Alum Profile: Tom Borthwick (’05)

Profile by Jillian Gratz (’18)

Tom

Tom Borthwick found English to be an amazing major and life pursuit. Now a teacher at Riverside School District, an adjunct professor at Marywood, and published short story writer, Tom reflects on his major and the opportunities it has given him with fond memories and a love for the literary way of life.

“English prepares you for anything in life,” Tom believes. “It encompasses philosophy, history, and psychology.” Tom also strongly advocates and praises English for its ability to assist in critical thinking. He advises current English majors to “Read, read, read,” passionately professing that English majors are given the opportunity to read and encounter “innumerable perspectives from writers across the spectrum.” Tom believes that all English majors “are the thinkers and, perhaps more importantly, the artists and creators who are able to bring reason to disorder.” His belief in English and its ability to change people and the world is inspiring and hopeful.

Tom’s fondest memories of Marywood are many. From his time as the Editor-in-Chief of the Bayleaf, to all of the lifelong relationships forged with teachers and students, Tom remembers his time at Marywood as the experience that “helped shape me into the man and teacher that I am today.”

In his free time, Tom enjoys reading, writing, traveling, spending time with family, and many other ventures. His simplest enjoyment is “sitting on my porch with a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) reflecting on life.”

When asked whether or not his desired career path changed after graduation, Tom stated that he “was lucky enough to get a teaching job immediately after graduation, and I’ve been in the field since.” Teaching is not a field he sees himself parting from. However, his dream job is that of travel writing. Tom has a passion for traveling that has taken him to “England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Croatia and, in particular, Italy.” On his travels, Tom was very inspired by the cultures of the countries he visited. “I’ve learned so much about other cultures and would love to share in the beauty of the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, and the history I’ve absorbed,” he reflects.

Within the many accomplishments Tom has accumulated, including completing the writing of his novel Flash Mob, marrying his wife Michelle, and many more, one new accomplishment stands out: “My son, Tom, was born two weeks ago.  Ushering him into the world is by far the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”

Tom is currently reading Sleeping Beauty by Ross MacDonald. “A few months back, I bought literally every book he wrote,” Tom notes, “and I’ve been plowing through them since!”

Dear New English Major (2017 edition)

This morning the students in our gateway course (ENGL 170: Introduction to Literature and Writing Studies) closed the semester by compiling some points of advice for next year’s class. They also enjoyed Devon’s homemade cake pops 🙂

Some highlights from our discussion are below:

  • Read. Do the reading. All of it. .
  • Don’t procrastinate. It’s not worth it. Get your stuff done. When you hear the birds chirping, it stops being fun.
  • Ask for help. If something is unclear or you don’t know the information, ask.
  • Try to take something out of every item on the syllabus. Even if you hate it, it’s on there for a reason.
  • Breathe. There’s no reason to hyperventilate.
  • Write every day in small and big ways. Be sure to develop your own voice.
  • Accept the views of others (re: literary analysis), even when they are not your own
  • Eat the cupcake.
  • It’s okay to be a nerd. You’ve found your tribe.
  • Don’t apologize unless you really should.
  • Sometimes the readings you don’t like have the most to teach you.
  • Look intently, think critically, and know your sources. This takes time. So see #2.
  • Even the most seemingly insignificant detail can change the way you read something.
  • Cake pops by prescription. Also Cheeze Balls.
  • Know your limits. Take breaks when you need to. Practice self care.
  • Write from your heart and edit from your head.
  • You know you’re in deep when you start laughing aloud at the Jane Austen memes.
  • Pet all the dogs.
  • Tears are not weakness.
  • May the force be with you. Also the course.

Peace out, friends!!  And when you’re done studying for finals, watch for the rest of this semester’s alumni profiles (crafted by our gateway students) right here on our blog.

Alum Profile: Trish Dickert-Nieves (’05)

Profile by Devon Davis (’18)

Trish

The Draw to English

Trish Dickert-Nieves started in the English program as a placeholder of sorts; she had to attend college, so beginning in the English program was an easy choice. Without any solid direction of what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, she studied for the sake of studying and for the sake of enjoyment without a “profession in mind.” She started taking classes in other majors that interested her, such as Philosophy and Criminal Justice, and this dabbling eventually earned her enough credits to result in a Philosophy minor. She tried many different classes and spoke of her time at Marywood as seemingly transformative and pivotal in how she would later connect with others in her community. She reminisced, “I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I loved the conversation I was having, and that alone was changing my world.” Looking back on her time spent at Marywood and of the more gratifying experiences, she recalled managing to balance such a heavy course load. She attributes her wide range of skills today to the diverse and numerous classes she had as an undergrad, claiming, “If I just focused on one thing, I’d probably end up in a different position then I am now”.

Terra Preta: Live Well, Eat Well

The professors of Marywood, more than anyone else, she cites as creating an environment where “there never once was a time where I felt too overwhelmed to really focus on myself and learn new things.” Being able to branch out and try multiple routes was made possible by the support of the Marywood community.

After graduation, fresh from the support of this tight-knit community, Trish fell ill for some time and started to focus on eating and living healthy. As she recovered, her father was looking into opening another restaurant in Scranton, and Trish took the opportunity to inspire her father to look into health food. Though it was never her intention to become involved in the restaurant business, she “ended up falling in love with the idea and visualizing and creating it,” so her father handed over the reigns, and Terra Preta was born. Conceptually, Terra Preta started out as a wellness center with a small health food element, but today Trish can’t imagine a world without Terra Preta the restaurant. She feels nothing but love for the restaurant that has opened so many doors. “We are able to use it as a vessel to reach out to the community and nonprofits, collaborating with different partnerships,” she explains.

Community Work

While also being her biggest source of pride, Terra Preta is also how both Trish and her husband reach out to the community. They have worked with Catholic Social Services and the University of Scranton’s campus ministry office to reach out to refugees from Syria relocated to our area. Trish and her husband have the refugees create a menu from their home country, and they make the food for them in an effort to reconnect the refugees with homes they have left. Other organizations they work with through both fundraisers and collaboration include the Rainbow Alliance, The Women’s Resource Center, and Pennsylvania For Sustainable Agriculture. She credits Marywood with her ability to reach out to all of these organizations. “It’s a little bit of everything, which seems to go back to my studies,” she continues, “the broad range that I was able to cultivate while I was in school … I was then able to put in practice [here].”

Though most of her time is spent at the restaurant and working with the community, the small spare moments she gets are spent with family, her dog Rocky, and an unwavering dedication to staying healthy. She wished she had more time for creative pursuits and physical activities like yoga, dancing, and hula-hooping, but she stressed that spending time with family is “the most important thing” to do in almost non-existent spare time.

Advice for Undergrads?

Trish gave these bits of advice to current and future students of the English program: “Be aware of your time management,” “Leave time for social activities,”and “Get involved in activities on campus.” A former commuter, Trish regrets not being a bit more active with campus activities, as she advises students to “make sure you have time to enjoy [school].”

Senior Seminar Night, 2017 Edition

Please join us in celebrating many of our graduating seniors on Tuesday, May 9 from 6-8p in the Swartz Center (adjoining Loughran Hall). Students enrolled in our Senior Seminar (ENGL 495) will be presenting their capstone research projects to faculty, friends, and family.

Abstracts of the students’ research are included below, for your reading pleasure.

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Alicia Belch

 Fostering Empathy through Modern Intersectional Poets Dean Atta and Rupi Kaur

To live responsibly in an interdependent world, empathy surely tops the list as a necessary quality a student must possess. By teaching modern poets who are multicultural or have aspects of intersectionality—the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as   race, class, and gender—within the formal education system, students and teachers alike would be able to unveil the inherent value of poetry within contemporary society. Fostering empathy through modern intersectional poetry within formal education system will help to alleviate the current social and racial tensions within the United States, as well as work to promote abstract and critical thinking. For example, Dean Atta, a homosexual black artist in his early thirties, and Rupi Kaur, an Indian-Canadian 24-year-old “Instapoet” are two modern intersectional poets that students should study in order to spark discussion on the current issues of gender identification, sexuality, body-shaming, violence, racism, and love in the twenty-first century.

Through their strong messages of cultural and sexual acceptance, Atta’s collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, along with Kaur’s collection, Milk and Honey, inspire readers to connect emotion and meaning to modern day issues. Therefore, these poets deserve their place in the standard curricula alongside traditional poets so that students may be equipped with enough empathy and understanding to enter into “the real world” with a love for diversity and variety of life. Especially with the current refugee crises here in the United States, and an increase in violence against and objectification of women, incorporating modern poetry that is relevant to students’ lives is extremely important for molding future social justice advocates and critical thinkers who can solve problems with an empathic mind.

Thomas A. Collins

Warren Peace: Leadership, Utopian Society, and the Hare Apparent in Watership Down

A warren, the underground home of rabbits serves as a sanctuary hidden from the potential threats of the natural world. Above ground, rabbits have many things to fear, a slew of predators eager to become the cause of their demise, one thousand enemies in fact, if the myth of the legendary rabbit El-ahrairah is to be believed. Animals, when injected into a fantastic world such as a fantasy novel, become far more than ordinary creatures. British author Richard Adams’ masterwork Watership Down magically teleports the reader to a fantasy world of displaced rabbits who seek a warren in which they can fully participate, while simultaneously offering invaluable lessons of inclusive community and a universal leadership model through the trials and tribulations of a fictional society in search of collective happiness.

From the violent world of Tolkien, to the looking glass of C. S. Lewis, fantasy novels mirror the export of consciousness that humans absorb during dreams as readers seek respite from their less extraordinary waking world. Whether based upon dreams, or the resultant nightmares, fantasy novels are engrained in society’s exploration of who they are and who they wish to become. Dreams, like the fantasy novels, have an uncanny way of rapping on the door of our subconscious, offering alternative imaginings to supplement the reality of human existence. Keeping in mind Albus Dumbledore’s advice to young Harry Potter “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” the correct approach to exploring the world of a fantasy novel is a careful one. Therefore, what lies ahead is not an exposition on dreams but an invitation to explore leadership within the incredible nonexistent boundaries of the fantasy genre.

Amanda Duncklee

Who Saw the Monsters? An Analysis of Perspective in Late Victorian Horror Novels

If seeing is believing, what happens when we cannot see, yet are expected to believe? In Victorian horror/gothic novels Dracula by Bram Stoker and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, there is no omniscient third person narrator who tells us exactly what is happening in the works; instead, multiple characters within the texts give their accounts of the action. The characters experience evil firsthand and embark on tremendous adventures to combat horror while the audience sits outside the pages, anxiously reading the lines from the characters’ perspectives. We read chilling accounts of the supernatural Dracula’s plans to create more vampires and puzzling observations of Dr. Jekyll’s duality of character; yet, due to the lack of omniscience, we readers are removed from the stories and must challenge ourselves to seek truth within the narratives.

Only through letters, telegrams, diary entries, and oral storytelling do the characters in these novels give their versions of what occurs in their respective worlds. The multiple communication media and the lack of omniscience resulting from the various narrators adds another layer of mystery to these works. Readers can read the story, but they are removed from the events due to the shifting perspectives and must constantly question the accounts they are given. In this paper, I will examine how this unorthodox use of perspective in Dracula and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde challenges the readers to pay close attention to the text in order to determine the truth of the action as well as how the authors’ use of perspective contributes to the horror and mystery of these works. 

Sally Jellock

 Harry’s Heroines: How the Female Character in the Harry Potter Series Nurture and Shape His Identity

The story of Harry Potter depicts the harrowing journey of a child on his discovery to find out who he is and where he belongs. Throughout seven novels, readers of all ages can experience the happiness, the sadness, and the terror surrounding the life of Harry Potter. Along with Harry, readers can attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; they can communicate spells and interact with fantastic beasts. However, Harry would not have been able to succeed if it was not for the role of women throughout these novels; these characters help Harry to succeed in a way that he might not have discovered on his own. Because of these women, Harry is able to learn what love is and experience the idea of family like he is never known before.  In a story about a motherless hero, I will explore how the author, J.K. Rowling, includes women in Harry’s life that help nurture and shape his identity, allowing him to become one of the greatest wizards of Wizarding World.

Dave Kruman

All for One, One for All: Why the Three Musketeers Still Stick Together

The Three Musketeers was published in 1844.  The Three Musketeers revolves around three of King Louis XIII’s guards and one young man aspiring to join their ranks. D’Artagnan, the lead character in The Three Musketeers, is interesting to the readers because he is not one of the three musketeers that the novel was named after.  D’Artagnan’s character grows from the beginning of the novel as a young, Gascon to an admired and loyal guard of the King.  The character is talked at with a lack of respect from his peers because of where he is from, how much money he has, and his age.  D’Artagnan challenges his early labels by his own development throughout the course of the novel.  As a reader, I question, why is it that the novel is named after three supporting characters instead of the lead?  These characters, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, will prove to be equally important characters for D’Artagnan, allowing the reader to further understand the protagonist and his rise to becoming a hero.  The very concept of overcoming social status is the force which motivates d’Artagnan to rely on his three friends.

The novel is set in the 1630’s in France, a time where the common people were confused about who the true ruler of the country was; King Louis XIII or Cardinal Richelieu. This heroic tale is set to take place over two hundred years before the novel was published.  The novel is a period piece, sharing with the reader a criticism of France in these revolutionary times.  Dumas places himself in the novel by recreating d’Artagnan as a hero with finite abilities.  Much like d’Artagnan, Dumas himself had to persevere social oppression in order to achieve the success he met in life.  After looking deeply into the characters, their position in society, and Dumas’ own personal experience, the reader will then be able to understand why this story has been adapted into twenty-four movies and a television series.  Through a close reading of the novel, I will prove that even great heroes need help, especially if they are rising from nothing.

Maria Lawrence

The Superhuman Power of the Written Word in Watchmen

Allow me to take you back to the year 1985, to an alternate world where Richard Nixon has remained president, tensions between the United States and Russia are at an all-time high, and superheroes are real. In the comic series Watchmen, costumed crime fighters exist but are unappreciated, unwanted, and forced into retirement. Writer Alan Moore’s fictional universe—crawling with crime and corruption, its people full of fear and frustration—is not so unlike our own.

Each character’s life is overwhelmed by media, which is a feeling our society knows too well. The news plays on every television, graffiti decorates the streets, and newspapers litter the sidewalks. This relentless exposure to media affects characters and readers alike, with each medium creating its own consequences. Readers are allowed into the heads of the characters through various means including journal entries, psychiatric notes, and an autobiography. There is even the opportunity to read another comic within the story alongside the character of a little boy. This comic parallels Watchmen’s world, which in return parallels our world.

In this paper I will discuss the impact literature and the media have on society in Watchmen, and how relevant this is to our society today. These institutions have the potential to educate and enlighten, yet they also alter the ways in which we perceive the world around us. I will argue that by providing insight into all of these different forms of media, Moore shows us how much control they have over our actions, and how greatly influenced we are by our exposure to them.

Jessie Linde

It May be Scary, but It’s Reality: A Discussion about Mature and Dark Children’s Literature

Not all children’s books are filled with thought provoking themes and pictures of knives. Fortunately, there are some children’s writers who are incorporating mature subjects within their books because they want to expose their young readers to the harsh reality of the real world. Writers Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman are known for writing books that contain more mature content which they present to their readers by using dark humor to make their readers comfortable with bad figures who commit awful acts, but also provide good figures to guide the child along the way.

For my paper, I will look at Dahl’s The Witches which is about a little boy and his grandma who work together to eliminate all of the witches in England, who are, simultaneously, trying to eradicate all of the children in England. Additionally, I will be looking at his well-known book Matilda about a young girl with secret powers, who is neglected by her parents, chastised by her cruel principal, but adored by her teacher who helps to further her intellect. I will also look at Gaiman’s Coraline which follows a young girl as she tries to discover herself and the “other world” she finds hidden behind a door in her drawing room. Further, I will also discuss Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which follows Nobody “Bod” Owens, a boy whose family was murdered by the man Jack, and his life in a graveyard being raised by ghosts as he is hunted down by the man Jack. Through these works, I will discuss how previous literary critics highlight the values or lessons and dark humor that both Dahl and Gaiman use in their work. However, they fail to underscore who teaches these lessons. Therefore, I will show how Dahl and Gaiman write about mature subjects that pertain to the adult world by using dark humor to allow their readers to be comfortable with the bad figures presented, but are ultimately guided by good figures who shows the readers hope.

Rose Mrdjenovic

Textiles and Talking: Heroines in the Work of Diana Wynne Jones

Heroes venture out on journeys; they are called to greatness and face great evil. They do not weave while there is action going on, or read books while their friend travels the globe, or sew while talking to inanimate objects, as the heroines in the novels of Diana Wynne Jones do. Heroes are supposed to be people such as Hercules, Odysseus, or Superman. They face danger after danger on their harrowing journeys. Heroes aren’t supposed to be Odysseus’s wife Penelope, beset by dozens of suitors who assume her husband is dead. Penelope weaves every day and unravels her work each night to delay them. She doesn’t go out and have a journey and she doesn’t slay any monsters, but during those ten years, Penelope remains constant. She uses her own guile and wit to trick over one hundred men.

The traditional image of the hero roughly conforms to the picture Homer paints. However, the heroines presented in the work of the British fantasy novelist Diana Wynne Jones suggest a different female hero, one modeled after characters like Penelope. Throughout her works, we see heroines who save the world and those important to them without following the traditional hero’s journey—they do great feats through feminine qualities and women’s work. These heroines stay in one place, they weave fabric, they sew and talk. Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle, Tanaqui in The Dalemark Quartet, and Polly in Fire and Hemlock all use traditionally feminine modes in their acts of heroism. I argue that Diana Wynne Jones defines a new kind of hero for female characters, who do not follow the traditional hero’s journey and have female characteristics that are essential to their heroism.

Cathrine Owens

Who are we? Where are we? Redefining the American Literature Canon World Wide

The classic American poem “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman begins, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you” (Section 1). At first this seems shockingly egotistical, but the last line softens that with an idea that is central to American culture: we are all ourselves, but we must be ourselves together. One way to represent this value is through American literature. To read the works of a country is to experience its people, its past, and its values. For students living in America, this is should be another layer on their greater understanding of the place in which they live. For students around the world, however, exposure to American literature can be crucial to their overall knowledge of the culture of the United States and how that culture interacts with, conflicts, and enlightens their own

In exploring the idea of what American literature stands to represent, I will examine the state of the debate surrounding the American literature canon, what purpose it serves, and how educators reconcile that when planning what to teach. This will culminate in an exploration of one foreign country, Poland in this case, and how American literature can be used to enlighten a country that is currently embarking on a journey that has litered America’s past; Europe is becoming a place to immigrate to instead of from. All of this goes to show that while we may be seperated by time and distance from works of literature, they have a way of uniting us, even those outside the states.

Aaron Riley

Destiny or Not? The Debate of Fate versus Free Will in Shakespeare’s                 Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear

A man is on trial for attacking another man. The defense attorney explains how the man was bound by fate to harm the other man and cannot be held responsible for something he had no control over. However, the prosecutor explains that the man was not bound by fate and was in full control of his actions. Who is right? Fate has long since been accepted as being the definitive guiding force of the world, yet that has since become challenged by the emergence of free will. Many writers have debated as to which principle is the true guide of human life, and Shakespeare is no exception. He has explored both through his many plays. These works, in particular the tragedies, all display aspects of fate and free will in some way or another. The tragedies all share common elements, such as the tragic and brutal deaths of their characters and fearsome struggles for power, both for political and personal reasons. These elements and their implementations have led to many scholars debating whether or not these actions are predetermined or caused by the willful intentions of their doers.

That is what will be the focus of my analysis. The three tragedies I will use for this analysis will be the tragedies King Lear, Macbeth and Hamlet. These tragedies were selected because of their similar elements, all dealing with the debate of fate versus free will, and contain characters that have traits debated for each side of fate versus free will. For this analysis, I will examine several aspects of the plays in order to establish that Shakespeare is saying how free will is the true guiding principle of life and that fate is merely limited to determining the ultimate end of everyone. In order to support this point, I will draw attention to several of the tragedies’ aspects, such as the portrayal of astrology, the changes that occur in the main characters and the use of supernatural elements. I will use these in order to prove how free will reigns supreme in Shakespeare’s works.

Emily Roche

“A Cinderella Story”: The History of Fairy Tales and How We Perceive Them

If I asked you to think of the story of Cinderella, the first image that comes to mind is likely that of a beautiful, young blonde girl in a pale blue dress. As most people are aware, this is an image of the fairy tale’s usual main protagonist that comes directly from Walt Disney’s first ever adaptation of the tale from 1950. But what most people do not know is where the story came from and why this piece of fairy tale history has stuck around so long, there is a lot more to be gained from “Cinderella” when you look beyond the image Disney has built up over the last 67 years. Had you have been born in a different time or place, you might have known the character as someone quite different: Ye Xian, Cendrillon, or maybe even Aschenputtel, to name just a few.

In my paper, I will look closely at two different variations of “Cinderella” to show why a deeper appreciation for the fairy tale is needed in a world where the tale is still as popular as ever. The first of these two “Cinderella” stories is one of the earliest known variations of the tale that comes from ninth century China, and the second is a later, more well-known European variation from Charles Perrault; the variation that inspired Disney’s groundbreaking adaptation. Looking at these two variations is important to understand the “Cinderella” story as a more diverse, cultural tale, and as a tale with universal messages that have driven the story’s popularity for many, many years. By doing so, we can not only gain a deeper appreciation, but we can better understand our own society today and identify how a little bit of magic can connect us all.

Alum Profile: Megan McDonnell (’15)

Profile by Nicole Sobolewski (’20)

Dora

Current occupation

Megan McDonnell is currently a graduate student at Marywood, working on her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. After graduating Marywood with an English and Spanish degree, Megan was “unsure what to pursue.” Having no idea what to do, she took a Focus 2 test to see where she would work best. After realizing she belongs in a psychology field, she decided to get a master’s degree. She recognized that this degree can potentially allow her to get a job that can someday help “save someone’s life,” which brought her great joy.

How an English major helped her succeed

English has helped Megan prepare for her master’s degree. It has allowed her to “think critically and write effectively.” Having been consistently reading, writing, and developing ideas as an undergraduate student, Megan developed the skills she now needs for her degree.

Best part about getting a master’s degree

The best part about getting a master’s degree is the ability to “learn so much about one topic.” Megan is constantly learning about her field, even outside of school. She is able to apply her school material to the outside world. In addition, it is amazing to have other students who “love the discipline” and have the ability to see “professors conducting research.”

Advice to current English majors

Megan advises students to “get involved as much as possible.” In college, “you only get out what you put in.” Although this sounds a bit clichéd, it is true. “Opportunities will not present themselves unless you seek them out,” she notes. Furthermore, Megan advises students to take the Literary Criticism and Theory class. Megan considered this class to be a “boot camp for English majors.” The class has taught her strong analysis skills that she uses to this day.

Life outside school

By the age of twenty-two, Megan had written her own novel. However, since she is currently concentrating on her master’s degree, she hasn’t had time to publish it. Eight agents are interested in her novel, and she hopes one day to do so. In addition, Megan works for Crisis Text Line. This text line allows individuals to seek help through a “less personal communication” process. Megan has already helped many, and she hopes to keep helping others.

Greatest personal accomplishment

Megan’s most memorable achievement was the moment she received her college diploma. Megan had many doubts about the career path she should take, constantly changing her mind. At one point, she took three semesters off to try to figure out what to do. So when Megan finally graduated, she was “happy to see the diploma, especially since it was worth so much.” She was proud of herself for succeeding.

 

 

Senior Profile: Jessie Linde (’17)

Profile by Lisa Drehmann (’20)

Jessie

Choosing English

Jessie Linde is a Senior English major with minors in writing and women’s studies. Linde has had a passion for writing and literature, saying, “Throughout high school I had a deep passion for literature.” Linde initially wanted to go school as a writing major because she loved writing.  However, Marywood didn’t have writing as a major at the time, so she chose the next best thing, which was to major in English and minor in writing. One thing that Linde knew for sure was that she was not interested in going into the sciences saying,  I wasn’t particularly good at science so I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere near that field.”

Advice for English Majors

Linde was excited to share advice that she thinks is one of the most important things for all new English majors to know. She said, “Make sure it’s something you really want to do. There were a lot more people originally in my major, but many people dropped out because they realized it wasn’t for them.” Linde stressed that literature and writing is something you must be passionate about in order to be successful in the area of study. She said that analyzing and critiquing literature is not for everyone and to make sure it is something you feel strongly about doing.
Linde could not think of one book in particular that had a major influence on her. “There are just so many,” she said. However, she was able to assert that a category that she enjoys is British literature. She said, “I found that it’s my favorite genre of literature to study.”

Influential Professor

A big influence in Linde’s academic experience was Dr. McMillan, who is no longer teaching at Marywood. She said that Dr. McMillan was not only a big influence in English, but also inspired Linde to begin her minor in women’s studies: “Dr. McMillan opened my eyes to a lot of things.” She was very grateful for being introduced to the women’s studies field and was excited to begin incorporating the new passion into her literary studies and life.

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges that Linde said that she faced was the amount of work required of English majors. She said that because she was taking mostly English classes, the workload began to be very demanding. She recalled often having to read three books at one time, which was challenging but still worth it to Linde because her passion for writing and analyzing literature is so strong. Another challenge that Linde felt worth noting was people’s reactions when telling them that she is an English major. She said, “Telling people I’m an English major—people don’t see why. People think you won’t do anything with it.” Linde laughed and explained that when people think English majors won’t do anything, they are very much mistaken. Linde loves animals and plans to incorporate her skills into starting a blog as well as being able to help animals.

Senior Profile: Maria Lawrence (’17)

Profile by Kayla Seymour (’17)

MariaL

Maria Lawrence. 23 years on Planet Earth.  Dunmore, PA. Favorite Author: Raymond Carver

Q: Coffee or tea?

 Maria: Depends on the day—either coffee in the morning and tea at night, or tea in the morning and coffee at night.

 Q: Why did you choose to study English?

Maria: Originally I switched majors a couple of times, and I took a year off. Eventually my advisor pointed out that every elective I had chosen was English. So I pursued an English minor until I realized I might as well major in English, because I came to realize that those were my fun classes.

Q: Any advice to new English majors?

 Maria: Not to worry about anything, not to worry about your future, just read and write. When things call to you, just write them down. Another piece of advice: when I read an article or book and see a word I don’t recognize, I write it down in this little book with other definitions. I’ll refer back to it and read it sometimes.

Q: Is there a professor that influenced you in any way?

Maria: They all influenced me in many ways…I would definitely say Dr. Conlogue and also Sister Christine. Sister Christine would assign a reading for us to read, and we would discuss it, but she would also read it out loud, and the way she emphasized and read things aloud—she added life to it. I saw a different perspective from her reading out loud. This emphasizes the reason I love English; I’ll read something and interpret it some way, and classmates and professors will bring out a variety of perspectives and different outlooks.

Q: A text that has influenced you?

Maria: When I was younger, Sherlock Holmes stood out to me, and that’s when I first started loving literature. Poe is also a big influence; Poe is different than anyone, and I was so infatuated with this that it started making me ask questions. Poe throws questions of all sorts at you—there’s no running from them. Also,  in Dr. Conlogue’s class, Faulkner’s stream-of-consciousness and writing style made an impression on me.

Q: The focus of your capstone paper?

 Maria: I am researching and writing about the comic series Watchmen. The setting of the Watchmen is during the Cold War, which involved tensions between the United States and Russia. There are twelve comic books in the series that I’m specifically going to be looking at. Throughout the series, you follow a superhero’s journal entries. There are a few superheroes in the Watchmen, but you only see one’s journal entries. I’m looking into Moore’s portrayal of the written word and how that affects society in the series, as well as society in the real world, in our society.

The reader also follows the story from newspaper headings; they are really important too. There is also a little boy reading a comic book, and the reader is reading the comic book as well, but the boy doesn’t know he’s in the book.

People may think that comic books are just for fun, but they have an impact.

Q: What is the capstone class like?

Maria: It has a family atmosphere. There are small groups that get together. Dr. Sadlack works with you every step of the way, so it’s not so intimidating. You talk to her about three different topics and choose one and make it yours.

Q: What has been most challenging for you in your studies?

Maria: I still feel like I’m not good at writing yet. I still don’t feel confident in writing. To loosen up about this, I’ll go see movies all the time. I’ll come home and write a film review, putting my thoughts down first and out on the page. I’ll then read other film reviews and see if other critics had similar thoughts or vice versa.

Q: Has being an English major taken you anywhere interesting? 

Maria: Ireland (a Spring Break trip Marywood held for the Spring 2016 semester to correspond with a travel writing course.) Before this trip, I never took the time to journal, but now it’s super important to me.  I write wherever I go, and I make time.

This reminds Maria of another piece of great advice for the eager writers and readers out there:

Bring a small notebook wherever you go. I don’t have the best memory so I’ll be like, “Hang on, I gotta write this.” Your world is your idea. You never know when ideas are going to come up. Your notebook is your interpretation of what the world is.

Q: So, what’s next Maria?

 Maria: I think I would really like to teach. I really want to do something that makes a difference, something that makes an impact; to do so would be very rewarding. I’m interested in teaching abroad, EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in another country. I would love to meet people halfway.

Cheers, Maria. And good luck with everything. Can’t wait to read the miraculous things you produce.

 

 

Senior Profile: Thomas Collins (’17)

Profile by Kayla Seymour (’18)

Thomas Collins is a non-traditional student. He is a scholar and father with a full-time job, three children, and he is in pursuit of an English literature degree at Marywood University. Thomas has been studying at Marywood since 2011, making him the most productive human being I’ve ever come across.

  1.  Why did you choose to study English?

Thomas: I’ve always been interested in things that happened before us. Until things started to be recorded, we didn’t have a lot of knowledge of happenings going on. English is a great companion to history because you have people from different times writing about what’s surrounding them.

     2.  Any advice to new English majors?

Thomas: Diversify your classes as much as you can. For example, British Literature I is very different from British Literature II because in Brit. Lit. II you have women starting to appear because it was a time women were starting to be taken more seriously as intellectuals. And you start to see women’s writing is just as good as the men’s, better even, because they have a different perspective and come at things with a different way of thinking.

Also, learn grammar because it helps you become a better reader and writer. For example, use nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, etc., and learn how to identify these things in writing. You can really gain an intimate perspective on grammar if you study it in college because you realize it’s all around you. You’ll start to understand writing without writing in the standard way you’ve known your whole life.

       3. What is the focus of your Capstone paper?

Thomas: I am writing about a book called Watership Down by Richard Adams. It was written several decades ago and got turned down for publishing over fifty times until Adams finally found a small firm to publish his book.

The book is based off an area Adams grew up in when he was younger, a small, wooded, country area. In Watership Down, this place is known as The Warren, a place in which rabbits live underground in a series of tunnels. The Warren has a government in which there is a leader who is part of the upper echelon of society and is one of the strongest, wisest members of society. And there is also a military presence in The Warren that is made up of the larger rabbits of the community. Over the course of the novel there are three different rabbit communities. And the communities all have different governments.  There is The Warren spoken of earlier. There is also a democratic community, but the common rabbits do not have a voice. Another of the communities resembles  a dictatorship where there is one leader, General Woolwort.

In Watership Down, I will be looking at the government structures and the group of rabbits that break away from the government groups and how their separate community works together and why it works together. I’ll also look at what communities fall apart and why they fall apart.

         4. Do you have a favorite memory from being an English major?

Thomas: Just having the opportunity to be at Marywood, something I never thought I would do until I made the decision to go back. I have three small children and a full-time job, so at times it is really challenging to pull this together. But to be at Marywood, have the experience, and do well, so far has been a blessing.

        5. So, what’s next Thomas?

Thomas: My ultimate goal is to be an English and history teacher. So I’ll be going for my Masters right after my Bachelors is complete.

Senior Profile: Amanda Duncklee (’18)

AmandaDProfile by Devon Davis (’19)

“I learned all, and though I sometimes try to find the way, I tell myself I am better off roaming than luxuriating.” —Amanda Duncklee, “The Fall”

Amanda is currently a junior here in Marywood’s English Department. With only one more year to go, she has opted to take her Senior Seminar class early so it won’t be a worry in her senior year. During Senior Seminar a student must pick a thesis for a capstone project that will be worked on for the entirety of the semester. Amanda has chosen for her capstone three works of literature with a common theme: Bram Stroker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Strange Case Of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Her focus will be the common thread of these three novels, as she puts it, “how perspective is used within all three of those novels…there is no omniscient narrator its all first person I think it’s very interesting.” She intends to examine what this common perspective adds to the stories and why they were written this way. With an obvious love for the subject material, she concludes that she is very excited about this thesis and what it holds.

Why English?

Without hesitation she answered, “I always always always was a big reader.” To her, and to most English majors, English had always been a big part of their life in some way. For Amanda the choice was always clear: “I enjoy being able to express my own ideas… I just love words, it’s my passion.” Though English isn’t always an easy path, or as Amanda puts it, “you really need to love it to commit to doing it,” she recognized talent within herself and set her mind to developing it. She takes a very practical approach to the fact that she needs this development to obtain marketable skills for her future.

One of these important skills, and one of the most important traits for an English major to have, is flexibility. A lesson in flexibility came to her recently with a class reading and discussion of Jane Eyre. She admits, “I’m personally not the biggest fan of Victorianism…I had all of these ideas about the [novels] being stuffy and weird.” Soon though, she came to see Jane Eyre in a different light because it did not fit the notions she had about the period in which it was written.

Extra Special Extracurriculars

Unsurprisingly Amanda spends some of her spare time as a tutor in the Writing Center, meeting with students for a few hours every week to workshop and help edit their papers. She is also a SOAR Job Coach which is, as she puts it, “a volunteer activity I love.”  SOAR or, Students On-campus Achieving Results, is a program that works with autistic high school students who are developing job skills. Amanda’s schedule is also filled with an editorial job for The Bayleaf, organizing a Story Slam, volunteer work as a buddy for Kidstuff, and honors- level homework. Even through her extensive roster of extracurricular activities, she maintains that she enjoys all of it, citing that she generally does things because “they’re fun and I’m interested in them.”

Looking Back/Looking Forward

From her first days exposed to this department she knew she was where she belonged. Reminiscing on a memory of her orientation she recalled being inspired and welcomed by Dr. Bittel and Dr. McMillan: “Seeing these two really strong women in academia, you could tell how smart and how open they were; they were incredibly kind.” It was this close-knit big- hearted family environment within the department that she loved from day one.

Moving towards her future Amanda is unsure of her next big step. Within the first five years of her graduation she’d like to have a full-time job and be out on her own but beyond that she’s unsure of the exact profession she’d like to go into, “maybe publishing, editing, something like that.” Her goal is to become stable; she would like to be financially secure so she may start a family and build her life.

Alum Update: Noelle Kozak (’13)

Congratulations to Noelle Kozak, whose senior seminar paper titled “New Media Adaptations of  Classic Literature: From Pride and Prejudice to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” was recently published in Inquiries Journal: Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities.

LBD

Abstract: Pride and Prejudice, the work of nineteenth century novelist Jane Austen, has been celebrated for over two-hundred years since its first publication. It has been adapted, reinvented and re-imagined over and over again to the delight of both loyal readers and interested newcomers. One such adaptation is the new media sensation, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Developed as a web show, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries successfully honors important themes found in Pride and Prejudice, namely its strong female characters, to tell a story that remains true to Austen’s roots while engaging a new generation of viewers. Although it is a decidedly unconventional retelling of the classic novel, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has succesfully adapted the original work in a new and novel medium — the web “vlog.”

You can access the whole article here. And, if you are really ambitious, you can view the journal’s submission guidelines here; contributions by BA- and MA-level writers are welcome.

Noelle was previously profiled on our blog last spring; you can read more about her here.