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Last Updated: 7/23/2024, 9:11 AM

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Graduate English students Nicole Mautone and Anna Huber

Mautone Wins NJCEA Graduate Student Paper Award

First-year English graduate students Anna Huber ’23 and Nicole Mautone ’24 recently presented their research at the New Jersey College English Association’s annual conference at Seton Hall University.

Huber presented a literary trauma theory approach to Bobbie Ann Mason’s short story “Shiloh.” In the story, Huber suggests, a husband and wife are each traumatized. They do not receive treatment and consequently traumatize each other, eventually causing the couple to split. After presenting, Huber said, “I got fantastic questions from the audience, which made me think about other directions I could take my research.” Huber will be presenting again soon at a symposium at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Mautone presented a semiotic approach to a portion of a visual novel, “Doki Doki Literature Club.” She explained that a visual novel is a hybrid of a video game and a novel, and how in “DDLC,” different sign systems—visual, auditory, and writing—create and subvert user expectations. “Presenting was exciting!” she said. “I truly love my topic and love talking about it, and it is so fulfilling when other people react positively to it.”

Mautone was surprised by an unexpected honor, the NJCEA’s annual Graduate Student Paper Award, for the best graduate student paper among submissions by master’s and doctoral candidates from across the state. “I was really honored and humbled to receive the award,” she said. “I spent much time and effort on my project, and presenting and receiving an award for it is very fulfilling.” Her paper will be published in the next issue of NJCEA’s journal “Watchung Review.”

Stanley S. Blair, Ph.D., associate professor of English, saw both presentations. “I am very proud of both Anna and Nicole,” he said. “Their presentations were insightful, accessible, and engaging, very positively received by faculty colleagues and fellow graduate students.” Blair, recipient of NJCEA’s 2019 Rosen Award for excellence in professional mentoring, advised both students’ projects and helped them to prepare for the conference.

Huber says her favorite part of the conference was Mautone’s presentation: “I am glad to see Nicole did so well; we often hear in class about what each other are working on, but rarely have time to interact with each other and each other’s work off campus in a professional setting.” Mautone said, “Watching and listening to Anna giving her presentation was inspiring and exciting. Getting to talk to graduate students from other schools was also really fun.” Both agreed the conference was a positive experience for them, and a big step forward in their professional development.