Laura Morgan ‘21 (Spanish minor) Publishes Crónica written for Prof. Christina Soto’s Span 108 in Este País
Christina Soto van der Plas, published author and professor at SCU, teaches Span 108 - The Art of Narrative Nonfiction, encourages her students to be bold and try to publish their final pieces from this course. This past year in Winter 2021, her student Laura Morgan, a non-native speaker who started in the Modern Languages and Literature department at the intermediate level as a sophomore, as a senior and Spanish minor, took a chance and sent in her final piece for the class to Este País, a well known Mexican magazine, and they published it. Courses that lead to this kind of real-world application of course outcomes is one of the goals of the Modern Languages and Literatures Department. We are very proud to share the story from the perspective of both the student, Laura Morgan, and the professor, Christina Soto van der Plas.
Although “The Art of Narrative Nonfiction” sounded as though it would be an intimidating course, I could not have had a better experience. Professor Soto was knowledgeable, patient, and accommodating. It gave me an incredible opportunity to write such a personal piece in a language that’s not native to me. It was equally challenging and rewarding. Writing about my relationship with religion and my parents, among other things, is difficult enough in English. Writing in Spanish was absolutely a labor of love; it made me feel even more connected to the language having completed my crónica. It is not often that I have had the creative freedom to be so emotionally forthcoming, and it turned out to not only be useful for my language skills but also to be therapeutic. I feel extremely blessed to have been chosen for publishing by an incredible publication, and I hope that my story can be helpful to anyone in a similar situation.
Christina Soto van der Plas:
In my Spanish 108 course, which is a Creative Writing Workshop, my students learn to write narrative journalism in Spanish. They read crónicas written by some of the best writers from and about the Spanish-speaking world to understand the different aspects of nonfiction narrative writing, including structure, language, character development, storyline, plot, rhythm, interviews, description, and, ultimately, how to develop a sophisticated argument in narrative form. They read the texts with a sharp eye for professional techniques and then put the techniques to work in creative writing assignments that take them out of their comfort zone and allow them to express their own ideas and concerns. Throughout the course, they develop their own writing project and students write their own work of narrative journalism or memoir, devoted to the topic of their choosing. By the end of the course, students revise their text and work collaboratively to enhance their writing. They also write a “pitch” to send to different magazines they have identified that could be interested in publishing their text. The next leap of faith is theirs to take, and the bravest ones dare to send out their materials into the world. I am proud to share that Laura Morgan had the courage to send out her crónica titled “Jesús te ama, pero ¿tus padres?” into the world. Because of how well she was able to put down into words a very personal story, she moved the editors and her text got published in Este País, a very well-known Mexican magazine that often features some of the best authors of the region. I feel proud and grateful for having such amazing students and for their willingness to be vulnerable through writing in a language where they do not feel as comfortable, but that can be an unexpected space for creation and expression.