This Week in English | February 24 – March 1, 2020

English Alumna Receives Bernard Lown Humanitarian Award

The UMaine Alumni Association recently announced that English alumna Janine di Giovanni ’83 has been selected to receive the Bernard Lown Humanitarian Award for 2020. Di Giovanni is an internationally prominent war correspondent and best-selling author. She has written seven books and won more than twelve major awards for her extensive work in war and conflict zones. The New York Post named her latest book, The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches From Syria, on its “Best Books of the Year” list. Currently di Giovanni is a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and a professor of Practice, Human Rights. She was previously the Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor of Practice in Human Rights at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Prior to that, she was the Middle East Editor at Newsweek, reporting mainly on human rights abuses and investigating war crimes. She lives in New York City.

Di Giovanni will be on campus April 9-10 as the Alan Miller Visiting Journalist and again on April 23-24 to receive her award. Look to future bulletins for further details about those visits.

Graduate Student Katelyn Parsons Publishes Column

Katelyn Parsons is a first-year candidate for the Master’s Degree in English who joined the program after double majoring in English and Behavioral Sciences at USM. The current issue of WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship, which focuses on self-care practices in writing center spaces, includes her column “‘Just Say ‘No’: Setting Emotional Boundaries in the Writing Center is a Practice in Self-Care.” She is currently working on expanding this 1,500-word “tutor’s column” into a 5,000-word chapter to be published in WLN’s Digital Edited Collection.

Curator Starr Kelly Speaks This Thursday  

This 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.

Writing Center Update

Writing Center director Paige Mitchell shares this welcome update:

The Writing Center hosted International Coffee Hour last Friday. Our theme was “appetizers from around the world… in Orono.” Local restaurants catered Thai, Greek, and Italian food, and our ELL tutors—Erin Wright, Jim McCarthy, and Paul England—served seventy students, and recruited many new clients to the Writing Center!

International Coffee Hour is a weekly meet-and-greet event organized by the International Student Association to promote community bonding between all students. It’s every Friday at 4 in the Memorial Union’s North Pod, and everyone is welcome! The Writing Center has been on the waiting list to host for two semesters, so we were thrilled it was finally our turn, and we’re back on the waiting list for next spring!

Upcoming Events: Please Mark Your Calendars

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 78 was sent to faculty, students, and friends of the department on Monday, February 24, 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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