This Week in English | Jan 2 – Feb 4, 2018

Welcome Back, Everyone

We got off to a busy start last week, launching more than a hundred and fifteen classes with enrollments in excess of 2500 students (I hesitate to add that we also went through something like thirty thousand sheets of paper, despite an initiative to “go paperless” for the distribution of syllabi this semester).

A complete guide to spring course offerings is available here and we’ll be sharing glimpses into individual syllabi as the semester progresses. In addition to ample offerings across the spectrum of writing-centered instruction, the department’s literature curriculum at the advanced and graduate level features courses on Native American Literature (William Yellow Robe), Nineteenth Century Literature (Naomi Jacobs), Contemporary Literature (David Kress), “Writing the Self” (Caroline Bicks), the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Deborah Rogers), “Dystopia” (Naomi Jacobs), American Literature from the Colonial to the Romantic Period (Margo Lukens), “Policing English” (Dylan Dryer), and “Poetics and the Discipline” (Ben Friedlander).

MA Program Notes

Dylan Dryer and David Kress have generously undertaken the work of coordinating the Master’s program in English while Greg Howard is on sabbatical this spring. In consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee, they have extended the deadline for consideration of applicants seeking teaching assistantships from January 15 to January 30, 2018. They will also be overseeing the first administration of the new “portfolio review” model of the comprehensive examination for graduating Master’s candidates. We’re grateful to Dylan and Dave for being willing to take on this important work.

Meet This Year’s Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King Memorial Scholars

Before we adjourned for the winter break, the English Department recognized eleven English majors with scholarships generously endowed by Stephen and Tabitha King in memory of Stephen’s mother, Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. The sophomore recipients were Rachel Castonguay, Anna Kulinski, and Katherine Skvorak; the junior recipients were Catherine Gottwalt, Maddy Jackson, and Christopher King; and the seniors were Sarah Allisot, Eric Arnold, Mary Manley, Amber Mondor, and Tyler O’Keefe.

These students are, each in their own distinct way, ambassadors who reflect well the values of creativity, curiosity, compassion, and courage that animate our discipline. I am happy to report that a number of them have agreed to serve on a student advisory board that will convene several times this spring.

We will include short profiles of the King Scholars in the next few installments of this bulletin. Here are the first four:

Katherine Skvorak is sophomore enrolled in the Honors College, who would love to take the skills she learns in creative writing at the University of Maine to become a published author. She currently plans on working in the publishing and editing field while working on her own writing on the side. She has always loved being able to make stories about the people around her, and finds character development to be one of her favorite things about writing. She says that stories that dive into the character’s minds are always her favorite, and she strives to show this through her own work. She states that the writings of Stephen King have influenced her in many ways. Stephen King’s incorporation of various Maine settings into his writing has shown her that inspiration for writing can come from anywhere, so she now keeps a notebook with her so she may write whenever and wherever the inspiration strikes. She also states that Stephen King’s own attendance at the University of Maine was part of her inspiration to attend this college as well. The success he has had as a writer gives her faith in the writing skills she will gain from attending the University of Maine.

Christopher King is a junior with a double major in History, as well as English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He also is working towards a Maine Studies minor. His time in college has inspired him to pursue a career helping other students in some fashion, including potential careers in Student Life, Special Services, or another form of advising. He has always found literature a great source of entertainment, and studying Creative Writing has provided him a way to express his creative side. He identifies Stephen and Tabitha King’s writings as being extremely beneficial to him as a writer, as well as a resident of Maine. He specifically points out Stephen King’s use of places within the state of Maine in his writings, and how this has helped him as a writer, saying “…we should never forget where we came from. We should always begin our writing with what we know.”

Maddy Jackson is a junior in the Honors College here at the University of Maine. Upon graduation, her goals are to work in the editing, publishing, and literary criticism field, and, as with most writers, she hopes to someday publish her own books. She says that pieces of 19th century British literature are among her favorites to read, but for a personal writing style, she mostly writes creative nonfiction. She cites Stephen King for being her inspiration to attend the University of Maine. She has read a few of his books, and though she does not herself write in the horror/thriller genre, the mastery of Stephen King’s writings has inspired her to study at his Alma Mater. Maddy aims to work as a scout and editor in publishing when she graduates.

Catherine Gottwalt is a junior working towards a double major in Journalism and English, with a Creative Writing concentration. She is also a member of the University of Maine Honors College. She is hoping to incorporate her love of writing into a career writing for a magazine or blog, but has also considered working for Cru, a Christian ministry here on campus. Above all, however, she would love a career as a full-time author and keeps this aspiration in sight. Even from a young age, she has had an interest in books and creative writing, one that has only expanded in her time here at the university. She says that Stephen King’s unique voice and confidence in writing has inspired her to take ideas she says may seem a little unbelievable, and give life to her words, just as Stephen King is able to do in his works.

Bangor Humanities Day This Saturday

The McGillicuddy Humanities Center is sponsoring a wide range of activities in celebration of the sixth annual Bangor Humanities Day this Saturday, February 3. Events kick off Friday evening and proceed throughout the day on Saturday. English MA candidates Brendan Allen and Kat Dubois have organized “The Happening Series Poetry & Prose Reading,” scheduled to start at 3:15 at Nocturnem Draft Haus.

MA Alum Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed

Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed defended her UMaine Master’s thesis on Mikhail Bulgakov in April of 2016. Her committee members were Professors Billitteri, Cowan, and Rogers. She is now pursuing doctoral work at Indiana and supplies us, via Deborah Rogers, with this update:

My paper “Memory and Music in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita: Defying the Regime” will be published in Logos et Littera. Last summer another paper, “Understanding Self and Others: Marriage Scenarios in Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina,” was published in Crossroads: A Journal of English Studies. The seeds of that publication were planted in English 558 with Professor Cowan in spring of 2015.

Update on the CLAS Student Emergency Fund

A generous alumna of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences recently established a Student Emergency Fund. The goal of the fund is

to provide limited emergency financial assistance to currently enrolled University of Maine students within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Assistance is intended for students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses because of temporary hardship. The purpose is to help students stay in school and make progress towards a degree during a time of unexpected need. Funds are awarded as a grant and, unlike a loan, do not need to be repaid.

The crowdfunding campaign that concluded on New Year’s Eve raised $5615 from forty-eight donors, well exceeding the target of $2000.

Have a great week, everyone!

Steve Evans

English Department Chair

This Week in English 15 circulated to faculty and friends of the department on Monday, January 29, 2018. If you would rather not receive these weekly bulletins, please reply with <unsubscribe> in your subject line.