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Southern Virginia University

Posts with the tag: Academics

  1. Submit Your Work to The Review

    November 16, 2015


    Want to be featured in this year’s publication of The Review? Submissions to the university’s literary magazine are due Thursday, Nov. 19. You might ask why this is of concern to you. The answer is simply that The Review is constantly looking for unknown talent and work that deserves to be highlighted.

    The literary magazine annually publishes a collection of the strongest works that the school has to offer, from prose and poetry to the visual arts. Traditionally, digital photography has been the most prevalent submission as far as art goes, perhaps because of the digital nature of the art. However, this year, focus is shifting to look for more varied submissions, such as sculpture and watercolor.

    We are also very excited to remind students that $100 and $50 cash prizes are available for first and second place winners in poetry, prose, and art genres.

    If you have something that you would like to submit, but aren’t sure how to represent it digitally, email me at and we can coordinate to ensure that your submission is accepted.

    (Post and photo by Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)

  2. Photos: Monticello Course Excursion

    November 5, 2015

    Every semester, Southern Virginia University students enrolled in the university’s America and the Enlightenment course have the unique opportunity to visit Monticello, the iconic home of Thomas Jefferson. This semester, students traveled with their professors — Dr. David Cox, Dr. Lora Knight and Dr. Francis MacDonnell — and Delaney Taylor, travel study assistant, to Charlottesville, Va., to see the historic house on the back of the U.S. nickel.

    Jefferson spent a significant amount of his life designing and creating Monticello, which took 40 years to construct. Jefferson named his home Monticello because it means “little mountain” in Italian. At Monticello, students toured the house itself and also participated on an outdoor tour about the lives of the enslaved people at Monticello. I enjoyed tagging along on the tours to take some photos and to revisit a truly fascinating place.

    One of the purposes of the Monticello course excursion is for students to get a better glimpse into the life of Jefferson and particularly into how the Enlightenment influenced early American thought and culture. When I took the America and the Enlightenment course from Dr. Cox a few years ago, I enjoyed touring Monticello and seeing direct examples of the Enlightenment influence on one of America’s foundational leaders. And in true liberal arts fashion, in addition to learning about the many aspects of Monticello that exemplify the Enlightenment during the tour of the house, the second tour gave us an example of one of the aspects of early American life that contradicted the Enlightenment emphasis on equality and reason: slavery.

    After the course excursion, students took what they learned at Monticello to write papers relating back to what they have learned in the course.

    (Post and Photos by Hannah King ’13).

  3. Professors Monthly: Iana Konstantinova

    October 30, 2015

    KonstantinovaProfessors Monthly is a new monthly column on the official Southern Virginia University blog. Each month’s guest post will be provided by a Southern Virginia professor on a topic of their choice. This month, Dr. Iana Konstantinova, associate professor of Spanish, considers the important relationship between reader and literature.

    Last Monday, my daughter and I went to see “Goosebumps.” The literature professor in me could not watch a kids’ movie without making connections to literary works that deal with the metafictional themes of authorship and the notion of reality vs. fiction.  In the movie, the author of the original “Goosebumps” series, R.L. Stine, is represented as a fictional character, whose creations come to life and attempt to kill him in order to assure their existence in “reality,” outside of the books where they have been “imprisoned.”

    My mind immediately wandered to Miguel de Unamuno’s “Niebla,” where the protagonist, Augusto Pérez, visits Unamuno in his office and explains to the author that he is less real than his own creation, pointing to a painting of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.  Augusto Pérez goes on to tell Unamuno that Cervantes may be dead, but Don Quixote and Sancho continue their existence because people read their story.  Likewise, Augusto Pérez explains that he will continue to exist long after Unamuno’s death.  The character’s claims that a fictional character is ontologically more “real” than the flesh and blood author that created him may seem far-fetched to those who, unlike me, do not find such metafictional paradoxes fascinating.  Nevertheless, I do believe Unamuno has a point.  It is neither the author nor the character that creates a novel’s “reality,” but the reader who brings his or her own experiences and further breathes life into the text.

    Without readers, authors would be dead and forgotten, and characters would be nothing more than words on a page (or images on a film screen).  It is our perception of the material that gives “life” to the characters and immortalizes the authors by way of their creations.  Therefore, read and know that through reading you give life to the text, its author and its characters and they, in turn, influence you and your own reality.  Do be careful, however, that you do not turn into a Don Quijote and allow madness to overtake you as a result of too much reading and not enough sleep.


    (Post by Dr. Iana Konstantinova. Photo by Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)

  4. Q&A: Brian Toolan, Former AP Religion Editor

    October 15, 2015


    I recently had the chance to sit down with Brian Toolan, former national religion editor for the Associated Press, when he visited campus as a guest for Professor Jeff Benedict’s “Contemporary Issues” class in September. Toolan is also the former editor-in-chief of the Hartford Courant and former business editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer. After meeting with me for a few minutes and discussing his career in journalism and his advice for today’s college students, Toolan joined Benedict to teach a room full of Southern Virginia students — both members of Benedict’s class and of Hugh Bouchelle’s course, “Writing for Digital Media.”

    Q: Why did you choose to go into journalism and what steps did you take to launch your career?

    Toolan: When I was a senior in college, my father was a newspaperman, but I really wasn’t certain that’s what I wanted to do. The managing editor at that paper, which was in Scranton, Pennsylvania, basically asked my father if I’d be interested in starting off [writing] … obituaries and [covering events such as] fires. I thought I’d do it for a little while and then assess, but I loved it right from the beginning. I was very lucky; I had a very good career. I went from Scranton to Dayton, Ohio, on the sports desk there, and then to a [newspaper] in Baltimore, also on sports. Then I came to the Philadelphia Daily News and eventually I was a sports editor there and then the managing editor. In 1998, I became the editor at the Hartford Courant in Connecticut. That was the best stretch of my career. We won a Pulitzer Prize and were finalists a number of other times. There’s an awful lot of talent there. It was a lot of fun. … Now I’ve got a couple of book ideas and so that’s what I’m planning to do now.

    Q: What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

    Toolan: Many of them came when I was at the Hartford Courant. We won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in 1999 and it was about coverage of a disgruntled employee coming into the Connecticut State Lottery headquarters and killing six people. We also won Pulitzer Prizes for a series on bad doctors that we did. We had a photography Pulitzer Prize for a town in Connecticut that was overrun with heroin abuse and the toll it took on the town and the people that were selling and using. There were a lot of good things there. … I was proud to be a part of it. (more…)

  5. Professors Monthly: Scott A. Dransfield

    September 29, 2015


    Professors Monthly is a new monthly column on the official Southern Virginia University blog. Each month’s guest post will be provided by a Southern Virginia professor on a topic of their choice. This month, Dr. Scott A. Dransfield, professor of English and director of university writing, analyzes the text of “The Iliad” as translated by Robert Fagles and in relation to English poetic vernacular.

    Beauty, Terrible Beauty

    Those of you who have taken Classics of Western Literature, which features that great epic, “The Iliad,” by Homer, may have run up against what seems the irrationality of the Trojan War as presented in the poem: 10 years of grueling and violent war, fueled by testosterone-crazed notions of honor, all over the possession of the beautiful woman, Helen. How could one woman possibly be worth the death, destruction, and mayhem, you may ask. Well, the Trojans and Greeks also asked this question, and their conclusion is a bit surprising, though it has everything to do with the imaginative logic of “The Iliad.”

    And catching sight of Helen moving along the ramparts,

    they murmured one to another, gentle, winged words:

    ‘Who on earth could blame them? Ah, no wonder

    the men of Troy and Argives under arms have suffered

    years of agony all for her, for such a woman.

    Beauty, terrible beauty!’

    “Terrible beauty” has always struck me as a striking paradox and, as a very economic phrase, captures the essence of the epic. Perhaps we also see a “terrible beauty” embodied in the notion of kleos: a glory achieved through the ultimate strife of warfare. After all, heroic deeds become the beauty of poetry. But did Homer write these exact words, “terrible beauty”? Let us remember we are reading in translation: Robert Fagles uses this expression in the translation that we read, but, after a bit of investigation of the Greek text, it really doesn’t appear this way in the ancient Greek language.

    Flash forward several millennia and some centuries: It’s now the early twentieth century and Irish nationals are fighting bitterly for their independence from British rule. We don’t see so much organized military operations as much as daring and devoted individuals taking up the cause by leading insurrections. A sensitive and idealistic poet named William Butler Yeats, an Irish nationalist himself (though without the revolutionary fervor), witnesses the great Easter Uprising of 1916, and while he is shocked by the violence, he can’t help but be moved by these heroic efforts. He watches as the rebellion is suppressed; the leaders of the insurrection are all court-martialed and executed, and Yeats’s response is to write one of his best poems, “Easter 1916.” In the poem he celebrates the lives of the revolutionaries and their impact on the whole movement for independence, which, six years later, was successful. But something has happened in the meantime. Even though the Easter rebellion was squashed, there is a palpable transformation: the “casual comedy” of Ireland has been

    All changed, changed utterly:

    A terrible beauty is born.

    And, like “The Iliad,” there is a beautiful woman inspiring, indeed taking part in, these events: Maud Gonne, a revolutionary as violent as the rest of them, some say a terrorist, whom Yeats pined for throughout his life. She was his Helen, and he wrote many poems about this Helen whose beauty was equal to her force.

    1990: Robert Fagles’ translation of “The Iliad” is published to overwhelming acclaim. It has become the preferred translation for “modern Greekless readers,” as one reviewer puts it, and has supplied countless classrooms, like those at Southern Virginia, with a text of the poem that is vibrant and alive. How is it that this translation of the ancient poem succeeds with young, 21st-century readers, for whom the ancient world can seem remote and foreign? It is quite clear that Fagles meets the challenge of translation by drawing upon the cultural resources of his own English poetic vernacular, a language that has developed through succeeding generations of poets who have contributed to a tradition that still nonetheless connects to Homer. If Yeats is an influential figure in this ongoing, developing tradition (and he is), how can we approach Homer untouched by the modern poet’s influence? In other words, how can we envision the “terrible beauty” of Helen without experiencing, even indirectly, something of Yeats’s “Helen”? Fagles clearly sees an opportunity in taking from this vibrant resource and thus quotes a modern poet in the project of translating an ancient one. It is a beautiful collaboration of generations.

    (Post by Dr. Scott A. Dransfield. Based on an essay to be published in a forthcoming issue of “Philological Quarterly.”)