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  • Travis Petts

Review: Dean Scholar series continues with student readings

From left: Senior Jessica Doster, Associate Professor of English Laura Barlond-Maas, Professor of Humanities Kirk Hendershott-Kraetzer, Ph.D., and senior Heather Kennedy pose in front of the fireplace in Burrage Library on Monday, Oct. 26./Photo by Mitchell Galloway

This series is put in place to celebrate the work and presentations that select students achieved off campus, and then bring them to a campus setting. Seventeen students, professors and friends gathered at Burrage Library to sit in on two speeches by two individuals, both seniors at Olivet College.

The first speech was given by Jessica Doster. Doster spoke about three specific novels and their characters’ love for language and contemporary literature.

The first novel she introduced was “The Color Purple,” written by Alice Walker, which is about an African American woman named Celie, who was being abused by her husband. Celie loved to write. Through all the emotional and physical pain caused by her abusive husband, Celie’s breaking point came when she discovered Mr. (her husband) was hiding letters written from her sister. Celie then began to rely on writing to escape her pain; it helped her. Writing provided a sense of entitlement and reason for her because she lacked a sense of voice. Afraid to speak her mind, she resorted to putting it to words with ink and paper. Celie defied all odds and became what she never saw herself becoming; happy.

The second novel introduced by Doster was “The Shipping News,” by Annie Proulx. The main character goes by the name of Quoyle. Quoyle lost the love of his life to a car accident, so he became a man of few words and possessed a poor ability to communicate, yet he seeked comfort in writing. After moving to Newfoundland, he found a job as a journalist and excelled in writing the shipping news, escaping his sorrows through his love for the written language.

Lastly, Doster introduced the character Jimmy (or Snowman) from the novel “Oryx and Crake,” by Margaret Atwood. Jimmy was a minority and was constantly told he was not smart or dedicated enough to write. Keeping his emotions bottled up was one of his tendencies. As the other characters Doster mentioned, Jimmy turned to words – written words. Jimmy had the wonderful ability to remember the words that others tend to forget, which provided him with hope in his darkest hours. Words and writing helped him keep his sanity.

Moreover, the second and final speaker of the night was fellow senior Heather Kennedy. Her speech, titled “Going, Going, Gone,” was focused on the idea of bad versus evil. Bad and evil are typically taken as similar meanings, but Kennedy goes on to debunk this fallacy. Bad and evil, by definition, have different meanings. She begins by discussing how evil often comes from an outside source, such as Jafar in “Aladdin.” To go along with the idea of good versus evil, she includes Scar, from “The Lion King,” and much more.

The Dean’s Scholar series was recognized as a success in the eyes of the audience and faculty who put it all together.

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