This Week in English | January 25-31, 2021

The ninetieth installment of the UMaine English Department bulletin finds us under bright skies in Orono as we commence, about a week later than we normally would, a spring semester like no other. We are offering 135 courses this semester— from first-year composition through advanced graduate seminars—and reaching more than two thousand students, including about 115 majors, forty minors, and about two dozen active Master’s candidates. Students are encouraged to read the attached flier about how best to get answers to their questions during the add/drop period while our office remains in “remote” mode. And all are encouraged to mark their calendars for the afternoon of February 5, when we’ll resume the Zoom “drop-bys” that we began in the fall and that served to connect faculty, students, alumni, and friends of the department through the kind of lively and wide-ranging conversation that one associates with a literary salon. More ways to connect are enumerated below, as are some impressive accomplishments by faculty and alums! If you have news to share, please drop a line to by midday on Sundays for inclusion in an upcoming installment.     

Review of Recent Monograph by Elizabeth Neiman 

The current issue of the scholarly journal Eighteenth-Century Fiction includes a review of Associate Professor Elizabeth Neiman’s 2019 study of Minerva’s Gothics by Laura R. Kremmel, who writes:

It is rare that an academic book is both informative and entertaining, but Neiman’s tone throughout her monograph strikes that balance with the extensive information on reading culture, book history, literary analysis, and socio-political explanation. She not only contributes valuable scholarship to the movement to elevate “lower” forms of literature, but she also provides a model for how literary studies can utilize and articulate data-driven research.

The full review can be read here.

In the same issue, Neiman reviews Servants and the Gothic, 1764–1841: A Half-told Tale by Kathleen Hudson (University of Wales Press, 2019). 

The Legacy of Black Arts and Black Studies: Thursday at 6pm 

In honor of Black History Month, the University of Maine Black Student Union and the University of Maine Alumni Association will welcome Sonia Sanchez and John Bracey to discuss the relevance and impact of Black Studies in 21st century higher education at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28 over Zoom.

Sanchez and Bracey were among the intellectuals who initiated the movement for Black studies in the 1970s. Reflecting on their decades-long commitment to, and work toward, racial justice in academic and community spaces, they will discuss the present moment of “racial reckoning,” as it has been dubbed in the media. 

Sanchez and Bracey will talk about the history of Black Studies, current urgencies and the relevance of Black knowledge, creativity and spirituality in higher education.

The talk is intended as a space for connection, reflection, and inspiration. For more information, contact Lauren Babb, Black Student Union adviser.

You can register for the free, public event here. “Black Studies in 21st Century Higher Education” also will be livestreamed on the UMaine Alumni YouTube channel.

First Book by MA Program Alum

Word reaches us from fellow alums Chris Tarbell and Katie Lattari that Farrar, Straus and Giroux is publishing What Big Teeth, the first book by graduate program alum Rose Szabo, in its Books for Younger Readers series on February 2 and that Crossroads Review will host an author chat on February 5. 

According to the publisher, “Rose Szabo’s thrilling debut is a dark fantasy novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.” 

Szabo received the first prize in fiction in the 2014 Grady Awards and defended a thesis under the direction of Dave Kress in 2014 that situated itself as “part of an ongoing effort on the author’s part to disrupt [a] shared assumption about the seriousness of women and young people by writing books about and for young women and ‘young adults’ that take them seriously as an audience.”

The Story of Climate Change

The McGillicuddy Humanities Center is sponsoring a reading group on “The Story of Climate Change,” part of their 2020-2021 annual symposium of the same title. Associate Professor Laura Cowan, who directs the WGS program, was awarded a MHC faculty grant to lead the reading group with Marilyn Sigman, author of Entangled: People and Ecological Change in Alaska’s Kachemak Bay (2018). The book was the recipient of the 2020 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Natural Science Writing.

Climate change is a scientific, political, and capitalistic process. The author’s book examines the region’s interwoven history of Native life and natural life, change, and displacement, making connections to her own  Jewish heritage in the process. The story has relevance and urgency for us all, and holds many parallels to similar stories of climate change in Maine.

The reading group will meet via Zoom on Thursdays from 4:00 – 5:30 pm, on February 18, February 25, March 4, and March 11, focusing on a different section of the book each week. Free copies of the book that were available to registrants on a first come, first serve basis have been claimed. The UMaine bookstore has ordered additional copies of the book for purchase, and the library has secured a digital edition. If you are unable to afford or find a copy, please reach out for assistance.

You can register at: More information about the program can be had by contacting Professor Cowan.

UMaine Student Symposium 2021

The 2021 annual UMaine Student Symposium (#UMSS21) is held every spring and is open to all disciplines. All students from the University of Maine and the University of Maine Machias can present their research and creative activity in the form of video presentations and will be judged by faculty, staff, and community sponsors.

UMSS21 invites students to submit their research and creative activity abstracts by Wednesday, March 10.

Submissions must first be in the form of an abstract followed by a video presentation describing the focus, method or process, and outcomes of the project.

    • Your submissions must be authored by one or more students currently enrolled at the University of Maine or University of Maine at Machias.
    • All submissions will need pre-approval from the faculty mentor associated with the project.

Please note that all CUGR, UMaine Medicine, AI (Artificial Intelligence), CLAS, and Graduate MSGC Fellowship Award and Undergraduate MSGC Research Experience recipients are required to submit an abstract and must present at this event.

Quick facts/links

When: Friday, April 16th, 2021
Where: University of Maine, Virtually
Submit your Abstract:
Abstract Submission Deadline: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Abstract Acceptance Notifications sent by: Friday, March 19, 2021
Video Presentation Information is Available:
Video Presentations due by: Friday, March 26, 2021
How to Apply to be a Judge:

For questions about the 2020 UMaine Student Symposium contact

Covid Reminder

If you or people you know in the UMaine community have concerns about COVID-19 symptoms, close contact or a positive test, call the COVID-19 info line at 207-581-2681 or fill out the online self-reporting form or email


This Week in English 90 was sent to faculty, students, and friends of the department on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. 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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