Challenging the Literary Canon

After years of being assigned books to read for school, have you ever wondered why the same authors find their way onto every English teacher’s syllabus? I can still remember most of the books I was assigned in high school, throughout my years of Honors and AP English classes. As a freshman, I can recall reading Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. My sophomore English syllabus emphasized Shakespeare, Hemingway, and Victor Hugo. Junior year was my AP Language course, which consisted primarily of analyzing speeches from great men of times past, such as John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln.

All of the works I have mentioned so far were authored by white men. I can only remember women and/or non-white authors being a significant part of my class curriculum during my senior year. That year, we were treated to an entire unit on Toni Morrison. Song of Solomon by Morrison was even our summer reading assignment. Later in the fall, we were tasked with writing a research paper on Morrison and her writing. But, it’s tragic that Morrison is one of the only black writers I can remember being taught in high-school. Why should a school English curriculum only emphasize one type of author? White, male, straight, cisgender — why is that considered the story worth reading?

When somebody mentions the literary canon, they are referring to the set of authors or works seen as the epitome of greatness. The books you are exposed to in middle and high school typically belong to this canon. That canon overwhelmingly features authors from those categories I already mentioned. This is how we all end up reading and reminiscing over the same “sacred” works. That isn’t to say, though, that there isn’t value in reading Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare. It’s just that we need to make an effort to allow other voices to be heard too.

Race, gender and sexuality are three areas where this diversity is most lacking. As already mentioned, most famed authors are white, straight, cisgender men. Writers who don’t fall into those categories rarely garner that same recognition, yet representation in literature and the arts is incredibly important for marginalized groups. It is important then that as consumers of media we make room for those marginalized voices.

Undergraduate Students for Publishing, a student organization at Emerson, recently hosted a speaker series titled Decolonize the Canon. As its name suggests, speakers at the event spoke about challenging the lack of diversity in the accepted literary and art canons — not only in regards to what artists receive recognition, but as well as what stories they are allowed to tell. Different ideas were discussed, including the importance of challenging what is perceived to be art and the importance of representation in literature. 

Knowing that the accepted canon typically only features certain authors of certain backgrounds, it is necessary to challenge that canon. Engage with the works of authors of diverse backgrounds and experiences and encourage a more inclusive literary canon. As readers, that’s the least we can do.

Inside Emerson’s New Dorm Building

This past year, there’s been plenty of talk about the construction happening on Emerson’s Boylston Street campus. From the building of a new dining hall to Little Building being closed for renovations starting this May, to a new dorm building with its entrance in the Boylston Place alleyway—change is definitely coming to Emerson. But, how much do Emerson’s students actually know about these construction projects? Particularly, how much do students know about this new dorm building? Many students will call 2 Boylston Place their home come next semester, and yet they might not know much about what the Boylston Place dorm will really be like.

As a student who is now a junior, even I’m a bit confused about just what is happening with this new dorm building, regardless if I might not have the opportunity to live there. Still, I’ve been watching this construction happen since I started at Emerson. The sounds of drilling and workers shouting over the noise of their equipment have become all too familiar to my peers and me.

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Backstock for Standing Rock with Pub Club

It has always been important to take action, but now is an essential time to be advocating for social and political change. That includes taking action here on Emerson’s campus, in the greater Boston area, or beyond.

But, sometimes advocacy can mean showing solidarity. Or fundraising in support of an issue or movement. That’s why Undergraduate Students for Publishing (or Pub Club) has decided to spend a week selling its back stock to fundraise for Standing Rock. If you’re unfamiliar with Standing Rock, here’s a brief summary: The Standing Rock protests are in response to a proposal to build the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). If built, the pipeline would threaten the water that many indigenous people in the area depend on. Despite the freezing weather, protests have continued at Standing Rock for months now.

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Upcoming Changes to the Emerson Campus

If there is one thing Emerson students are accustomed to seeing, it’s scaffolding. I don’t remember a time that Emerson’s campus wasn’t dominated by rows of scaffolding that hang ominously above as you wait to cross at the Boylston-Tremont intersection. Scaffolding has been a fixture outside the Little Building (LB) for a long time now. This is to be expected, given it’s an old building desperately in need of some sprucing up. Thankfully, Emerson will begin the renovation process of LB next semester. Starting in January 2017, though, the lower-level of the building will be closed. This means that both the campus fitness center and the Cabaret (at least in their current locations) will be closed as well.

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Emerson Alumni: They Went Here?

Anyone who attends Emerson is probably well-accustomed to hearing about the different celebrity alumni that have walked the school’s hallowed halls (although Emerson has changed campus locations numerous times over the years). Yes, Emerson loves to talk about its Emerson Mafia. Of course, an impressive list of alumni is something for the college to be proud of. It’s nice to know, after all, that a good amount of people who have attended and graduated from Emerson have gone on to do incredible things.

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Pub Club’s Fall 2016 Book Launch

What is Pub Club exactly? Pub Club is short for Undergraduate Students for Publishing, which is one of several publishing organizations operating on Emerson’s campus. The organization provides students who hope to work in the publishing industry the chance to gain some valuable experience while at Emerson. One of the ways Pub Club does this is by publishing two books a semester, under the name Wilde Press.

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Back to Campus: Quelling College-Related Anxiety

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Last August, I was terrified to start college.

On another hand, I was also excited to get to campus. Soon, I’d be taking classes in the areas of study that most interested me. My roommates and I had already become well-acquainted through the power of Facebook, which ensured I would not be entering my college years alone.

Still, I had lived in the same comfortable, yet boring, town for the majority of my life. Though my most valuable friendships were not made until high school, I had gone to class alongside the same students for years. My school wouldn’t be too far from home but I recognized that college would still bring tremendous change to my life. And, unfortunately, change can be scary.

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What It’s Like To Have Anxiety

It’s like a shiver, growing in strength as it climbs from the tips of your fingers to the top of your shoulders. A fizzing of carbonated drinks rumbling right under the surface, with every pop follows a shiver. All you can do is imagine your bed and comfortable blanket and sweatshirt waiting for you at home, mere miles and hours in your future. “You can get through this,” you tell yourself. “Just keep going,” you say as you move through your necessary operations. You look at everyone else, envy building within your bones that they seem to be at ease. Maybe they’re nervous about an impending job interview or national test their future relies on, but their skin hasn’t broken out in cold telltale hives of your anxieties.

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Working ‘Till College Do Us Part

When May is coming, all college students can think of is the potential for adventure, fun and sleep during their summer months. No more homework or projects or whatnots.

Well, at least until your internship starts, you get hired at your summer job, and finding the time to split between your friends at home, from school, and all that family you missed out on during the school year. Suddenly, you’re sick of your own summer. When’s the right time to quit?

For each person this question differs. Obviously the money aspect plays a big role and everyone’s fiscal responsibilities vary according to need, want and current stature. So this question is very personal for many. If you need to keep working or work hours on end during the week, quitting your job early may not be the write solution for you. However, as long as friends and family, a good book or show to binge online surrounds you, you’ll get a little break until the academic calendar offers a little solace.

However, if you do not fall under that category, there are many variables you need to take into account.

Are you happy at your job?

This is a question that has many parts. Are your coworkers nice; are your bosses understanding; are you paid well enough for your task? If your answers to these questions are astounding yeses, then you may be happy to keep working. Considering how rare that is, enjoy it while it lasts. But if you’re counting down every hour from the moment you get in, your bosses haven’t listened or respected your requests, the pay isn’t worth the treatment and work you’ve completed, then maybe you shouldn’t stay there all summer. How many times have you been able to see the friends and family from home since starting work? Have you actually taken time to relax before the academic grind begins? Did you go on an adventure of sorts? Don’t loose your summer to a job.

Leave time to relax, to craft, to see friends, to explore, to do anything your young collegiate heart desires. You’ll be working when you’re back in school. If you can afford it and need it, take some time for yourself.

How much time you need is up to you. If you hate your job, need some more money, but don’t want to loose your time at home to this paid task, why not quit a little before. A week, depending on how many things you want to do. Two weeks if you’re traveling or visiting friends and family. If you need that much time for the amount of events you want to complete this summer, do it. Take a month if at all possible.

Just remember to try and follow protocol. It’s never a bad thing to have another work reference or experience on your resume for the future. So try to at least give two weeks notice, more so if possible. Bring it up when you have their full attention. Tell them how grateful you were for this opportunity, even if you hated every second of it and are imagining the fanfare when you walk out. Explain that you need to start focusing on getting back to school, means it had nothing to do with them or your feelings towards them. And give an exact date of when your last day will be. Then, there will be no confusion of when to start the trumpeters.

Instagram Worthy Summer Adventures

Summer is almost halfway through and thus you may be thinking “what have I even done so far?” Between working or summer classes, it is easy to feel as if you are not making the most of  your “summer fun.” This is especially the case when social media tends to make your friends’ lives seem so exciting. If you feel as if you are wasting away your chance at some summer adventures, here are some ideas to help you make the best of your summer.

Day Trips

Juggling a summer job or internship while trying to still have a social life is not an easy task. One of the best ways to make the most of your limited time of is by going on day trips. Anything less than a two hour drive is a good option. Public transportation is also a great option. Going somewhere you’ve never been before even if it’s not a major tourist spot can still make you feel like you’re doing something. It’s always fun to explore a new town or city, try new restaurants, and experience the culture. You never know what you may discover.

Even if you’ve been somewhere before, there is almost always something new to do or see. You never know what you may discover.  You can always try searching Pinterest or even googling for ideas. Viewing your area from the eyes of someone else can remind you of places you’ve always wanted to go or never even knew existed.

Explore the Arts

Most cities, towns or neighboring areas have some sort of local arts scene. Don’t be afraid to check out a local gallery, nearby concert or theater production. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of the artists or bands. In fact, that’s probably better as it will make the experience more of an adventure. Opening yourself up to new art is always a valuable experience. Local arts scenes also tend to be close knit, so it’s likely you’ll learn about other events while you are there.

Also consider checking out some local museums. Most museums are free or low cost and many even offer student discounts. Museums are a great way to learn something new and get inspired. Even your local town history museum is worth checking out. Typically, the people who work in museums are genuinely interested in starting conversations and sharing their knowledge, so be sure to ask questions and gain as much as possible from the experience.

Explore the Outdoors

Camping is a great way to travel on a budget. Most areas have nearby state parks with tent sites or low cost campgrounds. There is so much to see outdoors, and there are so many adventures to be had. Depending on where you live, there are likely different kinds of hiking trails to explore. If you’re a beginner start out with easy trails and see how you like it. There are also so many other options for exploring nature. Everything from riding your bike to spending a day at the beach can be a great summer adventure. If you don’t have a full day to spend outside, consider going on a picnic. Simply getting out in the fresh air can remind you of the joy of summer.

Record these adventures in photos and journals. You can post about it on social media if you wish, but don’t feel obligated to blog every minute. Remember, this adventure is something for you, not something to use just to show off. Make memories that are powerful and fulfilling without worrying about what your Instagram caption will be.