Interview with Emily Pitts Donahoe

Emily Pitts Donahoe
Emily Pitts Donahoe

“Hear my soul speak. Of the very instant that I saw you, Did my heart fly at your service”

Shakespeare has a secret admirer and her name is Emily Pitts Donahoe, an M.A. student at The University of Alabama. From studying Shakespeare to participating in the Shakespearean Staged Reading Series at UA, Donahoe’s love for Shakespeare and the Renaissance is apparent. Donahoe has recently accepted an offer from the English program at Notre Dame, where she’ll be pursuing her PhD next fall. After receiving her PhD, she hopes to share her love for literature, writing, and most importantly, Shakespeare with students as a college professor.

Growing up, Donahoe always enjoyed reading and writing. Throughout middle and high school, she wrote stories and then took creative writing classes in college. She enjoyed the challenge of writing ten-minute plays. However, as the end of undergraduate career was drawing near, she realized she was more suited to academic writing. “There’s a certain kind of satisfaction, or even joy, that comes from putting together a really nice sentence,” says Donahoe, referring to the formal structure, syntax, and density required for academic publishing.

Donahoe has found a home at UA’s Strode Program and is currently applying to Ph.D. programs. Remembering her introduction to graduate studies at UA, she recalls, “When I met the students and professors in the Strode Program, I knew I had to come to UA. It’s a really collegial and supportive community.” Donahoe realized she not only felt passionate about literature and writing, but that she also wanted to help students improve their own writing. She decided that she wanted to become a college professor and was excited to see she could take specialized courses in Renaissance literature and culture, subjects that particularly interested her. As a Shakespeare fan, she loves that the Program sponsors a lecture series focused on the early modern period and a “Shakespeare on Film” series at the Bama Theater. “The program has been challenging, but my love for literature and for teaching has only grown. I think I made the right decision,” she reflects.

In addition, the Shakespearean Staged Reading Series at UA gives Donahoe an outlet to share her passion for the Bard with other students and faculty at UA. “What’s great about Improbable Fictions here at UA is that it gives amateur performers like me a chance to experience Shakespeare,” said Donahoe. The IF troupe is made up of English graduate students, Theatre students, and members of the general public as well. They regularly perform for students who are studying Shakespeare in their literature classes. Participating in the IF troupe transforms the way Donahoe views Shakespeare. She explains that performing or even reading plays out loud opens new interpretations for her.

One day, Donahoe hopes to share her passion for Shakespeare and writing as a college professor. Until then, her life will continue to revolve around her studies, Improbable Fictions performances, and watching cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in her down time.