Reflections on In Medias Rus
Communications and Marketing Office student writer Evan Robinson '23 shares his reflections on Jason Cieply's Literature and Revolution class, made possible by Hamilton's Creative Arts & Technology initiative, in which the class produced a literary magazine.
Last semester I took Professor Jason Cieply’s Literature and Revolution course (Russian 227), which culminated in the publication of a class literary magazine. I had never been involved with a final project of this nature and hope it’s illuminating to share some insights from the production of In Medias Rus.
Even by Hamilton’s standards, our nine-student Russian 227 course was fairly small. The more intimate environment facilitated cooperation and accessibility demanded by this sort of project. To keep things organized, we divided into two groups: the editorial board and the design team. Delineating certain responsibilities to certain students, even within these specialized groups, allowed us to keep everything on track.
To ensure that the project maintained an appropriately academic slant, every student in the course wrote either one longer paper or two shorter ones as their contribution to the magazine. Topics discussed included various Soviet novels and authors, among them, Mother by Maxim Gorky, Cement by Feodor Gladkov, and Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov. These works, which tied our essays together, were pursued down various thematic avenues. Course readings were connected to contemporaneous and contemporary ideas and events throughout the journal, something that we hoped would allow our audience to grasp the enduring significance of Soviet literature.
To generate additional content, we crafted posters and emails to attract submissions, and we ended up with a lovely and diverse collection of work that included poetry, prose, translations, photography, and art.
This was, for almost everyone involved, a new experience. Cieply was sure to reiterate that, as the inaugural journal-making class, our feedback was welcome throughout the semester to improve not only our own experience, but also that of future students. Academically as well as logistically, the course had a clear emphasis on student-driven conversations. “For me and, I hope, for the students,” Cieply said, “this was a great chance to rethink what our work together can involve and how they can be empowered to take ownership of their intellectual and creative expression.”
On the aesthetic side, everyone in the class completed InDesign training modules on LinkedIn, and we worked with the College’s Print Shop. Ultimately, we ended up with very limited time to focus on the layout and design part of the journal’s production. Certainly, this was no failure of anyone involved — we were, after all, a literature rather than a design class, and quality academic work was always the priority.
Reflecting on the semester, Cieply stressed his appreciation for Yvonne Schick in the Print Shop and other involved staff members, including Special Collections Director Christian Goodwillie and Educational Technology Specialist Bret Olsen. “This project made me even more grateful for Hamilton’s amazingly talented and infinitely knowledgeable staff, who did so much to help the students make the journal a success,” Cieply said.
I'm very grateful to have been a part of this project. Without the hard work of Cieply and the rest of the students in Russian 227, the task of building a literary magazine from scratch would have been impossible. My experiences in this course made me a better student across the board, and I hope that new editions of In Medias Rus continue to appear around campus for years to come.