A journal backed by the College of Liberal Arts at Cal Poly is currently accepting piece submissions to potentially be published in its 2010 issue. “Moebius” is an annual publication that aims to feature the works of students, staff and faculty that pertain to the theme of the year.
This year’s theme, “Campus Controversies,” is intended to get into the nitty-gritty view points of a variety of people.
Helen Knight is a former member of the submissions board for “Moebius” and also graduated last quarter from Cal Poly with a masters degree in English.
“When we were selecting the theme for this year it was right after the crops house incident and I think we all had that in mind,” Knight said.
Some of the major ideas that might be found in the upcoming issue are things like budget cuts, furloughs and diversity. Alongside those broader issues might be topics like the Michael Pollan presentation, hazing and suicide.
Jnan Blau is a communication studies professor and the managing editor of “Moebius” as of this year. He said that although the journal is run through the College of Liberal Arts, it is not exclusive to only disciplines within the college.
“We’re interested in a variety of points of view,” Blau said. “It can be taken in any way (the author) can think of whether abstract, historically or what’s happening now.”
Just as the journal seeks to have a broad spectrum of outlooks pertaining to the theme, it also provides an assortment of ways to express those thoughts.
The journal features a variety of writing styles, including essays, articles and poetry. Many of these works are submitted by faculty and students predominantly from the College of Liberal Arts. All the same, Blau said that good candidates for publication are pieces that are well written and bring something to the table that is interesting, no matter who it’s written by.
“If we find something we like, we do work with authors if it’s slightly falling short in some aspect,” he said.” We look at the usefulness (of a piece) regardless of our own opinions; if it’s enticing we’ll publish it.”
There is an “Interviews” section where members of the editorial board write profiles on interesting people that have some sort of tie to the theme. Sometimes, the interviewees are even some of the authors featured in another part of the journal.
Some editions include a “Review” section that originally focused on book reviews. This year however, the plan is to expand this to include reviews of all sorts — movies, books, music etc. Theater professor and board member Virginia Anderson plans on doing a stage review for this year’s publication, Blau said.
In other editions there are special sections directly aimed at the theme of that issue. A good example is the “Recipes” section from last year’s edition themed “Food for Thought.”
Yet, the most popular section of “Moebius” from year to year is “The Gamut.”
This section gives authors the opportunity to submit other types of works that are not necessarily related to the theme. These stretch from opinion articles, unrelated reviews, photo essays, fictional works and letters to the editor (regarding the previous year’s topics).
With so many options of expression, the board is really encouraging professors to work with “Moebius” this year by either trying to negotiate pieces for submission into their curriculum or by submitting their own works.
“As faculty, they more than likely speak and write well. We want to encourage more of them to participate in the journal this year and get involved,” Blau said
As well as working with professors, “Moebius” also works with the student-run agency University Graphic Systems (UGS) to format the journal in its signature style each year: three rectangular pictures, the theme, and a quote chosen by the managing editor, against a white background. Like “National Geographic‘s” yellow frame, “The New York Times‘” Gothic-font, or “Life” magazine’s white-on-red title box, having this recognizable layout brings familiarity to readers and makes it more eye-catching.
“The look is consistent even though the concept of ‘Moebius’ is change,” Blau said.
Because “Moebius” is funded by the Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) grant, an internal grant from the university, funds are limited, especially with the new budget cuts. Working with UGS is also more financially sound and gets another part of the university involved. They also help the “Moebius” staff to circulate some 1,200 copies each year.
“We encourage students to pick up a copy or two if they see one,” Blau said. “It’s important to understand the value of these seemingly more abstract skills.”
Knight agreed, saying that she hopes the journal will become better-known this year and in the future.
“There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there that people aren’t aware of. Things that are and aren’t related to the topic (of Moebius). Some interesting articles, ideas, and beautiful photo essays,” she said.
The submission deadline is tomorrow. They can be made on the “Moebius” Web site. The date of distribution has not yet been announced, but it is scheduled to release around the end of the school year in June.