English and Philosophy double major, Shayna Boisvert, will be presenting at the National Popular Cultural Association Convention (NPAC) held in Washington, DC, this spring. Shayna will be presenting alongside professors, independent scholars, graduate students, and perhaps even a few undergraduates. Her presentation pertains to her research on the link between Nietzsche and 21st Century literature.
The following is an abstract from Shayna’s presentation:
According to the philosophy of Nietzsche, human existence is, in and of itself, a tragedy. Taking great influence from Greek tragedy, he found an art form that transcended the nihilism of a fundamentally meaningless world. These stories influenced Nietzsche to compose The Birth of Tragedy: writings on the tragic forms that introduce an intellectual duality between the Dionysian and the Apollonian. Nietzsche’s thesis in this book is that, at its deepest level, art is tension between opposing forces of the Dionysian and Apollonian. These two elements can be witnessed in art even today, especially in the novel The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Her novel pushed the boundaries of accepted morality, creating a postmodern tragedy heavily reliant on the Greek tradition. The students, especially Henry, form a morbid curiosity about the morals and ways of these ancient Greek traditions; they discover a way of thinking and living that is completely different from that of society. However, when they try to implement this alternate morality, they give in to obsession and betrayal, as they are not able to handle its effects. This morality includes the values of the primal, carnal nature of the Dionysian and that of the ordered dream state of the Apollonian. Drawing from these inter-textual cues throughout Henry’s characterization arc of the story, I argue that there are several key parallels between The Secret History and Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy.
I have had a passion for reading and writing ever since I was a young child, and that passion followed me to SFU. When I took my first English class at SFU, I knew it was where I should be. English has always just clicked with me and been something I was interested in. As for Philosophy, it was a passion that came from high school. My school required Philosophy and Theology classes to be taken every year, and that’s where my interest started. In high school, I was president of the Philosophy Club and helped run H.Y.P.E day: a convention for New England high school students on certain philosophical topics. So when I took Philosophy 205 sophomore year, I realized just how much I missed the field and decided to add a second major. I decided these majors were the career path for me when I realized just how happy I was in my classes. Overall, I just want to be in a career path that makes me as intrigued and happy as these two majors do.
2. Why did you choose Saint Francis?
I chose Saint Francis after I toured the campus. I came from a smaller high school with about 80 students per grade; I loved just how close I was to my teachers and the smaller class sizes. After touring Saint Francis, I realized that was just what I would get here as well—and I wasn’t wrong. My professors are always there for me when I need them and have always pushed me to do more and go further than I ever thought I could. Without them, I don’t think I would have written my book, done research in Italy, or gone to as many conferences as I have. My friends at larger schools don’t necessarily get the help they need or accomplish as much, and I am so thankful that Saint Francis has provided the resources I needed.
3. What activities are you involved in both on and off campus?
I am part of Theta Phi Alpha, and because of that organization I am able to participate in many great on-campus and off-campus opportunities, including volunteer work at The Women’s Help Center in Johnstown and many other places. I have also gained leadership experience through many on- and off-campus leadership training sessions. I am a tutor at the Writing Center, where I get the chance to help students with various papers and assignments. Along with that, I work for the Southern Allegheny Museum of Art on campus, which has been a unique experience in and of itself. I am part of two honors societies: Sigma Tau Delta, the National English Honor Society, and Gamma Sigma Alpha, the National Greek Life Honor Society. In addition to this, I have helped with the Anime Anonymous club and the Fire Starters.
4. In addition to presenting at NPAC, what other out-of-classroom work experience have you participated in?
I have done three remote internships over the course of my four years. Two were with different literary agencies, where I worked on reviewing manuscripts for publishing.
I wrote a novel my sophomore year and spent my junior year revising it. The current working title is Fateless. It is 213 pages and is a young adult fantasy piece based in Western Mythology. I started it as part of my Honors Thesis under the advisement of Dr. Roxana Cazan. Currently, I am in the process of seeking publication by querying literary agents. My honors thesis project will detail the publication process of this novel and the current marketing trends of the Young Adult Fiction genre.
5. What would you like to do upon graduation?
I hope to go straight into graduate school to earn my PhD and hopefully pursue a career in Academia as a professor. I currently have twelve published short stories in various literary magazines and would like to continue to write creatively for magazines.