Welcome to the blog for the Villanova English department! Visit often for updates on department events, guest speakers, faculty and student accomplishments, and reviews and musings from professors and undergraduates alike.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Prof. Crystal Lucky on Lecturing at Graterford Prison

Shortly after I arrived on Villanova’s campus in 1996, I started getting typed and handwritten requests from inmates at Graterford Prison, asking me to come and teach a course on African American literature.  Unnerved by the requests – how did they know I existed?  -- I chose to ignore them and focus on my new life on campus.  Over the years, I’ve never forgotten those requests and have admired my colleagues who have taught in the university’s program at the prison facility.  So when I got another request, this time from Jill McCorkel of the Sociology department, to participate in the prison lecture series she organizes, I decided it was time.  Nervous that I might be the one who felt imprisoned, put on display, worried that my heart would be broken to see so many black men forced to live beneath their potential, half-heartedly expecting to see someone I knew, I accepted the invitation to present on the development of the Harlem Renaissance and its literary figures.  Jill prepared me for the tedious security procedures and the long, long walk to the auditorium.  She also assured me that once I began to speak, I’d no longer see the inmates’ brown uniforms; instead I’d see students.  She was right.  The men were smart, engaging, engaged and so interesting.  They interrupted my lecture with thoughtful questions, and after the Q&A, which could have lasted another hour, I decided to send back more material for them to read.

Prof. Crystal Lucky in her office.
I took away an important lesson, one that Jill began to teach me at dinner.  I’ve often been guilty of quipping, ‘Of course the inmates should read everything they’re given: they have nothing else to do.’ However, when I walked through the long corridors of Graterford, I realized that there is a whole world behind those sliding doors and bars, a whole lot to do.  When we passed the rap concert, church service, choir rehearsal, and folks just milling about, I realized that people have choices, no matter where they are, about how they spend their time.  Those who attended my lecture wanted to learn about what I was presenting.  They could have chosen to go to the library; they could have chosen the rap concert; they could have chosen cable television.  I was very grateful that they chose to come and listen to me.  At the end of a long semester and a long walk down very long corridors, I received a long overdue privilege.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dan Cummins ('90) on Majoring in English

Attorney Dan Cummins graduated cum laude with a B.A. in English from Villanova and obtained his law degree from the Dickinson School of Law.  He now practices law with the Scranton law firm of Foley, Comerford & Cummins and currently focuses his practice in motor vehicle accident and premises liability matters. His blog, "Tort Talk," has been selected by the ABA Journal as one of the 100 best blogs in the United States for a legal audience (click here to visit the blog).  Cummins also writes a bi-monthly award-winning civil litigation column for the statewide legal news publication, the Pennsylvania Law Weekly.

From Dan:
I am really glad I have found a career and other outlets that allow me to utilize my writing skills honed as an English major at Villanova. While the practice of brief writing in the law does not foster creative writing as much as it does analytical writing, I have been able to participate in column writing for a legal newspaper in addition to maintaining the blog.

My four years of study as an English major at Villanova analyzing in great detail novels by Salinger, Twain, and Dickens, short stories by Joyce and Poe, plays by playwrights from Shakespeare to Miller, and poems by Keats, Yeats, and T.S. Eliot, created skills that I continue to use every day in analyzing cases in the practice of law through legal research. Majoring in English also helped me to craft a writing skill and, more importantly, editing and re-editing skills that I continue to utilize on a daily basis.

Dan at a Civil Litigation conference.
Nowadays, I continue to try to read for pleasure whenever I can but it is sometimes difficult to do with all the reading I do at work—gotta’ give the eyes a rest sometimes. But whenever an anxiously awaited new novel comes out by John Irving or Pat Conroy, two of my favorite authors, I always purchase a copy hot off the presses. I also enjoy going back to the classic works of the great writers noted above for another read at times. Those works continue to provide reading enjoyment, and I am always surprised to see something new or different with each read.

I couldn’t have picked a better major than majoring in English at Villanova. It has both provided me with the skills to succeed in my profession and exposed me to the intense study of a wide variety of great works of literature that I might not have been otherwise exposed to and, for that, I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sports Illustrated Internship

Abbey Theatre Internship Grant

The Villanova University-Abbey Theatre Exchange program was established in 2011, linking the University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with the prestigious national theater of Ireland. As a development of this historic intellectual and artistic partnership, Villanova has announced an “Abbey Theatre Internship Grant,” which will provide a University student with the funding to travel abroad and work for the Abbey Theatre for eight weeks during the summer of 2013. In addition to bringing the finest Irish theatre practitioners to Villanova, the exchange program now provides a grant for a Villanova student to intern at the Abbey Theatre during their prominent summer season.

The University’s exchange program with the Abbey Theatre has created a bridge between the renowned Irish institution and Villanova’s Irish Studies Program and Theater Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The collaboration brings some of Ireland’s preeminent theatre practitioners to the University’s campus to offer graduate and undergraduate courses, as well as workshops, conferences, lectures and other events that will be open to the public.

The recipient of the Abbey Theatre Internship Grant will be announced at Villanova University’s annual Abbey Theatre Lecture on Feb. 18, 2013, featuring award-winning Irish playwright Frank McGuinness. The internship program, which will begin at the end of May and continue for eight weeks, provides a student with the opportunity to work alongside theater professionals in the day-to-day operations of Ireland’s national theater and to help develop an innovative summer program for theater students. Application guidelines for the grant will be posted on the Villanova University Irish Studies Program Website (click here). Students who have at least junior status or are enrolled in a graduate program in the College of Liberal Arts and Science at Villanova University are eligible.

Applications are due by Jan. 11, 2013.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Prof. Lauren Shohet's Senior Seminar Research Conference

SAC 300

Shannon Welch, “The Intersection of Photography and Narrative in Japanese Photographic Novels”
Michael Libonati, “Metalepsis in Children’s Picture Books: ‘Realistic,’ Immersive, and Affective Experience for Young Readers”
Wesley Brown, “Pulp History: The Ascension of Science Fiction in the Mid-Twentieth Century”

Devon Ferris, "Scaffold Speeches: Medium, Form, Effect"
Anthony Iozzia, “Reading the Allegorical Landscape of Spenser's Faerie Queene
Philip O’Connell, “Text Messaging: Effects of the Medium”

Tina Krajewski, "Sylvia Plath: Writing Suicide, Reading Betrayal"
Gregory Dool, “Silent Reading of Shakespeare in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”
Stephanie Gabriele, “Madame Bovary and the Effects of Silent Reading"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ryan Costella ('04) on 60 Minutes

Ryan Costella, an English and Political Science major who graduated in 2004, will be appearing on 60 Minutes on Sunday, Nov. 11.  The segment is entitled “Three Million Open Jobs”;  the one-minute preview video, in which Ryan appears, is here.  In the preview, he refers to the importance of being able to put together a sentence that doesn’t have grammatical errors.

Ryan is head of strategic initiatives at Click Bond in Carson City, Nevada.

Eli Goldblatt Talk

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Allison McIntyre ('12) on Finding a Job

I graduated from Villanova University in May of 2012, with degrees in both English and Geography. I was in the unique position my senior year at Villanova of having completed all of my core requirements in the first semester, leaving my spring semester completely free before I officially graduated. As a direct result of this, I was afforded the opportunity to complete an amazing internship at National Geographic in Washington, DC. The internship program I was part of was special because it was geared towards Geography majors. However, I believe the unique combination of having both an English and Geography degree, and the strong communication skills an English major entails, is what set me apart from the hundreds of other applicants.  As one among nine other interns, many of whom also had other majors in addition to geography, I was the sole English major, and that greatly shaped my internship. I was given the opportunity to participate in the development of a marketing campaign aimed at promoting geography education as well as the opportunity to work with the Chairman Emeritus of National Geographic on several presentations.  It was the attention to detail and ability to think in creative ways while keeping in mind the ultimate goal of a project that I developed and honed as an English major at Villanova that was a key factor in my assignment of these prestigious projects.
A recent picture of Allison.
I am going to be honest;  finding a job in this day and age is not easy. I followed all the right steps;  I personalized every application and cover letter, detailing specific examples and characteristics that made me uniquely qualified for said position. And while employers were not causing my phone to ring off the hook, I did find that skills I had developed as an English major were applicable to any of the wide variety of jobs I applied for. Geography-based positions would be impressed by the caliber and readability of my scientific writing samples; other positions might have been more intrigued by my attention to detail and creative thinking skills.  Despite this, I had to send out a lot of applications before getting a yes.

A month ago, I started working at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey. As a post-doctorate research center, known for having played host to Albert Einstein and other intellectual elites, IAS is one of the most unique working environments I could have imagined. I work in the Development Office, managing a large and expansive database containing the records of thousands of members, faculty, donors and other acquaintances. While my English degree is not being explicitly used, my job is a lot like trying to read and analyze a novel. I have been asked to research constituents, using our database and the internet to create brief 1-3 paragraph summaries of some of the most influential businessmen and women in the country, which are given to managers and directors at IAS in preparation for meetings and other events.

GWS Book Club

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jennifer Bradley ('13) on a Service Break Trip to San Diego

From Jen Bradley ('13):
Over fall break I had the opportunity to go on Villanova’s first service break trip to San Diego, California.  It was a mission trip that primarily focused on immersing ourselves in the immigrant population of San Diego.  We learned about border issues from a number of different viewpoints as we took a tour of San Diego’s border with Mexico with U.S. Border Patrol, and listened to the stories of struggling immigrants and day laborers.  We also worked on a farm, helped local artists restore a mural in Chicano Park, and visited two high schools in the area.  At the schools, we listened to the experiences of refugee students and learned how much they valued the educational opportunities in the U.S.  Interacting with the students was one of my favorite parts of the trip because it reinforced my desire to teach and mirrored my opinions on the importance of a liberal arts education that provides insight into several different perspectives.  I was also really excited to use my Spanish, and thankful for the opportunity to learn about current social issues outside of the classroom.

The mural Jen helped restore in Chicano Park;  Jen is fourth from the left.
Jen at work on the mural.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Prof. Heather Hicks in London

In October Prof. Heather Hicks presented a paper entitled, "Is Myth the New Genre?: Genre, Genre Fiction, and the Crusoe Factor” at an international symposium of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present in London.

Prof. Hicks took this photo of the Albert Memorial in London.

Catherine Phil MacCarthy reading

"Black Masculinities" Lecture

The time and location of the lecture have been changed to Wed., Nov. 7, 7:00 p.m., Radnor St. David's.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New English Professors

We hope you'll study with and get to know the two new faculty members who joined the English department this fall.

Prof. Travis Foster is a specialist in American literature before 1900. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and his B.A. from Amherst College, where he majored in both English and Economics. Prof. Foster previously taught at the College of Wooster. He is currently teaching English 4590 (The Civil War in American Literature) and Honors 1975 (Sophomore Seminar: Friendship and Eros).  In the spring he will be teaching English 1975 (Sophomore Seminar: Secrets and Lies) and English 4690 (Reading Sexualities in American Literature).

Prof. Brooke Hunter is a specialist in medieval literature. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas and her B.A. from Whitman College. Prof. Hunter previously taught at Loyola University, Maryland. She is currently teaching English 2101 (The British Literary Tradition I) and English 3150 (Chaucer).  In the spring she will be teaching English 2101 (The British Literary Tradition 1), English 3190 (Knights, Ladies, and Love: The Medieval Romance), and Honors 1975 (Sophomore Seminar: Heaven and Hell).

Click here to read full descriptions of all spring 2013 English courses and here to read full descriptions of all spring 2013 Sophomore seminars.

Professors Brooke Hunter and Travis Foster at the fall reception.

Creative Writing MFA Programs

Interested in Creative Writing MFA programs?  The article here details 25 top underrated programs.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Anthony Faranda ('12) on Guatemala

Former Villanova English major Anthony Faranda recently published his article "Encountering Guatemala at the age of ten" in Travelmag.  He originally wrote the article for Prof. Karyn Hollis's Travel Writing course.  Click here to read the article.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fall Reception Pictures and Remarks

Prof. Evan Radcliffe's reception remarks:
In “How to Avoid a Bonfire of the Humanities” a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (25 October 2012; p. A17), Michael S. Malone tells what happened when he invited his friend Santosh Jayaram to talk to his students. Jayaram, Malone writes, “is the quintessential Silicon Valley high-tech entrepreneur: tech-savvy, empirical, ferociously competitive, and a veteran of Google, Twitter and a new start-up, Dabble.” So Malone was worried that Jayaram might discourage students in an English class. But, as Malone writes, “Santosh said, ‘Are you kidding? English majors are exactly the people I'm looking for.’”

Malone describes Jayaram’s reasoning: “Twenty years ago, if you wanted to start a company, you spent a month or so figuring out the product you wanted to build, then devoted the next 10 or 12 months to developing the prototype, tooling up and getting into full production.” But “Most products now are virtual, such as iPhone apps,” and lots of people anywhere in the world can construct them. The most important thing happens before you built the app, because you need to find investors and partners, explain to them and to coders what you want to build, and think about marketing your product—“and you have to do all of that without an actual product. ‘And how do you do that?’ Santosh said. ‘You tell stories.’ Stories, he said, about your product and how it will be used that are so vivid that your potential stakeholders imagine it already exists and is already part of their daily lives. Almost anything you can imagine you can now build, said Santosh, so the battleground in business has shifted from engineering, which everybody can do, to storytelling, for which many fewer people have real talent. ‘That's why I want to meet your English majors,’ he said.”

Malone concludes: “Asked once what made his company special, Steve Jobs replied: ‘It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.’”

Friday, October 26, 2012

Prof. Lauren Shohet Lecture

This Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 4:00 p.m. Dr. Lauren Shohet will deliver a lecture entitled “Othello’s iPad: Editing, Adapting, Translating.” The lecture will focus on Dr. Shohet’s work on Othello in a variety of exciting contexts, including her recent task editing the play for an iPad app. Dr. Shohet is the Luckow Family Endowed Chair and professor of literature in the English department here at Villanova University.  The event will be held in the Speaker’s Corner on the first floor of Falvey Memorial Library, and in the tradition of previous Scholarship@Villanova events, it is free and open to the public.

The event is part of the Scholarship@Villanova series, a string of lectures highlighting bold publications and research from distinguished faculty members at Villanova. The library will host five more Scholarship@Villanova events before the end of the academic year.

Dr. Shohet truly works on the cutting edge of her field. Focusing on topics of adaptation, materiality, and the digital humanities, she often examines the relationship between form and history. These are subjects of particular relevance to Dr. Shohet, as a scholar of Shakespeare and Milton who often works in a digital context.

But the lecture will focus on more than just the digital; it will also examine Othello in translation, as a common component of high school curricula, and in the context of some of its adaptations from around the world. The lecture will illuminate the many lives of this classic play and is sure to inspire conversation. The audience will even be invited to play with the materials Dr. Shohet helped develop for the Othello iPad app.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Prof. Gail Ciociola and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Prof. Gail Ciociola on first seeing the 1966 film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?:
I had just graduated from high school in June and was spending a lot of time with friends on Wildwood's beach that summer. We were looking for something to do one night and I pushed for the Elizabeth Taylor movie playing in some rundown boardwalk movie house.  For one, I was a big fan of Taylor from my mother's uncensored habits of taking me to see everything, regardless of subject matter (see Suddenly, Last Summer) starring Old Violet Eyes.  But there was another motive, as well: I had read several accounts that this movie was even more adult and more shocking; and, thus, in a time of more closely guided morality before the advent of what we actually mean today by "the 60s," it appealed to our fairly traditional Catholic schoolgirls' desire to do something a bit daring. So we went to the 10p feature in a grateful era in which MPAA ratings did not prevent our entry and, by the end of that night, I was irrevocably changed.  Even at a tender 17 years old, I knew that I had seen something very different from every film before it, something very imaginative and very edgy.  I knew in words that I didn't have for it then that I had experienced an infinite possibility for a new order in movies and literature. And Elizabeth Taylor? She was never the same for me again.  She had become Martha forever.
Elizabeth Taylor as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


Click here to see all Spring 2013 English courses with full descriptions.

Remember to check in with your advisor before registration. If you haven’t, you run the risk of missing your registration time because you don’t have your PIN or of ending up with courses that aren’t the right ones for you.  Your advisor can best help you if you have prepared ahead of time. Before you see your advisor, remind yourself about your requirements, review the requirements you have already taken care of, and think about what courses you want to take next semester; you’re the one who finally is responsible for choosing the right courses for you. Since you probably have the choice of taking some electives, think about things like what excites you and what you wish you knew more about. Don’t be afraid to explore.

Autumn view from the 4th floor of SAC

As you may know, the department also has “A Guide to Advising for English Majors.” Click here to see the newly revised version.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Prof. Alice Dailey's New Book

From Prof. Alice Dailey:
I’m pleased to announce the release of my first book, The English Martyr from Reformation to Revolution, currently in production at the University of Notre Dame Press and due out in mid-December.  This book studies the development of English martyr literature from the late Middle Ages to the execution of King Charles I in 1649.  Martyrdom, I argue, is not a kind of death but a kind of story—a retrospective interpretation that follows a long-established narrative form.  In the Christian tradition, the ideal martyr story is one that replicates as closely as possible the persecutions of pious biblical figures, namely the Maccabees martyrs of the Old Testament, Jesus, and persecuted apostles like Stephen and Peter.  In the violent upheaval that marked the Protestant Reformation in England, both Catholics and Protestants labored to inscribe their suffering believers into the paradigm of Christian martyrdom, often under circumstances that did not match those of biblical persecutions.  This book is interested in how the martyr genre attempts to reconcile the broad range of individuals, beliefs, and persecutions seeking legitimation through claims of typological suffering.  I argue that the genre changes in response to the complex contingencies of the English Reformation and, more significantly, that the events of history are themselves shaped by the pressures of this important literary form.

Click here to see the Amazon listing of the book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Editorial Internship Winter/Spring 2013

The Philadelphia Business Journal seeks college students for its paid editorial internship. Candidates should have some previous writing experience and be able to commit to 20 hours a week for the term. An interest in business is desirable but not required. Editorial internships pay $8/hr and include opportunities to write bylined features and report daily news on the website.

The deadline to apply is Friday, Nov. 2, 2012. Starting and ending dates are negotiable but preference will go to the candidate who can begin in early January and work through the end of May.

The Philadelphia Business Journal is a weekly local business newspaper serving Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey. We were named Newspaper of the Year by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Foundation in 2012, 2008 and 2006. In 2005 and 2009 we received the general excellence award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Also in 2009 we were one of only 14 publications nationwide to receive a “best of the best in business” award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.  The Philadelphia Business Journal is owned by American City Business Journals, a publisher of 40 newspapers across the country, and is a subsidiary of the Advance Publications publishing company, which also owns the Condé Nast magazines.

If interested, please submit a cover letter explaining your interest in the Business Journal, résumé, clips and the names and emails of three people who can comment on your work or writing to Sonja Sherwood, 400 Market St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106, email: ssherwood@bizjournals.com. No phone calls, please.

Remember that to receive credit for an internship, you must apply at the Internship Office (click here).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Career Center Newsletter

Click here to view the Career Center newsletter.  Among its many postings you'll find possibilities for signing up to meet corporate recruiters (some even invite juniors to sign up), information on workshops and sessions on how to interview, and tips on creating a resume.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Books by Karen Abbott

Former Villanova English major Karen Abbott is the author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose, both New York Times bestsellers.  She is a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine’s history blog, Past Imperfect, and also writes for Disunion, the New York Times series about the Civil War. A native of Philadelphia, where she worked as a journalist, she now lives in New York City with her husband and two African Grey parrots, Poe and Dexter. She’s at work on her next book, a true story of four daring (and not entirely scrupulous) Civil War spies who risked everything for their cause.  Click here to visit her homepage.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

English Table at Oct. 5 Majors Fair

English majors Jen Bradley, Anne Stohlquist, and Erin Weaver at the English table
Anne and Erin talking with prospective majors

Villanovan article on English Blog

Click here to read Ted Winston's October 4 Villanovan article, "English department scripts new blog."

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lauren Peachey ('13) on Being an English Major

Being an English major has provided me with a comprehensive education that has strengthened my reasoning skills, communication abilities, and creativity. I have had wonderful professors who have challenged me and provided the tools to succeed throughout my studies. The English courses at Villanova are student-focused. In all my English courses here, my ideas and questions have been encouraged and valued.

I have had two internship experiences. The first was with the Penn Foundation, a behavioral healthcare non-profit organization, where I worked as a Public Relations Assistant. I interviewed, researched, drafted and submitted press releases which were published on the Penn Foundation website and in the community newspaper; created brochures for the community members; and worked with the Board of Directors to plan their annual fundraising events. My second internship was with Progressive Business Publications where I worked as an Executive Education Intern. At PBP I created online courses for business professionals, drafted a “story-telling marketing” campaign, submitted weekly reports for the sales team, and helped to redesign the company website by creating employee interview video clips.

My study abroad experience was greatly beneficial and added a new perspective to my studies. I went to Sicily, Italy, during the fall semester of my junior year at the Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences. I learned how the Sicilian mafia systematically functions in my political science class and the components of Sicilian literature in my Criminal Fiction Narratives class. My travel writing course encouraged me to reflect on and record my experiences in a creative way. In addition to my studies, I learned many local customs, including the traditional way to make Sicilian cheese, the best strategy for navigating the colorful markets, and how to assimilate into a foreign culture. I encourage all undergraduate students to spend a semester or summer abroad, because I believe the benefits of living on your own in a foreign culture exceed any other experience.

Lauren (center with dog) in Sicily

Thursday, October 4, 2012

FUSE Conference 2012

On November 1, 2012 at the Mansion in Cabrini College, the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) along with Cabrini College will host the first ever FUSE Conference with the theme of Gatekeepers and Visionaries: Undergraduate Publishing and Editing. Students and faculty members who have been involved in the various facets of the undergraduate publishing community are invited to propose papers on a range of topics. The conference will also feature trips to the Wharton Esherick House and an optional day trip to Philadelphia, along with a plethora of speakers on the topics of undergraduate publishing.

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Safe as Houses

Former Villanova English major ('99) Marie-Helene Bertino will have her debut collection of short stories, Safe as Houses, published in October.  One of the stories, "Great, Wondrous," was inspired by Bertino's experience as a student at Villanova. Bertino was the winner of the 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Award for her collection.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall Reception

The English department reception for majors and prospective majors will be held on Friday, October 26, 1:00-2:30, in the Falvey first-floor lounge. Please join us for information about spring 2013 courses, the chance to spend some time with your professors and fellow majors, and of course a free lunch.

Join us at the reception for English department candy bars!