A Night at the Opera for Students in English

Posted February 11, 2016 by Janine Utell
Categories: Course Information, News

Tags: , ,

On February 10, Professor Ruth Cary’s English 102/115 class attended the opera Cold Mountain, based on the book of the same name by Charles Frazier. Frazier’s novel is the 2016 One Book/One Philadelphia featured selection; this program supports a variety of cultural events all over the city related to the annual common read.

Students pictured: Matt Bader, Paige Davis, Peter Finta, Lamont Harris, Dylan Loveless, Lwin (Cindy) Hnin, Leigha Rushton, Joe Ruszkowski, Luke Sambucci, Kristin Saraceni, Alyssa Shaw, Evan Sing, Devon Sprague, Robert Troop, Shayne VanAken

Students pictured: Matt Bader, Paige Davis, Peter Finta, Lamont Harris, Dylan Loveless, Lwin (Cindy) Hnin, Leigha Rushton, Joe Ruszkowski, Luke Sambucci, Kristin Saraceni, Alyssa Shaw, Evan Sing, Devon Sprague, Robert Troop, Shayne VanAken

The novel tells the story of the odyssey of a Confederate soldier, a deserter, who journeys against great odds back to his home in the mountains of western North Carolina, where his true love has also undergone hardship and transformation. After reading the novel and attending the opera, these students are considering how the opera and novel portray similar themes using a wide variety of techniques.  Thanks are due to the Office of Student Affairs at Widener for a grant that subsidized the price of the opera tickets; the Performance and Lecture Mini-Grant Program supports enriching experiences that enhance teaching and learning for Widener students both in and out of the classroom.

FLASH MIC: This Friday!

Posted February 2, 2016 by Janine Utell
Categories: English Club Cool Stuff, Upcoming Events

Tags: , ,
Come out this Friday at noon!

Come out this Friday at noon!

State Street Reading Series: Tamara Oakman and Simone Zelitch

Posted January 26, 2016 by Janine Utell
Categories: News, Recommended (Internet) Reading, Upcoming Events

Tags: , , , ,

Last week saw a great crowd at the Media Arts Center for another installment of the State Street Reading Series.  Featured were Tamara Oakman, Executive Editor of Apiary Magazine and Instructor of English at Widener University, and Simone Zelitch, Associate Professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia.  Oakman read a series of poems speaking to issues both personal and political, and Zelitch read from her most recent novel Waveland, the story of a woman experiencing Freedom Summer.

Ken Pobo introduces Tamara Oakman.  Photo credit:  James Esch

Ken Pobo introduces Tamara Oakman. Photo credit: James Esch

The State Street Reading Series, sponsored by the Media Arts Council and Widener University, is a wonderful opportunity to meet local authors and hear their work.  Don’t miss the next one:  Thursday, March 17 at 7pm, where you’ll have a chance to hear M. Nzadi Keita and Carmen Maria Machado.

Simone Zelitch.  Photo credit:  James Esch

Simone Zelitch. Photo credit: James Esch

Happy Spring Semester!

Posted January 20, 2016 by Janine Utell
Categories: English Club Cool Stuff, News, Upcoming Events

Tags: , , ,

Welcome back!

We hope everyone had a restful winter break — we’re looking forward to a great semester.  In the coming weeks and months we’ll be featuring news from the Chester Writers House, readings and open mics and plays, and much more!

For now, make sure to get these dates on your calendar:51FxLrrksDL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

  • AUDITIONS for Lone Brick Theater will take place on January 21 and 22 from 4-6 in Alumni Auditorium.
  • We’re already excited for what is sure to be another awesome open mic during Honors Week (stay tuned!)
  • Iain Haley Pollock, author of Spit Back a Boy, will be our visiting writer this spring.  Pollock will be reading his poetry on Wednesday, March 23.

Come by the English Suite to say hi, and have a good spring!

Congratulations to Our Seniors!

Posted December 11, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: Course Information, News, Professoring

Tags: , ,

Every fall we close out the semester with one of the high points of our year here in English and Creative Writing:  thesis presentations by English majors finishing up Senior Seminar.  This year’s Senior Seminar was led by Professor Annalisa Castaldo, with a focus on the early modern playwright Christopher Marlowe.

Seniors huddle with Professor Castaldo right before beginning their presentations.

Seniors huddle with Professor Castaldo right before beginning their presentations.

Junior English major and Sigma Tau Delta President Kimberlee Roberts introduced the evening, providing background on Marlowe’s work and his turbulent life.  Students then presented the results of a semester’s worth of research and writing on the dramatist, focusing on Dido, Queen of Carthage and Edward II, as well as offering a panel consisting of a trio of papers on Doctor Faustus, concentrating on the question of the protagonist’s damnation.

Marlowe’s work in the hands of these emerging scholars presented the audience of faculty, family, and friends with important themes of agency, knowledge, the limitations of redemption, and the arrogance of youth.  We’d like to congratulate them on good work, and wish them a well-deserved winter break!

Here’s the full program:

Sierra Offutt, “‘Reward’st thou virtue so?’:  Godly Manipulation of Human Will and Agency in Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage

Megan Lewis, “The Hidden Protagonist:  A Character Study of Christopher Marlowe’s Queen Isabella”

Christian Scittina, “Unbecoming Irony:  Marlowe’s Despair of Calvinist Negation in Dr. Faustus

Brittany Cassidy, “The Quest to Damnation:  Doctor Faustus’ Limit to Knowledge”

Alan Parkerson, “‘Never too late, if Faustus can repent’:  Damned by Youth, Not Providence”

Recommended Reading: New Poems by Ken Pobo

Posted December 7, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: News, Professoring, Recommended (Internet) Reading


It has been a busy semester for Dr. Pobo — his new book of poetry, Booking Rooms in the Kuiper Belt, is out from Urban Farmhouse Press.  You can pick up a copy over at the website for the press, and we encourage you to show your support for poetry AND for small presses by doing so!


He’s also had poetry appear over the last month or two in venues such as Minor Literature[s] [here], Gnarled Oak [here], and Silver Birch Press [here].  One of my favorite pieces is this one, a prose poem published by Rat’s Ass Review:




1949. In Beyond The Forest, Rosa Moline says if she doesn’t get out of that town, she’ll die. Burn that town down, burn it so even the ashes fly away, make it so no one even remembers such a town was there. That’s what I feel in Micah. Even when redbuds bloom. Stunted, our gray houses never bloom. If they could bloom, the flowers would be pus-filled devils.

1942. In In This Our Life, spoiled Stanley, yes, that’s her name, makes a mess of other people’s lives (a tablespoon of incest with her uncle). I’m called rotten too. And bitch. And fag. And cocksucker. If you don’t eat dinner at 6:00pm, people think “He’s odd.” I’m no saint. I’m the bad boy, the bad girl, the glassblower’s glass, fragile yet radioactive.

1962. In Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, Jane Hudson is so made up you can’t see any real skin. In Micah we all wear heavy makeup. Our sins are the mascara on our soul’s face. You are a gang plank. The many people who you despise must walk until they drop down into a shark-infested ocean. You laugh hysterically, call the liquor store, add another layer of paint.


Some go to church and get by, shop at Wal-Mart. Some are so despairing that their one life jacket, “tomorrow,” is too torn to keep them afloat. Me, I watch Bette Davis films. I know them line by line. When Micah turns over in its sleep, I kiss its seeringly hot cheeks, catch on fire. I live in fire. One step closer—and I’ll burn you.

Welcome FUSE 2015!

Posted November 4, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: News, Upcoming Events

Tags: , ,

Happy to cross-post from the blog at The Blue Route, the undergraduate online literary magazine run by English and Creative Writing faculty and students here at Widener.  We’re delighted to welcome the annual conference for the Forum of Undergraduate Student Editors starting tomorrow!  You can follow along on Twitter at #FUSE15.

Panels featuring students from Shippensburg University, Susquehanna University, Cabrini College, Warren Wilson College, SUNY Geneseo, Mary Baldwin College, St. Louis University, Cedar Crest College, Bowling Green State University, UCLA, Drexel, and Ursinus College will focus on topics ranging from designing an online journal and developing a personal aesthetic as an editor, to promoting campus magazines and evaluating submissions.

Students have been working hard to put this together, and we can’t wait!




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,601 other followers

%d bloggers like this: