Saying Goodbye: Harley Bakken, ’19

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I still remember when I declared my English Major, perhaps we all do. It was in the fall of my sophomore year and I brought the paperwork to Cynthia Dr. Richards and asked her to be my advisor. It was a special moment because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or major in.

All through high school, I was focused on STEM subjects: what I was good at. I’ve always been a reader, but certainly not a writer. I can never get all my thoughts to coexist coherently on paper. But although my interests may differ, I always come back to English.

I love the connections between subjects that appear in English. It’s magical to think how each semester I could be taking a class in four different departments and still draw them all back to my English courses. That’s why it’s been essential to my Wittenberg experience – English is my epicenter.

I don’t think I can choose just one influential professor, but perhaps two. Dr. Scot Hinson and Dr. Richards were essential to my English major career. Dr. Hinson showed me nuanced perspectives of understanding literature as well as mentoring me to find my own voice in my writing. Dr. Richards I’ve been with since the start of my English career. She encouraged my argumentative tendency and championed by ideas. Truly I could not imagine my English career without her.

Oh, all the books! You only want me to choose one? A Chorus of Stones by Susan Griffin and Quicksand by Nella Larson are the two most impactful books I’ve read during my English career. They both hold different meanings to me. I read A Chorus of Stones in my English 101 course and I just finished Quicksand; you could say they bookended my English Career.

I’ve learned many “important” things in my time as an English major, but maybe the most important to me is to be curious. The intersectionality of English requires you to remain constantly curious of the world around you.

To all the underclassmen, I encourage you to WRITE. I know it’s not what anyone wants to hear, but write!!! I didn’t do nearly enough writing as I should have. So, bite the bullet and pull the all-nighter earlier than the night before and just get the “shitty first draft” done. Then edit; that’s how you get smarter.

I’m currently looking for a job right now without any prospects. I’m thinking something with community development or become a midwife or work on an oil rig. I like to keep my options open.

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Saying Goodbye: Sierra Sanchez, ’19

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I never doubted for a minute that I would declare an English major, but I feel so grateful that I could be an English major at Witt. The faculty are incomparable in their expertise and willingness to aid students, and their commitment to their respective areas of focus as well as to their students is inspiring.

Dr. Bob Davis was the first English professor I had at Wittenberg, and his Literature and Madness class profoundly influenced my creative and analytical development. I was placed in that class first semester of freshman year, and Dr. Davis’ presentation of the material and the engaging class discussions affirmed that I had made the right decision choosing Witt and choosing to be an English major.

My English classes have all been full of incredible material, but if I had to choose one that impacted me the most, it would be The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. It was the first time I had been assigned to read a novel by a Dominican-American author, and the questions Dr. Kate Polak asked and the discussions she facilitated prompted a line of intellectual inquiry for me that remains one of my main focuses today.

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned as an English major is the ability to make connections across disciplines in order to create meaningful interpretations.

To the underclassmen English majors: Enjoy every moment and take advantage of the opportunity to converse with professors who really know and care about what they’re teaching.

And seriously, do the reading.

Post-graduation, I’m planning to spend a year or two working as an English TA in Spain, and I’m hoping to eventually go to law school to study immigration law.

Recap of Dr. Robin Inboden’s Colloquium, “Editing ‘Agnes Grey'”

This past Tuesday, Dr. Robin Inboden presented a colloquium entitled “Editing ‘Agnes Grey.'” Here is a quick recap of the presentation:

Dr. Inboden’s talk about her process of rewriting Agnes Grey was very interesting and something special to listen to. I read the book last semester in her 371 class, Women in Literature II. I liked the book so much that I even wrote my final paper for the class over it.

Seeing the ways that Dr. Inboden is going to reanalyze and rewrite pieces of the book will be interesting. I would like to read her final project because I enjoyed the original book by Anne Bronte so much.

I thought that some of the history behind the book was interesting and the way she even gave her audience some background about the Bronte sisters. Some of the information about them, I knew, but some was new to me.

Dr. Inboden’s travels she had for her research were amazing and made for funny stories. I think that this book will be a great project once it is done.

Congrats to Dr. Inboden on the hard work and acceptance! I’m sure the final novel will be a sensation!

Written by Andy Elliott, ’19

Saying Goodbye: Kieran Mouritsen, ’19

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My name is Kieran Mouritsen and I became an English major because I wanted to make sure I was ready for anything. Especially through the help of professors like Dr. Scot Hinson and Dr. Kate Polak, I was able to grow in my studies and interact with some great literature that taught me to take a new perspective on life.

One work that impacted me in particular was Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, which inspired me to continue working on the series finale, MaddAddam, for my senior thesis. It focused on the idea of change within society, and how our surroundings can influence how we view ourselves and others!

Through my time as an English major, I learned to take criticisms with a grain of salt, and to take as many opinions into account as I can. Nobody is a perfect writer; we can all use help every once in a while. But to any incoming English majors, I would strongly advise asking people you may know or those at the Writing Center to look over your pieces, even something as small as an email, so you can always be improving your writing.

Because I grew to accept this idea over my years at Wittenberg, I am looking into pursuing a career in editing after I graduate this semester, though I have yet to find many places that are interested. Editorial jobs are very specialized and require someone who is good at giving constructive criticism, rather than tearing someone’s writing down.

I have greatly enjoyed my years in the English department and I wish I could be here to meet the new majors next semester. Although I cannot, I wish them the best!

Saying Goodbye: Jennifer Ryan, ’19

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I knew coming into college that I wanted to be an English major. I had originally tossed around the idea of being a journalism major, but when I came to Wittenberg, I was given the opportunity to not only be an English major but to also have two minors: creative writing and journalism. Reading has always been a passion of mine, and Wittenberg allowed me to pursue my love of books while also learning some crucial writing skills.

One professor that changed my experience for the better was Dr. Kate Polak. I was fortunate enough to have her as my English 101 professor, and I spent this past fall semester as her supplemental instructor in the same English 101 that I took as a freshman. She has been a person who has forced me to work harder towards attaining my goals, someone who has supported and talked me through some of the harder times of my college experience, and someone that I’ll only continue to look up at and respect after graduation. Dr. Polak has always included some wonderful texts in her courses, and I was deeply affected by a number of them. I can’t pick just one as being influential, but her course Disaster, Catastrophe, & Havoc is the course from Wittenberg that I’ll never forget as it taught me so many important lessons and pushed my limits as a creative thinker and writer. If you want to see what we read, her website is still live (disastercatastrophehavoc.weebly.com).

As I look towards graduation, I’m hoping to continue my educational career by going to graduate school. I’ve got a few dream schools in mind, so now it’s just a waiting game until I hear back. Eventually, I’d like to work within the publishing field either as a copy-editor or working as a publishing agent, but being a copy-editor is the thing I’ve grown to love the most.

To all of the underclassmen English majors: treasure your time here, because it all does come to an end quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in your classes, and don’t stop reading pleasure books outside of your required readings. Take up writing in a journal: keep it on you at all times and write when inspiration strikes (or someone says something funny). Keep striving to be the best that you can be, and never stop learning.

Recap: Students, Faculty, and Staff Read “Letter from A Birmingham Jail”

Last Thursday, students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Hollenbeck Atrium to listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” read by their fellow peers.

Pictured below are some of the readers and attendees that gathered for the event. Following its conclusion, the letter hung from the second floor so that anyone who missed the event could stop to read it in its entirety.

The event was co-sponsored by the English Department and Weaver Chapel.

Welcome Back Wittenberg!

The Wittenberg English Department welcomes back all Wittenberg students for the spring 2019 semester. Colloquia events for the English Department will be announced soon, and senior send-offs will be posted leading up to graduation.

Stay tuned for a wonderful spring semester! On behalf of the English Department, good luck with your classes and we look forward to seeing you around!