By Ted Winston
Aspiring and current English majors now have the chance to share their masterpieces—as long as they can do so in a paragraph or two.
The introduction of the University English blog provides a place for English majors and English department faculty to post short writings, including poetry, internship and study abroad reflections, book and concert reviews and more.
The blog aims to foster a dialogue between English majors and professors by bringing together a community with shared interests in writing.
Professor Michael Berthold of the English department created the blog after a discussion with English Department Chair Evan Radcliffe.
“This blog hopes to capture what students and faculty are doing culturally,” Berthold observes.
He says the blog will highlight the nature of numerous “charismatic” professors and English majors at the University.
A graduate English blog already exists, so a similar forum for the exchange of ideas at the undergraduate level was the next logical step.
Berthold makes it clear that the blog is not meant to replace the English department webpage but to actually enhance it by attracting more attention to the department.
The blog also enables faculty and students to express their creative sides in multiple ways.
A glance at the site demonstrates how the use of images opens up new possibilities for original works.
“The blog allows for exciting visual content,” Berthold says, and he notes that the combination of words and images can be quite effective.
For instance, the blog features a Moby Dick Big Read Project, with a link to an audio reading of the novel where each chapter is accompanied by a related piece of art.
User-created content is not the only purpose of the blog, however. It also serves as a kind of poster board for the department, with notices about upcoming receptions, career fairs and English-sponsored events on campus.
Another function of the blog is to show prospective or even current English majors what is possible with such a degree.
The blog highlights contributions by former University English majors, whether they be art projects, poem collections or something different.
The site lists categories on the side for easy browsing. These topics include content related to the advisory committee, alumni, careers, events, journalism, lecture, prospective majors, reading and receptions.
Berthold hopes that the blog will influence undecided students to choose English as a major by facilitating conversations among students and faculty outside of the classroom.
“The blog really gives a chance for students to see what their professors do outside the classroom,” he explains.
Since the project is in its early stages, future changes may alter the way the site works.
For now, only English majors and faculty may post content, and submissions are held to about one or two paragraphs.
Submissions are emailed to Berthold, who then publishes the writing online.
While he hopes that the site will attract attention to the activities of the English department community, Berthold realizes that it is a difficult task.
“With all of the announcements students and faculty receive,” Berthold says, “It’s hard to know what will be looked at by students and faculty these days.”
Still, Berthold is not complaining. He enjoys developing the site, providing an outlet for creative students and faculty alike.
The site can be accessed at villanovaenglish.blogspot.com.