Academic Opportunities Outside of the Classroom- An Interview with Bill Artz

Welcome back everyone! I hope you all enjoyed the long break and are ready for the second half of the academic year. In this initial blog post for the Spring semester, I would like to highlight one of our graduate student’s new achievement.

Bill Artz has been involved in higher education since 1991, with his first degree obtained in General Studies in Classical Languages from Wichita State University. Since this achievement, he has furthered his studies by receiving a BA in both French and Philosophy, also from Wichita State University. While a student at Millersville, Artz has received both his Master’s in English and Graduate Certificate in Writing in 2021. Currently, he is working on his M.E.d. in English, which connects to his philosophical roots due to a rediscovered interest in Simone de Beauvoir.

This renewed interest in Beauvoir is due to Katie Kirkpatrick, the chair of philosophy at Oxford who wrote Becoming Beauvoir: A Life. “Well established scholars are working on Beauvoir again, and that led to my re-found interest in Beauvoir and the reason my MEd thesis has taken a turn toward philosophy” Artz states. This newfound exploration of Beauvoir is one of the reasons for his discovery of the International Simone de Beauvoir Society. This organization, founded in 1981 by Yolanda Patterson, provides a forum for members all across the globe to discuss Beauvoir’s philosophical, literary, and political works. One unique element to the society is that is Beauvoir is looked at and studied as herself, and is not chained to her infamous relationship with Sartre. As Artz states, “she was a better philosopher and writer than he was, her character development was better, and she was able to paint a picture with words that no one in francophone literature has been able replicate.”

With such a passion for Beauvoir, it is understandable why Artz would be a perfect fit for the society. Over the break, he was accepted into the organization as a new board member of the steering committee. As Artz describes it, this committee “does the grunt work” by “getting people to become interested in the society and join.” Other duties include having voting rights and writing articles for the upcoming sets of studies that are coming out. We congratulate Bill for this wonderful achievement and wish him all the best in this endeavor.

While interviewing Bill Artz, it was apparent that one can discover organizations similar to this society that allow for one to pursue their academic passions outside of the classroom. One way of discovering these opportunities is through word of mouth. Thanks to Dr. Pfannenstiel, I am hoping to present at the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association conference in the fall. However, one of the biggest benefits of living in the digital age is the opportunity to discover a multitude of organizations with just the click of a button. With the appropriate search terms, one could discover journals, conferences, and organizations that all have the potential to become something bigger. Artz mentions how even Twitter houses so many great research possibilities and discovery opportunities for higher academia. It is important to further yourself academically outside of the classroom, as looking for these type of opportunities could be a stepping stone for your desired career path.