The Documentary.” I write Creative Nonfiction, so I was stoked to hear that some of the ethical concerns and craft decisions are similar. I mentally reminded myself to check if each film was streaming on Netflix. One of the panelists presented her paper, Welcome to Leith and Its Unanswered Questions about Filmmaking and White Supremacy,” in which she discussed the ethics of filmmaking—namely whether it is a documentarian’s responsibility to confront ethical issues, such as condemning white supremacy and racism. These are the same ethical issues that underpin writing and how one’s subjectivity can affect one’s work. It pleased me that, like the rest of the conference, students presented on such divergent subjects; indeed, Brian Harris’ paper was centered around a rock ‘n’ roll documentary. The English field inspires, of course, analyses not only of literature, but of cultural studies and film.

Sometimes when I write alone in my room or attend class, I wonder about my classmates’ work—their creative or literary passions. The conference allowed me to have a glimpse into this work and it was a wonderful opportunity to mingle with professors and students who love the English field as much as I do. My plans to attend next year are solidified because I began to see my peers as colleagues. The conference also illustrated how academia can bring us together to confront social issues and ethical quandaries.

-Hailey Hughes, January 2018