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Widener English

The English Department at Widener University

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textual scholarship

Welcome Back!

We here at Widener English and Creative Writing are very excited to get back in the classroom—to meet new majors and minors and greet returning ones.  There are already a number of exciting activities on the horizon, and we encourage you to stay in touch and get involved.

Below you can find a run-down of everything on our events calendar.  In the meantime, seek out opportunities at our literary magazines The Blue Route and Widener Ink, our digital-first student-run media site The Blue & Gold, our theatre company Lone Brick Theatre, and our undergraduate research opportunities in digital humanities and textual scholarship.  We are here to help, with everything from courses to careers, and we look forward to seeing you on the third floor of Kapelski!

Save the dates:

  • English and Creative Writing majors and minors opening meeting:  September 6, noon, KLC 339 (pizza will be served!)
  • State Street Reading Series:  September 21, 7pm, Media Art Gallery (more info here!)
  • Fall Faculty Lecture:  Dr. Daniel Robinson on the Shelleys:  September 28, 3:30pm, UC Room F
  • Ken Pobo Poetry Reading:  October 5, 4pm, Widener Art Gallery (to be confirmed)
  • Open Mic:  October 19, 7pm, LC 1
  • Reading:  Distinguished Visiting Writer Stephanie Powell Watts:  November 15 at 4pm (learn more about her work here!)
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End of Year Achievement: Humanities Awards and Student Project Day

Last week we were delighted to acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments of English and Creative Writing students and faculty at the annual Humanities Awards Ceremony and Student Project Day.

On April 27, English and Creative Writing students were recognized at the fourth annual Humanities Awards Ceremony.  This was a particularly special event for a number of reasons.  The very first Distinguished Alumnus Award was given, to Pat Manley (English, ’99).  The inaugural Susan Hastie Memorial Award was given to Evan Kramer, a double major in English and Creative Writing; this award recognizes a senior who has evinced a dedication to the study of literature and writing, a quiet seriousness, and a maturity that enhances the pursuits of the program.  The winner of the Allison Roelofs Award was Carlie Sisco, double major in English and Creative Writing; this award recognizes a freshman or sophomore who demonstrates great potential and early excellence in the major.

We were also pleased to present the first-ever Certificates in Textual Scholarship to Kimberlee Roberts and Taylor Brown.  Kim and Taylor have been working, under the direction of Dr. Daniel Robinson, on the production of scholarly editions of Romantic-period texts, have traveled to England to study original manuscripts, and have presented their work in multiple venues.  Kim will be attending graduate school for library and archival science at the University of Denver, and Taylor will be pursuing a masters degree in digital humanities at the Loyola University of Chicago.

As the winner of the first Distinguished Alumnus Award, Pat Manley spoke about the need for the humanities not only in the workforce but as a way to enrich our understanding of what it means to be human.  He was followed by Kelsey Styles, who gave remarks as a distinguished undergraduate Humanities major.  Kelsey offered a passionate and inspiring speech about the necessity of the humanities for empathy, particularly in our current moment.

Then, on April 28, the scholarship of English and Creative Writing students was featured at Student Project Day.  Taylor Brown, Emma Irving, and Christine Lombardo presented a panel on David Lynch, family dynamics, and the uncanny.  Students from Annalisa Castaldo’s course on Renaissance Literature spoke on gender and race and connections we might make to our own time.

Photos of the Humanities Awards Ceremony courtesy of Paul Goldberg

Dr. Robinson’s President’s Lecture

On Monday, April 17th, Dr. Daniel Robinson delivered the Spring President’s Lecture, “What is a Romantic Poet Anyway?:  Editing the Romantics.”  This lecture was open to the entire university community.

The Spring President’s Lecture is for the winner of the Faculty Award for Outstanding Researcher from the previous semester. This award is a University-wide award given to a faculty member, after a lengthy and rigorous peer review process, who demonstrates excellence in research and scholarship in their field, particularly if that work involves student research and scholarship.  This past Fall Dr. Robinson won this award.

Dr. Robinson devoted some of the lecture to orienting the audience to aspects of English literature about which they might not be familiar, which in this case regarded the Romantic period.  He also discussed the theory and methodology of textual scholarship, with a particular focus on Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley.  He says,

The Romantic Period is unique in literary history in that its parameters traditionally have been established by the lives, careers—indeed, the personalities—of six writers, all men, all English, all poets. For much of the twentieth century, academic study of British literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries has centered on two generations: the first generation—Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge—who lived too long, and the second generation—Byron, Shelley, Keats—who died too soon. Feminist literary studies of the 1970s and ’80s would challenge the masculine monoliths; by the end of the century Romanticists were involved in a massive recovery of writers very different from the so-called Big Six: women writers, working-class writers, and writers who lived beyond the borders of England and who wrote beyond the borders of poetry. However, now that the dust has settled, the evidence suggests that, while scholars, instructors, students of Romanticism know about many more writers than the Big Six, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats continue to be the most studied, most read, most beloved writers of the period. In this lecture, I will discuss the challenges, questions, and issues involved in my preparation of the first wholly new anthology of Romantic poetry to be produced taking into account this new landscape. I also will discuss the ways I have involved my students in conducting the textual research and in making the editorial decisions that will result in the publication of The Bloomsbury Anthology of Romantic Poetry next year.

Dr. Robinson is Homer C. Nearing Jr. Distinguished Professor of English; at Widener University he teaches courses on British Romanticism, poetry and poetic form, Milton, and the rise of the British novel. He also recently created a certificate in Textual Scholarship—the only such program for undergraduates in the country—during the completion of which students work on scholarly editions of literary works for publication. Dr. Robinson is co-editor of A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival, 1750–1850 (Oxford UP, 1999); Lyrical Ballads and Related Writings (Houghton Mifflin, 2001); and, most recently, The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth (Oxford UP, 2015). He is the textual editor of Poems, The Works of Mary Robinson (2 vols, Pickering and Chatto, 2009) and author of Myself and Some Other Being: Wordsworth and the Life Writing (U of Iowa P, 2014), William Wordsworth’s Poetry: A Reader’s Guide (Bloomsbury, 2010) and The Poetry of Mary Robinson: Form and Fame (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). He also is series editor for Engagements with Literature (Routledge) and Bloomsbury Editions (Bloomsbury). He is currently working on The Bloomsbury Anthology of Romantic Poetry, a new edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and an innovative edition of Wordsworth and Coleridge—all of which involve the work of his Textual Scholarship students.

 

Daniel Robinson Honored with University Outstanding Researcher Award

We take the greatest pleasure in sharing the news that Professor Daniel Robinson has been honored with the University Outstanding Researcher Award.  Faithful readers of our blog will know that Professor Robinson has undertaken a robust and internationally-recognized research 9780199662128_450agenda on the poetry of the Romantic period, including his current project of editing a major new anthology on the subject for Bloomsbury.

Kim, Emma, Victoria, Bill, Amanda, and Jeannie in the reading room of the Jerwood Centre.
Kim, Taylor, Emma, Victoria, Bill, Amanda, and Jeannie in the reading room of the Jerwood Centre.

Professor Robinson has also involved students in his research through the program he has developed for Widener English in Textual Scholarship.  Undergraduates at Widener have a unique opportunity to work with original manuscripts at the Jerwood Centre in Grasmere, England, supported and advised by Professor Robinson.

This award is highly competitive, with nominees evaluated by a distinguished panel of outside reviewers.  We are incredibly proud of Professor Robinson, and grateful for all he does for our students!

Professor Robinson with students Ashley DiRienzo (l) and Taylor Brown (r) at the awards ceremony on Thursday night.
Professor Robinson with students Ashley DiRienzo (l) and Taylor Brown (r) at the awards ceremony on Thursday night.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The second-to-last week of the spring semester is one of the most joyful and rewarding times of the academic year.  This is when we celebrate the academic excellence of our English and Creative Writing students, when we recognize the commitment, passion, and accomplishments of those students and their faculty.

On Wednesday, we gathered in the Drost Room of Wolfgram Library to hear senior Creative Writing majors (and a minor) read from their portfolios:  the culmination of a semester-long senior seminar, and of four years’ worth of writing and revising.  Megan Lewis read from a series of episodic flash fiction pieces, and Sierra Offutt read from the first chapter of her YA novel in progress.  Minor Monica Colwell (who is a Political Science major) read a creative nonfiction piece about a moving encounter with an Alzheimer’s patient.  The students were advised by Professor Ken Pobo, who opened the event with a generous introduction and facilitated a post-reading Q & A about the students’ aesthetics.

l-r: Professor Ken Pobo, Monica Colwell, Megan Lewis, Sierra Offutt
l-r: Professor Ken Pobo, Monica Colwell, Megan Lewis, Sierra Offutt

Then, on Thursday evening, Humanities faculty gathered with students and their families for the annual Humanities Awards Ceremony.  This wonderful event, organized by the Committee on Recruitment and Retention and the Office of the Associate Dean, recognizes students with majors in the Humanities Division who have achieved a cumulative average of 3.5 or higher.  Nicole Crossey, a double History/Political Science major, gave the Distinguished Graduating Senior remarks, sharing reflections on how the study of History can help us understand our own turbulent times.  The Featured Alumni Speaker, Daniel DiPrinzio (’00), offered humorous and generous comments on the possibilities Humanities students can look forward to after graduation.  DiPrinzio, who is Director of Communications at Arcadia University and the author of several books, is well-positioned to share thoughts on success.

We were also pleased to present the two special awards given at the Humanities Awards Ceremony:  the winner of this year’s Allison Roelofs Award, given to an excellent early-career English major, was Emma Irving, and the winner of this year’s inaugural Justinian Society Award, given to a Humanities senior who plans to attend law school, was Christopher Ross, a History major.

Dan DiPrinzio and senior English major Christian Scittina, who introduced our speaker
Dan DiPrinzio and senior English major Christian Scittina, who introduced our speaker
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Emma Irving, recipient of this year’s Allison Roelofs Award, and Professor Michael Cocchiarale, Co-Director of Creative Writing and Chair of the Humanities Recruitment and Retention Committee

Finally, today we celebrate Student Project Day, the annual showcase of undergraduate research.  Students working with Professor Daniel Robinson in Textual Scholarship shared their study of the history, theory, and practice of textual editing, their work preparing a text of William Wordsworth’s two-part Prelude, and their time at the Wordsworth Trust over spring break.  The students closed their presentation by reflecting on how much their work in English and Creative Writing means to them — we couldn’t agree more!

 

Professor Robinson introduces the Textual Scholarship students
Professor Robinson introduces the Textual Scholarship students
l-r: Ashley DiRienzo, Kimberlee Roberts, Emma Irving, Victoria Giansante, Jeannie McGuire, Taylor Brown
l-r: Ashley DiRienzo, Kimberlee Roberts, Emma Irving, Victoria Giansante, Jeannie McGuire, Taylor Brown

 

Wordsworth and the Lake District: Spring Break Scholarship for Widener English Students

During spring break a few weeks ago, a group of Widener English students had the opportunity to travel to the Lake District in England.  Sponsored by Professor Daniel Robinson, these students have been studying Romantic-period poetry, and some of them have been deeply involved in undergraduate research as part of our Textual Scholarship program, led by Professor Robinson.  (We’d like to acknowledge that this outstanding experience for our students is made possible by the Homer C. Nearing, Jr. Distinguished Professorship, held by Professor Robinson.)

While in England they spent several days at the Jerwood Centre, home to William Wordsworth’s archive, and under the expert guidance of Jeff Cowton, Curator, they studied the poet’s manuscripts, learned about papermaking and printing, and explored the landscape that formed Wordsworth’s imagination.  In a post for our national online undergraduate literary magazine, The Blue Route, Emma Irving talks about this transformative experience.  I’ll let her take it from here:

I cannot stop gushing about my trip; it was life-changing in so many respects, and I’ll take as much time out of my day as you want to show you my pictures and tell you my stories. But one of the greatest things I got out of this trip as an English major was the opportunity to truly connect with an author, to really get to know William Wordsworth as a human being who wrote poetry.

Hop over to The Blue Route to read the whole post, and check out this gallery of photos, courtesy of Professor Robinson.

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.

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Mrs. Dalloway Editor Visits Widener

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.

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