This Week in English | Oct 2 – 8, 2017

Dylan Dryer at Illinois State University and University of Illinois

This Wednesday Dylan Dryer will facilitate a workshop on “Translingual Composition Pedagogy” at Illinois State University before delivering, on Thursday evening, a lecture on “The Present Future of Rhetorical Genre Studies: International Contexts and Emerging Research” in their Annual Speaker Series. On Friday, Dryer will present one of two plenary addresses at the University of Illinois’s Center for Writing Studies Symposium on “Trans – [language, literacies, modal, national]: A Prefix to Unfix Theory, Research, and Practice.” Jody Shipka is the other plenary speaker at the all-day symposium.

Poet Claire Donato Reads in NWS as Part of Digital Humanities Week

The New Writing Series welcomes poet Claire Donato to the University of Maine campus for a reading on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 4:30pm in the Allen and Sally Fernald APPE space (104 Stewart Commons). The reading, which is free & open to the public, will be introduced by Jennifer Moxley and followed by a Q&A with the audience. Donato’s reading is part of Digital Humanities Week at the University of Maine. The poet will also be visiting Honors 180: A Cultural Odyssey as part of a longstanding collaboration between the NWS and the Honors College.

Claire Donato is the author of a full-length collection of poems, The Second Body (Poor Claudia, 2016), and a novella, Burial (Tarpaulin Sky, 2013), which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly. She has also published chapbooks with Cannibal Books and the Cultural Society. She received her MFA from Brown and currently teaches at Pratt, RISD, and Parsons. This is her first appearance in the New Writing Series.

A Glimpse into what Our Colleagues and Students Are up to this Week

This week’s focus is on the “core” requirements for the English Major, where students in Richard Brucher’s section of Foundations of Literary Analysis (ENG 170) will be reading and watching film adaptations of As You Like It, while those enrolled in Reading Poems (ENG 222) with Kathleen Ellis will be studying poems by Matthew Arnold, John Keats, Elizabeth Bishop, May Swenson, Kay Ryan, and Patty Seyborn. Wallace Stevens, Rachel Hadas, Walt Whitman and William Blake are on the syllabus for Leonore Hildebrandt’s section of the same class. In the Act of Interpretation (ENG 271), students turn in their first formal paper this week. The assignment invites them to demonstrate their familiarity with the key concepts of Aristotle’s Poetics by analyzing a narrative of their choice through that critical framework. Among the narratives students have selected are Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, a song by Eminem, Wuthering Heights, episodes of Friends and Black Mirror, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera, Disney’s Mulan, and Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty. Students also take up this week the central question of the course: what makes an interpretation valid?

Departmental Committees & Other Business

Each of the major standing committees of the English Department met within the first month of the fall semester to begin the work of the academic year. On Thursday, October 5, at 2pm in Lord 100 the department will meet as a whole for a second time. In addition to hearing reports from the standing committees, we’ll talk about the future of the English Major by testing some of the claims advanced in Geoffrey Galt Harpham’s recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “A New Mission for English: Teaching Textual Interpretation Is Crucial to Forming Citizens” (attached). UMS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Robert Neely is scheduled to discuss the article with students in English 271 on Friday at 1pm in Jenness 106.

Faculty may expect to receive course preference and proposal forms for Fall 2018 prior to the department meeting. The deadline for professional travel requests is Friday, October 6.

English Major Stephanie Alexander’s Summer Internship at CBS

I invited Stephanie Alexander to tell us a little about her experience interning for CBS this summer and she kindly obliged. Here’s her account (and I’ve attached a photo she provided as well):

CBS News offers year-round internships to college students interested in experiencing any of their broadcast and digital programs. I was assigned with CBS This Morning working directly with producers, anchors, correspondents, writers, and editors. I was also the only intern in a group of fifty given a 1:00AM to 11:00AM schedule for six of our ten weeks with the network. I had an intensive set of responsibilities scattered across the first four hours of my shift. I wrote multiple original documents each night that prepared producers for that morning’s show. I produced lists of each segment to be aired by condensing thirty-second to ten-minute pieces into just one sentence. The pressure to write to a senior producer’s expectations is incredibly valuable in learning what qualities are necessary for seriously pursuing a career in journalism.

From 5:00AM until 9:00AM, I buckled down in the Control Room and recorded every segment, segment type, correspondent, location, and air time for CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and Good Morning America starting at 7:00AM. I was present in the control room as the Congressional Baseball Shooting in Alexandria, VA happened, and got to experience the controlled chaos in piecing together a breaking news story.

The CBS News internship also offers the chance for interns to produce, over the course of a week, their own broadcast-ready segment on any story they chose. We are given camera and audio equipment and sent out into the New York Tri-State area with a $100 budget. The interns complete every stage of the production process, and are given a veteran CBS editor to work with in finalizing the piece. Interns are given no restrictions in topic nor any guidelines on how to complete it; instead we are expected to rely on the knowledge gained in work as an intern in all of our respective departments.

“Engaged” Black Bears

Former English Majors Olivia Dunton and Sean Miller got engaged on July 31, 2017. I invited them to say a little about how they met. Here is Sean’s response:

Olivia and I first met in a section of ENG 470: Language & Literature with Steve Evans—remarking on reading notes shared over Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and J.L. Austin’s How to Do Things with Words. The following semester found both of us sharing another classroom with Steve in order to engage with American poets. In our final seminar together, we raced each other through Proust’s In Search of Lost Time without any explicit acknowledgement of the contest.  Four years, two cats, and many books later, and we are planning our wedding. Olivia has recently begun her second reading of Proust and plans to find threads to weave into her wedding vows. We are also slowly but steadily working our way through reading the 1001 Nights together, an idea of Proustian origin. After a short stint in New Mexico and a while back in Maine we recently moved to Vermont, where Olivia works as a promotional planner and lead buyer for a co-op and I am learning to be a woodworker and visual artist. Our education in the English department has left us with one distinct problem—we are constantly needing to buy “one more” bookshelf!

Harvey Kail Remembers Elaine Ford

Professor Emeritus Harvey Kail has kindly agreed to share his remarks, here attached, on the occasion of the memorial service for Elaine Ford that was held on Saturday, September 30, 2017 in Topsham. Among the many artful and moving phrases, this understated sentence about Elaine’s understatement: “Elaine was the least rhetorical English professor I ever knew.”

Have a great week, everyone!

Steve Evans

English Department Chair