The 2019 English Comps Symposium Preview

10 May 2019
laird hall at night

Comps is (are?) a strange experience—your room accumulates a landscape of readings, your weeks start to pass in page counts, you wrestle wayward drafts late into the night, wondering at the turns in your relationship with this thing you chose to care about at some point, then, sudden as May snowfall, it’s over.

Tomorrow from 9 am to 1 pm, join us on Second Laird to catch the majestic swan songs of this year’s comps, as our senior English majors present the research, writing, and colloquiality they’ve been working on for the better part of the year. The Miscellany asked compsers to write one-sentence summaries of their comps, which we’re excited to share with you below. If you do have more than a few minutes to spare, though, we hope to see you at the symposium tomorrow! Rock on, class of 2019!


Sarah Bobbe

My comps explores the nature of fictional historical representation in Time’s Arrow, Martin Amis’s subversive re-telling of the Holocaust: Amis uncouples the conventions of the historical novel to reveal a new way of understanding what has often been called unspeakable, unthinkable, and unrepresentable.

Jennifer Chan

Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead suggest that truthful performances are elusive, but useful and instructive ones are easier to find.

Brynne Diggins

In my research paper I focus on how Krupabai Satthianadhan (one of the first Indian women to write novels during the colonial period in India) imagined ways for women to create their own senses of identity and independence through education and religion in the face of colonial and national forces that wanted to use women’s identities for their own competing ends.

Julian Hast

It feels dishonest to present comps before noon when basically the entirety of my writing was done in bed between the hours of midnight and 5am.

Lizzy Lynn

With the American Trilogy (1997-2000), Philip Roth offers an alternative to the species of inflexible and ideological thinking that plagues his characters. He accomplishes this, in part, by favoring a range of narrative voices over a single line of discourse.

Mary Sears

In the female characters of Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, Woolf, through flower imagery and the trope of the vegetation deity, explores the tension between depictions of Victorian and modernist grief in women: the tension between grief as traditionally feminine and passive and as active and creative.

Chris Wortman

Through each protagonist’s departure into an artificial world of their own design, Gass’s own theory of metaphorical representation is full display in the stories of In The Heart of The Heart of the Country; the characters take the language of their reality and transform its referents to create their private and interior landscapes.

Creative Projects

Emily Bruell

In the short story collection Pomegranate Seeds, I use a selection of different points of view, with narrators ranging from an elderly Alzheimer’s victim to a nine-year-old water-skipper hunter, to explore the question of how and when we empathize or fail to do so.

Clara Finkelstein

My comps is burning and no one is coming

Ellie Grabowski

I wrote stories about one setting in four ways!

Cristian Hernandez

The English department labeled it “disruptive writing,” which I’ll take as a compliment.

Dylan Larson-Harsch

My Comps is an original poetry collection that is based around my father’s death after a long struggle with a neurological disorder, and it ruminates on themes of family legacy, memory, and loss.

James Smith

For my project, I developed a resource guide of queer-themed children’s picture books, as well as one framework for how to use them in read alouds, for K-3 educators.


Nathaniel Chew

Language is power, maleness is gazy, my colloquium books are for sale, DM me

Kate Johnson

Both Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner provide models for redemption after a transgression has been committed, but The Rime of the Ancient Mariner focuses on the individual and love of nature, while “Goblin Market” focuses on the community and love of other people.

Galen Moller

In my first essay, I describe how the narration in Fun Home and The God of Small Things is shaped by the protagonists’ return to their traumatic childhood experiences, and in my second essay, I discuss how and why “The Cleaving” and “Performing a Warped Masculinity en Route to the Metro”, as visual first-person poems, construct the self through interactions with otherness and the physical world.

Julia Truten

My comps examined Doctor Frankenstein as an artist rather than a scientist and looked at the relationship between eating and trauma in “Goblin Market” and The God of Small Things.

Annie Utzschneider

Demonic; you should pack a tennis racket.

Elyse Wanzenried

Through the colloquium process, I examined both the locus of changing gender paradigms in Paradise Lost and Frankenstein through their intertextuality and questioned meaning creation through a deconstructionist reading of William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just To Say” in conjunction with parodies of his work like Kenneth Koch’s “Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams” and the Twitter memes that emerged in 2017 in imitation of his style.

Addison Williamson

Colloquium: it’s what’s for breakfast!