Dickens Reading Group: Starting this Summer!

Posted May 15, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: English Club Cool Stuff, News, Recommended (Internet) Reading, Upcoming Events

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Happy end of semester, and congratulations to all our graduates!

We’re pleased to announce that the end of the semester brings the launch of a new event, one that promises to be a lot of fun:  The Dickens Reading Group!

The Dickens Reading Group proposes to do something very unique:  read David Copperfield in the manner its original readers would have experienced it…in serial form, waiting breathlessly for each new installment.  (The experience recalls trying to get through a show on TV in the days of cliffhangers, before binge watching!)

To find out more, I interviewed one of the student leaders of this project, Kimberlee Roberts.  In addition to being one of the group’s leaders, Kim is also the Project Manager for a major new edition of the work of Wordsworth and Coleridge, in preparation by Dr. Daniel Robinson with the assistance of students in ENGL 401: Textual Scholarship.

Here’s Kim…

Tell us about the Dickens Reading Group. How did the idea come about? 

The Dickens Reading Group is a bit of a social experiment combining literature and anticipation [the anticipation of waiting for the next installment or “episode”–Ed.]. The excitement lies in the response of a modern audience reading Victorian literature in a very old-school way. You can’t binge read Copperfield in this group, and I have a gut feeling the absence of control over deciding how far ahead we as readers can peek will change the way we read. Taylor Brown [the other student leader], Dr. Robinson, and myself are always looking for ways to excite people about literature (the really good stuff that gets you thinking and sort of stays with you forever), and DR wasn’t sure if he would get the chance to teach Dickens before Taylor and I graduated, so we decided the best way to learn was to learn for fun! Taylor picked Copperfield for our group. It’s a great beginning novel for Dickens (his favorite child apparently) and it’s easily digestible and entertaining.

“We are disturbed in our cookery,” illustration by Phiz for Chapter 28 of David Copperfield (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Why did you choose this particular novel?

To get our readership hooked we had to start with a bang and Copperfield is it. I’ve heard that in 1849-50 people were losing their minds for this installment series and we kind of wanted to lose ours in the same way too.

What’s special about this reading group? How are you looking to replicate the experience Dickens’ first readers would have had, and why did you decide to do it this way?

The magic is in the response of the audience. There isn’t a book or a television series that you can’t binge on and society has been spoiled in that respect when it comes to consuming art. But with monthly installments, the readers cannot look forward, they do not know how much further they have to go, they cannot peek at the chapter titles; they are forced to consume only what is provided and to devour every aspect of it. The most interesting concept is that the modern reader has so much foresight–they are always looking forward to what is to come–but with this group, they can only see the present and the past installments and that’s gotta make them more interested in the smaller details and really develop a relationship with the characters.

What have you been doing to prepare?

A group of students, Taylor, Josh Meo, and myself (with the assistance of DR of course) went to the Free Library of Philadelphia to view the 1849-50 published installments (THE ORIGINALS!!!) and from those texts, we are creating a reading text that replicates them exactly, including all errors and typos. Later we will be creating a textual apparatus to compare the differences from the 1850 complete book publication and the 1849-50 installment publications.

In addition to helping to facilitate the Dickens Reading Group, you are also the Project Manager for the edition Dr. Robinson is working on, of the work of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as part of your summer research and experience in Textual Scholarship. How do you see these endeavors informing each other or being connected?

Sketch of Dickens during a visit to America (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Sketch of Dickens during a visit to America (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Simple, without being given the chance to examine Wordsworth’s manuscripts and learn the ins-and-outs of textual scholarship, the idea to create our own textual installment of Dickens may never have been thought of. Both projects involve an observation on my behalf of the progression of the author’s revision and growth. Like a tiny window into their personalities almost, and I get to recreate it just as they originally did.

Are there other books you might like to try this with?

I think it would be super fun to split up a modern novel and present it in a very out of date way. I really feel like, at both ends, reading a novel front to back all at once, or only reading what is given in serial form, have their pluses and minuses, but since I too am a modern reader I’m most interested in the delaying of information and chapters. Perhaps a great novel to try would be Harper Lee’s newest novel coming out soon. That way the anticipation is synonymous to the anticipation of the Victorian readers.

What else are you planning to read this summer?

I’m nearly positive I’m going to re-read The Prelude (it’s good for the soul), and I’m hooked on Thomas Hardy’s Jude The Obscure right now. Either way, there will be tears.

Widener Ink Drop Party and Student Project Day!

Posted April 22, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: English Club Cool Stuff, Professoring, Upcoming Events

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End-of-year celebrations of achievements in English and Creative Writing!

  • STUDENT PROJECT DAY!  Friday, April 24, join the students of Textual Scholarship and their mentor Professor Daniel Robinson as they share their year-long work in editing the poetry of William Wordsworth.  The presentation is titled “Editing the Texts of Wordsworth’s Life (Writing):  Textual Scholarship and Literary Experiential Learning,” and will be held in University Center Room C at 11:15.  Speakers:  Taylor Brown, Ashley DeRienzo, Evan Kramer, and Kimberlee Roberts.
  • WIDENER INK DROP PARTY!  Today!  April 22 in University Center Room A, 4pm.  Come celebrate the latest issue of our literary magazine, honor the work of the editors, staff, and writers, and participate in the open mic.

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Events Roundup!

Posted April 10, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: English Club Cool Stuff, News, Upcoming Events

Tags: , , , ,

LOTS of exciting stuff happening around here lately.

  • We were delighted to host Professor James Donahue from SUNY-Potsdam as he visited campus to give a lecture on narrative theory and the importance of interdisciplinary work in literary studies.  Check out the video here!
  • The English Club put on a blast of an open mic Tuesday night, complete with raffles and cake for Wordsworth’s birthday.

AND…Come out on Sunday for Student Voices:

In conjunction with the Creative Writing ENGL/CRWR 308 Playwriting class, Lone Brick Theatre Company presents the 2nd Annual Student Voices Project on Sunday, April 12 at 7 pm in Alumni Auditorium.

This year’s staged reading features seven dramatic pieces, ranging from monologues to Ten Minute plays, developed in Dr. Pobo’s Fall 2014 playwriting class.Student Voices features the original work of Luis Aguilar, Emily DeFreitas, Matthew Drake, Devon Fiore, Taylor Jones, Gianna Sheridan, and Kim Vogel. In addition, the Lone Brick Theatre actors bringing the monologues and plays to life include Luis Aguilar, Jared Bernatowicz , Taylor Blum, McKailey Gordon, Carolyn Lodge, Nathan Mirando, Josh Mulzoff, Tyler Palma, Kirk Reichart, Erika Sprague, Kim Vogel, and Lizzy Yenser.

From a funeral for a man of questionable character to an altercation on a city bus, this year’s plays offer a delightfully cynical view on human nature. “There is a shared desire to find an answer to the basic question of why people mercilessly use each other that links these plays,” said Melissa Mowday, director of Student Voices and adjunct instructor of English. “The plays highlight the urgency of needing to find empathy and decency in others, which makes us question our current cultural climate of what is and is not acceptable in terms of connectedness.”

 

Mrs. Dalloway Editor Visits Widener

Posted March 20, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: News, Professoring, Recommended (Internet) Reading

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Jenn Rohrbach, English ’18, wrote up a piece for The Blue & Gold covering Professor Anne Fernald’s lecture on editing Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway.  Read all about it here!

Here’s an excerpt:

If you have any experience with Virginia Woolf, you know her novels are challenging enough to read. Imagine attempting to edit them!  Dr. Fernald took those of us in attendance on her 10-year journey of editing the 1925 novel, which she began in 2001. The edition of the novel is designed for scholars to reference: a textual edition for libraries that, besides the actual content of Woolf’s novel, includes an editorial introduction and three different types of footnotes that shed light on the history of the time period, information about Woolf’s life, and allusions to other media made in the novel.

Congratulations to Sigma Tau Delta Inductees!

Posted March 17, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: English Club Cool Stuff, News, Ruminations

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Monday, March 16, saw the induction of new members to the Widener University chapter of Sigma Tau Delta.  Chapter President Autumn Heisler (’15) offered some remarks, which she was generous enough to share here:

I am a psychology major. Wait. Yes. I am a psychology major. I’m seventeen years old, and I’ve been told by everyone and their mothers that I need to pick my major for college so that I can plan out the rest of my life. I pick psychology, because I am

Chapter President Autumn Heisler shares her remarks; photo courtesy of Professor Mark Graybill

Chapter President Autumn Heisler shares her remarks; photo courtesy of Professor Mark Graybill

told I would be good at it. I’m seventeen years old. I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. I do know it isn’t psychology, though, but I choose it anyways. I have no real clue what else I want.

Okay. I have a clue. Actually, I know the only clue: I want to write. And at seventeen, I don’t know how to tell people that. So I hide away my stories, each world closeted for only me to know. Until, one day, when I leave four pages, single spaced lying on my bed, and my father stumbles upon them, thinking it’s an essay. He reads them. He calls me to him, and I am mortified, (encounters like this mortify seventeen year olds), and he asks me, “Why aren’t you pursuing this?”

I’m telling everyone here this particular story, because I wouldn’t be standing in front of you if it hadn’t happened this way. Or maybe I would. I do believe in fate, and I believe that writing has always been mine. But it did happen this way, and though I’ve never told my father this, I am eternally grateful for his “snooping.”

Every time I recall this story, I always get this passionate surge of responsibility to tell people to follow their dreams. It’s a cliché, I know, but it’s one that I think is so important for people to hear. Follow your dreams. You should never have to sacrifice your own happiness, because you are afraid of what others might be saying or thinking. In the end, it’s your life; not theirs. I wish that I had had the confidence to tell my family and friends on my own, but I needed that push. I was introverted, and I carried that with me into college. Being at Widener has brought me out of my shell.

Sigma Tau Delta, for me, is a community of book nerds who love giving the gift of English to everyone they meet.

Widener has given me more opportunities than I can even count. Because of English and creative writing, I’ve gained experience in writing, critical reading, editing, and more. I’ve worked as a student editor for three years in University Relations. I’ve been on the staff of our literary journal for four years and am now editor-in-chief of Widener Ink. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to go to Seattle and soon Minneapolis to attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference. I was a part of the pilot team in creating the Blue&Gold, bringing news to students. I’ve been published in the numerous magazines and online. I love writing so much, I added a professional writing minor during my sophomore year in order to learn as many styles of writing as I could. I was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta last spring and have acted as president for the past school year.

Sigma Tau Delta is an organization that strives to support high standards of academic excellence by fostering learning through literature, language, and writing, both within our community and in the larger society. In continuation of this serving our community, our chapter has donated books to Chester City Hall to be used by the Youth Aid Panel and the GED training group. Widener’s chapter has also donated books in order to support children’s literacy to an English immersion elementary school on  Zamorano University’s campus in Honduras, as well as to an orphanage close to Zamorano. Sigma Tau Delta is a celebration of people who know the importance of the written word.

l-r: Dean Don Devilbiss, Ellen Madison, Emily DeFreitas, Maria Klecko, Christian Scittina, Kimberlee Roberts, Veronica Vasquez, Autumn Heisler, Dean Sharon Meagher; photo courtesy of Professor Mark Graybill

l-r: Dean Don Devilbiss, Ellen Madison, Emily DeFreitas, Maria Klecko, Christian Scittina, Kimberlee Roberts, Veronica Vasquez, Autumn Heisler, Dean Sharon Meagher; photo courtesy of Professor Mark Graybill

I want the new inductees to know that they are joining something with a very important meaning. Sigma Tau Delta, for me, is a community of book nerds who love giving the gift of English to everyone they meet. I started out scared and quiet. Now, I am a creative writing and English dual major. I am twenty-one years old. I am following my dream, and though I am a rather quiet person, I tell everyone why I am where I am today, because I’m happy here, being me.

New Poems from Professor Pobo!

Posted March 12, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: News, Professoring, Recommended (Internet) Reading

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The last couple of weeks have seen quite a few new poems from Professor Ken Pobo.  We encourage you to head over to Silver Birch Press to read “Extremely Middletown”The Lake for “Great Journey” and “Elegy for a Calamondin,” and Unbroken Journal for a really fantastic short prose piece, “Wet Cellophane”.   If you want to keep up with Professor Pobo, follow him on Twitter, @KenPobo (where you’ll also get the lowdown on the playlists for his weekly radio show, “Obscure Oldies”).

I’m partial to this one myself:

Elegy for a Calamondin

Unwatered, the leaves,

green snow in a blue pot.

Seven small fruits

hang on barren branches,

 

angry eyes.  Perhaps I should

apologize to it.  Instead,

I make spaghetti, watch TV.

The oranges thickened

through summer days,

even in fall.  On Halloween

I took it in, gave it a sunny sill.

 

My spouse gets the vacuum cleaner,

sucks up leaves.  He’s both

funeral director and gravedigger.

Carrying it out,

he says nothing.

English Club Lunchtime Flash Mic

Posted February 19, 2015 by Janine Utell
Categories: English Club Cool Stuff

Tags: , ,

Kudos to the English Club for pulling off an awesome lunchtime flash mic!  And special thanks to Kelsey Styles for the video.  Make sure to catch their next open mic during Honors Week in March!


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