Reading in Tamagawa Garden

Ella Roger

Ella Roger, Essay Contest Winner in the Second-Year Category, 2019-2020 

Ella Roger

Ella Roger is going into the third year of a BA in Psychology at VIU and plans on becoming a therapist. However, English and literary expression remain close to her heart. She has loved reading and writing since she was a young child; encouraged by her English-teacher mother, with whom she bonded over reading, she was never without a book or two. This literary passion continued as Ella grew up, leading her to develop an ongoing interest in expressing herself through poetry, as well as, once at VIU, taking English classes as electives. English (and related disciplines such as film studies), says Ella, provide “a space where I can think freely and appreciate the work of others, while also enjoying the newfound knowledge and respect that I gain from listening to others’ ideas and views.”

Ella's award-winning essay “Rural Homophobia or Universality of Love? Brokeback Mountain in Literature and Film” was written for ENGL 233 with Professor Melissa Stephens. This course, which examines the relationship between literature and film, enabled Ella to explore how the techniques of cinematography create on-screen meaning, as well as to consider the complex process by which a short story like Annie Proulx's “Brokeback Mountain” is transformed into Ang Lee's cinematic adaptation. In particular, Ella was fascinated by Proulx's and Lee's respective depictions of love and sexuality, including how they are shown to be constrained by a rural, homophobic society. In a larger sense, studying and writing about 2SLGBTQ+ film and literature, especially when it “accurately depict queer experiences,” is crucial for Ella both because of her fundamental commitment to equality and in that such texts can ultimately “provid[e] a voice to those who so desperately need it.”

Two texts Ella particularly recommends reading are Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl, a clever, formally creative psychological thriller, and The Diary of Anne Frank. Ella says she particularly likes texts, such as The Diary, that enable you to form a deep connection with the protagonist and their struggles. As well as fiction and memoir, she also likes reading self-help books as a means of gaining greater understanding of herself and others.  

As an award-winning essay writer, Ella has some helpful advice for budding English students. When it comes to paper-writing, you should recognize that it's a process and that coming up with and organizing your ideas inevitably takes time. An important correlate to this processual view is not being afraid to make mistakes in your writing - or even start again. This is something Ella herself had to do while writing her paper for ENGL 233, but she sees it as a crucial part of her ongoing development as a student and writer.