Graduate Student Spotlight: Samuel Orr

by Dylan Loggins

samRecently, I had the chance to talk with Belmont English graduate student Samuel Orr to discuss his life outside of school, as well as where he sees himself going in the next several years. Sam is currently in the thesis writing stage of his Masters degree and plans to graduate in August.  He hopes to be pursuing his doctorate in five years, and to be teaching Comparative Literature at a college or university in ten.

Sam did not always have this path in mind, however, as his original intention was to work in finance.  Even though he graduated college with a finance degree, he realized during his senior year that he didn’t want to work in this industry and would rather pursue a subject about which he was passionate. He had always enjoyed studying literature, a subject that pushed him to think more culturally, politically, and artistically.

While he doesn’t currently have much time these days to read for pleasure, Sam is extensively reading two authors for his thesis—Rainer Rilke and Don DeLillo. He intends to become fluent in German in order to read Rilke’s original works. “I’m examining the ways in which they depict human consciousness and attempt to transcend temporal limitations through language,” said Sam. “Right now, I see pretty much everything through that lens.”

When asked about the most important things he’s learned as a graduate student, Sam said, “More than anything I learned how to think critically, especially after obtaining my post-graduate in the humanities. It also prepares you for the future by forcing you to take responsibility for your actions and time management. Graduates are held to a different, more demanding standard than undergraduates.”

While he wants to use his degree to teach, Sam noted that teaching isn’t the only potential path for English majors. “Employers love good communicators,” he said. “Good writing skills, good critical thinking experience…and English majors—good English majors—contain all of those attributes.” He encourages English majors to be confident in their field of study and be honest with their employers. Good communication can go a long way. If any student has any questions about their majors or their potential career paths, they can find Sam working in the Belmont GPS Office, where he helps students with just these issues.

Lovvorn Co-Authors Article on Multimodal Composition

JLJason Lovvorn, Assistant Professor of English, co-authored an article recently published in The Elementary School Journal (Volume 115, Number 4).  The other authors are Bridget Dalton (lead author at University of Colorado, Boulder), Kristin H. Robinson (CAST, Inc.), Blaine E. Smith (University of Miami), Tara Alvey (Austin Peay State University), Elaine Mo (University of the Pacific), Paola Uccelli (Harvard University), and C. Patrick Proctor (Boston College).  The article, titled “Fifth-Grade Students’ Digital Retellings and the Common Core: Modal Use and Design Intentionality,” resulted from a research project examining how students retold folktales in digital fashion, using images, sounds, and animations alongside written text.  The study highlights students’ intentional designs and their awareness of complementary compositional modes, but it also suggests that educators need more complex models and more efficient teaching practices regarding multimodal composition.