This Week in English | September 27-October 3, 2021

As we enter the fifth week of classes, a soggy “family and friends” weekend has yielded to the crisp, dry, and cool conditions that make autumn so memorable in Orono. Below you’ll find information about upcoming events and opportunities, along with some glimpses into the teaching and scholarship underway in (and around) Neville Hall this fall. If you have good news to share, please don’t be shy—we’re always happy to receive and share updates from students, alums, and friends of the department! 

Reminder: Fiction and Poetry This Thursday at 4:30

As we announced last week, the New Writings Series returns from its pandemic hiatus this Thursday, September 30, with an event showcasing new work by Creative Writing faculty members Hollie Adams, Greg Howard, and Jennifer Moxley. More information can be found on this event page.

Memorial Event for William Yellow Robe, Jr.

A week from this Thursday, on October 7, an event organized by Margo Lukens in memory of playwright and long-time English department colleague William Yellow Robe Jr. will take place in the Cyrus Pavilon starting at 3:30pm.

Yellow Robe’s death after long illness on July 19, 2021 was noted with sorrow both here in Maine and in the national Native American and theatre communities, including this obituary in Indian Country Today.

In awarding him a Helen Merrill Award just days before his passing, the New York Community Trust described Yellow Robe’s accomplishments this way:

William S. Yellow Robe, Jr., was an Assiniboine playwright, director, poet, actor, writer, and educator from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation located in northeastern Montana. Yellow Robe was an adjunct faculty member in the English Department at the University of Maine and a faculty affiliate of the Creative Writing Department at the University of Montana. Yellow Robe’s plays are published in three volumes: Restless Spirits, from SUNY Press in 2020; Grandchildren of the Buffalo Soldiers: And Other Untold Stories, a collection of Yellow Robe’s full-length plays from UCLA Press (2009); and Where the Pavement Ends, a collection of the playwright’s one-act plays, published in 2001. Yellow Robe, who held an honorary doctorate from the University of Montana, was a recipient of the First Nations Book Award for Drama, the Princess Grace Foundation Theater Fellowship, a Jerome Fellowship from the Minneapolis Playwright’s Center, a New England Theater Foundation Award for Excellence, a Rauschenberg Residency, and the Native American Achievers Award from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

The panel of five theatre professionals who selected Yellow Robe for the 2021 Merrill Award did so in “recognition of his exceptional career as a playwright and his contributions to building the field, in particular among Native American theaters.”

More details about the memorial event at the Cyrus Pavillion will be included in next week’s bulletin. In the meantime, inquiries may be directed to Margo Lukens.

“Exchanges in a Network”: Erin Goss Reviews Elizabeth Neiman  

Erin M. Goss, who is Associate Professor of British Literature at Clemson, recently reviewed Elizabeth Neiman’s 2019 study of Minerva’s Gothics: The Politics and Poetics of Romantic Exchange, 1780–1820 in the pages of the European Romantic Review.

Clearly deeply valuable from the perspective of histories of publication and production for Neiman’s analysis of the Minerva Press’s output and her characterization of its history of operations, Minerva’s Gothics also offers a sustained analysis of the modes of collectivity that lie behind even the most insistently original textual production. As Neiman puts her point succinctly, “novelists treat their own novels as exchanges in a network and so should we” (117). In her revision of a story that has largely emphasized dependence on the market as a sign of concession to be lamented, Neiman focuses on the ways that the market makes possible a conversation in which authors interact with and build on one another’s insights and positions, complicating and even interrogating the very assumptions on which their market thrived. Beyond simply recognizing “exchange” or celebrating a circulation of ideas, Neiman’s analysis makes a press like Minerva a crucial site for the construction of social meaning not as reification but as mobilization of a conceptual apparatus available through a particularly market-defined community. In this reading, commerce is not lamented but neither is it celebrated. Commerce is simply the mechanism by which conversation can occur.

Readers interested in the full review, which considers Neiman’s book in relation to The Lost Books of Jane Austen by Janine Barchas, can find it here. Professor Neiman is teaching a 400-level seminar this fall on “‘Lily White’ Heroines: Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Charlotte Dacre, and the Aesthetics of “Female” Authorship.”

A Glimpse into the First-Year Composition Program

Brooke Curtis is a second year TA concentrating in Composition and Rhetoric. She is teaching ENG 101 this semester, and offers the following update on her student’s work:

My students just wrote their first writing projects this Friday, after having read Shirley Rose’s “All Writers Have More to Learn” and Erin Workman’s (an alum!) chapter, “Visualizing Writing Development: Writers’ Conceptions of Writing Through the Lifespan.” It’s always exciting seeing how students pull together the readings, our discussions, and their interests in their first writing projects! I always love hearing about what other sections are doing/looking at as well.

The thirty-five instructors in the College Composition program will convene this Friday afternoon from 5:00-6:15 p.m. for their first calibration session of the term. ENG 101 instructors typically meet every five weeks throughout the term to collectively read portfolios from ENG 101 students and consider them in light of the language of the Portfolio Assessment Rubric. These regular calibration sessions help ensure an ethical end of term assessment for all students who submit portfolios.

Zillman Art Museum (+ Pizza) on Friday

Our colleagues at the McGillicuddy Humanities Center are excited to offer students a (limited, RSVP-only) opportunity to travel to Bangor for a tour of the Zillman Art Museum (and its new galleries and exhibitions) on Friday, October 1. With the official Artober kick-off event in downtown Bangor cancelled by its organizers, we still wanted to give students the opportunity to engage with the current exhibits at the recently expanded Zillman Art Museum.

Check in for the bus will begin at 3:15 PM in the Collins Center parking lot, with a 3:30 PM sharp departure time.  Those wishing to drive separately can meet at ZAM at 4PM to join us for a gallery tour with George Kinghorn, curator of ZAM. A pizza social hour will be held outdoors following the tour. The bus will leave downtown Bangor at 6:30 PM to return to campus by 7PM.

*Please note: masks will be required for the bus trip and the gallery tour. As the social hour after the tour will be outdoors, please dress appropriately for the early evening fall weather.

Registration is required, as space is limited. Friends, classmates and partners are welcome, but each person should register separately.  Please RSVP by September 28.

Video Guide to the CUGR Application Process

Last week, we called attention to the opportunity for English majors and minors to earn up to $1500 in fellowship support for conducting faculty-mentored research. CUGR has since posted a “how to apply” video to their YouTube channel. The deadline to apply is October 15, 2021 at 5:00 pm. As we mentioned last week, a good first step is to contact a professor you’d like to work closely with on a sustained research project and see if they are able to act as your mentor. If you’re unsure whom to contact, you can always start with

Stephen E. King Chair Lecture Series

Looking ahead to the third week of October, Stephen E. King Chair and Professor of English Caroline Bicks has these two events lined up:

On Thursday, October 21st, 5:30pm-6:30pm, National Book Award-winning novelist Susan Choi will be giving a talk and reading from her novel Trust Exercise as part of the Stephen E. King Chair Lecture Series. This event will take place in the Minsky Recital Hall (adjacent to the Collins Center for the Arts), and is free and open to the public (masks required). Books will be available for purchase and signing.

On Friday, Oct. 22nd (exact time to be decided, but sometime late morning/early afternoon), Choi will be leading a 2-hour writing workshop for UMaine undergraduate and graduate students. The workshop is free, but space is very limited. If you are interested in participating, please contact Stephen E. King Chair Professor Caroline Bicks as soon as possible.

This Week in English 107 was sent to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the department on Monday, September 27, 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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