"I learned a great deal from this experience and I’d encourage other students to take on any academic challenge or opportunity that they might face."
Alyssa Slate ’17, who graduated with degrees in psychology and criminal justice, co-authored an essay on the early writings of Philip Roth with Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., professor of criminal justice, sociology, and legal studies, for “Social Justice and American Literature,” a volume edited by Hauhart and Jeff Birkenstein, Ph.D., professor of English, and published by Salem Press/Grey House. The volume is the second edited collection—after “American Writers in Exile” (2015)—prepared by Hauhart and Birkenstein for the Critical Insights series.
The essay that Slate and Hauhart co-wrote is entitled “Liberation from Family, Class, Race, Culture, and Tribe in Early Philip Roth.” The paper argues that Roth’s early writings are infused with multiple social justice themes, all of which depict characters struggling to free themselves from the constraints imposed, in one way or another, by limitations in American society.
The Roth essay is the second one that Slate worked on for publication with Hauhart. Their first collaboration, entitled “Querry’s Search for Peace in Graham Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case,” was submitted for consideration to “The Explicator,” a national journal of literary criticism. That essay grew out of a paper that Slate submitted in Hauhart’s Social Justice in Literature course in 2016. As Slate explained, the discussions she had with Hauhart during the semester centered on the papers she was writing. “With the Graham Greene essay, Professor Hauhart worked with me to strengthen my thesis and make every sentence concise and meaningful,” Slate said. “The process helped me better understand the importance of editing and how the adjustment of a few words or sentences can make a huge difference in the overall flow of a paper.”
Slate talked about how she found the rigors of academic writing both challenging and rewarding. “Before taking the Social Justice in Literature course with Professor Hauhart, I did not care much for reading and writing on literature. However, during that course, I was taught to read with the goal of finding underlying themes—something I had not done previously—and I ended up enjoying that process a lot,” she said. “These essays will always be a reminder to me not to limit myself.”
Hauhart mentioned the quality of Slate’s writing and how that led to their collaboration. “Alyssa’s work in Social Justice in Literature impressed me enough to suggest that with some help it might be possible to publish her class essay. Once I saw more of her work, and her dedication to research and writing, I offered her the chance to try her hand at a first draft on Philip Roth’s early writings. She did the work and I decided she should receive co-authorship for her significant contribution,” he said. “It is really a pleasure to work with students of promise in their effort to excel over and above the requirements of the classroom and the curricula. Alyssa has not been the first student I’ve helped gain wider experience and recognition and I certainly hope she won’t be the last.”
As a student, Slate was a four-year starter for the Saint Martin’s softball team and co-captain her senior year. She was also active in the campus chapter of Circle K. Slate is interested in a career in law enforcement and she’d like to pursue graduate studies at some point in the future as well.
“The collaborative work that Professor Hauhart and I did was such a positive experience,” Slate said. “Even though I was only an undergraduate, he respected my opinions and suggestions just as much as I did his. I learned a great deal from this experience and I’d encourage other students to take on any academic challenge or opportunity that they might face. It’s worth it.”