Letter from the Faculty Director, Summer 2018

Welcome back to Apollon for Volume 8! This issue sees the passing of another torch: not only from our seniors Will, Jess, and Lydia, but also from Berea College to Fairfield University. This letter will be my last as the faculty director of Apollon, and I would be sad if I didn't know we were handing it off to such a promising new home under the new direction of Shannon Kelly and her enthusiastic department. I can only wish all of you incredible fortune and growth in the years to come. What then for our crew at Berea? We get to do more of what we love: more writing and podcasting, more interviewing, and more reviewing. We hope to be able to refocus our energies on the content and give Fairfield the chance to take the technical and professional ends of Apollon in new directions. We're excited to see what vision their work will infuse into Apollon's already solid legacy. Our appreciation continues to flow for our web guru, Michael Startzman -- www.michaelstartzman.com -- whose design vision and support has continued to assist this site well beyond the moment when he could have walked away from it. Michael has a growing and impressive bagel-centric focus (see his new gig at Native Bagel), but we think that an infusion of bagels, cream cheese and caffeine can only be positive. Good luck, Michael. 

Our issue this season is optimistic: at the apex of our work with undergraduate research in all of its variety across the Appalachian region and beyond, we find ourselves regularly astonished by the nuanced thinking and articulate voices that shape the contributions we receive. Our journal is rooted in the curiosity our authors bring to us from institutions stretch our reach from Virginia’s mountains to the beaches of California, from small liberal arts colleges to research universities, and across the full range of humanistic inquiry in undergraduate research.

On a personal note, I was awarded an NEH Humanities Connections Grant for curriculum development at Berea College, and I continue to explore how the new core of courses in the digital and computational humanities that the grant will facilitate can connect with and extend the work we do here. It is imperative that we fight for the continued vitality of the humanities and its funding. I stand for that, and I hope you will stand with me as we see ever more excellent work showcased here, particularly as it runs against the grain of the prevailing narratives about the failures of the humanities to serve the emerging world of information. The humanities, I submit, gives us precisely the tools we need to better understand and more effectively engage in our complex worlds.

Perhaps you will recall the comment in Truth and Method by Hans Georg Gadamer, "For him in motion, the horizon shifts continually." This has been my experience during my recent sabbatical as I reflect on the evolutions we have seen in this publication over the past years. May such an evolving perspective continue to be our fortune to generate, despite its occasional moments of vertigo.

The Fairfield-based review process for submissions for Volume 9 will be under way in the fall for release by the end of the semester (fingers crossed for a smooth transition), and we expect they will have timely decisions coming back to you. The call for work for Volume 9 will be announced shortly. You can find details about the journal, including our submission and review processes, by following our Submit and About links, or by checking out the FAQ.

As the Director, my mission has remained steady: for the last nine years, I have aimed to gather original and challenging undergraduate research in order to foster cross-disciplinary engagement with texts, images, and events, and consequently, to develop a sustained and intellectually forward conversation at the undergraduate level about the meaning, value, and function of our culture in all of its manifestations. Moreover, I continue to push my undergraduate editorial staff to interview, discover, record, edit, and draw on the best resources available so that we can disseminate undergraduate research projects in the humanities at their best: our series of Audio and Video Matters (AVM) highlights conversations with noted speakers, the Art Matters archive features important art from the collections, InVox Editorials present shorter-form journalism on timely events; Civic Matters, discussions about local and national public policy issues; and Sound Matters offers short reports from the sound archives. Let us know if you -- professors and students -- would like to join us in any of those ventures!

We will have even more new and challenging material to show you in the Fall 2018 semester, so come back soon. Keep an eye out for our updates on Facebook, and on Twitter we are @apollonejournal. Our Youtube stream (AVM on our site) is apollonejournal, and we’ve just launched an Apollon eJournal Instagram feed to focus on our visual content as well. We’re looking forward to showing you our theme song on all the new AVM videos...and I think it might be worth watching those just to hear our acoustic version of The Pixies’ classic, “Where is my Mind?”

Please do not hesitate to contact me or our editors with any questions or suggestions for our future editions. We look forward to hearing from you!

With All My Best,

Jason E. Cohen
Outgoing Faculty Director of Apollon
Associate Professor of English | Berea College