Widener English

The English Department at Widener University



Widener Students Take On FUSE

Every year, students from our English and Creative Writing program attend the national conference for the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE).  Regular readers may recall that last year Widener had the privilege of hosting the annual gathering.

This year, Kelsey Styles, Emma Irving, and Jennifer Rohrbach headed out to Bowling Green with Professor Michael Cocchiarale to share their work on our campus publications—Widener InkThe Blue RouteChester Magazine, and The Blue & Gold—and participate in discussions focused on the conference theme of literary citizenship.

We’re happy to link out to The Blue Route and share their reflections on this meaningful event.  Here’s a preview from Jennifer Rohrbach:

It was inspiring to realize that there is a community of writers and editors out there in the world who are as enthusiastic about literature as I am, and who are dedicated to instilling that enthusiasm within others to further cultivate literary citizenship.

Want to read more?  Head over to The Blue Route.

Welcome FUSE 2015!

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!



Undergraduate Conference at Moravian

On December 6th, four students–Emily DeFreitas, Devon Fiore, Autumn Heisler and Maria Klecko–traveled with Professor Castaldo to Moravian College in Bethlehem PA for the Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Despite the dreary weather, the day was a complete success.

All the papers the students gave were related to Christopher Marlowe’s plays, and were written as part of their English 340: pre-1800 Author Study class that focused on Marlowe. Maria Klecko presented first, on parent/child dynamics in Marlowe. She looked specifically at The Jew of Malta and Edward II, plays which contained an uncaring and self-centered father and a devoted child who ultimately turned away from the unsatisfying relationship with the father. Maria argued persuasively that in both cases the audience gradually comes to admire the child as he or she develops an ethical sense that is stronger than the father’s.

Because Maria and Devon were presenting in the same time slot, but different panels, we did not get to hear the questions the audience had for Maria. Instead we dashed up two flights of stairs to hear Devon present on modern performances of Marlowe’s plays. After an exhaustive amount of research, Devon concluded that while audiences like adapted Shakespeare that plays with setting or even structure, those same audiences will react negatively to performances of Marlowe that have a very strong “concept.” She theorized this was due to the audience’s unfamiliarity with most of Marlowe’s plays and thus wanting to see straightforward or traditional versions. Devon had a lot of questions to answer as people were fascinated by the various productions she described.

Up next was Emily’s paper on Christ imagery in Edward II. Emily’s paper argued that Marlowe deliberately used Christ imagery in describing Edward, which seems counter intuitive since Edward is a self-centered failure who almost destroys his kingdom in pursuit of pleasure. Emily suggested that since the imagery drew from both Catholic and Protestant traditions and was connected to one of Marlowe’s most problematic protagonists that Marlowe’s goal was actually to unsettle the audience’s assumptions about Jesus rather than make Edward more appealing.IMG_0124

After lunch on campus, there was time for a trip to Vegan Treats, an all vegan bakery a mile from campus and then for a stop at the armorer’s table. The conference had a number of medieval recreations on display but the students were most interested in the arms and armor!


The final presentation of the day was Autumn’s argument that the huge number of asides in The Jew of Malta could be linked to Marlowe’s spy career and not just to theatrical convention. It was unfortunate that by this point the number of conference goers had thinned quite a bit and so Autumn didn’t have the audience the other students did, as her paper was a wonderful connection of literary and biographical investigation.IMG_0147

After that, we wended our way home in a downpour, repeatedly expressing gratitude that it was rain and not snow we were driving through! The conference was a huge success for Widener English with all the students presenting with great poise and answering questions confidently. Hopefully we will have an even bigger turnout at the next conference.


Call for Papers: Susquehanna Undergraduate Literature and Creative Writing Conference

The call for papers for the annual Susquehanna Undergraduate Literature and Creative Writing Conference is now live.  This conference is held every year at nearby(ish) Susquehanna University.  It’s only one day, with a reasonable registration fee ($30.00), and Widener students are encouraged to submit proposals.  It’s a great opportunity to get your work out there, earn a nice item for your resume, and participate in intelligent discussions about literature and writing.  Even if you don’t plan on graduate work in English, participation in an undergraduate conference demonstrates professionalism and communication skills, and gives you a chance to practice networking, speaking in public, and meeting deadlines (something some of us continue to need to work on).

This year’s conference theme is “Freedom and Responsibility.”  The conference is on February 18, 2013.  Deadline for proposals:  November 30, 2012.  Think about submitting a 300-word proposal on something you’ve written for a past ENGL or CRWR class, or something you might be working on in the fall (I’m looking at you, Senior Sem folks).

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