Emma Pitts is currently a Master’s student at The University of Alabama studying English literature. After graduating, Pitts hopes to find a career in publishing and work directly with authors in fiction literature.
Where are you from originally?
Originally, I am from Davis, California, but just before high school, my family moved to Birmingham, Alabama. My parents are originally from Alabama, so when they got the opportunity to move back, they took it.
Are you involved in any extracurricular work at UA?
I currently work at The University of Alabama Press as a student worker. I went to Alabama for my undergraduate degree, as well, and was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, but now I have alumni status.
Why did you choose the Masters program at UA?
I chose UA because of the many branches of English Master’s Degrees. Because I wanted to do publishing, the different branches allowed me to choose what would help me enter my selected field the most. I also had the opportunity to continue working with the Press.
What is your focus? Why did you choose it?
I am focused on English literature. I thought an advanced knowledge of different genres would help me work with authors who also write in these genres. I wanted to really understand the genre they write.
Why do you think literature is important?
It is another window into history. You can learn so much about an author and their time period by reading their works. If you are reading a book by, say, Jane Austen, you have to know the societal expectations for women of the landed gentry and know the different aspects of late 18th and early 19th century British society so the reader can fully understand what is happening to Austen’s characters.
If you had to choose one or two works that have influenced your focus the most, what would they be and why?
I really enjoyed Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Reading these books made me realize the importance of understanding the background of the author as opposed to only reading her or his books.
What is the best part of being in the MA program at UA?
I have such wonderful professors and fellow students to work with. The teachers are just so fun and kind. They truly want to help us and they understand when the work becomes overwhelming. The other students are also great. You create such a close bond with these people because they are going through the same struggles as you are.
Is there a professor from UA who has had an impact on you? If so, what makes that person stand out?
I got the opportunity to take Deborah Weiss’s class on Jane Austen’s novels in undergrad and she helped me find my love for Austen’s characters. I have been hooked ever since. When I found out I could also take a class with Professor Weiss in graduate school, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. Her love for the subject helped spark my interest and when she gave me the history of Austen’s time period, she provided me with the key to a deeper appreciation of Austen’s writing. It’s something I will forever be thankful for.
If you could improve one thing about the Department of English at UA or the MA program, what would it be and why?
I would have them be a bit more organized. It can take a little while to get some information but other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.
What are your future plans, after completing the MA program?
I hope to get a job in publishing. I would honestly go anywhere I could get a job. Hopefully, I can focus on publishing fiction, but I would really do anything. I work on mostly educational literature at the Press, and I enjoy it, but I think fiction would be more my speed.
What do you think is important for readers of The Scarlet Newsletter to know about you, UA, or the MA program?
It’s hard work and the heavy reading load can seem overwhelming at times, but the feeling of accomplishment and the good friends I have made in only a semester and a half are completely worth every second of it.