About this Journal

The writing done by undergraduate students here at University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) is the heart of the Writing Program (WP). Professor Charles Moran helped develop the program by bringing this focus and the legacy of the best text contest (renamed in his honor in 2017) is one way the WP strives to demonstrate that students and their voices are at the heart of what we do in our writing classrooms.

When Moran initially developed and became the first director of the Writing Program in 1982, he based the program on one core belief…

Students come into the first-year writing class as writers who have something to say and what they have to say is meant to be circulated to an audience beyond the teacher.

This core belief has continued to be the foundation of writing courses as the program continues to grow and be shaped by the UMass Amherst community. Throughout the years, the writing and circulation of our students has taken a range of forms.

In the early years of the WP, students created class magazines of their essays that were circulated and celebrated by their classmates. Then, with the availability of publication software and digital platforms we were able to further circulate our students’ writing outside the confines of the physical classroom. Students created and published hard-copy books focused on a range of themes, individual and collaborative zines, websites, and blogs.

In 2006, the WP took another step to further celebrate the writing done by our students by launching the Best Text Contest. As a way to further celebrate the work done by our undergraduates in all our courses – Writing, Identity, & Power (ENGLWRIT111), College Writing (ENGLWRIT112/112H), or Junior Year Writing courses – we invited students to submit their “best” essays for recognition. Review and selection of winners for this contest has always proved difficult due to the high quality of the submissions.

Although we were always able to celebrate and honor our student winners, the WP continued searching for a way to circulate these award-winning texts beyond the selection committee. We are very pleased that with the creation of the Writing Program Best Text Collection these essays will now be available to all students and teachers involved in this community of writers and their peers worldwide.

Contributed by Peggy Woods, WP Assistant Director (WP Member 1999-2022)