Graduate student symposium features keynote on children’s lit and empathy

~ By Jefferson Beavers, communications specialist, Department of English

Dr. Ruth Y. JenkinsEnglish faculty and author Dr. Ruth Y. Jenkins (picured) will deliver a keynote address on children’s literature and empathy, as part of the first Students of English Studies Association symposium on Thursday, Dec. 7 on campus.

Student panel presentations will be from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. inside the university’s Writing Center, located in the Kremen Education building, rooms 184 and 182. The keynote by Jenkins, which will include a Q&A and a reception, will be from 5 to 7 p.m. in Kremen Education, room 170.

The symposium is free and open to the community. Parking costs $3 in recommended Lot P1.

Jenkins, a professor of English, is the author of “Victorian Children’s Literature: Experiencing Abjection, Empathy, and the Power of Love,” published in 2016 by Palgrave Macmillan. She specializes in 19th Century British literature, as well as feminist and cultural theories. She is also the author of “Reclaiming Myths and Power: The Victorian Spiritual Crisis and Women Writers,” published in 1995 by Bucknell University Press.

For the keynote address, Jenkins will read a selection from her most recent book, which focuses on the British children’s book “Speaking Likenesses” by author Christina Rossetti. Her talk, “Embodying Empathy: from Voicing Abjection to ‘Speaking Likenesses,’ ” will address how children’s literature can speak to our sense and understanding of empathy.

The symposium will include 30 graduate student presentations, on diverse topics in literature and writing studies including: political discourse, historical gender, multi-ethnic literature, narrating trauma, rhetoric and work in the classroom, gender and space, cross-generational narratives, colonial violence, and legal standards.

Presenters include Master of Arts students in English and Master of Fine Arts students in creative writing. Some students are a part of Dr. William Arcé’s research methods graduate seminar course, and some are part of Dr. Rubén Casas’s rhetoric and immigration graduate seminar course.

The Students of English Studies Association, or SESA, is a re-started student organization. Its mission is to build a strong sense of community among graduate students in the Department of English.

Organizers envision the symposium as a way to introduce graduate students to the world of academic conferences, to offer the professional experience of presenting their scholarly work, and to create a friendly and supportive environment designed to ease students into their own paths within their chosen areas of interest.

For more information, contact graduate student Megan Evans at or SESA adviser Dr. Ashley Foster at

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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