By: Daria Sokolova
The Department of Literature and Languages held a welcome party for new and current students interested in the department Sept. 18. The faculty and students gathered in Spertus Lounge to celebrate the beginning of the new academic year and to interact with each other in an informal atmosphere.
The Chair of the Department of Literature and Languages Lawrence Howe was one of the faculty members who attended the event.
“We are open to any purpose this [party] can serve,” Howe said. “We want to welcome students who are already part of our programs, but we have extended the invitation to undecided students because we recognize that those are students who are looking to make a decision about what they will study. If they can find out who we are and what things we do, perhaps they will choose us.”
Howe said the welcome party will be followed by a chain of events at the Department of Literature and Languages that include the “Careers for the English Major” event on Oct. 15 and the Roosevelt Reading Series that begins Oct. 23 at the Gage Gallery.
As Howe said, the department tries to help Roosevelt students acquire skills necessary in today’s job market.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of things in professional press about a lot of employers looking for people with the kinds of skills that English majors have: good reading skills, writing skills, oral communications skills, the ability to do research,” Howe explained. “There are a lot fields that need people with those skills.”
Christian TeBordo, the new director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program, said that apart from giving students a leg up in a professional field, the department has a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
“I found out that Roosevelt has such a strong community orientation,” TeBordo said. “Everybody seems to be getting along and talking about things that interest them and whatnot.”
TeBordo, who recently moved to Illinois from Pennsylvania, said he had taught only undergraduate students and is excited to see the dedication Roosevelt graduate students demonstrate.
“I’ve been incredibly impressed by my graduate students,” TeBordo said. “They are really good and really engaged. They do the readings, they come prepared to discuss and talk, but they are also excited to try new experiments and try writing things.”
TeBordo was one of the faculty members invited to the event by the Department of Literature and Languages.
Some students who came to the event said they wanted to support their department and interact with their professors and fellow students.
“I’m here because I really like the program,” said Kristen Herbert, a first-year English major. “It looks really strong, interesting and unique.”
According to Howe, this year’s successful enrollment showed students’ interest in the disciplines taught in the department and allowed the faculty to think about further developing some of the programs.
“All the classes we scheduled ran,” Howe said. “We were able to run the small sections and the 200-level sections of French and Italian, which is the first time that we have been able to do that, which shows students have more interest in developing facility with foreign language.”
Howe added that all of the department’s 200-level English classes are filled to capacity.
Associate Professor of English and Film Studies Janet Wondra also added that the department is working on designing programs that could draw students from other departments in the university.
“We are putting a lot of emphasis on social justice and how that connects to literature and also to writing,” Wondra said. “There is talk about having a writing minor which would enable students who are in other fields, like biology or math, to explore their creative writing side but also their ability to write expositorily, as well.”
Wondra said that every major can take advantage of the opportunities provided by the department, as writing skills remain a basis for every career.
“I think more people should come and enjoy what the Department of Literature and Languages has to offer because we are very open, very friendly, and we are able to make literature connect to the lives of students,” Wondra said. “A good, strong basis in writing and literature will last you for the rest of your life.”