This is the third in a series of interviews conducted by the Woodruff Library with the 2016-2017 Woodruff Library and Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) Fellows. Organized by the Laney Graduate School, the Woodruff Library, the Rose Library and Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) award fellowships to advanced graduate students expecting to complete their dissertations by the end of the fellowship period. Fellows are placed within the Library and ECDS to work in an area related to their subject specialization or interest, culminating in a formal presentation in the Spring. Shanna’s fellowship is generously supported by the Anne & Bill Newton Endowment Fund.
An Interview with Shanna Early
Library: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your favorite book? What’s your favorite thing about Emory/Atlanta? Etc.
Shanna: I grew up in Texas, and that’s still the place I consider home. My family is there, and I’ve got three horses there. I’ve been riding horses since I was nine. I miss my own horses, but I take riding lessons here. It’s been a lot of fun to get to know other horse enthusiasts in the area and I’ve also learned some great new skills. I always have a hard time coming up with a favorite book because there are so many that I love. I’m especially fond of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus right now. I also love Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture and The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty. Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things is hard to read because it is so sad, but it is such an incredibly beautiful and moving novel that it’s one of my favorites. I’m a huge fan of young adult literature—Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson series are favorites. And I should definitely include Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine because reading it as a freshman in high school led me to discover how much I love language and literature. It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that I’m in a PhD program in English because of that book. The best thing about Atlanta is the people I’ve met, both on campus and outside of it. I’m so grateful for the relationships I’ve developed here. Also, DragonCon is a blast. I love living in a city with such a great convention every year.
Library: What are you researching for your dissertation?
Shanna: My dissertation examines how authors represent landscapes and ecosystems as natural archives that preserve histories that often go unrecorded in institutional archives—both human history and natural history. My authors are Irish, Indian and Caribbean, so my dissertation blends postcolonial and ecocritical approaches along with archive theory to explore these texts.
Library: What interested you about the Newton Fellowship?
Shanna: I’ve worked at the Rose Library in the Instruction Program for the past three years, and during that time I’ve really come to value archival instruction. It’s such an incredible opportunity for students to get to learn how to do research in the archive—an opportunity I didn’t have—and I have loved getting to be part of that journey with the students. I also have so much appreciation for the archivists and staff of the Rose library. They are such wonderful people who do their jobs very well. So I was eager for an opportunity to keep working with them, and to leverage some of my experience both as an instructor in the English Department an as part of the Rose Library instruction team into helping develop the instruction program further.
Library: What will you be working on this year for your Newton Fellowship?
Shanna: This year I will primarily be working on developing instructional resources for the Rose Library. I’ll be building a website portal that instructors can explore while they’re planning their classes and assignments to help them get a sense of what instruction in the Rose Library looks like, ideas for assignments and class sessions that they can adapt for their own use, and draw attention to collections and materials that will be particularly useful for instructional use.