This Week in English | February 19 – February 25, 2018

Alex Terrell Wins PEN America Award for “Black Dog”

Master’s candidate Alex Terrell has been awarded a 2018 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers for her short story “Black Dog,” first published in Black Warrior Review in the fall/winter of 2017. The award, which carries a cash prize of $2000, was judged by Lesley Nneka Arimah, Jodi Angel, and Alexandra Kleeman. Catapult will publish all twelve winning short stories in the second installment of The PEN America Best Debut Short Stories anthology this coming fall. Terrell is completing a fiction thesis under the direction of David Kress this spring.

MA Alum Erin Workman at DePaul

Erin Workman (English MA, 2011) was recently hired to direct the first-year composition program for DePaul University’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse. A recent profile on the WRD blog traces Workman’s interest in “writing transfer” back to her studies in Orono:

Her time at University of Maine (U-Maine), where she received her master’s degree, informed this work. She studied the way readers assessed portfolios as a final requirement for first-year writing. With this work, teachers were able to use more consistent material across sections to prepare students to pass the course. She has also done other research projects on writing transfer and teaching for transfer curriculum using the book Writing Across Contexts by Kathleen Yancey, Lianne Robertson, and Kara Taczak.

While a Master’s candidate at UMaine Workman also completed a thesis entitled Identities’ Incidents: Fragments of a Subject’s Transformations under the direction of a committee consisting of Steve Evans, David Kress, and Dylan Dryer. As a doctoral candidate working with Kathleen Yancey at Florida State University, Workman went on to write a dissertation on Visualizing Transfer: How Do Students’ Conceptual Writing Knowledge Structures Connect to Their Transfer of Writing Knowledge and Practice?

A University of, by, and for the People

Much of what Sarah Vowell has to say about the University of Montana in her February 15 editorial for the New York Times on the value of land-grant universities can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to the University of Maine, which recently celebrated a major milestone of its own. She opens with the story of Maurice Hilleman:

In 1937, Maurice Hilleman had a job lined up as the assistant manager of the J. C. Penney in Miles City. In Depression-era Montana, Penney’s was top-notch employment, especially to a senior at Custer County High who grew up raising chickens on the outskirts of town.

But Hilleman’s older brother pointed out there was that college in Bozeman and suggested Maurice should at least try to get a scholarship. He did, finished first in his class and went on to a graduate program in microbiology at the University of Chicago. Of the 14 standard recommended vaccines—including those for measles, mumps, meningitis, pneumonia and both hepatitis A and B—Hilleman developed eight of them. In a century soaked in genocide, his work saved millions of lives, including, potentially, yours and mine. J. C. Penney’s loss was humanity’s gain.

Vowell, an author who frequently contributes to This American Life, also works in a reference to the pioneering ceramicist Peter Voulkos, who studied at the land-grant in Montana before teaching at Black Mountain College and becoming one of the defining artists in his medium in the twentieth century.

Routine Departmental Business

The Graduate Studies Committee has been busy since the beginning of the spring semester, meeting on January 24 and February 14 to evaluate program applications. Dave Kress and Dylan Dryer, who are co-directing the program this spring, also met with MA candidates on January 31 to discuss the new portfolio process for satisfying the program’s comprehensive exam requirement.

This week, the Undergraduate Studies Committee meets at noon on Wednesday, February 21. And the Analytical, Professional, and Technical Committee is temporarily adjourned while the work of hiring a new colleague is underway.

The next meeting of the full department is scheduled for Thursday, March 1, at 2pm. Please direct agenda items to by Monday, February 26.

Life of Ideas Lectures Continue This Thursday

History professors Anne Knowles and Michael Lang are joined by Philosophy professor Michael Howard for the spring installment of the “Life of Ideas, Notions, and Concepts” series organized by Frédéric Rondeau of Modern Languages and Classics (flyer attached). The event starts at 4pm in the Hill Auditorium of Barrows Hall. Rondeau frames the conversations that he curated this way:

Some ideas get old. Some revive after decades of turmoil. Some seem gone forever, and then come back. The decline and the renaissance of an idea, a word, tells us a lot about our society and values. Participants in The Life of Ideas will think about this phenomenon critically by addressing the lifespan of an array of theoretical concepts from humanities disciplines.

Two further events are planned for the Series this spring: a talk by Éric Méchoulan on March 6 and another by Enzo Traverso on March 29.

Happening Series This Friday Evening

Co-organizers Brendan Allen and Katherine Dubois share the following invitation (flyer also attached):

The Happenings Series would like to invite you to their collaborative event this Friday, February 23rd, featuring readings by Shelby ColburnAndy Mallory, and Cami Lucy. The Series is graciously hosted at the Franco-American Centre, located in Crossland Hall, with support from the McGillicuddy Humanities Center. Performances will start at 6:00 pm, and promise attendees snacks, good company, and the opportunity to contribute to their growing communal collage project. For more information, check out their Facebook event, look for their flyers around campus, or reach out to them at

Hold the Date: Elaine Ford Book Launch in Brunswick on March 25

The Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick will host a celebration of Elaine Ford’s posthumous publication, This Time Might Be Different, on Sunday, March 25 (flyer attached). The event will include brief readings from the new book, and a conversation about Elaine and her work between Elaine’s husband and literary executor, Arthur Boatin, and a former writing student of Elaine’s.

Elaine Ford passed away at her home in Topsham, Maine, on August 27, 2017. She taught creative writing here in the English Department for two decades. Neil Genzlinger wrote her obituary for the New York Times.


Steve Evans

English Department Chair


This Week in English 18 circulated to faculty, students, and friends of the department on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. If you would rather not receive these weekly bulletins, please reply with <unsubscribe> in your subject line. Earlier installments are archived on our website.