English Professor Susan VanZanten’s “Reading as a Spiritual Practice,” originally published in the Spring, 2015 issue of Bearings magazine, a publication of the Collegeville Institute, is now online. It can be found at http://collegevilleinstitute.org/bearings/reading-spiritual-practice/.
June 15th, 2015 § 0
English major Rebekah Davis has won the Emily Dickinson International Society’s Undergraduate Research Contest for the final paper she wrote in the Dickinson seminar, taught by Dr. VanZanten winter quarter of this year. This is quite an honor.
She’ll receive $250, and the essay will be published on the EDIS website (see http://www.emilydickinsoninternationalsociety.org/node/467.)
May 28th, 2015 § 0
David, like many seniors “walking” in a few weeks, finds frightening the open nature of his possible next steps. Graduate school? Ministry? A writing career? Then, too, there’s the matter of “vocation” more generally considered: how to live a meaningful life while not on the job.
The English major, David says, developed his worldview and broadened it. He now sees the world through lenses provided by authors, and the result has been greater “sympathy, compassion, and understanding” for people, real or imagined. David isn’t sure he would have gained such emotional capacity in a major like, say, history or political science.
One of the best parts of the major? Getting to know the profs. David feels his professors have affirmed his “gifts, skills, and talents.” Their knowledge base has meant the world to his intellectual growth and moral understanding. Access to his profs is one of the characteristics David has valued about the English Department and SPU generally.
SPU has also offered David opportunities to connect his major to ministries, using his volunteer work to help people tell their stories. He especially loves courses that “interconnect” and the way campus culture invites students from various majors to relate their learning to each other’s. “It’s easy to become an insular English major,” David says, “but SPU makes possible, through its liberal arts curriculum, lots of other classes” and thereby helped him become “a broad-minded, generous person.”
Any departing advice to newbie English majors? Balance methodologies courses like The Sentence and Creative Nonfiction with lit courses, says David. Take the lit-survey courses early. And take a career class, like the one the career center offers that helps English majors translate what they’re doing in classes into marketable skills. “Reading, making claims, working with people,” David says, are the things the major has given him to take out into the world.
May 26th, 2015 § 0
A Reading and Conversation
Wednesday May 27, 2015 at 3:00
In Make Me a Mother, acclaimed memoirist Susanne Antonetta adopts an infant from Seoul, South Korea. After meeting their six-month-old son, Jin, at the airport—an incident made memorable when Susanne, so eager to meet her son, is chased down by security—Susanne and her husband learn lessons common to all parents, such as the lack of sleep and the worry and joy of loving a child. They also learn lessons particular to their own family: not just how another being can take over your life but how to let an entire culture in, how to discuss birth parents who gave up a child, and the tricky steps required to navigate race in America.
Susanne Antonetta (Suzanne Paola)’s most recent book is Make Me a Mother, a memoir and study of adoption. Awards for her poetry and prose include a New York Times Notable Book, an American Book Award, a Library Journal Best Science book of the year, a Lenore Marshall Award finalist, a Pushcart prize, and others. She is also coauthor of Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction. She has published several prize-winning collections of poems, including Bardo, Petitioner, Glass, and The Lives of The Saints. Her essays and poems have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Orion, Seneca Review and many anthologies, including Short Takes and Lyric Postmodernisms. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, with her husband and son.
Paola was raised among the New Jersey Pine Barrens, which she later used as the setting for Body Toxic, in one of the most contaminated counties in the United States. Paola’s memoir merges her personal and familial sagas with historical accounts, politics, and environmentalism.
April 23rd, 2015 § 0
Former English major Heather (Eggen) Bowman was recently elected partner at the Portland, Oregon law firm Bodyfelt Mount, where she practices civil litigation, focusing specifically on employment litigation and defense of professional malpractice claims.
After graduating in 2001, Heather put her English degree to direct use teaching English literature at Qiqihar University in northeastern China. Teaching Chinese English majors their only English literature class in their college careers was a challenge, writes Heather, not only because of the intricacies of English language and literature, but also because of the foreignness to her students of the history, politics, geography, and thinking of the West.
As a lawyer, Heather continues, on a daily basis, to develop skills first honed at SPU. Although she rarely has an opportunity to quote William Blake, she constantly interprets documents and case law, tells client stories, and writes and argues her way to (she hopes) good results.