Michael Albright, Ph.D. graduated from Millersville University in 2006. Read more about his professional journey after his undergraduate experience below!
When I began my undergraduate career at Millersville, I had intended to graduate with a BSE in English to become a high school teacher. Four years later in 2006, I graduated with my BSE, a BA in English, and a minor in French.
Millersville occupies a special place for me professionally and personally. Not only did I learn the craft of teaching, but also I benefited from the wisdom and dedication of dedicated scholars in literature, English education, and linguistics. I thrived in the classroom as a student and knew that in order to be a successful teacher, I had much more to learn in my discipline.
In 2006, I began my graduate career at Lehigh University in Bethlehem where I obtained both my MA and Ph.D. My dissertation focused on the dramatic representation of schoolmasters in Early Modern English drama, and I considered how their staging reflected or shaped emergent conceptions of professionalization.
Throughout my seven years at Lehigh, I was able to remain in the classroom as a teacher of composition, and I also began tutoring in the Writing Center. I knew that teaching would always be a priority for me professionally, so I actively sought opportunities to work with students during the academic year and in the summers.
Because the job market in higher education took a hit during my time at Lehigh, I made it a point to keep my PA certification in secondary education current. I also applied widely to public and independent schools, eventually securing a position as a teacher of concurrent enrollment English in rural Virginia. This opportunity led to a two-year stint as a concurrent enrollment teacher at a public residential STEM school in South Carolina.
In 2016, I made the move to higher education. I am now in my fourth year of a tenure-track assistant professorship at Southwest Minnesota State University. I am primarily responsible for working within our University’s concurrent enrollment program called College Now, and I support about twenty different high school teachers per semester. In addition, I serve on various committees, teach on campus and online when asked, and engage in research.
I would not find myself where I am today had I not kept an open mind about teaching in different settings or roles. As an undergrad, I had no idea about concurrent enrollment, yet I always knew that I wanted to occupy a place in secondary or higher education. Now, I enjoy the best of both worlds.
Millersville’s dedication to teacher training and its commitment to staffing classes with professors provided me a strong professional and scholarly background that has supported a host of exciting career moves.
Growing up, this was a question I encountered often, especially since, as family legend would have it, I spent much of my time in two pursuits: either burying my nose in a book or, pen in hand, being lost while creating my own. There was never a question – my heart belonged to stories: reading them, watching them, telling them.
Entering Millersville as an undergraduate, I was excited to study with dedicated scholars and cultivate a diverse skill set – which is exactly what I did. My critical thinking and writing skills – really, the way I viewed the world – were shaped by a variety of literature, writing, and journalism classes. I especially appreciated how classroom discussions and activities included situations I would potentially encounter in the professional field. For example, in Dr. Schneller’s technical writing class, our project was to craft a grant proposal to build a local recreational center, and it was a great experience (it was a project that I replicated years later, in my own college classroom).
I was also privileged to experience an internship through Millersville, gaining hands-on experience working for the Journal Register’s collection of weekly newspapers around Lancaster – an internship which eventually lead to a job offer after graduation in 2008.
As the field changed, I altered my course slightly, venturing into freelance journalism, eventually writing for a number of publications, including the York Daily Record and Lancaster County Woman, where I am still a senior member of the writing staff. Thanks to the confidence instilled in me by my Millersville education, I also was able to successfully undertake a variety of other writing projects, including grant writing, producing digital content, and copy editing.
In 2010, I returned to Millersville as an English graduate student because I knew the quality of the education I would receive there, and even as I was building a diverse professional profile, I was looking to expand into higher education. Again, I consider myself fortunate to be exposed to different kinds of literature, cultivating a broader understanding of world and how literature, film, and writing contribute to greater conversations. During my graduate degree, I was also privileged to work in the English office as a graduate assistant, honing my ability to teach through the guidance of experienced mentors – I consulted with students on writing assignments, discussed their experiences with literature, and even served as a Graduate Student Advisor to the re-launch of the then-named George Street Carnival. In the spring of 2012, I was delighted to defend my MA thesis and receive the distinction of Honors.
After finishing my MA, I began adjunct teaching at a number of area of institutions, including Harrisburg Area Community College, Baltimore City Community College, University of Baltimore, and York College, striving to emulate the strong guidance I received in my own education. In 2014, I opted to pursue my PhD and entered Temple University, where I am presently revising my dissertation focused on reading trauma in the literature of marginalized populations. While enhancing my academic profile, I have continued to build a professional writing profile, contributing my efforts to projects I believe in.
For me, the education I received at Millersville has been instrumental in helping me grow both personally and professionally. I cherish my experiences there and still use the lessons I learned to be more effective as a writer and instructor.
Thanks to Millersville and the MU English department, when faced with the question, “What can you do with an English degree?” I can answer confidently, “Everything.”
The spring, Professor Shaun Karli taught Reading Our World: Masculinity in English. Today, Professor Karli reviewed the course and some of the history of Masculinity Studies for Women & Gender Studies students and faculty. The following is commentary about the course, by student Jacob Dickens.
Every so often, I like to talk to my friend in Canada through the chatting app Discord about our favorite shows, YouTube videos we both love (we will send everything related to the artist Jack Stauber to each other, it’s a problem), and our personal lives. When I talked to him about my remaining classes before the semester’s end, I mentioned that I was enrolled in the class Reading Our World: Masculinity, an English class that explored different facets of masculinity through various short stories, plays, and books. He sort of scoffed at it and said, “I’m sure it’s a good class and all, but it just seems weird”. He wasn’t the only person to show hesitation about the class. Other people in the class talked about their friends acting incredulous when the class was mentioned, as if the idea of studying what our culture expects men to be is ridiculous or unnecessary. But to those people I say that this class was not only fascinating, but something that every student should consider attending when it becomes available.
The class was structured in a typical English format: a reading due and a discussion in class. But the discussions themselves felt loose enough that we were free to discuss whatever facets of masculinity we were interested in. In a recent class, a presentation on masculinity in American Beauty lead to a nearly hour-long discussion of masculinity in the Star Wars series (including about 15 minutes of explaining the premise of the series to classmates who hadn’t seen it). The class was also structured to discuss intersectional masculinity, the idea of men’s expectations overlapping in their race and class. For instance, the way that Troy in August Wilson’s “Fences” expresses his masculinity as a working-class black man is very different from how Yunior would in Junot Diaz’s “Drown” as a lower-class Dominican teenager. After a few classes, it was as if our class had developed its own language, discussing “breadwinner dynamics” and “hegemonic masculinity”.
Ultimately, the class showed me the various societal pressures we place on boys and men to assimilate as the “ideal man” and how ultimately destructive it can be. In America, the ideal man that is presented to us in the media continues to be one that isn’t vulnerable emotionally, that views women as a prize or a sex object, that exercises power by dominating over his colleagues or enemies. These are the idealized images of men and masculinity and they have been for decades. And these images reflect back into what we expect of men in our culture. A 2019 Pew Research survey found that more than eight in ten men nationwide say they face pressure to be “emotionally strong”. This bottling of emotions can be damaging to many men and provide them with little or no nonviolent outlets that are seen as acceptably masculine. It’s worth examining other, more positive ways to encourage boys and men to accept that they can forge their own paths in their masculinity and shouldn’t feel burdened having to match societal standards. You don’t have to be sexually active to be masculine. You don’t have to be violent to be masculine. You can be masculine and feel vulnerable and scared. It’s worth looking at these in an academic sense to fully understand these pressures through a wide variety of lenses and so I end by encouraging everyone to not only look into what they think a man should be or look like but why they think that. It’s worth doing so the men in our community and abroad don’t feel so tied down by this intangible idea of men.
I am a (proud) Millersville University English Major grad turned political wonk both by trade and on the side. I currently serve as Creative Director for the PA Senate Democratic caucus so I get to oversee all visual communications for the 21 Democratic Senators in PA. I absolutely love my job because it’s the perfect blend of writing, creativity, strategy, emotion, politics and persuasion.
But before I landed this dream job, I started in the ad agency industry and side hustled in politics. I became interested in politics during the 2004 Bush-Kerry presidential election. I was a newly-registered voter who grew up in a mostly republican area and happened to be majoring in English and surrounded by smart, critically thinking and compassionate students and professors. I felt like my world was still being shaped and I was taking it all in. I was so fascinated by everyone’s passion as I hadn’t felt the direct impact of legislation and politics in my life (or hadn’t recognized it yet). So I started having uncomfortable conversations about things I wasn’t too familiar with and tried to soak it all in. I quickly learned which side the aisle I was on regarding many issues that were important to me – access to education and healthcare, women’s rights, voting access, preserving our environment and solving the world’s social injustices.
So as I finished school, I dove deeper into candidates, supporting people running for office and learning the issues. I then studied abroad in London where I fell in love with the protest and ‘resist’ culture. I felt so at home – even thousands of miles away. I was able to bring that energy back to the states and after college decided to volunteer for OFA (Obama For America) 2008. That experience changed me forever! I haven’t looked back since.
Once I got familiar with the political landscape, I quickly realized that I had an interest in running for office. The fact that a woman’s presence was lacking in many races and on many boards and committees bothered me. I knew I could do a job just as well as a man. And I knew I had the skills to run a good campaign so I ran for Township Commissioner in 2015, unsuccessfully. I have no regrets and learned so much from that experience. I then started working for the PA Senate where the desire to be a public servant is only ignited even more on a daily basis. I took some “political” time off when I had my second son and am now diving back in to the campaign world and taking another crack at the Township Commissioner position.
In addition, I serve as a Committeewoman for my township for the Dauphin County Democratic Committee. That’s a great way to get involved initially. I have also been very active with campaign volunteering and am emotionally gearing up for a Democratic Primary and ultimately the most important election of my lifetime – 2020 Presidential. I am so grateful for my time at Millersville – I can genuinely say that I often use the skills and tools from MU in my daily life. The confidence I have comes from public speaking classes. My writing experience helps me tremendously. My British Lit classes help me stay cool with the young kids (kidding!) and my study abroad experience is one of the greatest memories that I have and helped me become a fearless and independent person!
My advice to anyone interested in getting involved in politics is to begin with volunteering. Learn about candidates and issues and reach out to their campaign offices. No one will turn away a volunteer. You will meet people, learn and the opportunities will naturally come. If you have a desire to run for office, start with your County party. They will be able to walk you through the process start to finish and can also offer guidance and training.
“But I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is,
that they will take their feet from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright…”
Dr. Jude V. Nixon has enjoyed more than 35 years as a college professor and administrator. His teaching and research interests include Victorian literature and culture and Caribbean literature. Dr. Nixon holds a PhD in 18th-20th century British Literature, and he has taught at universities (small, regional, comprehensive, doctoral, research, private, and public) in Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan, and Massachusetts, where he currently teaches and resides. Read about his newest work on The Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins: Editing G. M. Hopkins.
At the Hopkins International Conference at Oriel College, Oxford, in 2004, Oxford University Press charged six Hopkins scholars with undertaking the challenging task of bringing out a new Collected Works of Gerard Manley Hopkins in 8 volumes to replace the five-volume extant edition. It has been over fifty years since the five-volume edition of Hopkins’s non-poetic texts was published: The Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins to Robert Bridges; The Correspondence of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Richard Watson Dixon; Further Letters of Gerard Manley Hopkins including his Correspondence with Coventry Patmore (edited by Claude Abbott), Journals and Papers (edited by Humphry House); Sermons and Devotional Writing (edited by Christopher Devlin). The poetry has been republished in various forms and in edited collections. Although the edition served specialists and Victorian scholars adequately, it has long been out of print, is outdated editorially and annotatively, lacks primary materials recovered in the last four decades, and do not benefit from the last five decades of wide-ranging original scholarship on Hopkins. In addition to Higgins and Suarez, the team includes Cathy Phillips, Kelsey Thornton, Philip Endean (replaced by Noel Barber), and Jude V. Nixon.
The Collected Works will correct textual errors, restore censored materials, add a substantial amount of important primary texts, include a biographical register of notable figures, and provide new introductions, chronologies, and annotations that set Hopkins’s varied writings within their nineteenth-century literary and cultural contexts. These volumes will not only change Hopkins studies for the next generation, but will also help scholars to revise substantially our knowledge of Victorian poetry, art theory, education history, social studies, and cross-disciplinary studies.
This new edition, appearing when Hopkins’s position in the literary canon has become secure, presents his religious prose differently and free from the scrutiny of Jesuit censors: as raw material expressive of personal struggle. Sermons includes materials that have not been seen since Hopkins’s death, particularly notes from scriptural lectures he attended as an Oxford undergraduate; vows made in the Society of Jesus; and private meditations written during his Dublin years. Expanded historical and theological commentary are provided throughout the volume. This new treatment is mediated through new annotations to the sermons and spiritual writings, new chronologies that show the complexities of Hopkins’s ministry, and new introductions that set the spiritual writings within a Catholic, Jesuitical, and parochial context. The general introduction to Hopkins’s religious prose attempts four things: it outlines the tensions between Hopkins’s vision and the theology in which he had been trained, clarifies the relationship between Hopkins’s originality and wider Christian tradition, notably Duns Scotus and Ignatius Loyola, draws attention to the differences between the historical cultures of Victorian Catholicism and the early 21st century, in the hope of encouraging a more precise understanding of Hopkins’s creativity, and explores the interplay between Hopkins’s faith and readers who, if they believe in Christianity at all, necessarily believe in it differently from him. As well, the volume sets everything within the larger Victorian context in which they are embedded. What has come as a surprise to us is how tied Hopkins’s sermons are to the current issues of the day locally and geo-politically
Sermons and Spiritual Writings will be essential for understanding Hopkins the priest-poet, for investigating the impact of his Jesuit identity and training on his habits of mind, and for determining the relationship between his pastoral practices and private devotions. There has been in place a standard, almost orthodox, way of reading Hopkins’s ministry founded on partial and piecemeal historical evidence, which has been followed lockstep by critics and biographers. That evidence, slight though it is, has often been deployed to support that theory of reading. What we are offering here are not so much new ways to counter that tradition of reading, to radically alter it, as to problematize that reading by providing hitherto unknown historiographic, biographical, and cultural aspects of Hopkins’s priestly ministry. The tradition of reading has presented Hopkins largely on the sidelines of his parish ministry, as a spectator ill adapted and poorly equipped for ministry. Our evidence reveals the contrary, showing him as a priest who was part of a team digging in and doing the work of parish ministry. That work, when considered fully, was strikingly successful. Perhaps not so successful might be Hopkins’s at times relatively discrete roles if judged only by his sermons. But what we don’t have is the ability to compare them with those of his fellow-Jesuits and the presumably successful ones, which are not extant. Finally, Hopkins’s theology shapes his poems in ways not sufficiently recognized.
We anticipate completion of The Collected Works in 2020, with the release of The Poems. Reviews of the volumes thus far have been favourable. Helen Vendler, for example, reviewing the Correspondence in the Times Review of Books (London), writes: “A marked narrative of intellectual and personal engagement arises as one letter follows another, and as the correspondences with poets come and go like eddies in the flow of mail.” Another critic, reviewing The Dublin Notebook, applauds the work of the editors: “Profs. Higgins and Suarez, both experienced editors, have completed this major editorial project with great distinction: they have provided a generous fifty-six page introduction, full editorial notes, 117 pages of facsimiles and transcriptions, explanatory and textual notes, the nine appendices, a biographical register of the names Hopkins most frequently cites, and a comprehensive bibliography.” It will be intriguing to observe public reception of the volumes and estimation of their scholarly value.
Finally, The Collected Works will make the leap from bound books to e-books as part of Oxford Scholarly Editions On-Line (OSEO— http://www.oxfordscholarlyeditions.com/page/2/about). The project has been developing its lists chronologically; the first 19th-century rollout began in spring 2016. The Collected Works volumes published thus far will be part of the next tranche, and the remaining volumes will be added as they become available.
Within the past year, Millersville alum Matt Zeller published a novel he began working on during his time at MU entitled The Edelion: Deliverance. This is the first book in a series of four.
From the back flap:
The underworld of society is not for the faint of heart. Nobles spit on you, the city watch beats you, and the general public treats you like a disease. To live in this cold and dark life, one must fight for survival every day. Many turn to theft by means of cruelty and murder, but there are some that approach this career through cunning, guile, and skill. It is through this lifestyle that we find a young boy known only as Harth, striving to make a life for himself and gain fame and fortune under the infamous banner of the Thieves Guild.
Upon passing the first test, Harth is instructed to find his way to the City of Thieves; however, he discovers a world far more dangerous than he could have ever imagined. Along his journey to the City of Thieves, evil creatures and minions of a long-forgotten power lurk in the shadows, tracking his movements for reasons unknown to him. It all seems coincidental to Harth, but the fluctuations of a sleeping magic within him suggest otherwise. Harth is left frightened and confused as his injuries pile up and his courage wanes, but the not-so-random people he meets along the way keep him pushing forward. Despite all the near-death situations, Harth finds his way to the City of Thieves to secure his place among the most infamous thieves in the world. But are his adventures complete? His goals met? Or have they only just begun now that a once-slumbering evil creeps back into the land, hungry for destruction?
Matt worked closely with Dr. Tim Miller on the early drafts of the novel when he was an undergraduate student. We are so very proud of the publications that emerge from the creativity of Millersville students.
Millersville students get published! If you’ve recently found yourself a published author, let us know by contacting Rachel Hicks with your story.
Alexander L. Kaufman graduated from Millersville University in 1999 with a Bachelors of Science in Education (BSE) in English and also in Social Studies. He is originally from Glenside, Pennsylvania, where he graduated from Springfield Township High School in Montgomery County. As an undergraduate at Millersville, he enjoyed the intersections of history and literature, from the Middle Ages to the present day. While at Millersville, Alex forged close professional bonds with a number of faculty members in the English and History Departments. These unofficial mentorships instilled within him the importance of research, scholarship, collaboration, and professionalization. He realized that if he wanted to attend graduate school and teach at the college level, then he would need to go beyond the minimum requirements within each syllabus, especially in his upper-level literature and history courses, and to concentrate on these four critical areas of intellectual and personal growth.
After graduating from Millersville, Alex earned an MA in English in 2001 and then a Ph.D. in English in 2006, both from Purdue University. His doctoral studies focused on Middle English Language and Literature, and he had two secondary concentrations: Old English Language and Literature, and History of the English Language. His love of literature and the historical record greatly informed his studies and research in late medieval English literature and historical writings. While at Purdue, he continued to explore new areas of scholarship. While people in the corporate world often speak of the importance of “networking,” Alex understood that those in academia must also network in order to learn and grow as scholars and professionals. Alex gave his first professional presentation while an undergraduate at Millersville, and he soon learned as a graduate student that attending and presenting at national and international conferences is an excellent way to learn, receive feedback on one’s work, meet new colleagues, and initiate collaborative research projects.
After Purdue, Alex accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professor position of English at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama. He would spend eleven years at AUM, where he eventually earned the rank of full professor. He also continued his collaboration and mentoring, both with students and colleagues, where he served as the Coordinator for the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies program for a number of years and also as Chair of the Department of English and Philosophy.
In January 2018, Alex returned to Indiana. He is now the Reed D. Voran Distinguished Professor of Humanities and Professor of English at Ball State University where he teaches in the Honors College. Alex really enjoys teaching, and some of his classes include outlaws from the medieval period to the present day, the Robin Hood tradition, historical writing and medieval chronicles, Chaucer, Arthurian literature and film, and medievalisms.
What year did you graduate from Millersville? What was your major? Were you involved in any clubs?
I graduated from Millersville University in May 2017. My major was English Secondary Education. I was involved in many clubs during my time at Millersville. Those clubs included: The University Activities Board, Millersville Women’s Choir (Public Relations Officer), Intermural Sports and National Society of Leadership/Success.
What have you been doing since graduation?
Since graduating in May, I have had two teaching experiences. I was lucky enough to be hired right after graduation as a long-term substitute at Souderton Area High School. In January, I recently started a new job at Wissahickon High School where I am teaching ninth grade English until the end of the year.
My most proud accomplishment since graduation was publishing my poetry collection “Overthought Thoughts of a 21-Year-Old.” After working on writing and formatting my book the past year, I finally published it in August, 2017. The past seven months have been focused around promoting my book. Millersville has been incredibly supportive of my new book. My English professors, especially Dr. Corkery and Dr. Archibald, have been extremely kind and helpful in allowing me to speak to a creative writing class at Millersville about how English majors can get their work published.
How long have you been writing poetry? Is there a specific medium you like to write in?
I have been writing poetry for about two years. I was inspired by Rupi Kaur and her prose poetry collection Milk and Honey. I like to write my poems in prose. I think the natural and organic flow of my poems is what makes them relatable. I have never been a fan of structure when it comes to poetry. For me, my poems have always been about being natural and flowing as a stream of consciousness.
One thing I noticed in Overthought Thoughts was your use of font. Can you speak more to this?
Great question! I chose to have my poems written in different font types because it makes each poem unique. To me, each poem has their own personality. I wanted the font to portray the poems as individuals and convey the emotions I was feeling during the time of writing.
When was the moment you knew you wanted to put together a collection of poems? Or have you always wanted to?
The moment I knew was during my senior year at Millersville. I was not in the best place in my life. I was sad, depressed and nervous for my future. I was writing poems in my journal and, as I reflected on them, I realized a lot of my friends were feeling the same way. I knew I had to publish my thoughts because it could help others. I knew so many people feeling the same way and it felt selfish to keep these thoughts to myself when people I loved could benefit from knowing that they are not alone.
What were the logistics of becoming published? How did you know self-publishing was the right path for your collection?
My senior year, I was doing lots of research and was in contact with publishing companies from all around the country. The reoccurring theme that I noticed was that by signing to a publishing company, I would be giving away my control and rights to my writing. It didn’t feel authentic to do this. My poems are my most personal thoughts and I wanted to have complete control of them. I did not want to sign them away to anyone else. Also, the companies I was talking to were asking lots of money from me. Therefore, self-publishing seemed like the best way to keep control of my poems. I am so happy that I chose to use Createspace to publish my poems. They work directly with Amazon to distribute to individuals and to bigger companies.
What are the differences between self-publishing and working with a publisher?
The major difference is the control of your writing. Working with a publisher means you will not have as much control over your poems. Self-publishing allows me to have control over what my cover looks like and how I format my book. The only downfall to self-publishing is that I have to market my book independently. I do not have a company that will promote my book for me. This makes getting my book out there to others more difficult. I have to put in a lot more effort to just be heard of. However, I truly believe that this was the right choice for my first book.
What are your plans for the future? More writing?
I definitely plan to write more in the future! I am already working on more poems for my next book. I plan to have multiple poetry collections. The next book will be called “Overthought Thoughts of a 23-Year-Old.” Keep an eye out!