This Week in English | January 22 – 28, 2018

Greetings, everyone!

The office has been bustling with energy all morning as we return from the longer-than-usual break and embark upon another semester of teaching. Ellen, Celeste, and I wish you well as the fun gets underway.

I plan to resume the weekly bulletins next week (please send items for possible inclusion along by noon on Sunday). For today just a few routine reminders:

Syllabi & Office Hours

The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, the Provost’s Office, and Dean all confirm that electronic circulation of syllabi is consistent with university policy and is often preferred by students. Please consider “going paperless” this semester. And also be sure to file a copy of your syllabus with in the first week of classes.


Faculty with advising responsibilities are requested to make extended office hours available during the first week of class. If you could share those hours with Ellen, she can help match “drop by” advisees (of whom there are many this week) to available faculty. The last day to add a class is this Friday, January 26. The last day to drop with a refund is February 4 (which falls on a Sunday).


As you examine your evaluations for fall of 2018, please be on the alert for larger than usual numbers of “non responses.” The Office of Assessment belatedly discovered a scanner malfunction that affected an undetermined number of evaluation forms, especially on the upper left hand side of the standard form where instructor information is recorded (of course). The “NR” column is the fifth one from the right on the cover sheets. An elevated number of NRs would indicate that the scanner failed to record responses on a given question (or series of questions). Please direct questions about evaluations to me at Brian Doore, the director of the Office of Assessment, has some options are his disposal if an important batch of evaluations seems to have been affected.

Message from Caroline Bicks regarding King Chair events

Caroline asks that you consider ways of incorporating the following three events into your course design this spring. Please direct queries to her at

1) James Smith, Associate Professor of Irish Studies at Boston College, is giving a public lecture in Minsky on Wed., March 7th at 7:00.

Title: “Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, Academic Advocacy, and Restorative Justice”


JAMES M . SMITH is an Associate Professor in the English Department and Irish Studies Program at Boston College. His book, Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment, was praised by Colm Tóibín as essential reading “for anyone interested in the fear and cruelty surrounding women’s sexuality in the Ireland of the recent past.” The Magdalen laundries were workhouses in which many Irish women and girls were effectively imprisoned because they were perceived to be a threat to the moral fiber of society. In 1993, a public scandal was triggered when the remains of 155 inmates, buried in unmarked graves on the property, were exhumed, cremated, and buried elsewhere in a mass grave. Smith’s work with archival materials and survivors is, in Colum McCann’s words, a “brilliant, art-driven examination of a story, or history, that needs to be told over and over and over again, lest it be forgotten or allowed to seep into the ambient noise.” Smith serves on the Advisory Committee of Justice For Magdalenes Research (JFMR), the advocacy group that brought these institutions to the attention of the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) in Geneva.

2) Patricia Wen, editor of the Boston Globe Spotlight Team, will be giving a public lecture on Friday, April 20th at 6pm in Wells 1.

Title: “Getting it Right: Investigative Journalism in a ‘Post-Truth’ Age.”


PATRICIA WEN is the editor of the Boston Globe Spotlight Team.She took over this six-member investigative unit after several decades as a reporter at the Globe, with a special emphasis on social service, legal and medical issues. Her work focused largely on investigative and long-term projects. She also had spent several years as a reporter on the Spotlight Team. She has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, once in 2004 for feature writing and also in 2013 as part of a team for national reporting. Wen has also twice individually won the Casey Medal for coverage of children and family issues, in 2004 and 2011, each in the category of a major project/series in large publications. Before joining the Globe, she worked as a reporter at The Star-Ledger in Newark, NJ and The Advocate in Stamford, CT. A Harvard College graduate with a degree in East Asian Studies, she is married with three children and lives in Brookline, Mass.

3) On April 21st, I’m organizing a one-day conference for Humanities undergrads. Tentative details here:

“How Did You Think of That?”: Understanding Humanities Research (co-sponsored by the UMHC)

When: Saturday, April 21st, 2018: all day
Where: Colvin and Estabrooke

Description: This is a one-day conference for UMaine humanities undergraduates looking for inspiration and guidance on how to do humanities research and how to develop a thesis. The day will include panels comprised of: 1) Humanities faculty and graduate students talking about what sparked their research/creative work and what their research/creative process looks like; 2) Seniors who have recently completed their theses/capstone projects talking about their projects.

The day will include break-out discussions/info sessions on topics like: 1) How to find and apply for humanities funding; 2) Taking advantage of all that the library and its staff have to offer; 3) Finding an advisor.

Although Honors students are one target group of participants for this event, it is open to any humanities undergraduates. Students who choose to participate in all events will receive a stipend.

Best wishes,



Have a great week!

Steve Evans

English Department Chair