This Week in English | Oct 16 – 22, 2017

Meet Maine Top Scholar and English Major Nicole Whitman

An inaugural cohort of twenty “Top Scholars” matriculated at UMaine this fall. Students chosen for this honor receive a Maine Matters scholarship that covers full tuition and fees and is renewable for four years. Top Scholars also receive an unrestricted stipend of $500 to work with their faculty mentors on undergraduate research. I asked Nicole Whitman, the first English Major to receive this honor, to introduce herself to the department. Here’s what she said:

I’m Nicole Whitman and I am a Top Scholar here at the University of Maine in the Department of English. I come from a small town called Dixfield in rural Western Maine, where I attended Dirigo High School. My hobbies include Nordic skiing, making maple syrup with my family every spring, and reading, of course. I am pursuing a degree in English and following the technical writing track here at the University.

Nicole also shared with me her high school Valedictorian Statement, which she titled “Open Arms.” Here’s a paragraph that highlights her comic timing and looks forward to events likely to befall us come winter:

As a result of our achievements, we are bound to be busy. In spite of the rushed nature of these moments, I hope that we all remember to take the time to enjoy the ordinary junctures. Drive slowly. Have breakfast with your parents. Appreciate the beauty of the sun glistening on the ice coated tree branches in the middle of January, even if you just slipped and fell on that same ice on your way out the door and are now wearing your coffee as a result. All while wondering why classes weren’t cancelled today.

I look forward to serving as mentor to Nicole in her first year.

Deborah Rogers Reviews The Biopolitics of Gender

Professor of English Deborah Rogers reviewed a new book from Oxford University Press for the Times Higher Education on October 12, 2017. As the subheadline summarizes, Dr. Jemima Repo’s “provocative study into a controversial subject is let down by a dense, academic style” in Rogers’s considered opinion. Earlier this year, she looked more favorably upon a recent book by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

Pre-Performance Lecture on Hamlet a Success

Stephen E. King Chair in Literature Caroline Bicks addressed a capacity audience last Thursday in the Bodwell Lounge before the Aquila Theater’s performance of Hamlet, which many English Department faculty and students attended. As hurricane Ophelia formed over the Atlantic, Bicks invited the audience to look away from the troubled Prince for a moment and to consider the young girl whose woe it was to “T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!” Connecting close readings of passages from the play to her larger research project on girlhood in early modern England, Bicks called attention to the formidable powers of cognition employed by Ophelia at crucial junctures in the play’s action. A lively Q&A followed the presentation, and those of us who stayed on for the performance listened differently to Ophelia than we otherwise might have.

Homecoming Weekend Open House for Prospective Students

Prospective students, their families, and friends, were on campus this past Saturday, October 14, for an Open House that was timed to coincide with Homecoming Weekend. English Major Melissa Pawley joined me on an overcast and blustery morning and together we managed not only to keep our display board from blowing away but also to engage with a fair number of students from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and right here in Maine. After our hour on the campus mall, we walked folks over to Neville, sat them down on the comfy couches in the Wicks Room, and enjoyed a wide-ranging and informative conversation on everything from writing concentrations and career paths to meal plans and extra-curricular activities. Melissa is the eleventh member of her extended family to attend UMaine, and I learned a lot about the undergraduate experience from listening to her answer student and parent questions. The next Open House is scheduled for November 17, 2017. If you are aware of students who might be willing to help as Melissa has, please have them contact me at <>.

Advising Calendar: Spring 2018 Registration Opens Today

Graduate students and undergraduates who have earned ninety-five (95) credits or more will be able to begin enrolling in Spring 2018 courses a week from today, October 23. To aid in the process of course selection, an expanded (relative to Maine Street) course description packet has been uploaded to the English Department website. Faculty are encouraged to review the descriptions for accuracy. Student Records provides an enrollment checklist here, and CLAS maintains an excellent Advising and Academic Services Center. Hardcopies of the “directions for registration” are in faculty mailboxes as of this morning.

Here in the office, we’ll be directing students with queries to their assigned advisors. Please take a moment to review your MaineStreet advising page and to communicate with advisees regarding your expanded office hours between now and November 15. If you “cc”, that will help us keep students informed about your availability.

Two Announcements from Caroline Bicks

Caroline asked that I include the following announcements in this week’s bulletin, which I’m happy to do. First off, please update your calendars to reflect the fact that the Inaugural Stephen E. King Chair lecture, originally scheduled for October 25th, has been postponed indefinitely. Caroline will update the department when it has been rescheduled. And secondly, in her own words:

On Sunday, November 12th, I’ll be leading a talk back after the 2:00 matinee of A Midsummer Night’s Dream being directed by Marcia Douglas in Hauck auditorium. Joining me will be Pier Carlo Talenti (former director of new play development at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles) and Toby Bercovici (visiting assistant professor of Theater at Colby College). I’d appreciate it if you could pass this opportunity along to your students. Food and drink provided!

Pier Carlo will be staying through Monday, November 13th and would be happy to come to any of your classes to speak with your students. He could also meet one-on-one with any interested students. Just let me know and I will try to arrange it. His Bio is here:

Until 2016 Pier Carlo Talenti was the director of new play development at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles (Mark Taper Forum, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Ahmanson Theatre) where he oversaw one of the country’s most vigorous new-play commissioning programs. Over 20 years he developed scores of new works for the theater by the some of the country’s most innovative theater artists, such as playwrights Melissa James Gibson, Dael Orlandersmith and Danai Gurira; Among the plays he is proudest to have championed and which received their world premieres at CTG under his care are Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph, which went on to productions on Broadway and internationally, and The Nether by Jennifer Haley, whose Royal Court production transferred to the West End and which has been produced all over the world.

Fiction Writer Roy Kesey in New Writing Series on Thursday

The New Writing Series welcomes fiction writer Roy Kesey to the University of Maine campus for a reading on Thursday, October 19, 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 Greg Howard and followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Roy Kesey was born and raised in northern California, and currently lives in Maryland. His latest book is a short story collection called Any Deadly Thing. He’s also the author of a novel called Pacazo (the January 2011 selection for The Rumpus Book Club), a collection of short stories called All Over (a finalist for the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award, and one of The L Magazine’s Best Books of the Decade), a novella called Nothing in the World (winner of the Bullfight Media Little Book Award), and a historical guide to the city of Nanjing, China.

English TAs to Attend Feminist Pedagogy Workshop at USM on Friday

Several of the first-year teaching assistants will be attending an all-day workshop on feminist pedagogy this Friday, October 20. The event is sponsored by the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Southern Maine. Students in Ryan Dippre’s ENG 693: Teaching College Composition can earn “citizenship” credit by documenting their participation. The workshop is currently at capacity but program coordinator Catherine Barbarits invites interested students and teachers to be in touch since there might be cancellations nearer to the date. She can be reached at or at 207-780-4862.


Have a great week, everyone!

Steve Evans, English Department Chair


This Week in English 007 circulated to faculty and friends of the department on Monday, October 16, 2017. It was posted to the department website later the same day. If you would rather not receive these weekly bulletins, please reply with <unsubscribe> in your subject line.