Ph.D. Bound Graduate Will Focus on Literature With Timely Themes


photo of Justin Rogers

Justin Rogers

Las Vegas, N.M. – Justin Rogers said he will focus on 19th century British and Irish literature in his doctoral studies because it’s pertinent to modern-day issues.

Rogers graduates from Highlands University May 13 with a master’s degree from the Department of English with an emphasis in literature. He begins his Ph.D. studies in literature at Texas A & M University in August with a fellowship that includes teaching literature.

“In this 19th century time period, writers are struggling with some of the same issues we face today such as globalization, class and race,” Rogers said. “Irish writers in this timeframe were also writing about national identity, which is something I think we still grapple with as Americans.”

Rogers said his master’s thesis, Oscar Wilde Refractions of the Self, explores the relationship between art and identity through the eyes of the British and Irish writer.

“Drawing upon characters in his 1890 novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde later writes that he most identifies with the character Basil Hallward because he was also an artist,” said Rogers, whose own heritage is British and Irish. “Refractions of the self refers to the multiple versions of himself Wilde writes about in this novel.”

While at Highlands, Rogers has presented his own writing and other research at conferences such as the 38th Annual Southwest Popular/American Culture Association conference. He is also co-editor for New Mexico Review, a biannual literary journal the Highlands Department of English publishes.

“It’s rewarding to see the issue go online at the end of every semester and recognize the work of writers from across the country,” said the 23-year-old Kerrville, Texas native whose own poetry is published in Spillway Poetry Magazine.

Department of English professor Helen Blythe is Rogers graduate and thesis adviser. He has also worked as a graduate teaching assistant in courses Blythe teachers such as British Literature Since 1700.

“Justin is a stellar student in my graduate courses with work that is well-argued, eloquent, original and intellectually rigorous,” Blythe said. “He undertakes innovative research projects that culminate in insightful essays.

“Though much has been written about Oscar Wilde’s work in terms of aesthetics, Justin has a knack for finding new avenues of thought, which is evident in his thesis,” Blythe said.

She said Rogers is indomitable in his pursuit of scholarly growth.

“I’m very confident Justin will flourish in his doctoral studies,” Blythe said.

Rogers said Blythe’s knowledge in Victorian studies is vast, making her an excellent resource and mentor.

“Dr. Blythe also introduced me to literary theories and helped me improve my written arguments. She encouraged me to pursue doctoral studies, helping me with every step of the process. I’m very grateful for her guidance,” Rogers said.

Rogers said his goal is to complete his doctoral studies and become an English literature professor with a focus on 19th century British and Irish literature.

“Being a graduate teaching assistant gave me the confidence to know that I’m an effective instructor and will greatly enjoy being in this role in a college classroom environment,” said Rogers, who taught courses in English composition for freshmen at Highlands.