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Alumnae Spotlight: Jillian Lunoe '22

October 23, 2022
Jillian Lunoe '22

Can you tell us about what you studied at Bryn Mawr and why you chose it?
At Bryn Mawr I majored in Comparative Literature and Growth and Structure of Cities, with a minor in Japanese. I was interested in the Comparative Literature major even before coming to Bryn Mawr because I knew I wanted to study both English and French while in college. I decided to also major in Cities after taking Form of the City my first year and loving the class. 

How did you get involved in your current field?
I’m currently working as an assistant language teacher through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. I learned about the JET program while taking Japanese classes to complete my minor and I was interested in the program as an opportunity to travel, continue studying Japanese, and work with students learning English. I have only recently started the position, but I have already found it to be a very rewarding experience.  

How did your years at Bryn Mawr prepare you for your professional life?
My time at Bryn Mawr inside and outside of the classroom helped me develop skills that are now essential for my professional life. Group projects, class discussions, and presentations helped me practice communication and public speaking, which I now apply daily as I work with teachers and students. Attending special lectures, performances, and club activities at Bryn Mawr also taught me the value of seeking out opportunities and trying new experiences. 

Why did you decide to major in Comparative Literature?
I decided to major in Comparative Literature because I didn’t want to have to pick between my interests. The flexibility of the major allowed me to study English, French, Japanese, film, and translation theory. I also enjoyed the introductory course and the two senior seminars, where I was able to learn and converse with other students who were also studying a wide range of languages and topics.  

You presented a paper related to your thesis at the NEMLA conference in Baltimore in 2022, can you tell us more about your thesis, which was awarded the Bi-Co’s 2022 Laurie Ann Levin Prize in Comparative Literature?
As part of the Theories and Methods in Comparative Literature course last fall we were encouraged to submit abstracts to the Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA) conference. The conference theme that year was “care” and I tweaked my thesis topic to talk about how care is represented in the physical environments of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Gaston Leroux’s Le fantôme de l’opéra. For the conference itself I designed a poster based on my abstract and traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, to participate in the undergraduate poster presentations. It was interesting to see what humanities students from other colleges in the region were studying and I was also able to attend one of the panels, Women Writers and the Politics of Space and Place, where I gained new ideas for my thesis. 

My Comparative Literature thesis was “Hidden Rooms and Faces: The Connections between Place and Character in Jane Eyre and Le fantôme de l’opéra." It was exciting to work on a paper that combined my interests in English, French, and place studies, and the two-semester length of the project gave me the time to deeply explore the texts and theories. In my final paper I identified three types of places typical to the Gothic novel, places of false security, places of fear, and places of concealment, that I analyzed as a method for exploring character psychology.

What advice do you have for current undergraduates?
Don’t be afraid to follow your interests, even when it may seem that they are unconnected to one another or unrelated to your future goals. I have found that unexpected relationships appear between all types of fields, and uncovering these connections is even more rewarding when you are pursuing topics that you are passionate about. 

Comparative Literature

Growth and Structure of Cities

East Asian Languages and Culture