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TWU alumna’s 2008 thesis among the most-accessed works
Life’s second act sometimes brings an unexpected reward. It did for Judith Church Rosenberg.
The Texas Woman’s University alumna wrote her graduate thesis, “Parallels: The Morality Play ‘Everyman’ and Selected Tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne,” in 2008 with no expectations other than it would help her earn a master’s degree in English. Rosenberg, who taught nursery school and reared her children after she earned her bachelor’s degree in English in her 20s, returned to university life after age 50 so she could teach college-level classes and share her love of literature.
But her thesis, which looks at how the drama and Hawthorne’s work share qualities of moral purpose, allegory and a central character whose salvation is central to the plot, continues to garner attention. In fact, ProQuest recently named her work one of the Top 25 Most-Accessed Dissertations and Theses based on PDF downloads.
“The play ‘Everyman’ draws on the human experience with every generation, which is why, at least I think, it continues to be of interest,” said Rosenberg, who also believes some of the current interest in her paper could be attributed to a recent performance of the play at the Olivier Theatre in London and a National Theatre Live broadcast in the United States.
Whatever the reason for her thesis’ popularity, Rosenberg credits Dr. Phyllis Bridges, a Ph.D. and a longtime professor of English at TWU, for widening students’ knowledge and interest in both English and American theater. Rosenberg said Bridges also values research and organization.
“She would let students research the hills and valleys in between the high points, but it was always very clear what we needed to take away from class,” Rosenberg said. “She has a very strong and broad understanding and overarching knowledge of literature that gives her an extremely high level of credibility. She has the quality of genuinely encouraging every student in the class.”
Bridges guidance also helped Rosenberg land her first post-graduate job in 2009, teaching creative writing, poetry and advanced English at Florida Keys Community College in Key West, Fla. She teaches English composition now as an adjunct professor at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, Va.
“My experience at Texas Woman’s University was one of the best in my life in terms of being offered wonderful access to a very high level of excellence,” Rosenberg said. “I attempted to do my part by choosing a topic that is of enduring interest to every human being.”
Bridges said Rosenberg is a thoughtful and careful researcher, and it is affirming to see her work recognized and enjoyed by so many.
“She had a love for literature that was evident through her program and has remained with her during her professional career,” Bridges said.
Rosenberg prefers to focus on her present work.
“I like teaching at the community college level because these are the students who can easily fall through the cracks,” she said. “Many times they have not been offered a strong background in education …I happen to think composition is the most important class that any student takes in college.”
Rosenberg’s students write essays once a week and then go through a thorough process of revisions. They learn an excellent essay is not written on the first attempt, even for good writers.
“The whole objective of academic writing is to wallow in the complexity of your topic,” she said. “That takes research and expanding.
“Curiosity and organization will take the student far in writing a competent essay. It is a required skill in post-secondary education.”
Contributor to TWU News
Page last updated 2:59 PM, September 12, 2019