All posts by hlverani

Movie Recommendations for Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving break has finally arrived at Millersville, and the shift in temperature tells us that winter break is just around the corner. With the week of Thanksgiving being the last before the Christmas season goes into full effect, I would like to dedicate this blog post to movie recommendations for the last unofficial week of Fall. Thanksgiving break is the perfect time to curl up under a warm blanket and relax and recharge before the stress of finals week, so I hope you enjoy these recommendations and possibly discover a new favorite movie.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

I remember this film being described as “the personification of whimsy” and I can’t think of a better way to summarize this movie. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightful adventure that is told entirely through stop motion animation. The comedy, based on the novel by Roald Dahl, follows the main character Mr. Fox as his series of thefts results in his family and community being hunted down by three farmers. Directed by Wes Anderson, the colors, characters, and dialogue within this film is nothing short of brilliant, leaving a colorful feeling of wonder after watching this vibrant film.

Dead Poets Society (1989)

There are many films that people say, “you have to see,” but Dead Poets Society is genuinely one of those must-see films. This classic follows the lives of students attending the prestigious Welton Academy located in New England. When their new English teacher allows them to question both their education and themselves through his teaching of poetry, it inspires them to challenge themselves, and provides a means to cope through the changes and challenges that come with growing up. This summary truly does not do the film justice, as it is hard to encapsulate how truly wonderful and impactful this incredible movie is.

The Princess Bride (1987)

I had to include this film in my list of recommendations because it is my favorite movie of all time, as there are a few films I would regard as perfect, but this is definitely one if a “perfect move” exists. This fantasy film follows the love story between Princes Buttercup and her love Westly as told by a grandfather reading a story to his grandson on his day off from school. As the grandfather states in the beginning of the movie, it is much more than a “kissing book.” It’s a fantastical adventure that features the themes of friendship, love, corruption, murder, and, a happily ever after.

           

Why You Should Consider Majoring in English

It is hard to believe that the end of the semester is quickly approaching. The conclusion of this academic period provides a time to reflect on different aspects of your semester, such as your major. If you feel that your current major is not the best fit for you, I encourage you to consider majoring English, as it teaches and enhances many skills and values that are applicable to any career field.

Majoring in English presents an opportunity to develop and strengthen one’s confidence as a writer, speaker, and creator. The variety of courses that are offered within the major here at Millersville present an opportunity to practice and master necessary skills such as writing, analysis, critical thinking, and intensive reading. The lessons, skills, and values that are presented within each course are a jumping-off point for a career in a variety of disciplines, such as teaching, law, or public relations. Communication and collaboration are two skills that are interwoven within almost every career field. English majors are sought out after graduation as new hires because of their understanding of these skills. A study reported by CBS found that English majors are more wanted by employers than business majors. The study states “students in these majors (like business) may not be learning communication and critical thinking skills, which means they may lack the writing and reasoning abilities that employers want in new hires” (Picchi). This statement shows how valuable the skills learned within the major are in post-graduate career options, and how majoring in English provides the same, if not more, employment opportunities.

If you have an interest in pursuing a major in English, know that your involvement within the major allows for a strengthening of collaboration, communication, and critical thinking skills, all of which and many more can be applied to any career you choose after college.

The Benefits of Journaling

In most of the courses offered here at Millersville, writing is almost always an important component of the class. Whether it be an English course or not, students are usually expected to write a paper, essay, or discussion post on a semi-frequent basis. Associating writing with these academic assignments can deter one from wanting to write for fun, as it has now become work rather than an activity. Although there are many options to channel writing in a more creative way, one of my favorites is journaling. Journaling comes in a variety of forms, and can be as personal or as organizational as you would like it to be.

There are many mental health benefits to journaling, which can be helpful to cope with the stress that comes with the end of the semester. It has been scientifically proven that journaling can reduce anxiety with continued use. Along with this benefit, it can also help with awareness, regulation of emotions, and encourages one to open up, which can help with emotional healing.

Now that you know the benefits to journaling, here are a few tips on how to get started. The first is to keep it simple- try journaling for a few minutes each day, and add on more time if you enjoy it. Pick a day or time in the week that works best for you, such as right before you go to sleep. The most important tip for journaling is that there is no set structure or rules. Do whatever you want to express yourself, write as much or as little you like, and customize your journal to fit your needs.

There are many different types of journaling that you could try to see which is the best fit for you. One of the most popular is reflective journaling, which is what probably comes to mind when you think about this type of writing. This type allows your journal to become a private place to reflect on your life and process emotions and experiences. Reflective journaling can seem overwhelming when you have a lot to write about, so it may be helpful to find some online prompts to help guide your journey. However, if you want a space where you can freely transfer the thoughts in your mind onto the page, stream of consciousness journaling may be a better option for you. If you’re looking for a more organized approach, bullet journaling is a great option. Using a grid pattern rather than a blank page as base, bullet journaling uses creative and organized layouts that combine several uses of journaling is a systematic way. It can be used as a daily dairy, a calendar, mood tracker, task manager, and place to reflect all at the same time. Having a specific intention for your journaling is something that is gaining in popularity, as seen in the rise of gratitude journaling. This type of journaling allows for a space to document everything you are grateful for, which is a great place to go back to when you are feeling down.

There are many more types of journaling other than the few I have highlighted here. If this blog piqued any interest for you, I encourage you to try as many as you like to find the best fit for you!

English Classes to Take Next Semester

Registration for the Spring semester is right around the corner, and deciding which classes to take may be more frustrating than waking up at 6am to sign up for them. This upcoming Spring, the English department is offering four upper level English classes. Keep reading to see if any of these interesting courses would be a perfect fit for your schedule next semester. 

English 483- Politics, Film, and Media 

This film course taught by Dr. Craven is to take place on Mondays from 6 to 9pm. Politics, Film, and Media explores how power and privilege intersect in the political realms through the lens of film. Some of the films that will be viewed and discussed within this course include On the Waterfront, The Life and Times of Harvey Milk, I am not your Negro, Isla das Flores, and Casablanca. This course also fills the Perspectives requirement. 

English 430- Ethnic American Lit Since 1954 

This online literature course fulfills the perspectives requirement, as it examines the ways in which prose writers, playwrights, and poets from the so-called “ethnic minority” groups question viewpoints that traditionally define American culture and history. Taught by Dr. Jakubiak, this course will  analyze how these writers use literature to acknowledge difficult historical experiences of American minorities and to show that these experiences contrast with traditional and celebratory views of American culture, condensed in the idea of the “American dream.” This approach will help students understand  what the “American dream” looks like from the perspective of Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans etc. Some readings featured in the course include  Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Luis Valdes’s Zoot Suit, and John Okada’s No-no Boy. 

English 411- Romanticism 

This literary course taught by Dr. Mondello will be offered each Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 4:15pm. The Romantic era of poetry and literature is identifiable with its themes of nature, emotion, and individuality. These themes and more will be explored and discussed through reading works by poetic greats such as Wordworth, Coolridge, Shelley, Blake, and many more. 

English 336- New Dimensions to World Literature 

This course, taught by Dr. Jakubiak each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11-11:50, will explore the issues of representation and power in selected works of non-Western literature written in the 20th and 21st centuries. The leading theme of the  course is the call from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s well-known TED talk lecture “The Danger of a Single Story.” Through novels, short stories, and plays coming from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, students  will consider the “dangers” of interpreting cultures, traditions, spiritual beliefs, and political systems using a single lens, and  will discuss the value as well as limitations of seeking multiple perspectives. For example, the novel I, Tituba, the Black Witch of Salem  by the Guadeloupian writer Maryse Condé will allow students to imagine the unbiased story of Tituba from the Salem witch trials, while Home Fire by the Pakistani-British writer Kamila Shamsie will be an introduction  to the dilemmas of young Muslims in contemporary London.

Attending A Book-Talk Event

On Wednesday, October 12th two professors within the English department here at Millersville hosted a book-talk event centered around the graphic novel Everything is an Emergency by Jason Adam Katzenstein. These book-talk events are a series that occur each semester and are based upon the concepts of bibliotherapy, which is an expressive arts modality. Although it is not therapy, it is also not a typical book club, as it draws from the book and incorporates messages and themes in discussions centered around personal, professional, and developmental growth.

Although I’m a graduate student at Millersville, this was my first time going to a book-talk event, and I deeply regret not going to more in my undergrad years. At this particular book-talk, the author of the graphic novel was in attendance, and was so inviting of any and all questions we had about his novel. Katzenstein’s book Everything is an Emergency is centered around his journey with OCD, as he recounts different events and moments in his life that have both positively and negatively impacted his mental health. Both the book’s content and the presence of the author allowed for some interesting questions and discussions, such as “what was it like to write about your mental health” and “how much control did you have over the editing a publishing process.” The most unique and unexpected aspect of the book-talk was the sense of community and understanding that was built within the two-hour zoom call. Everyone who was in attendance, including professors, graduate students, and undergrad students all seemed to connect through the discussions which made for a lively event.

There is one more opportunity to participate in the book-talk event for Everything is an Emergency on November 2nd, from 5-7pm on zoom. For more information, follow the link below to register for the event: https://www.millersville.edu/learninginstitute/book-talk-series.php.

Fall Break Reflection

Fall break has finally arrived here at Millersville,  giving students and faculty some well-deserved time off. Before these few days of relaxation begin, I encourage you to reflect on your semester so far. This break provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge the halfway point in the term. Looking back on the last seven weeks can help enhance the rest of your semester, as understanding what is creating a positive or negative impact can help alter the remainder of year for the better.

Within your reflection, there are no certain aspects that you must consider, as this should be tailored personally for you. It can be overwhelming thinking of everything at once, so some areas I would recommend include academics, social life, and your emotions. College can be filled with stress, drama, and anxiety that can become incredibly overwhelming when not addressed. Reflecting on these different aspects of collegiate life provides a safe space to understand how each of these areas positively or negatively effects your life. There are many different mediums to complete your reflection, such as using a journal, using the notes app in your phone, or creating a digital diary in google docs or word. If you have not done a reflection before, one of the most challenging aspects is thinking of different questions to ask yourself. To help start your potential reflection, I have created some questions in each of the areas previously mentioned that you could potentially consider.

Academics

  1. Do you like your grade in each of your classes? If not, how could you improve it?
  2. Are you enjoying the classes specifically for your major?
  3. What is your favorite class this semester?

Social Life

  1. Do you enjoy living with your roommates?
  2. How do you feel about your relationships with the people closest to you?
  3. Are there any clubs you would like join next semester?

Emotions

  1. What about college stresses you out the most?
  2. On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel on average each day?
  3. What are some healthy ways to process and cope with your feelings?

How to Study for Your English Classes

It’s hard to believe that it is already week 6 in the semester, and with midterms just around the corner, its good to have a refresher on how to study for certain classes. English courses can be difficult to study for, as they are structured around discussion and text rather than PowerPoints and lectures. However, one you identify the type of assignment and its requirements, it is easy to create study guides, reading guides, and drafts that can make midterms week less stressful.

Literature

If your class includes a novel or some type of literature, such as poems and short stories, it is beneficial to create a reading guide that you can reference. In this reading guide, I would recommend including a list of the characters names, major plot points, different themes, symbols, and other notable aspects. One such notable aspect includes different quotations from the text, as these can be used as evidence to support your claims in an essay or a paper. In addition to these aspects featured exclusively in the text, you should add your class notes that discuss more topics in-depth, as these can strengthen your writing and display your knowledge on the topic.

If your course is centered around a specific type of literature, such as American or World, a study guide may be more helpful than a reading guide. These courses usually feature short stories and poems that can encompass a range of writers and themes that are easy to mix up. I recommend organizing the study guide in chronological order of when you learned this information in class. Include the writers name at the top in bold and write a small blurb about their biography under their name, as it will help you remember who they are by their distinct achievements. Then, write out all the titles by this author that you have covered in class in bold. Underneath each, include your class notes that cover different notable aspects of the text, including themes, symbols, and important quotes. Differentiating each author will create less confusion while studying and allow for you to review the information in a more organized manner.

Writing

If you are taking a writing course this semester, you most likely won’t be taking a test, but rather writing a paper instead for your midterm grade. Below I have included some tips on how to organize and pace your writing as to avoid stress while crafting your paper.

  1. Brainstorm different topics or ideas that can be further expanded upon in the body of your paper. This can be done by creating a web, with your main topic in the center and smaller branches with sub-topics coming off of it.
  2. Once you have decided what you want to write about, start researching for the information you will need. Most classes require academic sources, so I would suggest going to the library’s English resources page https://library.millersville.edu/literature to find some sources and information.
  3. Once you have gathered and read through all the information, it is time to draft. Your first draft does not need to perfect at all, so write anything you want just to get it on the page.
  4. After you draft, let it sit for a few days and then look at it again with fresh eyes. Start to revise anything you feel is necessary, and make sure to keep an eye on grammatical, spelling, and structural errors. Also focus on the flow of the paper, as smooth transitions throughout will greatly enhance the readers experience.
  5. Once you have your final draft, ask a peer or classmate to look over it for you. Their eyes may pick up something that you did not notice.
  6. When you feel you paper is the best it can be, submit it and treat yourself to something for all of your hard work!

 

Calling All Poets!

Does a beautiful day move you to write about the nature that surrounds you? Do you find that writing about your emotions helps to relieve them? Have you ever felt the urge rhyme within a verse or a line? If you said yes to any of these scenarios, you may just be a poet!

The American Academy of Poets is hosting their annual student poetry contest, and both undergraduate and graduate students at Millersville are encouraged to apply. This is a great opportunity to showcase your poetic talents, along with the opportunity to strengthen your work and potentially become published. To enter, you must submit up to three of your own poems to Dr. Farkas. The way to submit your entry is by emailing her at kerrie.farkas@millerville.edu with the subject line Poetry Contest. Remember to include your name, MU number, and email address with the email; however, do not include your name or identifying information in the poems. The deadline for the event is Friday, March 3rd, 2023. The prizes for winning the contest include $100, a year membership in the academy of poets, your poem published on www.poets.org, and listed in the Academy’s annual report. If you have any questions, contact Kerrie Farkas at kerrie.farkas@millersville.edu or 717-871-7399. Best of luck to all those entering!

The Fiction Section in McNairy that you Need to Check Out

Autumn has finally arrived here at Millersville, and along with the crisp air and longer nights comes the opportunity to participate in more fall activities. This includes the likes of visiting a pumpkin patch, watching scary movies, and enjoying a delicious cup of apple cider. One of my favorite fall activities is cozying up with a good book and losing myself within its pages. Luckily, one librarian here at Millersville has created a fiction section with McNairy library that is perfect for these autumnal days.

This week I had a chance to speak with Kimberly Auger, the librarian who put this collection together. Her inspiration for creating the fiction display came from her previous employment at West Chester University. “While I was working at West Chester, I saw how much interest the popular fiction section generated, as both students and faculty would browse the selection” she describes. Auger explains that at most university’s libraries there is no allowance for browsing, as in academic research students already have an idea of what they are looking for. By creating this fiction display, Auger hoped to showcase a different perspective of reading, one that encourages students to read for their own pleasure. “I wanted students to enjoy the relaxation of reading, something that comes by briefly disengaging with reality” she explains. The fiction display allows students to take their time and browse, taking in each book cover and description to find the perfect book for them. Each of the books that were carefully curated for this fiction section feature popular authors and works from the last ten years. This display will be available until the end May, so make sure to visit and enjoy while you can!

Must-Reads for Undergraduates

Preparations for family weekend are in full swing here at Millersville, as it is an exciting time for parents and students to reunite on campus. While spending time with parents on campus, it is easy to reflect on what their college days might have been like. What songs were popular at the time, how often did they oversleep for their 8am, and what did they do for fun are all questions that may come to mind. Although much has changed between their college years and now, there are a few things that never go out of trend. One classic that will always remain is the need for a good book recommendation. This month, I asked two professors in the English department which books they would recommend undergraduate students should read in their college years. Their responses reflect different ways to be successful in college in ways that students might not expect.

Dr. Pfannenstiel recommends Everything is an Emergency by Jason Adam Katzenstein. “This is a graphic novel that works through coming to terms with mental health” she explains. This novel “supports readers coming to terms with mental health, and shedding light on a variety of OCD tendencies.” College is a fantastic time to find yourself; however, you may discover parts of yourself that can be overwhelming to cope with. Katzenstein’s novel reminds us of the message that you are not alone, and it is always more than okay to ask for help. This novel is featured in this semester’s “Book Talk” series presented by Dr. Pfannenstiel, Dr. Baldys, and Michele Santamaria. The discussion of the novel will take place on Wednesday, September 21st, October 12th, and November 2nd. If you are interested in this novel and would like to participate in the Book Talk series, follow this link for more information. https://millersvilleuniversity.sharepoint.com/sites/villedaily/SitePages/Book-Talk-Series-featuring-Everything-is-an-Emergency-by-Jason-Katzenstein-09-08-2022.aspx?CT=1663176045975&OR=OWA-NT&CID=fc5b33f0-775b-731d-102b-6ae92dea08a1

Dr. Mando recommends that undergrads read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. He provides a brief summary of the nonfiction novel, stating that the “subject matter is immense.” “On one page she dives deeply into the soil to explore the fecundity of macroinvertebrates” Dr. Mando explains, “on the next she’s in the stars floating through realms of philosophy and spirituality searching for the present moment.” This vivid depiction of this nonfiction narrative showcases how it covers many different areas, but you may be wondering why this was recommended for under grad students. “Dillard is a close observer, a researcher, a teacher, and an explorer; these are all important traits of students.” Pilgrim at Tinker Creek encourages students to explore the traits Dillard presents throughout her novel, and inspires us to take a closer look into the smaller details of life.