News & Updates

Allegheny Alumna From Pittsburgh Area Receives Fulbright Award

Allegheny College’s faculty helped Lauren Ottaviani ’18 nurture her knack for learning languages, for Shakespearean studies and for singing. Now they are celebrating Ottaviani’s Fulbright award to teach English in Belgium starting in the spring of 2020.

“Lauren will make an ideal Fulbright Scholar. Prodigiously bright, mature and responsible, she graduated summa cum laude from Allegheny in only three years, earning the English Department prize for best senior project and chairing the student Honor Committee at a time it undertook a review of its policies and practices,” says Jim Bulman, Henry B. and Patricia Bush Tippie Professor of English at Allegheny.

Ottaviani will be placed at the University of Antwerp, where she will teach and assist with English literature courses. “In addition to designing lessons for students, I will also be taking a course on Flemish to better understand the local language and culture,” says Ottaviani, who is from Zelienople, Pennsylvania.

She is currently in Great Britain attending Durham University, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in English literature. “I will be completing a dissertation on the formation of collective memory and its impact on female identity in Shakespeare’s first tetralogy and will be presenting my research at a medieval memory conference at the University of Basel this summer. I will move to Antwerp upon completing my degree in the fall,” says Ottaviani.

While at Allegheny, Ottaviani was involved with the choral program and was a member of the College Choir and Chamber Choir. She also participated in Opera Scenes and took voice lessons with Carol Niblock. She was on the Honor Committee and served as co-chair.

“In comparing my experiences as an undergraduate to those of my course-mates at Durham, I realized how much I benefited from the extended attention which Allegheny professors give to their students,” says Ottaviani, who was an English major and French studies minor at Allegheny. “The Allegheny English Department provided me with invaluable skills for my continued study of literature — both in my courses and during their office hours, my professors pushed me to deepen my analyses and sharpen my writing skills.”

Ottaviani says she enjoys being overseas. “A highlight of my Allegheny experience was my participation in choir, which helped me so much to grow both as a singer and as a person. My first trip abroad was with the Chamber Choir on our tour to New Zealand in 2017 — it’s fair to say that my interest in traveling internationally began with the Chamber Choir and the remarkable cultural insights we had together on tour,” she says.

“She clearly ranks among the top 10 students of the more than 4,000 I have taught during my 40 years,” says Professor Bulman.

Ottaviani is one of about 2,100 U.S. citizens who will study, conduct research and teach abroad for the 2019–2020 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

A Gator’s View From Down Under

Editor’s Note: Allegheny College junior Joseph Merante is spending the spring 2019 semester at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. He shared his thoughts on life there so far:

The first thing that hits you when you step out of the airplane on the eastern edge of the Australian continent is the heat. My experience might have been intensified, since my first step onto the tarmac was in daylight. I had one more plane to board once I got to Australia, and I had to wade through a thick curtain of heat hovering above the asphalt to get there. I’ve been to California, places like Palm Springs, and the weather there is hot and balmy. The airport in Brisbane is hot full stop.

Student Joseph Merante interacts with a kangaroo.

The good thing about all this heat, though, is that Australians don’t mess around when it comes to air conditioning. Each room has its own Aircon unit that lowers 10 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 minutes. And, of course, you get used to it. At this point, when it’s 70 degrees in my room, I’m shivering in my pajamas.

What’s bad about all this heat are tropical flowers and fruit plants. What comes from them, I mean. Sunlight is everywhere, which means foliage is everywhere. And if foliage and fruit are everywhere, that means flies are everywhere. And if flies are everywhere, that means things that eat flies are everywhere. The food chain here is quite bottom heavy. Unlike in the United States, where you have mountain lions and moose and bears, the biggest terrestrial predator is an emu, if that even counts. Dingoes, I guess, are next. There are tons of lizards, frogs, snakes, birds and bats. They are having a pest problem with the frogs; drivers will swerve out of their way to try to run them over. It’s the same with bats, they try to expel colonies only to move them to the next town over.

What’s good about all this heat are the beaches. The water is warm, the sand is soft, the seagulls are disrespectful — everything you’re looking for from a beach experience. The coast nearest to Townsville, called the Strand, has the unique situation of being penned in by an island and the Great Barrier Reef. Although that’s not good for surfing, the lack of angry waves means it’s perfect for nice and relaxing dips into the ocean. Right now it’s jellyfish season, so we are warned against choosing your own locations to swim, but there are plenty of netted areas that are dragged in the morning that are open to the public. There is also a place known as the rock pool, which is a large stone basin that filters in seawater each week that you can swim within, if the nets aren’t enough. Each of the beaches has a stand where a container of vinegar is placed. Should you get stung, you are told to run to the vinegar and pour it on the wound.

A waterfall cascades through Australia’s lush vegetation.

In terms of culture shock, it’s much less of an adjustment than I was expecting. If someone’s popular, you can talk about how they went on “Oprah.” I’m studying the effect of trauma in one of my classes, we immediately went to clips of 9/11. The “What the Fox Says” video went viral here. People love Minecraft. People love the “Walking Dead,” and the “Walking Dead” video game. A lot of the music is familiar.

The water in restaurants is different, however. You don’t get the server hovering at your elbow filling up your glass whenever it’s empty (which is not good for me since I’m still sweating profusely). They do indeed say “G’day” and “mate.” They say “uni” and not college. They don’t have ketchup, they have tomato sauce, and they like beets (yay!) on a much greater variety of things.

While in Australia, I am taking two English classes, one about narrative theory, the other about different forms of biography. I am also taking a political science class that focuses on developing nations, charting the different methods and timelines for countries. My final class is called “Indigenous Australians,” which studies different native groups, including the Torres-Strait peoples.

My time at Allegheny has done a great job of teaching me to be self-sufficient, sensitive to other people’s values, and considerate of those who have different academic backgrounds, all of which has had a major impact on my experience here. I’m looking forward to coming home this summer, but in the meantime, I’m going to spend as much time at the beach as physically possible.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Recent Allegheny College Graduate Awarded Fulbright to Study Medieval Literature in England

Madeline Hernstrom-Hill
Madeline Hernstrom-Hill ’18

If you think of the Middle Ages as little more than dirt, blood and Bubonic Plague, recent Allegheny College graduate Madeline Hernstrom-Hill can enlighten you.

“Sure, all that is there, but there is also so much more — complicated medical manuals, treatises about forms of government, astrological thought, trade across incredible distances, I could go on,” says Hernstrom-Hill, Allegheny Class of 2018.

And go on she will — to England, through a year-long Fulbright award to pursue a master’s degree in medieval history at the University of Leeds beginning this fall.

When she was 12, Hernstrom-Hill (at the prompting of her mother) read The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. That work sparked her interest in the Arthurian Legends and medieval times.

“It’s such a vibrant time, from the gold inlay on illuminated manuscripts to the types of stories they told each other about knights and monsters and ladies, many of whom don’t match up at all to our modern notion of the medieval damsel,” Hernstrom-Hill says.

After arriving at Allegheny from her home in Boston, Hernstrom-Hill began to take courses in medieval history and literature with Jennifer Hellwarth, professor of English, and Stephen Lyons, retired professor of history.

Hernstrom-Hill credits Allegheny with teaching her how to conduct independent research and to ask the right questions about it. Even more, Hernstrom-Hill says she has learned to listen to the responses she gets — “to conduct a dialogue, whether between yourself and your subject material, or with another scholar, or with really anyone who has a different perspective than your own. I think that’s a hugely important skill for trying to get the most out of an international experience.”

Hernstrom-Hill will bring impressive academic credentials to her Fulbright experience. At Allegheny, she not only majored in both history and English but also completed two minors: classical studies and medieval and renaissance studies. Her senior comprehensive project explored medieval women from three different faiths during the Crusades.

Patrick Jackson, director of national fellowship advising in the Allegheny Gateway, notes that Hernstrom-Hill took full advantage of all the resources that the College offers as she pursued her interests. For example, she received funding to conduct summer research on campus and to attend a conference in her field hosted by Western Michigan University.

“Madeline did all of this not knowing that it would be the foundation for a successful Fulbright, but because she was interested in pursuing an idea that moved her,” Jackson says. “That’s the secret strength of a liberal arts education. By following our passions where they lead, we often wind up advancing not only our careers, but our lives.”

Hernstrom-Hill says she is grateful to her mentors at Allegheny, and she wants to follow in their footsteps and ultimately become a professor. Following her time in England, Hernstrom-Hill will begin the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program at Northern Michigan University, where she has already been admitted. She hopes to go on eventually to earn a Ph.D.

For now, though, Hernstrom-Hill is focused on making the most of her Fulbright award and studying in England.

“I hope to meet other people who are totally in love with the Middle Ages,” she says. “There’s a wonderful community of medieval scholars out there, and a lot of them spend time at Leeds.”

And there’s another item she’d like to check off of her list:

“Also, I’d like to see a real castle!”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Single Voice Reading Series Features Writer B.J. Hollars

Writer B.J. Hollars will read from his work at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 8, in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center as part of Allegheny College’s Single Voice Reading Series. The event is free and open to the public.

B.J. Hollars was born in Monticello, Indiana in 1984. He graduated from Knox College, where he delivered an address as Class Speaker with former President Bill Clinton. He received his M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Alabama.

Hollars is the founder and executive director of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild. He is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Hollars is the author of “Dispatches from the Drownings: Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction,” “Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence and the Last Lynching in America,” and “This Is Only A Test.”  He is the author of several books, most recently Flock Together: A Love Affair With Extinct Birds, From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us About Life, Death, and Being Human. In April, The Road South: Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders will be published by the University of Alabama Press.

Hollars’s essays have appeared in The Rumpus, TriQuarterly, Brevity, The Collagist, North American Review, Quarterly West, and other literary journals. He is the winner of the Blei/Derleth Nonfiction Award (2014) and the Society of Midland Authors Adult Nonfiction Award (2012).

The Single Voice Reading Series continues with an appearance by poet Lily Hoang on March 15. For more information about the Single Voice Reading Series, contact Frederick F. Seely Professor of English Christopher Bakken at cbakken@allegheny.edu.

Allegheny Events: Writer B.J. Hollars (Single Voice Reading Series)

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Hart, Reed Present at International Writing Centers Association Conference

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Alexis Hart and Senior Writing Consultant Jessica Reed ’18 presented their talk titled “De(ux)coding: (1) Collaborative Faculty-Undergraduate Research and (2) Questioning in ‘Matched’ Consultations” at the International Writing Centers Association Conference in Chicago on November 11.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Single Voice Reading Series Welcomes Authors James Davis May, Chelsea Rathburn

Allegheny alumnus James Davis May and Chelsea Rathburn will read from their work as part of the College’s Single Voice Reading Series at 7 p.m. November 30 in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Author James Davis May.

May’s first book, “Unquiet Things,” was published in 2016. Other poems have appeared in Five Points, The Missouri Review, New England Review, New Ohio Review, New Republic, and The Southern Review. In 2013, he won the Collins Award from Birmingham Poetry Review, and has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Inprint, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar. May, who graduated from Allegheny in 2004, is a professor of English and creative writing at Young Harris College.

Chelsea Rathburn was raised in Florida before earning her master’s of fine arts at the University of Arkansas. Her first full-length collection, “The Shifting Line,” won the 2005 Richard Wilbur Award, and in 2009 she received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, The Southern Review, New England Review, The Threepenny Review and Ploughshares. She is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Young Harris College.

For more information about the Single Voice Reading Series, contact Frederick F. Seely Professor of English Christopher Bakken at cbakken@allegheny.edu

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Single Voice Reading Series Welcomes Authors James Davis May, Chelsea Rathburn

Allegheny alumnus James Davis May and Chelsea Rathburn will read from their work as part of the College’s Single Voice Reading Series at 7 p.m. November 30 in the Tillotson Room of the Tippie Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public.

May’s first book, “Unquiet Things,” was published in 2016. Other poems have appeared in Five Points, The Missouri Review, New England Review, New Ohio Review, New Republic, and The Southern Review. In 2013, he won the Collins Award from Birmingham Poetry Review, and has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Inprint, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar. May, who graduated from Allegheny in 2004, is a professor of English and creative writing at Young Harris College.

Chelsea Rathburn was raised in Florida before earning her master’s of fine arts at the University of Arkansas. Her first full-length collection, “The Shifting Line,” won the 2005 Richard Wilbur Award, and in 2009 she received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, The Southern Review, New England Review, The Threepenny Review and Ploughshares. She is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Young Harris College.

For more information about the Single Voice Reading Series, contact Frederick F. Seely Professor of English Christopher Bakken at cbakken@allegheny.edu

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

MacNeill Miller Essay Published

Assistant Professor of English John MacNeill Miller published an essay, “Composing Decomposition: ‘In Memoriam’ and the Ecocritical Undertaking” in a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Contexts comprising select papers presented at this year’s meeting of the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies association. The essay uses ‘In Memoriam,’ Alfred Tennyson’s poem about his best friend’s death, to examine how representations of decay affect our ability to think ecologically.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

MacNeill Miller Essay Published

Assistant Professor of English John MacNeill Miller published an essay, “Composing Decomposition: ‘In Memoriam’ and the Ecocritical Undertaking” in a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Contexts comprising select papers presented at this year’s meeting of the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies association. The essay uses ‘In Memoriam,’ Alfred Tennyson’s poem about his best friend’s death, to examine how representations of decay affect our ability to think ecologically.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Hart Presents Research on Women in the Military

Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Alexis Hart presented some of her research on women in the military on the panel “Remembering Differently: Re-Figuring Women’s Rhetorical Work” at the Feminisms and Rhetorics conference held in Dayton, Ohio, on October 4-7.

Hart and Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Director of Speaking Jon Wiebel also presented a roundtable session titled “Collaboratively Fostering Student Voices in Writing and Speaking” at the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) conference held in Pittsburgh on October 20-21.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research