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.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Thanks for Coming to Our Spring Coffee Break!

Thanks to all who came to our spring coffee break! It was great to get a mid-semester breather--now back to work!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Visit from Tyehimba Jess - Part of the 20th Anniversary Literary Festival

The English department celebrated the 20th anniversary of of its yearly Literary Festival with a reception and reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess on Jan. 30 in the President's Lounge.

The Literary Festival brings five award-winning, renowned and emerging writers—including poets, novelists, memoirists and playwrights—to campus each spring as part of the University's Creative Writing Program. During their visits to Villanova, the writers offer readings and discuss their writing with students in an English course specially designed around their work.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Call for Papers - SFU 2018 English Graduate Conference

Visit the posting on the Conference Opportunities page for the Call for Papers for “Interrogating ‘Common Language,’” Simon Fraser University’s 2018 English Graduate Conference.

As you may know, Simon Fraser University is far from us—it’s outside Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. Unfortunately, the budget for travel from Graduate Studies has been used up: “all of the Graduate Studies funds for conference travel have been expended for this fiscal year. Those students who have already applied and received approval for upcoming conferences will, of course, be reimbursed for their travel expenses up to the amount approved. Applications for funding to present at conferences in the new fiscal year – after May 31 – will be considered after April 1.”

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Call for Papers: Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium

Call for Papers
Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium

May 3-4, 2018

Conference Theme:
Community Outreach and the Arts

Keynote Speaker and Workshop Presenter
Michael John Garc├ęs, Cornerstone Theatre Company

The Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium is seeking abstracts for papers for our 12th Annual gathering of theatre scholars. This year’s theme is “Community Outreach and the Arts.” PTRS is seeking papers which engage a broad range of topics in theatre and drama studies including, but not limited to:
  • Theatre for social change
  • Oral history as performance
  •  Documentary and Ethnodrama
  • Site-specific and community based devising practices 
  • Race, gender, and representation in community based theatre practices
  • Audience engagement

Abstracts of 250 words or less should be submitted along with a brief bio to PTRSVillanova@gmail.com
The deadline for submission is March 5.

About the Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium:

The goal of the Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium is to provide a forum for theatre scholars and practitioners to share their research and work in order to enter into a dialogue about current trends in theatrical practice and scholarship.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

UPCOMING EVENT! James Joyce Birthday Celebration

When: Monday 2/5 at 6pm
Where: Jack McShea's Pub in Ardmore

We'll have Irish dancers, Irish trad musicians, and open mic readings. Come out for some great craic!

Monday, January 29, 2018

UPCOMING EVENT! "Writing the Tiger: Literary Perspectives on Irish Prosperity a Decade after the Crash"

The collapse of Ireland's economic bubble in 2008 brought to an end the fifteen-year era of prosperity known as the Celtic Tiger. Dr. Sarah Townsend (University of New Mexico) explores Irish fiction and drama in the decade following the financial crash, showing how the upswing and its aftermath have remapped narratives about risk, aspiration, and human potential.

When: Thursday, February 8, 5:30 PM
Where: SAC 300

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Call for Papers: Constructing Experience: Narrative Innovations Across Time and Media”

UVA has issued a CFP for their upcoming Graduate Student Conference on “Constructing Experience: Narrative Innovations Across Time and Media,” which takes place March 23-24, 2018. Note that the deadline for proposals is Jan. 31. Visit our posting on the Conference Opportunities page for all the details.

As always, remember that if you decide to submit proposals to any conferences, be sure to consider applying for funding. See the Graduate Studies Office’s webpage on Conference Travel Funding. And remember that you have to apply for the funding before you attend the conference. (In recent years, the funding has tended to run out early in the spring semester.)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

FINAL Info Session for Irish Theatre Summer Studio on Monday!

Still interested in the Irish Theatre Summer Studio? You should be! Be sure to come to the LAST info session this coming Monday, January 22, at 3:30 in SAC 300. 

Ready to apply? Visit this page for more info and click on the "Apply Now" in the right-hand column to start your application.
Background Info:

From the studio to the stage, students will study the workings and history of Ireland's world-class national theatre while developing their own theatre skills, knowledge, and practice. Students from Villanova will work alongside students from Irish and other universities and be taught by practitioners and professors from the U.S. and Ireland. Student work will culminate in a showing of final work at the Lir, Ireland's National Academy of Dramatic Art and guided by Abbey Theatre professionals.

The Abbey Theatre, the national theatre of Ireland, has long showcased great Irish drama. Emerging out of theatre societies founded by W.B. Yeats, Edward Martyn, Lady Augusta Gregory, John Millington Synge, the Fay brothers, and others, the Abbey Theatre has fostered playwrights and premiered productions by Sean O’Casey, Brian Friel, Frank McGuinness, Sebastian Barry, and Marina Carr, among many others. The Lir is Ireland’s National Academy of Dramatic Art. It is part of Trinity College Dublin and is associated with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London.

The program is a joint enterprise between Villanova University, the Lir, the Abbey Theatre, the National University of Ireland in Galway, and University College, Dublin. It offers a select group of students from Ireland and the United States the opportunity to study with Irish Studies scholars and Irish theatre professionals. Students from any college or university may apply and receive credit through the Villanova University Office of Education Abroad, in conjunction with their home university.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Upcoming Seminar Opportunity: Saturday, Feb 10

CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia is hosting an upcoming public seminar, "Cultural Narratives and National Identities: Revisiting Rodney King, the Film The Fugitive, The Gulf Wars, and Disney’s Aladdin," with Professor Alan Nadel (a prominent literary/cultural critic). The seminar is a one-day event, on Saturday, February 10, from 10am-3pm. Visit their website for more information! Also, please note that if you register and attend the seminar, the department will reimburse you for the registration fee.

An Interview with Program Alumna Dr. Christine Muller

Dr. Christine Muller graduated from Villanova's English MA program in 2002 and went on to earn her PhD in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Muller is now the Dean of Saybrook College, a residential college at Yale. She is also a lecturer in American Studies at Yale. In January of 2017, Dr. Muller published a book entitled September 11, 2001 as a Cultural Trauma: A Case Study through Popular Culture. Lia Mrozinski, a current first-year graduate student, had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Muller about her new book, her experience in academia, and more:

LM: I read on Palgrave Macmillan that your recently published book, September 11, 2001 as a Cultural Trauma: A Case Study through Popular Culture, explores cultural trauma in the early twenty-first century. What catalyzed your interest in this field?

CM: Immediately after September 11, 2001, the idea that the “world had changed” circulated pervasively. I felt viscerally that day when watching the live coverage on television that something portentously disruptive was happening. So I wondered both intellectually and personally what it meant to say or to feel that the world had changed. Trauma studies was a prominent field of inquiry in the humanities by that time, and offered an opportunity to explore this question phenomenologically – not necessarily to try to pinpoint whether and how the world had actually materially changed after September 11, but rather to pinpoint what it might mean that it was widely experienced or perceived as having changed. Through trauma studies, I could see the resonance between how individuals have long characterized their traumatization (also perceiving their worlds as having changed) and how September 11 was being characterized on a much larger scale. Psychologist Ronnie Janoff-Bulman has specified the cognitive consequences of traumatization for individuals, that our fundamental assumptions about how the world works collapse and require restoration (or, more accurately, recalibration). With culture the site of meaning-making, it seemed to make sense that a cultural trauma would be a shared experience of the shattering of culturally-cultivated assumptions. And for me, mainstream, commonly-accessible sites of meaning-making such as film and television and other forms of popular culture presented fruitful opportunities to get a read on how dominant cultural processes were engaging the phenomenon of September 11.

LM: I read on Yale’s website that your research in American Studies focuses on “forms of popular culture have been drawing mass audiences into pertinent ethical and practical questions about power, violence, and historical change” – what types of pop culture do you find more compelling and interesting for your studies?

CM: I’ve been especially interested in film and television. Films such as The Dark Knight and television shows such as The Walking Dead have proven both highly successful with viewers and well-received by critics. Yet, what does it mean that viewers seek to be entertained by these incredibly dark stories presenting constant mortal dilemmas and featuring routinely ambivalent ethics? Viewing media can feel passive, but just one animated conversation after a provocative episode of Game of Thrones – a show laser-focused on how social, political, and military power operates – evidences how actively people are engaging with what they see. The pace of social change in our current historical moment is not lost on anyone, and our mainstream entertainments enable us to direct our questions and our qualms about what is happening, what might happen next, and what we do about any of it in a potentially constructive way.

LM: Were American Studies and cultural trauma both focuses of yours during your time at Villanova?

CM: As an undergraduate, I majored in History and Psychology, with an Honors Program Sequence, and my M.A. was in English. So, while I had not been aware of the field of American Studies (nor the field of trauma studies) until later, it turned out that the disciplines that would intertwine for me in my work in American Studies – History, Psychology, and English – were rooted in my Villanova education.

LM: How were your interests shaped during your time at Villanova?

CM: Villanova’s faculty amazingly combine substantive mentorship of their students with robust scholarly production. Rather than point to a specific interest or academic pursuit, I would say their greatest impact for me collectively was in their modeling of their professional roles. I’ve carried with me a sense that academic work, and especially teaching, can be fun as well as important, but above all, that it should feel purposeful and involve students in questions that matter.

LM: How did the Villanova graduate program prepare you for your Ph.D. at the University of Maryland and for your current position?
CM: My work in American Studies, from graduate school until now, has depended on closely reading texts and situating them within the contexts of both their production and their consumption. Texts become meaningful through the interplay of what authors put out there and what audiences do with what the authors put out there. Villanova’s graduate English program exposed me to a rich variety of literary traditions, from American slave narratives to Irish theatre to the emergent (back in the ‘90s, when I was in graduate school, this was still emergent!) digital age. This exposure to a dynamic range of texts and contexts helped prepare me to critically encounter whatever might be percolating within our rapidly, complexly developing contemporary culture.

LM: What are your primary responsibilities as Dean of Saybrook College?

CM: Yale’s fourteen residential colleges serve as microcosms of the overall undergraduate population: from matriculation through graduation, about 450-500 students are grouped together in each community, which provides housing, dining, intramurals, and other on-campus living experiences according to a basic demographic distribution (the number of athletes, international students, etc.) that reflects the make-up of Yale College as a whole. The residential college dean serves as the chief academic officer within his/her residential college. So, my basic task is to guide students as they work to meet their graduation requirements. This includes reviewing and approving course schedules and advising students about both short- and long-term academic goals, but it also involves substantial efforts when life, so to speak, interferes. When a student struggles academically or personally, I am the triage agent who seeks to determine the nature of the struggle and to direct the student to the appropriate campus resources for support and accommodation. It is a dynamic job and no two days…no two minutes…are ever alike!

LM: What advice do you have for current graduate students about pursuing a career in academia?

CM: There are certainly many challenges within the academic job market. On the most practical level, publishing, presenting at conferences, and networking with others in your field of study remain fundamental components of the traditional tenure-track trajectory.

However, ever since my days at Villanova, I have learned and repeatedly confirmed this truth: do what you enjoy, you will do it well because you enjoy doing it, and doing well what you enjoy doing will lead to other opportunities of the same kind. This means that you need not bind yourself within the academic job market to a do-or-die commitment to a tenure-track position. Rather, you can remain attuned to those kinds of opportunities – but also to others that present resonant ways of exercising your skills and aptitudes. The world is changing but (to keep within the theme of my research!) this need not be traumatic. Research, teaching, and the broader educational enterprise are manifesting in fluid and sometimes unexpected ways. Know what you are able to do and why you do it, and you will find settings in which you can realize your possibilities.

LM: Can you tell me anything about your next/upcoming research project(s)?

CM: With my interest in cultural trauma, I have been thinking about looking again at the first decades of the twenty-first century, but with an eye to the stressors of the era apart from September 11 – for example, rapid changes in commonly-accepted social roles, identities, and values that have been manifesting in substantial public tensions. However, I have only just begun becoming acutely curious about artificial intelligence (AI). While, obviously, science and technology (and Silicon Valley!) have long been thinking very concretely about AI, it has occurred to me that it is fundamentally a cultural construct. What is “artificial,” what is “intelligence,” and what we do about any of it are cultural questions. And AI has been making its way into our everyday lives with perhaps these questions not yet being adequately consciously considered and resolved. Popular culture, from the author Philip K. Dick to the Blade Runner films, has long been wondering about AI, so it offers a ready-made lens by which I can explore what we expect, what we hope, and what we fear about it.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Call for Papers: Emerging Voices in Irish Studies Graduate Student Conference, University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut is hosting a one-day graduate student Irish Studies conference, "Emerging Voices in Irish Studies," on March 3, 2018. Visit our posting on the Conference Opportunities page for all the information.

As always, remember that if you decide to submit proposals to any conferences, be sure to consider applying for funding. See the Graduate Studies Office’s webpage on Conference Travel Funding. And remember that you have to apply for the funding before you attend the conference. (In recent years, the funding has tended to run out early in the spring semester.) If necessary, they might also seek funding through their departments and the Center for Irish Studies.