This Week in English | February 17 – 23, 2020

Internship Opportunities

February is internship month at UMaine! An internship offers English majors and minors the chance to use their writing skills in a workplace, try an English-related job on for size, and gain experience that will help them to land a job after graduation. Many internships are paid. Taking ENG 496, after or during your internship, also allows you to earn up to six credits and can be used toward your senior capstone requirement. If you are interested in completing an internship this summer, and enrolling in ENG 496 in the fall, please contact Dr. Katie Swacha before Fall 2020 registration ends. She would be happy to explore internship opportunities with you!

Jennifer Moxley on Robert Kelly

Jennifer Moxley has contributed an essay on Robert Kelly (NWS S’2007) to the volume A City Full of Voices, edited by Pierre Joris (NWS S’2006 and F’2011) with Peter Cockelbergh & Joel Newberger, and published this spring by Contra Mundum press. The volume represents “the first substantive multi-voiced gathering of writings about one of the absolutely opulent, lavish, generous & bountiful life-works by one of the great contemporary American poets,” now in his 84th year. In “Charlotte’s Cardinal: Some Thoughts on the Poetry of Robert Kelly,” Moxley writes:

Kelly’s poetry often moves from the space of Parsifal’s double bind to that of Gurnemanz’s sage, if too restrictive, wisdom. His narrators and lyric subjects can take on either role. They can wander in a space of wondrous confusion, and then suddenly display great wisdom. But in either case the quest and the question remain the drivers; it is just a matter of who—lyric voice, narrative character—is placed in which role. This accounts for the disarming doubling effect of many Kelly poems: they can perform percipience dispensed with great confidence and then suddenly seem innocent and unknowing. They are peppered with questions. His 1975 epic The Loom is, arguably, the great quest book, but as late as 2006 Kelly, the seventy-five-year-old innocent, can still ask, ‘When will my childhood end?’”

Paul Eaton Presents on Bill Corbett at Two Conferences 

Lecturer and MA program alum Paul Eaton (’19) will be presenting at two conferences in the coming weeks. This weekend, on February 20-22, he will attend the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900. There, he will be part of a panel hosted by the Charles Olson Society that celebrates the 70th anniversary of Olson’s seminal essay “Projective Verse.”  Continuing his Wicks fellowship research into the poetry of Boston writer William Corbett, Eaton will offer a presentation entitled “‘The Coincidence Is:’ William Corbett’s Projective Verse.” Fellow panelists will discuss the work of Larry Eigner and Frank O’Hara.

Then, on March 5-8, Paul will be part of a roundtable on “Landscape, History, and Identity” at the Northeast MLA Conference in Boston. There, he will give a short talk on “Elegiac Vernacular: The Landscape Poetics of William Corbett.”

A Glimpse into Three Syllabi

This week students in Carla Billitteri’s course on contemporary literature, “Toward a Social Poetics” (ENG 364), continue their discussion of Claudia Rankine and Ta-Nehisi Coates, adding secondary sources to their primary readings in Citizen and Between the World and Me that include Coates’s famous essay on reparations from the June 2014 issue of The Atlantic and Lauren Berlant’s interview with Rankine in the October 2014 issue of Bomb. They are also learning about Theodore W. Allen’s two volume study of The Invention of the White Race.

In Hollie Adams’s section of Foundations of Literary Analysis (ENG 170), students are analyzing Deborah Willis’s story “The Weather” and Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” with a focus on narration and narrators, direct vs. indirect discourse, voice, focalization, distance, reliability, and free indirect style as presented in The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative.

In Dylan Dryer’s graduate seminar on “Theorizing and Researching Composing” (ENG 579), students take up the question “What do we know about how people produce writing” through discussion of Christiane Donahue and Theresa Lillis’s chapter on “Models of writing and text production” and Almuth Grésillon and Daniel Perrin’s chapter “Methodology: From speaking about writing to tracking text production,” both included in the Handbook of Writing and Text Production, along with four recent texts that address related questions.

The Maine Campus Seeks Writers

The Maine Campus is seeking contributing writers. Interested students can direct queries to Leela Stockley, along with their resume, a cover letter, and three writing samples. Olivia Shipsey, a double major in English and Journalism, is the paper’s editor-in-chief.

Please Mark Your Calendars

On Thursday, February 27, Abbe Museum Curator of Education Starr Kelly will present on “Deconstructing Settler Colonialism” at 4pm in the Bodwell Lounge of the Collins Center for the Arts.

On Wednesday, March 4, Erin Kappeler, an Assistant Professor at Tulane, will present on “Mary Austin’s Time Machine: Modernist Poetics and Settler Time” at 3pm in the Hill Auditorium (Barrows Hall). Here is her abstract:

When scholars of literature talk about free verse poetry (poetry without set form or line lengths), they tend to argue that it made poetry more democratic and accessible. Walt Whitman’s free verse, for instance, was radically open to any and every kind of reader. However, when we start to look more closely at how people talked about free verse poetry in the early twentieth century, the story gets much murkier. In this talk I explore key texts by the modernist poet and activist Mary Austin, who helped to invent Native American poetry as a field, to show that the concept of free verse was a tool of settler cultural domination as much as it was a democratization of poetic language or a formal innovation. Austin framed free verse poetry as a technology for managing time—specifically, for integrating Native Americans into the relentlessly linear march of what Mark Rifkin has recently theorized as settler time. Austin’s theories of free verse had significant, distorting effects on the way Native American oral expressions were presented as poetry in modernist anthologies. This history of free verse translations of Native American oral expressions opens pressing questions about the ethics of translation and about legacies of settler colonial appropriations of Native American cultural materials in contemporary English departments.

On Thursday, March 5, novelist Laird Hunt returns to the New Writing Series for the first time since 2010—when Ray of the Star was published—with a public reading introduced and hosted by Gregory Howard. His most recent novel is In the House in the Dark of the Woods (2018), which The Guardian describes as “a singularly odd book, and yet it sits comfortably within Hunt’s oeuvre, picking up folkloric motifs from his recent more realist novels—confining cellars, ominous pigs, protective thread, pieces of magical bark—and employing again the raw, ringing voice of a rebellious woman on a quest, as in his wonderful civil war novel Neverhome. Hunt’s America has always been a violence-soaked, myth-tinged, traumatised land: here it finds its most concentrated expression.”

The literary journal Thieves & Liars, co-edited by MA candidates Tori Hood and Martin Conte, and the Stephen E. King Chair of Literature are excited to announce that author Sabrina Orah Mark will be visiting campus on Monday, March 9. There will be a reading at 5:45 PM, in DPC 107, followed by a pot-luck dinner in the Writing Center. We hope you will join us. Faculty, please spread the word to your students!

And on April 2, Rebecca Traister will present Good and Mad: Women, Anger, and Political Change at 4:30pm in the Hutchins Concert Hall of the CCA as part of the Stephen E. King Chair Lecture Series.


This Week in English 77 was sent to faculty, students, and friends of the department on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. If you would rather not receive these weekly bulletins, please reply with <unsubscribe> in your subject line. Earlier installments are archived on our website.

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