Recap of “The Spirituality of ‘Walden'”: Versions of the Sacred in Play

Junior English major Reese Harper recently attended Dr. Bob Davis’ colloquium event, “Sacred Play: The Spirituality of Walden” and published an article covering the event in the Wittenberg Torch.

On behalf of The Torch, here is Reese’s article.

Last Thursday, Professor of English Bob Davis presented a synopsis of his upcoming book to be titled “Sacred Play: Spirituality and American Literature.” The book will focus on American spirituality through the lens of Henry David Thoreau’s transcendentalist literary masterpiece Walden.

Former English professor Emerita Mimi Dixon introduced Davis and “Walden” itself.

“Bob’s classes are interdisciplinary, integrating literature and science, for example,” Dixon said. “Thoreau similarly combines religion with literature in Walden.”

Published in 1854, Walden details Thoreau’s thoughts and experiences in response to a pond near his residence over the course of two years. The text engages with themes such as contemplation and man’s relationship with nature. However, Davis is most interested in Thoreau’s version of the sacred: buoyancy, freedom, playfulness and possibility.

Davis referred to Thoreau’s philosophy of the sacred as “divine play” and this term will form the basis of Davis’ book.

“Thoreau’s literature is based on experiences of the sacred that are larger and more enduring than ourselves,” Davis said. “Play is an experimental model of religious devotion tuned in to the divine.”

Davis quickly clarified that Thoreau’s spirituality differs from the piety associated with organized religion. Thoreau resisted “associating faith with the special province of religion,” Davis said.

“Thoreau compares religion to a pond, its ripples different than ones caused by insects or fish,” Davis said. “His goal of religious practice is perseverance and being faithful to a divine spirit that’s infinitely variable and free.”

After clarifying Thoreau’s spirituality, Davis shifted to the text’s historical and theological origins.

“Versions of the sacred in play can be found in the theology of south Asia,” Davis said. “We know that in the fall of 1840, Thoreau studied key texts in Hindu spirituality. These texts refer to some gods as ‘divine creators.’ They are ends in themselves. Their existence is play, and it is sacred. For example, Vishnu is both discreet and indiscreet, substance and spirit. Krishna appeared with multiple faces studded with jewels, a god whose face is everywhere. Likewise, in the plot of Walden, the pond is a sacred grove, a prism that helps Thoreau experience objects from multiple standpoints, its prisms and hidden facets. The pond opens his mind to a god whose face is everywhere.”

Davis also found origins of the text’s spirituality in Christian thought.

Some Christian theologians refer to a concept like sacred play called ‘nimbleness of mind:’ being able to sense shifts in perception,” Davis said. “Christ ‘plays’ in many places. Jesus is a gardener, carpenter, revolutionary or stranger depending on the scene where he appears in the gospels.”

For those unfamiliar with Walden and skeptical of the immense symbolism within his pond, Davis concisely reasserted his position.

“People who have never read Walden would say ‘it’s just water;’ it’s never just water in Walden,” Davis said. “Walden is a very busy book. It uses up every myth, idea and color the mind has made up before it allows the one to wander.”

Davis did, however, qualify his findings.

“When other people break his rules of faithful living, Thoreau is just as quick to condemn as adherents to organized religion,” Davis said. “Thoreau’s lifelong quarrel with dogmatic Christianity was also a lifelong quarrel with himself—a rigid and serious man who claimed to never have changed his mind about anything. He shares that head-on religion is dangerous, and pursuing god directly leads to various ego traps. He tells us to look at god like stars, not face to face, but to notice them from the side.”

In the end, Davis succinctly relayed what he believes lies at the core of Walden.

“Thoreau teaches us to love our day, love our homework and love the facets of the pond,” Davis said.


PBS Hosting “The Great American Read”

While looking through Google this afternoon for an off-campus connection to literature for Witty English, an article popped up in regards to “The Great American Read.” This series of eight-episodes is a programming series being put on by PBS to discover some of America’s greatest reads, hence the title.

PBS’ website states that The Great American Read is an “eight-part series that explores and celebrates the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey).  It investigates how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what these 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience.”

Different towns and communities have posted their own versions of the battle for the Great American Read which have taken the form of March Madness brackets. However, PBS’ website lets viewers vote on whichever and however many books that they would like to be consider The Great American Read.

The list contains 100 books, which were chosen through a survey of 7,200 participants.

PBS’ website states that the list “contains a broad range of fictional titles, authors, time periods, countries, genres and subject matter. The list includes books from as far back as the 1600s and as recent as 2016. From beloved world literature to contemporary best sellers, many categories are represented: 20th century American classics, thrillers, young adult novels, sci-fi/fantasy, adventure, historical fiction, romantic stories, and books that represent the human experience told from a diverse range of perspectives.”

Four episodes of the series have already aired, with four more scheduled for the remaining Tuesdays in October at 8/7c on PBS.

To vote on your Great American Read, visit the PBS website, or click here.

Even if you don’t plan on voting, this compilation of 100 novels will give you the perfect reading list as the end of the year rolls around and chilly fall weather coaxes you to stay inside and curl up with a great book. Little will you know, that book may just be The Great American Read.

A Civil Rights Activist Too Often Forgotten: Bayard Rustin

Last week, a lecture series featuring the life of Bayard Rustin, a gay Civil Rights activist, was presented at Wittenberg University.

Courtesy of The Torch, Witty English features junior English major Reese Harper’s article, who covered the event.

When thinking about the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, big names like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are usually the first to come to mind. However, many other figures were involved in the movement and not all of their legacies appear in history textbooks.

Last Friday, scholars and activists, including Jared Leighton, Ph.D., Walter Naegle and John D’Emilio, Ph.D., visited Wittenberg’s Shouvlin Center. This event was in conjunction with Wittenberg’s English professor Rick Incorvati’s “Writing for Social Change” class to bring light to a civil rights activist too often forgotten: Bayard Rustin.

Rustin’s greatest accomplishment included organizing the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August of 1963, which advocated for the social, economic and political of rights of African Americans and is where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The march resulted in the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Historians and social scientists cite Rustin’s sexuality—as an openly gay man—as his greatest obstacle in the face of his opponents and the main reason his legacy is often forgotten. Other civil rights activists believed that Rustin’s sexuality would undermine the movement and although Rustin hoped to connect the black civil rights movement with the fight for gay rights, those around him feared that they would lose key forces working with them, such as churches.

Leighton, a professor of African-American and LGBTQ+ history at the University of Nebraska started off the lecture by reading a paper he wrote about the connections between black civil rights activists and LGBTQ+ activists in the 1960’s. He noted that LGBTQ+ people came together around the civil rights movement because of its high ideals of equal opportunities and freedom. However, gay rights activists tended to organize separately, rather than drawing civil rights networks to form a massive group.

In response to the subversion of LGBTQ+ civil rights activists in the 1960’s, “The entirety of the past is not always legible, especially when discussing oppression,” Leighton said.

D’Emilio, author of “Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin,” also noted the difficulty of honoring lesser-known activists like Rustin.

“The way history is put out there, only the biggest names come out to us unless we’re actively searching for people like Bayard Rustin,” he said.

D’Emilio also discussed the difficulty in “coming out of the closet” during the 1960’s.

“It was nearly impossible to be ‘out’ in the 1960’s,” D’Emilio said. “’Coming out’ was a key phrase, but it meant only allowing other LGBT people know you’re gay.”

The discussion and responses to the essay were followed by Q&A session with the audience that included questions like, “How did you find a way around the family and church being for racial equality but against LGBT rights?” and “How do we increase solidarity between Civil Rights Groups and LGBT activists?”

Naegle, Rustin’s former partner, answered from his first-hand experiences.

“The response to the church and family is alternative institutions: alternative definitions of family and relationships as well as the creation of new churches,” Naegle said. “Rustin knew nonviolence and had the practical experience that King didn’t have, but sometimes King found it difficult that Rustin was gay.”

Naegle connected the question of solidarity to one of the most prominent civil rights movements today, Black Lives Matter.

“We need open communication between groups along mutual causes and true inclusiveness to make sure everyone has their voice heard,” Naegle said. “I could see it happening in BLM, considering two of its three founding members identify as queer. It’s intersectional in its founding.”

The closing question from an audience member asked if Rustin, as a leader in non-violent change particularly, felt that civil disobedience undermined the cause of civil rights.

“From protest to politics, no matter what movement, we will never win on our own. We wouldn’t be in this situation in first place if we could, and that was Rustin’s underlying principle,” Naegle said.

Meet the Members of SAGE

The English Department’s most prestigious group, SAGE, has added a great number of new faces this semester.

SAGE, or Student Advisory Group for English, is a group of committed English majors that serve as the unified student voice of the English department at Wittenberg University. We act as a liaison between the English department faculty and personnel and Wittenberg’s English students, advising on certain policy changes and other official matters. We also task ourselves with spreading awareness of the many things Wittenberg’s English department provides for its students and creating programming that both generates a presence for the English department on campus and brings the students and faculty closer together in our shared pursuit of knowledge of English literature and writing. Additionally, we assist with academic showcasing for prospective students in presenting what the Wittenberg English department has to offer.”

Here is a little introduction to the English Department’s 2018-2019 members of SAGE:


Hello! My name is Lexi and I am a senior English and Theatre double major. When I am on campus I am involved in different plays on campus, Kappa Delta sorority, and as one of the presidents for SAGE. I wanted to major in English due to my love for literature and writing, and I wanted to connect these passions into my future careers. My favorite class so far has to be Dr. Kate Polak’s “Disaster, Catastrophe, and Havoc,” and if it is offered again, I definitely recommend checking it out. Some of my other favorite English-things is the “What Can You Do With and English Major” colloquium event, as it is an opportunity for people to figure out different paths they can take with their English degree after they graduate from Wittenberg. It is so wonderful to see my peers after Wittenberg succeed in life with the tools gathered from their time here. And finally, one of my favorite books of all time has to be A Court of Mist and Fury from Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series. It’s a beautiful story of love, loss, and triumph over demons both mental and physical in a fantasy world. It’s very well written and the characters have really incredible arcs. 10/10 would recommend. – Co-President Lexi Gallion, ’19


Hello everyone! My name is Jenn and I am a senior English major with Creative Writing and Journalism minors. This is my second year as SAGE Co-President alongside Lexi, and I am truly excited to have this leadership opportunity again. Here at Witt, I’m involved in way too many things to mention, but some of my favorites include working in the Writing Center, being the Editor-in-Chief of The Torch, serving as a senior representative on the Matthies Advisory Board, and working for the English Department, a.k.a., writing these blog posts! When I came to Witt, I knew pretty much everything that I wanted to do, including my major and minors, minus all of the extracurricular activities (even though I wouldn’t wish my four years here to have gone any other way). Reading and writing are two things that have always come easy to me, so it was a natural decision to major in English so that I could read in all of my classes, and a natural decision for Creative Writing and Journalism, as I would always be writing. Last semester I had the opportunity of taking Dr. Polak’s Disaster, Catastrophe, & Havoc class. If any of you have had the opportunity to know or have class with her, you’ll know entirely what I mean when I say that it was perhaps my favorite class I’ve taken at Witt, period. Not only did I learn that there is no hope for our future as a society, but I learned that we were all hopelessly in this together. In the past, one of my favorite SAGE events has been The List, and I am super excited to get to co-host with Lexi in November. There’s a good line-up in the making, and I can’t wait to see the end result. Ever since I stumbled upon Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult in about seventh grade, it’s been my favorite. I’ve used her novel as inspiration for my creative pieces, as an example of good writing, and as a general reminder of what can happen in only nineteen minutes. – Co-President Jennifer Ryan, ’19


Hello! My name is Logan Bliss, a senior English major here at Witt. I love to slowly walk through the, what seems like, a forest of trees and color on campus. I love to watch the sun drop from the sky in the early evening as I read in the dusk of the Hollow. I also enjoy sitting and writing anywhere and everywhere. My friendships also enrich my life from day-to-day, and for that I am so grateful. I joined SAGE because I wanted to put my voice and face more across this campus—considering I’m like Spider-man with his mask on most of the time. The English major has transformed my life and made me who I am, I just want to give back to it somehow. I’d deeply recommend taking Dr. Bob Davis’ 300 level class about the Beat Generation—a generation of lost, romantic souls that still have yet to be found. Let Davis’ voice trail across the voices and words of the Beats and see what you learn. Life is too short to not try, right? That’s all I got. Until I see you reading in the library again, – Logan Bliss, ’19


My name is Lexus Cole – I’m a senior English and Communication major. On campus, I am involved in CABLE, serve on Student Senate as the Greek Life representative, I also serve as a Peer Mentor for the FYS program, and work in the Writing Center, aside from being a part of SAGE. I decided on the English major because it was the one thing I consistently loved. Words fascinate me and the fact that there are multiple ways in which you can interpret them. There are so many things that the English major can offer and it felt like the right one for me. So far, I don’t know what my favorite English class has been. I’ve loved all of the ones I’ve taken at Witt thus far. However, I think Reading the Body with Dr. Cynthia Richards could be my favorite, if I absolutely had to choose. I’m only a few weeks in, but it’s a very refreshing class and take on what we’re reading. The literary costume contest is always an event that I enjoy. Personally, I’m really bad at coming up with clever costumes, but I think it’s really nice to see how creative others can get, especially with so many options. This summer, I read Call Me By Your Name, which has quickly become one of my favorite books. I also enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale and The Year of Magical Thinking. All of these books were just read at the right time, so they all hold a special place in my heart. – Lexie Cole, ’19


My name is Kristen Feigel and I am a senior English/Theatre double major with a minor in secondary education. I love to read, write, act and direct plays, watch movies, and hang out with friends. I joined SAGE to get to know the people and to better know everything that happens within the department. I highly recommend taking a class with Dr. Mattison, if possible; the content is always relevant and I always leave his classes asking more questions than I had when class started. – Kristen Feigel, ’19

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Hey, my name is Victoria and I’m a senior majoring in English. This is my first year in SAGE but besides this, you can find me in the Writing Center where I am an advisor. Because of my love for writing and my passion for books, it only made sense for me to be an English major but I did have to find my way back to it. The English Department is really amazing and so it’s really hard to pick a favorite English class that I’ve had so far. However, Dr. Lori Askeland’s Outlaw Love course is one I deeply appreciated. As I am currently studying abroad, I won’t be at any of the SAGE events this semester, but I am looking forward to hearing about all of them, especially The List event as I need new book suggestions. And now one of my favorite questions: what is my favorite book? I find that I can’t pick a favorite book as I enjoy almost every book I read on a deep level, but my book of the year that I would recommend to everyone to read would have to be Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. – Victoria Ladipo, ’19


Hi, my name is Emma Stogsdill and I am a senior majoring in English and environmental science. I am really passionate about marching band, drum corps, and especially color guard (if y’all know what that is), and I love cute animals. I joined SAGE to be a part of something on campus, to get closer with my classmates in the English Department, and to help out other English majors as well as potential incoming English majors. I had a blast taking Advanced Poetry Writing with Dr. Polak and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys poetry in the slightest. – Emma Stogsdill, ’19


Hey everyone! My name is Erykah Andrews and I am a junior majoring in English and minoring in Education. I love music! I play the viola in the Wittenberg Orchestra. I also enjoy reading and writing in my free time and going on adventures with my friends! I decided to become an English major when I took English 101 my freshman year with Dr. Askeland. I would recommend that class to incoming students because it isn’t only a general education requirement, but you learn a lot about writing essays, which will prepare for the years to come, and you also learn a lot about your strengths and weaknesses in your writing skills. I joined SAGE because my professor and advisor, Dr. Askeland, recommended me. I love being a part of SAGE and the English Department and I hope to help incoming freshmen and upperclassmen who want to be English majors go in the right direction. SAGE is a way for me to give back to my school and dedicate myself to my major. GO TIGERS! – Erykah Andrews, ’20


My name is Reese Harper. I’m a junior English major (and probably doing another major/minor to be determined). If you read my blurb last year, I said I was going to double major in psychology if I get my life together. Life update: I didn’t. In addition to my involvement with SAGE, I am president of the Witt Review of Literature & Art, on exec for Spectrum, write for The Torch, and probably play a role in any of the other italicized student organizations on campus. I’m also a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity. I majored in English because I enjoy over-analyzing my existence. My favorite class in the English department so far is one that I’m currently enrolled in: Dr. Scot Hinson’s Contemporary American Fiction. You should come to the English department’s pizza party September 5th. I’m going, and I don’t even like pizza. My favorite book is Demain by Herman Hesse. It’s kind of like The Catcher in the Rye in that should read it before you turn 25. Here is a picture of me eating spaghetti because I don’t like pizza. – Reese Harper, ’20


.As an English major, I tend to do a lot of reading – more specifically poetry and creative nonfiction, as it is my favorite of the arts. My favorite book consists of “Nothing” by Jane Teller and the Tenth Edition of The Bedford Reader. I find essays to be particularly enjoyable and the art of the essay is quite fascinating. Along with this, I write a tremendous amount in my free time. Writing is undoubtedly a pastime I take great care in. However, there is only so much you can do behind the wondrous canvas of a notebook. Therefore, I joined SAGE as a way to become more involved within the English Department. I highly encourage prospective English majors to indulge in the Literary Form and Interpretation course with Dr. Bob Davis. The course has allowed my writing to breathe and flourish under his instruction. If one desires to find a new light in the work of others, as well as breathe life into their own writing, Literary Form and Interpretation would be an amiable first step. In the past year, I have also published my first book, “Ginger Tea,” available for purchase on Amazon and run a rather inconsistent blog on I am currently working on publishing my memoir, and hope to unveil my new book of poetry in the months to come! – Nikki Howard, ’20


Hello, hello! I am Emma Kilpatrick, a junior English major and triple minor in Creative Writing, Dance, and Music. I’m really heavily involved on campus because I’m awful at sitting still. I’m part of Fact in Fiction (the creative writing club), Shakespeare Society, the Tiger Pep Band, Wittenberg Singers, the History Club, and the Witt Late Night planning team. I decided to major in English because I want to be a writer when I grow up, and I wanted to take these four years as an opportunity to really let my craft develop. Because I can’t just pick one, my favorite Witt English courses are D’Arcy Fallon’s Creative Writing course and Dr. Scot Hinson’s American Literary Genealogies. My favorite English Department program is the annual Matchbook Poetry event, because I live and breathe poetry. And finally, my all-time favorite work of fiction is Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. – Emma Kilpatrick, ‘20


My name is Carly Schneider. I am English and sociology double major and part of the fantastic class of 2020. I am in Alpha Phi Omega, writing for The Torch, and other organizations when I have the time. I decided to be an English major because I am absolutely in love with studying literature. Books have been an important part of my life since I was a little girl and I honestly could not imagine my life without reading. Being able to grow as a person from the books I am reading in class makes my education a reward and not work. My favorite class that I have taken in the English department so far at Witt has been Dr. Cynthia Richards’ 280 on British Literature. I loved her teaching style and the level of class participation involved. Also, her course exposed me to early British texts that I truly love and would love to spend more time deep reading. My favorite English event held by the department is “What Can I Do with an English Major?” LOTS! I loved seeing our Tiger Alumni come back and show us that we do not have to be teachers. My favorite epic I have read in class is Beowulf.– Carly Schneider, ’20


Hello! My name is Clay Waidelich and I am a junior English major with a minor in Education. Other than my studies I am involved on campus in The Torch, Student Leadership Fellows, S.A.G.E., Sigma Tau Delta (English honors society), and Kappa Delta Pi (Education honors society). Finding my love for English was not your typical story. I have always loved reading, but it took me until my sophomore year of high school until I figured out my love for all of the English subject. The only reason I found my passion was because a fantastic teacher of mine took it upon herself to challenge me and make me a better writer and analyst. I grew significantly through this and my love for English blossomed. Due to the work of my teacher, I decided I wanted to be a high school English teacher. So far, my favorite class in the Witt English department has to be British Literary Genealogies because I was introduced to so many new writers. The colloquiums offered are also really cool; my favorite is by far the defense of the List as professors have to dive into the importance of the works they have chosen. If I were to add a book to the List, it would certainly be The Great Gatsby. – Clay Waidelich, ’20


Hi, I’m Megan! I’m a junior English major with minors in creative writing and journalism! I work as the manager of the chapel choir and you might see me around in Fact in Fiction, kayak club, WCA, Shakespeare Society, the costume shop, and Greek Life! I’m an English major because you get a free mug (and also endless deep discussions about some of the most incredible literature, but mostly the mug). My favorite English classes are anything with writing! One of the greatest events of the year is the costume party! What other colloquium involves costumes, pizza, and English friends? We’ve read some pretty phenomenal books in my classes, but Gatsby will always hold a special place in my heart. Maybe I’ll dress up as him this year for the costume party. – Megan Winters, ’20

Welcome Back!

Witty English welcomes all of the new freshmen and returning students back to Wittenberg for the fall semester and the 2018-2019 academic year.

The English Department’s first event will occur on Wednesday, September 5th at 4:00 p.m. in Ness Auditorium.

For those considering an English major or Creative Writing and/or Journalism minors, this is a great opportunity to talk with current majors/minors and faculty/staff. Undeclared students may also have the opportunity to declare their major/minor at the event.

For declared majors/minors, class pictures will be taken at 4:30 p.m. Pizza and light refreshments will be served promptly at 4:00 p.m.


Saying Goodbye: Kailey Mau, ’18

One of my favorite classes at Wittenberg was Dr. Robin Inboden’s “Chick Flicks” film class. I enjoyed learning about women’s changing roles in Hollywood, in addition to how influential they were in the making of early films. My favorite memory in this class was the day where we tried on antique hats and discussed costuming. Also, (this was for a different class with Dr. Inboden) one of my favorite Wittenberg memories was when our 300 level class took a trip to Mast Mansion and had a tea party! It was nearly Christmas time and there was a slight snowfall, but we sat inside with a warm cup of tea and wonderful blueberry scones–it felt magical! 17097177_682799645261556_6794984144606811334_o

My other favorite class at Wittenberg was Dr. Mike Mattison’s “Writing for Teachers” class. I took the course right before student teaching, and I felt that this prepared me the most for life in the classroom. Though it was a night class, time always flew by because we always had the most fascinating discussions about pedagogy, writing philosophies, and ultimately how to become the best possible teacher. These two classes and wonderful professors are why I love Wittenberg. I’ll definitely miss my time here.

Saying Goodbye: Joey Sechrist, ’18

It’s impossible to pick a single course or professor that stood above the rest – from the rigorous theoretical discussions of Dr. Sha’dawn Battle’s class to the contemplative loafing exercises (in the spirit of Walt Whitman) in Dr. Kate Polak’s poetry course, they are all worth mentioning. I loved every English course I had the privilege to take, and this is largely thanks to the investment of our professors in their work and students. This engagement has inspired me to potentially pursue a career in academia; I’d like to feel the same level of fulfillment, which has been so apparent in my English professors’ passion, in my own career. As I did in my thesis, I hope to continue working with political theory in literature, and I am also considering pursuing a master’s degree in Political Science to supplement this.


Looking towards a future which increasingly devalues the liberal arts education, I wonder if the job market will continue to accommodate (although this accommodation is already questionable) the study of literature. I hope so, but I’m not crossing my fingers. While I have learned marketable skills at Wittenberg, I have more importantly learned to question the concept of marketability itself. If we value what we teach, I strongly believe that we must fundamentally change the relations of production, to use Marx’s term, which stifle it. If this is the task of the twenty-first century English major, so be it!

Saying Goodbye: Reed Gibson, ’18

When I first came to Wittenberg, I was very hesitant to major in English. I have always been a terrible speller. But, I knew that the math and science route was not for me. I didn’t want black and white answers; I wanted to challenge myself and provoke new thoughts and ideas.

There’s been quite a few times where I feel like I bit off more than I could chew in that regard. The first was Dr. Ian MacDonald’s Caribbean Literature, a class that was, “more like a graduate level class,” and happened to be my first 300-level English class. Another is happening right now as I’m desperately crawling to the finish line for Dr. Kate Polak’s Disaster, Catastrophe, and Havoc’s class, a class that she admitted she intended for half the class to drop due to the workload.Reed

Perhaps against my better judgement, I’ve stuck out the English major, and I believe I’m better from it. Next year I will start law school at the University of Dayton, and I feel incredibly well prepared. Read this 400-page book over two days? Easy, been there, done that. Write a 25-page thesis? Piece of cake, did that for 404/405.

I believe my education at Wittenberg has taught me valuable traits, traits like effective communication, innovative thinking, and attention to detail that will serve me well as I go forward.

Saying Goodbye: Anissa Dann, ’18

My time here at Wittenberg has been life changing, to say the least. As an English student, I have not only grown as a writer, but also as a person, citizen, and learner. I truly enjoyed all classes I took here at Witt and my education would not have been the same without the tight group of English professors I spent my time with. Dr. Mike Mattison, Dr. Robin Inboden, Dr. Bob Davis, Prof. D’Arcy Fallon, Dr. Michael McClelland, Dr. Scot Hinson, Dr. Rick Incorvati, and Prof. Tom Stafford have all been extremely influential to me as a person and as a writer and student – I can’t thank them enough.

Some of my favorite memories are from Dr. Davis’s Beat class (the inspiration for my final honors thesis) and Dr. Inboden’s Women in Literature course where I engaged with my peers over all the books I love. From Dr. Inboden mistakenly telling us that one famous poet suffered a writing accident instead of a riding one, to Dr. Davis declaring the angel-headed hipster status of our class, to literally any of Dr. Hinson’s wonderfully terrible dad jokes – I have had more fun with my major than I ever thought possible.

Most importantly, my work through the English Department – with the Writing Center and Torch – have provided me with new experiences and a plethora of interesting ways to learn. I have gone to Chicago where I learned about directive tutoring over really good sushi; I have ventured to D.C. where I learned from other national student newspapers, talked to Edward Snowden, and stood in front of the White House right before our historically bad change in residents; and I have traveled to Lowell, Massachusetts where I met fellow fans of the Beat Generation, a thesis topic that would consume my senior year and personal development. Wittenberg, and the English Department, have opened my eyes to what is not only possible, but what is left to discover.


Unfortunately, it’s now time to move on, and I carry with me the linguistic skills, writing proficiency, and assuredness of character that the English Department has provided me. I’m not sure what’s after this, besides California and new adventures, but I am motivated by the bright words of Jack Kerouac: “I don’t know but we gotta go.”