Widener English

The English Department at Widener University



Have You Heard about the Chester Writers House?

The Chester Writers House is many things.

A hub for experienced and emergent writers and all those who care about the written word.

A gathering space for members of the Chester community who are seeking support for their skills and an outlet for their voices.

A growing network of advocates for the arts and creative expression in Chester and the region.

Jayne Thompson working with writers at the CWH
Jayne Thompson working with writers at the CWH

It is the brainchild of Jayne Thompson, a faculty member in English and Creative Writing, and the fruit of hours of herculean labors on her part as well as the dedicated interns with whom she works.  These interns — Tyler Goodwin, Kimberlee Roberts, and Victoria Giansante — are English and Creative Writing majors interested in creating a community of writers beyond the campus and the classroom.

The Chester Writers House offers fiction and memoir-writing workshops, sessions on resume writing and grammar, and a host of other activities.  English and Creative Writing students may also apply for internships.

Follow the Chester Writers House on the web, on Facebook, and on Instagram.  They are doing truly amazing things!

Job and Internship Roundup!


Turk’s Head Review and the Chester Writers’ House are still looking for interns.  Not sure if you should apply?  Read this post by guest blogger Kirbee Veroneau, a student at Millersville University.  She did an internship with Turk’s Head Review and was kind enough to share her thoughts:


No matter what your major is, chances are you’ll probably want to have an internship under your belt before you graduate college. For English and Creative Writing majors especially, I can tell you first-hand how vital it is to have that experience.

At Millersville University, I’m an English Education major with a concentration in Writing Studies. While my internship is basically planned for me (student teaching), it was still up to me to meet the requirement for a “co-op experience” for my Writing Studies concentration. When I first saw that I had to not only complete an internship, but go out and find one on my own with barely any help, I was a little overwhelmed and, admittedly, a little annoyed. Completing an internship was not something I felt I had the time or energy to do, especially with schoolwork and the various organizations I’m a part of taking up all my time.

After a couple months of looking around, I was able to find an internship opportunity with James Esch’s Spruce Alley Press. I immediately was so excited. Writing and publishing were two things that I really wanted to do. Yes, I want to teach, but publishing had always been something that intrigued me and I was so excited to finally have the opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes of how that works and be able to write outside of the school’s constraints of mainly formal essays.

For me, personally, I had an extremely positive experience with my internship. It helped me in ways I never even thought it could. For example, I’ve become much better at time management. That’s a skill you need for the rest of your life, not just until your required “however-many-hours” comes to an end. I’ve learned about the kind of writer I am and had the opportunity to develop my written voice and become much more comfortable with that voice.

Experience, whether it be positive or negative (yep, negative experiences are helpful in the learning process too) is something you’ll want. If you’re sitting there rolling your eyes, I don’t blame you. A few months ago, that’s how I felt too. Yes, you can gain experience on your own from writing for yourself and developing your own stories and voices through blogging or writing poetry or whatever; however, there is so much to be learned from working with people who are experienced in your field. For English and Creative Writing majors, getting someone to look over your work and provide constructive criticism is an extremely beneficial experience. Not only do you learn how to become a better writer, but you learn to become a deeper thinker and become much more knowledgeable about your craft through the process of working with others. Not to mention, when applying for jobs, they’re going to be looking at the experience you’ve had just as much as the credits you’ve completed.

That’s why, even though you may want to run away and hide at the idea of finding and completing an internship, it’s an experience you’ll be so thankful you had. So, good luck and keep writing!


Read more about our internships at Turk’s Head Review and Chester Writers’ House, and get in touch with Dr. Utell if you want to apply.  Plus:  we’ve had a few job opportunities come our way over the last few days.  Check them out:

Assistant Editor at Springer Science and Business Media

Online Content Editor at

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.

Career Advice from Widener English Alums

“Be flexible.  Be versatile.”

“Just say yes.”

“Get involved.”

“Know that there are lots of different paths:  ask yourself, where do I see myself?”

These pieces of advice, and so much more, were on offer from two Widener English alums:  Ashley Babcock, Director of the Writing Center at Montgomery College, and Emma Ricciardi, a final-year grad student in Library Science at Rutgers and a former intern at the Library Company of Philadelphia.  Ashley and Emma took time from their busy schedules to visit campus last week and share stories about and strategies for building a career with an English major.

What skills from that English major did these successful alums highlight?  They include:

  • editing
  • critical thinking and analytical skills
  • independent thinking
  • managing information
  • being able to read people and situations
  • writing
  • being able to defend ideas
  • listening well to others

Ashley began by tracing her path from English and Creative Writing major to full-time faculty member at the Art Institute in Washington, DC, to a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership, to a position combining faculty work and administration.  A major theme that emerged from her story was the importance of saying yes to opportunities that allow for the demonstration of flexibility, initiative, and drive.  She also highlighted the need to balance setting clear goals with being willing to change course and follow the unexpected.  Her current work in qualitative education research allows her to draw on her background as an English major especially in the use of narrative inquiry, and she is envisioning developing a new phase of her career publishing that research and teaching courses in higher ed leadership.

Emma described knowing from early on what she wanted to do:  develop a career as an archivist by gathering up as much different experience in the field as possible.  Key ideas from Emma’s story included being versatile, and seeking out experiences and opportunities that let you develop that versatility.  She suggests using every chance you can to train yourself to do and make new things, to show that you are both trainable and that you don’t need to be trained.  Emma made the excellent point that employers don’t want you to be able to do just one thing, and being able to learn new things quickly is the best quality a new member of the career force can have.

Both women highlighted the necessity of knowing all kinds of technology and tools:  social media, blogging, Excel (ESPECIALLY Excel!).  Both women stressed the importance of extracurricular involvement, even in interests outside the major:  these activities provide the chance to develop “soft skills” and expose you to a wide range of other enriching experiences that make you interesting and can lead to unforeseen opportunities.  They also give you a chance to be a leader.

And both women said majoring in English was invaluable for finding a job:  it is basically the universal sign to any employer that you can write, read, and think.  All in all, it was wonderful to see the success these alums have found after graduation, and we were grateful to them for sharing their wisdom.

Internship Opportunity: Turk’s Head Review

Turk’s Head Review magazine seeks qualified English and/or Creative Writing majors to help with editorial duties, promotional initiatives, and writing assignments (blogging and reviewing). Turk’s Head Review (URL: combines the power of blogging with a selective small press literary magazine. Works of accepted authors are published online and in periodic print-on-demand issues. The magazine would like to increase web visibility and publishing frequency, to build its readership, and to further its mission of fostering stronger ties to the local literary community. The magazine is edited by James Esch, Senior Lecturer English at Widener,, 610-499-1060.

For 2014-2015, this unpaid internship will be offered on a “not for credit” basis. Student interns can expect to gain valuable experience in editing, writing and publishing, make important contacts in the literary publishing field, and boost their professional credentials.

As an editorial assistant, the intern will assume several responsibilities, which includes any of the following:

  • Read and score creative submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction
  • Copyedit accepted manuscripts before publication
  • Process manuscripts on
  • Assist with editing and layout for print-on-demand issues
  • Assist with promotional efforts (social media, marketing, email)
  • Contribute occasional blog posts about local literary events and relevant web content
  • Write online reviews of books, plays, films (with byline)

Expected workload
The intern should expect to work an estimated 2 to 3 hours per week, with periodic office visits to review assignments and progress. Regular contact via email is expected.

The student also will write Pre- and Post-Reflection pieces about the internship experience: expectations and results. These reflections will be used for program assessment.
To apply
Submit a cover letter, résumé, brief writing sample (academic paper or campus publication), and list of personal references to the English department:

Dr. Janine Utell, Associate Professor and Chair of English

Widener University


Welcome Back: Busy Semester Ahead!

Greetings, all!  Now that we’re well into the new semester, I wanted to offer an official welcome back and share some exciting news and events.

Our faculty have been busy the last few months researching, writing, publishing, and traveling with students.  In the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting some faculty accomplishments and adventures, so keep an eye out.

In the exciting news department, some cool new developments for Widener English include:

  • The (re-)appointment of Sam Starnes to the position of advisor for the Blue and Gold, Widener’s student-run multimedia news site — and the offering of some new journalism courses in English.  This semester, Sam, an experienced and award-winning journalist, is teaching a course on Arts Journalism, and in the spring we look forward to an offering on Magazine Journalism.  Students are welcome — and encouraged — to come work for the Blue and Gold.  News meetings are held Mondays from noon to 1 in Freedom 224.  We’re happy to partner with the Blue and Gold, and will be regularly sharing links to stories published by our majors.
  • The new season for Lone Brick Theater!  This fall’s major production is Aristophanes’s Lysistrata (with cabaret!), and it will run from Nov. 13-16.  LBT will also be offering an experimental production based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe, Dissever My Soul, on Oct. 23-24.  Contact Professor Rob Reutter if you’re interested.
  • New internships!  This semester we’re sharing several internship opportunities, as well as piloting a new, and hopefully more streamlined and centralized, application process.  All internship announcements will be posted here and on the bulletin board outside the English Suite (third floor Kapelski), as well as information about how to apply.  Watch the space for details!

And:  save the dates for these upcoming events:

  • Our annual Fall Open House will take place from 8:30 in the morning until around 11 in the English Suite on Sept. 23:  bagels, coffee, and conversation for majors, minors, and interested parties.  This coincides with the visit from this fall’s writer, Jena Osman.  Osman directs the MFA at Temple University, and is the author of this year’s first-year common reading, Public Figures.  Osman will be reading at 4pm on Sept. 24 in Alumni Auditorium.
  • We’ll be offering our second occasional career panel this semester featuring gainfully employed English majors who have found fulfilling jobs post-graduation.  They’ll share their experiences on the job market, talk about how to sell your English major to prospective employers, and answer questions.  More details to come.
  • The annual Fall Faculty Lecture is scheduled for Oct. 23.  Professor (and Associate Dean of Humanities) Mark Graybill, who is leading this fall’s Senior Seminar on Flannery O’Connor, will be the speaker.

Finally:  here’s some recommended reading:  a recent piece by Frank Bruni in the New York Times about the REAL purpose of college:  questioning everything, challenging yourself.

Follow the blog and visit the departmental bulletin board for news, events, opportunities, and information.  And feel free to stop by the English Suite to say hi!

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