Hello! My name is Sabrina, and I am a sophomore here at Pitt. I am currently double majoring in English Writing (Fiction Track) and Psychology. This semester I am working on my CUTF project with Professor Shannon Reed in the “Readings in Contemporary Fiction” class. Together, we have revised the syllabus to include readings catered specifically to a college audience, novels that students can learn from not only thematically but also to develop their own work as a writer.
In English writing classes, especially those in contemporary fiction, I believe it is imperative for readings to not only inspire student writers but as reflect students’ current interests and perspectives as readers and activists in the literary world. Because this course in particular focuses on new releases and contemporary readings, I think it would benefit the most from a student’s perspective. I believe it is most valuable to learn to write from reading that we like, try to understand why we like it, and translate what we have learned into our writing. Together, Professor Reed and I have incorporated two new readings into the syllabus, each of which are written for a high school and college audience, and which embody the themes most relevant to our age group.
This semester we will bring in two novels from author V.E. Schwab, a young adult and adult fiction writer. The first, The Near Witch (2011), is a young adult mystery about children who have gone missing from the town of Near. Written by Schwab as a senior in college, The Near Witch creates a small world, one that highlights themes of isolation and social belonging. The second, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (2020), was released during the pandemic and became an overnight sensation, especially promoted by social media outlets like TikTok. I will teach and facilitate discussion for both novels, focusing on three main points: relevance to audience, development as a writer, and social media as a tool. By the end of the semester, students will use what they’ve learned in the course to identify how Schwab has grown and changed as a writer, and why the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue in particular has done so well.
Outside of English, I also am majoring in Psychology, which I plan to pursue further in graduate school. I have always held a passion for reading and writing, and as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized this passion stems from an interest in understanding people. In the past, I have been asked how these two interests are connected, and what I’ve found is that both fictional writing and scientific research can equally illuminate the views and trends of the group of people being portrayed or studied. By the end of my CUTF project, I would not only like to develop as a writer, but I also want to gain a better understanding why our age group gravitates towards certain writing. What is salient to us, and how does that change from differing perspectives? I am very excited to work with students this semester, and I look forward to hearing their perspectives on this project!