English Students Experience the World of Publishing Firsthand

Liza Long showing off her students' online book, Beginnings and Endings, on her laptop
January 28, 2022

If you are an English, Creative Writing, or Liberal Arts major at College of Western Idaho (CWI), you will likely encounter English 211, Literary Analysis. A course that teaches application of literary theory to texts may sound abstract and even impractical at first, but for students in Liza Long’s class, the final project offers a real-world opportunity to experience what it is like to produce a scholarly publication.

“For the final project, students choose a short story and a theoretical lens we have studied, then create and publish a group critical edition of that short story,” said Long, Department Chair of Integrated Studies. “Designed with my own publishing experiences in mind, this assignment serves as a real-world opportunity for students to learn and practice the skills they will use for publication.”

The students choose roles for the project, including project manager, editor, and publisher. Group members work together to create a proposal and write introductions about each member, a group critical introduction introducing the short story, an annotated bibliography, and individual essays. Each group’s work is then published in the online book, Beginnings and Endings, which is expanded upon each semester.

“When first introduced to this project, I was pretty intimidated,” said Liberal Arts major, Grace Hug. “There were a lot of steps and seemed like it was going to take a lot of time. However, once my group got settled and started forming a plan, I felt much better. I think the goal of every class you take should be to finish it up with your best work, and I would say this project made that possible for me. Not only do I have something of value to put on a resume now, but I also wrote an essay I can say I'm proud of – it was my best of the semester. Overall, this project taught me how to work well with others, meet deadlines, and motivated me to work hard.”

Thanks to the expertise of Ryan Randall, Instruction Coordinator and Faculty Outreach Librarian, this open education resource (OER), was brought to life.

"Working with Professor Long and her English 211 students for the past year has been an absolute joy,” said Randall. “This project is a great example of how OER increases access to materials and also opens many new pedagogical opportunities."

Focused on OER as a 2020 Idaho State Board of Education OPAL Fellow, Long is proud of her students’ contributions to OER and literary scholarship but is most proud of what they learn about teamwork.

“Publication is important for scholars and writers,” she said. “I love having my community college students demonstrate scholarship in action. They feel prepared to go on to four-year colleges and universities as published literary scholars, and they have practical experiences in teamwork that can transfer to any major or profession.”

"Working on Beginnings and Endings was something I never thought I'd be doing even just a year ago,” said Liberal Arts major, Helen Neves. “Contributing to the publication with my group ended up being something both educational and fun. Knowing that future Literary Analysis students will see our work made the project even more exciting and worth the effort."

Beginnings and Endings: A Critical Edition