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Student Research, Study Abroad, Undergraduate English

Reaching For the Promised Land

WeMarchforJusticecover375As I sat down to write this piece about the “We March for Justice! Race & Oppression” research study tour that I participated in this past March, I hesitated and came to the realization that I couldn’t. For far too long, U.S. history has been dominated by white narratives. I didn’t want to write a piece that asserted that my white narrative was inherently the only one that mattered, or that it represented all of the adverse experiences, or that it was a comprehensive representation of what the group I traveled with encountered. I simply didn’t want to contribute to the collection of white narratives that have appropriated the experiences of marginalized people, displacing their stories.

I expressed my concerns to my English professor. He asked me why I felt this way. I told him that I was concerned about writing another white narrative about the experiences of marginalized people, and that’s when he told me that my experience mattered too.

It reminded me of when I first heard someone say that black history is taught as an elective. I understood that African-American history is taught as if it isn’t a part of U.S. history, as if they’re two separate entities.

I was reminded that both African-Americans and whites were affected by slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, post-reconstruction, and eventually the Civil Rights Movement. White activists, moderates, and oppressors alike experienced these histories too. These are all collective histories.

So, the life-changing experience I had studying and traveling for a week in the South matters too.

My experience isn’t disassociated from everyone else’s simply because I’m white. It’s a part of something bigger; it’s a part of things felt and things changed. This trip ultimately changed my life and I’m going to share why.

Coming into this trip, I had a lot of expectations. I assumed that studying something so intentionally closeted like the reality of racism would be sensitive and intensely emotional. The reality of what the trip would be was surreal until we had our first class session following our arrival in Memphis.

We sat in chairs that bordered the union of two round tables. We gathered closely, as if the discussion topic was confidential, and happily agonized over the intricate details of post-reconstruction laws and court cases. We deconstructed the laws that perpetuated the enslavement of African-Americans. Beyond the surface, we critically analyzed every aspect of the rhetoric presented and it was utterly unnerving.ConfedFlag350

I slowly came to realize that the laws that inherently protect my white privilege, which are strangely identified as just, equal, and blind, were and are utilized as a tool of oppression to degrade the humanity of African-Americans. This realization was hard to swallow, even a bit nauseating.

I don’t know what’s worse; understanding the horrific reality of enslavement or recognizing that I can walk away from reading about it while the ones who suffered and continue to suffer can’t.

The following day, we were given a tour of the Mississippi delta by Mayor Thomas, the first African-American mayor of Glendora. I have very few words beyond “strength,” “integrity,” and “resilience” to define this gentleman.

Glendora, Mississippi is home to some two-hundred people, visible manifestations of neo-Jim Crow, and the murder of Emmett Till.

Emmett Till was a fourteen year-old boy who was murdered by two white men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, for allegedly whistling at a white woman in the summer of 1955. He was kidnapped in the middle of the night and driven around Sunflower County for hours on the back of a pick-up truck. He was beaten, shot dead, tied to a cotton gin with barbed wire, and thrown into the Black Bayou, which feeds into the Tallahatchie River, bright and early on a Sunday morning. Bryant and Milam were acquitted of kidnapping and murder charges by an all-white jury. Two months later, they sold their confessions of the brutal murder to Look magazine for four thousand dollars. They were never tried again in a court of law.

EmmettTillSignBullets400Retracing the case and Till’s last moments was haunting. We visited the area where Till’s swollen, dead body was pulled out of the Tallahatchie three days after his disappearance. As we pulled up to the marker designating the spot, the sign that commemorated Till’s discovery was riven with bullet holes. The bullet holes that traced the words memorializing Till vividly illustrate past and current animosity towards the Till case within the surrounding community.

We visited the church where Till’s body was allegedly buried after his discovery. The church, previously owned by the relative that Till was staying with at the time of his death, is currently decrepit. The roof collapsed what appears like decades ago, as foliage is coiling over the opening. The pews are strewn across the floor. Cob webs cover the ceiling panels that still remain. Beyond the pews stands the pulpit, from where you can carefully trace the red carpet towards the front entrance. To the left of the front door, bullet holes pierce through the white cement walls. Standing under the canopy of a split roof left me with the eerie feeling that pure hatred had subdued this place that once housed unbridled faith and worship. I could almost envision the antipathy oozing out of the bullet holes.

9751-copyWe visited the Sumner court house where Bryant and Milam were tried for Till’s murder a few towns down the road. A Confederate statue and the Mississippi flag that bears the Confederate emblem stand in front of the court house. Just a few steps away, a marker stands that memorializes Till’s case. This arrangement is painfully ironic.

Sumner is largely populated by whites while Glendora is entirely African-American. Can you guess which town is prospering and which one lies in ruin and is rife with poverty? Do I even have to say it?

We concluded our tour of Sunflower County by ordering lunch at Glendora’s tiny grocery store. Outside, the store appeared battered and dilapidated, but inside it was glistening with fresh stocks of snack foods, beverages, and cigarettes. We eagerly collected our feasts of burgers, fries, and beverages. We hadn’t eaten all day because intense concentration and learning, as we all know, makes you incredibly hungry. This grocery store is the first in Glendora in more than fifty years. For most of Mayor Thomas’s life, he drove sixty miles, there and back, to purchase necessities in another town. The establishment of this grocery store was led by Mayor Thomas’s efforts just a few months ago.

I sat on our bus eating my burger, looking out the window at the little rundown grocery store. I could eat and enjoy my burger and leave, but the people of Glendora couldn’t. They can’t escape the poverty of their little town in a big black bus like we did; this little rundown grocery store is emblematic of their lives.

As the sun was at its highest point over Beale Street the following evening, we entered the Ernest Withers Museum where we met three sanitation workers who protested for equal rights and wages in 1968. The three men, now in their eighties, walked in and we momentarily stood in awe, out of respect, before politely greeting them.

CivilRights BlogIn hushed and rusty voices, they recalled their own personal reasons for striking. In 1968, a sanitation worker, which was a position solely held by African-Americans, could work a forty hour week and make so little money that he would still qualify for government assistance. Immediately after hearing this, my cheeks were swollen with red hot anger and shame. I was furious thinking about the white people, like me, who had enabled this form of degradation.

They told about times of chaos and violence. They recited memories of batons cracking their heads open like yoke in an egg shell. However, it wasn’t the details of their sufferings that scared me the most; rather, it was the realization that these men had to protest for their own humanity, as if they weren’t inherently born with it.

The following day we toured the Lorraine Motel, which has been converted into the National Civil Rights Museum.

The museum is composed of some twenty-plus exhibits. Not only was it an overload of information, with every inch of wall space covered by bold contemporary style lettering, graphics, and technologically advanced displays, but it was emotionally overwhelming too.

I particularly remember stopping at the exhibit that vividly displayed words like “Bombingham” and “Children’s Crusade”.

“Bombingham” referred to the more than fifty racially motivated bombings in 1963 when absolutely zero leads were followed, zero suspects arrested, zero trials held, and zero convictions ruled.

Children's Crusade“Children’s Crusade” commemorated the thousands of children, younger than Emmett Till, who marched in the streets of Birmingham in 1963. The children assembled at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church the Sunday following it’s bombing by a Klan member, a bombing that killed four adolescent girls. Martin Luther King Jr. led their funerals with Isaiah 11:6; “A little child shall lead them.” The statistics regarding the crusade read, “10 children arrested per minute – 2,500 total.”

The children who heroically led the march were met with high-pressure hoses and attack dogs. The assault was relentless. The photographs and footage of the violence in Birmingham were circulated and broadcasted throughout the entire nation. The brutality provoked a national outcry for justice. Every inch of barbarity was displayed in the exhibit; it brought me to tears.

On the last day, we convened for one last time as a group to fully debrief our experiences.

We asked questions regarding the promotion of the ideologies of the movement and the importance of studying it. The answers came flowing out in forms of tears, raspy voices, and determined rhetoric.

I said something along the lines of being fortunate enough to receive help from my community in the many struggles of my young life and that I want to do the same for others by utilizing my talents and abilities. It was quaint, but incredibly sincere and coming from a genuine place.

With regard to studying the movement, does that question even need to be asked? Slavery, racism, oppression – all part of the movement – are my history, your history, our history. We can no longer exclude African-American history, as if it is an elective disconnected from U.S. history.

As I began to write this piece, it transformed from a single white narrative into an important collective experience. As I began to write this piece, it was also April 4th, the forty-eighth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

LorraineHotelIt would be remiss of me not to conclude this piece by quoting the speech he delivered no more than twenty-four hours before being shot down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis.

Over three thousand people assembled in the crowded Mason Temple where Martin delivered his last speech.

When I first saw footage of him delivering the Mountaintop speech, his elocution rung through my entire body. It rung so intensely that it was almost nauseating, bringing warm tears streaming down my cheeks.

Martin concluded his brief speech with,

“And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

Like Martin, I’ve seen the Promised Land, where humanity, equity, and equality is directly ingrained in the young, diverse minds of this nation.

With that being said, there’s an extensive and exhaustive amount of work to be done to advocate and promote equity and equality at structural levels within our society. African-Americans continue to be systemically criminalized, disenfranchised, and so on. African-Americans ultimately lack the equal opportunity to access higher education and learn how to change the system that perpetually oppresses them. Martin’s fight, the movement’s fight, our fight, is far from over.

Like Martin, I may not get there with you, I may not see structural change in my lifetime.

But like Martin, I want you to know that we as a people, we as a nation, will get to the Promised Land, where equity and equality thoroughly prosper as one, where the humanity of every single being is valued, and where we will flourish and thrive with the knowledge of our history.

Maruska300

Grace Maruska is freshman intending to major in English and minor in American Culture and Difference. Her years spent in college and beyond will be directed towards helping the community of St. Paul, her beloved hometown. Her passions—and the focus of her higher education—include social justice, which is what she intends to promote and advocate for in the near future.

Student Research, Study Abroad, The Value of English, Undergraduate English

It’s An Adventure: Walking and Writing Ireland

Dun Aengus Group-680Trading in Minnesota’s snow flurries and below freezing temperatures for soft rains and lush greenery, I joined a group of twenty-one other students and two professors on a quest to walk and write our way through the streets and countryside of Ireland. During the month of January, we covered much of the small country, gallivanting through medieval castles in quaint little towns, weaving between busses on bicycles, and perfecting our collective ability to take group photos.

That, however, was not the sole purposeFisherman's Village-340 of our journey to the Emerald Isle. Led by Professors Emily James and James Garlick, the students enrolled in “Walking and Writing Ireland” spent the month of January poring over the words of Ireland’s literary greats, such as W. B. Yeats and James Joyce.  We had the opportunity to interact with texts in a way that could not be afforded by sitting in a classroom back home.  Tucking away in the upstairs quarters of bookstores and coffee shops, we spent hours picking apart the imagery and themes of Joyce’s poignant short stories.  Each afternoon, we took to the streets to trace the steps of those very stories.

JoyceJames-160One of the key themes we identified and contemplated in Joyce’s work was the overwhelming sense of paralysis. In some way, each of his characters yearned for something beyond the monotony of their everyday lives—something remarkable.  Despite their best efforts, however, these characters could never break free from the confines of their physical, financial, or social limitations.  They were simply stuck.

Wicklow Mountains-340Intrigued by their reach for the extraordinary world just beyond their grasp, I was inspired to explore the counterpart to Joyce’s paralysis: adventure. Although seemingly simple at first glance, “adventure” is rich with historical and cultural significance.  The word’s popularity spiked in the seventeenth century, which speaks to the period’s fascination with exploration.  However, as time progressed, “adventure” widened to encompass the agency of the individual.  No longer did an individual need to be an esteemed explorer who braves the treacherous high seas and unpredictable climates.  As Joyce and his contemporaries understood, an adventurer may now take the face of any individual, provided that he or she has an open heart, open mind, and daring spirit.  In the words of essayist Rebecca Solnit, “When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back.”

Dun Aengus Cliffs-680I stood atop the cliffs of Dun Aengus with the Atlantic Ocean stretching out before me. The salty sea breeze filled my lungs as my feet dangled over the ledge, three hundred feet above the crashing waves below. Despite my paralyzing fear of heights, I was not afraid.  Some crave the pulse of adrenaline through their veins.  But for me, an adventure is about contentment.  It’s about sitting at the edge of the earth and not feeling afraid.

And adventurers we became.

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Elise Limper is a junior English with a Secondary Education (5-12) major. After graduation, she hopes to teach high school English to share her love of the written word. With a passion for photography and a severe case of the travel bug, she also aspires to travel the world with her camera in tow.

 

Student Research, Undergraduate English

The Art of Bookmaking

Book Art

Loving books is an implied prerequisite for English majors, but many of us take the process of bookmaking for granted. Books, like everything else, are mass-produced, but the Minnesota Center for Book Arts takes things at a slower pace, and we should love them for it. As part of the Literary Magazine Practicum, the editors of the Summit Avenue Review took a field trip to theMCBA logo 200X200 Minnesota Center for Book Arts in downtown Minneapolis. We were able to see various printing presses and learned about the intricacies of typesetting.

When studying literary magazines and journals in class, we focus on the intention behind design decisions. Seeing the materials and processes first hand helped us to understand the importance of making purposeful decisions. You are forced to think carefully when hand setting type because every space, letter, and punctuation mark is placed individually.

The editors were able to participate in MCBA’s work by printing our own book art on a roller press. We watched the process of inking the press and learned how to line up the paper for an even print. I waited until it was my turn and then approached the machine. I pressed my foot on the pedal to place the fresh sheet of paper at the preset mark. MBA3-320We had been warned that it was sometimes tricky to get the feel of how fast to turn the handle. As I turned it, the cylinder gained steady momentum as my free hand followed in order to hold the paper in place. I removed my paper, now imprinted with reddish brown ink. Rolling the press back into place required more force than I had anticipated. After we all printed it was time to fold our booklets. We used bone folders to crease the paper and X-acto knives to make slits for folding, creating a small eight-page booklet.

We were also able to see different types of hand bound books that are held together with various stitching, adhesives, or a combination of the two. Artists choose the medium that best supports the message they are trying to convey. For example, a poem may be printed on a broadside with large margins or in a small booklet depending on the preference of the artist. We saw examples of each of these, and more, during our tour. We were also shown the product of a collaboration between MCBA employees and local artists: the 2015 Winter Book: “From the Center: On Community and the Practice of Making,” which explores the connection between community and book arts.

The MCBA also has facilities for making paper, and offers classes for children, adults, and has an artist in residence program. The center displays artwork made there as well, featuring many different local artists. Much of the art is solely to be viewed, but many cards, notebooks and other pieces are available for purchase in MCBA’s store.

Morgan Alexander

Morgan Alexander is a senior double majoring in English with a Writing Emphasis and Business Management. She is the President of Sigma Tau Delta Literary Club, a marketing intern at UST Executive Education, and one of the editors for the Summit Avenue Review. She is a self-proclaimed fontaholic who enjoys reading, traveling, and is constantly searching for her next coffee fix.

Faculty Teaching, Undergraduate English

From the Kitchen of Julia Child

Julia Child

Last week, my two classes (ENGL 203 Order Up: The Literature of Food) went to dinner at Salut Bar Américain to enjoy “Mondays with Julia” where Salut selects dishes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961). Fit snugly into three long tables in the Provence Room, we quickly became comfortable with each other as we were served “family style,” requiring us to make sure all were plated before sitting down to sate ourselves.

SalutFoodThe food was mouth-watering and ample, including: salad and French baguettes (which we tore in half to share with our neighbor, dipping into cups of whipped butter), asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, tender green beans with slivers of almond, buttery mashed potatoes, and the pièce de résistance, the coq au vin. The students, stronger and more nimble than myself, deftly lifted and served from giant steaming tureens of chicken nestled in a sauce of wine, carrots, mushrooms, and onions. The dessert, a chocolate mousse accented with fresh blackberries, strawberries, and shortbread, left us in a state that they refer to as a “food coma,” but which I call “bliss.”

While the leftovers were boxed and distributed, I thought of Child’s advice that we had studied earlier: “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” I had applied this advice to writing but now saw it fit well with teaching this class—the subject of which I’m far from expert. But the fearlessness paid off as students asked if we could do this again before the end of the semester—in place of finals.

I want to thank Larissa LaMere for organizing this scrumptious event!

Scott-ColorShannon Scott is an adjunct instructor in the English Department. Werewolves, circuses, film noir detectives, and femme fatales–these are the themes of the English courses she teaches. Each class is an exploration of lives lived on the edge of a tightrope or a knife, in the shadows of a sideshow tent or the silhouette of a smoking gun. Her essay “Female Werewolf as Monstrous Other in Honoré Beaugrand’s ‘The Werewolves’” was recently published in She-Wolf: A Cultural History of Female Werewolves (Manchester, UK: Manchester UP, 2015).

Author Visits, Faculty Teaching, Undergraduate English

The Road Not Taken

In the Fall of 2013, as I considered text selections for my new course The Road Not Taken, the recently published novel Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger caught my attention. I was struck by the complexity of the characters and the nod to our own Minnesota history. But, I hesitated on committing the novel to my syllabus because it was only available in hardcover and I felt the expense to students was a burden. In the end, I could not deny that the novel was brilliant, beautiful and that it fit surprisingly well with my theme of young people making poor choices with often devastating consequences.

As it turned out, my students never complained about the cost and, in fact, declared that it was their favorite book of the semester. When I told them that Krueger lives right here in St. Paul, my students were astonished and asked that I find a way for them to meet this local author.

WilliamKentKrueger-200pxlAt that time, Krueger was already the author of the wildly successful Cork O’Connor detective series. I was certain that this famous author, whose work is frequently listed on the New York Times bestseller lists, would not have time to visit a local University classroom. But, as he later said to me, “All you had to do was ask.” Sure enough, Kent walked in, sat down and facilitated one of the best class discussions of the semester.

Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” suggests that in life, there is no right path. There is only the path you choose. Ordinary Grace opens with the mysterious death of young Bobby Cole and the character of Frank as a reflective adult recognizing that he “should have known him better, been a better friend” (Prologue). For Frank, the summer of 1961 becomes a time of heartbreaking loss, misunderstandings, and the painful recognition that there are things we cannot bear, but must accept. Throughout the novel, Frank wonders if the events of that fateful summer could have turned out differently if he had made different choices and, quite literally, taken a different road.

OrdinaryGrace-200pxlKrueger does a remarkable job of describing the agonizing struggles of young adults. Ariel, a talented musician has been accepted to Juilliard, yet inexplicably decides to forgo this opportunity and stay in the small, unsophisticated town of New Bremen, MN. Frank struggles with what he thinks he knows from what might be the ultimate truth about a homeless Native American. Another character struggles with the secret of his sexual orientation. Even the town bully Morris provides an opportunity to recognize that mean-spirited behaviors probably come from a life of loneliness and indifference.

Another intriguing aspect of Kent’s work is the way he weaves Native American Culture into his writing. Although not originally from Minnesota, after he moved here in 1980 he became fascinated with the beauty of the Boundary Waters and the rich Ojibwe culture. In fact, his main character in the Cork O’Conner mystery series is half Irish and half Ojibwe. Ordinary Grace provides an opportunity to speak to the Great Uprising of 1862, a part of Minnesota history that our public schools often either ignore or misrepresent. In the years preceding the uprising, thousands of white immigrants settled in Minnesota. Although the settlers and Native Americans appeared to co-exist peacefully, the truth is that the Native people had their land taken, game poached and, in the summer of 1862, their annual annuity payment was inexplicably delayed by Congress. The Sioux launched a brief rebellion against the white settlers in Southwestern Minnesota and nearly a thousand settlers were brutally killed. For generations, the story of this uprising has been skewed to put blame on the Sioux tribes, although their people were in fact starving and dying from malnutrition and disease. On December 26, 1862, thirty-eight Sioux braves were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota. This remains the largest mass execution in U.S. history. In Ordinary Grace, the misunderstood character of Warren Redstone opens the door for discussion about the prejudice and overall unfair representation of our Native Minnesota people.

"Battle of New Ulm" (1904), Anton Gag

“Battle of New Ulm” (1904), Anton Gag

In the spring of 2014, Ordinary Grace won the prestigious Edgar Award for the best mystery novel. It is recognized as a classic work of literature with a suspenseful plot, poignant characters, and beautifully written prose. Teachers will find that there are many ways to approach this novel, only a few of which I have listed here. The story truly does explore “The Road Not Taken,” and yet in the words of Robert Frost we recognize that we cannot go back and choose the other road, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, / I doubted if I should ever come back” (14-15).  Frost affirms that we only have one chance to choose our road in life.

With a stunning, award-winning novel and his humble, down-to-earth personality, William Kent Krueger has become a highly sought- after speaker. This month, we are privileged to have him visit our campus and address a larger audience. Krueger will read from Ordinary Grace and participate in an audience Q & A.  A book signing will follow this event.  Please join us for a memorable evening with a man who genuinely enjoys engaging his readers.

Works Cited

Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” You Come Too.  New York:  Henry Holt and Company, 2002.

Hofmeister-New

Jeannie Hofmeister is an adjunct professor in the English Department. She is primarily interested in 19th-and 20th-Century American Literature and regularly uses work from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Crane, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, and Sylvia Plath in her classes.

Student Research, Undergraduate English

Ecofeminism: the catalyst moment

When I signed up for Dr. Alexis Easley’s Women Writers and Celebrity: The Victorian Era, I wanted to read books written about and by women and we did that, but that class was more than just a bunch of books that involved women. That class taught me how important and amazing women and women writers are. We focused mainly on women writers between 1880-1920 during the fin de siècle period. These novels were categorized as “New Woman” novels due to the independent main female characters that didn’t fit the stereotypical Victorian Woman.

woman with bicycle

In addition to that English class, I also went to a Feminist Friday talk on campus presented by Dr. Britain Scott from the Psychology department titled “Babes and the woods: Women’s objectification and the feminine beauty ideal as ecological hazards.” Dr. Scott’s talk was about ecofeminism, how women are connected to nature, and how that connection influences every part of her. Ecofeminism is defined as the movement that focuses on the education, preservation, and protection of the natural world while also aiming to dismantle the unjustified domination of women, people of color, children, the poor. The intersections of the class and this talk and my weekly meetings with FemCom (UST’s Feminist Community) sparked a profound interest in Women’s Studies and women writers.

One of the novels I read in class tied the talk, my interests, and the class together perfectly. Ella Hepworth Dixon’s The Story of a Modern Woman illustrates the interconnections between women and nature in a New Woman novel. I picked apart the actions the main character, Mary Erle, made in regards to the nature that surrounded her and how it changed her and her thoughts. I wrote my final paper on ecofeminist theory and New Woman novels by incorporating the ecofeminist points made in the “Babes and the woods” talk and The Story of a Modern Woman. After discussing with Dr. Easley about how I could further my studies on this connection, she suggested I apply for the Young Scholars Research Grant. I had never heard of it, but I was all excited about it. I worked on the proposal for the grant by consulting with Dr. Easley about what novels from this period would work well for this project and what kind of format it should be in. From there, I waited for an answer.

woman in treeAfter I received the congratulations for the research grant, I immediately began compiling lists of novels, textbooks, and articles about the Victorian era, ecofeminism, feminism, New Woman novels, and the environment. I even went to the Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research to see what research at St. Thomas was like. My research began and I never thought it would be as successful as it was.

My argument began as justifying early ecofeminism theory as beginning in the Victorian era in Great Britain rather than in the 1970s in the U.S.A.

Melanie Kraemer reading

 

As I read novels like Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm (1883), Sarah Grand’s The Heavenly Twins (1893), Ella Hepworth Dixon’s The Story of a Modern Woman (1894), Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895), and Sarah Grand’s The Beth Book (1897), I made note of the ecofeminist theory and ideology, the use of nature imagery and language, and the connections the characters have with nature. The more novels I read, the more my argument became not only plausible, but possible. Once I connected my findings with points made in books like Karen Warren’s Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What it is and Why it Matters and Irene Diamond’s Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism, I knew I had something worthwhile on my hands.

As the summer drew to a close, my research transformed into something more tailored and precise, focusing mainly on the dualisms existing in patriarchal society like male/female, body/mind, reason/emotion, etc. and how ecofeminism dismantles those dualisms. The novels I chose to illustrate the importance of this connection within New Woman novels were Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm, and Grand’s The Heavenly Twins. I chose these specifically because they illustrate better than any other New Woman novels that I read the importance of stripping the patriarchy of its power over society with harmful dualisms. This concept is not only important to ecofeminism, but all feminisms.

My experience with the Young Scholars Research Grant, Dr. Easley, Dr. Scott, the librarians, and the books I read has been amazing and has been the catalyst for me as a scholar. As a senior this year, I plan to continue with research on women, English, and ecofeminism in any way that I can.

Melanie Karemer with cat

Melanie Kraemer is a senior majoring in English with a Writing Emphasis and double minoring in Communications and Journalism and Women’s Studies. She is the Vice President of Lit Club and a member of FemComShe hopes to one day publish a book of poetry.