English Students Publish Class Book


Students in English classes can expect to produce a lot of material by the end of a semester. But recent students of ENG 317 with Dr. Mary Jo Kietzman produced something even greater than the usual papers and research. They created a book.

Entitled Authors to Ourselves, the book is a compilation of student essays that cover topics related to class themes on the power of literacy and literature. In addition to essays, readers will find art and photography by the contributors. Focusing almost exclusively on writings by Shakespeare and Milton, Authors to Ourselves explores how older works are still relevant in and apply to modern times. The students are also writing in defense of their experiences as English majors and the continuing value of education, reading, writing, thought, and expression. They are speaking out about the need for people to be engaged citizens who stand up for change and live with an awareness of their governments and surroundings.

Candace Lester, a senior from the English Department at UM-Flint, says in the book’s introduction, “Open your eyes, open your mind; it may not make you happier, but it will make you more connected, more real because today indifference is the biggest crime of all.”

Following is a brief glimpse of what readers can find in the book:

Mind-forged Manacles: Slavery in the 21st Century by Brekke Pichette. “It is a slavery of the mind which we have learned from our culture and it influences the way we think without us even realizing it.”

The Alchemy of Advertising by Candace Lester. Influenced by reading The Alchemist by Ben Jonson. “Advertising surrounds us and works on us in ways that we don’t even notice because we are too preoccupied with the things they are selling us.”

Social Media #TheGardenofEden by Anna Luke. “If our society could see that there are other things that are going on in the world besides obsessing over what others are eating an doing, where they are going, and one another’s relationship status, etc., then maybe we would have more of a sense of community.”

Sex in Society by Melissa Pomerantz. “Whether you like men or women or both or neither, your life should not be defined by the label someone else insists that you need. We need to free ourselves from the labels that define and trap us. Free love.”

It’s Not Once Upon A Time by Kristen Machuk. “It is because of our human nature that our marriages, both the physical and the spiritual sides, will always be tested.”

Fight For Our Fiction by Rebecca Blakeney. “Stories are both our culture’s history and  legacy, and so they are not something that we can afford to lose touch with.”

All the World is a Classroom by Meghan Christian. “We must take what we have learned in school and in literature, and apply it to our everyday life. If we do not do this, then what is the point of even receiving that education?”

Books Are Not Dead Things by Briana Hetherington. “If books go the way of the cassette tape, we could lose part of our history all at once. What would happen to our society then?”

The Monarchy of Flint; University of Michigan by Rachel Stickland. “Students need to take their education in to their own hands and realize that self-education is just as important as the institutions we currently invest in.”

Thinking Vicariously Through Characters by Gina Rose. “Censoring material will not help people make good choices. In fact, it will impede that process. We all can learn from characters… whether the content is considered ‘bad’ or ‘good.’”

We the People: Why We Must Seize the Power of Our Voices by Lauren Climie. “Reading literature can broaden our knowledge and allow us to understand the tools of change that we hold within us.”

Education at the Gas Station by Erin Brender. “Read something you do not agree with and fight with it in your mind to help you sort through what your own opinions are and how they might be improved or solidified.”

When asked about the experience of producing a printed work with her professor, student contributor Rebecca Blakeney said, “Being able to work so closely with an accomplished faculty member has been an amazing experience for me. It has helped me learn along the way and has also given me the confidence to really grab on and see the book through … It has been an invaluable experience, and I hope every student at University of Michigan-Flint gets a chance to work with a faculty member and mentor in their field of choice before they graduate.”

Her sentiments are echoed in the book’s dedication:

We, the students authors of this book, would like to dedicate this endeavor to Dr. Mary Jo Kietzman, without whom none of this would have been possible. Her creativity, intelligence, and direction have motivated and encouraged us throughout this semester and, for some of us, our entire college careers at University of Michigan-Flint. She goes beyond what anyone could reasonably expect from a professor. UM-Flint is a better institution because she is there for her students.

In addition to the print copies, the students are working on a digital version that will be posted online.

For more information on the book, contact Dr. Mary Jo Kietzman of the UM-Flint English Department.