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Kimberly, your intrepid Program Assistant, has conducted in-depth interviews full of hard-hitting and informative questions to our department chair, Dean Rader and graduating senior Taylor Pennewell. As always, I ask the stuff that you want to know.


 Taylor Pennewell

Q. So you are a Senior standing English major, Dual Degree student, Honors Program student, and President of Sigma Tau Delta, how does it feel to have absolutely no life whatsoever?

A. It feels busy.  Every day is a new lesson in maintaining balance and learning how to organize myself. No matter how busy I get though, I remind myself that I am doing exactly what I love to do, and that is usually enough to keep me going.  That, and a lot of black coffee.

Q. Now that the impetus is strong to change the name of the Washington Redskins, should STD get a new moniker?

A. You know, I think the moniker STD reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. It’s quite humbling to see “STD meeting” on the list of school events on the Student Life and Engagement website and think, “yup, that’s me, running the STD meeting.”  I remember one of our members once walked into a room of male students and asked them if the room they were in was the location of the STD meeting, only to have the boys stare back at her in horror, probably wondering what she had contracted.  If that isn’t a reminder to embrace the humor in life I don’t know what is.

Q. What has the English major meant to you?

A. The most important lesson I am taking away from the major is the importance of clear, effective communication.  This lesson permeates every aspect of my life, from the way I communicate with myself, my friends, and with my future students. If I could sum up what the major has taught me, it is that reading, writing, and bouncing ideas off of others is the best way to gain insight into my own thoughts and communication skills.

Q. If you were going to be a Freshman next year, what would you like to see the department offer as far as classes, events, programs, etc.?

A. I would like to see some more opportunities to study literary theory.  I think that theory can give beginning English students a gateway into material that might not be accessible otherwise. It really challenges students to take on new critical lenses in a way that can only benefit a student’s capacity to think deeply.  I would also love the department to offer more focused classes, meaning whole classes dedicated to a specific author or theme. For me, the ideal class would be an entire class of David Foster Wallace or Faulkner.

Q. Favorite holiday?

A. Thanksgiving.  I love the food, the weather, the family time, the chance to catch up on sleep before finals.

Q. Favorite Song the year you were born and why?

A. “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers….well actually, the whole Blood Sugar Sex Magik album….just because.

Q. Favorite author who you only learned about while in college? Why do you love their work?

A. Alan Heineman introduced me to Faulkner my freshman year and I have never been the same person since. I love his existential female characters, his wickedly dark humor, and his prose. I also love his ability to seamlessly weave in and out of the metaphysical and physical.  

Q. By becoming a teacher, are you truly a glutton for punishment?

A. Probably, but there is literarily nothing else I would choose for my career at this point in my life.  Teaching is what I am supposed to be doing, and I am going to give it all I’ve got.  There’s also something intrinsically political about the act of teaching that attracts me.

Q. Any last inspirational words for the generations of majors yet to come?

A. Utilize as many resources that the Dept. has to offer as possible, especially your professors’ office hours.  It isn’t often that you have so much knowledge and experience at your fingertips.

Q. Cute Quota Alert: Taylor as a baby.