Many professors within the English Department are involved in exciting research projects, including former Department Chair Jessica Berman. Her research focuses on modernism and politics, and her upcoming book explores the connection between narrative and world politics. Professor Berman also teaches English 401 at UMBC, which discusses theory and methods to think about how literature works in the world. She has loved reading and writing since high school, and has been hooked ever since she first read Virginia Woolf in the 11th grade. Although her undergraduate degree is in history, her PhD is in comparative literature and she draws on both for her teaching and research.
In addition to independent research, Professor Berman also collaborates with other professors. She is currently co-editing a book series for Columbia University Press with Professor Paul Saint-Amour from the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Berman says that the collaborative experience is “very different, but exciting.” Independent research can be isolating, so she likes how collaboration allows for the possibility of challenging and expanding her own ideas. She also says that “teaching is like collaborative research,” explaining how the ideas a student explored in a paper for her Virginia Woolf seminar got her thinking and inspired an idea for her own paper. Because of her positive experiences with her research, Professor Berman is an avid supporter of any undergraduate that wishes to carry out their own project: “Any student who wants to do research should just ask! I love to help them explore, read, and learn.” If you have an idea that you want to investigate, Professor Berman will be sure to point you in the right direction.
-Laura LeFavor, Class of 2012