Professor Gordon Hirsch contributes to a UMNews video about the University Libraries' Sherlock Holmes Special Collections, the largest archive of Holmes material in the world. Having, say, original copies of Holmes' stories in the Strand Magazine here on campus "gives a student a real connection to history," notes Hirsch, and an opportunity to make unexpected discoveries: "You can really see Victorian values and Victorian attitudes in the advertisements in this sort of popular journal." The archive also features a replica of Holmes' 221B Baker Street room on the fourth floor of Wilson Library, which students might compare against scenes from the new Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey, Jr.
December 2009 Archives
Professor of English Ellen Messer-Davidow was awarded the Dr. Matthew Stark Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Faculty Award Sunday December 13 at the College of Liberal Arts Commencement. The award recognizes Professor Messer-Davidow's distinguished writing, teaching, and service in the areas of civil rights, public education, and social justice. The Stark awards were created this year, based on a generous donation from Dr. Matthew "Matt" Stark, a former professor at the University of Minnesota and former executive director of the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union. Messer-Davidow represents the award's first faculty recipient; English major Joshua Capodarco, honored at the same ceremony, is the second student recipient.
If you want to watch the video version of this interview click here
Question 1: Would you consider yourself involved? If so, How? This can be inside and outside of the classroom.
My definition of student of involvement would not preclude involvement in academics necessarily nor the classroom environment. However, I am involved in a lot of different ways. For example, I try to be involved in class discussion, while outside of classroom I volunteer and I intern. I think working would qualify, but I don't want to say too much about that because I know that as students we are discouraged from holding jobs while going to school. There are many ways to be involved and it is important to find one of those ways or a few of them that work for you.
Question 2: Could you go more into depth in describing your volunteer and work experience?
I am working right now in an emergency department that is pretty well renowned. I think we are doing 20 or so research topics. The program is actually helped by the University of Minnesota. Also, I found out about the program through Googling for stuff to do.
Question 3: Why is it important to get involved?
Well, consider the alternative of not being involved- it is pretty bleak. So yes, it is important to do stuff, but it is also important to do these things well. Study up on the things that you want to do. Make meaningful contributions to a community or get involved in a community and practice your chaps.
Question 4: How has getting involved changed your experience in academia and perhaps even you career path?
It is important to be able to relate what you've learned in other disciplines and to what you are learning or whatever you are doing. It (involvement) is a better way to learn as it involves more areas of your brain physically. There are old Greek methods for learning and memorization. One of those is called the logos method. If you have to give a speech back in ancient Greece, there were no teleprompters or printers to print out your speeches. Instead, you had to sit and talk for two hours without anything. So, one method that the Ancient Greeks adapted is called the logos method. The logos method is where you picture a town in your mind and think of yourself entering the town from maybe the west end. As you enter into the first house on the right perhaps you see a vase inside the house so you tie some part of your speech to this house or to the town. This method has been proven to be very effective. Similarly, being involved in many different aspects of community life will provide the same benefits for learning.
Question 5: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to become more involved/engaged within the community or within academia?
Absolutely, do what interests you and if you don't know what interests you- do something. Go out and find people, find groups, and communities. You will know right away if it is something that you enjoy doing. Do not just assume that you don't like being involved because that is a very pessimistic way to live and you are never going to learn or adapt to new things if that is your outlook. If you don't know what you are going to go out and do just get off the couch, even if it's behind a computer screen. You can participate in blogs or even read the news.
Question 6: How do you see yourself using an English major as apart of your career?
I would like to go to medical school and become a practicing physician and I know that seems weird as an English major. However, statistically, humanities majors perform better on the MCAT than other majors. I think people could offer valid speculation as to why this is. Being an English major provides a variety of things that you can bring to the table as a scientists or a physician. It is important to know what you are doing clinically or in the lab, but it is also important to be an interesting person and be able to correlate things that other people might not be correlating. That is one way I think my major brings a lot to the table and I think other English majors should think about that too. Branch out and think about other backgrounds or look in other disciplines. Do not just do what is most comfortable, and think about things through other peoples' eyes.
English faculty continue to publish at a brisk pace: Creative Writing Program Director Ray Gonzalez celebrated the release of Faith Run: Poems (University of Arizona Press) in September and Cool Auditor: Prose Poems (B.O.A. Editions) in November. . . . Professor John Watkins also published his second book of the year, Shakespeare's Foreign Worlds: National and Transnational Identities in the Elizabethan Age, co-authored with Carole Levin (Cornell University Press), following up on the co-edited volume Shakespeare and the Middle Ages (Oxford University Press). . . . Professor Dan Philippon edited a collection of articles from the popular DNR magazine Minnesota Conservation Volunteer entitled Our Neck of the Woods: Exploring Minnesota's Wild Places (University of Minnesota Press). . . . Finally Professor Maria Damon co-edited with Ira Livingston Poetry and Cultural Studies: A Reader (University of Illinois Press). Congratulations to all!
The MFA Program announces the recipients of new research fellowships for MFA students: Colleen Coyne (poetry), Claire Stanford (fiction), and David Malley (nonfiction). These fellowships of $1,000 go toward supporting the completion of the MFA thesis. . . . Brian Laidlaw was awarded the MFA Progam's first annual Book Arts Fellowship for his project, "Americana Mantra--Boxed Set." His proposal was selected from among several outstanding projects. There will be a public presentation of the project in the spring. . . . Colleen McCarthy (poetry), Sara Culver (fiction), and Priscilla Kinter (nonfiction) were nominated by the MFA program for the Associated Writing Programs' 2010 Intro Journals Project. Winners selected by AWP's panel of judges will have their writing published in participating journals such as Hayden's Ferry Review, Mid-American Review, and Quarterly West.