Thursday, August 3, 2006
Grad student to participate in Dickens SymposiumBy Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Graduate student Jane Asher didn’t really think she could ever be a Dickensian scholar. She didn’t have much contact with the work of Charles Dickens until a graduate class with Professor of English Natalie Cole last fall. Asher is now preparing for a trip to the 11th Annual Dickens Society Symposium in Belfast, Ireland, where she will present a paper she wrote on Dickens’ novel “Bleak House.”
“I had only read a few Dickens books as an undergraduate student. The paper that I entered into the symposium is the first paper I have ever written on Dickens. I owe it to Professor Cole. She really got me interested in the topic,” said Asher.
This spring, Asher presented her paper “An’t My Place Dirty?” at the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters when the conference was held at Oakland. After the conference, she submitted her paper to the Dickens Symposium at the urging of Cole.
“If it wasn’t for Professor Cole, I would have never thought I could participate in a conference like this,” said Asher.
Cole told Asher the symposium would only accept 24 papers out of those submitted by scholars worldwide but Asher said she was encouraging throughout the entire process, helping Asher develop her abstract, conduct intense research and engage in scholarly conversations with topic experts.
The Dickens Symposium will be held at Queen’s University in Belfast Aug. 10-13. While in Ireland, Asher has scheduled boat and walking tours and informational Dickens sessions.
“I feel like after attending this conference, it will let me know if this is something I want to do in the future,” said Asher.
Asher, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Central Michigan University, will graduate from OU with her master’s degree in English literature in December. She plans to continue on to her Ph.D. and is thinking of specializing in Dickens.
“I have had many opportunities at Oakland University. Last year I served as a graduate assistant and that definitely helped prepare me for the future. I have had the chance to work closely with faculty and turn to them for advice and mentoring. The classes at Oakland are demanding and I feel ready to move on to a doctoral program,” said Asher.
For more information on Oakland’s English program, visit the English Department Web site or call (248) 370-2250.