Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the fourth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Erica Ruscio ’13 graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and visual and verbal art. The Middlesex resident will be pursuing a master’s degree in English with a concentration in children’s literature at Kansas State University this fall. Ruscio landed a graduate teaching assistantship where she said she will “earn her keep” by teaching one section of expository prose, similar to Keuka’s freshman composition course, in the fall and two sections in the spring.
Ruscio said she believed the Field Period experience she could include in her admission application, particularly one Field Period working with the children’s librarian at the Penn Yan Public Library, helped showcase her as a desirable candidate. Keuka’s Field Period is a 140-hour annual internship or exploratory study required each year for undergraduates.
During her time at Keuka, Ruscio participated in the annual Red Jacket Literary journal, the Arion Players theatrical presentations, wrote a College blog for incoming freshman, and showcased several paintings, mixed media and photos in the senior art show. She said Keuka provided her the ability to explore what she really wanted to do with her life through its internships, small class sizes, and “awesome professors and advisers.”
“If it hadn’t been for Keuka, the Field Period [program], and my first advisor, Ms. Harris, I may have been stuck writing press releases instead of studying literature, making art, and doing what I really want to do,” Ruscio said.
Students who enrolled in Assistant Professor of English Jennie Joiner’s Traditions of Literature course this spring expected to delve into a collection of works set in New York state.
What they didn’t expect was an Empire State history lesson.
The running joke in class is that maps are now a regular part of Joiner’s routine, as students traverse a literary route from east to west across the state, exploring different regions of New York in works that include Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pioneers, the Erie Canal Reader, 1790-1950, and Walter Edmonds’ Rome Haul.
Joiner acknowledged that her dependence on maps has been to emphasize that New York was the only state with geography sufficient for construction of the Erie Canal, and with the canal, linked the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, bringing commerce and other boons of civilization further west.
“You think the biggest thing that happened to the state was New York City, or you’d think New York City was the heart of the state, but it’s not. The Erie Canal was. I’m not from here so it’s interesting to know,” said junior Annie Smith, a New Jersey native. “I never heard of the Erie Canal, so to see how much went on during the Erie Canal [era] and now in the 21st century … We wouldn’t have Auburn, Geneva, and all those places if it wasn’t for the canal. It played a major part in what’s 20 miles north of us and east or west.”
Sophomore Marie Cozzi calls Long Island home, and said she never realized how much history was prevalent in Upstate and Western New York.
“Reading through the stuff, it’s cool to see how the history is [represented] in the novels. I never thought there would be a history of Upstate New York in the books. One thing leads to the next. They all relate to the other.” (more…)
For Jake Banas, the month of January was all about journalism.
The Keuka College sophomore and Delmar resident spent most of the month writing for The Spotlight, an independent news organization headquartered in his hometown, near Albany. Spotlight News produces five weekly editions in Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga counties, with a combined circulation of more than 45,000, according to its website.
Each Keuka undergrad conducts a 140-hour internship, known as Field Period, every year en route to a bachelor’s degree. An English major, Banas had begun to write for the Keukonian, the student newspaper at Keuka, and decided to learn more about journalism by pursuing an internship with his hometown paper.
Banas started by proofing pages for grammatical errors before the paper went to press for a Thursday distribution. From there, he began writing short event announcements submitted by local organizations, and gradually worked his way into full-scale, bylined articles—transitioning from shadowing reporters to being a reporter himself.
“The first day I walked in, everything was very hectic, because it was a Wednesday and they were trying to finalize the paper and get it out [the next day]. People were yelling back and forth and I was kind of scared, not sure what was happening,” Banas said. “The next day it was all quiet because everyone was out doing assignments and getting ready for the next issue.”
His first major assignment was an interview with the owner of the Junk King garbage removal company for the paper’s regular “Spotlight on Business” feature. Other assignments found Banas at the local school district board of education meeting, or taking hundreds of photos of different town locales. As each article went into print, Banas said it was “incredible” to have something he wrote published. Most of his work ran in the Bethlehem Spotlight, he said, while a few articles ran in other editions.
“There’s a lot more to journalism than people think. I expected it to be so simple, [thinking] you just hear a story and write about it but I learned you want to keep your ears open for specific things,” Banas said. “You have to go out and work with people and gather information and there’s a lot more to take away from it than just sitting there, writing the news.” (more…)
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award. The award, named after the late 1963 Keuka graduate, is supported by Brown’s family and the Class of ’63. It is designed to assist students pursuing culturally-oriented Field Periods.
To Britani Pruner, college is more than just an education— it’s about creating experiences that will influence her for the rest of her life.
So when the Pennellville resident enrolled at Keuka, she told herself two things: every Field Period would be a challenging and new experience, and she would take every opportunity presented to her.
I have the chance to do both when I will travel to London,” said Pruner before she departed for the capital of England. “Becoming more culturally aware is a component I wish to add to my experience. As a junior English major, I have the opportunity to explore London through literature.”
She is participating in Literary London, a two-week course offered through Cayuga Community College. The course examines London through selected samples of English literature. Pruner will have the opportunity to tour such iconic locales as Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Globe Theatre, Windsor Castle, Tower of London, and walking along Fleet Street.
“Among my goals for this Field Period are to bring to life the words I’ve read in books,” said Pruner. “Many authors, such as Virginia Woolfe and Charles Dickens, have based their work in and around London. To be able to visit such influential places would add a beneficial layer to my understanding of literature.”
Through the course, Pruner will participate in tours, lectures, discussions and walks to deepen her understanding of the history, geography, and culture of the city. She will also attend theatre performances and visit literary-specific museums, including the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Dickens House, and Keats House.
Dr. Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English at Keuka College, is putting a new twist on some classic short stories, sonnets, plays and prose.
Joiner introduced a new course this fall, Literature in the Wider World, which serves as the new introduction to the major. It seeks to expand student horizons on books, reading, writing and all-things English and to grasp the role literature plays in everyday life.
Professor of English Doug Richards, chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, visited Joiner’s class and shared a real-life example of how English can play a role in careers beyond writing and teaching. According to Richards, a graduate of Keuka’s organizational communication program was on a sales call “that was going nowhere” but took a positive turn when the prospective client referenced the medieval poem, Beowulf. The Keuka graduate was able to build on the allusion in conversation, earn the client’s respect, and make the sale.
“You will know the stories of your culture and can engage in intelligent conversation and you’ll get further along,” advised Richards. “Keep working on building links and connections.”
And that is what the students did in Joiner’s class. They studied some classics, among them Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, and short stories, such as Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper. However, more than simple context and content were discussed. In addition to reading the traditional works, students also investigated digital and other media formats, and even theatrical and cinematic formats, in the case of Susan Glaspell’s play Trifles, and Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby.
While digital technology has had a significant impact on the written word, students debate more than just print-versus-e-book preferences. One challenge Joiner gave students is to consider literature as hypertext, the embedded digital links to prior electronic postings. In the final assignment, for example, the autobiographical “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” a popular treatise against slavery, students reviewed the Biblical story of Daniel in the lions’ den. They then analyzed a portion of the work where Douglass describes his newfound freedom as escaping the hungry mouth of the lions.
While on its own, the reference makes literal sense, Joiner said, “it’s a hypertext without links and we have to be aware there’s a link, so how do we fill that in? We can read [literally] without understanding the allusion but what if we do? All of a sudden it takes on this whole new meaning and how does it help [Douglass] make [his] argument? His audience would have understood that [allusion] and we, today, may not.”
Douglass’s “Narrative” contains several other Biblical and secular allusions, which students further analyzed in their final class project, where they could choose their own creative medium to demonstrate the knowledge gleaned in their studies. While some students presented digital essays using literal hyperlinks and hypertext, others chose creative mediums – digital and traditional – to share what they learned.
For example, freshman Brianna Jackson of Syracuse used a multi-dimensionsal software known as Prezi, which some have compared to PowerPoint on steroids, to present a 3-D, visual display of quotes, images, colors and more. Two students, sophomore Jake Banas and junior Justin Hess wrote fictional stories, with Banas “writing a story about writing my paper,” while Hess reverted to the classic detective-reporter serial, turning the research into clues to decipher the mystery.
Meanwhile, sophomore Tyler Hixson of Shortsville created a Facebook persona for Douglass, posting photos available in the public domain, as well as links to facts and figures relative to Douglass, then “friending” the real Facebook accounts of fellow students in the class. He also created a Twitter account using the handle FreddyDouglass17.
Joiner asked students to compare and contrast pros and cons of each format or medium.
While sophomore Judy Ludwig of Rochester merged the traditional term paper with hypertext, she “came to the conclusion that you needed both – neither the hypertext nor the traditional paper did everything you needed it to do,” explained Joiner.
Similarly, Jackson’s Prezi slideshow was visually appealing, “but in terms of something that can stand on its own, this won’t work – we need you to fill in the blanks,” Joiner described.