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Call For Submissions: The Underground!

The Underground is taking submissions! We are looking to feature book reviews and interviews with alumni and faculty, written by current students. Have an idea, or a piece already written? Email Zach Sharp @ rsharp5@depaul.edu.

Thanks,

Zach

Featured

Check For Updated Course Listings Under Winter 2023:

A few edits to course listings and descriptions were made due to my own oversight. Make sure to look into the newly listed courses in Comparative Literature:


ENG 389/ Russian Short Story/ In Person/ Liza Ginzburg
The study of a representative selection of Russian short fiction
concentrating on the great 19th-century masters such as Pushkin,
Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gorky, and Korolenko.
M/W
4:20-5:50

&


ENG 389/ Japanese Women’s Literary Masterpieces/ In Person/ Heather Bowen-Struyk
The course begins over 1000 years ago with masterpieces of world
literature including The Tale of Genii and classical poetry, traverses
through the modern period of New Women Bluestocking and arrive
in the 21st century to reflect on the richness of Japanese women’s
writings across time and space. * No prior knowledge of Japanese
language, history or culture necessary.
M/W
2:40-4:10


EXTENDED DEADLINE: Spring English Conference

The deadline to submit to the 11th annual Spring English conference has been extended to this Friday, May 15th!

Find full guidelines here.

Initially, the department intended to host the conference through a website featuring video panels that could be accessed any time. After further consideration and discussion with students, however, the English department has decided to shift to synchronous panels to be held on Friday, June 5, 1-5pm via Zoom. The sessions will be recorded and posted to the conference website so that individuals who aren’t able to attend can later access the content. This approach will come closest to generating the energy and intellectual engagement of our annual event.

Call for Self-Nominations to the English Distinction Program

The English Department is seeking self-nominations from students who would like to be considered for the Distinction Program. Students who are invited to the Distinction Program are eligible to take Master’s-level courses in the English Department and can earn “Distinction in English”; those who earn Distinction will be honored with a certificate in June of the year in which they graduate, and will have “Distinction in English” noted on their final transcript. To earn Distinction, students in the program must complete three activities that demonstrate excellence in Creative Writing or Literary Studies beyond what is expected in the ordinary curriculum; such activities might include taking graduate-level courses, presenting papers or creative work at conferences, publishing work in competitive journals, or participating in the Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar.

Students who would like to be considered for the program must:

· Have a minimum of a 3.7 GPA or be in the University Honors Program.
· Be English majors.
· Plan to graduate by March 2021.
· Email Professor Conary (jennifer.conary@depaul.edu) expressing interest in the program.

The faculty of the English Department will invite students from among those who self-nominate and those who meet the basic GPA and credit hour requirements based on the students’ academic performance within upper-level English courses; only students who have demonstrated an exceptional level of intellectual and creative engagement, a strong work ethic, and a high level of maturity will be invited to the program.

Self-nominations should be submitted to Professor Conary at jennifer.conary@depaul.edu by noon on Friday, May 1st. Please include your student ID number and your concentration within the major (Literary Studies or Creative Writing), along with a few sentences explaining why you would like to be considered for the program. If you have any questions about the program, please contact Professor Conary.

Book Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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.

Event Review: Bilingualism Unpacked

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.

Event Review: Books on the Chopping Block with City Lit Theatre

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.”

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

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By Caitlyn Ward, contributor to the Underground

Clay Jannon, hit with the hard times of the recession, has been shuffled away from his life as a San Francisco corporate drone and has been plopped right down into the tall and daunting aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Working the night shift, Clay soon discovers that this strange and dusty store is more curious than he could ever have imagined. The customers are few and far between, and while there are some random passers-by, there is also a small community that frequents the store often. These eccentric customers borrow from a mysterious, and quite tall, section of the store, habitually checking out large and strange volumes that Clay has been warned not to read. As it becomes more evident that these regulars belong to some strange kind of book club, Clay’s interest in these bizarre volumes grows. Succumbing to his suspicions, Clay engineers an analysis of the bookstore and the behavior of its clientele. With the help of his romantic interest, a data analyst for Google, his roommate, a special effects artist, and his best friend, a successful designer of a “boob-simulation software,” Clay sets out on a quest to discover the secrets that lie far beyond this bookstore’s walls.

In a world where the book is threatened by advancements in technology, the author, Robin Sloan, takes on the intersection between old and new media. Sloan crafts a warm and enjoyable novel, while also raising questions about the power that books and technology contain in today’s society. He does this by bringing these issues to attention, but never pushes these thoughts rudely to the head at the expense of the story. Sloan creates a quirky constellation of characters, such as Clay Jannon and Mr. Penumbra himself, as they work together to solve the 500-year-old puzzle that lies within these peculiar texts. The many references to technology places the novel firmly in the present day. Although Clay and his friends encounter setbacks, they live in a world that provides the answers in one simple Google search. Sloan seamlessly marries these new ideas of technology with old-school paper and ink and the cleverness of it all makes the story hard to put down. By creating a novel that is simultaneously a love letter to books, a meditation on technology and its limits, a mysterious adventure, and a requiem, Sloan is able to tackle the cohabitation of old and new media in today’s world. Rendered with irresistible language, interesting characters, and dazzling wit, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore creates an intriguing world in which you have to enter, and will not want to leave.