Bradley alumna’s scholarly success

April 11, 2013

By Elizabeth Szalay ’13

Megan Cannella ’09 MA ’12, a former English undergraduate and graduate student, has done many great things during her time at Bradley.

“I chose Bradley because I knew the English department was full of exciting and dedicated scholars, whom I have been lucky to work with and learn from,” Cannella said.

Within her last year alone, Cannella was published and had four conference presentations accepted. Two of the conferences she attended were the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, or PAMLA, and the South Atlantic Modern Language Association, or SAMLA.

“Going to the PAMLA and SAMLA conferences really allowed me to see and appreciate the work I was doing and the texts I was engaging in in a much more significant context,” Cannella said. “Being able to converse with and learn from scholars from all over the world has given me the opportunity to really explore areas of interest with which I had not been familiar.”

Cannella’s focus was primarily eco-critical—examining the relationship between literature and nature—and she will be presenting a paper at the Popular Culture Association Conference, at the end of March, in Washington D.C.

“Like most graduate students, Megan has struggled at times and had to work very hard,” said Dr. Lee Newton, associate chair of the English department. “However, her drive and initiative at the end of her graduate school career is unparalleled—thus her incredible record of success.”

Cannella also had a recent book review published in the “Journal of Ecocriticism” on the collection of essays “Environment at the Margins: Literary and Environmental Studies in Africa.” Cannella said what fascinates her about eco-criticism is the environment-centered approach to literature and examining how nature impacts everyone, from a people’s diet, shelter and culture.

“The relationship between a human and his or her environment is truly one of the most basic, fundamental, and misunderstood relationships there is,” she said.

Cannella is currently working as a lead operator in customer service while looking for teaching jobs at local community colleges. Her ultimate goal is to earn her doctorate and teach at a university. Along with that, Cannella is preparing for the 2013 PAMLA conference, in San Diego, by organizing her own panel. Her focus, at the conference, will be on the role concepts of place play in shaping identity.

“My experiences at all of the conferences I have gone to were inspiring. To get to talk to scholars from all over the globe that are interested in what I am working on is enriching to say the least,” she said. “Each conference or publication may seem small, but they are each stepping-stones, which bring me closer to my overall academic goals.”

As for her undergraduate and graduate experience at Bradley, Cannella has nothing but good things to say, when it comes to the faculty she has worked with.

“The English department always encouraged my peers and me to really engage with the texts and research that we were passionate about,” Cannella said. “This kind of personalized support and encouragement gave me the confidence to apply to these conferences.”