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.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Info Session: Application to Ph.D. Programs in English

The department will hold an information session for students considering application to Ph.D. programs in English on Wed., Oct 26, 12-1:30, in SAC 300.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP Sharon Rose-Davis (sharon.rose-davis@villanova.edu) by Mon., Oct. 24.  Lunch will be provided.

Prof. Hugh Ormsby-Lennon: Fools of Fiction: Reading William Trevor's Stories

The Kindle edition of English department professor Hugh Ormsby-Lennon and Margaret Boerner's study of renowned Irish writer William Trevor, Fools of Fiction: Reading William Trevor's Stories, is available here.  The authors, in the words of Maureen O’Connor of University College Cork, "provide a fresh assessment of William Trevor, one of the greatest short-story writers Ireland has produced."  Because of Fools of Fiction, says O'Connor, "New readers will rush to discover the stories, while those familiar with Trevor will return to them with renewed enthusiasm."

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Recent Alumni Profile: Christa Chirico

Christa Chirico has started her second year teaching English at her alma mater, Villa Joseph Marie High School, in Holland, Pa. In addition to her regular teaching, she created her own course, “Fantasy & Reality,” which she is teaching this semester.

Here's Christa's description of the course:  "Reality vs. Fantasy is a new English elective course focusing on two distinctly different, yet unexpectedly similar genres of literature. With this course, we are seeking to make connections about stories, and to analyze the “real” and the “fantastical” together in order to uncover life’s universal truths. Through students’ reading, discussing, and writing about seminal works of nonfiction (from our Founding Fathers to present-day creative nonfiction) in conjunction with the standouts of the fantasy genre (from Harry Potter to The Hobbit), this course will enable students to analyze their own world within the context of the many other rich worlds that exist between the pages."

Adds Christa, "I'm extremely excited about this class because it gives me a chance to guide my students in reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about very different texts. I also have found that building this course allows me to incorporate pretty much all of my favorite things in one place (Virginia Woolf! Pope Francis! St. Augustine! The Federalist Papers! J.K. Rowling! The list goes on and on...). If nothing else, I'm hoping my enthusiasm for the subject material will rub off on my students a little bit and challenge them to read more, think more, write more."

Christa (with wand) in her classroom with some of the books from "Reality vs. Fantasy"

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Villanova Night at The Abbey Theater: O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars

On Fri., Oct. 14, Villanovans have a special opportunity to see the renowned Abbey Theatre's production of Sean O'Casey's play The Plough and the Stars for only $15.00.  The play will take place at 8:00 pm at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.  Contact the Annenberg Theatre for more ticket information: (215) 898-3900.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fringe Festival Events

Senior English major Christie Leonard reports that there will be a series of panel discussions, plays, and films in the Philadelphia Fringe Arts festival on gender, race, and national identity.  A performance of Third World Bunfight's Macbeth, for example, will be set in the Congo and star an all black cast.  Click here for more information.  Christie learned that student tickets for rehearsal performances of the play are $15.

The Fringe Festival, presented by FringeArts, is a 17-day, city-wide celebration of innovation and creativity in contemporary performance. Each September, the Festival explodes into every nook and cranny in neighborhoods across Philadelphia and online with more than 1,000 artistically daring performances, including national and international performances curated by FringeArts, and works that are produced by independent artists and promoted by FringeArts.

Another Fringe event of interest to English majors is Scarlet Letters, a one-woman play by Patrick Ross that revises Hawthorne's classic novel.  Click here for more information.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Recent Alumni Profile: Danielle Sekerak (2015)

Danielle Sekerak is beginning her second year of law school at the University of Pennsylvania. She was unanimously selected by the deans of the law school (dean of the school, dean of admissions, dean of students, etc.) to represent the student body in a speech at the National Constitution Center welcoming new first year students and introducing the dean. Her message: “While the first year of law school can be stressful, remaining a good person is the most important thing. …People get caught up in being #1, and sometimes they forget to be compassionate. That is devastating in such a stressful environment.”

Danielle also received a job offer for next summer from Latham and Watkins in NYC, one of the most prestigious and profitable firms in the world. These summer jobs are supposed to lead to full-time employment after the third year of law school.

Danielle delivering her speech at the National Constitution Center.
Danielle at the NCC dinner.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Advisory Committee 2016-2017

l. to r.:  Angelina Malenda, Luke Bozich, Christie Leonard, Dyala Kasim, Isaiah Morel, Brenna Fallows, Samantha Sontag, Blaire Bernstein, Alex Forgione, Joanna Carbone, Frances Kenney
In the lounge!

Blaire Bernstein / bbernste@villanova.edu
I am a Junior English and Humanities major.  I’m interested in poetry and creative writing, and my goal is to become an environmental lawyer.  Last semester I had the opportunity to study Irish literature in Galway, and it was an amazing experience!

Luke Bozich / lbozich@villanova.edu
I’m a Senior English Major pursuing a triple major in, additionally, Italian and Humanities with a double minor in Business and Creative Writing. After graduation, I desire to spend time traveling abroad for Foreign Service work. After traveling, I hope to begin a career in Linguistics while also maintaining my passion for creative writing. My favorite authors include Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. During my time at Villanova, I have studied abroad in Urbino, Italy, for two summer programs. On campus, I spent the majority of my first two years as a member of the Villanova Emergency Medical Services and am currently a member of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, a Global Key Ambassador in the Office of Study Abroad, and an assistant in the Humanities Department. I am also involved in the Search Retreat program for the Campus Ministry.

Joanna Carbone / jcarbon4@villanova.edu
I’m a Senior English and Communication major.  I chose to major in English much earlier than most people and have always had a love of reading and getting caught up in character drama.  It also helps that I wanted to refine my writing skills, which, after four years, I’ve finally done.

Elizabeth Eby / eeby2@villanova.edu
I’m a Junior English major and Business minor from Bedford, New Hampshire. On campus, I am a Blue Key tour guide and a Villanova Ambassador. Service has also been a huge part of my Villanova experience. I tutored students in an inner-city elementary school through the RUIBAL program as a Freshman, lived in a service-themed residence hall as a Sophomore, and participated in a Habitat for Humanity Service and Justice Experience during the spring of 2016. For the past two summers, I have interned as a Teaching Fellow with Breakthrough Collaborative, a college-bound program for high-achieving, underprivileged middle school students. My work with Breakthrough has inspired me to pursue a career in education upon graduating Villanova. I’ve loved being a part of the English department, and I’m excited to get more involved as a member of the Student Advisory Committee!

Brenna Fallows / bfallows@villanova.edu
As a former Business major, I demoted that course of study to a minor and chose to pursue English.  I hope someday to teach high school and somehow continue writing.  Right now I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary works like those of Ben Lerner and Maggie Nelson.  I also hope to travel a lot post-grad, and currently have trips planned to Vermont and Norway in the near future.

Imani Flowers / iflowers@villanova.edu
I’m a Senior English major with minors in both Africana Studies and Communication. On campus, I’m a St. Martin de Porres Scholar and iurrently active in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Senior Gift Committee.  I also intern at Fox 29 Philadelphia in the Community Affairs Department.  I’ve worked as a Market Research intern in Shanghai, China, and also studied abroad in Milan, Italy. I arrived at Villanova with dreams of being a journalist or teacher, but since the internship in China have decided to begin pursuing marketing and advertising.  My literary interests have always consisted of old English literature.

Alex Forgione / aforgion@villanova.edu
I just declared an English major and plan on declaring a Political Science minor.  I will be attending law school after I graduate.  I studied abroad in London during my second semester of freshman year.  I’m the treasurer of Villanova Poetry Society and a member of the pre-law society and Feminova.  During fall break I’ll be going to Belize on a service and justice trip.  My favorite poet is T. S. Eliot.

Dyala Kasim / dkasim@villanova.edu
I’m a Junior English and Communication double major with a Writing and Rhetoric concentration.  I’m also an opinion writer / copy editor for The Villanovan.  I honestly enjoy studying a wide range of literature, which is why I chose English.  There is such a wide variety of classes to take on so many different types of literature that I wish I could take them all!  My dream is to write and work in publishing and to one day win the English Reception raffle.

Frances Kenney / fkenney@villanova.edu
I’m a Senior English major and Japanese minor.  I’m interested in Asian, Irish, Gothci and Medieval literature.  This past summer I studied abroad in Tokyo and plan to return there in the future.  I plan to go to graduate school for teaching.  In my spare time I enjoy watching Koren historical dramas.

Christie Leonard / cleonar4@villanova.edu
I’m a Senior English major with minors in French, History and Classics.  I studied abroad in Moscow and Saint Petersburg this summer.  I’m interested in ancient languages and Gothic, Romantic and Victorian literature and plan on attending graduate school.  I build architectural models in my spare time and enjoy cooking.

Angelina Malenda / amalenda@villanova.edu
I just declared English as a major and plan on adding Communication as a second major.  Post-Villanova I plan on attending law school to study constitutional law;  my career plans circulate among becoming a lawyer, journalist and politician.  I just spent a semester abroad in London and intend to studying abroad my junior year.  I’m vice president of the Poetry Society and enjoy writing, reading and discussing poetry.

Isaiah Morel / imorel@villanova.edu
I’m a Sophomore English and History major with a minor in Political Science and intend to pursue law school upon graduating from Villanova.  I was invited into the London Literary Experience class with Dr. Lauren Shohet during my freshman year, and although I was not able to travel to England, counted the experience valuable nonetheless.

Samantha Sontag / ssontag@villanova.edu
I’m a Junior English and Economics major with minors in Business and Theology.  Next semester I’ll be studying abroad at Oxford University.  I’m excited to focus on my interests in war literature and poetry while abroad.  I hope to pursue English in graduate school, though I am not yet sure what I will do after.

Prof. Cathy Staples: Poetry Reading

Please note:  Since Fergie's is a pub, students attending the reading do need to be 21!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Frances Kenney: Summer Study in Japan

Senior English major Frances Kenney studied in Japan this summer.  Her narrative of the experience, with pictures, follows.

Over the summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Tokyo, Japan, with about 60 other students. The program consisted of a six-week language intensive course, a homestay, multiple field trips, and many opportunities to learn about Japanese society and culture. Our dorms were located in the heart of Tokyo, which was perfect for accessing major tourist spots.

We enjoyed a three-day excursion to the picturesque Nikko, home to Toshogu shrine and beautiful mountainside views. Students were able to stay in a Japanese ryokan or inn. The rooms were furnished with both western style beds and traditional Japanese futons. A few rooms had tatami matt floors and sliding doors, which are standard in most traditional style Japanese homes.
Frances (right) in the English department t-shirt in Nikko (the farthest the t-shirt has ever been from Villanova!)
Toshogu Shrine
Japanese Inn
There are many character cafes in Japan, particularly in the city. These cafes serve food in the shapes and colors of popular anime or game characters. One cafe in particular was the Chibiusa Cafe, a limited edition cafe on the 52nd floor of Roppongi Hills in honor of the 20th anniversary of popular anime/manga series, Sailor Moon.

Chibiusa Cafe
My classmates and I got to visit the Tokyo Skytree for our class field trip. The Tokyo Skytree is 2,080 feet tall and is the second tallest structure in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The viewing area has glass floors where you can look down at the cityscape below you. The Skytree also has 8 floors full of shops for buying clothes, games, anime merchandise, or sitting down for some fine Japanese cuisine.

The view from Skytree
Tokyo is home to many unique districts such as Harajuku, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, and Shibuya. Harajuku is known for its influence on fashion, which is exemplified by Takeshita Street, a strip of stores offering the most wild and up-to-date clothing options. Akihabara, also known as electric town, is full of maid cafes, game arcades and anime merchandise shops. Ikebukuro is famous for Sunshine City, a large shopping mall which contains the Pokemon Center store, where you can find anything and everything Pokemon. In Shibuya, there is always something to do, whether it’s visiting the famous Hachiko Statue, crossing the crowded Shibuya Scramble, shopping at Shibuya 109, or enjoying a night of karaoke with friends.

Pokemon Center store in Ikebukuro
The program offered an optional weekend homestay in a small town called Mobara just outside of Tokyo. Before meeting our host families, we spent a day with students at the local high school. Each of us was divided into groups and participated in fun activities to help the students, who were currently learning English. Later on, many of the female students participated in a tea ceremony held in honor of our visit.

Frances at Mobara High School
My homestay family was very kind and welcoming! They had two children around my age, and a corgi named Nana. Together we enjoyed a barbecue, visits to local shrines and temples, and also some time at the beach! The view was amazing, and it was nice to get a view of the ocean without crowds of people in the way.

Mobara Beach
My final trip was to Sanrio Puroland. Think Disneyland, but for popular Japanese characters like Hello Kitty, Pom Pom Purin, and Cinnamoroll. The indoor park offered many attractions from rides, parades, and shops to character cafes with elaborate food designs. I ordered Cinnamoroll curry and a chocolate dessert. Your eyes aren’t fooling you, the curry was actually blue. Thankfully, it tasted good too!

Sanrio Puroland
Blue curry at Sanrio Puroland
One of my favorite aspects of the program was the E-pal system. Each of us was assigned a native Japanese student with whom we kept in touch before arrival and were able to meet once we landed in Japan. My E-pal, Teppei, was an 18-year old student studying English. He showed a few of us around  Akihabara and helped us practice speaking Japanese. I also became friends with many other E-pals who took us to Tokyo Dome, haunted houses, Odaiba City, and many karaoke bars. When the time arrived, saying goodbye was very difficult!

Frances' e-pals

Friday, September 9, 2016

Larry Flynn: Sports Illustrated Internship

This semester, English major Larry Flynn (' 17) will expand on his journalism experience as a Campus Correspondent for SI's Campus Rush with a full-time co-op at Sports Illustrated's headquarters in New York City.

As a former writer for VU Hoops, Merrimack Valley Magazine, Polis and The Villanovan, Larry will continue to hone his writing skills while fact-checking, assisting reporters with research and writing for the magazine.

“The Sports Illustrated Co-Op is offered by the English Department.  Former 'Nova English major Jim Gorant is now an editor at SI and helps facilitate the internship,” Larry says. “I've had my eye on it since I applied to 'Nova, so I'm excited to have fulfilled this goal.”

As an English major with a Creative Writing Minor and Writing and Rhetoric concentration, Larry’s many skills include the ability to provide a new perspective and to critically analyze various literatures. “Fact-checking at Sports Illustrated uses many of the same skills,” Larry explains. “Editors send me a story en route to publication in the magazine; then, I verify its accuracy and offer editorial suggestions. I learned these critical readings skills through the rigorous reading and writing-based English program in Villanova CLAS.”

With regard to long-term career goals, Larry hopes to pursue journalism, creative writing and teaching. Outside of the classroom, Larry has been a radio commentator, producer and host of his own talk show “Hoops Dreams,” Villanova Basketball TV analyst for VUBenchMob.com, a featured Boston Celtics Analyst, Language Arts Teacher at Philips Academy’s PALS Program and a teaching assistant at Phillips Academy Andover Summer Session among his other sports writing positions and internships.

“Through CLAS' diverse curriculum, I've been able to see how these three fields are inextricably related,” Larry says. “For example, many of the sports features I've written read like stories rather than ‘reports,’ because I use creative language and figurative imagery I've used in creative writing and literature-based courses. Also, teaching writing at the Villanova Writing Center has informed a consciousness of my own writing. At the end of the day, I hope to be a writer, journalist and teacher. With the help of Villanova CLAS, I've been able to pursue my interests in all three fields.”
Larry Flynn at Madison Square Garden

Friday, September 2, 2016

Welcome from Dr. Heather Hicks, New Chair of the English Department

Welcome from the New Chair of English!

I am honored and excited to begin my term as Chair of the English Department.  As you know if you've taken an English class here at Villanova, we have a truly remarkable group of professors in this Department.  They are national and international experts in their fields, and they are passionate about sharing their knowledge with you.  When I chat with students, I find myself saying over and over again, "Oh, that will be a great class!" because I've observed the classes of many of my colleagues and consistently been dazzled by what great teachers they are.  Of course, we always want to keep improving, so if you have any concerns, please let me know.  And if you have ideas or suggestions about classes that you'd like to see offered, or ways we might change the major, or events you'd like to see the Department sponsor, please drop me an email at heather.hicks@villanova.edu, or drop by my office!  I hope you all have a great semester. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

New Poems from Prof. Cathy Staples

Prof. Cathy Staples recently published two poems in the Kenyon Review.  You can read them here.