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  The Printing Press is the English Department Newsletter. Its purpose it to inform major and minors about programs and activities within the department. The Press will inform readers of activities and opportunities outside of Monmouth College. For any questions or submissions, contact, or

Happy Holidays

From the Printing Press Staff








In This Issue:

  • Literature:  You Just Can’t Get Away from It

    • By:  Erik Davis


  • “Father Christmas” or Charles Dickens?

    • By: Megan Carlson


  • NCTE: A Revelation for an MC English Major

    • By:  Anne Stone


  • Survey Says?

“Father Christmas” or Charles Dickens?

By: Megan Carlson

In Rob Hale’s Victorian Culture class, we have just finished “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.  After 164 years, “A Christmas Carol” is still part of the holiday tradition and in celebration of the season, here are some interesting Christmas facts about "A Christmas Carol” and Victorian England.


  • By the beginning of the 19th century, festivities for Christmas had become sparse because as Robert Southey in 1807 claimed, “In large towns the population is continually shifting; a new settler neither continues the customs of his own province in a place where they would be strange, nor adopts those which he finds, because they are strange to him, and thus all local differences are wearing out.”

  • Britain was in need of new Christmas traditions and because work had become so important, people were unable to take off multiple days for celebrating.

  •  “A Christmas Carol” has preserved the Christmas customs of olde England and fixed our image of the holiday season as one of wind, ice, and snow, and smoking bishop (heated red wine, oranges, sugar, and spices), piping hot turkey, and family cheer within.

  • “A Christmas Carol” was written in just six weeks.

  • Before settling on the name of Tiny Tim, three other alliterative names were considered.  They were Little Larry, Puny Pete, and Small Sam.

  • Christmas cards originated in the early 1840’s.  This was actually not influenced by Dickens, but by Sir Henry Cole who made too many cards to send out to friends and had them sold in at stationer’s shop.  The idea did not catch on to the public until the 1880’s.  Twelve of the original cards exist today.

  • Before the holly and the mistletoe, wealthier homes in Victorian England used a “kissing bough” as the main decoration for the season.  Two hoops were joined to make a globe and were decorated with greenery, oranges, and apples, and mistletoe.

  • The year that Dicken’s died, Theodore Watts-Dunston overheard a Cockney girl’s reaction to the news of his death:  “Dickens Dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?”


Although Christmas traditions are still going strong even with the death of Charles Dickens, his influence on the holiday is prevalent.  Thanks to the Victorians, we have many of our Christmas traditions today.  Enjoy the season and Merry Christmas! 


All information taken from


NCTE: A Revelation for an MC English Major

By:  Anne Stone

            Last month, I traveled to New York City with Dr. Moni Hayes of the Education department and fellow writing tutor Whitney Helfrich to present at the National Council of Teachers of English.  NCTE is an annual conference for English teachers, comprised of hundreds of presentations in a 5-6 day time period.  Whitney plans to teach Spanish when she graduates, and my only aspiration involving teaching is teaching college courses, so we were not the typical conference attendees, however, we had a great time presenting and brought back valuable ideas and lessons.

            Sometimes as an English major, I get burnt out writing countless papers and reading multiple works at a time.  Being an English major is not easy; it requires a lot of time, and a lot of thinking.  It was so refreshing, though, to see how important reading and writing is, and how those skills are gaining more and more importance in every area of academia.  One of the sessions that Whitney and I attended was presented by four teachers at a non-traditional school in New Mexico.  They discussed the importance of writing in their lives, and also in their work.  The most interesting part of their presentation was the way that they integrated writing throughout the curriculum, even in math and science courses.  Variations of this method are quickly growing in schools, but it is something that I missed out on in my later elementary and high school years.  Luckily for all of us, writing throughout the disciplines is something that Monmouth College values, and while I’m sure all of us sometimes feel frustration building as writing and reading assignments pile up, these skills we’re honing are beneficial for the rest of our lives.

            Another interesting session we attended regarded grading.  There were three presenters, and Whitney and I were astounded at the grading rubric of one presenter.  Only 20% of the total points given for the project concerned content, and the majority of the remaining points for her high school writing class dealt with grammar and mechanics.  As writers at Monmouth College, we are taught that grammar and mechanics are important, but formulating ideas and arguments are weighed much heavier.  Whitney and I were so dumbfounded by this grading practice that it became the topic of our conversation for the remainder of the day. 

            Overall, our trip to NCTE taught a lot about English, instruction, and even more about the quality of the English major at Monmouth College.  As I listened to presenters and analyzed the information they brought forth, I found that the rigor and depth with which we complete our degree at Monmouth College will prepare us to accomplish anything for which we strive after college, whether that path be a career, graduate school, or some other endeavor.  The next time I complain about the English department requirements and workload, I will remember what I heard and saw at NCTE, and be thankful that I am part of the Monmouth College English department instead of some second-rate department… like Knox.

Literature:  You Just Can’t Get Away from It

 By:  Erik Davis

This year I have written a series of articles examining how English is taught at different Liberal Arts Colleges in the Midwest Conference.  As a conclusion to this series I thought it would be appropriate to look at how literature is dealt with in other disciplines here at MC.   I sent out a questionnaire to the faculty here at Monmouth College that asked how they use literature in their classes.  I received several responses from people in many different departments.

In the CATA department Prof. Van Kirk had this to say, “In CATA101 I use a book called Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, to illustrate why punctuation matters in communication.”  This book has received much acclaim lately as it deals with comma usage and other types of punctuation in an amusing and interesting way.  Prof Van Kirk also said that she used, “…a book called Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading, by Maureen Corrigan, a book reviewer for NPR and a literature professor at Georgetown University.  It is a memoir about how her love of books has influenced her life.”  Prof. Van Kirk went on to explain that this book is an extremely effective way to illustrate the power of the written word. 

Dr. Wallace gave a presentation on the different ways that he views a text when directing a play.  He made the point that directors see the text as being much less sacred.  They are often forced to change words or cut out passages.  In the English department we would never dream of skipping over large sections of a work, but as a director Dr. Wallace explained that he has to make those kinds of decisions.  These decisions are necessary Dr. Wallace said because as a director your purpose is to try and make the play work for the audience.  Any play by Shakespeare makes for an excellent example.  Shakespeare’s works, as with most canonical literature, has many different meanings on multiple levels.  In our discipline we revel in the multiple meanings and interpretation of a passage or of an entire work.  Dr. Wallace explained that as a director your job is to pick one or two of the possible meanings in a play and expose those to the audience.  This is usually done simply because of time constraints.  In Hamlet a full production containing every line and encompassing everything would take over four hours each production.  That, Dr. Wallace explained, is simply too long for any audience.  The audience would loose interest.  This illustrates one of the major differences between drama and English-- drama must keep entertainment paramount.

In the history department Dr. Urban talked about the different ways that he has used novels in his courses.  He said, “I often use novels in my courses, Fiction can take liberties with the facts, but good fiction has a compelling narrative and is based on facts.”  Dr. Urban went on to say that good historical fiction is driven by the facts of history and can sometimes fill in gaps in history.  Dr. Urban said, “A good instructor will point out where fact ends and fiction begins, thus illustrating important aspects of the historian's craft.”  Dr. Urban sees novels as an excellent supplement to the study of history.  Dr. Urban sums things up this way, “Bottom line: effective teaching requires resources that students will read and will remember. Good historical fiction does both.”

Another member of the history department Dr. Farias has used novels in many of her courses.  When she teaches Western Civilization II she uses Candide by Voltaire and The Prince by Machiavelli.  She uses these two books to discuss different ways of viewing life and reality.  Both of these works make for excellent discussion in class, and the students seem to really enjoy it.  This is just the type of supplemental use of literature that Dr. Urban was referring to earlier.  The books are not necessarily the focus of the class, but instead a means to get at some of the central ideas of a culture or time period.  This is not so far removed from the way we study literature in our English courses.

The last faculty member I will spotlight hails from the music department.  Prof. Richter said that he often uses poetry when he is teaching.  Next semester he is using two poems in particular, “Cornhuskers” by Carl Sandburg and “God’s World” by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  He uses poetry in different ways in his courses.  Prof Richter explained one way he uses poetry is by analyzing the rhythm and meter of a poem and then relating that to music.  This is yet another way of looking at a text.  The focus in this particular use of the poem is not so much on the meaning but on the mechanics of the poem.  In the English department the meaning is always paramount, and often we do not examine the mechanics in detail unless they make some comment on the meaning of the work.  Music often deals with poetry that has been set to music.  This complicates dealing with the work itself significantly.  A conductor must deal with the meaning of the words and the meter of the poem, but all of that must be in the context of the musical setting.  The music is, of course, what is paramount to a musician.

All of these very different ways of teaching and exploring literature in the different disciplines on campus just goes to show how widespread literature is.  It is a significant part of many of the different disciplines on campus.

Survey Says!!!!

"You Can't Always Get What You Want"


1.) What book would you like to get at the English Department Christmas Party?


2.) What book did you actually end up with at the end of the party? 


1.) "I would love to get something that I haven't read yet. Maybe a lusty romance would be a nice light read for the 14 hr plane ride I shall take to France."

2.) The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

-Maddy Ethington



1.) Catcher In The Rye

2.) The Spoon River Anthologies

Ryan Gutierrez



1.) White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I just finished this a week or so ago and have decided I need my own copy.

Melissa Bankes


1.) Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story

2.) It was a Dark and Stormy Night

Amanda Bloomer

1.) Honestly, I am interested in reading The Life of Pie by Yann Martel because Professor    Belschner has done a lot of talking about it in British Survey!

Natalie Pistole

1.) I’m not picky… I’d be happy with just about anything I don’t have and haven’t read!

2.) A fabulous anthology of Renaissance drama!  "Woohoo!" (laced with sarcasm)

Shannon Slee

1.) I really don't mind, just please no Nicholas Sparks : ) Sorry Mitt!

2.) The Lost Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (I'm super excited, though Rob threatened to steal it), The Complete Biography of Ella Fitzgerald, and Gendered Lives (another one of Marlo's many books). 

Paige Halpin

1.) I like anything fantasy/adventure like Inkspell or Inkheart, any of the Ptolmey's Gate books, any of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes first four books (Forests of the night, Demon In My View, shattered mirror, midnight predator) I also love mythology, especially Greek.  Anything in that general area is good for me.

Katie Moore






Writing Labs 3:00-5:00 pm Monday - Thursday
  7:00-10:00 pm Sunday - Thursday

Fannetta Jones

Dustin Looney

Noelle Templeton


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