Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Robin Silbergleid: Autumn Miller comes to her literary criticism, poetry, and creative nonfiction with sharp wit and keen observations about the lives of women. From her early analysis of Kate Chopin’s Awakening to a recent personal essay that brings together Carole Maso’s AVA, the polar vortex, and her twenty-first birthday, it’s been a pleasure watching Autumn develop into the writer capable of producing a fifty page thesis entitled “A Feminist’s Guide to Deleting Dating Apps.” I’ve learned a lot from Autumn these past three years, including the finer points of steamed milk and the origins of the term ‘meet-cute’; thank you, Autumn, for sharing your insight and voice. Congratulations.
Autumn’s experience: How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?
Rewarding and influential. All of my experiences within the English department have helped mold me into the writer, student, and human that I am today. Whether it be an engaging in-class workshop or an essay I really dreaded that ended up pushing me to think about a topic in a different way, my time as an English major at MSU has helped shape my current self tremendously.
Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?
I want to give a special shoutout Dr. Robin Silbergleid, director of MSU’s Creative Writing department, for being the best mentor I could ask for. I have had Dr. Silbergleid as a professor for four classes, and she is also my thesis advisor. I think she’s seen, out of anyone, my writing go through different phases the most, and she’s challenged me more than any professor I have ever had. I first met her in my Intro to Poetry course sophomore year of college, when I was in a huge poetry-writing phrase, and now she oversees my creative non-fiction thesis, compiled of personal essays— a huge genre jump! Constantly encouraging me to expand my thoughts and craft my words more carefully, I wouldn’t be the creative writer I am today without her guidance.
What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?
Find a couple of professors who you particularly get along with or who understand you well, and stick with them during your time here! Writing is something incredibly personal, and when you have a small cohort of professors who you can go to when you need help or advice on your work, it makes your time as an English student much more fulfilling. Also, befriend your fellow English majors! They make great editors, but they’re also great people as well. I met one of my best friend’s in my AL101 course my first day of college, and she’s an English major too!
What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?
I have been working on my honors thesis with Dr. Silbergleid since late August. It’s a series of four creative non-fiction essays that simply talk about the past year of my life, and deals with topics like travel, sense of self, female friendship, modern dating, and more. I never thought I was an essayist until I started working on thesis, and the whole experience has been so rewarding (and fun). I’ve been working with two other English seniors who are working on creative theses throughout the year as well, and we’ve helped each other with our theses through edits, suggestions, brainstorming sessions, etc.
What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?
My plans are very uncertain as of now, but I’d love to head out to New York City and find a writing job out there. Whether it be working on copy for a brand I love, like Glossier, or writing op-eds for a place like The New Yorker, I’m very open to a lot of things. I’d also love to publish a series of creative non-fiction essays— hopefully including the ones I wrote for my thesis! In the distant future, I’d love to open my own coffee shop too.
Please reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during this moment of local and global crisis. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation?
It’s been difficult, especially being such a sentimental and nostalgic person. However, the situation is what it is, and I’ve been finding that Zoom calling my professors has been helpful for my schoolwork— especially with my thesis, being so close to done on it. In general, things like calling my friends, biking, reading, writing, exercising, and spending time outside have helped a lot.