Gabrielle White – Passion for the Victorian Gothic

Gabrielle White – Passion for the Victorian Gothic

Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Kristin Mahoney: I have enjoyed every minute of working with Gabrielle on her thesis project. She brings such joy and curiosity to the novels about which she’s writing, and our discussions are always a highlight of my week. She has worked so hard this year and produced a great project that thinks through the ways nineteenth-century novelists use Gothic conventions to convey the horror of existing within the confines of Victorian sexual and gender ideologies. I am truly going to miss working with her.From Gabrielle: How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?

Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Tamar Boyadjian: “Gabrielle White has been my student since she started as an undergraduate at MSU, and I am honored to say that she ends her career with my English 440 Seminar this term. Gabrielle is among the first group of students I had when I started MSU, and so for this group of 5-6 students, I feel a particular type of closeness and investment. Gabrielle is hard-working, intelligent, and wonderful student whose contribution to class discussions always brought forth new ways of thinking and challenged students around her. This is because Gabrielle is a brave learner and educator, and I am so proud to hear of her well-deserved place at Oxford University. This is an incredible achievement, and I am anxious to see how she will grow and prosper in all of her future endeavors.”  

At my freshman year orientation, I found out that I had declared English as my major. I had not even realized that I had declared English as my major, rather I thought I had clicked a field I was interested in on my application. I had no idea what I would do with the degree other than be an English teacher. I went from not even being sure I had picked the right path to absolutely loving everything about my major and everyone involved with it. I have met some of the best friends that I intend to keep forever, and the professors have shaped me so much more than academically. Out of all the classes and semesters at MSU, I always looked forward to having my English classes.

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 have made connections with multiple professors during my time at MSU, and I always found myself trying to take any and all classes they taught no matter the subject. Dr. Mahoney is one professor that I have enjoyed every minute of my time working with her in class and on my thesis, as she is my thesis advisor. She has been such an inspiration for my interest of Victorian literature, and she has taught me so much about writing. I know I would be prepared for graduate school after learning about English and life from her. Dr. Boyadjian has also been an important figure in my undergraduate degree. Her and her class were the main inspirations my freshman year for staying in English and figuring out what I wanted to do with my career. I always left her class feeling inspired and proud to be her student. Both of these women have invited my peers and I into their homes and have made me feel valued and respected in academia. Both of these women have taught me so much about life and have shaped how I will go on in the next phase of my life.

The experiences that were most memorable for me were the summers I participated in Literature in London study abroad and the New York City Study Away Internship. Each program was essential to understanding what I wanted to do in the next phase of my life. In London, I gained a passion for Victorian gothic literature and Shakespeare that I had never had before, and I learned that I wanted to do whatever it takes to get back to London in my life. In New York, I learned while interning at a publishing press that I wanted to work at a publishing house after graduation. Not only did I learn so much about my academic and career paths, I gained independence and understanding of who I am that I would have never gotten without these experiences.

What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?

I would tell future English majors the importance of building strong relationships with your English professors. The English department’s faculty has so much knowledge and experience in not just English but in higher education and life in general that they are important to your learning experience. I would also suggest to never let anyone make you feel bad or lesser about studying English because this major and its critical thinking and analysis skills that you learn are invaluable and unique to this major.

What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them? 

This year I have been working on my senior thesis with Dr. Mahoney. The topic of my thesis in gender rebellion and sexuality in Victorian gothic literature. I was inspired to research and work on this topic based on the gothic literature that I studied while in London, as well as Dr. Mahoney’s queer studies class. I have loved working with the novels that I chose and reading them with questions of gender and sexuality in mind, and how the authors are reinventing the gothic in order to discuss issues surrounding Victorian repression and the future for gender and sexuality. The topic is a mixture of my love for gothic literature, as well as incorporating themes from my minor, Women and Gender Studies. I have loved working with Dr. Mahoney and I am very thankful to have an advisor who is so educated on this topic. I have been working on this project for a year now and I have learned so much about the process of researching and writing a large piece of work that I can use to display my talents or use in graduate school applications.

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation? 

Prior to COVID-19, I was admitted to the New York University Summer Publishing Institute and was planning on completing that this summer. After I completed the program, I was going to apply to positions with one of the Big Five publishers and hopefully move to New York City by the fall. With everything that has happened in the last month, I am not sure what the next step post-graduation will be. The NYU program hasn’t been cancelled, but I am not positive that I will be able to attend this summer, therefore I have been preparing to come to terms with taking the year off and attending the program next summer. The comforting fact is that I know a lot of my graduating peers and I are in the same boat and that we will all get through this experience together.

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 has been an extremely sad and disheartening fact that my time at MSU has to end this way. I have spent the best four years of my life in East Lansing, my second home. It is sad to have to go out on this note and that I am missing out on so many experiences that seniors have in their final weeks at MSU. I feel bad to be upset about small events being cancelled like graduation and basketball games when there are much bigger issues going on in the world right now. Some of the most helpful resources during this time have been humor, video call apps like Zoom or Facetime, and family and friends. It is helpful to make light of a very difficult situation, and memes and Tik Tok videos have been very useful in having a much-needed laugh. Communicating with family and friends on Facetime and Zoom has also been helpful in coping and navigating life during a pandemic. I am thankful that we have these technological resources during this time to stay in touch with the people that I love.