Intern Profile: Jenessa Matis at Senior Services of Albany

jenJenessa was a Marketing & Development Intern at Senior Services of Albany in the Spring of 2014. These are her experiences.

Senior Services of Albany is a local non-profit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of seniors in Albany and the Capital Region. At my internship, my objectives were to position Senior Services of Albany as the leading eldercare expert in the Capital Region; promote programs & services to elders & their caregivers; and support fundraising objectives.

I worked on various promotional pieces such as a flyer, brochures, and direct mail letters, and I also did internet research for grants and contact information. Some of my duties were to update a few of the pieces that SSA already had, but I was also able to create new documents on my own.

Overall, my internship at Senior Services of Albany has showed me that I am capable of using the skills I have acquired as an English major in the real world. I doubted myself a lot in the beginning and was wary of adjusting to a professional environment and work on documents other than for assignments for school. By working through my assignments and constantly learning about myself, my work ethics, and what it takes to work in a professional environment, my confidence in my abilities grew. During my time at SSA I felt extremely welcome and appreciated and I was frequently praised and thanked for the contributions I made.

One example from my internship that stands out to me is when I spotted a mistake in a letter that was sent out to prospective donors. On this day, the office was very hectic because these letters had to be sent out that day in order to ensure they would arrive on time. I did not have any part in writing or editing the letters, but I was asked to fold and stuff them into envelopes in order to be sent out. After having folded about 250 letters and sealing them in envelopes, I quickly proofread one and noticed that it said, “Donations are due by Monday, Friday March 21.” Obviously, that was a pretty big error.

Even though SSA could not spare the money to fix/reprint the letters and use new envelopes for the ones I had already folded and sealed, I was able to help by sending out letters with the correct day from that point forward. The most important thing to keep in mind when going into an internship is to not doubt your abilities and undermine what you are capable of accomplishing. If you work hard and learn to adapt to the work environment and what is asked of you, you should have no problem being successful.

MA Advanced Project Update: Kristina Dufel

Kristina is in her fifth semester and is enrolled in the Advanced Project course, ENG 591. Here, she discusses her inspirations and the development of her project.

The most enriching aspect of this program is how much I’ve grown as a reader, writer, and thinker. The faculty members are all so incredibly brilliant, and their passion for literature and writing is invigorating. It just seems like the faculty really excel at fueling discussion here. The other enriching factor is how difficult this program has been to complete. I really did not expect to have to think so hard and write and read so much, but I am the better for it.

My Advanced Project took a while to come together. Initially I was exploring a project that was completely different than the one I’m doing now. I thought I wanted to explore Amazon Kindle self-publishing writing communities, and, while I still find the topic interesting, it was outside the scope of anything I would be capable of completing for an Advanced Project. I just knew that that wasn’t really what I wanted to write about, but I couldn’t think of what I did want to write about.

However, in Dr. Palecanda’s Lit theory class in Fall 2012, I wrote a paper about the TV show Glee, and I realized that, since that paper, I was still watching the show and thinking of extensions and new developments of my argument. I thought, hey, why not? It’s important to pick a topic that you find really interesting for the advanced project because you spend a lot of time on it, and, at the time, I thought I would never get sick of talking about Glee.

For my Advanced Project, I’m analyzing the television show Glee with a focus on how the show participates in the construction of ideology, similar to how Althusser suggests ideological state apparatuses perform. I extend Althusser’s theories and combine them with Mary Louise Pratt’s concept of contact zones, which are essentially spaces where dominant and marginalized cultures clash or interact, to suggest that television performs as an ideological contact zone where ideologies clash and interact, resulting in shifts in ideology. My focus is on hetereonormativity, which is the ideology that perpetuates heterosexuality as the norm in our culture and is usually an ideology integrated with our perceptions of gender norms.

Looking at instances of “coming out” on Glee, I suggest that heteronormative ideologies are being mediated, and audiences are exposed to more queer understandings of sexuality, meaning that they are able to perceive sexuality outside of a binary system of straight/ gay, as well as identify the imbalanced social hierarchy created by heteronormativity. Specifically, I am suggesting that it is difficult to find queer readings in ideological contact zones like television, but a consideration of television’s complex narrative structures (i.e. acknowledgement of plot lines that arc not only episodes or even seasons, but the entire series) allow for more potential to find queer readings on television.

As far as work for the project, I’ve done a pretty substantial amount of research into the areas of study that intersect in my paper, mostly the big ideological theorists like Althusser and queer television studies. The other big part of this project has been thinking. You wouldn’t believe how much I just think about this topic or how much I talk about it with other people. Remember when I said I didn’t think I would ever get sick of talking about Glee? I was wrong. Obviously, I’ve also watched a lot of episode, of which I am also beginning to get a little tired of. I can’t imagine if I had decided to focus on something I didn’t enjoy as much. I probably would have snapped my Kindle in half by now.

Faculty Reading: Kenneth Krauss

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Dr. Krauss (middle) with Karen and Barry Mason, who own and operate Circus of Books in West Hollywood.

Our own Dr. Kenneth Krauss has two scheduled book signing events on the West Coast in the beginning of the coming year. The events will mark the paperback release of his book Male Beauty, which “examines the theater, film, and magazines of the time in order to illuminate how each put forward a version of male gendering that deliberately contrasted, and often clashed with, previous constructs” in the pre-WWII era.

The first reading will be on January 4 at 4pm, at Alley Cat Books in San Francisco. This will be a wine-and-cheese event, with a reading, book signing, and discussion on gender representation throughout history.

The second is on January 6 at 5pm. This will take place at Studio One 11, a club just outside of Palm Springs. In addition to a happy hour, there will be a singer performing live music from the postwar period.

The book will be available to purchase at both events for $25.

January 4th, 4 p.m.
Alley Cat Books
3036 24th Street, San Francisco, CA.
Free to the public.

January 6th, 5 p.m.
Studio One 11.
67-55 East Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City, CA.
Free to the public.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Writing: Interviews with the M.F.A. Student Amber O’Sullivan

DSCF1723Amber O’Sullivan is a new member of the Creative Writing MFA program, beginning her first semester in Fall 2014. She is from Syracuse, New York, and has spent the last few years living in Ireland. Her travels influenced her poetry writing, which is also her writing focus in the program.

What drew you to the MFA program?

I got into St Rose for undergrad, but unfortunately did not attend. When I heard about the MFA program, I decided to apply. Luckily I was accepted, and I’m happy about this decision for a number of reasons. The program itself is interesting, as the writing is balanced with a lot of focus on reading literature as well. I was also drawn to the program because of the practicum aspect, which allows me to get hands-on experience while I am still working toward my degree.

What or who inspires you to write?

I am mostly inspired by the things that I see in day to day life. Most of my writing is influenced by the fear of forgetting the images or situations that occur right in front of me. This is actually another strength of this program: my workshop classes push me to writing each day, and that allows me to better catalogue all of what I see.

Who is your favorite author?

This question is hard! Frank O’Hara definitely one of my favorite poets. E. E. Cummings also. My favorite prose authors have to be Flannery O’Connor. and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Reading Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise made me want to write.

What do you hope to accomplish by the time you graduate?

I hope to have shared some of the things that I’ve learned about writing to other aspiring writers. I also hope to have made valuable connections and publishable pieces.

What are your long-term goals for writing?

To make a job out of it. I would love to be published and to also have a job that teaches people to write.

What was the last good book you’ve read?

Cailleach The Hag of Beara by Leanne O’Sullivan. It was a really interesting collection of poetry. O’Sullivan connects Irish culture and myths into her works effectively.

Frequency North Presents: Dave King

screen graphic_dec5_1024x768Novelist Dave King will be giving a reading Friday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the College’s Neil Hellman Library, 392 Western Ave., Albany, New York. This will be the conclusion to the first half of the Frequency North reading series.

This event is free and open to the public, and is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Dave King holds a BFA in painting and film from Cooper Union and an MFA in writing from Columbia University; he taught English at Baruch College and Cultural Studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York before moving to New York University’s Gallatin School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Of his bestselling debut novel, the New York Times Book Review wrote, “The Ha-Ha is full of emotional truth and establishes King as a writer of consequence.” The Ha-Ha was a finalist for Book of the Month Club’s best Literary Fiction Award and the Quill Foundation’s award for Best Debut Fiction and was named one of the best books of 2005 by the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Amazon.com. Several foreign language editions are in print, and a film version is in development. In addition, The Ha-Ha earned Dave King the 2006 John Guare Writers Fund Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

pbKing’s poems and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The Village Voice and Fence, and in the Italian literary journal Nuovi Argomenti; King is also a translator of the Italian poet Massimo Gezzi. He and his husband, the painter Franklin Tartaglione, divide their time between Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley of New York, and a new novel, tentatively entitled The Beast and Beauty, is forthcoming.

The Frequency North spring 2015 lineup will be announced soon. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.FrequencyNorth.com or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth.

Intern Profile: Rob Stoddard at the Rensselaer County ARC

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Rob Stoddard (middle, standing) working at the Rensselaer County ARC.

In the spring of 2014, Rob Stoddard interned as an assistant teacher at the Rensselaer County ARC in Troy, New York. This is his experience.

My internship was never very static. Class sizes ranged from four or five students to ten or eleven, so on any given day I needed to make a lesson that presumed I would have full attendance and catered to the needs of each individual student to some extent. Because the students all had different writing levels, I also needed to account for the students that were able to write at higher levels: each writing prompt needed to be both diverse and specific, which meant that the prompt needed to be easy enough for some students to comprehend and write, and also difficult enough that other students could let their creative minds explore and unpack further.

There were also several occasions in which I had to run the class by myself. A typical day was split up between my supervisor and I. I would take the first hour of class, and she would teach the last half. On days where it was all up to me, I was not only required to prepare twice the amount of prompts, but also maintain a focused learning environment, which was never an easy task to accomplish.

Early into my internship I described to the class what exactly I did in school, what I was learning, what my future dreams were, and what my area of study was. When the class learned that I had loved studying copious amounts Renaissance literature, specifically plays, they took a keen interest in creating a script as a class. I was absolutely astounded. The next class I brought in several writing prompts revolving around plot creation, narrative structure, and character creation. The students loved it. It was the most positive response I’d ever received from them. The feeling of knowing I inspired sincere, fun creativity is something I will never forget, and it gave me the reassurance that I was looking for. From that point on I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

This internship was an incredible opportunity. Since I eventually want to teach at the collegiate level, I specifically looked for teaching positions for my internship. When this position became available I immediately applied for it. Being an English major means knowing how to not only write effectively, but analyze effectively as well. This opportunity allowed me to teach my class how to write more proficiently, and it also taught them how to think a little more critically about what it was that they were writing about. I think the correlation between my college career and my professional aspirations are quite clear, and teaching the creative expressions class aided in solidifying my idea of what it takes to become a great teacher.

My advice for other English majors is to not limit yourself. Reach out to your faculty, and embrace their criticism. I would not be the writer I am today, nor would I have publication in the college’s journal, if I hadn’t embraced my instructors’ critiques on my writing. Sometimes it feels like they’re shooting you down or blowing off your ideas completely, but I promise that the comments are meant to make you better. If you take the comments too harshly I don’t think your writing will progress. Ask them to clarify their remarks; use the comments as a chance to learn something as opposed to just brushing them off.

MA Advanced Project Update: Rachel Simonds

2012-05-119511-39 (1)In order to complete the English MA program, students must research and write an Advanced Project. Rachel Simonds is in her last semester at Saint Rose, and these are her thoughts regarding her Advanced Project, as well as her inspirations behind it.

I’ve been commuting to Albany from Caroga Lake since I started my undergraduate work at Sage College.  This is my final semester at Saint Rose, I’ll be completing the MA English program.  I have enjoyed the variety of classes offered and have found that each class is enriching to every other class.  There is always a connection (or several!) between classes.

My Advanced Project is more of a theory based project.  I’m discussing the aesthetic theories of the sublime proposed by Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant in the late 18th century and relating it to the work of the Hudson River School painters during approximately the first half of the 19th century.  I am attempting to figure out the relationship between the idea of the sublime and how it is manifested in the physical world.  The discussion centers around the question of how/if/when/why is the sublime communicated.  But, of course, this could all change as I continue with my project.

My Advanced Project has required the basic things of any project, lots of reading and lots of thinking.  In addition to that though, I have also spent a lot of time looking first hand at work done by the Hudson River School painters in order to really see how the theories of the sublime have influenced the work.

I have been interested in the idea of the sublime since my first semester here at Saint Rose.  I took a literary theory course with Dr. Vaneeta Palecanda (who is the director of my advanced project right now, and Dr. Robert Shane is the research consultant) and she first introduced me to the sublime and I have not been able to let go of it since then.  It seems as if every class I take, whether it be theory or literature, has something to do with the sublime! Ask Dr. Sweeney about the sublime in Uncle Tom’s Cabin!  So I chose to work on the idea of the sublime for my Advanced Project to satisfy at least some of my curiosity on the subject.