This fall, English major Katherine Nolan will begin doctoral study at the University of Chicago, which has offered her a highly competitive, five-year fellowship to study eighteenth-century literature.
Nolan (FCRH 2015) researches the advent of the novel, a form that, in its earliest stages, she says reads like “the wild west of literature.” While she finds that some of her peers “associate the 18th century with Jane Austen and this sort of prim style of writing,” her scholarship asserts that “eighteenth-century novels can be more violent and racy” than is often assumed. For example, Nolan’s senior thesis, titled “The Grammar of Desire: Eliza Haywood and the Sex Plot,” analyzes the erotic charges throughout the writings of the eighteenth-century author and actress.
Nolan attributes her interest in eighteenth-century literature to Professor Susan Greenfield, whose "Early Women Novelists" course exposed her to various eighteenth-century female authors. She also mentions among her most influential courses an illuminating course with Professor Corey McEleney: “I foolishly did not think I could learn anything new about Shakespeare, and he absolutely proved me wrong.”
The mentorship of Fordham’s English department crucially shaped Nolan’s undergraduate career. Nolan praises the generous and insightful advising of Professors Keri Walsh and John Bugg, who she says “have been two of the most wonderful advisors and teachers a person could ask for; I am absolutely indebted to them for their help and support with the graduate school process.”
As Nolan embarks on a new future, she will bring with her skills learned from her academic as well as professional experiences, which include an internship at Columbia University Press, a managing editor position at the Fordham Undergraduate Research Journal, and four years as a writer—and two years as a copy chief—for The Fordham Ram. Nolan will especially miss “the late Tuesday nights down in the newspaper office” and implores other English majors to consider contributing to The Ram: “I got to work with some of the greatest, most talented people. The Ram is such a great organization for English majors, especially . . . I know I have learned so much and have become a better writer as a result.”
Story written by Kevin Stevens