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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 the Priniting Press Crew:,




In This Issue:

The Great Debate: Two English Majors Discuss a Classic Work of Literature

By Alex Nall and Leanna Waldron

   For this issue of the Printing Press both our writers decided to discuss a work of literature that they did not agree on. The work is Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. In the blue corner is Alex Nall, who liked the novel and in the red corner is Leanna Waldron, who did not. LET THE DEBATE BEGIN!

One of my main complaints is with the structure of the novel. I hated the big blocks of pseudo stream-of-consciousness writing, since I'm not a fan of stream-of-consciousness anyway, portions of the novel just read really strangely to me. Even though there was stuff happening, I still was bored to death while I was reading it. I'd get lost in the middle of a paragraph and had no idea what was going on, which was extremely frustrating. It's not that I think these novels should be easy to understand or that we should be allowed to take them at face-value, but I'd like to at least have a grasp of what is going on without having to re-read passages over and over.

I think that the use of stream-of-consciousness was well-used here. The narrator is written as a lone wolf: a man who has no one but himself to trust and rely on. I think it is only right that Ellison used this kind of structure to support the character's choices since he shifts mindset and identities throughout the novel . Do you think that the novel ends on a happy note or a pessimistic viewpoint?

I think it ends on a positive note. The narrator is continuing to discover himself through the telling of his story. He realizes that he's been exploited, that he would rather live out his life than die at the hands of Ras and that his period of hibernation is over and the time for action has come. I think it's pretty safe to say that he's made some pretty big changes from being the naive student to the hardened man he is by the end of the novel, which I feel is a positive change. To me, it's much better to know the truth and work to change it than to be deluded and made to chase your tail.
What did you think of the character development in the novel?

I loved how the character of the narrator changed as the book progressed, showing that he never got a grip on his identity because of the world he lived in. I also liked how Ellison used some characters in only one scene, but developed them strongly enough so that they became very important to the theme of the novel. My examples would be Norton and Emerson, Jr. You say that it's much better to know the truth and work to change it, what truth do you think is uncovered in Invisible Man?

I think there are several, but the main one I think has to do with ideologies. Obviously, we see quite a few throughout the novel, from the smile-and-nod ideology of the narrator's grandfather to the extreme violence and separatism of Ras. Another example is the Brotherhood, which is supposed to save the people, causing the narrator to get sucked into it. He feels like he can truly help people by working with the Brotherhood, but he ultimately realizes that the Brotherhood was doing nothing but limiting the people and betraying their freedom. Ultimately, it seems that the narrator realizes that life is too random and varied to be packaged up so nicely with strict rules and ideologies. I liked what the novel was trying to say, but it was really difficult for me to get past the long, overly descriptive paragraphs and seemingly random situations and encounters, like the very strange chapter that discusses the clinic the narrator goes to after the explosion at the paint factory. What did you make of this or other strange or seemingly random situations in the novel?

I wouldn't call them random situations so much as they were "episodes". Since the Narrator starts out in a hole at the beginning of the novel, we as readers have to see how he got down there. Much like Odysseus, he goes on a journey to different environments and a vast catalog of characters. I think that Ellison makes a point to say that our identities never really know where we are going because our values and characteristics change when we are put into a new environment. One last question. What was one thing you liked about this novel?

One thing I liked about Invisible Man was the transformation of the narrator. I thought it was very interesting to see how bitter he is in the prologue and then change into someone new. I liked that I knew how he was going to end up, but I didn't know quite how he was going to get there.


'Tis the Season to be Readin'

By Alex Nall     

Want something new to read over Christmas break that is not only a guaranteed good read but is also an award-winning book as well? Well look no further. Here are a few selections that were winners of various literary awards this year!

          Just Kids by Patti Smith won the National Book Award for Best Non-Fiction Book and recounts Smith’s early years in the New York hipster scene in the late 60s. She writes extensively about her relationship with friend/lover and to-be-acclaimed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the times they shared at Coney Island before she became a famous rock-star and he the notorious figure in photography. Tender, poetic and charged with honesty, Smith’s memoir will let readers explore the New York scene through the eyes of two great artists.


This year the Nobel Prize went to Mario Vargas Llosa, a writer, historian and one-time Presidential candidate of Peru—for his extensive work in South-American literature and politics. Many of his books focus on the politics in Peruvian government and crime. He has written about the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Albert Camus and his novel, The War of the End of the World was the winner of the Ritz Paris Hemingway Award. His latest novel is The Bad Girl. Llosa is a writer that is good for historical novel buffs and those interested in Southern American politics throughout the past fifty years.

           With the recent interest in autism and child psychology, readers will be very interested in checking out Emma Donoghue’s Room, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. The premise of the novel concerns a young mother and her five-year-old son locked and forced to live in the 11 x 11 basement room of their captor. What is fascinating about Donoghue’s book is how she crafts her characters’ mindsets. While the mother frantically tries to find a way out and establish normalcy for her son, Jack, the boy himself seems to be content with his little world. It is only until they break free from the room that their lives become full of consequence and hazard.

Autobiographies and Poetry by Monmouth Students

By Alex Nall, Leanna Waldron and Members of SULCI

     In our English department, we have a lot of talented writers but their talents often are not showcased. We do a lot of great work in and outside of our classes and we felt it was time to show some of the work English majors have been doing this semester. Here are two excerpts from our featured writers' autobiographies and a collection of poems from the Monmouth College Poetry group, SULCI.

Excerpt from Autobiography
Leanna Waldron

   It was my first funeral and, after being hugged, kissed, pinched and passed from family member to family member, most of whom I did not (and still don’t) know, I attached myself to my mom as if my life depended on it. I was so tired of hearing:
   “How are you doing, Sweetie?”
   “Oh, my! What a big girl you are!"
   “Do you like school?”
   “Let’s see a big smile from you!”
    When the service was over, my family and I went to the casket. I was terrified by what I saw. It was my grandma, but it wasn’t. Her eyes were closed and she had a somber expression on her face. My grandma always had a smile ready and a twinkle in her eye when she saw me or my three brothers—even when she was so exhausted she couldn’t even sit up in her bed. My mom allowed me to touch her and, when I put my hand on her face, it was cold and hard as a brick where I remembered her skin being extremely soft. 
   This was not my happy, jokey, fun grandma. This was not the grandma that fixed us macaroni and cheese with cream of mushroom soup in it to make it extra creamy and let us eat on T.V. trays in the living room. This was not the grandma that crocheted me a hot pink hat with buttons all over it, Ninja Turtles for my older brothers and a purple octopus for my little brother. 
     I drew back, scared suddenly. “Mommy, there’s something wrong with her,” I said, burying my head in her shoulder. It was a stupid statement. Of course there was something wrong with her—she was dead. I knew what dead was, but this dead was very different than waking up and finding your goldfish floating at the top of the tank. This was a person.


Golden Boy
Marcus Bailey, Member of SULCI 

I lay in the muck, sobbing in pain.

There is a copper taste in my mouth, mixed with salt:

the bodily fluids that came from those demons of hatred.

It was a sick joke to them, but an embarrassment far beyond redemption for me.

How can I face them at school?


These warm tears run down my face,

as the heat escapes from my numb limbs.

I feel hopeless and lost in this small farm town.

The corn looks at me mockingly as it listens to me weep.

No one will ever find me. Good.


I should never have trusted them.

That is my fatal flaw:

a heart too caring and compassionate to see reality,

blinded by those ideals drilled into my skull,

overfilling my mind and drowning my reason.


If only I would have known what they had planned.

It was like when dad caught me smoking,

and made me smoke every cigarette until I was sick.

I feel a lump in my throat just like I did then.

The hard lump is of shame, as is the nausea.


Now here I lay beaten and blaming only myself.

Suddenly, I hear a car approaching as the sun leaves me.

The headlights burn my bare back,

as darkness consumes my pounding chest and my sweating face.

Not again.


A car door slams and footsteps thud toward me.

I try to get up and run, but my body fails me.

A cry of pain escapes me, revealing my hiding spot.

The footsteps approach, as I close my eyes.

Don’t let the monsters come back and haunt me…please.


Warm hands touch my arm, and wipe blood off my face.

These hands turn me over, and warm eyes stare into mine.

I quiver under his touch, what does he want?

“It’s going to be okay” he mutters, reassuring my fear.

Why him? How did he know?


He gives me some clothes, and soon I am in his car.

“You can’t take me back” I beg.

“I’m not…just relax, everything will be ok” a lie to my ears.

The heater warms my cold shell.

Things won’t be the same.


He gives me his varsity jacket to help;

I feel the letters of the school under my fingertips.

His warm blue eyes stare into mine.

His muscular figure shows through that paper-thin shirt.

He is shivering for me.



He gives me alcohol to help warm me.

The amber liquid is like fire down my throat.

It feels good, loosening the lump and relaxing my body.

His lips quickly brush mine.

It came out of nowhere, it couldn’t be real.


Soft, warm lips that make me shiver again

in confusion, and in something else.

I pull away in a fright,

pressing my back against the cold glass.

What just happened?


“I’m sorry” he pleads to me.

He reaches for my shoulder to comfort me.

I start, but not from fright.

Suddenly, a rush of emotion fills me up.

They crash like a wave against my senses, clouding them.


I feel warmth from them, or possibly from him.

It radiates like an autumn bonfire.

“How ‘bout you stay at my house…just for tonight?” he asks.

I open my mouth, but no words flow.

He ignites the engine as a reply.


Soon I am wrapped in the arms of a warm golden boy

in a nest of a bed.

Sheets surround us like a cocoon,

changing the night into something unexpected.

Something good always comes from something bad.


Can this be real?


To Write You A Poem
Fannetta Jones, Member of SULCI

I  just want to write
You a poem.
No pretense.
I want to wrap my words
Around you so tight that
You have no choice
But to breathe my essence.
I want to write you a poem
So deep that you'll still
Be swimming through its metaphors
For weeks.
No time for weak lines.
I want to write you a poem
Meant for a Queen.
I want to write how you bring out
The God in me.
I want to write similes
So sweetly that you still
Taste them on your tongue
Days later
Like corner store

I want to write you into Eternity.
I want our children's children to read
Of your worth in their history books
So that they may know your true majesty.
I want to write you into my future.
I want to lay out our story so perfectly
That even Disney couldn't tarnish our ending.
I'm sick of reading predictable
Happily Ever Afters.
I want to write about our happy beginnings
Our Happy In-Betweens
And our Happy on goings that keep going and going
Longer than any funny little bunny could ever comprehend.

I want to write... You.
In all your wonder.
I want to write your ups and your downs.
Your glad days and your sad days.
I want to chronicle your life's tales into
Something more splendorous than Narnia.
I want to write your Odyssey.
Follow you through your tests, trials, and triumphs to show
Your strength.
And that no matter the ordeal
You still know how to find your way home.
Where the heart is.
Where I am and where I'll always be.


With pen in hand.
To write you a poem.

Excerpt from Autobiography
Alex Nall

    The first book I ever wrote was called Alex the Snake’s Birthday Party. The eponymous snake was not a slithering creature that scared people, but instead a first-grader's self-portrait, colored bright green with a pair of blue pants and a red shirt on. The only thing that distinguished him as a snake was the tail that popped out of his jeans. He had feet and arms. If anything, Alex the Snake was really Alex the Serpent Before God Cast Him Out of Eden.

    The book was about Alex’s birthday party. On the first page he woke up and  jumped on top of his bed, excited for his special day. On page five his mother helped him put up balloons and on the next page, they baked a cake. The book ended with Alex at the dining room table about to blow out his candles with all his friends sitting around him, happy to be in his company. I read this book in front of my first grade class on Show & Tell Day and was lauded with applause and laughter. They loved it! The drawings were awesome and neat. The pictures were so pretty.  They wanted more! All I could think as I received this praise was: I wish my story were real.

    The only time I can remember having an actual birthday party was in second grade. Ten of my friends from school, my brother and I went to the coolest place in Galesburg. It was called Circus Video. It was a video rental store and also a playplace with what seemed like a thirty-foot candy-colored jungle gym with thousands of rooms, some with ball pits, air-filled bouncing rooms and others with padded mats to ram your body into. It was a kid’s dream palace. There’s a Walgreens there now.

    If you made arrangements you could have a birthday party there—a whole room to yourself with a tv to watch your favorite cartoon and eat pizza and cake! I can taste that pizza right now. I can honestly say that it is the only time I felt amongst friends that cared about being near me and seeing me happy (Actually, now that I think about it, Anthony Fredrickson pushed me down in the jungle gym so that he could get to my birthday cake before me. But he was a sheltered child… so I guess I shouldn’t mull over it).

   My other birthday parties were mostly amongst relatives and a dinner of my choice. I didn’t live anywhere near the other boys in my class. Everyone lived in Alexis or out in the country. Sometimes I pedaled my bike out to see them but there were many occasions when I couldn’t think of a reason why I would want to see them. I was much happier with my rope. I wonder now how people looked at me. A boy living amongst the open terrain of the Midwest would rather spend his time after school with imaginary characters rather than go out and get in trouble with the boys in his class?

Survey Says!!!!

 What is one book that you either hate or cannot get through every time you try to read it?

Set in a Silver Sea by Sir Arthur Bryant.  It was a gift from a good friend's mother, and so I feel obligated to read it. Every summer I pick it up several times and always end up taking the longest naps of my life.

                -Ryan Bronaugh

For some reason every time I've tried to read To Kill a Mocking Bird, I only get a few chapters in before I get distracted and give up.

- Ivy Bekker

The Lord of the Rings trilogy or Call of the Wild by Jack London

-Jennell Oddo

Mysterious Island by Jules Verne 

-Mary K. Grzenia

Twilight! I made it through the second one but when I started the third I decided that I needed to stop torturing myself. 

-Carleen Maki

I'm sad to admit that I actually read Twilight and really, really hated it. I had high hopes for it because I absolutely love vampires, but the book was just awful. The main characters were unlikeable and the novel itself was just poorly written. I read the next two, hoping it would get better, but I had to stop halfway through the final book because I couldn't take Meyers' writing anymore. I'm not even sure how it got published in the first place and I definitely don't understand why it's so popular when there are so many other worthy YA authors who deserve the attention Meyers is getting.

-Leanna Waldron

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole. That was just painful.

- Fannetta Jones




I can never make it through a Michael Chabon book. I've tried both The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and The Yiddish Policeman's Union, but I have no idea what is happening in them. I think I need to take an Intro to Jewish Lit.

-Alex Nall

 I have tried multiple times to read Wuthering Heights, but I can never finish it because the main characters are just so detestable to me. Heathcliff is brooding and arrogant. Catherine is self-absorbed. The whole romance just made me want to yell at the characters to stop being so dramatic and whiny and move on with their lives. Perhaps I just don't have patience for dramatic romances; I did hate The Great Gatsby as well. 

-Katie Struck

I don't hate it, but I can never get myself to finish Dracula by Bram Stoker. It just is so boring I fall asleep before the story ever really begins.

-Amanda Neubauer


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

-Katie Moore

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Hands down. It was well-written, but I hated the story so much, I wished I could have unread it.

-Emily McClay





  • Have a WONDERFUL Winter Break! Stay warm! (brrr)

Writing Center 9:00-11:00 am Tuesday
3:00-5:00 pm Monday - Thursday
7:00-10:00 pm Sunday - Thursday

Leanna Waldron

Alex Nall

Rob Hale



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