Maddy Alpert – Playing Creatively with Literature and Technology

Maddy Alpert – Playing Creatively with Literature and Technology

Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Steve Rachman: Maddy is a great student who can think critically, creatively and pedagogically. She did several amazing projects in our literature and technology class. She built a clever and hilarious Twine game out of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, a 360-degree immersive experience based on Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home that was so riveting we all had to wipe away tears, and a she designed another great 360-degree immersive experience based on urban murals as a tool for teaching students about social issues through street art. Maddy will be a wonderful teacher, I am sure! The students of the future will be lucky to have her!

Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Tamar Boyadjian: “Maddy is a brilliant student, who continues to challenge herself and those around her. It has been such a pleasure having Maddy in my courses and I am so excited for her future endeavors. Maddy’s final project in my English 280 course is noteworthy in the way it took initiative to transfer the ideas we were learning in class to the real world. 

Maddy chose to do a project where she searched for images/stereotypes on the Internet and wanted to track how people reacted to them. For example, she chose categories like “Muslim woman,” “the Middle East,” “Europe,” “American student.” She compared the ways in which MSU students reacted to these terms to also the way the Internet and social media represented these terms. Her final  paper on the project also reflected evidence towards the movement of her education and professional goals. Maddy not only thought about how others are represented, but the pedagogical ways in which different peoples and cultures should be addressed in the classroom. I know that Maddy pays attention to these things, because we have had many discussions about teaching styles, methods, and the role that educators play in epistemology. I am excited to see her prosper as an educator and the many lives she will touch along her journey.” 

How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?

My time as an English major at MSU has been wonderful. I love how every single class in the English department has a completely different topic and through various readings we are able to learn about different places in the world, points in history, and about different authors. From medieval studies courses focusing on the Crusades, to a comic book class, to a course focusing on Literature and Technology, I truly was able to get a taste of many different genres and topics within the English world.   

Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?

Though it was not an English course, I took a Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities course my freshman year with Dr. Figueroa. The class was set up similarly to an English class and she helped me realize that I wanted to become an English major. For the next year, she recommended that I take a course with Dr. Boyadjian. I ended up taking two courses focusing on medieval literature with Dr. B and they were wonderful! My junior year I took a course with Professor Silbergleid on creative criticism. This class helped me reevaluate what criticism could be. I also loved the texts we read. I also was able to take a class on Jewish literature with Professor Valles. This was AWESOME because since I am Jewish, it was really a great experience to read books by Jewish authors and see how Jews have been represented throughout literature in the past. Finally, this year I took an awesome class on Literature and Technology with Dr. Rachman. It was so interesting because typically the two do not cross paths, so it was very interesting to use different technologies to analyze text and make creative projects that aligned with the literature we read. I have also been able to take English Ed focused courses with Dr. Butler. Her courses are life changing and she is just a wonderful person in general! Clearly, I have had some amazing experiences in my classes at MSU! These courses have helped me prepare for my next phase in life because each class helped me become aware of a different sector of English literature. There are so many books read and projects that I did in these courses that I would love to bring to my classroom when I am a teacher!   

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

I recommend taking courses on types of literature that you do not know much about! You will leave the class with a great base knowledge of something new! I think the classes that I was extremely nervous for and did not know much about in the beginning ended up being some of the most rewarding classes that I have taken!

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

This year I am working on my honors thesis. In my paper I discuss the importance of decolonizing the classroom and teaching postcolonial literature in English classrooms. I also provide a book review of books I would teach in the high school classroom accompanied by lesson plans. In my English teacher education courses I have been able to put together and teach various unit plans and lessons and I have really enjoyed doing that!

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?

Next year I will continue my education in pursuit of becoming a high school English or Spanish teacher at the University of Michigan in their Master of Arts in Educational Studies with Secondary Teacher Certification program.

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?

I must say I am very upset that everything has changed due to COVID-19. These few months were supposed to be filled with celebration with friends, professors, and colleagues who we have spent the past four years with. It is important to note that there are silver linings throughout everything. This is a time in which we can all reflect on who we are and what we plan on doing upon graduation. I have used this time to read lots of books I have always wanted to read, go for runs, and connect with friends and family more than I had in the past. I have also been getting excited for my future as a teacher and taking note of different activities I would like to try out in my future classroom. I cannot wait to get back into schools and work with students!