This Week in English | March 26 – April 1, 2018

Accepted Student Days

This week’s bulletin arrives a day later than usual because I spent Monday morning meeting with accepted students and their family members and friends from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine in the first of two “accepted student days” planned for this spring. Two current English Majors, Christopher King and Olivia Welch, were on hand in the Wicks Room to share their perspectives on the major and to field questions about the UMaine experience from the visitors. The admitted students had already received handwritten notes from faculty and students congratulating them on their admissions—so thanks to all who helped with that big project of mailing more than a hundred personalized postcards! We’ll receive a second set of guests on Friday, April 13. If you’re a current student and would like to help make them feel welcome, drop me a note at and I’ll share the event details.

William Yellow Robe Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

On March 20, the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas announced that William S. Yellow Robe Jr. had been chosen to receive the organization’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. Here is the press release:

William S. Yellow Robe, Jr. (Assiniboine), of Old Town, Maine, is the winner of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. Mr. Yellow Robe, who is essentially a dramatist, is the author of approximately forty-five plays. Five of his plays—“The Star Quilter,” “The Body Guards,” “ Rez Politics,” “The Council,” and “Sneaky”—have been published in Where the Pavement Ends: Five Native American Plays (University of Oklahoma Press, 2000), and five more—“Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers,” “A Stray Dog,” “Mix Blood Seeds,” “Better-n-Indians,” and “Pieces of Us: How the Lost Find Home”—are in Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers and Other Untold Stories (Project HOOP, University of California at Los Angeles Press, 2009). He has also authored poems and short stories which have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. He was born in Poplar, Montana, on the Fort Peck Reservation (Assiniboine and Sioux) on February 4, 1960. His plays have been produced in several states coast to coast. He is also an actor, director, and college teacher. Presently, he is a part-time faculty affiliate in the English Department at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine. Mr. Yellow Robe was the winner of the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas initial First Book competition in prose in 1992 for his play, “Sneaky.” Hopefully, Mr. Yellow Robe will be honored at either the 2018 Returning the Gift festival (still being planned) or the 2019 RTG affair in Calgary, Alberta (also still being planned).

Professor Yellow Robe is currently teaching English 342: Native American Literature to twenty-two students, about half of whom are English majors.

Laura Cowan Receives Steve Gould Award

Associate Professor and former department chair Laura Cowan has been honored with this year’s Steve Gould Award. The annual award is presented to members of the UMaine community who have, by their conduct, demonstrated superior qualities of unselfishness and compassion in the course of serving UMaine and its ideals. It was created in 1981 by the family and friends of Steve Gould in memory of “a man of honest and passionate concern for others.” Professor Cowan, who is on sabbatical this year after serving as department chair from 2015 to 2017, will be among those honored at the Employee Recognition Ceremony scheduled for April 2 at 11am in Wells.

Students and Faculty Present at Two Conferences

On March 23, first-year Master’s candidate Zack Posey gave a 75-minute workshop about “Creating and Enacting Curriculum Practices that Engage and Represent Non-binary Gendered Students” at the annual conference of the Maine Council for English Language Arts.

Paige Mitchell, Kat Dubois, and Ryan Dippre gave a panel presentation on their work to bridge tutoring and teaching practices in the Writing Center and in College Composition, titled “Building Bridges: Exploring and Strengthening Teaching Assistant and Tutor Alignment,” at the Northeast Writing Center Association annual conference on Worchester, Mass. on March 24. Mitchell directs the Writing CenterDippre directs the first-year composition program, and Dubois is a first-year Master’s candidate who spent the fall exploring ways to facilitate exchange between the Writing Center tutors and instructors of English 101.

Penobscot Valley Senior College Course Underway

On Friday, March 23, more than twenty students of the Penobscot Valley Senior College gathered at the Wilson Center on College Avenue for the first of six classes on the topic “How Old Are We: An Exploration of Ideas about Age, Aging, and Ages,” co-taught by Jennifer Moxley of English and Katrina Wynn of Maine Studies. The course grows out of the McGillicuddy Humanities Center emphasis this year on “Humanities Approaches to Aging across the Ages.” The course description reads:

How old are we? How old are our ideas? How do our ideas age us? How do ideas about age shape human perceptions? These are some of the questions we’ll explore in this course. In order to help us frame our discussion, we will read Stanford professor Robert Harrison’s 2014 book Juvenescencewhich argues that, as a culture, we are getting younger. Approaching the question of age as a humanist, Harrison focuses on the interplay between biological, evolutionary, geological and cultural age. We may also look closely at a few poems and selections from other texts. Free copies of Juvenescence will be provided.

Enzo Traverso Lecture on Thursday at 4pm

In related programming, Enzo Traverso, who is the Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities at Cornell University, will give a talk entitled “Burdens of the Past: The Age of Left-Wing Melancholia” this Thursday at 4pm in the Allen & Sally Fernald APPE Space (Stewart Commons 104).

Organized by Frédéric Rondeau as part of the 2017-2018 symposium on “The Life of Ideas, Notions, and Concepts,” the talk is sponsored by the McGillicuddy Humanities Center.

Enzo Traverso was born in Italy, studied history at the University of Genoa and received his PhD from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) of Paris in 1989. He has taught political science in France and been visiting professor in several European and Latin American countries. His publications, translated into a dozen languages, include The Jews and Germany (1995), The Origins of Nazi Violence (2003), Fire and Blood: The European Civil War 1914-1945 (2015), The End of Jewish Modernity (2016).

Undergraduate Prize Deadlines

If you are an undergraduate and have not yet submitted work for consideration in one of the Department’s annual prize competitions, we encourage you to do so. The deadlines for the Grenfell (poetry), Turner (essay), and Hamlet (drama) prizes all fall on Friday, April 6, at 1pm. Queries about the submission process, as well as the submissions themselves, should be directed to And look for fliers throughout Neville Hall.

Routine Department Business: Advising, Department Meeting, Job Talks

Enrollment for the fall 2018 semester opened to graduate students and advanced seniors on Monday and will proceed through mid-April, with Juniors gaining access on April 2, Sophomores on April 9, and first-year students on April 16. Faculty with advising responsibilities are asked to provide expanded office hours during registration period. Students are encouraged to take initiative by reviewing their academic progress to date, familiarizing themselves with program requirements, and creating “wish lists” on MaineStreet.

The next meeting of the full Department is scheduled from 2pm on Thursday (room TBA). Tenured and tenure-stream faculty are expected to attend; all members of the department are welcome. In addition to hearing committee reports, we’ll talk about hiring priorities in advance of an April 6 deadline for proposals to the College.

And finally, over the next several weeks we’ll be hosting four finalists for a lecturer position in Academic Writing. Look for talk titles and workshop opportunities here in the office.

Have a great week, everyone!

Steve Evans

English Department Chair

This Week in English 23 was circulated to faculty, students, and friends of the department on Tuesday, March 27, 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.