Jake Dow

Jake Dow

PhD Student, Department of English

“English is like a case study in what it means to be human”

Jake Dow was taking all science courses in high school when his brother sat him down. “‘Listen,’ he said, ‘the thing you’ve always wanted to do was write and read. Why not try and do that?’”

Dow signed up for a BA in English and the great books program at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. “I totally reoriented myself with regards to my outlook on life and how to carry yourself as an adult in community,” he says. “English is like a case study in what it means to be human.”

That’s why Dow’s goals centre around building community as well as sharing his love of literature.

“Ten years from now,” he says, “I really do hope to be back in New Brunswick, working with a community based around writing and music. I want to increase a sense of opportunity and meaning, in a world that seems like it often destroys our sources of purpose.”

Now studying 20th-century American literature in a U of T MA program, Dow is planning to show how purpose, faith and politics play out in culture. He’s drawing not only on his BA experience, but a previous gap year working in Fredericton, and a reading list that spans from poetics to philosophy, literature to law.

“If it wasn’t for the Naylor fellowship, I simply would not have continued my education,” he says. “I don’t want to overstress it, I’m not of an impoverished background, but my dad is a plumber and my mom runs a daycare. The award brought what would have been an almost infinitely far horizon right to me. It changed everything.”