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Meagan Gacke

Graduate School student

Meagan Gacke is a master's student in the Department of English. While conducting research for a project in her feminist theory seminar, she recently found biographical information on 18th century English author Mary Deverell that was previously unknown to literary scholars. Following the discovery, she was able to provide enough evidence to have the information accepted by the "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography," the authoritative source on the people that have impacted British culture. A native of Waco, Texas, Gacke received her bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of North Texas in 2011. After taking some graduate-level courses at the University of North Texas, she transferred to Auburn for the fall semester of 2012. In addition to pursuing a master's degree, she also serves as a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of English.

1. Why did you choose to come to Auburn for graduate school?

I was very impressed with the English Department faculty at Auburn. Being a student interested in early American literature with a concentration in transatlantic women's literature, I was looking for a program whose scholarly interests would be beneficial to my own interests; Auburn was a perfect fit!

2. What about the field of English led you to study it?

Often, literature asks the "tough" questions about life and human existence. I love sitting in a classroom with my peers attempting to discover what a text is saying about life and then discussing our different responses to the text.

3. You recently found the date and place of death as well as the baptism record for English author Mary Deverell. This biographical information about Deverell had previously been unknown to leading English literature scholars. How did you find it?

Interestingly enough, I "Googled" her name! Google has digitized some British periodicals, so when I searched for "Mary Deverell, Death," I eventually found a record of her death in a 19th century periodical. I searched an online genealogy website to find the record of her baptism, which also initially started with a Google search.

4. Has this discovery helped your academic career? What has been the literary world's reaction to this new information?

This discovery will be my first publication, as the information I recovered will be published in the "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography." As a master's student, it is important that I have at least two publications before I apply to Ph.D. programs, so this publication fulfills part of one of my personal goals while at Auburn. Editors of the ODNBwere very excited about the information I found. Together we have been able to recover and verify information about Deverell's life that has previously been unknown. For instance, in one known record of her death, we were also able to confirm that she was never married because she was named a "spinster."

5. What are your ultimate goals for the rest of your academic career?

Ultimately, I would like to receive a Ph.D. and get a job at a four-year university participating in the teaching, research and publishing aspects of academia.

Feb. 4, 2013