Julia Tejblum '08


Although I’ve loved reading and writing poetry since I was a little girl, I could never reconcile my experience of reading with the discussions of themes and motifs that dominated my high school English classes. Instead, I looked for the sources of those poetic ideas in psychology and neuroscience. I spent every summer working for the Schizophrenia study at the National Institutes of Mental Health, and most of my free time playing on several soccer teams, acting, and painting.

When I began researching colleges, I was attracted by the accommodations Brandeis’s liberal curriculum provided for students who were unsure about their academic interests, and by the newly revamped theater department. The small, intimate courses at Brandeis quickly coaxed out the quiet and unassuming voice that had always remained inside my head; suddenly it was important to professors and fellow students that I had been thinking about certain ideas my whole life, and had something to say about them.

It was not until my sophomore year, however, when my freshman roommate urged me to take an introductory literature course with Professor William Flesch, that I considered majoring in English. In Professor Flesch’s course on Romantic Poetry the following year, I realized that these long, dense, and difficult poems were actually speaking directly to everything I thought about science, psychology, and art. I became fascinated with the Romantics, and wrote my thesis on the poetry of William Wordsworth and Milton’s Paradise Lost.

I doubt that I would have discovered this interest without the structure of the English major at Brandeis, which urges students to explore new genres of literature, but also gives them the freedom to focus on certain areas as intensely as they like. The presence of graduate students in the department was also very beneficial--several Ph.D. students gave me advice on graduate study, and even proofread and commented on my work.

Shortly after graduation, I moved to New York City to work in the College Division of W.W. Norton & Co. where I designed and maintained a website, and worked alongside editors and marketers to revise and market titles such as The Norton Anthology of English Literature, as well as textbooks from every discipline. I also hired and managed the marketing department’s college-age interns.

I left W.W. Norton & Co. in 2009 to pursue a Masters in English Literature at the University of Oxford, on a full scholarship funded by the Oxford University Press. This Masters course focused specifically on Romantic and Victorian literature, and gave me the opportunity to work with original manuscripts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I received my Masters degree in 2010, and am now a second year PhD candidate in the English department at Harvard University.  As a graduate student, I have benefited enormously from the generous support of Brandeis’s English professors, which continued long after I left Brandeis.