Have you not had the chance to meet Dr. Lauren Esposito, the most recently hired full-time faculty member of the English department? Here’s some of what she told me about herself in a chat I had with her during the fall semester:
Dr. Esposito attended Stony Brook University for a bachelor’s degree in business management, for master’s degrees in English Literature (M.A.) and in secondary English teaching (M.A.T.), and for her PhD. in English and a graduate certificate in Teaching Writing.
She described her switch from business to English as something that many students probably face. She said she felt the pressure of needing to have a “secure job and a secure future,” but she realized through taking several English classes as an undergraduate that that was what she was passionate about and what she wanted to do.
Dr. Esposito also had the opportunity to work as a fellow on an academic journal for secondary English teachers called English Journal.
“I worked with a professor there who was the editor for five years, and I worked with another graduate assistant as his assistant. I got to edit the manuscripts and learn about editing and putting the journal together, and it was great because I had never gotten to do anything with publishing or editing before.”
Dr. Esposito would go on to do her doctoral dissertation on using improv as a way for students to brainstorm and to invent ideas for writing.
Her idea came from her experience as an improv performer, which she has done in groups and through workshops; one notable workshop was her time spent learning from the Upright Citizens Brigade, or UCB.
“What teachers do is kind of improvising; you come up with a script, you kind of have an idea of where things go, but just like with improv, you have a live audience. You don’t know what suggestions you’re going to get. You don’t know who is going to laugh at what. … With students, I feel the same. I have to be able to think on my feet.”
Dr. Esposito found these similarities between improvising and teaching interesting, which opened up the doors for her research that she would conduct. These techniques and concepts didn’t stay behind in the dissertation, though, as she continues to use improv in the classroom.
Similarly to the improv groundwork advice of answering any suggestion with “yes, and,” Dr. Esposito is unafraid of trying new things in the classroom and in life as she continues to teach at Marywood, and she looks forward to the future she has here.
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