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Research journal is back, with honors

New Brownstone Journal wins CAS program award

The link between Catullus, the first century B.C. Roman poet, and George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, might not be apparent to everyone. The similarities between the fragment known as Catullus 84 and the often-fragmented speech of the president were clear, however, to Cynthia Swanson (CAS’06), an ancient Greek and Latin major.

“For my own translation of [Catullus 84], I’ve tried to communicate to the modern reader the embarrassing way in which the speech of Arrius, a public speaker, is represented,” Swanson wrote in the May 2005 edition of the Brownstone Journal, a student publication recognizing undergraduate scholarship. “For similar effect, I selected a modern politician widely known for frequent mispronunciation and made-up words.”

The blend of serious scholarship, social commentary, and fine art is characteristic of the Brownstone Journal, which has been published on and off since the 1970s and reemerged last year after a three-year hiatus. Currently sponsored by the Office of the Provost, last year the Brownstone Journal established a permanent home on Bay State Road, set up an annual budget, and began a rolling submissions cycle.

Now, as production begins for volume 13, the editors are still celebrating the success of volume 12: last year’s edition was recently honored by the College of Arts and Sciences as a Student Group of the Year. 

“This is a way to give back to students who work really hard,” says Rachel Eyler (CAS’06), the editor. “It gives them something to work harder for.”

The journal’s subject matter covers a broad spectrum — previous contributions have included translations of works by Machado and Racine, an archaeological exploration of Jamestown, Va., and an analysis of family-planning policies in modern-day China. Artists can contribute their work for the covers, as well.

The format, however, has changed slightly — in an effort to draw submissions from different departments and schools at the University, the Brownstone has started publishing online on a regular basis, giving student the chance to publish longer papers or fine-tune essays that aren’t quite ready for print publication. The print version, which will be published at the start of May, has become more of a best-of edition.

So far, Eyler says, the effort has been a success; this past year, the journal received submissions from every department in CAS, as well as from the College of Communication, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and the School of Education.

While Eyler graduates this spring, she’s not worried that the Brownstone Journal will disappear again; Zachary Bos, the administrative coordinator for the CAS Core Curriculum, will remain on board as the group’s advisor, and next year’s officers are largely freshmen and sophomores — ensuring, Eyler hopes, that the journal will endure for several graduations to come.

“We’re really working on making it an institution on campus, something that’s going to be continuous,” she says. “I think next year is going to be a great group.”