Widener English

The English Department at Widener University


English Club Cool Stuff

Hot Pepper Shakespeare!

Come to the Drost Room on May 6 for Hot Pepper Shakespeare!

Not sure what it’s all about?  Check out these classically trained British Shakespearean actors try to recite some of the most amazing lines in all the English language…after eating entire handfuls of hot peppers.



Andrea Zittlau Brings Poetry Performance to the Art Gallery

Before midterm break, English and Creative Writing faculty, students, and friends were treated to a poetry performance by Dr. Andrea Zittlau, visiting professor from the University of Rostock in Germany.

Dr. Zittlau’s poetry performance is meant to show the ways writing is embodied, and the ways poetry creates a space in which we can all be vulnerable.  She believes that in theorizing the writing process and the text, we have gotten too far away from the reality of the body.  So, as she read her poetry, she had assistants wrap her in bandages—a way to make real the vulnerability of the body, as well as to provide a canvas for the audience.  As she concluded with each poem, she tore the paper into pieces, put them in a bowl, and then invited the audience to pick pieces out.  The words on the torn pieces were then written on the bandages in black marker by members of the audience.

In this way, the audience became part of the poetry performance.  Each person contributed to transforming the poet herself into text, and each person was made more aware of the physicality of the poet, her vulnerability, and our human connection.  A stillness held over the audience as Dr. Zittlau walked through the group gathered in the Art Gallery and individuals came forward to write on her.  Then audience members came forward at the end to take pictures of what they had helped to make.  Here are some of these images, courtesy of English alum and instructor Chris Murphy.




Noon Event with Poet and Performance Artist Andrea Zittlau on March 2

On March 2 at noon in the Widener Art Gallery, poet and performance artist Dr. Andrea Zittlau will offer an event showcasing her poetry performance art.  The event is free and all are welcome.

Andrea Zittlau is a lecturer and postdoctoral researcher in North American Studies at the University of Rostock. Her doctoral research focused on ethnographic museums and theories of display treating exhibitions as haunting performances. Furthermore, she has worked with and about performance artists such as the group La Pocha Nostra, Erica Mott, and Natalie Brewster Ngyuen. Andrea’s current work deals with nineteenth-century trial reports, psychiatry and theories of disorder and absence. Her publications include the edited volume (with Anna Kerchy) Exploring the Cultural History of Continental European Freakshows and Enfreakment (2012) and the monograph Curious Exotica (Ink on Paper) (2015).


FLASH MIC: This Friday!

Come out this Friday at noon!
Come out this Friday at noon!

Happy Spring Semester!

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!

Welcome Back!

We’d like to wish all our English and Creative Writing majors and minors a happy new semester!  Good luck this fall — and make sure you keep in touch with all the cool stuff that’s going on by following the blog and joining the English Club on Campus Cruiser.

There are already a few great opportunities to be aware of: take note!

  • We’ll be holding our first-ever opening meeting for English and Creative Writing majors on Sept. 9 at noon in KLC 118.  There will be pizza — come learn about internships, theater, the literary magazines, as well as need-to-know info about the program.
  • Check out the new season of Lone Brick Theater!
  • Don’t miss Professor Annalisa Castaldo’s Fall Faculty Lecture Marlowe’s Spectacular Deaths — Sept. 23 at 4pm in UC Room G.

And finally:  JOBS and INTERNSHIPS!

Professor Jayne Thompson is looking for interns to work in the Chester Writers’ House:  get in touch for details.

Here are two ideal job opportunities for English/Creative Writing majors:  Drinker/Biddle is looking for a writer/editor, and AVI Digital is looking for a copywriter.

Dickens Reading Group: Starting this Summer!

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!

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.


Events Roundup!

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.”


Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: