This Week in English | September 13-19, 2021

Greetings and Fall Update

Greetings on a gorgeous autumn day in Orono, everyone, and welcome to the first installment of This Week in English since May 2021! We use this bulletin during the academic year to keep in touch with current students, alums, faculty and staff, and friends of the department. If you have a connection to the Department—and news to share—never hesitate to be in touch.

The English Department is offering more than 140 class sections to 2385 undergraduate and graduate students in the fall of 2021, including 150 majors and minors. After eighteen pandemic months of mostly remote teaching, we are back in the classroom and reconnecting with students in their first semester of college all the way up to the second fall of the Master’s degree. 

We’re delighted to welcome new colleagues, and colleagues in new roles. Heather Howard and Jeremy Parker join our full-time faculty ranks as Lecturers in Professional and Technical Writing (Howard) and Writing (Parker). Heather Falconer is newly appointed to the rank of Assistant Professor of Professional and Technical Writing. And Rosalie Purvis begins her first full academic year after being appointed Libra Assistant Professor of Theatre and English in January. We are also honored to offer a tenure home to the new Dean of the Honors College, Ellen Weinauer. More than a half-dozen part-time faculty members, some new to the state of Maine, are teaching for us this fall as well. 

Future bulletins will provide windows into various courses that are being offered this fall. Topics range from College Composition (ENG 101) to Principled Practices in the Teaching of Writing (ENG 693 with Professor Dryer). “Wildlands and Woodlands” (ENG 381 with Professor Cowan), “Medieval English Literature (ENG 351 with Professor Harlan-Haughey), and Restoration and 18th Century British Literature (ENG 355 with Professor Rogers) are among the 300-level literature offerings in which students read “widely and well.”  Intermediate, advanced, and graduate level creative writing workshops are being offered on fiction (with Professors Adams and Howard), poetry (Professor Moxley), and creative non-fiction (Professor Irvine). Stephen E. King Chair Caroline Bicks is teaching Early Modern Drama at the graduate level (ENG 553) and Professors Billitteri, Falconer, and Friedlander are also offering MA seminars. 

As we enter the third week of classes, we’ve (mostly) figured out which masks let us talk and breathe at the same time—and we’ve witnessed admirable uptake on the part of colleagues and students in terms of both vaccination and masking. We’re still very much in the mode of “pandemic pedagogy,” but we’re figuring it out as we go, as future bulletins will no doubt reflect. And now onto some news!

“Deborah Rogers is Unconvinced.”

At least that’s how her editors at Times Higher Education (THE) framed her mid-August review of Wonderworks: Literary Invention and the Science of Stories by Angus Fletcher. Here’s the lede:

To paraphrase 18th-century British playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, this book contains a great deal of both what is new and what is true. Unfortunately, what’s new is not true, and what’s true is not new. 

The full text is behind a paywall, but Professor Rogers has kindly provided a glimpse here.

Alum Katie Lattari Publishes Second Novel

Katie Lattari is an alumna of both the BA and MA program in English. Tomorrow she celebrates the publication day for her second novel, Dark Things I Adore, with a live in-person event at the Briar Patch in Bangor. The event starts at 6pm EDT and masks will be required. In their starred review of the novel, Library Journal writes:

Lattari’s unreliable narrator pivots between present and past. This vengeful tale that pits artistic genius against mental health and happiness will captivate fans of dark suspense. 

Dylan Dryer Delivers Keynote Address

Dylan Dryer gave the keynote address at the biennial European Association of Teachers of Academic Writing (EATAW). Covid restrictions prevented EATAW from gathering as planned in Ostrava in the Czech Republic, so Dylan delivered his talk from Neville 301 (and on a six-hour time delay, too!). The title of his talk was “Academic Writing as Multidisciplinary, Interdisciplinary … Transdisciplinary? A View from North America.” Here’s the abstract:

In the wake of the geopolitical and public-health disruptions since 2019, my hope for this talk is to provoke some useful discussion about how we can account for the places, spaces, proximities, technologies, collaborations, and infrastructures that academic writing requires – and that it produces. To get there, I offer a view of North American efforts to achieve disciplinary status for Academic Writing, acknowledging some instructive differences between US and Canadian contexts and sketching the (mixed) results of some recent large-scale efforts to make our field more legible to academic and external audiences. From one perspective, differences in the working conditions of academic-writing professionals constitute a powerful centrifugal force working against disciplinary coherence. Depending on how we answer questions (like those EATAW asks us to reconsider for 2021: “Where do we work?” or “What is our field?”), we’ll arrive at quite different answers to the question “Who are we?”. Yet from another perspective, such differences point to the unique nature of Academic Writing’s object of inquiry. As we know, academic-writing conventions are indissociable from matters of epistemology, ontology, and history; as we also know, the teaching and learning of these conventions are impossible to separate from questions of access and identity. The work of Academic Writing, therefore, does not lie outside of or adjacent to existing disciplines; it engages the fundamental question of disciplinarity itself. 

The Writing Center Is There for You

All Umaine students are encouraged to register an account with UMaine’s Writing Center during the early weeks of the semester. You’ll be composing a number of documents that will require revision, analytical inquiry, and research. Our UMaine Writing consultants are professional undergraduate and graduate students, trained in critical reading and writing. They provide free one-on-one consultations in writing, public speaking, research, and document design. You may use the Writing Center for work in this course, your other courses, and for purposes unrelated to UMaine (job applications, resumes, grants etc.) 

Visit our “About the Consultants” page to see our specializations, schedule on our Writing Center website, and/or watch a brief video to register an account.

WGS Fall Programming 

The English Department enjoys strong collaborative ties with our colleagues in WGS. Laura Cowan is Associate Professor of English and Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Elizabeth Neiman holds a joint appointment as Associate Professor of English and WGS. And other English faculty members are affiliated with WGS. Here is some of what that program has lined up for the fall: 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you would like to help prepare for the Eighth Annual March Against Domestic Violence, march organizers need volunteers.

Take Back the Night Vigil, to express solidarity with victims of Domestic Violence, early in October, Specifics TBA.

Thursday, Oct. 14, 9:30 am, Location TBA, Undergraduate Open Conversation with Dr. Banu Subramaniam who will be giving the afternoon talk on “Decolonizing Botany.” Digital copies of her essays are available.

Thursday, Oct. 14, 1:00 pm, Buchanan Alumni House. Geddes W. Simpson Lecture: Banu Subramaniam (Professor of Science and Technology, UMass, Amherst), “Decolonizing Botany.”

Friday,  Oct. 15, 3:00 pm, Fogler Library Steps. Eighth Annual University of Maine March Against Domestic Violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you would like to help prepare for the Eighth Annual March Against Domestic Violence, march organizers need volunteers.

Monday, November 8, 12:00 – 12:50 pm, “Feminist Media History: Women Journalists at War Colloquium.”  Remote zoom panel with Carolyn Edy and Jeannine Baker.

For questions about WGS programming, contact Laura Cowan.

This Week in English 105 was sent to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the department on Monday, September 13, 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. If you’re on Facebook, please consider joining the newly formed English Department Group.

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