Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one's hand. - Ezra Pound
We’ve all done it. Whether in high school or college, we’ve all had to wind our way through convoluted Old English, wishing Bill Shakespeare would just skip “alas” and “didst” and “naught” and go for, “Ah man, I just killed myself for nothing.”
While many people have to be required to write a paper on it before they’ll read Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, some don’t need any encouragement. Bekah Troup is one of the latter.
In the fall semester of 2006, Bekah traveled with a group of students and faculty from the English department to the Stratford Festival of Canada in Ontario to see professional Shakespearean actors from all over the world perform many of his greatest plays.
“It was an English major’s dream,” she says. “Reading Shakespeare just isn’t the same as seeing it on stage. We saw five plays in three days; we also toured the theater and the wardrobe warehouse.”
Experiences like this one are among the many opportunities to develop skills outside the classroom within the English department. The English Club hosts poetry readings, facilitates trips to theaters in Pittsburgh and helps send students to festivals like Stratford, the Festival of Faith and Writing in Michigan and the annual convention for National Council of Teachers of English. Students can be published and can read the informational and creative works of fellow students in Geneva’s Cabinet (newspaper), Chimes (literary magazine) and Genevan (yearbook). Last year the English department also launched its own chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society.
As do most English majors, Bekah often gets asked what she plans to do with her degree.
“We are certainly not in it for the money,” she says. “However, I believe strongly that the English major is very beneficial and worthwhile. Our Lord created language; he uses the written Word as his primary means of revealing himself today, and he used stories to do it.”
As these stories often reappear in allegorical form in many texts, both old and new, they are known to spark deep class discussions on questions of meaning and truth. Bekah claims that none of her professors “have shied away from difficult questions.”
“If anything we as a class are able to engage them on a more significant level,” Bekah says. “With Scripture as our common ground, we believe in ultimate Truth and that only through Christ can society be redeemed.”
At Geneva, Bekah was able to take what seems a more abstract field and make it concrete and applicable. Her junior year, she had the opportunity to work as an editorial assistant at Crown and Covenant Publications, a publishing house in Wilkinsburg, Pa.
“As someone interested in writing in the future, I certainly am encouraged (required, actually) to cultivate this skill on a regular basis in my classes,” she says, making her advice for potential literature majors: “Love to learn. And love to read.”
- by Brooke Prokopchak ('08)
Bekah Troup was born in Fairfax, Va., and now resides in Allison Park, Pa. She double-majored in literature and political science. She is interested in publications, writing and political advocacy, particularly for international religious freedom (and maybe all three together).