All my years at Mount Holyoke

Posted on October 31, 2011 by Mai-Anh Ha and filed under Liaisons.

"Slowly wheeling, like the rays of a searchlight, the days, the weeks, the years passed one after another across the sky."

- The Years, Virginia Woolf

And so have mine, one after another to arrive at now (revisited, renewed, this fluctuating state, which in a second is gone to be replaced by another now). These past few days of storm weather, flickering lights, and the comfort of camaraderie amongst my fellow students have placed me in a reflective mood on the meaning of time. Instead of wandering through a blur of classes and assignments, I sit against a table surrounded by my fellow students, underclassmen from my dorm, reflecting on the "English experience" I've had. Their questions about classes, about what it means to be an English major, about what I myself wrote as a first-year, a second-year, and now a third-year inform both them and myself.

All of sudden, the blur of time becomes clear. Though I clap fists to sluggish brain, eventually I muster up a trickle of thought, which builds and builds till a torrent of experience upon experience is released. I am recalling Niccolo Machiavelli and the misnomer that is the adjective Machiavellian; the use of animal narrators in Emily Dickinson's poetry; the World Almanac's list of world oil and natural gas producers, which led to a final project on Kazakhstan's success as a post-Soviet Union satellite balancing Europe, America, Russia, and China's needs with its own; the narrative development of the Bee poems in Sylvia Plath's Ariel

I had promised myself an early night at 9 p.m. to make up for the many coffee and sugar-plagued nights of lab reports and essays and Physics problem sets. I ended up saying good-bye to my fellows at midnight, rueful smile on my face at keeping them up late, but they protested against my apology, because it was good to hear about all the opportunities available at thought, thoughts expressed, that is, in discussion or in writing.

We had pored over the course catalog book, contemplating the next semester and then the next. I found myself almost shamed that I myself had not had every professor listed, but I recovered, giving them what little I had in the way of an English major's experience. Thus, a list follows of classes I have taken, professors I have had, and essays I have written, some short, some long, all an attempt to write and write something new and true to myself and my thoughts:


Fall 2009 101 How to Read a Poem, Professor Nigel Alderman - On The Conceit of the Animal Narrator in Emily Dickinson's Poems

Spring 2010: 200 Intro to Literature, Professor Amity Gaige - On the Development of the Narrative "I" in Sylvia Plath's Bee Poems


Fall 2010: 280 Introduction to Literary Criticism and Theory, Professor William Quillian - Three ways of reading Bowles' "A Distant Episode"; 285 Transatlantic Romanticism, Professor Kate Singer

Spring 2011: 295 Independent Study on John Berger's Ways of Seeing and G, Arundhati Roy's God of Small Things, and Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, Professor William Quillian - God of Small Things Response

Final paper on Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion



Fall 2011: 386 Eliot, Woolf and Lessing, Professor William Quillian - "The Self-Congratulatory Mr. Brooke" (on Eliot's Middlemarch)

Spring 2012: 331 H.D./Eliot/Pound/Loy, Professor Nigel Alderman - "Poetics of H.D."341 American Literature III, Professor Donald Weber - "Maturation of Uncle Tom's Children" (a compare and contrast between Wright's Uncle Tom's Children and Toomer's Cane)


Fall 2011: 213, Literature of the Later Middle Ages, Professor Wesley Yu; 252 Harlem Renaissance, Professor Gayle Pemberton

If you have any questions, concerns, remarks, or suggestions for me, e-mail me at

Your Liaisons

Posted on October 24, 2011 by Mai-Anh Ha and filed under Liaisons.

Say hello to your liaisons, when you see them tomorrow at the English Department Lunch or about campus:

To contact them with your questions and concerns:

Layli Amerson '13, who went abroad to South America over the summer, e-mail her at

Megan Bushnell '13, who is currently studying abroad, e-mail her at

Catia Cunha '14, who works in the English Department, e-mail her at

Mai-Anh Ha '13, who is a student manager at Abbey dining hall and blogs for the Mount Holyoke News in the third person, e-mail her at

Emma Rice '13, who has done independent study with Professor Quillian, e-mail her at