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. Also be sure to check out our Facebook page for more updates.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Summer Studio 2018

Current MA student Alex Einspahr and graduating senior Caitlyn Dittmeier took part in the Irish Theatre Summer Studio program this summer! Here they are atop the Martello Tower, depicted in James Joyce's opening chapter of Ulysses. They saw the Abbey Theatre's stage version of Ulysses, written by Dermot Bolger, and read the first chapter on top of the Tower!  

And here are more of our MA students in Sandycove!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ulysses at the Abbey Theatre!

This past Friday, students in this year's Summer Studio program in Dublin got a chance to see Ulysses at The Abbey, Ireland's National Theatre!
Current MA students Caitlyn, Lia, Ashley, Angela, Alex, and Michelle

Monday, June 18, 2018

Bloomsday 2018

Christie and Nick attended Bloomsday at the Rosenbach celebrating James Joyce's epic novel Ulysses. See what Christie said about the event below!

Here are a few photos of the Bloomsday event on Saturday, which included a day-long reading of Ulysses with musical interludes of live traditional Irish music. Ed Rendell and the Irish Ambassador to the US were among the readers at the event. I've been asked to read at next year's event, along with the undergraduate essay contest winner. Each reader did about two pages, and there were short readings from each of the episodes with brief summaries up on the screens. A couple readings were accompanied by professional vocalists, who sang for Simon Dedalus and for the Croppy Boy song. Several people in the audience had their Gabler editions open on their laps.
The Rosenbach House was offering free admission, so we got to explore the house a bit and ran into Penn professor Dr. Paul Saint-Amour, who attended the Kevin Dettmar lecture and dinner last fall.

At the beer garden, they had plastic Guinness cups and served Bloom's gorgonzola and ham sandwich from the cannibalistic Lestrygonians chapter ("Noah sent Ham, and his descendants mustered and bred..."). Nick enjoyed the sandwich.
                                                                                              --Christie Leonard

Thursday, June 14, 2018

MA(ine) Road Trip: Vision Quest Approximation

It was a vision quest worthy of any of the great road trip narratives, from Don Quixote to Sal Paradise. MA’s Alex Brodin, Christie Leonard and Nick Manai packed up the van and set their sails in a north-easterly direction, making their first stop in Portland, ME to hit the town with local hosts Lia and Sam Mrozinski and fellow English grad Angeline Nies-berger. The next morning the trio left the city to make it out to Wilton to stay at Casey Smedberg’s grandparent’s lake house—thanks Pop-pop and Gram. On the way there were gas-station lobster rolls, roadside PB+J’s, and Vision Quest mix CD’s, along with Appalachian Trail hiking, Lupine foraging, sunset kayaking, and many many late night bonfires. We found some great book deals in little thrift stores, but realized we’d never get a thesis written with the chance to explore the long, tree-encased roads and stay up late with the tall, star-freckled skies of Maine, together. Special thanks to Sam Cooke, Father John Misty and Lucinda Williams for being our spiritual shamans and Peter Quill’s Awesome Mix from Guardian’s of the Galaxy for keeping us loose and upbeat as we opened up to the collective vision. As legendary New Englander Jonathan Richman put it: “I’ve seen old Israel’s arid plain./ It’s magnificent, but so’s Maine.”                                                                                                                          --Nick Manai    



MA(ine) Student Road Trip!

Current students Alex, Christie, and Nick went on a road trip to Maine to visit Casey, a 2018 graduate who is working as a Park Ranger until she heads to Connecticut in the fall to begin her PhD, (and made a stop in Portland to visit Lia along the way)! 
Christie, Alex, and Casey

Nick, Christie, and Alex

Monday, May 21, 2018

Congratulations to the Class of 2018!

The weather did't (totally) prevent us from celebrating the Class of 2018 at our Graduation Reception this Saturday! Congrats to all-- and please keep in touch!

Some of our graduates and faculty
Casey and rising second-year students Christie and Nick
One is Brooke, one isn't...
Thank you to the cohort for my "Brooke Award"
That's a wrap on 2017-2018-- can't wait to see the amazing things you all continue to accomplish!

Recommended Summer 2018 Reading from English Department Faculty

Michael Berthold:
I’ve been teaching Octavia Butler’s Kindred for a number of years and look forward this summer to reading through the rest of her fiction. Butler visited Villanova back in 2002, and a number of the English faculty had the opportunity to lunch with her!

Joe Drury:
Here are the books I'm planning to read this summer:
Jenny Erpenbeck, Go, Went, Gone - much feted contemporary German author. I've been told the novel to read if you want to begin to understand the current European refugee crisis.
Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem - my sci-fi read for the summer, am told it will blow my mind.
Preti Taneja, We That Are Young - highly acclaimed new novel about 21st century India, written by someone I worked with briefly in the grim period between college and grad school.

Travis Foster:
First up, a page-turner of a memoir that addresses rural white poverty far better than the aw-shucks punditry of Hillbilly Elegy while also telling a more complex, important, and authentic story: Tara Westover’s Educated, about her experience growing up home schooled in a fundamentalist family in Idaho. Next up: Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, a queer coming of age story about art and activism that I couldn't put down. It left me feeling hopeful about the possibilities for social change. Third, an engrossing and epic fantasy, the first volume in a projected ten-volume series: Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. I couldn’t stop myself and read the entire 1007-page book in three days. Finally, a book I cannot wait to read this summer, written by an incoming member of the English department: Tsering Wangmo Dhompa’s Coming Home to Tibet: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Belonging.

Heather Hicks:
I plan to read The Power by Naomi Alderman, which is a critically acclaimed 2017 novel that imagines teenage girls develop a power that makes them physically stronger than men.  I also want to read Marc Reisner’s classic nonfiction work, Cadillac Desert: The West and Its Disappearing Water.  This book is alluded to in a number of recent post-apocalyptic novels about climate change, including Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife.

Kamran Javadizadeh:
I’m looking forward to reading so much this summer! But two books come to mind first:

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, by Terrance Hayes. Hayes started writing these sonnets just after the election of 2016, and the poems, each of which has the same title, and little bunches of which have been appearing in periodicals since then, are extraordinary, mind-bending, and packed, each, with fresh wonder. Two representative quotations from what I’ve seen so far: “I lock you in an American sonnet that is part prison, / Part panic closet, a little room in a house set aflame.” “Inside me is a huge black / Bull balled small enough to fit inside / The bead of a nipple ring. I mean to leave / A record of my raptures.” The book comes out in June.

In the Distance, by Hernan Diaz. I’m very curious about this novel, and I know very little about it! Except that it’s a Western that (apparently) reimagines the genre, is set in the antebellum period, tells the story of a Swedish immigrant who finds himself in California and must travel east, and is all about uprootedness and feeling lost in the strangeness of this language and this continent. It sounds great.

Yumi Lee:
My suggestion is Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, just published this spring. It’s a beautiful collection of personal essays, including some particularly fantastic writing about writing. A great read for all creative writers and lovers of reading.

Joseph Lennon:
The amazing Solar Bones by Mike McCormack.

Jean Lutes:
This summer, I'm going to read Alexis Okeowo's A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa (2017), which sounds like an extraordinary journalistic achievement and a moving testament to the power of resistance.

Next on my list is John Banville's Mrs. Osmond (2017), a daring sequel that follows one of my all-time favorite literary heroines, Isabel Archer from Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady (1881), into adulthood.

Mary Mullen:
I look forward to reading John Keene’s Counternarratives (2015) this summer. It not only rethinks historical narratives about race and slavery; it works to transform how we think of history itself. As John Keene says in an interview about the book, “I place history as a linear, factually-based practice under pressure.” It is innovative and experimental, changing how we think about history by experimenting with narrative form. Professor Lee also highly recommends it (and says much of it is about Philly)!

I also plan to continue my regular summer practice of reading novels by Margaret Oliphant. Most famous for her Chronicles of Carlingford novels, Oliphant published almost one hundred (!) novels during the Victorian period. I find her novels of provincial life utterly relaxing to read. They are full of sons who disappoint their fathers, daughters who preside over their father’s dinner parties (whether their fathers like it or not), bad love matches, anxiety about social mobility, conflicts between church and chapel, warnings about financial speculation, criticism of Oxford’s exam system. I recommend starting with Miss Marjoribanks, which features one of the most socially adept characters of all time. This summer I plan to read her supernatural fiction for the first time.

Adrienne Perry (joining the English department this fall):
Here's one of my books for the summer:  Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.  I'll have a chance to interview Ward for Brazos Bookstore this May and want to reread Sing, Unburied, Sing after discussing her work in person. I'm particularly interested in the way Ward structured her novel, moving through time and alternating points of view, as well as her treatment of the story's speculative elements.

Megan Quigley:
I am reading Mrs. Osmond by John Banville (Because what courage to write a sequel to Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady! And I adore Banville’s usual lyrical but spare Irish prose style so how will he tackle endlessly metaphorical James?), Bluets by Maggie Nelson (because I enjoyed teaching The Argonauts for the English / GWS capstone course and heard this one is even better) and, of course, continuing to make my way through the new volumes of T. S. Eliot’s letters (because I love reading author’s correspondence in the summer, it makes the summer days feel long and full of potential).

Evan Radcliffe:
I’ve read (and taught) Homer’s Odyssey many times, in several different translations.  I’m looking forward to reading it in Emily Wilson’s new translation, which is published by W. W. Norton and being included in Norton anthologies.  Her translation (of which I’ve read parts, along with Wilson’s introduction) is noteworthy not just for her generally straightforward style and use of iambic pentameter, but also for her distinctive depiction of ancient attitudes, such as the ways the poem represents non-Greek persons or women like Helen of Troy and Odysseus’ wife Penelope.  For example, at one point in Book 21, Homer describes Penelope’s hand with the word pachus.  It means “thick,” but, as Wilson remarks, to use “thick” nowadays would disparage Penelope, since “in our culture, women are not supposed to have big, thick, or fat hands.”  Typically, translators have ignored the word or used an adjective that seems more familiar, like “steady.”  Yet pachus is an important word, unexpected and yet appropriate.  It’s unexpected because when Homer uses it elsewhere in the poem, it’s for the hands of male warriors; but it’s also appropriate, because what Homer is doing is making a link between Penelope and those warriors, a link that highlights her exceptional status.  In the end, Wilson decided on “muscular,” a word that both fits Penelope literally (she’s a weaver, and thus would have strong hands) and that also makes the crucial link.  As I re-read it this summer, I’m anticipating other fresh perspectives on Homer’s great poem.

Jody Ross:
Pick up Le├»la Slimani’s Chanson Douce if you want to practice French while reading a novel that takes hold of you like a compulsion. You can also read it in translation. It's based on the true story of a nanny who kills her charges, and it looks deeply at something we don't want to see: the fraught relationships between powerful parents and the powerless people they hire to care for their children.

Lauren Shohet:
Jenny Erpenbeck, Go, Went, Gone. Exploring the developing relationships between a retired Berlin classics professor and a group of undocumented African refugees, this novel intertwines questions about place, displacement, reading, identity, and humanity. It's a wonderful read that somehow avoids both sentimentality and brutality.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

2017-2018 Year in Review

It has been an awesome year for our MA students! See the 2017-2018 Year in Review Newsletter!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

8th Annual Thesis and Field Examination Symposium

A huge thank you to all of our presenters and guests at our 8th Annual Symposium. Awesome job, and congratulations to William, Stephen, Casey, Michael and Christian!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

This Year's Meyer Innovation and Creative Excellence Award Goes To...William Repetto!

Congratulations to second-year student William Repetto for winning this year’s Meyer Innovation and Creative Excellence Award from the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute. The ICE Awards were created to recognize a spirit of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship that enhances Villanova University. The annual award of a trophy and $1,000 goes to one graduating student from each college (as well as to one faculty member).

William won the award for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences for serving as the project lead for the launch of the Diversity and Inclusion Resource Guide at Falvey Library. As stated on the guide’s home page, it is intended to aid students in exploring a “vast range of social, political sexual, racial, and gendered issues in today’s world. This page offers a point of entry for exploration and seeks to provide a space for genuine personal, intellectual and emotional growth. As a library community composed of diverse voices, we intend for this resource to allow you to engage with voices, ideas, and stories both familiar and new.”

Along the way to creating such a helpful resource, William authored two blog posts to detail the status of the project. The first blog post details the early stages of the project and William and team’s initial pitch of the resource guide last year. His follow up blog post, written last month, discusses the tactics William used, in partnership with English and Theatre Librarian and department liaison Sarah Wingo, to enhance the community-building aspect of the guide as well as its user-friendliness.

You can read ICE Institute’s formal announcement of all the winners of this year’s awards here.

Way to go, William!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

English Department @ Spring 2018 Gala

A few of our own showed up for this year's Spring Gala!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Congratulations to First-Year Student Nick Manai!

Congratulations to first-year student Nick Manai for getting his paper published in The Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies! Nick’s paper will appear in the 2018 issue, Volume 18.

The title of Nick’s paper is “Turning Inward: Using Insight as a Catalyst for Change in The Corrections.”

Nick’s paper looks at the ways Jonathan Franzen's characters make meaningful change to their lives in his novel The Corrections. Nick argues that they are able to expand strict moral perspectives through reflection that yields insight into their own lives or the lives of their family members. Franzen's thematic commitment to insight is indicative of Marilynne Robinson's belief in the mind’s introspective powers and Foucault's concern, later in his career, with knowledge of the self. This reading also confirms Rachel Greenwald Smith's sense of the "affective hypothesis" in contemporary fiction where characters actively seek to improve their emotions, but Nick argue that rather than isolating characters, Franzen uses insight as a way to strengthen social networks (Smith 2).