Greyfriar Author Speaks with English Class

Each year, the English Department hosts the Greyfriar Living Literature Series in which they invite a distinguished literary writer to hold a workshop, discuss writing, and read from their work. This year’s Greyfriar author was Anand Prahlad, a published poet, memoirist, and professor. Prahlad visited my African American Literature class on Tuesday March 5th in the afternoon before his lecture and shared some of his insights on writing with our class. 

As part of our assignment for the day, my professor, Dr. Wilhite, assigned selected passages from Prahlad’s 2017 memoir, The Secret Life of a Black Aspie. His memoir discusses his experience with autism spectrum disorder and describes the way he sees the world. Prahlad kicks off his memoir with a bold statement: “Before I start telling you about my life, though, I should share with you a secret: I don’t remember most of it.” He admitted to our class that it was a line he wasn’t sure if he should keep in the memoir, but decide that there is an important, distinguished relationship between memory and life writing. “Everyone remembers differently,” Prahlad said.

Dr. Wilhite started off the class by having us read one of Prahlad’s poems, “Grind,” from his collection of poetry, As Good As Mango. The poem, written with extensive enjambment and impressionism, narrates an observer watching young black boys skateboarding in Harlem. Students discussed some of their observations from the poem, including Prahlad’s use of bright and positive imagery with darkness. Prahlad listened to student’s comments, then explained his own intentions with the poem, specifically how it was meant to capture a sense of percussive choreography. It was a great opportunity to hear an author speak about his own work. 

The class then transitioned into talking about the selected passages from Prahlad’s memoir. Students were able to ask Prahlad questions, and many of their inquiries centered around his writing style as someone diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. “My relationship to memory is kind of rooted in sensory experiences,” he explained. Prahlad shared an anecdote about a time he was asked to describe the autistic experience in order to best understand how to work with someone with autism. “Imagine everything is alive,” he said. “Everything is an aura. Everything is vibrating.”

Hearing Prahlad speak about his memoir and poetry was a valuable opportunity as an aspiring writer and an English major. I was unfortunately unable to attend his reading and Q&A due to a class conflict, but I was fortunate to have the chance to hear him discuss his own work. If you’re interested in learning more about Prahlad and his publications, you can check out his website at https://prahladauthor.com.

SoLA Symposium Highlights Faculty Research

This past Friday, I attended the School of Liberal Arts Faculty Research Symposium. Held in the Maloney Great Room, the first session of the symposium showcased the Modern Languages & Classics, Political Science, History, and English departments. The event featured professors who have recently returned from sabbatical, giving them a platform to share their work with faculty, students, and the Siena community. Each presenter spoke for 15-20 minutes with a PowerPoint, then took questions from the audience. 

Dr. Lisette Balabarca-Fataccioli of the Modern Languages & Classics department started off the symposium with her presentation, “The Female Other: Muslim Women in Early Modern Spain.” Her research extensively analyzes 16th century Spanish texts in which, in order to convert to a new religion, daughter characters break the bond with their fathers. Dr. Balabarca-Fataccioli provided historical context for her research project, explaining that in the 16th and 16th centuries, Muslims in Spain were forced to convert to Christianity. She also mentioned she will have an opportunity to present more of her research later this year at a symposium in Toronto

Dr. Laurie Naranch of the Political Science department shared her research on “The Power of Relational Narratives in Philosophy, Politics, and Practice.” She discussed some of the work she completed during her sabbatical, including working on book chapters, being published in a symposium, and revising an article, “The Narratable Self: Adriana Cavarero with Sojourner Truth.” As someone who hasn’t taken a political science class before at Siena, it was interesting to hear about her research.

Dr. Pojmann responds to audience questions

The next presenter, Dr. Wendy Pojmann of the History department, titled her presentation “Espresso: The Art & Soul of Italy.” Dr. Pojmann is currently in the process of publishing a book that she wrote while on sabbatical and read an excerpt from her work during the presentation. According to Dr. Pojmann, her book attempts to explain the historical groundings of espresso, specifically in relation to its unifying qualities, globalization, and monetization. If you’re interested in learning more about Dr. Pojmann’s project and travels, check out her Instagram page at @wendysespressolife.

English professor Dr. Keith Wilhite delivered the final presentation of the symposium, “Recession-Era Suburbs: Race, History, and the Housing Crisis.” During his sabbatical, he developed two chapters from his new book, the manuscript of which is titled Contested Terrain: The Suburbs, U.S. Literature, and the Ends of Regionalism. Dr. Wilhite discussed the paradox of postwar suburban development, emphasizing the increased focus on privatism in suburbia. He also gave a brief overview of some of the texts he will be working with in his book, including Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris. 

The event was a great opportunity to learn about the research professors conduct while away on sabbatical. As students, we rarely see all the work they do outside of the classroom. I have had both Dr. Pojmann and Dr. Wilhite as professors while at Siena, and it was interesting to hear about their research projects, as well as learn about Dr. Balabarca’s and Dr. Naranch’s areas of focus. There will be a second symposium session held on March 15, featuring the Sociology, English, Education, and Religious Studies departments. The second session will be held in room L26 of the Standish Library from 3:30-5:30pm.

Keep an eye out for extensive coverage of the first SoLA symposium by staff writer Madison Lemke in the 2/15 issue of The Promethean!

Why Get a Liberal Arts Degree?

With the spring semester looming on the horizon, the registration process kicks up a lot of questions about a student’s future. Most of the conversation involving registration brings up the question college students always hear: “What do you plan to do with your degree when you graduate?” The question, of course, is valid; it’s important for students to have a sense of direction when making big decisions about the future. So why pursue a liberal arts degree? 

Many students don’t know what exactly constitutes the broad category of “liberal arts” in college. Even up until I started working in the SoLA office, I wasn’t exactly sure of what fell under the umbrella of liberal arts. Most people get the basics – English, writing, creative arts – but don’t realize the broadness of the category itself. Liberal arts includes American studies, education, history, modern languages and classics, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, social work, and sociology! So a liberal arts degree isn’t just for someone interested in studying Shakespeare or analyzing Plato; it can apply to hundreds of different career paths.

A liberal arts degree prepares its students with a number of soft and hard skills that are beneficial in the job market, including reading comprehension, analytical writing, and communication skills. Similarly, pursuing a liberal arts degree does not only mean taking English and philosophy classes; students are pushed to engage in a variety of topics, including math and sciences. A liberal arts degree does not teach one specific subject matter but a variety of them, making liberal students skilled and adaptable.

So what are some of your options as a liberal arts student? The first question I am asked when I tell people I’m an English major is always: “Are you going to teach?” This is not to dismiss teaching; being an educator is a valuable, fulfilling career path. However, popular belief is often that you can only teach with an English or history degree. Teaching is not the only option for liberal arts students. Students who focus in English or writing can pursue a career in writing/editing, as a sales manager, or as a communication specialist. Also beyond teaching, students can become involved in marketing communications, business analysis, public relations, copywriting, Human Resources, or sales representation. The opportunities are truly endless with a liberal arts degree.

To end on a positive note from The Muse, “don’t let today’s STEM-driven mindset get you down. No matter your major, the world is truly your oyster. Now go land a killer gig.”

Off-Broadway Play Comes to Siena

This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending Platanos y Collard Greens, an off-Broadway comedy and romance play. Even though I’m a senior, it was the first play that I’ve gone to at Siena in the Beaudoin Theatre. I went in knowing very little about the play itself, only that it was a comedy with the tagline, “A tale of secret lovers from different cultures, who fall in love at first sight, until Mom finds out and has a heart attack!”

Platanos y Collard Greens focuses on two college students, Freeman, an African-American man, and Angelita, a Dominican woman, who fall in love, despite Angelita’s mother’s wishes. Angelita’s mother, who immigrated from the Dominican Republic to New York City, is vehemently against her daughter marrying outside her race, and she is especially opposed because Freeman is African-American. Amidst the relationship issues, racial tensions, and generational differences, Freeman campaigns for student government president with his friend Malady and his cousin OK. Though the concept of Platanos y Collard Greens is in itself a heavy topic, the play is very funny. Freeman’s cousin OK had the audience roaring with laughter for the entire performance, delivering witty one-liners and making hilarious facial expressions.

One thing I really enjoyed about the play was the incorporation of slam poetry and spoken word poems. Characters would often directly address the audience and perform a slam poem about what was troubling their character at that moment in the play. Each act was separated by a poem from a different character. For example, Angelita delivered a spoken word monologue about how she is Latina, but more than just a sexual object. Even though the actors kept the audience laughing through the entire play, Platanos y Collard Greens still managed to discuss contemporary racial issues on a deeper level, captivating the audience while simultaneously providing food for thought.

Keep an eye out for further coverage of Platanos y Collard Greens in the 10/19 issue of the Promethean!

 

FRANKENSTEIN IS HERE AT SIENA

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Frankenstein is beginning to take over at Siena. Wanna know why? Because this coming year is the 200th anniversary of when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein!

If you’re a freshman, you’ve read or are going to read Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein in your First Year Seminar class. Maybe you’re even in the FYS class about Frankenstein? If you’re in an English class or another Liberal Arts class, chances are you may be reading Frankenstein this semester! Otherwise, maybe you have begun to see some of the changes on campus that are celebrating the anniversary. If you haven’t seen them yet, let me tell you about them!

  1. Check out the display case of Frankenstein related books as you walk into the library! (On the left side)
  2. If you’re on the third floor of Siena Hall, check out the electronic banner that features Frankenstein!
  3. Mark your calendars for October 30th and 31st. The 1931 film, Frankenstein will be shown on the 30th and the 1935 film, Bride of Frankenstein will be shown on the 31st
  4. Check out this link of ALL of the events that will be happening on campus over the next year on campus! – https://www.siena.edu/news-events/article/frankenstein-200-years-of-fear-and-thinking

There are lots of speakers, film presentations, and even a play to look forward to. Check back on the blog for updates on these events!

 

Victoria Andler

Social Media Intern

Siena College School of Liberal Arts

Constitution Day

Hey guys!

This past Tuesday we had a really awesome event on campus! This event was Constitution Day, an event that is hosted annually. The theme of this Constitution Day was New York State’s 2017 Referendum regarding the Constitutional Convention. If you aren’t aware of what this means, let me explain it a bit:

According to Section 2 of Article XIX of the state constitution, every twenty years there has to be a ballot question asking if there should be a convention to revise the constitution. If the voters vote for it, a convention is held, if they do not vote for it, nothing is held.

The speakers who debated this issue of whether or not to hold a convention were Gerald Benjamin and Jerry Kremer. Gerald is for holding a convention whereas Jerry is opposed to it.

Gerald believes that the constitution was born out of the concept of popular sovereignty. This means that government is created and subject to the people that it serves. Under these pretenses, Gerald believes that not only do the people of the state of New York have the right to a constitutional convention but that they should because that is why the constitution was created.

He understands that it is difficult that the proposal is on the back of the ballot and that people don’t like to vote on propositions, but he believes it is important that there is some democratic accountability.

On the flip side, Jerry Kremer believes that having a convention is too costly and unnecessary. He explains that anywhere from 75-100 million dollars would be spent on a referendum. He also believes that if the voters voted on having a convention,  he fears that a lot of important things that are in the constitution would possibly get taken out.

Another thing that frustrated Jerry was the fact that people who are pro-referendum have had twenty years to fight for voting yes on having one but have only recently been advocating the idea. Now that there is 45 days until the vote he feels as if people want a referendum just to have one, not because they actually have changes in mind.

All in all, the debate was very interesting and it opened my eyes to something I didn’t even know about. I think it’s important to attend events on campus that don’t necessarily interest you right off the bat because you may find out that after going to the event that it is actually interesting after all!

Follow the School of Liberal Arts on Twitter, Instagram, and like us on Facebook to stay updated on events on campus that are going on!

 

Will Kempe’s Twelfth Night or What You Will

 

Hello Everyone!

I hope everyone has had a great first week of classes and is getting into the swing of things! While the first week is a busy time for all of us, I hope you were able to make it to one of the two performances of Will Kempe’s Twelfth Night or What You Will this past weekend. If not, I will recap what you missed!

Long before the performances on Saturday and Sunday, the players hosted a workshop for all Siena students to participate in on Friday from 5pm-7pm. They offered workshops in clowning, stage combat, among other things.

On both Saturday and Sunday, the players came out to Roger Bacon from 2pm-4pm and performed as the audience sat on the steps. It was a really cool experience to watch the play in the outdoors just as Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be performed.

One thing I enjoyed about the play was that while they stayed as true to the original as possible, they also incorporated some fun additions to keep the audience entertained. One thing they added was a musical component. Before the play, the Jester came out and introduced the audience to what would be happening, things for us to know, etc. Then the rest of the cast joined him and they sang for us some of the songs they would be performing throughout the play. They encouraged us to sing along with them. At first the audience was a bit hesitant but by the end people enjoyed singing along.

Another thing that was really great about Twelfth Night was that there were multiple alumni who starred in the play. It was nice to see alumni back on campus and involved. The people involved in the play were very talented and clearly experienced. Not only were they excellent actors but they were all talented singers as well. The actors who played the Jester and Maria stole the show in my opinion.

I want to thank The Creative Arts Department’s Theatre Program for sponsoring this event. I also want to encourage others to go and see other performances this semester that are put on by Stage III and The Creative Arts department. Often you can get event credit for First Year Seminar or other classes you need event credit for. Either way they are a lot of fun to go to!

Have a great second week back!

– Victoria Andler (Student Intern)

A Letter to the Siena College Class of 2021- Welcome Home!

 

 

Hi everyone!

First of all, I want to say congratulations! You have worked so hard to get here and every single one of you should be very proud of yourselves. Second, you should know that the decision to come HERE, to Siena College, will be one of the best decisions you will ever make in your lifetime.  As a second semester senior, I am writing this letter with mere weeks until graduation and I can’t help thinking back to when I was in your shoes. It really is ok to be nervous, but it’s ok to be excited to! College is going to be a time to figure out who you are and what your dreams and aspirations are going to be for the future. You’re going to meet amazing people and learn so much that it may even feel a tiny bit overwhelming at first! I want to share with you guys some of the tips that my friends and I have learned over the years to have the absolute best college experience, tips that have truly made Siena my own home away home.

  1. Be friends with everyone: You’re ALL going to be in the same position of moving away from home and that can be wicked nerve-wracking, especially if you live a little bit further away! I’m originally from Boston, Massachusetts which is three hours away from Siena, and it definitely was a little strange to be moving to a state where I didn’t really know anyone.  However, the friends I have made over the past four years have literally become like my second family! When you move in for orientation weekend in the fall, make sure you are friendly and say hi to everyone! Strike up a conversation with your hall mate or with the person sitting next to you in your 8am and find out who they are.  I actually met my best friend in the third floor communal bathroom of Ryan Hall and we ended up living together during our junior and senior years!
  2. GET INVOLVED: People have probably been telling you this left and right, but it’s true! Joining teams or clubs or organizations here at Siena is soooooo important because it not only gives you fun things to do each week, but it also gets you involved with the rest of the community.  We have an enormous list of things to join and at the beginning of the fall, you’ll have the chance to attend the Club Fair to sign up for various organizations.  Over the past four years, I’ve been involved with the Siena College Mentoring Program, Her Campus Siena, the Siena College Irish Step Dance team and the Siena College English Society and I’ve been able to attend events held by other clubs that my friends are in! There truly is something here at Siena for everyone and you’ll be able to form relationships with other students AND faculty that will last a lifetime.
  3. Be willing to learn: Your professors and classes are going to be some of the most influential things in your life during the next four years and as you choose and declare your major (if you haven’t already), you’re going to be able to take classes that will make you excited for future endeavors to come! You’re also going to be required to take a series of CORE classes, which will open your mind to other areas of study, such as art, science, religion and math.  Be open to what these classes and professors are teaching you and don’t be afraid to be curious and to ask questions! Some of the best classes I’ve taken here at Siena have been part of the CORE list and I really have been able to take some of the skills learned in these classes to more professional settings.
  4. Step out of your comfort zone: I know how scary this can be, but it’s also incredibly important! You may find that you love something that you would have never tried before in high school or that you love a place you’ve never been to.  Before coming to Siena, I was a little bit more on the quiet side and had done sports my entire life.  Although I still have a love for fitness and being healthy, I have joined so many different clubs, which have allowed me to become so much more outgoing! The relationships I have formed here at Siena are some of the most special I have ever had and some of them have formed just from us stepping outside of our comfort zones!

Check out our social media pages for updates and information about what’s going on around campus!

Facebook: Siena College School of Liberal Arts

Twitter: @siena_lib_arts

Instagram: @sienalibarts

You all are going to do amazing here at Siena, and I’m not just saying that! You’ve worked so hard to get here and it also doesn’t hurt that you’re about to come to the BEST school in the world. 🙂 Be excited, be adventurous and most importantly, be a SAINT.

Julia Lowney, Communications/Social Media Intern at the School of Liberal Arts

English major; Marketing and Writing Communications Minors; VERY proud member of the Siena College Class of 2017

 

Siena School of Liberal Arts Offers New Health Studies Major

 

 

Hi everyone!

Siena has just been given the approval to begin promoting a new major that will be offered in the fall and I’m wicked excited to announce that freshman and returning students will be able to declare a Health Studies major! The course of study will allow students to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and will feature three tracks of study: health administration, health sciences and health policy.  This is the FIRST major here at Siena that will truly be considered interdisciplinary, as health administration will be offered through the School of Business, health sciences through the School of Science and health policy through the School of Liberal Arts.  Through my own job search over the past few months, I have come across a TON of businesses that are offering a multitude of careers through these courses of study, so if you are even the slightest bit interested in the field of health studies, consider taking advantage of this fantastic opportunity!

The Health Studies major will not only feature a set of core and elective requirements, but will also contain lessons that are based in Siena’s Franciscan values.  Dr. Matcha, one of Siena’s Sociology professors and the new director of the Health Studies program says, “The idea of serving others is at the core of the Franciscan tradition. We want our students to learn about the scientific and business aspects of health care, but at the basis of this needs to be a sense of compassion and responsibility.” The American health care system, as well as international health care systems will be studied in order to ensure full understanding of how to properly work with patients around the world.

This new major could be the very foundation of so many careers in the world of medicine.This major has been a work in progress for the past two years and has brought together a huge team of people from all departments around campus, including our very own Donna Tytko, Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts.  If you’re interested or have any additional questions, PLEASE contact Dr. Duane Matcha at dmatcha@siena.edu

What do you think about the new Health Studies Major? Let me know in the comments below!

Julia (Student Intern)

Networking Opportunities? Yes, please!

 

Hi everyone!

I hope you’re staying warm on this strangely freezing March morning, I hope spring gets here soon! To all my fellow seniors out there who are currently applying for jobs and grad school, the process is incredibly STRESSFUL. The applications, the interviews, the desperation to make yourself stand out among others can be very overwhelming, but I have learned through my own job searching and affiliation with the CEPD office that networking is the KEY to helping this process be successful! This past Tuesday, I was able to attend Siena’s 14th Annual Career, Internship and Grad School Fair and I was SO glad that I did! Over 120 businesses set up tables in the MAC on Tuesday afternoon and a huge amount of students from all majors attended, handing out resumes and business cards and having conversations with employers about possible opportunities. This was the biggest networking event I have been to thus far and I have to admit, it was a bit nerve-wracking at first! Talking about yourself can definitely feel a little strange at first, but events such as these are a huge opportunity to talk about the skills and assets you can bring to a school or a team.  I talked to about five or six different employers (even the Boston University Grad School) and they were all incredibly nice and interested in what I had to say. I was even able to speak with the team from Habitat for Humanity International about future volunteer opportunities, who told me my course of study (English and Marketing) would be perfect for their team!

Although I’m from out of state and was not able to find any immediate job openings in the Boston area that were offered at the career fair, I am so glad that I was able to attend.  I met some fantastic people, particularly from Linium Recruiting, who have offered to see what they can do with my resume.  In addition, I received some advice about how to enter the Marketing and Public Relations field, which has helped me tremendously in continuing my job search.  Networking is about creating relationships with experienced professionals and about learning as much as possible about creating a strong future career; over the past four years as a Siena student, I have truly learned  how to network. Having a Liberal Arts education has not only provided us with hard earned degrees, but has also provided skills that we will take into the professional world and beyond.  If you come across large networking events such as this one, or even smaller meetings, go to them! They may be nerve-wracking and you may think, “Well, how is this going to help me?,” but I promise, it’ll be worth your while. Networking events are like informal interviews and they will give you the chance to practice presenting yourself to employers, something that one can never do often enough.  You’ll learn so much about the career field you’re pursuing. Even if you don’t find a job with that particular company, odds are they are going to know someone who will be able to help you!

Check out my article at http://www.hercampus.com/school/siena to see a list of tips on how to network the right way! Did you go to the career fair on Tuesday? Let me know in the comments!

Julia Lowney (Student Intern)