Caroline Greaney ’21
Throughout my time at Brandeis, the English department has provided me with unparalleled opportunities to explore my diverse literary interests, from environmental literature to high fantasy. I learned to write with purpose, critically evaluate sources, and confidently exchange ideas with my peers.
I am especially grateful for the department’s support in writing an honors essay, which gave me the opportunity to hone my research skills and turn my scattered ideas into a compelling argument. While I was initially concerned that my proposal – to study the applicability of the 1918 flu pandemic to JRR Tolkien’s legendary legend – might be too far-fetched, the checks I had with my terrific academic advisor (Professor Plotz) each week helped me. refine my research scope and structure my writing so that readers can easily follow my thoughts. Despite the alienating circumstances of Covid, I always felt that my advisor and my other English teachers were eager to connect and mentor students.
During my last two years at university, I developed an interest in the field of digital humanities, which is the application of technological research methods to humanities material in order to discover deeper and broader knowledge. Although I had always felt more comfortable working with printed material for academic projects, I decided to experiment with digital humanities tools and see if I could direct the research I had done. for my main essay in a different direction. The result was a semester project in which I tracked trends in Tolkien’s scholarship over 50 years using Voyant’s “remote reading” analysis tools. I remain excited about the transformative role that digital technologies can play in literary scholarship and English lessons.
Since graduating, I have worked as an associate editor at National Geographic Learning, a subsidiary of Cengage Learning focused on publishing for English education. I support three editorial teams in creating content for the primary, academic and adult/general English market sectors. Throughout my working day, I constantly use the skills I developed as an English student. My assignments vary from very urgent tasks, such as writing contracts and proofreading cover copy, to longer-term projects, such as writing scripts and delivering customer surveys for research new products. The rigorous and timely independent study required by my dissertation project and English classes prepared me to prioritize among my many work projects.
It’s an exciting time to work in academic publishing given how classrooms have changed over the past few years. My company is actively improving digital tools and programs that make our content accessible to English language learners in a distance/hybrid classroom setting. Having immersed myself in the digital humanities field in college, it is now quite energizing to discover the overlap between technology and teaching/learning in my work.
Finally, studying English improved my ability to question my own opinions and adjust my perspective in light of new or unexpected information. I work for a publisher that serves schools in many different countries, so it’s important to evaluate course materials with different cultural contexts in mind.
I look forward to building my career in academic publishing and educational technology over the next few years. Having been in class not too long ago, I find it very rewarding to contribute course material that will provide students with an enriching and globally focused English learning experience.