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.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dr. Chiji Akoma Wins Grant for Nigerian Research Trip

Reposted from Villanova's English Department Blog.

Dr. Chiji Akoma has been named one of the recipients of the 2013 Faculty Development Grant. The grant will fund his trip to Nigeria to do archival work at the Nigerian Television Authority headquarters library in Abuja in the summer of 2014. Dr. Akoma is conducting research for a monograph on the development of popular theater in south eastern Nigeria, using as his primary source the television show Icheoku, which ran on both regional and national networks in the 1980’s up to mid-1990’s. The show is set in the late 19th century colonial era and features the daily interactions between a British colonial administrator who doubles as a magistrate and his half-literate Nigerian court clerk and interpreter. Dr. Akoma is using the television series to explore the idea of cultural agency and the development of popular theatrical tradition in south-east Nigeria, especially in light of the resulting interface of orality and literacy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Graduate Student Lounge Open 24/7

A new graduate student lounge has opened on the third floor of Old Falvey. The lounge has been fully renovated, is well-heated, has afternoon sunlight, and is blissfully silent except for the turning of pages and the clicking of typing keys. Additionally, it is open 24 hours a day. Graduate students must scan ID cards to enter. We expect to see English graduate students accumulating here as paper writing ramps up.

Katie will not move from this spot until the semester is over.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Graduate English PhD Forum Preps Students for the Next Step

This post by guest blogger Christine Lairson.

The annual Ph.D. Forum for hopeful English Ph.D. candidates took place on the evening of Monday, November 11th. Dr. Heather Hicks served as moderator. Three speakers shared their insight and advice on applying for and completing a Ph.D. in English, as well as realistic statistics about the job market and potential careers after acquiring the degree.

Each speaker expressed enjoyment and appreciation for the experiences in his or her respective Ph.D. programs. Dr. Brooke Hunter, who received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin with a specialization in medieval literature, discussed statistics regarding job growth (and stagnancy), employer's bias in gender, age, and race, and the importance of funding and networking. Following Dr. Hunter's perspective, Dr. Kamran Javadizadeh, who received his Ph.D. in English from Yale University with a specialization in modernist poetry, shared anecdotes of his own job search and the struggles of his colleagues to land tenure-track positions at universities. Although Ted Howell, who completed Villanova's English MA program several years ago and is now a Ph.D. candidate in Temple's English department, was unable to attend the event, he sent a handout listing his tips for the curious, current MA students. He focused on the application process, encouraging prospective students to apply to as many programs that fit their research interests as possible and to be careful in crafting personal statements.

While they feasted on pizza, the students participated in a lively Q-and-A session, making inquiries specific to the individual's interests and concerns. The evening concluded with those in attendance feeling much more prepared for the decision ahead: whether or not to pursue a doctoral degree. The overall consensus is that the event successfully cultivated a warm, comfortable environment where students could express their hopes and anxieties regarding a career in academia and receive advice and support from those in the department who recently completed the process. This community is just one of the reasons why the English MA program is beloved by its students.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Graduate English Student Feeling Inspired by Budding Modeling Career

Second-year graduate English student Corey Arnold was recently featured on Falvey Library's advertising materials due to his good looks and well-known ability to imitate a person deep in thought. Corey's recent celebrity has led to him being asked to make his "inspired face" all across campus and to make soulful poses in front of his own effigy. We look forward to seeing where Corey's modeling career will take him next. You inspire us all, Corey Arnold.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Modern Poetry Class Visits the Rosenbach Museum's Marianne Moore Archive

This post by guest blogger John Dodig.

On the brisk afternoon of Sunday, November 3, a dozen students from Professor Kamran Javadizadeh’s graduate-level modern poetry class met at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. The Rosenbach, which sprawls across two interconnected townhouses on Delancey Street in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia, is the unlikely home of the Marianne Moore Collection, including poetic manuscripts, letters, notebooks, photographs, papers, and even furniture from the life of the important modernist poet, who spent most of her life in New York City after graduating from Bryn Mawr in 1909.

The class began in the research library of the Rosenbach, where the museum’s assistant director of education Farrar Fitzgerald passed around a lengthy letter Moore received from Ezra Pound and a copy of Moore’s response. Pound’s message, typed with his characteristic purple typewriter ribbon, asked the slightly younger poet about her age, her compositional process, and the formal elements of her work, along with providing some gentle suggestions for alterations (like transposing the order of poem’s final three words). Moore’s “A Graveyard,” later renamed “A Grave,” prompted this letter from Pound, who was living in London at the time. Appropriately enough, the class then got to examine both handwritten and typed drafts of the very same poem, along with several other manuscripts and letters, including a note from Bryher, an Englishwoman who was Moore’s friend and patron for many years.

Fitzgerald then passed around various first editions of Moore’s books, including William Carlos Williams’ copy of her debut, Poems. By looking at multiple published versions of the poem “Poetry,” the class could see how relentless a reviser Moore was, making minute alterations to punctuation in the few years after its first run before eventually whittling the multi-stanza work to a scant three lines in her final years. Students also had a chance to look at facsimile versions of Moore’s personal notebooks, many of which contain the germs out of which some of her major works grew. For example, the class passed around a reproduction of a book Moore took with her on a trip to Mr. Rainier in the early 1920s that contains the origins of two of her longest and most important poems, “An Octopus” and “Marriage.” Much of the material in the Rosenbach’s Moore Collection wound up in scholar Linda Leavell’s new biography of Moore called Holding On Upside Down, the first to be authorized by her estate, which the class also had a chance to see.

After interacting with several of these artifacts in the research library, the students moved on to a more intimate space, foreshadowed by portraits of Moore both by herself and with contemporaries like W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, and Delmore Schwartz. The contents of Moore’s Greenwich Village living room—writing desks, photographs, baseballs autographed by Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, paintings, a trapeze bar, William Blake drawings, hundreds of books (including a first edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost), Moore’s Smith-Corona typewriter, and tchotchkes ranging from a velveteen elephant to a wind-up crow—are installed in a comparably-sized room on the third floor of the museum, allowing visitors to see the space in which she lived for the last six years of her life as it would have looked in 1972. The class even had the rare opportunity to read a poem aloud while looking at the item that inspired it (the aforementioned wind-up crow).

While the Moore Collection was the reason for and the highlight of the trip, the class also got to take a look at some of the museum’s other materials, like a room full of Maurice Sendak drawings and paintings that would eventually become Where the Wild Things Are. Students also got to poke around the Rosenbach’s library, which contains rare books like first editions in both English and Spanish of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and a 1678 first edition of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. The museum’s collections, some of which were on display, also include a handwritten manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses, portions of handwritten drafts of Dickens’ works like Nicholas Nickleby and Pickwick Papers, outlines and notes for Dracula by Bram Stoker, and letters and papers from figures as diverse as George Washington, Lewis Carroll, William Blake, Thomas Jefferson, Joseph Conrad, Phillis Wheatley, Dylan Thomas, and Jean-HonorĂ© Fragonard.