Chloe Wolanski, Essay Contest Winner in the Upper-Level Category, 2018-2019 

In Fall 2019, Chloe Wolanski will enter her fourth year of the Bachelor of Arts degree (English major and French minor). Afterward, she plans to pursue a post-baccalaureate in Education with the goal of teaching secondary school here on Vancouver Island.

Chloe has always had a passion for both reading and writing fiction. She says that English courses became her favourites because they encouraged her to develop effective writing skills and habits. She particularly enjoys reading novels that she may not otherwise have encountered outside her courses. “When your homework for the week is to read a good book, do you really have homework at all?”

ENGL 480: Research Methods (the course in which she wrote her winning essay) was a prerequisite for the English Honours route. However, she heartily recommends it for anyone inclined to delve into new ways of reading academic texts. Regarding the course, Chloe explains, “I learned a great deal about academic analysis and became versed in many critical theories to which I had not previously been exposed. This skill set will surely impact my papers next year.”

Chloe contends that one of university’s most important qualities is the way it pushes students to critically examine their own biases. “Until recently,” says Chloe, “I subscribed to a fairly utilitarian viewpoint without really considering the implications of the theory. It was by writing my ENGL 480 essay that I sought to analyze both the world at large and myself on a personal level in order to find a more accurate understanding of, and approach to, equality.”

Chloe attributes her love of science fiction and fantasy to works such as Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Brian Jacques’s Redwall series, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. At age eleven, while on vacation in Mexico, Chloe was introduced to Tolkien via The Hobbit, which she discovered on a small hotel bookstand. “But if I had to recommend a few books that would be broadly enjoyed,” claims Chloe, “I would have to suggest Richard Dawkins’s Unweaving the Rainbow for its scientific beauty and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for its enchanting prose and masterful characters. Then I would sit everyone down with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for a good laugh—because life means very little without a bit of humour sprinkled in.”

“The best advice I could provide to English students,” says Chloe, “would be not only to read but, specifically, to read broadly. Many of my best essay concepts have sprung from conversation between my English courses and other unrelated subjects, such as Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, and even, ironically, French. Any piece of knowledge, however seemingly irrelevant, that can be tucked away in one’s brain is just waiting to spring free at the perfect moment. So read, read, read, and stockpile every new concept and theory that you can so that when you do find yourself stuck on that next late-night, nearly-due research essay, you have some other basis of knowledge off of which to bounce your ideas.”

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