From the Editor

As editor of Angles 2009, I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with talented student authors who express themselves powerfully in the wide range of genres taught in the introductory writing courses at MIT. As a group, our Angles writers share a deep commitment to the craft of writing and a profound investment in their own work.

As you read through Angles 2009, I hope that you will be moved and inspired by the student writing within this issue. Our authors express themselves in a range of voices – reflective, questioning, informative, persuasive, satirical, nostalgic and elegiac. I will not attempt to provide a “snapshot” of each individual entry since every piece has a unique expressive quality, the voiceprint of the writer.

In crafting these pieces, students drafted and revised, often several times. As writers, students took personal risks, pushed themselves to master new and challenging material, carefully considered different perspectives on issues, and always focused on how best to address varying audiences. As a group, our writers are highly conscious of the choices they make in crafting their prose. As Allison Hamilos tells us in “The Starting Line,” it’s often the first words or phrases that engage readers in a piece of writing. An author’s general tone is important as well, as Veronica Song shows us in “How To Be Indifferent,” a satiric personal advice essay.

Family and personal relationships often figure centrally within our Angles essays, such as Amina Basha’s “Umaer,” which serves as a tribute to her late brother, and Jessica Lin’s “Third Eye,” which meditates on beauty ideals through the lens of her own family relationships.

Angles 2009, in addition to its expressive vitality, has a distinctively international and cross-cultural flavor, reflecting the ethnic and cultural diversity of the MIT student body. Some writers draw upon their life narratives (or those of family members) to create both nonfiction and fiction narratives set in their home countries. In “We Don’t Have Time for Tea,” Jennifer de Bruijn seeks to persuade Americans to slow down their frantic pace of life and adopt a soothing daily practice from her native Zimbabwe—teatime. Through the lens of her high school experience, Leonie Badger in “Back Straight, Head Up!” comments on intergenerational tensions and cultural norms for young women in contemporary Ghana; Wenjia Zhu’s “Popcorn” transports the reader to Sichuan, China during the Cultural Revolution and narrates a fictional story of a village girl who yearns for the forbidden images of the West. “Newton’s Third Law” reflects humorously on Keshav Puranmalka’s adventures as an elementary school student in India endlessly fascinated by sports icon Sachin Tendulkar. Mahesh Vidula’s two essays on tuberculosis, one for a general audience and the other for a more specialized readership, define the disease as a pressing global health problem, particularly in poorer nations. In his article advocating for the potential of nuclear energy, Kevin Fischer uses India as a significant case example.

The cross-cultural flavor of the magazine also strongly expresses itself in other pieces as well from Kelechi Nwosu’s “Zero Beach,” which reflects on her own identity as a Nigerian-American living in an affluent Florida beach town to Oran Payne’s “Combating Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,” a review article which raises the question of how socioeconomic and racial differences may manifest themselves in different rates of infection for different groups.

As a reader, you may engage with Angles 2009 as a member of the MIT community or the wider public. You may focus on a specific article or peruse the entire issue. For students and other writers, I hope that reading the pieces within this magazine will move you to imagine the possibilities for your own writing in a broader, more expansive way. For teachers, I hope that you will find inspiring the assignments that helped to generate these pieces.

Lastly, the production of a magazine is always a collective effort. My deepest thanks to our student authors who have shared themselves and their passions in Angles 2009. In addition, this magazine was greatly enriched by our gifted and imaginative editorial assistant, Jessica Lin. Maya Jhangiani, Administrative Assistant for the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, beautifully conquered the numerous technical challenges of putting this journal on the web. Magdalena Rieb, Administrative Officer for PWHS, also contributed significantly; Shannon Larkin, Graduate Administrator for the Science Writing Program, was also very helpful.

Happy reading!

Andrea S. Walsh, Ph.D.
Editor, Angles 2009