For Contributors

We welcome contributions from people from all walks of life–undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, postdocs, adjuncts, independent scholars, creative writers, artists, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, and members of local communities with stories to tell.  Although academic in origin and bent, Tropics of Meta appreciates an open and inclusive discussion of important issues, (lower c) catholic in approach and diverse in style. This is not a peer-reviewed journal, though submissions receive extensive feedback, criticism, and copyediting by our team of editors before publication.

We believe more is more.  You can call it “longform blogging,” but we are not married to any particular genre, length, or style of writing.  We edit pieces for clarity, grammar, and argument, but we would rather err on the side of a richer engagement with the topic under discussion and give authors broad discretion to shape their work, even if it means some might consider it TL;DR; we believe in making material available to contemporary readers who have a deep interest in a given subject as well as future scholars who will want to know as much as possible about it.  We want our work to reach a broad audience, but as an anti-profit enterprise, we do not care about ads or clicks or pandering to fleeting attention spans.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or a pitch for a piece, contact our editorial team at

For a sample of the kind of work that we publish, check out essays by these contributors: Rob Baker | Casey Baskin | R. Mike BurrAlex Sayf Cummings | Adam Gallagher | Romeo GuzmanKeith OrejelRyan Reft | Jason Tebbe | South El Monte Arts Posse | Lauren MacIvor Thompson

About Money

We want to be direct and transparent about the fact that we are not able to pay contributors. We have no advertising, partnerships, grants or other revenue to speak of.  The site was originally built by grad students in the humanities and initially published work primarily by academics who, as a general rule, don’t expect to be paid for their writing. We don’t want to take advantage of the work of people who make their living by writing if they can take the work to an outlet that does have resources and can offer payment.

We frankly wrestle with the implications of the so-called “free labor” economy and what part we play in it.  We know that you can’t eat or pay your rent with “exposure.” At the same time, this platform does have a large readership, especially in academia, and contributors have parlayed their work here into a variety of different paying gigs; many pieces from ToM have been republished more formally in print; and the work really can be part of the cultural conversation. (Take the epic American Dirt fiasco; we were on Good Morning America!)  For those who are in a position to contribute, this publication provides both a great deal of latitude and an audience. Being free of commercial considerations allows us to publish whatever we want, including challenging and in-depth work (like Ju-Hyun Park’s brilliant Parasite analysis) that could be harder to place in for-profit outlets.

A ToM Style Guide

  • Commas, question marks, and exclamation points should generally be enclosed within quotation marks, e.g. “Fred said hello,” — not “Fred said hello”,
  • Decades should not include an apostrophe, e.g. 1970s — not 1970’s
  • The same goes for abbreviations, e.g. MCs or MPs — not MC’s or MP’s
  • Use the Oxford or serial comma, e.g. apples, oranges, and bananas — not apples, oranges and bananas
  • Beware the dangling modifier; it is the menace of our editors. If you do not know what it is, look at some examples here.
  • Avoid passive voice, e.g. “Congress passed the legislation on March 15th” — not “the legislation was passed by Congress on March 15th”
  • Try to break long paragraphs into shorter ones with punchy, engaging topic sentences that engage the reader and smooth the transition from one paragraph to another. Long paragraphs look especially daunting on cell phones and other mobile devices.
  • Avoid the dreaded run-on sentence; if two parts of one sentence could stand alone as separate sentences, and they are not connected by a conjunction (and, or, but) or a punctuation mark (colon or semicolon), then consider breaking them into two sentences.
  • If you need to cite references, use footnotes in Microsoft Word or another word-processing program. We prefer Chicago or Turabian-style references; please avoid MLA or APA-style, parenthetical in-text citation