Fall 2016 THEME: Illusion

Illusions are nearly always defined in contrast with reality. They are seen as deceptive, misleading, and impossible within the agreed-upon construction of the objective, physical world. But perhaps reality itself is unstable, subjective, illusory. There is a certain magic in suspending disbelief and an innate curiosity that drives us to see through smoke and mirrors. Illusions operate on multiple planes and on our various senses — from taste to touch to time — and drive us to interrogate our own perceptions of what is or isn’t real.

The following prompts serve as platforms from which to engage with the theme of “Illusion”. We invite you to consider the various facets of your chosen subcategory, but to find expression in the way (and medium) that is most authentic to your vision.

Sapere Aude accepts all varieties of submissions, whether they be non-fiction, creative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, plays, screenplays, paintings, drawings, sculptures, music, dance, film, photography, fashion, etc. 


From optical illusions to everyday misconceptions, our minds encounter illusion on a daily basis. How do we differentiate illusion from reality, if we are able to at all? Mindsets, hallucinations, emotions, memories, experiences, dreams – all of these can contain or consist of illusions. How is our perception of reality distorted by illusion? How can illusions affect our actions, beliefs, and lifestyles? Sometimes our minds create illusions in order to protect us from certain truths or realities – is this helpful or detrimental to maintaining an open-minded perspective? Are illusions inherently good or bad, or somewhere in between?


Illusion and body are closely tied together, as issues such as body image and representation of body in the media are prevalent in our society today. What misconceptions might the illusions presented through media about body type or image engender? How might we as individuals deceive ourselves when it comes to our own physicality or form? We also encourage you to consider illusions within or regarding the body in conditions such as phantom-limb syndrome or body dysmorphic disorder. What other types of physical illusions exist in our society, and do these illusions have a positive or negative impact?


Death has always been one of the primary mysteries of the unknown and theories surrounding it  have existed for millennia. But what is the relation between life and death? Is death simply a logical next step after life, and if so, is the notion of death as an “end game” an illusion unto itself? How can our different beliefs on death affect our living actions? How does belief factor into our view of death and on that token, how do views on death differentiate between different beliefs and cultures? How do accounts of near-death experiences and supernatural phenomena influence our understanding of death? And does the way we represent death as a society and in the media affect our perception of it?


Space can be expressed as both an agent and a product of illusion. An optical illusion subverts the mind’s expectations of “objective” reality to create false impressions of depth, continuity, color, and motion within a given space (or in its absence, i.e. negative space). These can be man-made, such as in magic shows, or, in the case of mirages, a natural phenomenon.  Additionally, the constructs surrounding space and its occupants are inherently illusory. We conceive on an intuitive level the “boundaries” of personal and social space, which themselves, are culturally mediated across space. How do we reconcile, explore, create, or negate these illusions? Is there even such a thing as “space”, or are its properties a construct that we collectively agree on?


Whether the notion comes from science-fiction works or philosophical pieces on human condition, postmodernist thought has often suggested that time, or at least a straight, linear version of time, may be an illusion. Is this true, and if so, how does time operate in our universe? And if we operate under the assumption that time may well be set, how does this affect our ideas of free will or destiny? How do we view time in a scientific sense and how does that affect our common understanding of it? If we consider time to be set and the only true moment to be the present, how will it affect us as a society?


Sapere Aude offers a unique opportunity for students who submit prior to our soft deadline. All submissions received by November 09, 2016 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 30, 2016 at  6:00 pm.

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.


Comments are closed.