Final Class Before London and Introductions

We had our third class meeting today where we had a quiz and engaged in a preliminary discussion of Great Expectations and ate pizza.  We also spent a few hours learning about the life of Charles Dickens and what inspired him as a writer and as a person.  The students were asked to think about what Darwinian themes they are interested in examining for their final projects. 


We finished up by going over some final pre-trip details and checking out the London weather forecast for next week.  We are all very excited for our trip but it looks like we will all definitely need a rain coat.  With a hood.  And an umbrella.  Every. Single. Day. 


This is our final post before we travel to London and we would like to share a little information about everyone participating in the class. 

It is only fitting to start with the creative geniuses who came up with the whole Darwin and Dickens course concept, the wise (and some might even say aged) scholars Dr. Richard Firenze and Dr. Gregory Saraceno.

Dr. Rick Firenze: As an evolutionary biologist, chair of the biology department at BCC, and faculty member of the Evolutionary Studies Program (EvoS) at Binghamton University one could say I have always had an intense interest (some would argue perverse) in “all things Darwin.”  Perhaps this is why I was awarded the 2002 “Friend of Darwin Award” by the National Center for Science Education for my work in promoting the field of evolution education.  Certainly of all the Victorian scientists Darwin is the one whose impact on nonscientific culture is best known.  Recently it has been recognized that this influence even extends into the field of literature.  Therefore given the opportunity to explore the tendrils of Darwin in the literary world with two of my favorite colleagues as well as to return to one of the most glorious cities on the planet and to do this with a group of over a dozen students who are joining us on this unique scholarly adventure, well, what can I say?  We travel to London with the utmost in “great expectations” (sorry I just couldn’t resist).

Dr. Greg Saraceno: I was born into an Italian immigrant family in upstate New York, the second (and much the best looking) of four children.  When I was five…my family didn’t move anywhere.  I did receive some formal education–a B.A. in Humanities, an M.A. in Comparative Literature, and a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing (but no shorthand).  I’ve been a Dickens fan and Dickens scholar for a few decades–maybe more.  Most of that scholarship deals with the great novelist’s later work–David Copperfield, Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, and especially, Great Expectations.  For more than twenty-five years, I have been at BCC (and occasionally elsewhere), teaching writing, literature, and humanities.  I have also served as Liberal Arts Dean and English Department Chair.  That said, I suspect our current project–Darwin and Dickens: Science and Literature in Victorian England–will emerge as one of my career’s sparkling moments.

Joining Dr. Firenze and Dr. Saraceno is:

Dr. Jen Musa:  I am an assistant professor in the Biology Department and I am thrilled and honored to have been invited to participate in the Darwin and Dickens course.  I have a B.S. in Biology and Psychology and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology.  I am very interested in the brain and behavior and look forward to examining the fascinating characters in Great Expectations from a Darwinian perspective.  I think we all have a lot to learn about science, literature and ourselves in the process.  I am also, as Dr. Firenze and Dr. Saraceno so eloquently put it, “computery”.  Although this is not a term I would choose to describe myself (or anyone for that matter), it does mean that I will be responsible for updating our blog so that you can follow our experiences and adventures in London.

Below is a brief introduction to the talented and eclectic group of students participating in the class: 

Jessica:  I am a Business Administration major at BCC. I love to travel so I am really excited about our trip!


Erica: I’m a part time student at BCC while I finish up my home schooling.  In the fall I’ll be attending Wells College where I’ll major in Biology or Biochemistry.  I’m also really interested in horse training.

Michael: Know Ye, O People, that my name is Michael, I graduated from BCC this spring, and I am going on to study Chemistry this fall. When I am not doing endless reams of homework, I listen to good music, play guitar, read (lots), and sometimes interact with humans. Know Ye, O People, that I like beef jerky.

Sarah: I live in Vestal and I am currently studying in the Nursing program at BCC.  I work at Catholic Charities in their Residential Program, in a group home for women with developmental disabilities.  I studied Human Development at Binghamton University & Therapeutic Recreation at SUNY Cortland.  I am eagerly anticipating my first trip to London!

Carrie: I am a native of New York that is a thirty-something wanderlust. I am a non-traditional student, always eager for the next great adventure. My love of literature keeps me occupied when my husband and three children fail to do otherwise.  I am something of a free spirit, I love practical jokes, don’t take no for an answer and am always searching for truth.   

Savanna:   I am a Liberal Arts student, with a concentration in Studio Art, at Broome Community College.  My future plans include more school and hopefully becoming a professor, teaching in the field of fine arts and studio arts.  I love to travel and am really excited to be included in the Darwin and Dickens Literature class.

Mary #1:  I graduated from BCC as a Biology major.  I love chocolate and beer.  I plan to take a semester off and then attend Binghamton University.

Pamela:  I graduated from BCC and will be transferring to Methodist University in North Carolina.  I will be majoring in Zoology and Animal Science. 

Jenn:  I am an International Business major.  After I graduate from BCC I hope to transfer to an international university.

Mary #2:  I am a Biology major at BCC looking to transfer to SUNY ESF.  I will go on to do graduate work in Ecology, possibly at a school in California.

Sean:  I’m a psychology major who recently graduated from Broome.  I’m transferring to Stony Brook in the fall.  I hope to learn not only more about Dickens and Darwin but also more about human nature in this class.

Olga:  I want to be a writer – and would love to write a version of Catcher in the Rye from the female perspective.  My dream is to reach at least one person through my writing, to make people laugh out loud and cry from compassion.

Corey: I am a student at SUNY Oneonta.  The Darwin and Dickens course – along with our London trip – is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.

Cheerio for now – we leave on Monday so the next Darwin and Dickens post will be from London!!!! 


~ by Dr. Musa on May 26, 2007.

One Response to “Final Class Before London and Introductions”

  1. ERICA SLOMA!!!! I HAD to leaveth thee a comment!!! Have fun in London, and meet cute British guys for me, kay? I’ll check this blog every day! See you at Wells in the fall, roomie!!

    PS: If I embarrssed u with this…oh well. Too bad! ^^

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