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Literary Studies

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A MiddLab Project

CCSRE Life Stories: Marion Wells

Learn more about the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity  at Middlebury College

“Life Stories of Middlebury College” is a multi-phase initiative intended to gather people’s experiences while at the college, particularly reflections that highlight issues of diversity. In her interview, Marion Wells speaks about the assumptions people make because of her British accent, the difficulties of preparing to apply to Oxford as a teenager, the diversity and geographic distances experienced within her own family, her practice of Zen Buddhism and how this personal history helps her to keep her mind open to others.

 

People

Marion Wells

Associate Professor of English and American Literatures

Susan Burch

Associate Professor of American Studies

 

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A MiddLab Project

CCSRE Life Stories: Chris de la Cruz

Learn more about the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Middlebury College.

“Life Stories of Middlebury College” is a multi-phase initiative intended to gather people’s experiences while at the college, particularly reflections that highlight issues of diversity. In his interview,  Chris de la Cruz talks about growing up in Dayton, Ohio and his experience at Middlebury, where he has never felt that his ethnicity has been an issue in connecting with others on campus, how he relates to others has to do with a vibe and the search for home, and being with others who can elicit the feeling of home.

 

People

Chris de la Cruz

Paige Keren

 

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A MiddLab Project

Chekh It Out

Chekh It Out is your all-purpose interactive guide to Anton Chekhov’s play The Three Sisters.

The text of this play is loaded with links, polls, puns, translation and language notes, photos and videos, all designed to add context and value to your reading experience. We advise you to read through the play at least once before using the site, since discussion questions and intra-textual references may spoil the ending for you.

 

People

Rachel Woods

Samantha Parry

Luke Schanz-Garbassi

Thomas R. Beyer, Jr., CV Starr Professor of Russian & East European Studies

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A MiddLab Project

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a website created by Grace Benz, Ali Hentges, Robert Silverstein.  It presents Leo Tolstoy quotations and images + video clips from various  motion picture adaptations of his book Anna Karenina.

 

People

Grace Benz

Ali Hentges

Robert Silverstein

Thomas R. Beyer, Jr., CV Starr Professor of Russian & East European Studies

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Interviewing the Crime and Punishment Characters, a video by Tess Clark, John Montroy, and Eli Mauksch.

The purpose of this video and project was to enhance the reader’s understanding and experience of Crime and Punishment by bringing to life the main characters of Dostoevsky’s novel. We attempted to convey main ideals, personalities, and mannerisms of each of the characters through a more modern lens.

People

Tess Clark

John Montroy

Eli Mauksch

Thomas R. Beyer, Jr., CV Starr Professor of Russian & East European Studies

 

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A MiddLab Project

Dead Souls Demystified

The Dead Souls Demystified project (podcasts, blog, and video) was put together by three students of Professor Thomas Beyer’s Golden Age of Russian Literature course at Middlebury College.  Sam Finkelman contributed the analytical and historical blogposts about “Dead Souls” and the surrounding criticisms and contexts; Nicole Morse filmed the RSAnimate video and compiled the formatted the sound clips; Maddie Li aided in video graphics, WordPress site compilation, and information about Gogol’s life for a podcast.

People

Sam Finkelman

Nicole Morse

Maddie Li

Thomas R. Beyer, Jr., CV Starr Professor of Russian & East European Studies

 

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A MiddLab Project

The Pushkin Zone

Welcome to the Pushkin Zone, a blog dedicated to discussing Alexander Pushkin’s famous works. We have created this blog to free students from the tyranny of the classroom and provide an alternate and interactive method for Russian Literature appreciators to learn and discuss Alexander Pushkin and his works.

People

Michael Dola, 2015

Jamey Huffnagle, 2015

Tyler Durr, 2015

Thomas R. Beyer, Jr., CV Starr Professor of Russian & East European Studies

 

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Change-ringing occupies a strange position in English history, ubiquitous but virtually unstudied. This project investigates the philosophical and aesthetic underpinnings of change-ringing’s seventeenth-century development, using ringing literature and contemporary poetry to trace themes of circularity and ordered change in both content and structure. I conclude that the poets and ringers of the seventeenth century devised their unique aesthetic modes in order to create universally mimetic experiences that solidify faith in divine providence.

People

Emma Stanford

Researcher

 

Marion Wells

Sponsor and Associate Professor of English and American Literatures

 

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Grateful Vicissitude (PDF)

This project was inspired by my junior year abroad at the University of Oxford, during which I took up the esoteric hobby of change-ringing. Thanks to a research grant from the Mellon Foundation, I spent last summer in England researching the early history of change-ringing and its ideological parallels in seventeenth-century poetry, particularly the work of John Milton. “Grateful Vicissitude,” which I wrote this spring as a senior honors essay in Literary Studies, explains the phenomenon and history of change-ringing and then delves into its religious and philosophical roots, with help from ringing-chamber poetry and bell inscriptions. To support my analysis, I also draw from poetry by Donne, Herbert, and Milton, focusing on the portrayal of divine providence in both substance and structure across disciplines.

 

Early twentieth-century lyric poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was, at the height of her career, a literary celebrity treated as a major poet. Today, her poetry remains marginally popular but largely unstudied in literature classrooms. This presentation considers Millay in a cultural and hisorical context, discussing her complex relationship to Modernism, critical reactions to Millay over the course of the twnetieth century – ranging from New Critic John Crowe Ransom’s attack on Millay’s poetic and intellectual capabilities, to feminist critics’ attempts to reclaim her from obscurity – and the phenomenon of literary celebrity, particularly for women writers.

People

Carla Cevasco
Researcher

Brett Millier
Sponsor & Reginald D. Cook Professor of American Literature

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This presentation deals with a portion of my senior ENAM thesis, which focuses mainly on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard. The specific portion that I presented at the Symposium examined Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead‘s relation to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and to my knowledge is the first sustained and in-depth comparison between the two works. My presentation examines the precise nature of the relationship between the two works, as well as how events within Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead modify and enrich our understanding of Hamlet. Within Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern feel they have no free will; however, we can perceive the overall causes and effects of events in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead because of our prior knowledge of Hamlet and in that way can recognize the limits and contradictions of both predestination and free will.

People

John Goerlich
Researcher

John Bertolini
Sponsor & Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts

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For thousands of years, the written word contained only streams of capital letters, with unseparated words and sentences. Punctuation appeared in only rudimentary forms in the early centuries A.D., and was invented specifically to prevent those who read aloud in church from misreading on misinterpreting a passage of the scriptures. Spaces between words did not appear until the 700s A.D., after the development of the Carolingian Miniscule and the establishment of Benedictine rule, and it was not until the 1100s that they became common place. Suddenly, readers no longer needed to mumble through passages to discern their meanings, and began to read as we do most commonly today: in silence. The new written form inspired the first alphabetized glossaries, made books more compact and personal, and made literacy a more widespread goal. But it also triggered a sense of independence and empowerment as yet unknown in medieval society, causing a rise of critical thinkers and skeptics, and, in turn, inciting fear of heresy in the church. Indeed, without punctuation and the space between words, would we have the same capacity for questioning that we do today?

People

Melissa Hirsch
Researcher

Louisa Burnham
Sponsor & Associate Professor of History

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Although early literature of Maryland and Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay reflected the first settlers’ unbridled consumption of resources, as the twentieth centuries due to habitat loss, overfishing, and pollution, literature, specifically an emergent genre of children’s and young adult literature, demonstrated a shift from entitlement towards stewardship of the Bay’s resources. Authors of children’s and young adult literature increasingly encouraged youth, either didactically or through metaphor, to value the Bay’s resources, protect the health of the Bay, and persuade others to become stewards of a healthy Chesapeake for future generations. This presentation will examine the transformation of Chesapeake Bay literature, and explore how these children’s and young adult works color the growing environmental education movement in the Bay region.

People

Laura Williams
Researcher

Daniel Brayton
Sponsor & Assistant Professor of English & American Literature

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This project examines how the figure of the split mother in folk tales has changed over three historical eras. First, it focuses on two oral tales originating in the Early Modern period: “Hansel and Gretel” and “The Juniper Tree.” It also looks at Lucy Lane Clifford’s “The New Mother” (1882) and Neil Gaiman’s novel, Coraline (2002). The project examines the cultural and historical anxieties involved in this Good Mother/Bad Mother split. Finally, it questions whether today’s notion of the unattainable ideal mother continues to reflect the prejudices of the Early Moderns and Victorians.

People

Emily Culp
Researcher

Elizabeth Napier
Sponsor & Henry N. Hudson Professor of English and American Literatures

Marion Wells
Sponsor & Associate Professor of English and American Literatures

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As arguably the most famous playwright that Russia has ever produced, Anton Chekhov has written works that have been read and performed on an international level since their first publication in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His literary genius has helped to further the genre of realistic theatre with a tragicomedy of simultaneous humor and melancholy unique to his plays. In comparing three contemporary dramatic literature adaptations of Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya to the original (Sam Holcroft’s Vanya, Howard Barker’s Uncle Vanya and David Mamet’s Uncle Vanya) I will prove that Chekhov’s particular use of tragicomedy creates a human universality that dramatists try to emulate to this day, while each individually adjusts the test to fit his own distinctive writing style and vision for the plotline. This comparison asserts that classic works of dramatic literature contain an isolated universal human element that compels playwrights to create modern adaptations.

People

Cori Hundt
Researcher

John Bertolini
Sponsor & Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts

Scene from Sam Holcroft’s Vanya performed as part of 10-Minute Plays during the 2011 Spring Student Symposium.

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