Physics + Literature = Poetry
USC Provost Fellow Elizabeth Cantwell, a Ph.D. student in the Creative Writing and Literature program at USC Dornsife, draws from the sciences in her dissertation on Renaissance literature.
Many Ph.D. students find the dissertation writing process taxing enough to inspire a break after graduation, but Elizabeth Cantwell hasn’t broken her stride. She’s already on her way to turning hers into a book.
A USC Provost Fellow and member of the Ph.D. in the Creative Writing and Literature program at the USC Dornsife, Cantwell in April will publish her first book of poetry, Nights I Let the Tiger Get You.
Cantwell credits USC Dornsife for helping to develop her talents and career.
“This is a unique program,” she said. “It’s not typical for a doctoral degree to combine the traditional study of literature with a creative component.”
The style of scholarship that brought Cantwell to USC is what sets her apart.
“My dissertation focuses on Renaissance literature and the idea of ‘the infinite,’ ” Cantwell said. “The telescope and microscope were invented during the early modern period, and these groundbreaking developments enabled people to look both out and in, forcing them to actually deal with infinity’s implications.”
Encouraged by the interdisciplinary links she found in Renaissance works, Cantwell began looking to the sciences for inspiration. She found the interdisciplinary work so compelling that the study of physics became a central piece of her dissertation — one of her dissertation committee members is a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at USC Dornsife.
Although physics and poetry seem like an unlikely pair, Cantwell views the latter as a potent tool for interdisciplinary learning.
The former high school teacher and Yale University graduate hopes that writing creatively about scientific topics will help students to better understand the subjects, enjoy learning and feel accomplished for having completed a creative project.
Cantwell plans to continue her burgeoning writing career after she completes her doctoral studies and returns to teaching. Grey Book Press plans to publish Premonitions, her short collection of poems, later this year.
Related News Items
- When I Grow Up, I Will Be... March 4, 2015
- Just Getting Warmed Up March 3, 2015
- Unlocking Pain Relief February 20, 2015
- Showcasing Words and Music February 20, 2015
- Looking the Wrong Way February 20, 2015
- Upstream and Downstream February 4, 2015
- Beneath the Sea January 15, 2015
- Income Boosts Health of Elderly December 22, 2014
- Achieving Accountability December 16, 2014
- As Young as You Feel November 20, 2014
- Fan Your Feathers November 19, 2014
- The Search for a Wild Weed November 10, 2014
- Diplomatic Chess Game November 6, 2014
- Mechanics of String Theory November 6, 2014
- Hollywood Via Aerospace October 28, 2014
- Sugar Linked to Memory Woes October 7, 2014
- Chemists Dispel Long-held Notion September 26, 2014
- Getting All Sides September 23, 2014
- Plants and their Stressors September 22, 2014
- Converging Science and Engineering September 18, 2014