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Penumbra Process 

Choosing Our Fall Theme 


Continuing from our Summer "Self-Love" theme, our staff decided to celebrate love in its other forms, settling on the theme of "Love for Others" for the Fall 2021 issue. Over the past year and a half, many have been placed in situations where they were unable to spend time with loved ones, missing out on friendly gatherings, family get-togethers, and romantic getaways. Bonds between people were tested by distance. We decided that, in addition to taking the time to remember the importance of loving oneself, we also wanted everyone to take a moment to think about those that they love. From our perspective, this particular theme is especially important as we enter into the holiday season in the Fall and beginning of winter -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, to name a few. The holiday season is a time where we often seek to be closest to friends, family, and other loved ones. 


In selecting "Love for Others" as our theme, we thought about the definition and worked to ensure that all forms of love are included in our theme. Loving others outside of ourselves does not only apply to romantic relationships but to platonic friendships, familial love, and even a love for community. In addition, while love is often considered in its positive forms, we acknowledge that sometimes, this is not the case. Loss of a loved one or loving someone despite hardships are both just as important as the lighter feelings of love and friendship. We hope to see all sorts of different forms of love through the art, poetry, and prose pieces submitted to this issue. In keeping in line with our mission, we also hope that our Fall theme, "Love for Others" will resonate with everyone, including those from marginalized communities. We believe that this is a theme that impacts all writers and artists around the world, and we wish to use our platform to allow everyone to show their love.  


Jessica Charest​


Of Staff Changes and Winter Hiatuses​


As many of our readers and contributors know, our Fall 2021 "Love for Others" issue launched recently for Penumbra Online and our chapbooks for Penumbra Press were added to the website, as well. Behind the scenes of these projects, our staff has been hard at work, working alongside our contributors to present these wonderful new additions to the literary world. With each issue Penumbra produces, whether for Penumbra Online and Penumbra Press or for the print journal, our staff often works closely with our contributors and readers. What many may not know, however, is how frequently, as a student-run literary journal, our staff members change.  


Penumbra's staff, unlike many other publications, is entirely comprised of students, faculty, and voluntary alumni, and is therefore ever changing. Some faces remain the same for a few issues in a row as many of us fall in love with our work, enjoying the feeling of publishing new pieces alongside our wonderful authors. Some, like myself, love being a part of Penumbra so much that we stay on even after graduating, opting to continue working on a volunteer basis. However, with every new issue, some familiar faces leave and some new faces join us, especially with the Spring semester's print journal team. During the Spring, Penumbra welcomes a classroom full of new students and boasts a fairly large but new staff to create the print journal. At the same time, some of the more experienced staff from Summer and Fall move onward and no longer have time in their schedule to remain a part of Penumbra.  


This year, most of the Fall 2021 staff will continue participating in Penumbra for the Spring 2022 term. However, our roles may change. For instance, I will continue my role as the social media manager and a member of the blog and Spotify teams, but my role as editor will likely be more limited. Some of our Fall and Summer projects will also be placed on hold throughout the Spring, such as our clubs. Those who sign on to be a part of the Summer and Fall staff for Penumbra Online will once again shift their roles later in 2022. As confusing as these changes may seem, the continuous evolution of Penumbra's staff not only ensures that every staff member has the chance to try out new challenges and grow as an editor and designer, but also that contributors can be assured of fresh perspectives with each issue when they submit their work to us.  


With that said, one other change that bears mentioning is Penumbra's staff hiatus for the winter break, starting on December 18th and ending around January 28th. Given that the majority of our staff are students and that the staff will be changing between our Fall issue and our Spring issue, we will largely be inactive, even though our Spring call is currently open. Our email will likely be checked infrequently, so if you email us, please do not expect an immediate response. We will still be active in a limited capacity, largely in the form of less-frequent social media updates, so please follow our social media (@csustanpenumbra on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). These updates will focus on our open Spring call, including if our submissions fill up and we close the call early. As the social media manager, I will also keep an eye out for any questions or comments and will do my best to answer in a timely fashion during the hiatus.  


Despite our staff's upcoming inactivity, we hope contributors will continue to submit to our Spring 2022 call, open until February 8, 2022 or 500 submissions have been reached, whichever comes first. When our Spring staff convenes at the end of January, we will begin reviewing submissions. Please continue showing us your support, as it is much appreciated. We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, and we will see you all in 2022!


Jessica Charest​


Penumbra Press Chapbooks


This fall, ​Penumbra Online has truly started its process of creating three chapbooks from the submissions we received this summer. The past several weeks we have been editing, designing, and working with the authors to create three unique chapbooks, which will be published by the end of this year. As one of the Penumbra Press Leads, I have learned so much in terms of what work goes into designing and creating a professional-grade book of poetry.  


Firstly, after choosing our three chapbook authors, Penumbra Press selected three leads to facilitate and ensure the completion of each book. As a lead myself, I made sure to contact the author, delegate editing design roles, and set a schedule for the production of the chapbook. Editing for a chapbook proved to be a bit different than our normal journal process, as all the poems were from the same author and tended to stay within a certain theme or method. We at Penumbra try our best to keep within the spirit of what the author intended, so we tend to only include edits we see absolutely necessary. Designing the chapbook was much more involved, as these chapbooks have completely different dimensions and styles than our Penumbra Spring journals.  


The chapbook that I was tasked to lead, ON BIRDS/WINGS/ROADS/SILENCE, will look entirely different from our previous publications, which is very exciting! These chapbooks will be much smaller than our Spring editions, ranging closer to 30 to 35 pages than our typical 100+ page editions. The poet has much more control over how the finished product will look, as we are in closer contact with them than with our typical submitters. Our chapbook poets had the option to submit their own art as the cover design as well, which is what Dottie Lo Bue, author of ON BIRDS/WINGS/ROADS/SILENCE, in fact did. We are so excited to be able to bring these chapbooks to life, and after months of hard work, we can truly see it all come together.  


If you’re interested in seeing our chapbooks, including Dottie’s, stay tuned so that you can be one of the firsts to find out when they’ll officially be published! Due to printing and funding issues, Penumbra must wait until the spring to hear word on whether our chapbooks will be available as physical copies; however, we plan to be able to distribute the chapbooks digitally as well. If you missed out on the opportunity to send your chapbook sample this summer to be evaluated by Penumbra Press, look out for more chances to submit your work, such as our Fall Penumbra Online call (which closes October 11th!) and our Penumbra Spring call, which will open later this year. We hope to hear (read) from you very soon!  


Andrea Wagner​


Penumbra Process: Adhering to Guidelines 


​It's likely that a good number of you are interested in learning more about the criteria necessary to send in a piece for consideration in Penumbra. You are probably already aware that it must be no longer than 1,200 words and that it can take the shape of poetry, art, non-fiction, or fiction. However, even when these instructions are strictly adhered to, many of the pieces that are submitted end up violating guidelines, which means that we are unable to publicize your work in our magazine. For instance, in order to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, we have decided to cap the number of contributions that each participant can make at a maximum of two. If you submit more than two pieces, it is highly likely that your complete application will be rejected because of a failure to follow the instructions. This is the case regardless of how many pieces you submit. Another issue that has surfaced throughout the course of this semester is the fact that some people are bringing in two separate pieces on the same document, both of which we are unable to accept because we are voting on each piece separately. This is another problem that has arisen throughout the course of this particular semester. It is possible to steer clear of all of these pitfalls, and if you are successful in doing so, the possibility that your work will be published will skyrocket.


We have one more piece of guidance for you, and that is to simply enjoy yourself. Absolutely bear in mind the guidelines, but this is a moment for you to express yourself. Simply be yourself and demonstrate your artistic side to us in any piece that you send in by submitting either written or visual work. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the fact that you decided to contribute your work to our literary publication. Your works have been given our undivided attention and appreciation.


Martina Bekasha​


Penumbra Process: Submissions in Review


As many of you may know, here at Penumbra​, we've had our Summer 2022 call, dedicated to LGBTQ+ authors and artists, open for some time now. Although the call is still open for a few more days, our Summer team has officially begun reviewing submissions, something we typically wait to start until close to the end of our submission window. With that in mind, we wanted to reveal some of the reasoning behind our submission guidelines in regard to our voting process.  


For those who have been with us for some time now, you've probably seen that we ask that every submitter submits works individually--for example, if someone wishes to submit two poems, the poems should be separate submissions, not in the same document. This is something that often gets misunderstood in our guidelines, and we'll still receive a number of submissions that have multiple works in one submission. While we will often still consider those pieces, especially if it seems like a misunderstanding in our instructions, we wanted to explain why we are so particular about each work being a separate submission.  


In Submittable, our entire team votes on every submission and then we move to discussion if our opinions are split. When dealing with one work per submission, this process is fairly straightforward and we are able to make our decisions in a timely manner. When dealing with multiple works in each submission, however, it becomes more complicated. Someone might be in favor of including the first submission but not the second, while someone else might like the second more. Other people might not think either piece is a fit and yet others might want to accept both. This prevents us from cleanly voting for the piece and requires us to stop and discuss until we come to a specific agreement. For every submission like this, our decision-making process is prolonged, which delays our own responses to our submitters. For our Summer and Fall issues when we are working solely with a smaller, experienced staff, this is not too much of a concern. However, our Spring staff always includes many temporary new members who are not used to the process--working with documents that include multiple works becomes practically impossible for them.  


We appreciate every submission we receive, but especially those who adhere to all of our submission rules and guidelines. We sincerely thank those who carefully follow those rules for helping create a more accessible submission pool for our staff to work with.  


In terms of our submissions so far, we wanted to add that all of us on the Penumbra staff this Summer are truly impressed by the works we are seeing. Reviewing submissions and deciding on our acceptances is one of the most exciting parts of Penumbra, even when it is made difficult by so many wonderful submissions.  


We anticipate having our decisions made in the next week or so, so please stay tuned on our social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @csustanpenumbra) for additional updates!  


Jessica Charest​


Penumbra Art Exhibit and Spotify Playlist

As we come closer to the Penumbra Spring 2022 book launch, we have released several things in connection to this issue of the journal. One of the first things we released is a Spotify playlist you can gain access to here on this website through the "Penumbra Online Media" tab. With this playlist, we wanted to add a kind of audio connection to the various pieces we will be publishing in the journal. Through this, we compiled a list of two to three songs that we felt connected to the content or vibe of the pieces that can be listened to while going through the journal. The songs are meant to add a layer to the reading experience in hopes to show the readers another aspect of how to go through the journal. We believe that music and literature go together in such a way that what you hear helps the pieces resonate in an additional way to their already impressive strength.


Along with the playlist, we have officially published the online Art Exhibition showcasing all of the art pieces that will be published in the upcoming journal. Found here at people can interact with all of the art while learning more about the artists who created it. Here you will find not only the works and their mediums, but also short blurbs from various artists about the creation of their pieces. Here people will have easy access to witnessing all of the great works of art that will be found throughout the journal. We hope that everyone gets the chance to interact with these works in these different ways!


Essence Saunders​


Summer 2021 Virtual Launch


Recently, Penumbra Online published our Summer 2021 Self-Love issue on our website and held our virtual launch. In the weeks before the launch, our editors were hard at work discussing the various submissions we received and making our final decisions, a process with which our team struggled greatly. Our staff operates democratically, allowing each editor to weigh in on the submissions for consideration. Sometimes this leads to some lengthy discussion as debates take place and opinions vacillate from one stance to another.  


Following our final decisions, the accepted works passed through our copy-editing phase, along to our small volunteer design team. Although our Summer 2021 Self-Love Issue is only our third virtual launch, our design team members have started becoming more comfortable with the overall format of our digital issues. In preparing what we hope is a visually pleasing, easy to use website, we designed the format for the current Summer Issue with three different viewing methods in mind. The first method is from the initial table of contents, where readers and viewers can select the specific piece they would like to enjoy from the table of contents and be taken directly to that piece. Our second viewing method was designed for those who might be interested in one specific genre; by clicking on the genre on any of our issue's pages, a viewer can be taken to a page that allows them to scroll through all accepted pieces in that genre without having to access each one individually. Finally, our third viewing method is for those who wish to browse the entire issue in one continuous page, which can be accessed via the "View All" button on any of the pages in the issue. In this way, we hope to provide options to our viewers so that everyone can enjoy the issue in whichever way suits them the best.  


On August 14th, we not only launched our Summer 2021 Issue, which can, at the time of writing, be found under the "Current Issue" tab and will later be permanently available under our "Archives" tab, we also held our virtual launch event in the form of a casual coffee hour. Our event was held as a celebration of the authors and artists who were published in our issue, but it also celebrated our self-love theme and provided a relaxed environment where contributors, staff members, and other attendees could talk about writing, art, and the various experiences and inspirations we've had. Our virtual launch, held via Zoom, is something we, at Penumbra Online, enjoy hosting as a celebration of each new issue we publish. It provides us with an opportunity to meet new people and expand our creative circle. For those who missed our Summer event, we will begin work on our Fall 2021 Issue soon, and everyone is, of course, welcome to attend our Fall event when it takes place. For every issue, we strive to further our development and create something that brings enrichment and enjoyment to our audience.  


Jessica Charest​


The Design Stage


Over the past few months, our editors have been hard at work reviewing submissions and finalizing edits to our selected works. This brings us to the next stage of the print process–book design!


After we confirm the finalized versions of each piece, the Penumbra team has many options to consider when it comes to book cover, format, and dimensions. As a group, we use surveys to narrow down which art piece we’d like to double as our journal cover. This allows time for editors to consider what piece will lend itself to be a cover (i.e. what isn’t too busy, what has space for a title, etc.). After we determine which piece we’d like as a cover, we make mock covers to visually determine what we like. For the past few years, our print editions have generally been the same 8.5 x 11 size. This year, we’d like to try something new–something with wider dimensions. We like to let our student editors consider what they think would be visually and physically pleasing as a reader, and during our time together we collaborate to see what looks best to the majority. Sometimes we will reach out to the artist of the book cover to see what they have to say on the matter. By the end of a couple weeks, we’ll have solidified the cover, dimensions, and title placement of our edition’s print journal.


Beyond deciding on the cover, we still have a bit more to think about when it comes to what’s inside the journal. For instance, from the journal’s dimensions we think about the placement of the pieces. Will the text be left-aligned? Will pieces have wide margins? Will poetry be in two columns? These are all questions we ask ourselves, as everyone on the Penumbra team acts as designers for the journal. Once we determine what we believe looks best for the journal, we can begin inputting pieces into our software. After we decide how the journal will look, the process of putting the journal together is fairly straightforward.


We hope you enjoy these updates as we continue preparing for Spring 2022’s edition of Penumbra. The virtual book launch and release of the journal are scheduled for May 14th—look out for more updates either on our website or social media pages @csustanpenumbra! 


Andrea Wagner​


The Editing Period ​


Although our staff has decided which submissions we intend to publish in our Fall 2021 Penumbra Online issue, we are just getting started with our process. We are dedicated to ensuring every piece we publish is polished and has been painstakingly prepared for our viewers. As such, we are now deep into our editing process.  


For this round of editing, we have opted to divide our editors into two teams -- one dedicated to poetry and hybrid literature and one dedicated to prose publications -- to ensure that our editors have the time and capability to truly focus on individual pieces. These smaller teams are entirely responsible for their set of accepted works, reading over each piece several times and checking for any wording or punctuation that may cause readers an element of confusion. Although rarely an issue, our teams must also consider our platform, Weebly, and its limitations for formatting. In cases where certain pieces required formatting not supported by Weebly, an alternative option would need to be discussed, such as using an image of the finalized piece in place of entering the text itself. We strive to allow our platform to be a space for all authors and artists, so it is of great importance to us that we can circumvent any limitations and maintain the authors' desired formatting.  


The editing process is highly collaborative for each of our editing teams. During this time, we generate a Google Doc with all of the works that particular team is assigned to. Our editing team, comprised of three members, was in charge of poetry and hybrid literature for this issue. Each of us took the time to go through the document and consider which edits we deemed necessary for publication. In order to confirm that all team members agreed on specific changes, we utilized the comments section in the document to note any changes we would like made without actually incorporating any changes. This sometimes led our team to a lengthy discussion over whether an edit was truly needed or, if it was needed, which would be the least intrusive way to introduce the edit to the work.  


Such discussions aimed to clarify any unintentional ambiguity that we foresaw in a particular piece. As a rule, we try to limit the edits we do to punctuation and grammar—maintaining the integrity of each artist’s piece is our number one priority when we edit. If team members disagreed or were unsure what the artist truly meant, we also made sure to get into contact with that piece’s artist to find out what they ultimately wanted for the published work. This way we leave no room for confusion and best adhere to the artist’s wishes.  


When we're satisfied with the edits, we then turn the pieces over to the design team who transports those edited pieces into the website. This process should be fairly simple, but at times formatting issues arise. Luckily our design team is quick to catch issues and makes sure that every piece looks as intended before the virtual journal is launched!  At the moment, Penumbra Online is still editing the pieces accepted into its Fall 2021 “Love for Others” edition. Soon we will be designing the latest edition and launching the journal! Look out for the day of our launch, which is scheduled for December 4th, to see Penumbra Online’s latest edition. And thank you to all who support us!


Jessica Charest and Andrea Wagner​


Voting on Submissions


At this time of year, the Penumbra Online staff is typically sorting through the many submissions we receive, reading through them all, discussing our thoughts, and ultimately voting on which pieces we believe should be featured in this edition of Penumbra Online. This fall, our theme is "Love for Others," which promotes all the aspects that go into loving those around us. We have received numerous poems, short stories, and artworks focusing on this theme, and it is a delight to see how so many people interpret love in various ways!


During these next coming weeks, we will continue discussing and selecting pieces we believe should be featured in this edition of the journal with the rest of the Penumbra Online staff. Since our staff is relatively small, we all get a chance to speak on which pieces we think deserve a spot! As a democratic staff, we allow others to argue for a piece's spot in the journal and vote on whether we wish to have it featured or not. The selection process itself is honestly my favorite part of the journal's process, despite it being fairly challenging. We receive so many pieces, all of them incredibly unique, differing in style and content, but in the end, we must choose a fraction of what we get to see. By the end of this process, we should have a cohesive collection of pieces that express numerous perspectives on "Love for Others" in an eloquent, refreshing way.  


Being able to discuss the many works from our passionate submitters and appreciate the array of ways others interpret the same theme is what makes being a part of Penumbra and Penumbra Online so enjoyable. We hope that submitters continue to send their work, even after our Fall call closes! Soon we will be opening our call for the Spring edition of Penumbra, which will consist of a virtual as well as printed version of the journal. This call is typically up in late November. ​We look forward to seeing your work!


Andrea Wagner​

Spring 2023 Book Launch


The time has finally come! It is now time for our annual book launch, and we could not be more excited! The CSU Stanislaus University Art Gallery will be the location of the book launch that will take place on Thursday, May 11, 2023. This event will go on from 2:00 to 4:00pm. At this event, during which we will be reading a few pieces from the artists along with displaying some of the art works that were published in the journal, we would be thrilled to have everyone join us! This year's Penumbra process was completed without any difficulties and with outstanding efficiency. The book has come together wonderfully, and the editorial team of Penumbra has put in a lot of hard work during the semester in order to produce this exceptional journal. We have high hopes that everyone will take pleasure in both reading the journal and perusing the many works that we have chosen to include in it. 


This year, we began the semester by introducing ourselves to one another through a classroom icebreaker. Then, our professor, Jarred White, and our editors, Autumn Anderson, Andrea Wagner, Essence Saunders, and Brittany Groves, greeted the class and began describing the Penumbra process that would occur throughout the semester. A week later, we began the voting process. Everyone has the opportunity to provide feedback on a piece, and the majority vote determines whether or not the piece is accepted. Due to the numerous entries, the voting procedure took several weeks to conclude. Following the voting, we began importing the submissions into the InDesign program. This program was used to construct the journal layout application. This procedure lasted roughly two weeks. Before sending the book to the printing shop at Stan, we created the table of contents in InDesign and double-checked the page numbers, fonts, and content warnings to ensure that they were accurate. The printing shop is the last destination before the book is officially launched!


To do well in this class, you need to collaborate with your classmates. Every student has the same amount of work assigned to them so that the process may be fair to everyone and so that certain students do not get the impression that they are the only ones carrying their weight in the classroom. We all put forth a lot of effort to finish the production of this journal, and happily, we were successful in doing so in time for the debut.

If there are any undergraduates who are thinking about joining the Penumbra team but are unsure whether they should, I can assure you that it is both a fun and valuable experience, and that this class is not like other classes. The whole of the class will be devoted to the completion of a single, comprehensive project that will include collaboration between all of the students. It is a one-of-a-kind course that, much to everyone's delight, brought a lot of laughter, thank you to our amazing editors in chief!


When we leave this class, each one of us will take with us something that we will be able to put to use in the future. Before taking this class, I had never used InDesign; however, I now feel as if I have a solid foundation on the fundamentals of the program, and if I am ever required to use it in the future, I will be prepared and comfortable with it. Once again, we are thrilled about the debut of the book, and we really hope that every attendee has pleasure in reading the book that we have crafted. This has been an incredible, one-of-a-kind semester that we will never forget!

Martina Bekasha, Spring 2023


What We're Watching


​Ginny and Georgia​

In February of 2021, Netflix unveiled a new series known as Ginny & Georgia. The show was an instant success and was granted approval for a subsequent season that premiered in January of 2023. This show is categorized as a comedy, although it addresses numerous societal and cultural issues that envelop our country.  


The story begins with a mother-daughter duo named Ginny and Georgia; Ginny being the daughter, and Georgia being the mother. Ginny also has a half-brother that she lives with named Austin who is 7 years younger than her. Georgia possessed an unrestricted spirit, an affinity for adventure, and an outgoing nature, while Ginny was more introverted, plagued by self-doubt, and struggling to find her place in the world. As the show unfolds, we become acquainted with Georgia's upbringing. Her childhood was fraught with difficulties and she endured various traumas, including instances of sexual abuse. At the young age of fifteen, she fled from her father's grasp and embarked on a journey to forge her own path, utilizing any means at her disposal to carve out a life for herself. She ran an illegal gambling ring, married an older man whom she ultimately murdered with poison to escape, committed fraud, and eventually murdered her second husband for inappropriately touching her daughter Ginny.  


Ginny harbors a certain resentment towards her mother for the way she was raised. Ginny found herself in a constant state of flux due to Georgia's whims, making it difficult for her to establish lasting friendships. Zion, the father of Ginny, was once romantically involved with Georgia, but their relationship never resulted in marriage, leaving Ginny without an ideal familial upbringing. She lived with her mother, never her father. Her mother is white, and her father, is of African American descent, Ginny finds herself grappling with her sense of self-identity to this contrast. She felt as though she was an outsider among the various groups of friends at her new school, and her mental health was a constant source of crisis. She frequently indulges in self-harm when overcome by anxiety, yet hides this from her mother. She knew little of her mother's past, and it seemed as though her mother was hiding a lot from her.


Georgia, throughout the show, exhibits to the viewers that her sole means of survival remain reliant on her hustle and schemes in order to win her way to the top. Ginny, attempting to lead an ordinary life, finds herself caught up in her mother's chaotic affairs all too often, and is left with no recourse but to break free from the cycle. Ultimately, Georgia knew no other way than to hustle to provide a life for her children. Her traumas lingered into her adult years, compelling her to resort to unlawful means to survive. Ginny did not want her life to be this way. She wants to live an ordinary teenage life and enjoy the customary high school experiences, free of the tumultuous interference of her mother. When a private investigator informs Ginny of her mother's criminal actions, she flees and the first season comes to an end.  


I do not want to include too many spoilers, but if this show sounds interesting to you, I definitely recommend watching it! It is a remarkable show that addresses current issues in our nation and delves profoundly into the awareness of mental health and the challenges people face in their daily existence. It is definitely very relatable to many viewers.


Martina Bekasha​, Spring 2023


History of Wally West​​


One day Wally was hanging out with Barry in Barry’s lab and Barry could tell Wally thought it was lame. So, knowing that Wally was obsessed with The Flash he quickly changed into a costume to entertain Wally. Wally told The Flash how he wished he had speed like him. The Flash told him that sadly lightning doesn’t strike the same spot twice and right then lightning struck Wally in the same spot it struck Barry. That was the day Kid Flash was born. For the rest of the summer Wally helped the Flash stop crime and eventually would learn that it was Barry behind the mask. After summer was over, he went back to Nebraska and operated solo, but also partnered with the Flash from time to time. This would lead to him forming the Teen Titans, which would eventually disband but reform. When it did reform, Wally sadly had to exit due to a condition he developed, a condition which made it so that every time he used his speed his body would deteriorate. He would be cured of this in the crossover event “Crisis on Infinite Earths” which also saw him take up the mantle of the Flash after Barry Allen tragically died. Wally spent the next 20 years being the main Flash until Barry returned. After this, Barry created Flashpoint which erased 10 years and Wally from the DC Universe. Once Wally got restored to the universe, he decided to reform the Titans, but it didn’t last long due to his trauma. You see, when he was erased, so was his marriage and children, which caused him to be put into a recovery center for superheroes where he would lose control of his speed and accidently killed his colleagues. He went to prison for this but was broken out by a god-like being to save the universe. Once he did so, he was restored as The Flash and so was his family. If you would like to read some Wally West stories, I recommend starting with The Flash by Mark Waid and The Flash by Geoff Johns.

Garret Compston, Spring 2023

Little Women


NOTICE: ‘Little Women’ addresses: suicide, substance abuse & addiction, child death, illness, sexual harassment, and abuse.

Within the past few years, Korean media has grown in popularity in the U.S. This popularity skyrocketed with the thriller movie directed by Bong Joon-ho, Parasite, in 2019, culminating in its groundbreaking Best Picture win at the Oscars. Not long after, Netflix show Squid Game went viral in 2021. Audiences praised Squid Game for its unique thriller concept and well-written characters. In the same vein, 2022 brought us the mystery-family thriller Little Women.


Despite the familiar name, Little Women is not a Netflix adaptation of the novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. Rather, it follows the lives of three sisters who have grown up in poverty under the care of neglectful parents as they each become individually enmeshed with a dangerous and wealthy political family.

The oldest sister, Oh In-Joo, works at a bookkeeping firm. An outcast due to her poverty, In-Joo befriends a fellow outcast, Hwa-Young, who looks after In-Joo while harboring a deep secret of her own. As the eldest, In-Joo does her best to take care of her sisters in place of their neglectful mother and absent father. When tragedy strikes, In-Joo becomes privy to a series of illegal schemes perpetuated by her company executives and must decide how far she’s willing to go to provide for her sisters.

In-Kyung, the middle sister, spent a large portion of her childhood living with her wealthy great-aunt and learning about stocks and investing. At the beginning of the show, she now lives with her sisters and works as a reporter in a prominent news organization. Battling a secret vice, In-Kyung also struggles to keep her composure while reporting but excels at analyzing data and recognizing patterns. This investigative prowess puts her on the trail of manipulative politician Park Jae-Sang, who happens to be the brother-in-law of the former CEO of In-Joo’s bookkeeping firm.

Lastly, the youngest sister, In-Hye, is a talented artist with a weak constitution enrolled in a prominent arts high school thanks to a scholarship. As the baby of the family, she grows increasingly resentful of the sacrifices her sisters make to support her, feeling like a burden. She desires a life where she is loved for her skills and achievements rather than for blood relations. As such, she ingratiates herself with wealthy classmate Park Hyo-Rin—the daughter of Park Jae-Sang, who recognizes shades of his younger self in In-Hye. The closer In-Hye grows to the Park family, the more distance forms between her and her sisters.

Without delving too deep into spoiler-filled territory, the first episode of Little Women does a fantastic job of establishing the personalities, desires, and struggles of each Oh sister. Most of the focus is fixated on In-Joo, whose personal friendship with Hwa-Young and the resulting impact becomes a major emotional core of much of the show, second only to the relationships between the three sisters. The relatability of the Oh sisters, including their individual flaws, makes them captivating protagonists that are easy to root for, whether it be for their success or their character growth.

Beyond characterization and relationships, Little Women boasts stunning cinematography and striking music. The last minute of the first episode is especially gripping, with the visuals wielding an innovative use of depth and negative space to create an overwhelming feeling of isolation, the claustrophobic weight of responsibility, all while the music swells with a sense of relief and the tentative promise of salvation. These intense yet contradicting feelings perfectly embody the emotions that Oh In-Joo is enduring during those final seconds of episode one, played beautifully by her actress Kim Go-Eun. In truth, the acting in Little Women is A-class across the board, but Kim Go-Eun in particular brings a rawness to her character that will resonate with many viewers.

If Little Women sounds like an intriguing show that you, or perhaps for a friend or family member, may enjoy, its twelve episodes can be found on Netflix, with each episode ranging around an hour and fifteen minutes. The original Korean audio is available with English subtitles, but English and Spanish dubbed audio is also available.

For those interested, check out the trailer for Little Women here!

Ree Bowman, Spring 2023

Malcolm in the Middle

Do you ever sit down after a long day with a plate of food and scroll though Netflix trying to find a new show to binge only to watch the show that you have already seen every episode from every season? I do that almost every time with one of the best sitcoms to be created, Malcolm in the Middle. 

I rediscovered this show about a year and a half ago when I finally got Hulu. I instantly remembered some amazing memories from when I was a kid. This show was one of the many shows that grew up with me. I also believe that the reason why I have such a special connection with this show in particular is because the show reminds me a lot of my hispanic family.

Premiering in 2000, this American sitcom follows a dysfunctional lower-middle class family through the perspective of a child prodigy, Malcolm (Frankie Muniz). With an IQ of 165 and a photographic memory, Malcolm and his two brothers, Reese (Justin Berfield) and Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan) indulge in chaos and destruction. With their older brother named Francis (Christopher Kennedy Masterson) being away at military school, Malcolm becomes the middle child hence the title of the series. Their parents Hal (Bryan Cranston) and Louis (Kaczmarek) are constantly trying to keep them out of trouble through their unique ways of punishment. 

The dark-humored sitcom series went on for seven seasons including 151 episodes holding 33 Emmy Award nominations. As I was doing some further research on the brilliant sitcom I learned that it was one of the first sitcoms to have the starring role narrate in voice-over and talking directly to the viewer on camera. Malcolm in the Middle holds such a distinctive tone by featuring fast-cut editing, musical inserts, elaborate post-production, unique sound effects and the strange camera styles. One of my personal favorite shots that the show utilizes in many episodes is the close-up  transitional shot of their neglected front yard. 

If you were to ask what my favorite episode was, I would have a very hard time making a decision because this show does not have one bad episode. But if I had to pick a favorite it would be between ‘If Boys Were Girls’ from season 4 or ‘Burning Man’ from season 7. In ‘Boys Were Girls’ Louis imagines what life would be like if she were to only have girls now that she is expecting a new baby. While in the episode ‘Burning Man’ the family,excluding Francis, all attend the Burning Man festival where people partake in extraordinary activities. 

It is interesting to watch some of the episodes and still remember them from when I was only six years old. That just proves how special this show is. I can’t think of another show that holds up after 23 years. Every character in that show is perfectly casted and has a distinct individuality. Lois being the stubborn mother with a strong personality who is continuously misunderstood. Almost everyone besides her husband seems to hate her for being too aggressive but they fail to notice her motherly affection, though demonstrated in a unique way. On the other hand, we have Hal who is a pure and completely immature mess of a human being. I would have to say that he might be my favorite character simply because he could never be duplicated. At the same time, we have Malcolm who despite his intelligence, he can’t seem to figure out his emotions, specifically his anger issues.


If you have not watched Malcolm in the Middle, I would highly suggest doing so. It is never a bad idea to binge-watch this show especially if you are having a bad day.

Tania Gutierrez Medina, Spring 2023

Oshi No Ko, or My Star 

NOTICE: ‘My Star’ addresses: stalking, suicide, assault, murder, graphic images of blood, sexual harassment, and terminal illness.

Since the ‘80s and ‘90s, anime has carved a space for itself in the western media sphere, with shows like Sailor Moon, Inuyasha, Naruto, and One Piece contributing to the initial boom and then steady rise in the Japanesemedium’s mainstream popularity. In more recent years, shows like My Hero Academia, Jujutsu Kaisen, and Demon Slayer have dominated the shounen (action-oriented) half of the genre. The Demon Slayer: Mugen Train film in particular managed to become the highest grossing cinematic release of 2020, beating Tenet by $200-million.

These action-packed anime are filled with superpowers and the supernatural. Yet a new anime void of most of those elements—most—has exploded in popularity in the past few months: Oshi No Ko, or My Star.

My friend encouraged me to check out the first episode, but she wouldn’t tell me the plot beyond the barest of description. The first episode of this anime is, unconventionally, 90 minutes long. After watching, I realized why—the tone of the entire series is set within the last ten minutes of the first episode, and if it had been released weekly as four episodes instead of one, the sudden shift in genre and tone would have put off viewers. The whole 90 minutes is necessary to understand the type of show My Star will be.

Since I don’t want to spoil the show for you all, I will be putting the content warning disclaimer at the end of this post so that those who want to and feel they are capable of going in fully blind can do so.

Initially, My Star appears to be a standard shoujo (slice-of-life or romance-oriented) idol anime. The core character of the show, Ai, is a starry-eyed, joyful, seemingly slightly-ditzy member of the Jpop girl group, B Komachi. Becoming an idol at only fourteen, Ai faces adult issues and the darker sides of the industry at an incredibly young age. Yet somehow, she manages to keep a smile on her face, deeply touching the lives of the main characters with her peculiar but sincere mindset.

The main character of episode one is a doctor named Gorou who is a fan of Ai. Many viewers may feel unease at this and the show does poke its fair share of fun at the prospect, but I assure you, the doctor feels nothing romantically or sexually toward Ai, and it becomes a nonstarter as the series progresses. Gorou’s admiration toward Ai is spurred by a young, terminally ill patient he previously had who was also a fan of Ai. Her love for Ai and own dream to become an idol touched Gorou’s heart and inspired him to also root for Ai’s success.

Early on in the first episode, Ai becomes a regular at the hospital Gorou works at and subsequently becomes his patient. The show tackles the idol industry in a way that feels simultaneously damning and respectful; the horrors of the industry are not glossed over, but not all of the people within the industry are portrayed as soulless and money-hungry. Ai considers herself a liar for her idol image, but it’s difficult for even her to see where the lies end and the truth begins. Additionally, for those like me who are familiar with the idol industry through frequent consumption of it, the presence of aspects such as on-street scouting and the exciting significance of dome concerts show that the original creator studied the industry and is intent on portraying it in a modern, accurate way.

Indeed, the 90-minute long episode takes several sudden, sharp turns, toying with the various genres it entertains. While it starts as a seemingly-wholesome show, an event occurs within the first half of the episode that drastically changes the plot. The tone shifts to a darker, more unsettling one before suddenly launching back into wholesomeness. Yet that underlying tension and unease does not go away. Though there is a supernatural element to the show, it is far more in line with an anime such as Erased—another show I highly recommend—rather than a superhero show like My Hero Academia or a show with monsters like Jujutsu Kaisen. Interpersonal relationships make up the core of the show, with the idol industry becoming the shiny yet treacherous backdrop.

That’s as much as I’m willing to share about My Star in a spoiler-free recommendation. Here is where I would normally share the trailer, but truth be told, I fear it gives the wrong impression of the anime’s true nature. Again—despite the show’s teasing and humor regarding Gorou’s admiration for Ai and the framing of the trailer, rest-assured that there is no romance between the two. (I would have stopped watching if that were the case.)

If you’re still unconvinced, or if 90 minutes is too intimidating, then I encourage you to watch the first 16 minutes of episode one. The dramatic shift that happens within the end of those 16 minutes may be enough for you to decide whether or not this is the type of show for you.

Ree Bowman, Spring 2023



Throughout the years there have been several notable characters in comic books such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. But for today let’s forget about them and shift our focus to a character who has been around almost as long as Batman. His name is Richard “Dick” Grayson aka Robin aka Nightwing (but we’ll get to that). Dick Grayson’s story starts in Detective Comics #38 which is only 11 issues after Batman had been created in Detective Comics #27. Dick was raised by his parents in a circus as an acrobat. One night when He was 8 years old his parents’ trapeze lines were cut by a mobster named Tony Zucco because the head of the circus owned him money. Coincidently, Bruce Wayne was in the audience, and he sympathized with young Dick so he adopted him. After adopting him Bruce Wayne told him about Batman, that’s when Dick decided to adopt the persona of Robin. As time went on Dick decided to create junior Justice League called, Teen Titans. Dick led this team and helped Batman but then the Teen Titans disbanded. This led Dick Grayson to go to college at Hudson University. After some time Dick decided to drop out off college which did not make Bruce very happy. Due to a threat to the Earth the Teen Titans reformed. During this time Dick started to outgrow the Robin persona, he felt that Batman still saw him as a kid. So, he decided it was time to leave it behind. This led him to creating a brand new costume and renaming himself Nightwing. He kept fighting alongside and would occasionally go back to help out Batman. After one of Batman’s villains named Bane broke his spine, Dick became the new Batman while Bruce healed. This didn’t last of course with Dick returning to the mantle of Nightwing. This is where Dick would get his own miniseries which led to him getting an ongoing series. In the ongoing series Dick had moved to Bludhaven (which is close to Gotham), here he became a police officer to fight crime during the during and he fought as Nightwing at night. For years he would protect Bludhaven but still help his mentor, Batman, when needed. Eventually, Batman was supposedly killed fighting an alien being named, Darkseid. This prompted Dick to assume the role of a Batman once more. As Batman he would train a new Robin named, Damien Wayne who is Bruce Wayne’s biological son. Batman would eventually return sending Dick back to being Nightwing. Dick would go on to become a spy for Batman in an organization called Spyral wich he infiltrated and disbanded. After this 10 years was erased from the DC Universe due to the Flashpoint event. This also erased long time Titans Wally West, but once he returned he decided to get the Titans back together. In this new series the dropped the “teen” part and just called themselves Titans. This didn’t last long and Dick created a new team that didn’t last long either. After this Dick returns to Bludhaven to resume protecting it. One night Dick went on patrol with Batman and was shot in the head causing him to lose his memory. He would spend at least a year under the name Ric Grayson. He was able to get his memory back with a magic crystal. Currently he is fighting crime as Nightwing and the Titans are taking over for the Justice League (which is currently disbanded).

Garret Compston, Spring 2023

State of Stan


Five Feminist Figures from Five cultures: Juhmpa Lahiri


Penumbra is happy to announce its collaboration with CSU Stanislaus' Writing Center in a five part series: Five Figures from Five Cultures. This series aims to share fantastic writers and thinkers across generations and cultures. Our first guest blogger is Ashna Singh, who introduces the writer and professor Jhumpa Lahiri. 


Hindi: भाषा और पहचान मौलिक रूप से परस्पर जुड़े हुए हैं। हम क्या पहनते हैं और क्या खाते हैं और जो चीजें हमें चिह्नित करती हैं, और अंत में, जो हमारे पास है, उसके संदर्भ में आप सभी परतों को छील देते हैं।

English: “Language and identity are so fundamentally intertwined. You peel back all the layers in terms of what we wear and what we eat and all the things that mark us, and in the end, what we have are our words.”


Jhumpa Lahiri is an English-born, Bengali-American novelist, short-story writer, and essayist. She is the daughter of immigrant parents who originally were from West Bengal and moved to Kingston, Rhode Island when Lahiri was three years old. She received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College of Columbia University in 1989. She continued her education at Boston University and acquired an M.A. in English, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She is currently a professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University. Lahiri speaks fluent Italian and published her first book in Italian, Dove mi trovo, in 2018. The start of Lahiri’s literary career was when she published her debut short story collection Interpreter of Maladies (1999). The Namesake (2003) was Lahiri’s debut novel, which turned into a superb movie directed by Sooni Taraporevala. As for literary achievements, Lahiri is a notable author who won several awards such as the O’ Henry, PEN/Hemingway, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Asian American Literary Award, and National Humanities Medal. 


Due to Lahiri’s lived experiences as a Bengali-American, she often writes about the Indian immigrant experience in the United States. Her storytelling portrays the complexities of Indian immigrants assimilating in a new world, such as the United States, where cultural values are being explored and challenged; therefore, cultural tensions within the Indian community may arise. Lahiri carefully illustrates Indian culture and its traditions through her warm, vibrant and descriptive language. She is an authentic writer who is connected to her Bengali roots: she seeks to elucidate Indian communities’ cultural identities in a raw, realistic fashion. As a reader, her words offer a space of comfort and familiarity that one can take a deep dive into her multifaceted world. She is a profound literary figure who communicates about Indian diaspora, identity formation, alienation and belonging. Lahiri’s nurturing voice allows readers to bond over universal life experiences and to acquire cultural competency. That being said, Lahiri’s works are considered autobiographical since her characters are inspired by her family members, friends, and other people within the Bengali community. Her books examine the themes of loss, nostalgia, cultural conflicts, and cultural hybridity, in which she highlights through her characters’ hardships and anxieties. 


Bengali: আমি কেন লিখব? অস্তিত্বের রহস্য অনুসন্ধান করতে। নিজেকে সহ্য করতে। আমার বাইরে যা আছে সব কিছুর কাছাকাছি যেতে।

English: “Why do I write? To investigate the mystery of existence. To tolerate myself. To get closer to everything that is outside of me.”


Other book/essay suggestions: 

Unaccustomed Earth (2008) 

The Lowland (2013)

Il quaderno di Nerina (2020)

“Teach Yourself Italian” (2015)


Jhumpa Lahiri on writing, translation, and identity

At Home with Jhumpa Lahiri 

​“Jhumpa Lahiri: By the Book”


Ashna Singh 

Five Feminist Figures from Five Cultures: Simin Behbahani


Simin Behbahani (Simin Khalatbari)

Born: July 20, 1927, Tehran, Iran

Died: August 19, 2014, Tehran, Iran

Spouse: Manouchehr Koshyar (m. 1971–2002), Hassan Behbahani (m. 1946–1970)

Iranian contemporary poet, lyricist and activist. 

Books: A Cup of Sin

Simin Behbahani was not only Iran's most influential poet but also one of the most important women in the long history of Persian literature. Her main influence was her mother, Arghun, who also wrote poetry and played the tar, a long-necked lute. Arghun was a progressive woman for her time and her house was a popular meeting place for writers and social activists. It was she who discovered the poet in Simin when she was still a teenager.


Outspoken Critic

In what proved to be her last media interview in 2013, Behbahani told BBC Persian how she had written her first poem at the age of 14. When her mother found it, she pretended it had nothing to do with her. But her mother knew the truth and sent it to a poet friend. The next day the poem was published in a newspaper. It was the beginning of a writing career that spanned more than seven decades.


Behbahani wrote about love and femininity, but most of her work focussed on social issues. "The Ballad Of The Brothel," a poem about prostitutes in Tehran, drew attention to the plight of a group of women who had previously been ignored. In the early days after the Islamic revolution, Behbahani continued to write challenging poetry as chilling pictures emerged of people executed by the new regime, although it was not published until several years later. She was a member of Iran's Writers Association - a group always viewed with suspicion by the authorities.


Despite the risk, Behbahani remained an outspoken critic of the state. The cost was continued defamation and harassment by newspapers close to the clerical establishment, a temporary ban on travel outside Iran, and constant censorship of her work. In 2009, Behbahani received the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom on behalf of women's rights campaigners in Iran.


We All Thought She Was Untouchable

Known as the "lioness of Iran," Simin Behbahani has been writing fierce poetry for decades: during the reign of Iran's Shah, during the Islamic Revolution, during the reign of the ayatollahs, and over the past year's political turmoil. Through it all, she was not imprisoned and continued to enjoy the freedom to travel, says Farzaneh Milani, who teaches Persian literature at the University of Virginia and is one of Behbahani's translators.


"We all thought that she was untouchable. And it's amazing that a woman of 82, a woman who can barely see anymore, a woman who has brought nothing but pride for Iran, is now a prisoner in her own country," Milani says. 


Behbahani has been nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature, and she has received many literary accolades around the world. She was on her way to read her poetry in Paris, where last year she was awarded a prize for her defense of women's freedom.


In a 2007 interview with NPR in Tehran, Behbahani expressed horror at the practice of stoning to death women convicted of adultery.


"In the last 28 years after the revolution in Iran, this has been repeated. And even once at the beginning of the revolution, we had a woman condemned to stoning to death. While they were stoning her, she would not die, as she was resisting. At the end, one of the police, or Revolutionary Guards, got a piece of heavy cement and put [it] on her head to kill her," Behbahani recalled.


In recent years, it has not been easy for Behbahani to publish her poetry in Iran, and for much of the last decade, she was not able to publish at all. Not long ago, she did release a book of poems, but only after government censors required her to remove 40 poems or fragments of poems. In 2007, the government closed a magazine that published a poem of hers about the Iran-Iraq war.


"It was an anti-war poem. And it would question the people who created and started the war," she said during the 2007 interview.


"Most [Iranian] writers cannot write, cannot publish exactly what they have in mind and what they have written. And they are forced to change or modify some of what they have written."


​Most Popular Books

A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems (Modern Middle East Literature in Translation Series)

The Story of Zahra Simin Behbahani, written by Hanan Al-Shaykh and published in 1980


Bernadeh Mokhatas

Five feminist figures from five cultures: Mai Der Vang


Mai Der Vang, born October 20th, 1981, is a Hmong poet raised in Fresno, California. Her parents come from Laos and are refugees from the Laotian Civil War, settling in the United States after the U.S. pulled out of the war. Vang received her BA from UC Berkley, her MFA from Columbia University, and is now teaching the MFA program in Creative Writing at Fresno State ("Mai Der Vang"). She is an esteemed writer whose essays have been published by such places as The Washington Post and The New York Times, and her two collections of poetry, Afterland (2017) and Yellow Rain (2021), have received a number of awards. Afterland was chosen as the winner of the 2016 Walt Whitman Award, longlisted in 2017 for the National Book Award for Poetry, and selected as a finalist for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Likewise, Yellow Rain was made a finalist for the California Book Award, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, the LA Times Book Prize in Poetry, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Both works aim to shed light on the misrepresentation and untold stories of Hmong people during the secret war in Laos. Vang uses language in an effort to bring to light the experiences Hmong people underwent during the Secret War. She has also curated a five-part series, "Writing From the Absence: Voices of Hmong American Poets," where she features five other Hmong-American poets and interviews them about their work.


"Kev kawm sau paj huam tau tso cai rau kuv koom nrog cov khoom siv tes ua ntawm lub tuam txhab txhawm rau sau rov qab tawm tsam nws. Nws tau tso cai rau kuv siv tus nplaig ntawm sab hnub poob tawm tsam nws tus kheej txhawm rau txhawm rau txhawm rau kuv tus kheej piav qhia, kuv tus kheej sau ntawv."


"Learning how to write poetry has allowed me to engage in the craft of the establishment in order to write back against it. It has allowed me to use the tongue of the West against itself in order to weave my own narrative, my own literary being."

​—Mai Der Vang, interview


Works Cited 


"Mai Der Vang.", Academy of American Poets, 


Andrea Wagner

Five feminist figures from five cultures:  Gloria Anzaldúa 


Gloria Anzaldúa (1942-2004) was an influential activist, author, and advocate. Her works mark the power of intersectional stories and left a longstanding legacy in Chicana literary history. Anzaldúa was born and raised in Texas and her work is often inspired by the “Borderland” and Tejana culture she experienced in Southern Texas. With her unique blend of poetry and theory, Anzaldua’s works have become essential to Chicana, Feminist, and Queer theories. Her book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987) blends both poetry and theory together and fearlessly explores the realities of living in America as a bilingual, Queer, Latinx woman. Additionally, her work co-edited with Cherríe Moraga, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981), is considered a groundbreaking work for Feminist theory and famously includes her work "La Prieta." Her other works include her children’s stories Prietita Has a Friend (1991), Friends from the Other Side — Amigos del Otro Lado (1993), and Prietita y La Llorona (1996) as well as her posthumously published work Light in the Dark/Luz en lo Oscuro: Rewriting Identity, Spirituality, Reality (2015).


Anzaldúa is a great example of the power of language, as she fiercely spoke out against the harms of "linguistic terrorism." Her works often explore the struggle to be a woman of color in America and the influence of language on identity. Borderlands captures these themes as she seamlessly writes in the eight languages that make up her identity (two English and six Spanish variations), capturing the significance language has had on her life. Her works detail the struggles for linguistic justice and the importance of honoring all languages. Living in a “borderland” herself as a Tejana, Anzaldua captured the experience many Americans face when living in two cultures.


​Her theoretical work has become so influential that many consider it a necessary landmark in Latinx history and philosophy. With the introduction of theories such as "the new mestiza," "Nepantlera," and the "Coyolxauhqui imperative," her legacy has had a lasting impact on Latinx theory. Anzaldua taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz and her work has been hailed by Feminist, Latinx, and Literary theorists alike. Anzaldua has won the National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Award (1991), the American Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), 100 Best Books of the Century by both Hungry Mind Review and Utne Reader for Borderlands, and The National Women's Studies Association has created the Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize in her honor.


“I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent's tongue - my woman's voice, my sexual voice, my poet's voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence” (Anzaldua)


Autumn Andersen

Five feminist figures from five cultures: Maxine Hong Kingston


Maxine Hong Kingston was born on October 27th, 1940, in Stockton, California. She graduated with a BA in English from UC Berkeley in 1962, and later she wrote her first nonfiction novel, The Woman Warrior, which was published in 1967 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award (Poetry Foundation). Since then, Kingston has wrote numerous other nonfiction works and novels on her experiences as a Chinese American and a woman: National Book Award-winner China Men (1980), Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book (1989), To Be the Poet (2002), and The Fifth Book of Peace (2003). Her most recent work, “I Love a Broad Margin to my Life” (2011), is a book-length poem that was inspired by Walt Whitman and shifts "between real and imagined time, tracing the writer’s journey" (Poetry Foundation). 


Kingston is an fierce advocate for feminism and writes on her frustrating experiences as a Chinese American. In the autobiographical work The Woman Warrior, Kingston grapples between loving and honoring her Chinese heritage, as seen in the relationship she has with her mother, and despising her confusing inability to voice her opinions and beliefs as an autonomous being of value. As stated from the National Endowment for the Arts website, Kingston's works have “examined how the past influences our present, and her voice has strengthened our understanding of Asian American identity, helping shape our national conversation about culture, gender, and race” (National Endowment for the Arts). Indeed, Kingston has left her mark in the literary world and has further breached unsaid barriers blocking conversations needed for healing from generational trauma that stems from colonization, misogyny, and patriarchal control. In her lifetime, Kingston has collected many achievements, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the PEN West Award for Fiction, the National Book Award, a National Humanities Medal, and the title of "Living Treasure of Hawai'i" (National Endowment for the Arts). She is a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley and lives in Oakland, California. 


​"When we Chinese girls listened to the adults talk-story, we learned that we failed if we grew up to be but wives or slaves. We could be heroines, swordswomen. Even if she had to rage across all China, a swordswoman got even with anybody who hurt her family. Perhaps women were once so dangerous that they had to have their feet bound" (Kingston 19). 


Works Cited

Kingston, Maxine H. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Childhood Among Ghosts. Vintage International, 1989. 


​“Maxine Hong Kingston.” National Endowment for the Arts, 


“Maxine Hong Kingston.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation,

Andrea Wagner

Warrior Cross Cultural Center: Screaming Queens


Happy pride month, everyone! Though it's nearing the end of June, Stan State continues their celebration of LGBTQIA+ with a screening of the documentary Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria. The film followed interviewer Dr. Susan Stryker in her quest to learn more about the Compton Cafeteria riot, which happened in 1966 in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. The riot occured due to police harassment towards the transwomen who patroned the Compton Cafeteria and viewed it as a safe haven as well as a place to build community. 


The film is insightful, showing what life looked like for transwomen in the mid 1960s in San Francisco, California. Even just a perceived male wearing lipstick could be viewed as a criminal offense, as it was "female impersonation." Jail time, harassment, and even death were very real concerns these transwomen had. These concerns continue to persist for many trans people in today's society as well.


​As we continue celebrating pride, it is important to remember, respect, and validate the hardships faced by those who have been in the community for so long. The Warrior Cross Cultural Center, or WCCC, did an excellent job at this, educating their guests and allowing them to discuss what they thought of the film or what they didn't know. To learn more about the WCCC, check out their webpage as well as their Instagram, @stanstatewccc


Andrea Wagner

Stanislaus State Presents: The Tempest

The Stanislaus Theatre Department presented William Shakespeare’s The Tempest the 5th and 6th of May. I had the opportunity to attend the 6th with a friend of mine. This is the first college play I have attended and it was such a great way to be introduced to the theater world.

As someone who normally does not partake in anything related to theater, I was surprised by some things. For instance, I always wondered how the audience was able to hear the cast speak. I thought that maybe the cast members just projected their voice louder when performing. From online pictures it seemed as if the cast members didn’t have a microphone but
they actually do use special body mics! They are very small and discrete and they are also the same skin tone as the performer. Something else that caught my attention was the wardrobe. It’s amazing how the performers have to rush from scene to scene to change outfits. Especially considering that the actors had the difficult task to play two Shakespeare characters, interwoven in multiple scenes, creating two distinct individuals. Which leads me to my next first impression,
the way the actors are able to remember their lines. It is truly amazing how each actor was able to remember every single word from the play. Considering the play was about two hours with one small intermission, not one actor messed up their lines or stuttered once. It is very impressive because Shakespeare wrote his plays in Early Modern English which is a language that can be difficult to understand let alone speak.

As far as the overall production of the play, I have to say, the clothing pieces were so unique and well thought out. It made me wonder where exactly the production and cast get the costumes from. The costume designer, Erin Broadwater did an incredible job. I was also amazed with the graphics and the lighting design. The graphics were eye catching without
distracting your attention from the plot. Same goes with the lighting, the lighting added so much to the dialogue. The lighting designer, Cristo Montanez Lopez did such a great job considering dialogue, the set, the plot, the scene, and the actors.

The play is mostly based on forgiveness and redemption. But something that I did not expect was for the play to be funny. Although the play was expected to be dramatic, there were some unpredictable funny scenes and I read later that the play is considered a “tragicomedy”. Which makes it perfect to enjoy with your friends and family. If you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend checking out The Tempest. The play will continue the 11, 12, and 13th of May at the
Mainstage Theatre at 7:30 pm. Tickets are free!

Tania Gutierrez Medina

Penumbra and the English Department hosts the Lee Herrick Poetry Event

On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, a poetry reading event was held in the student center at CSU Stanislaus. Lee Herrick, the renowned California Poet Laureate, was a guest reader at this event. Lee Herrick was introduced at the beginning of the evening, and his many poems were read aloud. He delivered a brief account of his biography and self-introduction.


Lee Herrick was born in Korea and went to America as an adopted child at the age of ten. He attended Modesto Junior College before declaring English as his major at CSU Stanislaus. Following completion of his English BA and MA at CSU Stanislaus, he started working as a professor at Modesto Junior College. He is presently an instructor at Fresno City College and in the MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College. He has many poetry volumes and has been published as a poet. He is the author of the following three poetry collections: This Many Miles from Desire (2007), Gardening Secrets of the Dead (2012), and Scar and Flower (2018).


"My California" was the poem he read out initially. He stated that the sights, hopes, and dreams he had while in the state of California were what served as the inspiration for this poetry. "What I Hear When I Hear You in My Head" was the title of the next poem he delivered. His increasing awareness of how violent themes were dominating American media led to the inspiration for this poem. He made mention of Tamir Rice and Michael Brown, who tragically passed away at the hands of police. Following that, he read aloud "How Music Stays In the Body" which was a love song poem for adoptees everywhere. The last poem he read was "Flight," which was inspired by his attempt to finish a crossword puzzle while on a flight. When writing this poem, he started to consider people's lives and the individuals we encounter in life.


The guest reader responded to a few audience queries after his readings. After that, the Penumbra crew sponsored various fundraising events and games for the Warrior Food Pantry, while Lee Herrick did a book signing. The participants were able to participate in activities such as horseshoes and corn hole. The Penumbra crew put up a small stand where we sold posters, T-shirts, bookmarks, stickers, and previous issues of the Penumbra magazine. Additionally, we offered raffle tickets for prizes that included the whole package of items we were selling at the booth.


We want to thank everyone who took the time to come to this event in support of Lee Herrick, the department of English, Penumbra Literary Journal, The College of Arts. Humanities, and Social Sciences, and the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

Martina Bekasha, Spring 2023

Penumbra's Second Fiction Workshop for Spring 2023

At 1:50 P.M. on Friday, March 10th, I climbed the stairs to the second floor of the Vasché Library and made a beeline for L222—the Learning Commons Tutoring Center. Once I stepped inside the spacious room, the receptionist directed me toward a large gathering of students near an unfurled projector.

I recognized many of the faces from my Penumbra: Editing Literary Magazines class. We as a whole had been encouraged to attend at least one of the workshops, be it fiction or poetry- based, being held at the Learning Commons, and though not everyone managed to make it to the first meeting, the turnout was enough to fill a tetris of eight individual tables and a dozen chairs. Next to the projector stood a wooden lectern. As the meeting started, the lectern became home to a laptop and the project lit up with the desktop screen of a MacBook.

The workshop itself was centered around writing fiction. Excitement and nostalgia filled me as I looked around the makeshift table and saw copies of a book series I had grown up reading: Warriors by Erin Hunter. It was this familiarity that fueled my engagement of the workshop as the leader, a classmate in my Penumbra class named Jenny, began her presentation.

Not knowing what to expect from the workshop, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the discussion of exceptionally important character development concerns: dynamic versus static characters, backstories that informed characters’ current decisions and emotions, and not lowering the power or intelligence of a character in order to force an event to occur. That last concern, while incredibly specific, is one that anyone who enjoys video games is well-familiar with. In fact, when it comes to video games, it has a specific trope name: Cutscene Incompetence, when a character that is unbeatable when controlled by the player loses all competence during a cutscene.

Jenny used various characters to illustrate these points, ranging from Warriors to RWBY, as well as sharing humorously informative videos by a YouTuber named Vexed Viewer. While I wasn’t familiar with the characters in RWBY, I was with Warriors, and this allowed me to better understand the concepts being discussed.

After the initial presentation, everyone spent fifteen minutes writing individually or quietly speaking with their fellow classmates. I worked on a creative writing assignment for another class as I listened to music to help me focus. I really appreciated these fifteen minutes as
they provided a good time to jot down character or plot notes, polish an outline, or add to a story’s word count, etcetera.

Next, Jenny shared another video, this one on worldbuilding and fictional cultures. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when crafting fictional cultures, such as religion, values, language, and food. One of my favorite examples of this is within the Star Wars universe. Both Rey and Rose, who grew up on completely different planets, use the word “snake” as an insult. Sounds simple—but what are the chances that not only are there snakes on both their home planets, but that the word is used as an insult on both? Even things as small as this, when taken into consideration, can help build a strong, consistent fictional world.

Near the end of the meeting, we students got a chance to seek guidance. from both those leading the workshop and our fellow peers. A couple people presented problems they had run into in their original works. All the advice that I heard given was insightful and considerate; everyone spoke kindly and the atmosphere as a whole felt very welcoming. Though I was too shy to share any of my stories and seek advice, I never felt pressured to do so. However, the workshop was still incredibly valuable for me to attend. It gave me time and space to work on my writing, important concepts to consider as I create and draft, and time spent with helpful, thoughtful people who share my passion for writing.

Ree Bowman, Spring 2023


Graduation 2023


Prepare yourself, grads! There are just four weeks left till graduation! The ceremony for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences will take place on Thursday, May 25, 2023 at 8 am. The ceremony for the College of Business Administration and the College of Education, Kinesiology, and Social Work will take place at 4 pm. The ceremony for the College of Science will take place on May 26 at 8 am on Friday. For many students, graduating from college is a momentous occasion since it signifies the completion of a challenging journey and the start of a fresh chapter in their life. Graduates should have a feeling of satisfaction and pride as the day of their graduation draws closer because of all they have accomplished throughout their years of academic pursuit.

One of the things that makes graduation day so thrilling is the fact that graduates get to celebrate with their loved ones and close friends. The day of graduation is a remarkable event since it not only honors the support of those who have been closest to the graduate but also celebrates the graduate's hard work and devotion to their studies. It is only right that the graduate's family and friends be included in the celebration, since they play an important part in giving grads with the inspiration and support they need to succeed.

The day a graduate receives their diploma is also an important milestone in the graduate's professional progress. The ceremony marks the beginning of the next part of their life, which may consist of additional academic endeavors, a profession in the subject that they have chosen, or a time of personal development and discovery. Graduates have reason to be proud of themselves since they have successfully concluded an important stage in their life and are now prepared to go on to the next exciting chapter of their lives.

We hope that this will be a happy occasion for the families who are able to see their loved ones get their diplomas, and we also hope that it will inspire other students to keep working hard in school so that they, too, may earn their degrees someday. We cannot wait and we hope that everyone of you is excited! Congratulations graduates, you earned this! 

Martina Bekasha, Spring 2023


On the Creative Process

I’m sure we all have our own ways of getting in the zone when writing or doing any form of creative expression that could be drawing, photography, music, painting, acting etc. We may experience doubt, fear, or nerves. Thoughts like “what if nobody likes my art” or “will they understand what I am trying to say?”. I don’t expect you to not have those thoughts by the end of this post. However, I do hope that after reading this blog post you’ll feel less alone in your creative process.

From my creative process experience, one of the things that I struggle with is finding inspiration. I resonate the most with art, that includes drawing on a physical paper or through an Adobe program. I know how difficult it is to find where to start but know you want to start. The best solution that I’ve found when being stuck in this mindset is to browse the web for inspiration. I would go through my favorite Instagram pages, favorite Pinterest boards, Tik-Tok pages that I like or sometimes just Google works the best. Finding an idea to write about can come from anywhere so don’t be afraid to browse where you normally wouldn't.

Once you do find the inspiration for your piece, you may experience the thought of uncertainty. I personally find getting stuck in the process because I wonder if what I’m doing is even good enough. There are moments where I doubt my vision because it may be too different. But I quickly realized that was what was special about my vision. Rather than viewing your idea as too different or weird, try looking at that as a strength. You thought outside the box instead of following the same pattern as everyone else. I think about what Kurt Cobain once said, “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than be loved
for who I am not.”

If you were to give importance to people’s opinions when creating something then it wouldn’t mean anything to you in the end. Not only that but it is impossible to satisfy everyone so why care what people may think. As a creative/writer, you need to remember why you started. Not only does this help when you are thinking of giving up but it also motivates you to do it right. Think about how good things take time. Make sure you look at every possibility to further expand your imagination. There are moments, for me at least, where I would finish a piece and think about how I could have included something else but it's too late because I already submitted it. To avoid this, explore your ideas with closer attention. You could also get some opinions from others or try looking at your piece with another perspective. The most important thing is your satisfaction. Imagine how proud you are going to feel once you finish your creative piece especially knowing the level of work and attention to detail you paid to it. 

With all this being said, the one thing you should prioritize as a writer/artist is remembering to have fun. Enjoy every second of your creative process because that’s what matters the most.

Tania Gutierrez Medina

Writing Nonlinearly

Most of us have been there—sitting at a desk, on a couch, or tucked into the corner of our beds, staring at a blank page. No matter how prolific the writer, writer’s block is a very common experience. Whether it’s a personal creative project or a school assignment, it can be hard to know how to begin.

So here’s a little trick: don’t begin.

In school, people generally learn to write in a linear fashion: you begin with the first chapter (creative) or the introduction (academic) and plod along until you reach the final chapter or conclusion. But the problem with this method is that you don’t always know how the story starts, or how to introduce your essay topic. It’s difficult to introduce a topic you haven’t written a single word about yet.

Let’s focus on creative writing for a moment. The first chapter of a novel or the first page of a short story often sets the tone for the rest of the story. It’s where the reader learns about the main character and the setting. Yet it’s not always the best place for the author to learn those details. Different people have different methods of planning a story. Some like to sit down and intricately outline the characters, plot, and overall structure, while others like to fly by the seat of their pants and just write. I’m not here to knock either of those methods; in fact, I’m a mix of both. That’s why I think this advice may be helpful for both plotters and “pantsers.” 

So, rather than starting from chapter one, write whatever is stuck in your head. That scene you keep picturing, the one that fills you with excitement because you think it’ll be so cool, or sad, or shocking—write it. Get it out of your head! It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be complete. It doesn’t even have to survive the first draft. But getting those thoughts, ideas, details, and lines of dialogue out of your head and onto the page will free up room for more ideas. It’ll also give you a better sense of your characters. Sometimes, characters surprise us. We think they have a certain motivation or relationship, but when it comes down to executing it, the characters guide us in a different direction. Motivations clash or crumble. Relationships crash and burn. A character you thought was straight turns out to be bi. Another character you thought was the villain ends up becoming the main character’s closest confidant.

Don’t be afraid to write multiple different versions of the scene, either. For one of my stories, one of the first scenes I wrote for it underwent several drastic revisions over the course of half a year before it was finalized. Still, the rough draft I’d initially written helped guide me through the rest of the story, and in turn, the rest of the story helped me revise that scene. 

Now, let’s briefly touch on academic writing and essays. As I said previously, it’s hard to introduce a topic you haven’t yet written about. So ignore the introduction for now. The only part of the introduction you should worry about at the start is the thesis. Always, always start with the thesis! The thesis sets up the structure of the entire essay and is needed in order to write the topic sentences of body paragraphs. Get your thesis written first, use that to inform your topic sentences, and then pick the body paragraph with the topic you’re most interested in or passionate about—even if it’s smack dab in the middle of the outline—and write. Writing the boring aspects of the essay will be easier once you’ve written a chunk of it already, both in terms of motivation and flow. 

Naturally, not all advice works for everyone, but I encourage any aspiring writers or academic writers out there to try this method and see if it works for them!

Ree Bowman, Spring 2023

On Following Penumbra Guidelines

It's likely that a good number of you are interested in learning more about the criteria necessary to send in a piece for consideration in Penumbra. You are probably already aware that it must be no longer than 1,200 words and that it can take the shape of poetry, art, non-fiction, or fiction. However, even when these instructions are strictly adhered to, many of the pieces that are submitted end up violating guidelines, which means that we are unable to publicize your work in our magazine.  For instance, in order to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, we have decided to cap the number of contributions that each participant can make at a maximum of two. If you submit more than two pieces, it is highly likely that your complete application will be rejected because of a failure to follow the instructions. This is the case regardless of how many pieces you submit. Another issue that has surfaced throughout the course of this semester is the fact that some people are bringing in two separate pieces on the same document, both of which we are unable to accept because we are voting on each piece separately. This is another problem that has arisen throughout the course of this particular semester. It is possible to steer clear of all of these pitfalls, and if you are successful in doing so, the possibility that your work will be published will skyrocket.

We have one more piece of guidance for you, and that is to simply enjoy yourself. Absolutely bear in mind the guidelines, but this is a moment for you to express yourself. Simply be yourself and demonstrate your artistic side to us in any piece that you send in by submitting either written or visual work. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the fact that you decided to contribute your work to our literary publication. Your works have been given our undivided attention and appreciation.

Martina Bekasha, Spring 2023


The power of Food

If you really think about it, food is so powerful. Food can have the ability to take you to a different time in your life. Whether that is 10 years ago or just a week ago. The second the mixture of seasonings touches your taste buds, you are immediately taken to a core memory. Too, food can be such a great bonding experience. Not only the actual food but the process of either cooking a meal or the experience of trying a new restaurant.


While cooking with my mom, I was thinking about all of the family recipes that we haven't done in a while and I was inspired to share a couple of the many food dishes that exist in my culture since the list is extensive. Hopefully by the end of this post, you’ll be influenced to explore more food recipes within your own culture.


I feel like whenever I try a new Mexican restaurant here in the states, I see the same items. It is usually, pozole, tamales, or tacos. But for the people who are unfamiliar with authentic Mexican food, those dishes are just 5% of the options that you will find if you were to visit the actual country. Also, menudo and posole are considered the more “fancy” options. It is also important to note that it matters a lot who prepares the meal.

For a long time, I wasn't a big fan of Mexican food believe it or not. But now that I’ve matured I have realized the beauty of it. I didn't like it as much before because I thought that it was the meals we are all used to like rice, beans, and tamales but I’ve quickly realized that this entire time I was raised with just Mexican food but I guess I  didn’t see or appreciate that. For instance, one of my favorite dishes/snacks that my family makes are ‘guasanas’. They are essentially green chickpeas. Now you may be asking yourself “what’s so special about green chickpeas?” Well, this dish isn’t just plain chickpeas. To actually cook them you have to brown them in a large pan with salt. We personally also add some water to give the chickpeas some moisture. This recipe sounds simple and that’s because it is but it can go south really quickly. You have to be careful of how long you brown them because a minute too long and they will burn. That is why you have to constantly be stirring them every couple of minutes. I like to personally add salt as I go. When it comes to this recipe in particular, there are no measurements. You will know they are done when they are golden brown and tender . This dish is so simple yet so delicious to snack on. Think about guasanas as like a bowl of popcorn. It is especially great accompanied with a Mexican coke.


Another one of my favorite dishes would be some ‘chiles rellenos’. This dish is essentially chile peppers stuffed with cheese and coated with egg drenched in a delicious tomato sauce. The dish consists of a specific type of chile known as ‘poblano’. This dish can also be a little complicated but it is worth it everytime. My family and I like to enjoy it with warm tortillas while it is also commonly consumed with a fork or tortilla chips. I’d like to note to not be afraid of this recipe. While it may sound intimidating because you are eating a straight chile, trust me it is not spicy whatsoever. Once prepared with the delicious tomato sauce made of garlic, onion, tomato puree, and chicken broth you don't even taste the chile. I recommend this dish on a gloomy day because it can be very comforting. Here’s a link for the full recipe!

Hopefully you were inspired to try new recipes and were taught something you didn’t know. If you have your own family favorite dishes definitely feel free to comment them down below!

Tania Gutierrez Medina, Spring 2023

Exploring the area around Campus

As a student who does a 20 min commute to campus, I understand the inconveniences that may come with it. Apart from the gas, the mileage, the waking up extra early, and the long search for a parking spot, one of the main disadvantages of living far from campus is the disconnection you may feel. From my experience, living away from campus can sometimes feel like I may be missing out on the true college experience. You know like the one you saw in those movies that have 30-year-old-looking actors playing teenagers going off to college.  Growing up I fantasized about living on campus and meeting new people that would be with me when I graduated and have kids. I would imagine that by now I would have made new memories with my new college friends. Fast-forward to now, I have only made one college friend and I am only on campus twice a week. Due to this, I have a difficult time adjusting to the college lifestyle because at times it doesn’t even feel like I am part of it.

Before college, I visited Turlock perhaps once or twice and that was probably for Forever 21 to buy some socks. But if you are in the same position as me where you don’t feel like you belong at times, there are places we can visit in the area to feel more connected to our college experience.

 At Stan State, we have students commuting from other counties nearby including Calaveras, Mariposa, Merced, and Tuolumne. Not only that but we also have some students who are from out of the country. For the people who are unfamiliar with the Turlock area, I have compiled a list of places to familiarize yourself with while you’re in college. I tried to make it fair for everyone, ranging from different prices, and preferences.

If you’re competitive and like a challenge, I suggest visiting Ten Pin Fun Center. Although this place is fairly known I still think it’s important to mention it. Ten Pin Fun Center features a full-service restaurant, 3 full-service bars, laser tag, an outdoor beer garden with fire pits, an arcade, and private party spaces. At this entertainment destination, you also have the option of hosting a party or an event!

During the Halloween season, R.A.M Farms Inc organizes a pumpkin patch and a corn maze. Something special about R.A.M Farms Inc. is the way they change their corn maze design every year. In the past years, they have done a cow design, a spider web, and a castle. This place is family-friendly too so I recommend bringing your loved ones to make it even more memorable.

If you are someone who is more introverted and enjoy a quitter ambiance, I highly suggest stopping by the Turlock Historical Society Museum. This museum in particular is completely funded by membership dues and donations and admission is free! The Turlock Historical Society Museum showcases 25 display areas devoted to Turlock’s founding, cultural history, economic progress, religious diversity, civic and community service, and family and community life over the course of time. This museum is also a great opportunity to learn about the history of Turlock, the home of your university.

Want to experience a pleasant view and be in presence of nature? Try the Donnelly Park. This park is known for its old-fashioned wooden-style look, it features a lot of seating areas and shade as well as bathrooms, BBQ areas, and a beautiful pond. Donnelly Park is a wonderful place to enjoy the sunset or simply disassociate yourself from the chaos. Although a park is not unique, its timeless. If you are ever having a bad day, visit a park nearby and notice how you will feel after.

These options are just a few of the many that exist in the Turlock area so get out there and explore!

Tania Gutierrez Medina, Spring 2023

The Tragedy of Spring Day: Honoring the 9th Anniversary of the Sewol Ferry Disaster


When most people think of the globally renowned artist BTS, or also familiarly known by fans as Bangtan, they think of disco-pop songs like Dynamite or funky summer beats like Butter. The seven-member South Korean group, however, has a long history of more introspective songs that spotlight societal issues and cultural values. One such song is their 2017 track, Spring Day. To western ears, this is a somber alternative hip-hop power ballad about missing a beloved person, perhaps a lover or friend. But to those who lived in South Korea in 2014, this song brings to mind a specific tragedy.

On April 16, 2014, the ferry called the MV Sewol sank off en route to Jeju Island from Incheon in South Korea. Of its 476 passengers, 304 perished, 250 of which were high schoolers on a school trip. In the aftermath of the tragedy, it came to light that the captain and several crew members had abandoned ship without properly evacuating passengers. They had even broadcasted instructions over the intercom that instructed passengers not to move and to stay in their cabins. Later, these crew members were tried and convicted of murder for their actions. Additionally, investigations proved that the ferry had undergone improper modifications, falsely passing inspections and overloading on cargo. In the memories of the South Korean public, the tragedy of the Sewol Ferry tells the story of greed and corruption at the sake of the lives of innocent children—aspects that BTS also references in their Spring Day music video.

Throughout the music video, trains are used as a powerful symbol. In the music video, clothes and luggage fill the compartments, but no one fills the seats. This represents those who lost their lives while traveling on the ferry, as well as the memories and physical objects such as clothes they left behind. In the same vein, the train may additionally function as a representation of the journey from life to death, symbolizing souls being “ferried” to the afterlife.


The MV Sewol, though a ferry rather than a train, was also a vehicle of transportation, making the parallels between the two apparent. Additionally, the train also serves to reference the movie Snowpiercer, directed by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, a dystopian film about the lives of the lower class, particularly children, being sacrificed to serve the needs and wants of the upper class.


On the carousel, the words “You Never Walk Alone,” can be read in faded paint. This references the musical Carousel, which contains a song called “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”


This song is sung to one of the characters in the musical after her father has passed away, making it a song about grief, loss, and healing. Yet, “You Never Walk Alone,” references not only this musical, but also the Hillsborough disaster: in 1989, 97 people were killed in a stadium crush during a football match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England—a crush that occurred due to police negligence. “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from Carousel was sung at a vigil the day after the disaster in honor of those who died.

Later in the music video, adorning the carousel are yellow ribbons. In the wake of the Sewol tragedy, people tied yellow ribbons to poles in remembrance of the victims.


One of the most poignant visuals in the music video is the neon motel sign that reads: Omelas.

In Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, the narrator tells the reader about a seemingly utopian city called Omelas that harbors a dark secret: all of the city’s prosperity and happiness is contingent on the suffering and abuse of a single child who has been locked away, naked and starving, in an unlit dungeon. Every adult who comes of age in Omelas is shown the child so they become privy to the secret, and must decide whether they are comfortable living in the city knowing all their happiness is at the expense of this child’s suffering, or if they cannot bear this knowledge wish to leave the city to experience an unpredictable life with no guaranteed happiness. In Spring Day, a second neon sign adorns the motel: one that reads “No Vacancy.” Omelas is full—a direct criticism of the way the lives of the students aboard the Sewol were sacrificed due to selfishness and greed.

Another striking visual in the video is a mountain of clothes atop which the members sit. At first, the member Suga sits alone on the pile, nearly swallowed in darkness as he sings about the pain of being left behind by his lost loved one.

Later, all seven members sit together on the pile, watching cherry blossoms drift across a bright blue sky—a visual highly emblematic of heaven.


The pile of clothes references the art installation called No Man’s Land by Christian Boltanski, which consists of an enormous pile of clothes wherein each item of clothing represents someone who has passed away.

The shot that personally haunts me the most is one taken from the inside of a washing machine. As the camera slowly spins and the member Jin locks eyes with the viewer, the window of the washing machine creates a frame that eerily resembles a porthole.


In the same scene, stickers that read “Don’t Forget” can be seen on the outside of the washing machines, as the song lyrics sing, “[trans.] Please stay, please stay there a little longer.” Tragically, these lyrics quote the crew’s instructions to the passengers to remain in place and not move from their cabins.

Though a few days have passed since the anniversary of the sinking of the Sewol Ferry, it is never too late to take a moment to remember the high schoolers and other passengers who lost their lives in a preventable disaster, as well as their loved ones who had to say goodbye to their children, siblings, and friends on that tragic spring day.

Ree Bowman, Spring 2023

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