Welcome to Watermark, an annual scholarly journal published by graduate students in the Department of English at California State University, Long Beach. We are dedicated to publishing original critical and theoretical essays concerned with literature of all genres and periods, as well as papers representing current issues in the fields of rhetoric and composition. Reviews of current works of literary criticism are also featured in Watermark. As this journal is intended to provide a forum for emerging voices, only student work is considered for publication.
All of the CSULB graduate students that have had a hand in forming and continuing the tradition should feel proud. This journal has given, to the members of this program, an opportunity to contribute their ideas. While also digesting the knowledge of fellow domestic and international graduate students. Watermark, over the course of its brief run, has published from around the globe. In these pages, you can travel the world, from local CSU’s to Indiana, Florida, New York … and then jump across the waters to London, Denmark, and Taiwan. This current iteration has tried to take the opportunities given to us and expand on them. With that said, here is a word from the current managing editor.
Watermark 11 Editor’s Note
Whenever I’m prompted to reflect on a time period of scholarly collaboration, where intelligent minds engage with discourse and language for cultural production, I’m always rewarded with immense feelings of honor and gratitude. Inheriting an editor’s seat at the table that curates Watermark was no different, where I find myself incredibly fortunate to participate in advancing the traditions and spirit of this journal—a spirit that a previous editor aptly noted is “integral to the healthy evolution” in Watermark’s abilities to provide “an awareness of tomorrow’s possible evolutionary nuances.” This spirit looms throughout the following
collection of intersecting critical and theoretical ideas that engender a new body of life known henceforth as the eleventh volume. In prefacing this panoply of eclectic works, my mind playfully wanders away from trying to materialize these feelings (as ephemeral and ineffable in nature as they are) into language. Instead, I regress to an approach I once frequently enjoyed during my adolescence, when my virginal relationship with a pen and paper wasn’t subjected to audience consideration, so writing about human interactions often began with answering the following: how would the aliens hovering above make
sense of what we’re doing? Inviting this fictitious perspective signifies (and celebrates) the value in Watermark’s on-going pursuit to examine, complicate, and (de)construct ontological and epistemological understandings of the world around us. Like its predecessors, the eleventh volume offers a body of work dedicated to an unyielding engagement with critical issues and ideas through various fields and genres of literary arts.
Although initially our extraterrestrial friends above may not find much empirical significance in the sedentary acts of producing Watermark’s contents, where reading may appear as nothing more than creatures staring at marked-up splices of dead trees for hours, vividly hallucinating, it is through the spirit of providing awareness to tomorrow’s evolutionary nuances where any alien (or alienated) being will find a genealogy of knowledge that offers transformative and healthily nuanced patterns of existence beyond the observable domains of power. In addition to echoing the theme of ‘spaces’ from Re/Inventions 2017, CSULB’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, we encouraged graduate students to submit critical and theoretical papers concerned with any theme or topic. We received an extraordinary body of submissions that represented a wide range of topics, genres, eras, and fields, produced by all levels of graduate study, from nearly all corners of the world. The essays we’ve selected for this issue carry the spirit of Watermark by exploring new territories in the study of literature. We’re proud to continue the tradition of publishing original essays that invite new approaches to English studies. From Saint Margaret to Lady Gaga, the following essays challenge hegemonic discourses and dominant narratives of race, gender, sexuality, and identity that demand destabilization, as an integral part of a healthily nuanced evolution.
Perhaps my favorite reflection on this year’s volume derives from considering its subtle, unspoken nod to the title coined in its first issue. For the simple (and silent) function of a watermark is to impose an identifying pattern or image within, and between, some form of valuable language onto paper, measured only by its density, and made visible only through holding it up in its entirety to the light, in order to reveal its full intention and purpose. The necessity of watermarks, which discourage replication and repetition of commonly known and identified cultural patterns, invites all individuals to consider the mobility and displacement of power through symbols often invisible to the bare eye. A watermark serves as a gentle reminder to seek out and discover new meaning within and beyond
accessible forms of valuable language, which will encourage future genealogies to disembark with exhausted symbols of repressive institutionalized power, and participate in the interplay between emerging networks of language, subjectivity, and nature that spark new dialogues about transformative social change.
For over a decade, graduate students in the English department at CSULB assemble a dedicated staff in a collaborative effort to continue the tradition of providing a forum for emerging voices in graduate studies across the globe. The eleventh volume of Watermark rests in your hands entirely because of the assiduous staff that voluntarily devoted their time and energy to make this volume a reality. This edition of Watermark is forever indebted to the efforts of all our readers and editors who so graciously contributed their wit and wisdom behind the scenes. I would like to extend a special heartfelt thanks to our spectacular team of managing editors, whose tireless efforts and consistent leadership was the reason this volume made it to the press. With special thanks to Vanessa
Strodel and Danielle Alsky for undertaking extra initiative without hesitation, and Christopher Maye for serving as the staff’s much needed artistic director.
On behalf of the entire Watermark staff, I would like to express our deepest gratitude for the guidance and support of our faculty advisor, Dr. Norbert Schürer, as well as the avid assistance of Lisa Behrendt and Doris Pintscher, the visionary departmental leadership of Dr. Eileen Klink, and the continuous motivation, inspiration, and mentorship provided by the English Department faculty, in which this journal serves as a testament to their continual investment in student success.
Jordan Khajavipour, Executive Editor