New Issue of ‘Phoenix Rhetorix’ Journal celebrates exemplary first-year writing

Six students were honored for their work during a Feb. 12 event marking the publication of the annual journal.

The Elon University English Department celebrated the publication of the third issue of Phoenix Rhetorix, a writing journal and contest that honors exemplary student projects from ENG1100, on Monday, Feb. 12. Together, the department commemorated the work of six students: Jo Bogart, Shreyas Kumar, Maleah Proctor, Braxton Mayhew, Jacob Karty and Kiran Matthews-Huba.

Associate Professor Heather Lindenman introducing the 3rd annual edition of Phoenix Rhetorix

With the help of faculty mentors and editors, the winners worked to produce, edit and revise their work, producing a varied collection of writing in different genres including research essays, a song, video essays, and more. At the celebration, four of the six winners presented their work and gave brief speeches about their creative processes, research methods and how they wanted their projects to change people’s understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Jo Bogart presented her work, “Women in Myth and Their Stories Retold: A Beginner’s Guide to Medusa.” As a double major in creative writing and classical studies, Bogart hopes to continue researching classical representations of female figures in mythology and develop a body of creative work that corresponds with that research. An Elon College Fellow, Jo ultimately hopes to dive into more obscure characters and stories from Greek mythology and work on decolonizing the original stories through a dual effort in research and creative writing.

Jo Bogart presenting her project “Women in Myth and Their Stories Retold: A Beginner’s Guide to Medusa.”

Maleah Proctor, a political science and policy studies major, presented her work, “Reinterpreting Lincoln,” which focused on the historical misrepresentation of major political figures. 

When asked about her motivation for writing “Reinterpreting Lincoln,” Maleah explained that “for a lot of the complexities in history, you have to look deep to find [the truth], and I don’t think that’s the way it should be…people should be able to know the basis of history without being a Ph.D. student. I hope that more resources come out that are accessible for [undergraduate] students.”

Mayhew and Kumar also presented their winning pieces at this year’s Phoenix Rhetorix celebration. In a video essay entitled “Race and Gender Representation in Marvel Entertainment,” Braxton Mayhew used his love for Marvel comics to address minority representation in pop culture and dive into Marvel’s history of inclusionary efforts. Having never before made a video essay, Braxton found the experience to be challenging but ultimately fulfilling.

Associate Professor Heather Lindenman and student Braxton Mayhew

Kumar, a music production major, used his passion for writing and music to produce a song titled 10 Years where he addresses systemic racism in America.

When talking about his inspiration for this project, Shreyas explained that he drew from his own personal experiences with racism and wanted to promote awareness of these issues: “My inspiration for writing ’10 Years’ was primarily just the general racial violence and divide America is facing…During my research for this project, I discovered that the racially-motivated hate crime rate has increased within the last decade, hence the title: ‘10 Years.’ I wrote the song from my own perspective regarding not just the racial violence in my country, but also racism I have experienced myself.”

The First-Year Writing Program at Elon sponsors the Phoenix Rhetorix Journal. Information about how to submit work for the 2023-24 journal is available on the website. This year’s Phoenix Rhetorix journal will publish work that focuses on what it means to be human and the distinctly human act of writing in a new era of AI-generated content. The submission deadline for Spring 2024 is May 27. For updates on the contest and other departmental initiatives, follow the Elon English Department’s Instagram.