Elements Introduction

Somewhere between Will Strunk's stern maxims Leashed emu led by protesting infant for good writing and today's pop culture "texts" surfaces a call for parody. In 1987, San Francisco-based artist and writer Derek Pell heeded an inventive opportunity like this with The Marquis de Sade's Elements of Style, a playfully subversive fusion of Strunk and White's "little book" and Sade's depictions of his startlingly lascivious lifestyle. The Elements of Style remakes collected in this first issue of Em—Journal follow from Pell's unforgettable experiment. These remakes adapt selected Strunk and White elements, principles, and rules, and in doing so they cleverly push us to understand as flexible and shifting the edge where stylistic conventions abut pop culture texts.

The seven remakes featured in this issue were created by students in ENGL328: Writing, Style, and Technology, in response to an assignment inviting them to fuse some pop culture text and The Elements of Style. Pop culture tie-ins featured here include Erin Stratos' play on Matthew Inman's The Oatmeal, Michael Eisinger's take on the FOX television series Glee, Erin Accomando's terrifying return to the Freddy Krueger Elm Street films, Lauren Mickens' blend of The Elements with the Ubisoft action-adventure videogame Assassin's Creed, Jamie Morgan's robotic riff on Comedy Central's animated hit Futurama, David Willis' tribute to the controversial comedy of the late George Carlin, and Alex Stoddart's remake based on MTV's well-known reality program, The Jersey Shore. Threaded through with humorous explorations of the Strunk and White's notoriously reductive handlist of rules for effective writing, these projects, albeit controversial in moments, implicitly invite readers to rethink stylistic contingencies bearing on worlds within and beyond the prosaic page.


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