What Alumni Say

Tove Lilith Conway is our first matriculated student to move from the University of St. Thomas undergrad English program to the graduate English program via our accelerated program. Tove was able to complete three graduate courses as an undergraduate, whichwill allow her to graduate with her Master's Degree just one year after receiving her Bachelor's Degree.

When I first walked through St. Thomas’ iconic arches in 2015, I was sure I would study the sciences. After all, I had planned on being a veterinarian for most of my life. However, on the first day of Dr. Emily James’ Ways of Seeing literature and photography course, I decided instead to choose English, which provided opportunities for cross-disciplinary coursework in the liberal arts. While scientific perspectives remain rooted in my studies, I decided that studying English Literature was it for me. About a year later, I decided to double major in Environmental Studies and English: I am passionate about protecting the natural world and addressing environmental challenges, so becoming interdisciplinary in my studies was the first step for me in achieving these ends. After receiving a Sustainability Scholars Grant to conduct research on environmental art, I became inspired to pursue graduate studies.

Where did the time go? I graduated from St. Thomas in May of 2019 with a BA in English and Environmental Studies. During my senior year, I dove into the Accelerated BA/MA English Program, taking graduate courses with my undergraduate major courses in the fall and spring. I expected that the graduate course load would intensify in comparison to my undergraduate work, but I found myself exhilarated by the energy of the graduate program. Whether it was Colonial American Literature; A Chaucer Remix; or Between Worlds: Racial Divide, the courses were engaging and enlightening. Another plus of the accelerated graduate program is the ability to overlap my undergraduate and graduate courses, saving me time and money. The summer after graduation I took Dr. Easley’s Victorian Literary Genres course. In my final paper for this class, I bridged my undergraduate and graduate interests through an ecocritical study of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. I explore how Carroll industrializes Wonderland in Through the Looking Glass to reconcile the changing pastoral landscapes and extinction of animals in Oxfordshire, England, where Carroll lived and worked. In my remaining graduate coursework I intend to continue investigating how concepts such as ecology and extinction stem from and shape nineteenth-century literature.

I am beyond thankful for the opportunities that the Graduate English Program offers and for the challenging, inspiring, and supportive faculty. Doing archival research on Lee Miller’s photography this fall through a research assistantship under Dr. James has been thrilling. Through the Graduate English Research Grant, I will have the opportunity to study the seemingly unparalleled relationship between nature and modern art when I visit the exhibition, “Picasso et le Paysage en Méditerranée,” in Toulon, France this January. Besides providing endless research possibilities, courses in the graduate program encourage exploration of interdisciplinary links between literature, film, art, and cultural studies. This overlap has led to inspiring connections between my courses and sparked ideas for future research. As I seek admission to doctoral programs, I feel grateful for the enriching and dynamic experience that the five-year track has offered me, and I thoroughly look forward to the rest of my time studying advanced literary and cultural studies at the University of St. Thomas.