The 2020 Spring English Conference, hosted by DePaul’s English department, is now open for submissions! Please see the attached flyer and full submissions guidelines for information on how to submit your writing:
Underground student contributor Sara Shahein caught up with DePaul English alum Shelley Jacobs and asked her about her experiences at DePaul, life after graduation, and her advice for graduating students. Read the full profile here.
Underground student contributor Sara Shahein caught up with DePaul MAE alum Donna Seaman and asked her about her experiences at DePaul, life after graduation, and her advice for graduating students. Read the full profile here.
Propeller Collective, a nonprofit that provides support for first generation and limited-income students, is currently looking for any first generation and/or low income students that would be interested in becoming a featured guest writer!
The editors ask that students write about a topic that would fall under the category of career, on campus, back home, motivation, or personal growth. If this interests you, you can contact managing editor Caley Koch directly at email@example.com or fill out our quick questionnaire on their website.
Visit the Propeller Collective website for more information.
Underground student contributor Sara Shahein caught up with DePaul English and MAWP alum Alexandra Messina-Schultheis and asked her about her experiences at DePaul, life after graduation, and her advice for graduating students. Read the full profile here.
Diversity Can Exist in America, and In Romance Novels Too
By Morgan Kail-Ackerman
Contributor to The Underground
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang is a 2019 contemporary romance novel book that is sure to melt your heart, and keep you excited the entire time. Although this is the second book in the series, you can follow characters and plot without reading The Kiss Quotient, the first book in Hoang’s universe.
This beautiful love story is a modern Cinderella retelling, but this time the story is told with diversity and equality. It follows Esme, a Vietnamese woman, who is given the opportunity to live in America by Cô Nga, the mother of our romantic male hero, as long as she tries to seduce Khai into marriage. Khai, on the other hand, is dealing with the death of his best friend, Andy. As someone who is told over and over that he cannot feel emotions due to his autism, Khai believes he has a heart of stone and blames himself for Andy’s death.
The Bride Test has a perfect balance of everything you will want. It is a well-written story, gives fully dimensional characters, and keeps you interested with every page. On the whole, it is a romance novel that makes you fall in love with these characters, root for their relationship, and believe in everything they are fighting for.
In addition to being a solid romance novel, the story pushes diversity in the romance genre. Both of the romantic leads are people of color, and one is not American. Throughout the novel, Esme speaks in Vietnamese or choppy English. In fact, the last line of the novel is in Vietnamese.
The book also features a positive, well-written representation of autism from Helen Hoang, who is autistic herself. We learn from and support Khai as he figures out his autism and emotions. Esme is likewise not well-educated, and spends parts of the novel trying to find herself while seeking higher education. These aspects are not generally seen in a mainstream romance novel, so Helen Hoang’s novel brings a gorgeous new story to the landscape of the modern romance genre.
Nevertheless, The Bride Test can be a little predictable. It is a Cinderella-retelling and the plot is straightforward, so maybe that is where the predictability lies. Yet it is a positive predictability. You can guess where the novel is going, but that does not mean you will not enjoy the ride.
If you are looking for a contemporary and diverse romance novel, look no further! The Bride Test is for anyone who is looking for a beautiful and sexy love story.
By Sara Shahein
Contributor to The Underground
On Wednesday, October 9th DePaul’s Office of Multicultural Student Success teamed up with the Latinx Center and Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority to host “Bilingualism Unpacked.” During the event, attendees listened to a panel of DePaul students and advisors answer questions about multilingualism – the panel’s languages ranged from Spanish to Serbian.
Each of the panelists were asked about their backgrounds and how they learned the languages they know today. Some learned their respective language when they were children, others learned the language in high school and college, and a few spoke the language first and learned English later. The panel noted that they switch languages when speaking with an adult whose native language is not English as a sign of respect and to make the individual feel more comfortable. They likewise discussed the importance of knowing another language and how it allows people to learn more about other cultures or even their own native cultures.
Each panelist was also asked if they had ever traveled abroad, if they spoke a native language abroad, and how were they perceived. A few panelists spoke about being seen as a local and felt more comfortable to take initiative and start up a conversation with locals.
Yet, when asked about the stigma that may arise from being bilingual, one panelist shared an example about having a conversation with someone in Serbian and mentioning that she was from Chicago. The opposite person immediately stopped speaking Serbian and switched to English. In response, the panelist said that she felt disappointed that the gentleman she was speaking to didn’t think she could continue to carry on the conversation if it was in Serbian, despite it being her first language. Other panelists explained that many non-English speakers or struggling English speakers tend to be looked down upon in society, instead of being given translators, assistance, or guidance to encourage them to continue trying to learn English.
The final question posed to the panelists asked whether they had ever denied being bilingual. Much to the surprise of the audience, a few panelists confirmed they had denied their ability to speak another language to others. One panelist explained that she worked in a law firm and it became known that she spoke and understood Spanish. She was quickly asked to translate and interpret, but she did not feel confident enough because she was still in the process of learning Spanish. She told the audience that, when it comes to work, she denies she is bilingual until she feels confident enough in her abilities.
Altogether, “Bilingualism Unpacked” showcased the reasons why someone would want to learn another language. It also taught other multilingual people in the audience how to deal with certain stigmas, present yourself when abroad, appreciate different cultures, and advocate for non-English speakers.
By Olivia Muran
Contributor to The Underground
On Friday, September 27, DePaul celebrated Banned Books Week by hosting Books on the Chopping Block, a live performance by the City Lit Theater Company. The event kicked off at 1 p.m. in the John T. Richardson Library on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. Banned Books Week is an annual event hosted by the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association. The event raises awareness of the censorship that seeks to dull the intellectual flame of readers across the nation. Regarding the dulling of said figurative flame, the theme of the event this year was “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,” urging everyone to “Keep the Light On.”
At DePaul, four members of the City Lit Theater Company performed selections from the Top 10 Banned Books on 2018’s list, including the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. The list also featured many children’s picture books, such as Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner and A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss. In order to make it on the Banned Books list, these titles must have multiple formal complaints or ‘challenges’ filed against them in an effort to remove access in libraries and schools nationwide. Six out of the ten books on the list were banned because of LGBTQIA+ content, while others were banned for addressing teen suicide or political viewpoints.
The performance selections featured a mix of comedy and serious content. Many of the passages read showcased the importance of the book at hand, advocating accessibility as well as removal from banned lists nationwide. For example, the number one challenged book of 2018 was George by Alex Gino, which tells the story of a transgender character during adolescence. The passage performed at DePaul showcased the book’s child-like innocence of George’s experience, though the topic is controversial among certain book communities. As a result, Gino’s George has been banned, challenged, and relocated from libraries and schools.
The Top Banned Books list serves to call our attention to the censorship that books face when the content presents controversial topics. By filing formal complaints, censors restrict access to diverse communities and decide which books can and cannot be read. In turn, participation and awareness of events like Books on the Chopping Block during Banned Books Week continues to defend these restricted books and works to “Keep the Light On” when “Censorship Keeps Us in the Dark.”
Savy Leiser, a second-year grad student in the MAWP program, recently had her novel, Sculpt Yourself, come out through a new startup!
Come celebrate Savy at the launch party for the novel on January 25, from 6pm-8pm at DePaul in the Women’s Center: SAC 150!
For more information, visit the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/352769008869554/
Congrats, Savy! The Department is proud of you!
By Riley Jane McLaughlin
Contributor to the Underground
On Wednesday, April 23rd at Unabridged Bookstore, DePaul professor Jeremy Mulderig presented his latest published project, The Lost Autobiography of Samuel Steward. The autobiography is a compilation that Mulderig created using primarily sections from Steward’s 1979 original, unpublished, autobiographical manuscript, as well as the slim volume in which selections of autobiographical content of Steward’s were published, entitled Chapters. With the help of these two works, among other essays, novels, and sources on Samuel Steward, Mulderig produced the fascinating accomplishment that is The Lost Autobiography of Samuel Steward.
At the book launch, Mulderig introduced Samuel Steward by briefly recounting Steward’s extraordinary life. I, along with the other audience members, learned much about Steward as a person, as well as about his diverse experiences. Mulderig explained that Steward grew up with certainty of his homosexuality, and began experimenting in the sexual world at a fairly young age. He attended Ohio State University and worked as a professor before moving to Chicago and continuing his professorial work at Loyola University, and later DePaul. Besides being a professor, Steward was an author and a tattoo artist. He also shot pornographic photography and wrote gay pornography. He developed close, personal friendships with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Tolkas. He also was very sexually active; in fact, Steward kept record of his sexual activity, which included over 800 men and 4,500 encounters.
Following his debrief on Samuel Steward, Mulderig read for the audience several excerpts from the autobiography, which focused on various significant periods of Steward’s life, most of which Mulderig had mentioned or alluded to during his introductory summary. After the readings had concluded, Mulderig answered audience questions and was available for book-signings.
Overall, this book launch was fascinating and unique, informing me on a figure of DePaul’s who was previously unknown to me. What additionally made this event so special—other than the stories of the comical and bizarre happenings in Samuel Steward’s life—was Mulderig’s affection for Steward, evident in his excited oration and emotional readings.