This Week in English | February 15-21, 2021

This week’s bulletin is thick with opportunities to connect, converse, and keep learning. Scroll down for the link to this Friday’s informal “drop-by,” which offers a chance to compare impressions, pose questions, and share recommendations with other members of the extended community of the English Department.

Scholar Speaks about Culture and Ecosystems of Care on Thursday

Dr. Kirk St. Amant, Professor and Eunice C. Williamson Endowed Chair of Technical Communication and the Director of the Center for Health and Medical Communication at Louisiana Tech University, will give a talk on Thursday, February 18 from 11:00-12:15 entitled  “Culture and Ecosystems of Care: A Framework for Understanding International Health and Medical Contexts.” 

The talk will discuss challenges and strategies for generating healthcare content that meets the needs and expectations of audiences from other cultures—a particularly timely topic given the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

All members of the campus community are invited to attend (Zoom link here). The talk is also part of a special topics course in the English Department on “Communicating COVID,” and is generously sponsored by the Stephen E. King Chair in Literature, which supports innovative learning and the humanities on campus. Fun fact: Dr. St. Amant is originally from Maine!

Doug Allen on Nonviolence

Also on Thursday, starting at 12:30, is a talk by Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Doug Allen, who will discuss “Moral, Philosophical, and Spiritual Nonviolence and Socialism in 2021” as part of the Socialist and Marxist Studies Series

Celebrate Edna St. Vincent Millay on Sunday 

Kathleen Ellis is once again organizing a birthday celebration for Edna St. Vincent Millay, to be conducted via Zoom this Sunday, February 21, starting at 1:30. Attendance is free but registration is required. English major and McGillicuddy Humanities Center Fellow Bria Lamonica will be among the poets participating.

Chance to Talk Informally with Rebecca Traister 

Professor Caroline Bicks, the Stephen E. King Chair in Literature, writes to say that “there are a few slots left for the 20-person Zoom discussion on Friday, February 26, 12:30-1:30, with award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister, where she’ll be taking your questions about careers in journalism, and what it’s like to write about gender, culture and politics for a popular audience. This is not a formal talk. This is an opportunity for you to speak with Traister. Ideally, you should come with questions and know a bit about her work in advance.  If you would like to participate in this small-group event, please email me this week to reserve a spot.”

Traister is the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, and All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. She is also writer-at-large for New York Magazine, where she is regularly featured in The Cut. She is currently a resident of Aroostook county where her mother grew up. She spoke as part of the Stephen E. King Chair Lecture Series in October of 2020.

Langston Hughes Project Programming through the CCA

Between February 19-29, the CCA will be streaming Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz, starring the Ron McCurdy Quartet. On Monday, March 1 at 7:30, the CCA will host a live Q&A with McCurdy. To register for the Q&A and for further details, please email Karen Cole at

The Langston Hughes Project is a multimedia concert performance of Langston Hughes’s kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite, Ask Your Mama—Hughes’s homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. Ask Your Mama is a twelve-part epic poem which Hughes scored with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie woogie, bebop and progressive jazz, Latin “cha cha” and Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso, and African drumming — a creative masterwork left unperformed at his death.

This programming is part of Black History Month at UMaine.

Forthcoming Book by MA Alum Nicholas Mohlmann

Nicholas Mohlmann completed his MA in English at UMaine in 2008, writing a thesis under the direction of Jennifer Moxley that took the form of “a collection of poems split into three discrete sections each seeking in some way to chart the ephemeral geographies of a particular, perpetually fluctuating human subjectivity.” Now an Assistant Professor at the University of West Florida, Mohlmann will publish Trump and Autobiography: Corporate Culture, Political Rhetoric, and Interpretation with Routledge later this year. According to his faculty profile at UWF, Mohlmann is also “at work on a book project, tentatively titled Aesthetics of Authority: Poetry, Form, and Politics in Colonial Virginia, that recovers a genealogy of pre-Revolutionary Virginian poetry by examining how poets worked to aestheticize colonial Virginia’s unique forms of politics.”

Victor Howes Prize in Poetry

Undergraduate English majors currently enrolled at a New England college are eligible to compete for the Victor Howes Prize in Poetry, administered by the New England Poetry Club. The winner receives $1000 and an invitation to read (virtually) at the Student Awards Reading at the Longfellow House in Cambridge in June, 2021. Submissions are my USPS (see links for mailing address) and must be received by April 15. 

Lecture Series: Writing in French in North America

Our colleagues at the Canadian-American Center have announced their spring lecture series on Writing in French in North America. All three events will take place on Monday evenings in March and April at 5:30 (EST). 

The March 29 event features Dr. Jean-Christophe Cloutier of the University of Pennsylvania who will talk about Jack Kerouac’s French writings. A prominent scholar of African-American literature, Cloutier also “edited La vie est d’hommage (Éditions du Boréal), a comprehensive volume of Jack Kerouac’s original French writings culled directly from the Kerouac Archive after years of transcription and reconstruction. He has also translated into English Kerouac’s two French novellas, “Sur le chemin” [On the Road: Old Bull in the Bowery] and “La nuit est ma femme” [The Night is My Woman], for the Library of America volume The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished, & Newly Translated Writings (2016) edited by Todd Tietchen.”

Students interested in Kerouac are advised to keep their eyes open for a seminar jointly offered by Dr. Susan Pinette in Franco American Studies (FAS 170) and English (ENG 229) planned for fall 2021. 

A Peek into Two Classes with Sarah Harlan-Haughey

Sarah Harlan-Haughey is teaching two classes this spring in addition to serving as coordinator of the Undergraduate Studies Committee. 

She writes that “this Tuesday my Ecocriticism class (ENG 371) discussed class readings that deal with the (anti-) pastoral and notions of the traumatic past. Readings (and listenings) included:  

My medieval romance course (ENG 382)  is translating and reading John Gower’s Middle English adaptation of the story of Medea, available here.”

English Department Drop-By on Friday

The English Department hosts virtual drop-bys most Friday afternoons to talk informally about matters of mutual interest and to compare notes on the week that was. A nice mix of majors, minors, graduate students, professors, and alumni have joined the conversation from one week to the next and created a warm and generous online literary salon. We’ll gather again this Friday at 4pm and keep the space open until about 5:30 (request Zoom link here). Feel free to drop by for just a few minutes or to stay a spell: we’d love to see you!

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 93 was sent to faculty, students, and friends of the department on Tuesday, February 16,  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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