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Students from a variety of majors across the University shared their diverse interests through poetry readings, research projects, original creative nonfiction pieces and an open forum on literary magazines at the 10th Annual Undergraduate Symposium hosted by the Department of Literary Arts and Social Justice.

“Every year, we’re delighted to see that students invite their families and friends to campus so that their guests can share in what it means to live inside an idea or a book with the kinds of curiosity and delight that our students’ work demonstrates so well,” explained Sarah Perrier, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Literary Arts and Social Justice.

“The variety of projects also speaks to how adaptable and student-driven our courses can be. The literary arts and social justice faculty never cease to amaze me with the ways they encourage students to define and pursue their own research interests,” Perrier added.

Among those students was senior creative writing major Gianna Balsamico, who presented her original essays titled “I’m Kind of a Mess: Five Habits I Am Trying to Get Over in 60 Days,” “Teetering” and “It Never Sleeps.”

“I had a great time at the symposium. It was so cool to hear my friends present projects I have worked on with them in class as well as pieces I had no idea they were doing! I also really liked being able to show my family what I have been working on this semester,” said Balsamico, a graduate of North Hills High School in Pittsburgh.

“The symposium was such an amazing opportunity for our students to share their impressive senior seminar work. I was really impressed with Dr. Kirstin Hanley’s group, who each presented a five-minute synopsis of their critical papers. These topics ranged from a postcolonial analysis of 1960s funk music to the rhetorical impact of Barack Obama’s speeches,” said Chris Girman, Ph.D., assistant professor of literary arts.

“Just being in this welcoming environment of other creatively-minded people really helped our students to feel good about their own work. In many ways, it was great practice for their future public creative readings and a way to celebrate all they have accomplished on their revisions this semester. What a great day!” Girman added.

Senior creative writing major Cody Monfredi presented his original poem “Tap Dancer” and his nonfiction essay “The Things Left Unsaid."

“I was inspired to present my nonfiction essay after Professor Girman complimented me and said that the first two pages had some of the best artistry he’s read of my writing,” said Monfredi, who graduated from Carrick High School in Pittsburgh.

Monfredi added: “I’d like to go to graduate school and the faculty and my classes at Point Park are very much preparing me.”


More About: North Hills High School, creative writing, English, Department of Literary Arts, School of Arts and Sciences, Carrick High School, symposium