Spring 2019: Editor’s Note

Tortoise: A Journal of Writing Pedagogy is an annual journal that publishes excerpts of student scholarship from within the Princeton community. Showcasing writers from all disciplines and levels—both Princeton undergraduate and graduate students—we emphasize the writing process as much as its “finished” product.

Tortoise curates excerpts of exemplary academic writing with reflective commentaries on the research and writing methods underpinning the prose. Tortoise’s ambition is thus not only to share student writing with a wider audience, but also to demonstrate how it works and how it was developed.

In our Spring 2019 issue, we are getting “Up Close and Pedagogical” with academic research and writing.  Our goal is twofold: First, we want this issue to serve as a reminder that all writing stems from a careful initial observation—of a source, of a problem in scholarship, or a problem in the world surrounding the writer, or even a detail from the writer’s own life and lived experience.  Some of our pieces this year began with simple acts of looking—at posthuman cyborg fashion, at Tor encryption, at Alt-Right iconography—and expanded into intricate arguments upon further research. Others incorporate close observations of secondary literature as their means of analysis, turning them into lenses through which to view evidence. You might notice this trajectory from a seemingly minor observation to a full argument when you read about the “literariness” of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence or the genre-defying nature of Kafka’s “Before the Law.” Some of our pieces even invoke observation itself as their subjects: the man in the photography of Diane Arbus and the characters in the film Perfect Blue show us that what we look at can sometimes look back.

Our second goal is that we want to demonstrate how all writing should be carefully read. Several pieces already show us how to look, whether by comparing images of Peruvian cuisine, giving frame-by-frame analysis of Korean T’aep’yŏngmu dances, or illustrating Burmese myths through a comic narrative.  But in the case that you cannot see how a piece is successfully constructed, our commentaries are meant to help guide your eye. We highlight the pedagogical underpinnings of each piece—the motive, structure, source use, etc.—such that you yourself may learn to make closer observations, and ultimately, craft stronger writing.

So grab your magnifying glasses and telescopes as we explore writing seminar papers, senior theses, and everything in between throughout the humanities, sciences, social sciences, and more.  We are about to get “Up Close and Pedagogical.”

The author

Leina Thurn

Leina Thurn ’20 is a native of Ashburn, Virginia, pursuing a concentration in Classics with certificates in Linguistics, Archaeology, and Hellenic Studies. This year, she works as the Editor-in-Chief of Tortoise, a Writing Center Fellow, and a coin cataloger in Princeton’s Numismatics Collection. She wrote this as a junior.