This Week in English | Nov 6 – 12, 2017

Weathering the Windstorm

The fierce winds of a week ago delivered many of us into a bewildering Halloween week without power. Resourceful English majors reported reading by candlelight, flashlight, and headlamp. One, who found herself plunged into “seventy acres of darkness and silence,” took the occasion to rediscover reading for pleasure, adding “I forgot how good it feels.” Another put a stroke of good fortune to good use: “I was pleased to have power during the storm, yet my roommates and I felt bad for friends who wouldn’t get power until the weekend. We decided to invite people over to hang out, shower, do homework, and cook whatever food they feared would rot.” Almost everyone noted their dependence upon Wi-Fi, the internet—and season two of Stranger Things. One major wrote: “It’s been slightly disturbing to me to realize just how much I rely on power and Wi-Fi in order to work and get things done.” The same student noted with some sadness the scene at the Rec Center, where students evacuated from their dorms “huddled up next to outlets and put in their headphones instead of interacting with each other. [It] would have been the perfect opportunity to round everyone up and have them get to know each other, but everyone was too focused on having electricity and watching Netflix instead.” By contrast, more than one major discovered that “life without technology is peaceful.” One took a walk in the woods with her mom “to look at the aftermath” and “was inspired by what [she] saw.” “In terms of class work,” she continued, “the wind storm allowed me time to read my assignments in a way that satisfied me because for once I did not feel so rushed.” On balance, scenes of community and conversation seemed to outnumber those of withdrawal and isolation, and we begin the eleventh week of the semester with a renewed appreciation of some things we’d come to take for granted.

 

“We Write with Our Bodies”: New publication by Dylan Dryer

Dylan Dryer is the co-author, with David Russell, of a chapter in a volume that came out this past weekend in the Perspectives on Writing Series. The collection is Contemporary Perspectives on Cognition and Writing, edited by Patricia Portanova, J. Michael Rifenburg, and Duane Roen. The chapter is Attending to Phenomenology: Rethinking Cognition and Reflection in North American Writing Studies“ (link opens as pdf). A brief quotation from the closing section of the article suggests the direction of the argument:

If the mind is a function of the body’s (including the brain) material engagement with the rest of the material world—a world that includes other human bodies and minds—cognition, like language itself, is intersubjective. Writing is always already intersubjectively engaged with others even when physically or temporally separated (a separation which writing crucially affords). While it is certainly true that writing allows us to engage with (cope with and shape) the non-human material world through cultural artifacts, it is also true that we write with our bodies, literally engaging with physical tools, writing instruments and surfaces, cobbling together writing routines and abilities we need from available materials and neural substrates for motor control, depth perception, and language processing systems (Bazerman, 2013, p. 60).

 

Novelist, Poet, and Translator Idra Novey in New Writing Series Thursday

The New Writing Series resumes this Thursday at 4:30 with a fiction reading by Idra Novey. Greg Howard will host the event, which takes place in the Allen and Sally Fernald APPE Space (Stewart Commons 104) and is free and open to the public. From Novey’s website:

Idra Novey is the author of the debut novel Ways to Disappear, winner of the 2017 Sami Rohr Prize, the 2016 Brooklyn Eagles Prize, and a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Her poetry collections include Exit, Civilian, selected for the 2011 National Poetry Series, The Next Country, a finalist for the 2008 Foreword Book of the Year Award, and Clarice: The Visitor, a collaboration with the artist Erica Baum. Her fiction and poetry have been translated into ten languages and she’s written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, NPR’s All Things Considered, New York Magazine, and The Paris Review. She is the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writers Magazine, the PEN Translation Fund, and the Poetry Foundation. She has also translated the work of several prominent Brazilian writers, most recently Clarice Lispector’s novel The Passion According to G.H. She’s taught at Princeton University, Columbia, NYU, Fordham, the Catholic University of Chile, and in the Bard Prison Initiative. This fall she will be the Visiting Writer at the Stella Adler Center at NYU.

 

Departmental Business

The Policy Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday at 2pm to discuss a hiring opportunity in writing studies: all members of the department are invited to attend. On Wednesday, the Peer Committee meets at 3pm (note corrected start time). And on Thursday, the full department meets at 2pm. All three meetings will take place in the Hatlen Room (NV 406).

 

Instagram Changed My Life

Naomi Jacobs recently came across a TEDx Talk by alumna Amanda Hedrick on how her “art journaling” practice and Instagram account helped her manage her anxiety and depression. Jacobs says: “It’s actually an upbeat talk despite the topic. Amanda is doing very well professionally as co-director of the Writing Center at Georgia Southern, and is now also teaching classes in art journaling for the community.” According to the Georgia Southern Writing Project website, “Amanda brings the strengths of organization, tech knowledge, and ever-changing hair colors.”

 

Maia Dendinger on the First Year of the Trump Administration

Maia Dendinger, a graduate of the MA program in English and current adjunct faculty member, will be giving a talk on Thursday as part of the Marxist and Socialist Studies Lecture Series. The topic of the panel is “The Election of Trump: One Year Later.” It will take place from 12:30-1:45 p.m. in the Bangor Room of the Memorial Union. Dendinger, who chairs the Socialist Party of Eastern Maine. Dendinger, who chairs the newly formed Socialist Party of Maine, will be speaking alongside Doug Allen of the philosophy department and Kimberly Hammill of Bangor Racial and Economic Justice Coalition.

Have a great week, everyone!

Steve Evans, English Department Chair