Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hob Nob Set for February 20th

Join humanities students and faculty for an evening of socializing at the February Hob Nob this Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. in the Bixler Lounge.  Special guests may include Cora, Pippa, and the two bearded gentlemen.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Economic Value of an English Degree

In Inside Higher Education, Robert Matz takes Garrison Keillor to task for his (apparently routine) put downs of English majors.  As one of the core liberal arts, the study of English is a sort of canary in the mine for the health of liberal education.  Leaving aside all other considerations, Matz mentions some useful comparative numbers:

The truth, however, is that reports of the deadliness of English to a successful career are greatly exaggerated. According to one major study produced by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (see here), the median income for English majors with a bachelor’s but no additional degree is $48,000. This figure is just slightly lower than that for bachelor’s degree holders in biology ($50,000), and slightly higher than for those in molecular biology or physiology (both $45,000). It’s the same for students who received their bachelor’s in public policy or criminology (both $48,000), slightly lower than for those who received their bachelor’s in criminal justice and fire protection ($50,000) and slightly higher than for those who received it in psychology ($45,000). 
Another study by the same center paints a similar picture with respect to unemployment. In this study, the average unemployment rate for recent B.A. holders (ages 22-26) over the years 2009-10 was 8.9 percent; for English it was 9.2 percent. Both rates are higher than we would wish, but their marginal difference is dwarfed by that between the average for holders of the B.A. and that of high school graduates, whose unemployment rate during the same period was 22.9 percent (also too high). 
The conclusion:

{T}here’s nothing reckless about majoring in English compared to many other popular majors. Students who love business or engineering, or who are good at them and simply want to earn the highest possible income, make reasonable choices to pursue study in these fields. But students who want to major in English and are good at it should not believe that they are sacrificing a livelihood to pursue their loves.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Moral World of Billy Budd

Dr. Russell Weaver

Peter Lang Publishing has agreed to publish Russell Weaver's book The Moral World of Billy Budd. Expected release date is Fall 2013.   The Moral World of Billy Budd sees the novel not as inviting us to choose between the testament of acceptance and the testament of resistance, those views that respectively support and critique Captain Vere, but rather as challenging us to experience the difficulty of making decisions in the world. The first part is devoted to an intensive examination of the evolution of the two testaments, including analyses of the three book-length studies of the novel, climaxing with Wenke’s argument that the Genetic Text shows the novel’s active pursuit of ambiguity. The second part analyzes the three major characters, showing how the text almost programmatically complicates each judgment. This is especially true of its judgments of Captain Vere, the character at the center of the critical debate. The critical focus here is on the numerous dichotomies the text uses to present Vere’s character, showing how an analysis of these terms leads a more complicated view of him than previously seen. The Moral World of Billy Budd specifically argues that these oppositions are not intended to be resolved but dissolved, to be seen, that is, to be overcome and approached as a means of engaging in a reflection on the nature of moral judgment itself. At the same time, despite the difficulties of deciding, it is clear from the text’s perspective that, like Captain Vere, the reader too must decide between the possible alternatives even though any decision reached will be shadowed by the larger dilemma of operating in a theater beyond our grasp.

Regeneration: A Doctor Who Festival in Toronto, Ontario

Dr. Maura Grady
Dalek and the 10th Doctor
Time Space Book Cover

Dr. Maura Grady, who teaches ENG 303 Writers' Workshop: Screenwriting, ENG 332 Global Film, ENG 371 Literature and Film and Composition I and II, recently attended Regeneration: A Doctor Who Festival in Toronto, Ontario (Canada).
She was a featured special guest panelist with several other authors contributing to the upcoming McFarland publication Doctor Who in Time and Space (  Dr. Grady explained, "Doctor Who first went on the air in the UK in 1963.  It was off the air for a few years in the '90s but came back in 2005 to huge audiences in the UK and the US too.  It's really rare to find any kind of entertainment franchise that's been running as long as that!  My article in the book concerns the nostalgia for the fading British Empire that audiences for the show felt in its early years.  My co-writer Cassie Hemstrom and I researched audience surveys done in the early years of the show and analyzed several episodes for themes that echoed this nostalgia."  In addition to discussing her work at a crowded panel, Dr. Grady enjoyed chatting with screenwriter James Moran (Cockneys and Zombies, Doctor Who: The Fires of Pompeii and Torchwood: Sleeper/Children of the Earth Part 3.  Says Dr. Grady, "every aspiring screenwriter should follow James on his blog "The Pen is Mightier than the Spork" (  James gave an engaging live commentary on his Doctor Who episode and had wonderful insights as well as advice for writers of science fiction genre television and films."  The event also featured distinguished actor of stage, screen, and TV Colin Spaull.  Dr. Grady notes: "Mr. Spaull told me about one of his early roles-- playing Young Pip in a live TV performance of Great Expectations when he was only 12 years old!  He's been a working actor for more than 50 years and was absolutely charming and full of fantastic stories and it was a pleasure to talk with him."
Dr. Maura Grady can be reached at  Write to her with questions about studying film and screenwriting.