Sara Shearer ’17 combined her talents from her creative writing major and sociology minor to present a paper at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature at the University of Portland last week. Shearer crafted her paper “Yoko Ogawa, Borges’s Ts’ui Pên, and the Importance of Magical Realism” in Professor Kirsten Parkinson’s World Literature course last fall.
The paper compares the success and similarities of works by Japanese author Yoko Ogawa and Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges on the importance of magical realism as a world literature genre.
“I’m extremely excited to present as not only a student but as a professional who is able to add something to the literary community through my research,” explains Shearer. “Currently there’s also not a lot of research on Ogawa, so in some ways I’m paving the way with my paper.”
Dr. Parkinson, John S. Kenyon Professor of English, notes that Shearer has been building up to this by snagging awards on campus: third place in the Gillmer Kroehle Contest in Creative Nonfiction, second place in the Barbara Thompson Award and first place in the Vachel Lindsay Poetry Contest. Off campus, Shearer was selected as a finalist in both poetry and fiction for Hollins University Lex Allen Literary Festival. She also won the poetry contest for Collision Literary Magazine at the University of Pittsburgh.
“It really gave me a confidence boost and made me feel like I could write for a living someday, which is something I (and a lot of my fellow writers, I’m sure) struggle with at times,” says Shearer.
Although this isn’t Shearer’s first go at a writing conference, she was at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Washington D.C. when she received the news. Shearer is able to further her academic journey thanks to a grant from the Mellon Foundation, which aims to help student-faculty research in the humanities.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that the Mellon grant is providing these opportunities for students in the humanities to present their scholarly work,” explains Parkinson. “The funding allows Sara and other students to attend conferences that otherwise might be out of reach, both financially and geographically.”