Fall 2018 THEME: Conspiracy

Conspiracy exists as a product of the human mind, dating back beyond recorded memory. For as long as humankind has formulated the rules of the physical, social, and psychological world around them, there have been conspiracies to counter those rules. No matter how wild or outrageous, conspiracies are a regular part of our lives, and as such it is imperative to understand conspiracies and why they occur. It is natural for humans to hunt down and personalize the truths of their world, but at what is the cost of conspiracy to society? To what extent should we challenge mainstream attitudes, historical events, scientific advancements, and representations of present reality in the media? What line is drawn between pursuits of alternative truth that can hinder societal development or catalyze its progress? And how, if ever, can a conspiracy truly die?



Conspiracy is firmly rooted in the mind. Why do we believe things that contradict facts? How do we deceive ourselves and each other into believing something that fundamentally defies convention? In psychological terms, how does our very own brain deceive us with false memories and momentary lapses in judgement? In our current age, how can our thoughts be reflected in upon themselves by Big data? Can we quantify our personality with our social media trends? How do psychological issues, tiredness, isolation, and mundanity cause our minds to project problems, issues, and even phantoms where there are none?


Can a conspiracy of the body refer to one’s perception of their body rather than the inner workings of the body itself? Do our bodies have more meaning than just their base physiological functions, and if so, how exactly do these functions appropriate emotion and mood? Does a conspiracy of the body translate better as a conspiracy of the mind or, more specifically, a conspiracy of the mind’s perception of the body? Could the standards of beauty and the “ideal body” created and imposed by society be a conspiracy with the ultimate goal of stimulating economic gain? Is there a conflict between the way we appraise ourselves and the way our bodies perceive the external stimuli we choose to expose it to? Does this disconnect then serve as a breeding ground for conspiracies of the body?


For humanity, death (or rather, what occurs after death) remains a mystery – and what better to breed conspiracy than a mystery? Can death itself be considered a conspiracy? Do we ever really die? Conversely, can conspiracies themselves die, and at what point do we consider a conspiracy truly dead? Does it end with fact, or is a conspiracy alive as long as there is a single individual remaining who believes it? If conspiracies can die, can they also be resurrected? With the explosion of the internet and increased access to information of varying accountability, will we ever reach a point where conspiracies cease to exist? Or does this access to information ensure the immortality of conspiracies?


Time and conspiracy often go hand in hand, as time itself is arguably an inherently flawed construct, prompting the question of whether time can conceptually be considered a conspiracy. Is our linear understanding of time an accurate representation of reality, or is there a larger conspiracy created by the limits of human perception? Focusing on the etymology of the word, how has our definition of conspiracy changed over time? Has it become more or less inclusive on what qualifies as a conspiracy theory? Conspiracies are often reflective of popular culture and media trends. Are conspiracies primarily influenced by their present environment, or are there common themes of deception and mistrust embedded within them across time?


In our day-to-day lives, space appears to be immutable. Our perception of our environment derives from direct observations and careful measurements, making it seemingly objective. However, subjectivity still exists in space, since individual human disposition, memory, and emotion can impede the ability to make objective perceptions. How does the dynamic between objective and subjective approaches to space lend itself to conspiracy? How can a conspiracy that goes against the claims of science be justifiable from certain human perspectives? After all, scientific theories concerning space are constantly modified as new evidence is discovered — for example, the progression between Newtonian and Einsteinian theories of physics — so one could argue that science isn’t as objectively “truthful” as it appears. Thus, science may be more similar to conspiracies than we first assume. Is the tendency to chase truth and create conspiracies about our surroundings uniquely human? Do you think other animals on our planet could have their own “conspiracies” to explain our Earth on their own terms?


Sapere Aude offers a unique opportunity for students who submit prior to our soft deadline. All submissions received by October 25th at 6pm will be returned with personalized feedback from our editors with the opportunity to re-submit in time for our hard deadline. In addition, we will be offering several Workshop Nights throughout the semester for students who wish to get in-person feedback and assistance from the staff. The last day to submit to Sapere Aude is November 8th at 6:00pm.

Submission Guidelines:

We accept submissions in nearly any medium — films, photographs, visual art, music, dance, poetry, nonfiction, opinion editorials, essays, screenplays, short stories, gaming, fashion, codes, etc. Our word limit for nonfiction submissions is 2,000, while short stories and screenplays are restricted to 2,500 words. If you have a question about what you can submit or have a submission in a form we haven’t outlined above, please come talk to us.

Accepted file types:

  • Photos: .jpeg, .jpg, .png, .gif
  • Stories, essays, poetry, text: .doc, .pdf
  • Plays & screenplays: .pdfs
  • Audio: Soundcloud links
  • Videos (films or performances): Vimeo or YouTube links

About Our Submission Process:

  • Our submission process is completely blind to eliminate any potential bias. Each piece is reviewed by our entire staff, and, if it is received by the soft deadline, will also be given personalized feedback.

  • There is no limit on how many pieces you can submit. We consider all of them individually and make our decisions based on merit, rather than quotas.

  • Each submission must include an author commentary that briefly explains how the piece addresses the theme as it relates to the chosen subcategory. Please note that this commentary will be published alongside your submission, if it is accepted.

  • In the creator commentary bio, please also include your NAME and EMAIL ADDRESS so that we can get in contact with you for edits. Please note that we will not be opening this creator commentary bio until after we have made a decision on the work as to ensure the integrity of the blind submission process.

  • Please make sure that the name of your file is the same as the title of your submission.

Why should you submit?

Sapere Aude showcases your work in a professional/collegiate publication — an important addition to any résumé or curriculum vitae when applying for a job or graduate school. An accepted submission could lead to future collaborations with faculty or fellow students or other creative or academic opportunities. Finally, Sapere Aude provides a platform for students to experience the publication process and to receive constructive feedback on their work in a safe, supportive environment.


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