Caroline Greaney ’21
Throughout my time at Brandeis, the English department provided me with unparalleled opportunities to explore my various 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 a Senior Honors Essay, which gave me the opportunity to refine my research skills and transform my scattered ideas into a convincing argument. While I was initially concerned that my proposal—studying the applicability of the 1918 flu pandemic to JRR Tolkien’s fantasy legendarium—would be too far-fetched, the check-ins I had with my terrific faculty advisor (Prof. Plotz) each week helped me narrow my research focus and structure my writing so that readers could easily follow my thoughts. Despite the alienating circumstances of Covid, I always felt that my advisor and my other English professors were eager to connect with and mentor students.
During my last two years of college, I developed an interest in the field of digital humanities, which involves applying technological research methods to material humanities in order to uncover deeper, broader insights. While I’d always felt most comfortable working with print material for academic projects, I resolved to experiment with digital humanities tools and see if I could take the research I’d done for my Senior Essay in a different direction. The result was a semester project in which I tracked trends in Tolkien scholarship over 50 years using Voyant “distant reading” analysis tools. I remain excited about the transformative role digital technologies can play in literary scholarship and English classes.
Since graduation, I’ve worked as an Assistant Editor at National Geographic Learning, a subsidiary of Cengage Learning focused on English Language Teaching publishing. I support three editorial teams in creating content for the Primary, Academic, and Adult/General English market sectors. Throughout my workday, I constantly use the skills I developed as an English student. My assignments vary from highly time-sensitive tasks, such as drafting contracts and proofreading cover copy, to longer-term projects, such as scripting and disseminating customer surveys for new product research. The rigorous, deadline-driven independent study required by my thesis project and my English classes prepared me to set priorities among my many work projects.
It’s an exciting time to be working in academic publishing considering how much classrooms have evolved over the last few years. My company is actively improving the digital tools and programs that make our content accessible to English language learners in a remote/hybrid class setting. After diving into the digital humanities field in college, it’s now quite energizing to experience the overlap between technology and teaching/learning in my job.
Lastly, 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 the classroom not long ago, I find it very rewarding to contribute to course materials that will provide students with an enriching, globally focused English learning experience.