Being an English concentrator helped broaden my literary horizons and hone my reading and writing abilities. More than offering valuable professional skills, English is the one place that allowed me to explore all my many interests in a coherent and challenging program of study. In addition to my concentration in English, I will soon be graduating with certificates in Theater and American Studies as well.
Within the English department, I focused primarily on studies of Contemporary Fiction. After writing my first Junior Paper on British novelist David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, I followed up with a second JP on recent monster-mash-up adaptations of Jane Austen novels (think Pride & Prejudice & Zombies). My senior thesis, on motherhood and reproduction in dystopian and utopian fiction, was especially thrilling to write. With chapters on Charlotte Gilman’s Herland, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the recent blockbuster film Mad Max: Fury Road, I tracked and analyzed dystopian literary depictions of women in relation to contemporaneous waves of feminism across the past century.
I also performed a creative senior thesis in the Theater department, playing the role of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ classic American play A Streetcar Named Desire. I found that the skill sets I gleaned from my English courses were instrumental to my extracurricular theatrical endeavors. English gave me a facility for close reading and an appreciation of historical and cultural context, all of which, I like to think, translated to thoughtful character work on the stage.
My experience in the English department is sure to be useful after graduation when I become a Princeton in Latin America fellow working at the Mariposa DR Foundation. I am excited to spend a year teaching Theater and Literature in the Dominican Republic, drawing on my coursework in Latin American Literature to help plan my own teaching lessons.