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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

WIldcat in the Rye Reminder

Wildcat in the Rye
Thursday, Oct. 3, 7:00 PM, Good Counsel Hall, 2nd Floor

More than 60 years after Holden Caulfield wandered the streets of Manhattan, his author, J.D. Salinger, is back in the news.  Join us as Dr. Javadizadeh of the Villanova English department offers some new ways to think about The Catcher in the Rye and as a group of students leads a staged reading and informal discussion of one of its most provocative scenes.  Don't worry if you haven't read the book—all are welcome.  Pizza and cookies will be served.  The event is ACS-approved.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mary Grace Mangano on J. Michael Lennon lecture

Here's senior English major Mary Grace Mangano's article on the recent J. Michael Lennon lecture.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Norman Mailer’s official biographer, J. Michael Lennon commenced the first in a series of lectures as a part of the hybrid Irish and Africana cultural studies program. J.M. Lennon is an emeritus professor of English at Wilkes University, as well as the father of University professor Joseph Lennon, who is also the head of the Irish Studies program.

Crystal Lucky, associate professor of English and director of the Africana studies program, introduced the lecture, highlighting the unique fusion of the departments, connected through their diaspora cultures. Lucky and Lennon devised this series through conversations inspired by the Irish Arts Center in New York, which they began to refer to affectionately as “the black and the green.”  This semester will be devoted to interdisciplinary literature surrounding these two cultures.

“In short, I’m really excited about these offerings,” Lucky says. Lennon spoke after, introducing his father, and explained that one of their aims is to “move away from whiteness” concerning the Irish, as both Ireland and Africa are “marked by trauma and endurance.” J. M. Lennon’s wife, who was present at the lecture, edited, transcribed, and collected her husband’s notes while he wrote Mailer’s biography.

Lennon says that this biography of Mailer, which is called “Norman Mailer: A Double Life,” and comes out next month with Simon and Schuster, has been “a lifelong passion” for his father, and that the work is one of “high polish and scholarship.”

Lennon notes that his father was a good friend of Mailer’s and that he “studied him in the quiet hours,” becoming “the archivist of his life.” The two even wrote a book together, called “On God: An Uncommon Conversation.” Mailer died in the month the book was published.

J.M. Lennon began his reading by focusing on the part of his book that looks at Mailer in 1960, as he was preparing to meet and interview then-presidential-candidate John F. Kennedy. Lennon “didn’t know much about politics and political writing” at that time, according to J.M. Lennon. He goes on to say that Mailer noticed certain qualities in Kennedy, such as “his sharp wit and self-assurance.” Mailer especially admired the Irish, and felt that particular style and elegance in Kennedy, who was Irish-American. About the Irish, he said, “they have what the Jews don’t have…and the Jews have what the Irish don’t have.”

J.M. Lennon read a passage that recalls Mailer realizing that for the first time he wrote with “deliberate political intention and wanted to get [Kennedy] elected.” He composed a 13,000-word essay after his interview with Kennedy at the family compound in Hyannisport, on Cape Cod, called “Superman Comes to the Supermarket.”  The essay was published Oct. 18, a few weeks before the 1960 election.

“There was a moral sense in his piece,” J.M. Lennon notes.  Jackie O. even wrote a four-page letter to Mailer after the essay was published, thanking him for the profile, saying she “’didn’t know American politics could be written about that way.’”

J.M. Lennon then read from the section of his book that features 1974, and the Heavyweight Championship known as the “Rumble in the Jungle” where Muhammad Ali was victorious. Mailer wrote about Ali for LIFE magazine, and was “unable to resist a ringside seat” at that infamous championship. J.M. Lennon says that Mailer observed Ali’s training and “sensed Africa in the streets of Kinshasa, Zaire.”

J.M. Lennon quotes Mailer’s description of the fight, saying Ali’s “rope-a-dope” tactic was genius, or “balance on the edge of impossibility.” Mailer remarked that, “art defeated power” on that day.

J.M. Lennon wrapped his reading by answering questions, and explaining that, “Mailer sanctioned everything for his biography.”

“He said, ‘tell it all’ and ‘put it all in,’” J.M. Lennon says. When asked about the time Mailer stabbed his wife, J.M. Lennon perceives that that was “drunken and cowardly” and that Mailer was a “womanizer, but also a family man.”

“Mailer said to include every blunder, every mistake,” J.M. Lennon says. “It’s hard to write a biography if you hate the person. There’s residual admiration.”

He goes on to describe the biographer as a “stage manager” and says that, while writing, he wanted to take himself out of the telling of Mailer’s life, so as to let the man’s writing and life speak for themselves.

J.M. Lennon’s book chronicles a dynamic man and a fearless writer, in three hundred sixty degrees.

The next event of this series will be held on Oct. 8, when award-winning novelist Colum McCann will discuss Frederick Douglass and read from his new book, “Transatlantic.”

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wildcat in the Rye

Sports Illustrated Co-Op

English Department Co-op Opportunity:
A Semester in New York Working for Sports Illustrated

Spend a semester in New York working at Sports Illustrated, for credit, in a paid internship position!  English majors at Villanova now have the rare opportunity to be chosen to be part of a co-op involving research, some writing, and the opportunity to learn from highly respected professionals in the magazine business.  Each semester, one or two junior or senior English majors will be selected for this program.  They will receive 9 credits for successfully completing the co-op (including writing a final report), and will also take a distance-learning journalism course for 3 more credits.

To apply to do the co-op in Spring 2014, e-mail the following to Dr. Evan Radcliffe (evan.radcliffe@villanova.edu):
a letter of application, highlighting your skills and experience in writing and doing research;
a résumé;
two or three samples of your writing, which can include academic papers and published writing, whether in print or online (at least one published piece is recommended, though it is not required);
two brief letters of recommendations from faculty or supervisors who know you and your work well.  They should send letters to Dr. Radcliffe (see above).

We will also review your transcript, but you do not need to send it.  The deadline for applications is Wednesday, November 6, 2013; early applications are encouraged.  You may also submit your application in hard copy to the English department.

Students for the program will be selected based on their aptitude in writing and editing and their potential for success in the co-op.  Work done in English courses on Sports Writing, Journalism, Magazine Writing, and Technical Editing is particularly useful evidence.

Villanova is one of only two colleges in the country with this kind of arrangement with Sports Illustrated.  We have Villanova English major alumnus Jim Gorant, class of 1989, to thank.  Mr. Gorant is a senior editor at Sports Illustrated and the author of four books.  His 20-year career in the magazine industry has included stints on staff at several magazines, and his freelance writing has appeared in more than three dozen publications.

For further information, contact Dr. Radcliffe.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The English Department at Parents' Weekend

The English department hosted two panels for this year’s Parents’ Weekend--a Creative Writing workshop on Friday, Sept. 20, and a discussion of “The Future of the Book” on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Parents and students composing poetry at the Creative Writing workshop
Professors Alan Drew and Kamran Javadizadeh of the English Department conducted an interactive Creative Writing Workshop for parents and students alike. Prof. Drew delighted the audience with a powerpoint of his favorite writing quotes that he made with his nine-year old son in the spirit of the weekend.  Drew, the bestselling author of Gardens of Water, gave an anecdote of writing his second book.  He expressed his frustration that, although he knew all the details of his second novel, when he sat down to write it, things did not flow organically. He then realized that writers need to be "open to moments that are unplanned, moments that surprise you;  losing control-- that's the good stuff." He read excerpts from his first novel that are contingent on spontaneously writing himself into the book and eventually led him into the heart of the novel.

In the second half of the workshop Prof. Javadizadeh instructed the audience in the art of poetry writing. He gave four rules to be followed for a poetry-writing exercise:  1) use five words from a list written on the whiteboard (see photo below);  2) use a familiar proverb, adage or saying but alter it slightly;  3)  write a poem of ten lines;  4) write the poem in ten minutes.  The audience vigorously undertook the exercise, and volunteers shared their poems with the whole group.  The variations were witty and engaging!
Prof. Alan Drew

Prof. Kamran Javadizadeh
“The Future of the Book” session, led by English professors Jean Lutes and Lauren Shohet, invited its participants to consider how their reading experiences have changed with the advent of new technologies.  “What do you want the future of the book to be?” asked Prof. Lutes.  Prof. Lutes surveyed the current state of the publishing industry, raised questions about the rise of electronic reading, especially in the realm of genre fiction, and the relatively small share of the market that electronic textbooks have captured and compared the emergence of electronic reading to the slow rise of the paperback as a dominant form of reading in the twentieth century.

Prof. Shohet asked the audience to think about the book not just as an “object” but as a “technology” and to give play to what she characterized as an “extensive” notion of the book.  We tend to use different technologies simultaneously, emphasized Prof. Shohet, and one form doesn’t typically replace another.  The book “doesn’t vanish” and remains a stable enough technology that it is unlikely we will forget how to access it.
Professors Jean Lutes and Lauren Shohet
Spirited discussion followed the presentations of Professors Lutes and Shohet.  Audience members reflected on the relationship of screen reading and shallow comprehension, wondered about the future status of libraries, and evaluated changing notions of sharing books in an era of electronic readers (“You cannot give away your Kindle!”).  Reading an entire, material book, one participant reminded, can still provide a distinct feeling of “triumph.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Abby Brooks' CNN Internship

Senior English major Abby Brooks had a memorable experience this summer interning at CNN.  Here is her narrative about the internship.

Like many of my peers, I spent this summer interning. As final exams were wrapping up last spring, I was anxiously anticipating the beginning of my summer job at CNN in the U.S. Business News Unit in New York City. A journalism internship in the biggest, greatest city in the world was, needless to say, a dream opportunity. As excited as I was to begin my post at CNN, I was also extremely nervous; business journalism wasn’t exactly something that I was prepared for, and I feared that my lack of business experience would hinder my performance.

My fears could not have been less warranted. I had an amazing summer at CNN, and it turned out that the skills I’ve picked up over my years as an English major were critical, even in a business unit. The business knowledge came to be something that I was able to pick up as I went along; more important was my ability to read and think analytically and write concisely. Being given the opportunity to actually write news packages for television was one of the highlights of my summer, and although writing for TV is vastly different from the writing I’ve done for my English courses, I would never have been successful at my internship without the ability to write thoughtfully and concisely - a skill that I have honed over my English career at Villanova.
Abby (in cap) at CNN this summer.
As an English major, I know that I’ve had the dreaded question from family and friends, “English? What are you going to do with an English major?” I’ve heard the horror stories, and I’ve had my fair share of fears when it comes to my impending graduation. But after this summer, I feel confident that I am not only an employable English major, but that the skills that I’ve honed over the last three years in my English courses will be invaluable to my future career.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Remembering Seamus Heaney

Members of the Villanova community gathered in Speakers' Corner in Falvey Library on Sept. 12 to commemorate Seamus Heaney, the magisterial Irish poet who died last month at the age of 74.  Professor Joseph Lennon of the English department organized the event, which included readings and reminiscences from current professors Kamran Javadizadeh, Megan Quigley, Cathy Staples and Emeritus English professor James Murphy, a long-time friend of Heaney's.  The commentators underlined Heaney's unfailing graciousness and generosity and his dedication to the "covenant between the teacher and the taught."  "Seamus is a hero to me," said Prof. Murphy.  The poet in fact drafted his moving poem to his mother, "In Memoriam M. K. H., 1911-1984," at the home of the Murphys, and Prof. Murphy showed the audience the framed original draft.

Along with Heaney's stirring language, the tribute featured music from renowned Irish fiddler Paraic Keane and guitarist and Irish traditional musician Tom O'Malley.  Junior English major Megan Malamood gave fitting summary to the event and the abiding power of the poet's work in observing that "I feel privileged to have been exposed to Seamus Heaney's poetry, and I hope that more of us come to celebrate his work."

Seamus Heaney reading "Digging" at Villanova in 2010.

Tom O'Malley and Paraic Keane

Prof. Megan Quigley's signed copy of a collection of Heaney poems.

Vaughan Cutillo ('07) and the Montauk Brewing Company

As reported recently in the Philadelphia Business Journal, Villanova graduate and English major Vaughan Cutillo "is making a name in the world of craft brewing."  Cutillo is one of three founders of Montauk Brewing Co. in Montauk, N.Y.  The brewery, the article notes, "was founded in 2010, opened a tasting room in 2012 and is set to open a new brewing facility a year from now. Its beer, including its Driftwood Ale, is sold in 130 locations on Long Island and is moving into the New York City market by next spring." Click here to read the entire article.
Vaughan Cutillo

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Meet This Year's Advisory Committee!

Students on the Advisory Committee serve as consultants for the English department and as advisors for younger majors and prospective majors.  This fall they will also be involved in the planning of a variety of special events.  We have found the committee to be an invaluable departmental resource and would welcome your contribution to it. Please contact Prof. Michael Berthold if you are interested in joining.

Aisha Chughtai (Junior) / achughta@viillanova.edu
I am a junior English and Biology double major, with a double minor in Spanish and Humanities. I am also the current President of the Villanova Muslim Student Association (MSA), a contributor for The Villanova Times, and a tutor at the Villanova Writing Center. I am largely interested in the sciences and hope to attend medical school after graduation. I am also hoping to use my diverse curriculum to become involved in scientific, political, and social journalism. In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing—across a wide field of genres—and conducting insightful, esoteric research that allows me to stay witty and well-informed.
Emily Crooker (Junior) / ecrooker@villanova.edu

I am a junior English major with a Political Science minor. I chose English as my major because I knew it would allow me freedom in my learning experience at Villanova University. It is perfect because I am able to take classes on a variety of subjects while still acquiring the foundation for the writing and analytical skills I will need on my career path post graduation.

Jenny Lee (Junior) / jlee84@villanova.edu
I am a junior English major pursuing minors in Chinese and Communications.  I am interested in mass communication and pop culture, and I hope to pursue a career in the media field.  This previous summer I interned with Turner Broadcasting in the Entertainment Integrated Marketing Team and have gained a great deal of useful insight through that experience.  On campus, I am a contributing columnist for the Opinions section of The Villanovan, a tutor at the Writing Center, and the events chair for the Korean Students Association.  During my free time, I enjoy reading modern and post-modern American literature, perusing online magazines and blogs, and crafting witty less-than-140-character tweets about my daily musings.

Grace Kim (Junior) / gkim5@villanova.edu
I am a junior English major, and I chose English because reading and writing allow me to explore, imagine, create, and I love that! I am also a member of the dance team, Ablaze, actively involved as a mentor for Multicultural Affairs, and serve with Campus Ministry. I hope to attend graduate school and aspire to be an English teacher because I adore kids!

Mary Grace Mangano (Senior)/ mmanga03@villanova.edu
I am a senior English and Honors major with a concentration in Writing and Rhetoric and an Italian minor. I studied abroad last spring in Padua, Italy, and I took courses in Italian contemporary literature and language. This past summer, I had an internship with Open Road Integrated Media in New York City where I learned about e-book publishing. I love Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Harry Potter, and many other books and authors. I enjoy creative writing, too. I am also the co-Editor-in-Chief of The Villanovan, a Polls Poet, a campus ministry lector, a CRS Ambassador, an Honors Peer Advisor, and an Ambassador. I am excited for my last year at Villanova!
Mary Grace

Kevin Reilly (Senior) / kreill11@villanova.edu
I am a senior English major with a Business minor from the Summer Business Institute at Villanova. During my junior year, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Galway, Ireland. The experience allowed me to pursue an interest in Irish literature that I developed at Villanova and to study writers like James Joyce in their home country. I have interned on the NYMEX and recently finished an internship with the WorkReady program in Philadelphia.

Nelson Rice (Junior) / nrice2@villanova.edu
I am a junior History and English double major at Villanova University. I am also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honors society and the Villanova Sailing team. After graduating from Villanova, I hope to attend law school. My favorite aspects of the English major are the excellent professors and the in-depth discussions that we have every class. 

Danielle Sekerak (Junior) / dsekerak@villanova.edu
I am a junior English major with a minor in Spanish. Reading literary novels is very much a learning process for me, while writing is an expressive process. I enjoy creative writing and deciphering Shakespeare! I am involved in Blue Key, Ambassadors, and the orientation steering committee. 

Lily Suh (Junior) / lsuh@villanova.edu
I am a junior English major on a pre-med track. My literary interests range from Shakespeare to Vonnegut, and I have recently developed a new-found appreciation for Medieval works as well! I find that English and literature are key to learning about the past and are applicable to any future a person may envision for himself or herself. 
Jessica Swoboda (Junior) / jswoboda@villanova.edu
I am a junior English major with a second major in Humanities. I am a member of the Honors Program, the Varsity Field Hockey team, the Faith and Learning Scholars Program, and the Villanova Athletics Leadership Institute. I am also a Writing Center Tutor, and my primary interest is in 20th century British Literature. In the past, I have interned with my district's U.S. Congressman as a Constituent Service Representative. In the future, I hope to attend graduate school and aspire to be an English professor.
Emily Tifft (Sophomore) / etifft@villanova.edu
I am a sophomore English, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Honors triple major. I plan to pursue a career in law. I am the co-president of Villanova Students against Breast Cancer, a member of the Pre-Law Society, an Honors Peer Advisor, and a member of Villanova Women in Business. I love being an  English major, and I am thrilled to spread my love of reading and writing through this committee!

Katie Tucciarello (Senior) / ctuccio1@villanova.edu
I am a senior English major with a minor in Business and am attempting a second minor in Sociology. This past summer, I interned with the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office in Pennsylvania, and this spring, I am looking forward to interning with the Philadelphia District Attorney. If it is not obvious, I am applying to law school this fall and hope to attend Fordham to study labor law. 

Nkiruka Umegbolu (Senior) / numegb01@villanova.edu
I am a senor English major with a double minor in Communications and Sociology. Throughout my academic career, I have secured internships at Golin Harris and Weber Shandwick, two reputable public relations firms. As an English major, I am able to utilize my writing and critical thinking skills when editing press releases, writing media reports, and communicating with my colleagues. 

Africana Studies / Irish Studies Fall Events

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Arthology, Villanova’s art and literary magazine, is particularly interested in submissions from English majors.  This is an excellent opportunity to share your work by getting it published.  The editors are looking for poetry and short stories—fiction or nonfiction—as well as art.  You can e-mail your submissions to arthology@gmail.com.

McAfee Internships

McAfee, the computer security company, would like to hear from students with an interest in writing, especially English majors.  The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has a strong alumni connection with McAfee, and the company is particularly interested in liberal arts majors, specifically including English majors.
Here's more information from McAfee about careers and internships with the company:
Leading-edge technology, fast-paced opportunity, passion, belief and commitment that drive change and create positive IT solutions for a safer world--that's McAfee.
As the largest dedicated security company in the world, and an employer of choice, we're big enough to offer career opportunities on a global scale and yet small enough to care about your individual ambitions.
Ours is a culture of achievement and innovation. Where fresh thinking and originality are encouraged and exceptional training, development, recognition and rewards are for the taking.
Our Mission is that McAfee: proactively secures systems and networks from known and as yet undiscovered threats worldwide. Home users, businesses, service providers, government agencies, and our partners all trust our unmatched security expertise and have confidence in our comprehensive and proven solutions to effectively block attacks and prevent disruptions.
So, whatever your area of expertise, for security focused, technology led careers, the future is here.
McAfee highly encourages students with an interest in computing sciences, communications, sales, marketing, PR, writing, education, and human resources to join their award winning team.
Students are encouraged to apply for Fall, Spring and Summer opportunities here: http://careers.mcafee.com/key/mcafee-internships-jobs.html