Michigan State University
Michigan State University
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Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
Department of Writing
Rhetoric & American Cultures

PW Students Take on Real-World Editing: The Offbeat

Group Photo OffbeatThere’s a literary journal at Michigan State University that pulls from the eccentric and publishes the whimsical. This journal is The Offbeat. The Offbeat is a semi-annual literary journal affiliated with the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures that publishes unusual poetry, prose, sequential art, and creative nonfiction. The Offbeat is produced through two Professional Writing courses, WRA 480 and WRA 481, taught this year by Dr. Curtis VanDonkelaar. These courses emulate an internship or professional experience, which better prepares students to excel in future internships and professional positions.

The Offbeat provides students with real-life experience as editors. The class starts with editing the pieces selected for publication the prior semester, including communicating with the authors. After the editing is finished, students go through submissions to choose pieces for the next semester. Students in The Offbeat also have additional tasks ranging from running social media accounts to designing the cover. At the end of the semester, a new issue of The Offbeat is published and distributed to the public with a launch party.

The Faces of The Offbeat

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Martha Spall

“I came into this class and I wasn’t even a PW major. I didn’t even know anything about InDesign or editing. By the end of this class, I gained such a deep understanding of the publication process. I also learned how to become a leader. Now, I’m in charge of managing submissions and leading submission discussions. Everyone has such strong opinions, so it definitely makes for a lively discussion.”

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Ben Bland

“The Offbeat is definitely a great learning experience. I work as an editor and manage the contest we have for each volume. Overall, I like reading and accepting submissions that wouldn’t be accepted elsewhere. I also liked seeing a publication from start to finish. I always knew the pieces, but this class lets you see it as a whole.” 
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Kristina Pierson

“I loved learning how to edit with The Offbeat. I also learned how to manage my time with the production schedule. As an editor and submission manager, I help organize and lead group readings for submissions. We take creative and unexpected writing, so you never know what you’re going to get.”
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Cheyenne Nutlouis

“I’m an editor and website developer for The Offbeat. I like seeing the whole process from accepting pieces to publishing the journal. I also liked learning how to work with authors. This is something I never had a chance to do before, so it’s nice to get real world experience.”

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Katie Dudlets

“As one of two managing editors, I control all the communication between authors and editors. I also oversee the final edit. I’ve learned so much with The Offbeat. I’m usually quiet, but now I’m not afraid to speak my opinion and stand in front of the class to lead.”
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Curtis VanDonkelaar

“This my 4th year of teaching The Offbeat. In addition to overseeing the production of The Offbeat, I like being able to connect students to professional authors. I’m always amazed about how much work students put in every semester. Each year is more successful and I’m thrilled to put our next issue.”



Written by Sierra Richards