Welcome to the official blog for Villanova's Graduate English Program! Come back often for updates on conference opportunities, guest speakers, student accomplishments, alumni news, and more.

Monday, September 12, 2016

First Fall Coffee Hour

For those new to the program, several times a semester the English Department hosts a Coffee Hour to get our grads, undergrads, and professors together.

 It's a great opportunity for students and faculty to catch up and relax - with coffee and cookies, of course!

This past Thursday was our first of the year, but we can't wait to see you all again soon.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Welcome Grads!

Last Friday the English Department welcomed grads, new and returning. The reception had a great turnout of students and faculty. It was the first opportunity of the year to chat and eat together, with many grads meeting their cohort for the first time.

We look forward to seeing everyone together again as semester unfolds!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Villanova English: The Story Behind the New Posters

New English chair Dr. Heather Hicks gives the story behind the new posters in the department's office suite:

Several years ago, I was visiting my parents for Christmas in my hometown in Maine.  My family has lived in this small rural town since the early 19th century.  One day, my father mentioned that he had to pay a visit to a local library where he was helping several volunteers with upkeep.  I had vague memories of this small library one town over, as my great grandmother had lived in the few rooms attached to it, and she had sometimes taken care of my brother and me there when we were very little.  I offered to come along with my father, and my husband also tagged along. 

When we arrived, I had a surge of memories of the time I had spent in this space as a child.  I remembered the wooden cabinet, built into the wall of the parlor, where my grandmother kept cream pitchers she collected.  Some were tiny, some large, some shaped like cows, or birds, or delicately decorated with roses, or emblazoned with the names of various states, and they all had fascinated me.  Then we stepped into the library itself, and I was amazed.  I hadn’t remembered that this was a substantial space, full of shelf after shelf of books.  My father explained that this library had been created by one of our distant relatives, a minister who brought many of these books when he moved from Philadelphia in the late 18th century.   His descendants had continued to amass a personal library, much of which was later donated to the town and moved into this space, which had originally been a woodshed.

As I wandered among the shelves, I started randomly pulling out volumes, and I was in for another surprise.  Many of the books were stunningly beautiful.  The incongruity between the plainness of the bare-bones wooden room and the luxurious covers of many of these books was uncanny.  My husband and I came back with our camera the next day and began taking photos of some of the most elegant covers.  In all, we took more than 150 photos, and for years, I wondered what to do with this repository.  Then, after being selected as the new Chair of the English Department, I noticed that there were a number of blank walls in the English Department.   In consultation with Dr. Radcliffe, who was acting Chair, as well as Susan Burns and Sharon Rose-Davis, who are staff of the English department, I gradually selected a group of images to convert into posters.  Here are the ones we ultimately chose:

It became clear as I worked on this project that though the book collection in the library was a treasure trove, it did not do justice to the range of literature we teach in the English Department.  There were few female authors and no African American authors or other authors of color to be found there.  I began to research other avenues for locating interesting book covers, and in the process, I learned about the designers of book and magazine covers during the Harlem Renaissance, including Aaron Douglas.  He produced many of the images for the magazine, The Crisis, which published many of the Harlem Renaissance’s renowned writers.  Douglas seems to have inspired Mexico’s Miguel Covarrubias, who made the image for Langston Hughes’s The Weary Blues you’ll see hanging in the Graduate Lounge.  Online research, a visit to a great used bookstore in Bucks County, and the generosity of my colleague Joseph Lennon, who lent me his copy of Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s Nobel lecture, Crediting Poetry, rounded out the collection of books that are represented on the walls of the English Department.

(Reposted from the Undergraduate English blog.) 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Congratulations, MA Class of 2016!

We are proud to announce our 2016 English Masters!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Great Bard Bake-Off!

For the first time ever, the Villanova English grad program put on their very own literary bake-off! All contestants had to bake a Shakespeare-inspired sweet for the Bard's 452nd birthday.
Our graduate participants in front of their work!

The entries were as delicious as they were creative!

Traditionally made Elizabethan Lemon Cakes
Romeo & Juliet inspired apple crumb

Opeelia! - candied orange peels dipped in chocolate

Coffee and Chocolate two layer cake

"Blood will have blood" so says this Red Velvet cake
And finally the bake-off winner, Laura Tscherry's

There's Rosemary and Lemon Tart - That's for Remembrance

Happy birthday, Shakespeare!

Come down the rabbit hole with Villanova's English department

Dr. Mary Mullen organized and hosted our Alice's Adventures in Wonderland event this March, to get success!

Dr. Mary Mullen - picture from Villanova English blog

"Yes, that's it!," said the Hatter with a sigh. "It's always tea time!"
 There were games, prizes, trivia and a live reading of the tea party scene! And what would a birthday be without cake?
Happy 150th birthday, Alice!

Monday, January 25, 2016

The 2016 Literary Festival Begins this Thursday!

Kicking off this year's Literary Festival is Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gregory Pardlo. Come down to the Connelly Center Cinema at 7:00PM this Thursday, January 28. We can't wait to see you there!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Do you even lit, bro?

Show your love for the Villanova English department this year!

The shirts were unveiled at the Holiday Coffee Break in December (pictured below), and you can pick yours up from the department office for just $10. These cool, funny tees were designed by the department's undergrads Christie Leonard and Kevin Madden.

Dr. Chiji Akoma and Dr. Crystal Lucky pose with some of our grad students

We hope to see you all at the next department coffee break!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Upcoming: Faculty Research Talk

Lauren Shohet, Luckow Family Professor of English, presents:

“The Fragrance of the Fall: the Semiotics of Smell in Paradise Lost”

Haverford Room, Connelly Center

Wednesday, November 11 at 12:00PM

Lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP by November 6 to sharon.rose-davis@villanova.edu

Graduate readers welcome!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2016 Literary Festival!

The English Department is pleased to announce the line-up for the 2016 Villanova University Literary Festival.  All readings will be at 7pm. The locations will be announced soon.

January 28: Gregory Pardlo
Gregory Pardlo's ​collection​ Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Digest​ was also shortlisted for the​ 2015 NAACP Image Award and is a current finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His other honors​ include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. Pardlo's poems appear in​ The Nation, Ploughshares, ​Tin House, T​he Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry,Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. Pardlo lives with his family in Brooklyn.

February 11:  Dan Torday
Daniel Torday is the author of the novel The Last Flight of Poxl West. His novella, The Sensualist, won the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction. Torday's stories and essays have appeared in Esquire Magazine, n+1, The New York Times, The Paris Review Daily and Tin House. A former editor at Esquire, Torday serves as an editor at The Kenyon Review. He is Director of Creative Writing at Bryn Mawr College.

February 23:  Jean Valentine
A longtime resident of New York City, Jean Valentine was named the State Poet of New York in 2008. Her first book of poems, Dream Barker and Other Poems, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1965. Subsequent collections of poems include The River at Wolf (1992), Little Boat(2007), and Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965–2003, which won the National Book Award in 2004.

March 17: Glenn Patterson  
*In conjunction with the Heimbold Fellowship in Irish Studies
Glenn Patterson was born in Belfast and educated there and at the University of East Anglia where he studied for an MA in Creative Writing under Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter. He is the author of eight novels and two works of non-fiction. His plays and stories have been broadcast on Radio 3 and Radio 4 and articles and essays have appeared in the Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Independent, Irish Times, Dublin Review. Before coming to Queen's as writer-in-residence (1994) he was Creative Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia and writer-in-residence at University College Cork. He has also presented numerous television documentaries and an arts review series for RTE. A film, Good Vibrations, co-written with Colin Carberry is due for cinema release in 2013. In 2008 he was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship. He is a member of Aosdana.

April 14: Asali Solomon
*In conjunction with the Ida B. Wells lecture in Africana Studies
Asali Solomon is the author of the novel Disgruntled.  She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award for her stories collected in Get Down, her first book; the volume was also a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. In 2007 she was named one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35. Solomon teaches English at Haverford College. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two sons.

The Wildcat in the Rye

Photo by Auraleah Grega
During the week preceding Fall Break, the English department ran their fourth annual freshmen program in Good Counsel Hall. A group of grads and undergrads volunteered to assist Dr. Kamran Javadizadeh in leading a discussion of a chapter from J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. The point of the program was to introduce Villanova freshmen to the level of thoughtful analysis they can encounter through the English Department here.

The event began with Dr. Javadizadeh presenting some context for the chapter, as well as an introduction to the great benefits of pursuing study in the field of English.

Then student volunteers, each designated a role, read through the 13th chapter of Catcher. The freshmen were then broken into small groups to discuss their ideas about the text they had just heard.

Photos by Auraleah Grega
With a grand total of 89 first year students signing in to the event (though numbers were likely higher than recorded), it was a great success! Thanks to Dr. Javadizadeh for organizing the program, and to the students who volunteered their time to make the event possible!

Never Too Old for Field Trips: A Weekend Excursion to Bartram’s Garden

Below is a write-up by first-year graduate student Rob McClung about a trip he and the rest of Dr. Lisa Sewell's Ecopoetics course took earlier this month:

Photo by Rob McClung        

Philadelphia is often called a “city of firsts”: within its limits were established the nation’s first public schools, its first hospital, its first lending library, its first public parks, and on the banks of the Schuykill River, its first botanical garden, established by John Bartram on the 108 acres he purchased from Swedish settlers in 1728. Bartram (1699-1777) is remembered as the country’s earliest, and for many years its most prominent, botanist. A third generation Quaker, he remained a farmer throughout his life, but established himself as an authority on North American plants through a combination of autodidactic perseverance and extensive travel throughout the continent, taking him as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida to collect and catalog seeds and plant specimens.

The eminent local essayist Agnes Repplier described him as a quiet man who labored quietly within his “narrow bounds,” who thought much of his work and “little of the public,” and who “added generous shares to the useful knowledge of the world.” The original house, designed and built by Bartram himself, still stands today. I thought it handsome and distinguished, yet modest, in the classic Germanic style of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Its stone and lumber construction, dual end chimneys, and steeply pitched gable roof characterize it as typical of the period, but several unique architectural features mark the house’s singularity. I was much taken by the façade, which incorporates a triple column arrangement set against a central section of slate grey stucco on the second story. The center column divides the house, while the two outer columns separate the central section of stucco from the more classic pattern of stone that lines the remaining exterior. This arrangement creates a complex, almost jarring rhythm that is amplified by the open-air porch beneath the section of stucco, divided in half by the central column, and the alternation of four windows with three columns. The botanist certainly had a curious taste and an original aesthetic, and the startled onlooker who finds himself confounded by the apparent disharmony of elements--as I was--soon begins to speculate about his character when gazing at this particular architectural form of expression. I’d call him a neoclassicist with a flair for the quirky.