Thesis Defense for Katherine Ingaglio

The English and World Languages Department is pleased to announce the defense of Katherine Ingaglio, finishing her M.Ed. in English. This defense is the last step of a lengthy independent research process. Graduate students work closely with the chair of their committee to add to existing scholarly conversations in a variety of fields within English and World Languages.  

Connecting Games and Literature in the Classroom: The case for Bloodborne and H.P. Lovecraft

Tuesday April 26th at 4:30pm (zoom)


Dr. A. Nicole Pfannenstiel, Chair

Dr. Caleb Corkery

Dr. Justin Mando


All are welcome to attend.

Thesis Defense for Cameron DiSanto

The English and World Languages Department is pleased to announce the defense of Cameron DiSanto, finishing a BA in English.

Transforming the Legacies of Romanticism in Contemporary North American Nature Poetry

Tuesday May 3rd  at 3:30pm in McComsey 253


Dr. Kaitlin Mondello, chair

Dr. Justin Mando

Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel


All are welcome to attend.

English Graduate Students Attend Fulton Theater to see Sweat by Lynn Nottage

By: Hayley Billet 

Dr. Corkery and graduate students from his Spring 2021 Drama class attended a showing of Lynn Nottage’s play Sweat at the Fulton Theater on April 8th. Most of the characters in Sweat are working class people from Reading, Pennsylvania. The plot focuses on the troubles they face when they are laid off from the job they have all worked at for many years.  

By attending the showing of the play that they have read for their class, the students were able to enrich their understanding of the play itself, further enhance their learning from the classroom setting, and experience the play rooted in community. 

This shows the value of experiential learning, a high-impact practice that all students, graduate or undergraduate, should take part in ( The graduate students were able to make real-world connections by viewing a play read in class, on a much larger scale (the Fulton). The graduate students engaged as audience members, at a theater filled with spectators who have personal and impersonal connections to Reading, PA. This community-based experiential learning helped us showcase and apply our interpretations, connections to the community, and our extension of class learning in a very real, community focused way. Students, myself included, also gained experience by organizing this event in coordination with Dr. Corkery.   

After reflecting on the experience, I noticed differences between experiential learning for graduate students and undergraduate students. I experienced the play as a graduate student and community member; I wasn’t just a student identifying the characters and themes of this work, I was sitting in a theater rooted in community values, experiencing the plot and characters alongside Lancaster County community members sharing an interest in telling the stories of our experiences in Pennsylvania communities. I have discovered immense value in experiential learning and invite others to work with our graduate faculty planning future community-based experiential learning events. 

English Graduate Students Attend Lynn Nottage Author Talk Event at the Fulton Theater

By: Jordan Traut

English graduate students Madeleine Bair and Jordan Traut from Millersville University were invited to attend a special author talk with two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer Lynn Nottage at the Fulton Theater in Lancaster City, PA on Sunday April 3rd, 2022. A part of their “IDEA Speaker Series,” Nottage was interviewed before the community by Kevin Ressler, CEO of United Way, about her award-winning play Sweat. Graduate students from ENGL 642 Drama will be attending the show on Friday, April 8th, 2022.  

Pulitzer Prizes are awarded to writers and artists who best tell the stories of Americans. Nottage spoke about her first encounters with storytelling in her Brooklyn home as a child. She would listen to her mother and her mother’s teacher friends laugh and tell stories while she sat at the kitchen table doing her homework in the afternoons. Nottage is always trying to replicate that experience in her work as an adult.  

“There’s something about being in a dialogue [with] people in a room that I have always enjoyed,” she shared with audience members, speaking on her personal experience with the craft of transforming oral storytelling into screenplays for the theater. “The way a story shifts and moves” based on how people respond to it in real-time is the magic of the performing arts and what sets drama apart from other literary pursuits.  

A commission of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Sweat is one of Nottage’s most celebrated plays. It came to life through oral interviews with blue-collar workers in the post-industrial small town of Reading, Pennsylvania, for which the drama is set. Its characters reveal how entire segments of the American population can feel invisible, especially in the working class. The author points out during her interview how the crew can be virtually unseen during a production yet remain the backbone of the theater. She says, “Here we live, going about our lives, not really thinking about our neighbors. Our neighbors who are really struggling and who feel invisible.”  

For Nottage, her work is about intentionally seeing the people that American society does not want to see – the communities we build our highways around and the people we do not give names to. Crediting her “nomadic imagination,” the author explains how she finds the unseen people to tell stories about without exploiting them. “My brain is always looking for a beach that no one has been to before,” like a backpacker is always searching for that remote spot few have ever been to before. Nottage “illuminate[s] those spots that don’t get seen that often.”  

As a Black female writer, there were few mentors who looked like her in the industry. Nottage explains that successful people often are the support systems they wish had supported them in their journey. “I have been the person I wanted to be mentored by,” she says. She expresses her desire to make the theater equally comfortable for everyone in the United States, encouraging non-traditional venues to disrupt the norms of accessibility. Along similar lines, it is critical for the younger generations of all communities to see themselves reflected in the characters in books and on the stage.  

The last piece of wisdom Nottage gave to audience members at the Fulton is to not write to the expectations of anyone else. As a more experienced artist, she says, “I am only in service to myself.”  

Clubs and Organizations

By: Artemis Harris

Millersville offers a variety of options for its students to enrich their educational experience. One such option is the multitude of clubs and organizations available. With so many to choose from, the selection has been narrowed down to a few that fit within the realm of English and World Languages.  

This is by no means an extensive list of clubs and organizations within Millersville or the English and World Languages department. For more information on all clubs and organizations within Millersville, visit the Get Involved home page.  

Although clubs and organizations seem to be geared towards undergraduate students, graduate students will find that they not only align with their interests and majors, but also help to afford them opportunities to utilize what Millersville has to offer more fully. Joining allows graduates to gain leadership/mentorship experience, participate in editing/publishing work, event planning/public relations, and so much more that can be applied to future professional endeavors. 

Clubs that fit within the English and World Languages department: 

Film Club  

The Film Club is dedicated to screening films and discussing the topics presented in them and correlating them to larger social issues. Besides screening films they’ve also participated in events such as screenings at Lancaster’s Zoetropolis, and a few years ago took a trip to the Toronto International Film Festival.  

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Craven  

Executive Board: 

  • President: Molly Dorsey 
  • Vice President: Kayla Gold  
  • Secretary: Chris Herr  
  • Treasurer: Lilly Flynn 

The club holds screenings every Monday at 6pm in SMC 18, where they watch pre-selected films and discuss them. Some upcoming films are as follows:  

  • Monday, April 4 – Interstellar 
  • Monday, April 11 – Mulholland Drive 
  • Monday, April 18 – Time Bandits 
  • Monday, April 25 – The Children’s Hour 
  • Monday, May 2 – Tokyo Godfathers 

If you have any questions or would like to find out more information about the Film Club, you can email Molly Dorsey the current club President at or Kayla Gold the current club Vice President at Visit their Get Involved page to join or contact the club directly.  

The Creative Writers Guild 

The Creative Writers Guild is a space for individuals looking to write in a supportive environment and expand their skills. Their goal is to provide students with an outlet and an audience for their writing (poetry, prose, short stories, etc.). The Creative Writers Guild has a very active presence on their Discord channel where they actively offer advice and help with the creative writing process in all its forms.  

Faculty Advisor: Dr. McCollum-Clark 

Executive Board: 

  • President: Joesph McCarrie  
  • Vice President: Artemis Harris 
  • Secretary: Chanlakena 
  • Treasurer: Amelia Cusanno 

The club meets weekly on Tuesdays at 7:30 virtually and in person (depending on the needs of its members). For the meetings, weekly prompts are provided followed by a voluntary sharing session and a discussion. Writers of all skill levels and concentrations are invited. 

If you have any questions or would like to join The Creative Writers Guild, visit their Get Involved page to contact them directly or join. You can also join them on their Discord Server or follow them on Instagram for updates on upcoming club meetings and events.  

English Club 

The English Club is currently inactive; however, they are working on getting the club up and running. When the club is in full swing, it provides a welcome environment where lovers of verse and manipulators of language can come together to participate in literary activities, field trips, discussions, and more. 

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Corkery 

Executive Board:  

  • President: Kevin Nix 
  • Vice President: Jackson Fogel 
  • Secretary: Natalie Flory 
  • Treasurer: Kayla Gold 

The English Club welcomes majors and non-majors, and they plan to host literary themed field trips, events, movie nights, and more.  

If you have any questions, or would like to join the English Club, visit their Get Involved page to contact them directly.  

George Street Press 

George Street Press is not currently active. When George Street Press is active the organization designs, compiles, and edits an annual, professional journal publication of Millersville University student/faculty writings and visual art. This includes poetry, short prose fiction, drama, stylistic nonfiction, painting, drawing, digital designs, and more.  

Faculty Advisor: Dr. McCollum-Clark 

To see current and past editions of George Street Press visit their website 

If you are interested in joining George Street Press, visit the Get Involved page to reach out.  

GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) 

The GSA is an organization located outside of the English and World Languages department. They are an extremely active organization on campus. The GSA strives to make Millersville’s campus safe and welcoming for all. 

The GSA’s mission statement: Provide a safe and comfortable space for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression minorities and their allies to interact without fear of being judged or discriminated against, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.  

Faculty Advisor: Arianna Camel 

Executive Board: 

  • President: Alyssa Straface  
  • Vice President: Bex Shenk 
  • Secretary: Grace Lamont 
  • Treasurer: Sara Smith  
  • Historian: Sara Smigielski  
  • Public Relations: Christina Lewis  

Current events they are planning and hope to have this semester include:  

  • Tie-dyeing event (date TBD in April) 
  • Adoption event partnered with ASIA 

The GSA holds meetings every Wednesday from 6-8 PM in SMC 118. Sometimes they will have meetings on their Discord to play games online, or their events will be on different days at different times depending on availability. They cover visibility and awareness days, either through presentations or a fun activity to learn about its history. 

For more information or to join the GSA, visit their Get Involved page.   

World Poetry Day

On March 21st, the English & World Languages department hosted a virtual celebration for World Poetry Day. Guest poets Michele Santamaria, Michael Garrigan, and Barbara DeCesare read their poetry and discussed creative writing and the publication process.

If you would like to view the virtual event, the video recording is included below.

World Poetry Day Reading – Michele Santamaria, Michael Garrigan, and Barbara DeCesare

World Poetry Day Reading by Michele Santamaria, Michael Garrigan, and Barbara DeCesare. Moderated by Dr. Kaitlin Mondello. Hosted by the Department of English & World Languages at Millersville University.

Featured below is a bilingual poetry reading provided by Dr. Christine Gaudry, Dr. Marco Antolin, and Dr. Wilfredo Valentín-Márquez of the World Languages department.

World Poetry Day Bilingual Reading – Dr. Christine Gaudry, Dr. Marco Antolin, and Dr. Wilfredo Valentín-Márquez

World Languages faculty read poetry in the language they specialize in and a translated English version to provide a cross-cultural poetry experience for World Poetry Day (March 21, 2022). A special thank you to Dr. Christine Gaudry, Dr. Marco Antolin, and Dr. Wilfredo Valentín-Márquez for their assistance in this project.

Study Abroad

By: Artemis Harris

This blog will discuss the Study Abroad program at Millersville, specifically:  

  • What is it?  
  • What does it have to offer? 
  • Why should you want to join it? 
  • What can you get out of it?  
  • Additional facts 

What is the Study Abroad program? The Study Abroad program is part of The Office of International Programs and Services (IPS) here at Millersville. This Office provides opportunities for Millersville University students, faculty, staff, and other community members to participate in international education activities. These opportunities also allow students to study, work, or volunteer abroad, and provide resources to faculty who are interested in adding an international component to their teaching or research. 

What does Study Abroad have to offer? The Study Abroad program is extensive but can be catered specifically to your needs. IPS is working hard to help Millersville students achieve their goals of studying internationally. For World Language students, it is strongly encouraged that students study abroad for one or two semesters during their junior year in: 

  • Chile: Valparaíso (full language immersion) 
  • France: Caen (full language immersion) 
  • France: Paris (partial language immersion) 
  • Germany: Marburg (full or partial language immersion) 
  • Japan: Osaka (partial language immersion) 
  • Spain: Burgos or Pamplona (full language immersion) 
  • Or in another approved program abroad 

Although these are some countries mentioned, IPS has over 300 options ranging from languages specific to education, to humanities, and a plethora of other options to suit your needs. If you can’t find a program within Millersville that matches what you are looking for, you can build your own from other universities’ existing programs, or piece together current programs to make a program that works for you. There is also another program called the Millersville Abroad Programs or MAPS.  

MAPS experiences are shorter Study Abroad programs. They can also be guided experiences that take place in the span of 1-3 weeks and can count toward your academic credits. These are guided by Millersville staff or faculty who take a group of students, alumni, or community members abroad. Some upcoming MAPS destinations:  

  • Italy, Austria, France, UK: Broadway Musicals & European Influences (Summer 2022) 
  • Spain, Morocco, Portugal: Music of Ancient & Exotic World Cultures (Summer 2022) 
  • Iceland: Energy Resources, Sustainability, & the Environment (Summer 2022) 
  • England: Millersville Men’s Soccer Trip (Summer 2022) 
  • Toronto International Film Festival (Fall 2022) 
  • Italy: Exploring Education, Policy, and Culture (Spring 2023) 
  • England: Business in London (Spring 2023) 

Why you should want to join and what you can get out of it are very closely related. For World Language students specifically, you can complete your study of a language and culture in the country where that language is spoken (single-semester and summer programs are available). A major advantage of this program is the ability to gain language fluency through immersion. Generally, for all who seek to enter the program, other advantages are the experience of living in another culture, becoming comfortable in new surroundings, and making lifelong friendships and lasting memories.  

Alternatively, for both undergraduate and graduate students, studying abroad is a perfect addition to your resume. Besides the proficiency you may gain by learning the language (if you are learning a language), living in another country and doing an internship, work study, research, or any number of other things, it will also help you present yourself as a well-rounded and cultured individual to prospective employers.  

What else is there to know about Study Abroad? If you are thinking about a Study Abroad program, you should contact IPS right away. They can help advise you on the appropriate steps to take for this process and what programs are available during the times you are looking to complete your program. It is suggested that you do this advising a year before you do the actual Study Abroad program, even though the application process is relatively short. IPS intends to help you throughout the entire process. This includes budgeting, applications, and general advising. As for the parts they can’t help you with, they will send you to the right departments to get you the help you need. You will also need to check in with your academic advisor to be sure that a Study Abroad program aligns with your academic goals and that you are able to based on your academic progress and standing. There are also discounts, grants, scholarships, and additional funding information available to help fund your Study Abroad Program.  

Click Here for more information on the Study Abroad programs or stop by The Office of International Programs and Services in Lyle Hall on the first floor. 

Class Discussions and the Scholarly Community

By: Hayley Billet

Classroom settings and course work serve a much greater purpose than to simply provide students with assignments and a final grade. The ideas that are discussed in the classroom help students make connections that will serve them in the future. It helps them form the foundation for the arguments used in their theses as well as synthesizing many important ideas that will guide them in scholarly communities. Classroom learning is about both knowing the content and knowing how to work with (think with and through) the content. 

Classes are meant to guide students through their areas of academic interest and beyond. It is also meant to help students learn about their fields of interest. In both these ways, students are exposed to the breadth and depth of content and theories within the discipline, understanding which theories are used by whom to build arguments. Through the work produced for classes, students can revise their research into something to present at a conference that specializes in their area of interest or something to submit to a journal that is based in their field of interest. Again, the breadth and depth help students understand where their research aligns with contemporary conversations, so they are prepared to present at conferences.  

Graduate courses are meant to mentor graduate students and prepare them for future success, graduate courses invite students to join the scholarly community. This starts in the classroom and through the professors that initiate and provoke these crucial conversations. After all, professors serve as another foundational element that will help students and push them to be better scholars. Whether or not that happens will be up to the individual student. 

It is up to the students to learn from this information and push themselves, using what they have learned in the classroom, to help them succeed in their future careers and interact with others in the scholarly community. It is expected that graduate students develop and refine their writing and critical thinking skills, often on their own in addition to coursework. Their writing is meant to propel them into their future career pursuits and academic choices. The skills graduate and undergraduate students use in scholarly communities are learned and refined in the classroom. Undergraduate students are expected to discuss and build upon their existing prior knowledge of academic topics. Undergraduate students activate prior knowledge (APK) in the classroom, and in doing so discover and develop their academic and scholarly skills.  

English and World Languages graduate students are expected to use their writing as a tool for success. Graduate school is an opportunity for students to strengthen their professional and creative writing skills. This will help English and World Languages graduate students become better writers and learn to establish themselves in professional settings. They are able to draw from their academic work and classroom conversations and use that to help them interact in scholarly communities and solidify themselves as successful academic scholars. Getting along with other colleagues in the scholarly community and maintaining academic conversations in these fields starts in the classroom.  

The value of building many ideas, having academic conversations (the back and forth of a discussion), and synthesizing these ideas and experiences together is crucial in helping graduate students reach their full academic potential and apply these learned experiences in the classroom to the real-world of academia. It is important that graduate students understand the connections between what they learn and discuss in the classroom and the scholarly community. Not only are they both important to ensure student success, but they also help to strengthen graduate student’s critical, professional, and creative skills. This synthesis of ideas can also be applied to the success of undergraduate students as well. Undergraduate school is concerned with teaching students professionalism and helping them learn how to apply their pre-existing knowledge and sets of skills. This will help them become better academic scholars and get them thinking about their role in the scholarly community. 

By taking what they have learned in the classroom and applying it to the scholarly community, graduate and undergraduate students can begin to establish themselves scholars. Graduate school is meant to introduce students to their field of interest and allow them to begin engaging in professional organizations, conferences, and publications. Undergraduate school is concerned with teaching students professionalism. They each serve an important purpose. The conversations they will have with others in the scholarly community will call back to the conversations they have started in the classroom.  

Classroom conversations serve as the foundation that helps graduate and undergraduate students prepare for conversations with others at conferences, in professional settings, professional organizations, etc. Not only does it serve to build their confidence, but it also serves as a gateway to more important conversations in the scholarly community. 

How to Ask Faculty for Support Letters

By: Jordan Traut

Asking a professor for a letter of recommendation can feel a bit overwhelming, especially when you know it has been a busy semester for faculty at the university. However, it is important to advocate for yourself. In this post, I will illustrate a few ways to strike a professional balance between going after what you are entitled to and being courteous when asking for a letter of faculty support or recommendation with the “Five Ts.” That is—Teacher, Time, Tone, Type, and Technicalities.  

Teacher: This one is a no brainer but choose your professor wisely. Beyond providing evidence that what you claim is true, letters of recommendation are an excellent chance for your prospective employers or grant committees to see if you make smart choices and have maintained your professional relationships.  

You do not want to be the candidate whose letter starts off, “I was surprised this student reached out to me for a recommendation…”. It is difficult to come back from a poor faculty support letter. No one wants to work with someone who does not have positive reviews from their superiors, although chances are you will not get along with every professor you meet at the university. Therefore, it is best to skip the professor whose class you ditched every other Monday. Ask a faculty member who wants you to succeed. Then, be sure to provide them with the information they need to help you shine.  

Time: It is not always possible to give your professor a month’s notice for all letters of recommendation, although some internship programs and grant applications do provide ample time. If you can give a professor one month in advance, be sure to respectfully check in with them around the two-week mark to ensure they have everything they need from you. Anything more than a month might lead to your professor shelving your letter for more urgent duties and forgetting about it.  

Two weeks is also reasonable, especially if the letter only needs to be one page. This is the case for most letters of funding support. In a crunch, you can give one week’s notice, but I would recommend bringing your professor a coffee and an apologetic explanation as to why you could not reach out to them sooner.  

One thing you should not do is tell your professor that they can take however long they need to get to your letter, especially if you need it by a certain date. We always want to remain polite and be considerate of faculty’s busy schedule, but it is always better to be clear about the due date so your professor can let you know you will need to find someone else to write the letter. This will also avoid panicked emails the day before the letter is due and then submitting a frantic recommendation because your professor assumed they had more time.  

Tone: I could tell you to be extra polite in your initial email, but I think being professional is a better choice. (Sending an email—by the way—is the best way to go about asking for faculty support because your professor will have the ability to go back and reread for reference while they are writing.) Be assertive and clear. Going back to my earlier point, it can be confusing if your language is so polite and flowery that your professor thinks they have much more time than they do.  

Be kind and appreciative. For example: “Good morning Dr. Pfannenstiel, I hope my email finds you well. Would it be possible for you to write a letter of recommendation for me by July 10th, 2022? I am applying for Sponsored Program’s grant writer position and thought you could provide my prospective employer with valuable information about my successes in your Digital Portfolio course as well as detail the numerous scholarships I received for my proposal writing. Attached is my resume and a copy of the application. I highlighted the relevant information. I really appreciate your help with this but understand if you have too many other commitments. Please let me know by this Friday either way. Thank you.” 

There is no need to sell yourself short in your email either. Beyond it being the faculty’s job to write letters of support, you deserve to have a successful career and be awarded funding for your scholarly projects. That is your job at the university, and it is one you cannot always do alone.  

Type: It is critical you understand what you need and then ask for it specifically. A letter of recommendation for a job application is significantly different than a letter of support for a grant application. Clearly state what kind of letter you need.  

If, for example, you are writing a grant proposal for the AHSS student fund, let the faculty member know that they will need to explain how your project aligns with current curriculum in your program. Support letters for the SGRCA must include the university letterhead and a signature. In the same way, recommendations for jobs and internships have different requirements and components you must pass along to the professor.  

Do not assume they will read your entire job application before writing. Although, it is always beneficial to attach whatever you are applying for, so your professor knows who and for what they are recommending you.  

Technicalities: Include details, details, details. Be sure to first explicitly state what job you are applying to and for what company. If applying for funding, be sure to include the full name of the grant, scholarship, or fellowship and your project title. It is imperative your professor include this in their letter to demonstrate they work closely with you. I knew a professor who asked students to fill out an entire Google Form before requesting a letter of recommendation, so they knew exactly who to address, what character traits to illuminate, and what areas of expertise to emphasize.  

For job applications, I suggest attaching your resume and the application you are applying to. For funding, it is standard to include the grant application as well as your typed proposal. In your initial email, asking your professor to write the letter, highlight with bullet points what you hope they focus on from the job or grant application.  

For example, SGRCA requires all students to discuss their project’s methodology and theoretical framework. Put how you hope your professor can address those two aspects in your letter as it pertains to your proposal. Employers and grant committees alike expect to see you have chosen a professor who knows your work and validates what you have expressed in your own resume and writing.  

A strategy I have often found useful when you need multiple faculty letters of recommendation is to have each professor focus on a slightly different aspect of your work so their combined input paints a full picture of who you are as a student and researcher.  

Lastly, be sure to tell them when you need their letter by and who to send it to. Will they be mailing it directly to the company or can they simply attach a signed copy in an email to you personally? This part is important. Give your professor a due date. 

What NOT to do: Typically, the more specific information you can provide your professor, the better. Unless your relationship is developed enough and the faculty member writing your letter has stated they are open to one-on-one editing, it is not advisable to return their letter with edits if you are able to even see the final draft before it is sent.  

Avoid dictating exact phrases and sentences you want your professor to use in their writing. You should have already selected a professor you have faith in to paint an accurate picture of you in the letter. They know how to write, especially in the English program.  

Certainly, you may not change anything a professor writes in their recommendation. That is unethical and potentially illegal. 

Jill Craven Sabbatical Update

By: Artemis Harris

As students, we tend to not think about the things that happen outside of ourselves or our own personal friendships. It is easy for us to overlook the fact that our professors lead full and fascinating lives outside of their office hours or the podiums in the classroom. We see them as these monolithic figures towering over us with their degrees and high standards, but really, they are just people like we are. They have families, personal and private struggles, and believe it or not, a lot of them are doing research and writing papers similarly to you and me.  

One such professor is Dr. Jill Craven, who was nice enough to allow me to interview her for an update on her sabbatical. This article will give us not only some information on the sabbatical, but also a little information about her to current (or new) students who may not know who she is, since her sabbatical is coming to an end and she will be joining us again in the Fall. This is a great opportunity to get to know a wonderful professor and what she is doing/has done for the English and World Languages Department.  

Dr. Craven started her career at Millersville University in 1999. Her doctoral degree from UNC-Chapel Hill is in Comparative Literature, with a focus on 20th century European and American narratives (both in literature and in film). Dr. Craven was originally hired to teach film at Millersville, and one of her focal areas of study was film; however, it is her hope to teach World Literature before she retires. Dr. Craven has had an illustrious career here at Millersville as she has served 6 years as Chair of the English department and 22 years as its film studies scholar. 

I asked Dr. Craven what she liked to do in her spare time beyond Millersville and was surprised to hear that although Millersville doesn’t offer her a lot of free time, she has been quite busy with the work she is able to do. According to Dr. Craven, given the current situation in the United States, she is fairly addicted to political news and finds herself involved in various social justice concerns. For instance, Dr. Craven’s daughter is dyslexic, and one of her passions is to advocate for better education for students with dyslexia. In fact, one of the projects she has worked on during her sabbatical is writing and advocating for better dyslexia education with 3 new bills that she hopes the PA House will take up. 

Over her sabbatical Dr. Craven also got trained as one of Millersville’s Diversity Education and Inclusion (DEI) Champions and conducted sessions with a team at the local synagogue. Using this immense passion for social justice, she then prepared a presentation for Millersville’s Board of Trustees in December to advocate for fair treatment of all Millersville students when harassment occurs on campus.  

According to Dr. Craven, her original project involved researching CIA records for a Cold War spy. 10 years ago, she went to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for research, but because records are continually declassified (some as recent as the Biden administration), she needed to update that research. Due to Covid, however, NARA’s reading rooms have closed, and now, due to the variants, they are open, but on a limited basis, and by appointment only after screening. 

One of my biggest questions that I wanted answered was about the usage of digital archives and how useful they were, and Dr. Craven answered this masterfully. She explained that while some records that she needed were digitized, many had not been. In the online archive that she had access to, the order of the records (done by the Record Identification Form [RIF] numbers) can be altered, and the documents can also be poorly scanned.  

For her to be able to do the process efficiently, she needed the original documents in their original order. Dr. Craven also required an iPad, which the department did not have funding for. She did submit two FOIA requests directly to the CIA but is awaiting a response. Since they prioritize “mission critical” items, and communicate by mail, the process could take some time. Unfortunately, Covid has caused an unprecedented change to the landscape of what we consider “normal”, and this requires a lot of revision and changes to be made to our plans. 

In the interim, Dr. Craven has taken on additional projects to enhance her teaching. She has been developing her knowledge of old films through the Criterion Channel. Due to not having access to many older movies before streaming services became widespread, she had only been able to read about many historic films, but now, she has been able to experience films like Les Vampires (1915-16), one of the first serial films and predecessors to television shows. She is also filling in subject areas like disability studies with films like The Snake Pit (1948) and 3 Faces of Eve (1957). Dr. Craven has also been studying directors like Joseph Mankiewicz, Ernst Lubitsch, and Elia Kazan to explore patterns in their works and aspects of the studio system while also adding new content by female directors, LGBTQ+ directors, people of color, and non-European artists. 

Dr. Craven shared something with me that I really connected with on a personal level. As she explained, while she was reflecting on the trauma so many have gone through over the last 5 years, she decided to engage with a film called Margaret (2011) that deals with the experiences of trauma. Although the film isn’t a terrific film according to her, it is, “fascinating in its flaws and undercurrents.” Dr. Craven mentioned that she was struggling to write an article about this film as there was so much to say about it.  

Thinking about this film has influenced her teaching pedagogy, and she is looking forward to using what she has learned in her future experiences in the classroom. Moving forward, Dr. Craven wants students to understand not only the texts that they experience in her classes, but also how those texts resonate in their individual presents and futures. To her, it’s not enough for students to understand how a text works or the potential meanings of a narrative; teachers need to explicitly develop why these works are important to individual students and how they can use them to work toward self-actualization, which is important to the role of the humanities. Although this has been a part of Dr. Craven’s pedagogy in the past, she wishes to be much more direct about its application in the future.   

I asked Dr. Craven if there was anything we should be on the lookout for, given her imminent return to Millersville in the Fall. Dr. Craven hopes to develop the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor as well as teach a graduate course on film in the Fall. She also hopes to have the opportunity to teach World Literature II in the future, which she has missed out on teaching for the last two decades. This semester is rather special for Dr. Craven because it will be the first semester (due to various scheduling reasons) she will teach a graduate-only class. She is looking forward to the Film and Theory graduate-only class in the Fall specifically because “Films/videos are all around us, and engaging with them on an analytic level can be amazingly rewarding, especially to explore aspects of life and society with others.” She can’t wait to share insights with the graduate students and to hear their perspectives. 

One additional update that Dr. Craven shared with me after the interview had concluded was that in October of 2021, she had gotten a puppy named Gracie, who she affectionately calls AoC (Agent of Chaos). It is her hope that AoC will be trained well enough to be able to come visit us in the Fall. 

The English and World Languages Department is excited to hear the wonderful developments happening with Dr. Craven’s sabbatical. I am very grateful that she was kind enough to allow me this interview, and we are all looking forward to her return in the Fall. 

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