Focus on WRT 340: Intertext
Professor Patrick Berry left a career in publishing to become an academic, but now that industry experience is crucial in his WRT 340: Advanced Editing Studio course, which helps to provide students with publishing experience as they spend the semester creating Intertext, a publication showcasing outstanding writing from across all WRT courses.
Berry is the sixth Intertext teacher since the publication began in 1993. He says that the Intertext course is one of his favorites to teach, since it allows him to create a classroom environment that combines the real-world experiences of working in publishing with a close focus on editing. The course, which is supported by one of SU’s iLEARN grants, has an internship feel to it. With Berry as a managing presence, students assume all of the roles that creating the magazine requires: every student in the class reviews submissions, designs a layout, copyedits a piece, solicits artwork, and works on other tasks involved in preparing the publication.
“There are a lot of different jobs in publishing,” Berry explains. “One of the things that I like about the Intertext course is that it introduces students to the many different types of roles that they might play in publishing. The course helps students identify areas where they have particular strengths while offering them the opportunity to participate in every aspect of the process.”
Berry has enhanced the real-world feel of the course by bringing in people who are working in the publishing industry. This year, for example, students were given the opportunity to see how their copyedits compared to the work of a professional copyeditor. This activity provided them with an opportunity to talk about writing and language as choices that we make when editing, and helped them to see how different people’s work can really help enhance a piece. Students also received feedback on their layouts from a professional art director, who offered constructive comments and helped designers to think carefully about the choices that they were making.
Berry has also sought to represent an increased community presence in Intertext since he has participated with the publication. This has included contributions from the Syracuse Veterans' Writing Group, voices of residents of an Illinois correctional facility, and excerpts from some of the community publications on which Steve Parks has worked. The goal, Berry explains, is to represent a broad range of Writing courses, and he looks forward to continuing this work and increasing representation of diverse writing that’s taking place in the program.
The 2014 issue of Intertext was released at a launch party on Friday, April 25th. WRT 340 is offered again in Fall 2014, and Professor Berry is accepting submissions for the next Intertext issue now. Students who are interested in submitting work from their Writing courses can email him at email@example.com.
What Students Said:
My experience with Intertext was probably one of the best I've had with the writing program. It taught me so many skills: editing, copyediting, layout, design, teamwork, concise writing, publishing, and even a little bit of photography. The class is certainly challenging, but the finished product is well worth it. Professor Berry takes pride in the magazine and works as hard as the students to come out with a beautiful magazine at the end of the semester, and puts in so much effort to make sure that everyone gets something out of the class. It is a great resume booster as well.
This is my second year working on Intertext, and the experience has been absolutely wonderful . I’d never had any experience copyediting or designing layouts, but the course did a wonderful job of teaching me these skills through hands-on work. What really stands out to me about the class is the dedication and expertise of our advisor, Dr. Patrick Berry. He has extensive knowledge of how to put together a publication, and the amount of work he puts into producing Intertext is immeasurable. The publication is better for him having associated with it.
One thing that stands out is watching the publication grow. You start with around 100 submissions, and by the end you have around fourteen really strong pieces. Thinking back on all of those submissions you've read through and discussed and it comes down to fourteen; it's pretty incredible to be a part of that decision making process. I would say that if you have any interest in publishing or refining your copyediting skills or an interest in designing layouts, take the class. And sometimes Professor Berry brings coffee and donuts, which is nice on Friday mornings.
It's a unique class and the payoff of producing a real published magazine is totally worth the work! Also, if you are even remotely interested in going into a publishing field, this class is a must. It's great experience to put on a resume, and Professor Berry brought in professional copyeditors and other professionals from the field to work with us and talk about publishing. It was also great to be able to see other students' diverse writing styles, which helped me with my own writing.
—story by Emily Dressing