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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

In This Issue

The English Major and Activism: The Fat Acceptance Project

 by Katie Struck

As a proud feminist and LGBTI rights activist, I am always looking for a way to change the world into a better and more accepting place. One of the issues that interested me in my Women Studies course was body image and fat acceptance. The Fat Acceptance Movement has been working since the late sixties to end size discrimination. The media bombards women in their twenties with images of size zero women who represent only a small percentage of what women look like. This discrimination not only stays in the media, but also it has real life consequences where negative body image can lead to self-destructive behavior. Senior English major, Jackie Deskovich, is bringing awareness to this issue on campus through her senior Honors project. When I asked her why she chose to do a project on the subject of fat acceptance, Deskovich says, “It’s something that I’ve always followed and research for the past year, and I knew that if I did a project, it should be about something that I’m passionate about.” I sat down and talked to her about the project, future goals for the fat acceptance movement on campus, and what people should know about this issue.


Usually, senior Honors projects involve students writing a lengthy paper on a subject and then giving a presentation to their class, but Deskovich says that she knew that she had to share it with more people than just those in her class. She hoped that her project would look at more than the white hetero-normative privilege to the thin privilege and the beauty privilege. She stresses the importance of a campus-wide discussion about fat, health, and body image. She hopes to create a campus-wide discussion through art installment projects, involving photography of women of all sizes, and protest signs. Also, she wore a shirt that said “I’m Fat” and offered to explain what she was doing to people who asked her about it. She said that she wants people to learn that weight is such a small indicator of health. Also, she said that as a campus, Monmouth College does not take enough opportunities to discuss important, progressive social issues, so she hopes that her project will change that. Already, she has been discussing this issue with anyone she can: her sorority, classmates, and friends.


I asked Deskovich what she wanted for the future of the fat acceptance movement on campus. She said that she wants to hear fewer girls say they can’t eat something that they want to eat because it will make them look fat. Also, she wants self-destructive behavior caused by negative body image to stop, such as college-aged women sleeping with men just to feel attractive. She thinks that by reclaiming the word fat and showing that beauty does not come in only one shape and size, more women will feel better about themselves. Mostly, she says that the fat acceptance movement is all about changing people’s thinking (changing your mind not changing your body).



I finished the interview by asking her if there is anything else that people should know about the issue. She said that people should know that the research is out there. First, the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance is an organization whose goal is to promote respect and equality for all sizes through education, support, and advocacy. In order improve working and health care conditions for overweight adults, the organization works to add weight to the list of categories covered in anti-discrimination laws. Two other resources on the issue are blogs: “The Rotund” by Marianne Kirby and “Two Whole Cakes” by Lesley Kinzel. Kirby’s blog is honest and hilarious in its encouragement of acceptance of all sizes. Kirby says in her "About Me" section, “I'm on a mission here to let you know that fat people are not your enemy. And skinny people aren't your enemy either.” While “Two Whole Cakes” is also hilarious and empowering, it seems to have more substance in its look at body politics through pop culture criticism. I would recommend all of these resources to anyone curious about this issue.


Coming to the end of this article, many of you may be wondering “what activism has to do with the English major?” The answer is that it has everything to do with it. Words have the power to change the world for better or worse. Writers like Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Henry David Thoreau wrote pieces of literature that caused people to start thinking about important issues. While Deskovich’s paper will only be twenty pages long and her project only last this semester, the effects of this look at body image on campus will with any luck last for decades to come.

Surveys or Specialties: Why the English Department Remains Traditional

             by Stevie Croisant

“The way we are doing it now makes sense for who we are,” said Professor Mark Willhardt in regards to the English major curriculum requirements. Compared to other schools, Monmouth College’s English Department resists the trend of eliminating survey courses and replacing those courses with what Willhardt referred to as “themed courses.”

Colleges and universities in the United States are put into three different categories with Monmouth College falling into the liberal arts category. State schools typically fall into what is known as a Research I category (with Research II being the third category). Research I schools are committed to having their students continue to graduate school. Professors at Research I schools primarily focus on doing research of their own and have huge faculties with perhaps 40 professors for each department.

Since Research I schools have many professors who each have different areas of specialty, it is easier for those schools to cut the survey courses and add in themes courses where students might have classes called “Crime and Punishment in Early American Literature,” rather than classes that teach American literature as a whole.

“Surveys are practical for small numbers,” said Willhardt. The English Department at Monmouth has already weighed the costs and benefits of dropping the survey courses, but came to a unanimous decision to keep the surveys. According to Willhardt, there are two main reasons why the English Department decided to keep the surveys.

First of all, each English major at Monmouth has a different background with literature. Professors cannot always assume a majority of their class has read most of the classics during high school. Students have proved to their professors that their high school knowledge is not what is usually expected.

“Students can’t see the connections if they don’t read the literature,” added Willhardt. “The surveys build a base of literature.

Secondly, the surveys provide a quick look into the topics that the 300 level courses teach. Students can have an introduction to Shakespeare in British Survey I, but in the 300 courses on Shakespeare, students will spend a whole semester on his works. The surveys are necessary to provide English majors with essential knowledge about authors, works, and history.

“Grad school is the time for specialization,” Willhardt said. “Now is the time for understanding.”

Professor Belschner who is currently teaching the British Survey I course agreed that the surveys needed to stay at Monmouth, but gave a slightly different reason as to why.

“It’s important to have the surveys,” said Belschner. “Students don’t have a good sense of history. The strength of the surveys is to hit that contextual upper-level elective. The histories are important if you want to continue onto grad school. The GRE requires students to know the history and periods.”

Belschner explained that Research I schools require students to understand the histories before taking the courses which can be difficult with older material which tends to be unfamiliar with students.

Almost half of the English Departments in the ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) agree with MC’s philosophy. Out of the 13 schools in the ACM, six have two required survey courses for its English majors. The other seven schools do not have surveys and instead offer courses built around themes with courses like “Tragedy in Early British Literature” or “Beauty and Christianity in Poems.” Schools without survey courses tend to be more selective than schools with surveys.

Both Belschner and Willhardt agreed that students do not know the material well enough for them to want to eliminate the survey courses. Schools in the ACM such Carleton College does not require surveys, but it also ranks higher than Monmouth College. According to U.S. News and World Report's college rankings, Carlton College ranks sixth nationally among all other liberal arts colleges. The more selective a college is (among other factors), the better rating a college receives, and Monmouth College ranks 162.

However, Carleton’s course requirements make it look more like a Research I school. Carleton can cut survey courses because its students have other requirements.

The English Department here even contemplated cutting survey requirements from four courses to two. However, Willhardt was worried that students would not take any early survey courses. Even if students were required to take one early class and one late class, Willhardt still worried students would have a general preference towards one class.

 “No one would want to go through British Lit over American. The modern stuff is much easier,” said Willhardt. “Who wants to take a semester on Chaucer when they can take American literature?”

As of now, the English Department here has no plans of eliminating any survey courses. They are much too valuable to the English students here in order to help them understand 300 level courses or even help with the GRE.

Book Versus Movie: Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants

by Leanna Waldron

I always get nervous when I hear that a book I love is being adapted into a film. The movies always tend to dull down some of my favorite characters or cut out my favorite bits of the story line or cast actors that don’t bring the characters to life the way I imagined them. But, with the beauty that was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1 fresh in my mind, I went into the theatre to see the film adaptation of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants cautiously optimistic. I left the theatre very pleasantly surprised.

The book is told from the point of view of old Jacob Jankowski who is, “ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.” After escaping the confines of the depressing nursing home he is left alone in, he sneaks into the circus and tells the owner his story of being a 21-year-old orphaned, veterinarian school drop-out runaway who ended up with a travelling circus. The novel  captured my interest from the first page and held on to me throughout the two days it took me to finish the book and then pass it along to the next person who I could convince to read it.  Gruen’s story, characters and atmosphere are so beautifully written that I really felt myself getting lost in the world of a Depression-era travelling circus. The book was funny and sad and frustrating all rolled into one 350-page paperback package.

Gruen’s characters, both human and animal, were probably what made the book so phenomenal.  Every character, from Walter the midget clown to the beautiful, damaged Marlena to the runaway Jacob to the abusive, drunk August were three-dimensional and, in one way or another, relatable. Each character evoked an emotion from me, whether it was pity, joy or even rage. Even the animals, Rosie the elephant in particular, had completely individual personalities that shone throughout the book.

Although much of the novel revolves around Jacob and Marlena’s love story, the relationship that I loved the most throughout the novel was the relationship between Jacob and Rosie. Gruen spares no detail when describing the abuse the animals and workers suffer at the hands of not only an abusive owner but also the squalor of the times. However, Rosie, a stubborn Polish elephant who finds nothing but disrespect and abuse at the hands of August finds refuge with Jacob, the only person who can speak Polish and, therefore, the only person who can teach Rosie tricks for the show. The bond of friendship between the elephant and the young man was beautifully written and makes the ending of the novel all the more poignant and beautiful.

Aside from being just generally apprehensive about the release of a film adaptation of this fantastic book, I was even more nervous when I heard who was playing the lead role of Jacob Jankowski. Like many, I knew Robert Pattinson from his brief stint as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but I also knew that he became famous (or infamous) from his time spent playing Edward Cullen in the Twilight series. And, as an avid Twilight hater, I must say that I unfairly judged him. I can honestly say now, without feeling a trace of shame, that Robert Pattinson is a great actor. I did not see a trace of Edward Cullen on the screen when I was watching Water for Elephants and, by about ten minutes into the movie, had forgotten all of my earlier anxiety.

The movie, like many book-to-movie adaptations, obviously had to make some cuts. While I understand why some of them were made, there were some bits that I missed. For example, the beginning of the book sets up Jacob’s current unhappiness nicely, which really makes you understand the ending of the novel. Early on, Jacob states, “I used to think I preferred getting old to the alternative, but now I’m not sure. Sometimes the monotony of bingo and sing-alongs and ancient dusty people parked in the hallway in wheelchairs makes me long for death. Particularly when I remember that I’m one of those ancient dusty people, filed away like some worthless tchotchke.”  In the movie, this bit is completely missing, which altered how I saw Jacob’s character immensely. He is still a funny old man with an amazing story to tell, but I missed the set-up of the sadness and loneliness that was prevalent throughout the novel.

Overall, though, the movie fueled the same emotions in me that the novel did. I laughed, cried and was repeatedly amazed by the sheer cinematic beauty of some scenes. However, as always, the novel version of Water for Elephants beats the movie version. Unlikely as it seems, though, I felt that the movie was comparable and nearly on the same level with character development, atmosphere and a fantastic story-line.



Survey Says:


Who is your favorite scary or creepy literary character?

Uriah Heep from Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield.  I saw a theatrical adaptation of this novel at Stepenwolf Theatre in Chicago, and the actor captured his creepiness exceptionally well.  Here’s a description from chapter 15 of the novel:
Uriah Heep’s face “was quite as cadaverous as it had looked in the window, though in the grain of it there was that tinge of red which is sometimes to be observed in the skins of red-haired people. It belonged to a red-haired person - a youth of fifteen, as I take it now, but looking much older - whose hair was cropped as close as the closest stubble; who had hardly any eyebrows, and no eyelashes, and eyes of a red-brown, so unsheltered and unshaded, that I remember wondering how he went to sleep. He was high-shouldered and bony; dressed in decent black, with a white wisp of a neckcloth; buttoned up to the throat; and had a long, lank, skeleton hand, which particularly attracted my attention […]”.

-Rob Hale



"The Man in the Black Suit," from the O. Henry Award-winning short story of the same name by Stephen King:

His face was very long and pale. His black hair was combed tight against his skull and parted with rigorous care on the left side of his narrow head. He was very tall. He was wearing a black three-piece suit, and I knew right away that he was not a human being, because his eyes were the orangey-red of flames in a woodstove. I don't just mean the irises, because he had no irises, and no pupils, and certainly no whites. His eyes were completely orange -- an orange that shifted and flickered. And it's really too late not to say exactly what I mean, isn't it? He was on fire inside, and his eyes were like the little isinglass portholes you sometimes see in stove doors.

-Alex Kane 


Erik from The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
-Emily McClay


As of now, it's President Snow from The Hunger Games trilogy.


-Leanna Waldron



Ambrosio in Matthew Lewis’ The Monk.

-Bridget Draxler

My favorite creepy character is Washington Irving’s headless horseman in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

-Kevin Roberts


  • Don't forget about the Writing Center when you're working on those troublesome papers! Located on the third floor of the Mellinger Learning Center, tutors are available Monday -Thursday 3-5pm and Sunday - Thursday 7-10pm!

  • Submit to COIL! We are accepting submissions for creative writing, poetry, art, photography or any other type of creative art! Email your submissions to by FEBRUARY 29!


Leanna Waldron

Stevie Croisant

Katie Struck

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