Fall 2019 THEME: Humanity

Humanity exists liminally, in that it exists within us and around us—never occupying a space but never quite transient as well. If humanity were tangible, would certain people have more of it than others? Are we able, as humans, to identify humanity in ourselves or is it akin, in some way, to our physical appearance—something we can only ever see in reflection but never otherwise? Is humanity fluctuating or constant, and can we achieve more of it as we continue through life? In many ways, our humanity is equated with our morality in a way that makes the two contingent upon one another, or perhaps even synonymous. Is this true, or are they mutually exclusive? Can humanity be achieved without morality, or vice versa? When we engage with others, are we exercising humanity? Are interpersonal relationships their own form of humanity, mostly because they’re largely specific to humans?


In the mind, we create who we are. All the things we think, feel, and experience every day are synthesized in our minds to create a unified sense of self, an individual humanity. At the same time, our minds allow us to think critically and empathetically beyond ourselves, about other people, to grant us an overarching sense of humanity. How do our commonalities and dissimilarities make us view our humanities differently? Consider and critique what we often view as fundamentally human—the urges to form relationships, to be part of groups, to define ourselves based on the opinions of others. Do we have an identity beyond the need to socialize? Do we exist beyond others? Do conventions and social norms influence the way we interact with people similar to us? Different from us? Are our minds constantly trying to find a way to cultivate and maintain appropriate relationships? Is code-switching an exercise in minimizing the margin of difference between us and others? 


So much of our perception of self is rooted in our physical bearings. We function in the world in specific ways not only because of the way we’ve been socialized but because of the way we perceive the world to socialize us—skin color, gender, body type, attractiveness, and ability all come into play here. How many of our interpersonal relationships are built through perceptions of self rather than true interactions? Can true perceptions of self ever be achieved, or are we constantly projecting onto ourselves the standards humanity has placed on the person we think we are? How does our bodies become a vessel for humanity, both with and without personality coming into play? Can bodies, and all the ideas we attach to them, ever be removed from our sense of self preservation? Our humanity? How does evolution come into play here? Are we ever deemed separate from the animals we evolved from? We function largely off the idea that we are biologically superior to so many of the organisms we share this planet with—what does that mindset do to our sense of self, and body?


Death and humanity seem to concepts that are intrinsically linked: if you are human, you will die. However, even though death is an inevitable event, many western countries approach death as though it is something to be intensely feared above all else. How do different cultural practices and beliefs surrounding death influence the way we relate to humanity? When death is acknowledged as a natural part of life, does it change how we previously considered our own lives? Death is one of the most universal experiences that exist. Should we consider death a force that unites all of humanity, rather than something to be avoided at all costs? To some people, the death of a loved one results in them feeling permanently changed. How much do we attach our own humanity to other people? What happens to our humanity when these people leave us?


Humans are the only species to grasp the concept of time beyond the setting of the sun and the passing of seasons. Our histories have been recorded and revered, studied and debated, and will ultimately be our legacy when our time is up. Where else can we go? What else can we achieve? Evidence of humans traces back 200,000 years, and from there we’ve only grown. Through time humanity has progressed beyond hunting and gathering to things beyond imagination. Our perceptions of identity, society, and morality have changed drastically as we’ve evolved. How can we redefine ourselves in the new century, the new millenia? To another degree, time is running out for our homeworld—Earth. Do the reaches of humanity extend to Earth itself, or are we meant for greater things in the future? Many humans find it hard to believe in the existence of life beyond Earth, is this because we find it difficult to allow humanity to exist beyond the confines of our own history? Is humanity linked, integrally, inextricably, to humans, or is it simply linked to the existence of life?


The space we occupy has a profound impact on how we perceive ourselves and others. Our setting and environment often dictate what societal norms and beliefs we internalize and project onto those around us. How do spaces like our birthplace and hometown influence how we view humanity? How connected is our own human identity to the places we come from as well as the places we move or travel too? The hypothetical space between countries, cities, and communities also influences the way we view the humanity of others. In what ways do geographical borders cultivate differing perceptions of humanity? Are boundaries a necessary distinction, or do they propagate an “us versus them” mentality? The spaces we create for others are often largely representative of which parts of humanity we deem are “valuable.” How does making space for the representation of traditionally marginalized communities broaden the “mainstream” view of humanity?

Sapere Aude offers a unique opportunity for students who submit prior to our soft deadline. All submissions received by October 28th, 2019 at 8pm 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 20th, 2019 at 8:00pm.

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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