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Misericordia University English Professor Publishes Article

Misericordia University English Professor Publishes Article

 Misericordia University English Professor Publishes Article

Misericordia University’s Patrick Danner, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and director of Professional Writing and Rhetoric, was recently published in the “Programmatic Perspectives Journal” for his article on Magical Thinking.  

The article focuses on Dr. Danner’s use of Magical thinking during the pandemic in his Professional Editing class in the Spring of 2021. Dr. Danner explains the basic concepts behind Magical Thinking and how it can be applied to a classroom, not just in an office setting. He examines how this thought process can be used in different English classes in a university setting, primarily when students are concerned about other things happening in the world around them. 

Dr. Danner Lecturing in Class

Dr. Danner applied Magical Thinking to meet his students where they were with the pandemic going on around them.  He gave his students tools to face the challenges of working with people at a time when face-to-face communication was frowned upon.

“Magical Thinking” is an idea that originally comes from the writer Joan Didion, but I first stumbled upon it while researching strategies for developing the professional writing and rhetoric track here at Misericordia. I’d paraphrase it as a stance we can take as program directors, professors, and writers to not just adapt to sudden changes in our work but to embrace the opportunities that come with it,” explained Dr. Danner.

The professional editing class was a collaboration between faculty and students. The students were given work from the faculty to edit and return, which now allowed the students to have real-world experience with editing. 

“Students want these real-world experiences, and they want their work to be taken seriously. If we can set up these scenarios where students have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and perform as professionals, they’ll do it,” said Dr. Danner.

In the article, Danner explains the application of this method of thought to classrooms at the university level, particularly English and Writing classes. Since the class occurred during a pandemic, all client communication occurred over email, creating challenges for the students. Some clients weren’t responding to emails, causing Dr. Danner to help, and some clients were trying to control the editing that was done.

“Within the method of magical thinking, I think all about the acceptance of change and making the best out of a situation. Change happens every minute of every day. Everywhere it’s unavoidable. So, without embracing that change and enforcing your ability to grow and change with what’s happening around you, you will ultimately get stuck in the past, and then what?” said English major Makenzi Walsh, looking back on the class.

She learned to think outside of the box to overcome scenarios that she faced both in the classroom and out. She expressed gratitude at the opportunities she had to learn how to overcome challenges that she faced. “This class and its way of being taught, really taught me how to handle certain situations through smart critical thinking and careful planning,” Walsh said.

For more information about Misericordia University’s English Program please visit our website, and to read Dr. Danner’s article “Magical Thinking” and Inward Engagement at a Small Liberal Arts University in a Time of Crisis, click here.