- by Mount Saint Mary College
Mount professor, Nancy Von Rosk, presenting at a podium.

The Mount's Investigating Research on Campus (iROC) series enjoyed another semester of passionate presentations, many of which are available for viewing on YouTube.

iROC provides a forum for faculty, staff, and students to showcase their research endeavors with the college and local communities. To see videos of presentations from the Fall 2021 semester and before, visit

Peter Witkowsky, associate professor of English and chair of the Division of Arts & Letters, and Mount alumna Elizabeth Hill-Caruso, presented "Analogies or Differences: Dickensian Déjà vu in Two Tales by Henry James."

Déjà vu is often experienced while reading literature. "It can be an unsettling feeling," noted Witkowsky. "Particularly when, as in our case, two of us experienced the same curious sensation more or less simultaneously, while reading different chapters of the same book, and thinking of two different books, by a different author."

The authors in question: Charles Dickens and Henry James. At their talk, Witkowsky and Hill-Caruso considered two examples of Dickens's apparent influence on James that have either not been noticed by most readers, or have been written off as unimportant. The texts in question are "Dombey and Son" by Dickens and "Daisy Miller" and "The Turn of the Screw" by James.

Nancy Von Rosk, professor of English, followed with her iROC talk, "Humanitarian, War Correspondent, and Great American Novelist: Edith Wharton and World War I." For many scholars of American Literature, Edith Wharton is the "Grande Dame" of American letters, Von Rosk explained.The first woman to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize as well as an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Yale University, Wharton's achievements were remarkable for a woman of her time, yet this is only one part of her legacy.

At the talk, Von Rosk took her audience beyond The Age of Innocence to discuss Wharton's humanitarian work during the first World War as well as the range of writing she produced during the war, much of it undervalued or ignored until fairly recently.

Von Rosk has been studying, teaching, and writing on Edith Wharton since she was a grad student. When her 2020 sabbatical plans were canceled by COVID-19, she instead immersed herself in an aspect of Wharton's work and life that had always intrigued her, but she never seemed to have the time to investigate further.

Micah Modell, assistant professor of Information Technology, presented the final iROC talk of the Fall 2021 semester with "Helping teachers say 'iROCk supporting CoLab-orative teams!'"

"Long-term collaborative team projects can be challenging," said Modell, adding that sometimes, students "run into problems relating to team dynamics and team member participation."

The web application is designed to give instructors the data and support they need to help their students develop the skills necessary for success in team projects. It includes weekly self- and peer-assessment with interactive charts, a point-based system to optimize for diverse group composition, group work simulations, and a gamified collaborative reading activity.

Modell's talk demonstrated the functionality and usage of the web application, which teachers of all kinds have found very useful.

Other iROC talks from this semester, such as "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Sport" by R. Scott Russell, assistant professor of Sports Management, and "Sustainability Accounting and Reporting: The Evolution of Management Accountability" by Tracey Niemotko and Moira Tolan, professors of Business, are available to watch online as well.


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