Emily Talks to Emily: Emily Daluga (’17) on English Honors

Name: Emily Daluga

Year: Senior

Major: English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing

Hometown: Libertyville, Illinois

Campus Activities: Kenyon Review Associate, HIKA, library worker (Circulation, Multimedia, and Shelving)​

Hey Emily! So I heard you’re doing Honors?

I am, yeah! Creative Writing Honors, which is kind of weird, but super fun and I’m really enjoying it!

 

Can you tell me more about your project specifically?

As a creative writing major, I essentially get to write a novella. I’m writing a coming of age story of a young girl who has never met her father before. She wants to go to film school but her mom said the big "no you can’t go to film school," so she runs off with her not-great boyfriend and they try to find her father. I’m sort of looking at the repercussions of relying on these male figures in her life, thinking she can get love and affection from outside sources when she needs to look inside herself. Hopefully she’ll develop into a better and more confident young woman by the end of it. So yeah, just looking at themes of feminism, coming of age, the classic YA love story tale—which maybe won’t be a love story, because the boyfriend is kind of gross right now.

 

Why do you need a love story in the end anyway, right?

Yeah, friends are cuter.

 

Do you have to do any other analytical writing or do you just get to focus on your novella?

I just get to do the novella, which is really cool. I just chill in Kim McMullen’s office hours and we just talk about my writing, which is really weird and exciting. It’s been really productive. The changes that have been made already are really odd, like I started with a cast of seven characters. I thought it was going to be a fun friendship romp and then she told me you really only need the two characters. So now it’s a fun, awkward romance-relationship romp.

 

I know you were recently abroad at Exeter. Do you think that experience influenced your desire to do Honors at all or were planning on doing it beforehand?

I kind of had the flicker of freshman year thinking, "Honors might be cool!" but no conception of quite what Honors was. I think two things were really helpful at Exeter, one being the general independence, kind of being able to do things that you can’t necessarily do at Kenyon because it’s so isolated, like getting on a train and just going to London or seeing a play you’ve always wanted to see. So that independence and planning my own time makes this big project that I would be planning myself over the course of the year feel—not manageable, but doable. As opposed to sophomore year me, who was not prepared for that kind of planning. The British school system is much more independent research and work, so that helped. Also getting to work with Kim McMullen, since she was the Kenyon professor abroad with us at Exeter. I was thrilled with how we bounced ideas off each other and how she made me think about think that I hadn’t thought about before and advanced a lot of my writings for the essays we did, so I was thrilled she would be willing to work with me longer.

 

Jumping off of that thought, do you have a favorite Kenyon professor?

I love Kim, she’s definitely up there. Oh man, that’s really hard because everyone’s so nice! I had Professor Garcia sophomore year for the Demons, Great Whites, and Aliens class, and I think that made me a much better critical writer, and she was very generous with her time and ideas which I really appreciated. I really like Professor Rhodes, I’ve only had him for one class, but he’s such a sweetheart and I’m so enamored with how he speaks and how he teaches.

Do you have a favorite Kenyon class?

Can I do one Kenyon and one Exeter?

 

Definitely!

Okay, great, there’s this one Exeter class I really want to talk about, but I’ll start with Kenyon. Again, I really liked Garcia’s Demons, Great Whites, and Aliens. I think English tends to be so much more highfalutin stuff, which is cool and awesome and I love reading that, but this class was very much genre fiction, which is fun for me. We read classics like Poe, but we also read Steven King. So these old, proper texts with these contemporary, not rougher, but modern texts, and looking at how fear has developed in them.

At Exeter I took this really awesome class called Reader I Married Him: The Evolution of Romance from the 1740s to Today. We read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and we went into Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. The Professor, Joe Crawford, was the nicest man I’ve ever met in my life, and so generous with being willing to talk to us and help us out. He specialized in Gothic literature, but then when Twilight came out he thought it was so fascinating. So decided to only study that for a long time, and now he’s weirdly protective of Twilight. He doesn’t like Fifty Shades of Grey because it takes all the fun weird stuff out of Twilight, like how vampires sparkle. It was really interesting reading "lowbrowromance literature and thinking about why it’s not appreciated. We talked a lot about gender in that way because romance tends to be women-centric writing—for, by, and about women—and it’s disregarded in a lot of ways because of that.

 

What is the most meaningful place you visited while you were abroad?

The one I think back to and the one I was happiest at was Amsterdam. My friend Megan and I just went off for two days. I’m the classic stereotype of a Kenyon student, I love John Green more than most things, and The Fault in Our Stars is a very important book for me. Being able to see some of those places was great. We didn’t really have a ton of plans beside the Anne Frank House and some bookstores, so we just kind of ran around and ate six times in one day. It’s this weird, beautiful place and you can just wander and find things.

What are three books you think everyone should read before they die?

That’s a lot of pressure, I like it though! I feel good about Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell because I think it’s cute and uplifting, but it also talks about anxiety and depression in a really important and interesting way that is helpful for a lot of young people. I feel like I have to say Harry Potter because it’s why I’m a person, why I’m an English major, why I’m an adult. Jane Eyre as well, I’ll say. I’ll put my English major to good use. It such an early example of powerful young women and I think the romance is very interesting because you can read it as a romance or read it as less cute and more troubling like a Byronic hero sort of thing.

 

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life what would it be?

I should probably pick a really long one so I don’t get bored. I feel good about Wuthering Heights. I’ve read it three times in a row now very quickly and I wasn’t upset at all. Also it’s just bonkers, there’s so much to it. I can just constantly go through and be like this time I’m going to read for vampires, this time I’ll read for women, this time I’ll read for violence, this time I’ll read for Byron.

 

Great, thanks so much Emily! Have a great Senior year!

 

Image Credit: Emily Daluga