For 50 years, students and faculty in Clark University’s English Department have called Anderson House home. One of the many century-old dwellings that dot the neighborhood, Anderson House — with its turn-of-the-century details, like stained glass and oak woodwork — provides a warm and inviting place for English majors to connect with faculty and alumni.
This year, the department recognized the importance of this community-building space by celebrating the golden anniversary of its time at Anderson House. The department’s annual Chowder Fest on Oct. 19 provided a great opportunity for alumni, faculty, and students to share a traditional New England staple — clam chowder — while reconnecting on familiar turf. The next day, for a Homecoming event celebrating 50 years in Anderson House, English faculty presented a series of “(En)lightning Talks” and held breakout sessions with students and alumni to discuss literature.
At Chowder Fest, Jeremy Shulkin’07, M.A.T. ’08, an English teacher at Main South’s University Park Campus School and local freelance writer, recalled the importance of connections. He’s currently working with Clark visiting assistant professor Raphael Rogers on developing a high school course focused on superheroes.
“It’s so easy at Clark to keep in touch with your professors,” Shulkin said. “When I need recommendations, I still have a list of sources I can go to. I’m at Clark working with the head of the department all the time, and they are so helpful in terms of getting you resources or even pushing ‘play’ on your projects.”
Danielle Burs ’07, a counsel at DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice in Washington, D.C., said her undergraduate career at Clark, where she was a double major in government (now political science) and English, gave her the foundation to follow her passion for law. In particular, she cited the skills she acquired as an English major — writing, linguistics, and reading intellectually challenging works.
After graduating from Clark, Burs obtained a law degree from American University Washington College of Law, then applied her knowledge and skills to advocate for those in need, promoting policy changes to address everything from affordable housing and economic development to legal justice issues.
“I really got stuck on advocacy,” she said. “I wanted to do something with my education that helps other people. I thought law school was the way to go.”
At the English Department’s Homecoming on Oct. 20, students and 35 alumni from around the country gathered again to hear from current and emeriti faculty about their research on literature from science fiction to Shakespeare. They included Esther Jones discussing “Imagining Other-Wise: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Bioethics”; Betsy Huang, “Frankenstein: A Social Justice Manual”; Steven Levin, “Against Monocultures of Knowledge”; Meredith Neuman, “Products of Her Leisure Moments: Women and Poetic Labor in Early America”; James Elliott, “Innocently Beguiling: Why Textual Editing?”; Lisa Kasmer, “Beautiful Failure: The Resistance in Romanticism”; and Virginia Vaughan, “Understanding Iago.”
Kasmer, associate professor and chair, opened the event and welcomed alumni and students by marveling over their attachment to Clark’s English Department. As Jones, associate professor of English and dean of the faculty, recalled, “When I joined the department nine years ago — I’m currently the most junior member — I was welcomed with open arms by our current faculty members into probably the most collegial department in the universe. I think that it trickles and it translates into the relationships we cultivate with our students, the environment we create here, at 50 years of Anderson House.”