Alumna Profile: Rachel Howatt

September 16th, 2015 § 0

10334423_10152535905205860_7472448304166275657_n Rachel Howatt, alum of the English major, recently reported back on events in her life since she graduated in 2012. Rachel writes that she spent a year teaching Language Arts in a small school near her hometown of Portland, Oregon. When that position ended, she moved to the United Kingdom for graduate work at the University of Warwick, from which she recently received an MA in English literature. Rachel explains that she “had always wanted to study abroad while at SPU but just never made it happen,” so attending grad school in the U.K. “was a great way to make that right!” She is now back in the U.S. and hopes to begin work on a PhD in English literature starting in the fall of 2016. Welcome back, Rachel, and best of luck with the grad-admission process.

Senior English Major Studies at Oxford

September 4th, 2015 § 0

Senior English major Tara Paris is studying at Oxford University this fall term, and she invites anyone interested in her exploits to visit her blog,

Tara follows in the footsteps of many SPU English majors who’ve taken advantage of the Best Semester study-abroad program at Oxford. Upon returning to us, these majors report the benefits of the Oxford/Cambridge system: the heavy emphasis on writing, which has strengthened their skills in that area; the one-on-one attention of a tutor, which ups their game at discussing literary texts; and the scary/liberating self-direction expected of British students—far different from the lockstep schedule of readings and exams their American counterparts are handed each term.

We all wish Tara well during her time away and hope she isn’t tempted to stay in beautiful Oxfordshire indefinitely!

“Reading as a Spiritual Practice”

September 3rd, 2015 § 0

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

Davis Wins Dickinson Society Award

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

Congratulations, Rebekah! 



May 26th, 2015 § 0

Suzanne Paola

A Reading and Conversation

Wednesday May 27, 2015 at 3:00

Bertona 4

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.

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