This Week in English | October 4-10, 2021

Remembering Playwright William Yellow Robe, Jr.

A memorial event for playwright and long-time English department colleague William Yellow Robe Jr. will take place in the Cyrus Pavilion this Thursday, October 7, starting at 3:30pm. The event, organized by his friend and collaborator Margo Lukens, will be live, in-person (with mandatory masking), but a Zoom link is also available for those who wish to join remotely. A program will circulate nearer to the event.

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.

A Glimpse into ENG 416/516 with Heather Falconer

Chris Olsen from Welcome to Housing, a non-profit furniture bank in Old Town, recently visited Heather Falconer’s ENG 416/516 Perspectives on Technical Editing and Document Design class. The class is partnering with WTH to design a social media campaign to raise awareness about furniture banks and recruit volunteers, designing volunteer recruitment materials, and assisting with the drafting of a grant proposal to make their new building ADA compliant. These projects continue the partnering tradition with WTH that Katie Swacha initiated two years ago. In addition to these semester-long projects, the class also has provided feedback on newsletter design for the Maine Department of Transportation, and will be helping design informational graphs later in the semester for Friends of Lake Winnecook, who are struggling to raise awareness of human impact on the lake’s ecology.

MA Student Guest Lectures in Friedlander’s “Reading Poems”

Benjamin Friedlander regularly teaches two of the three “core” courses required of all English majors (and most minors), ENG 170: Foundations of Literary Analysis and ENG 222: Reading Poems. This fall he has invited students in the MA program, including his seminar on late-nineteenth American literature, to do some guest teaching in his section of ENG 222. This Tuesday, Katherine Mathews will lead a discussion of Laura (Riding) Jackson’s “The Wind Suffers” and the rhetorical figure “isocolon.” Sophomore English major Kyle Willis will present the poem.

Morgan Talty Wins 2021 Narrative Prize

Morgan Talty is a fiction writer and citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation who joined our part-time faculty this fall and is teaching two sections of College Composition. Last Wednesday, we learned that he had been selected for the 2021 Narrative Prize for his stories “Food for the Common Cold” and “The Gambler.” His previously published work in Narrative includes “Burn,” “Safe Harbor,” and “In a Jar.” The $4,000 Narrative Prize is awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, one-act play, graphic story, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative. Recent winners include Gbenga Adesina, Brenden Willey, Paisley Rekdal, Javier Zamora, Ocean Vuong, and Anthony Marra. Talty is on Twitter and will be reading from his forthcoming novel Night of the Living Rez (Tin House, Fall 2022) for Colby College on October 21st (via Zoom, open to the public) as part of their Critical Indigenous Studies Initiative (more details in a future bulletin).

Brian Jansen Wins Redekop Prize for Best Essay

Brian Jansen, part-time lecturer in the Department of English and Communications Specialist for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, was named the winner of the 2020 Ernest Redekop Prize, awarded by the Canadian Association for American Studies for the best essay in volume 50 (2020) of the Canadian Review of American Studies. Jansen’s essay, “‘It’s Still Real to Me’: Contemporary Professional Wrestling,Neo-Liberalism, and the Problems of Performed/Real Violence,” presents an account of the logic of neo-liberalism via discussion of the individuals and practices associated with professional wrestling and WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

First-Semester English Major Gains Co-Author Credit

Newly declared English Major Emma L. Williams is credited as a co-author, with fellow student Kalena J. Kelly-Rossop and Sanborn Regional HS teacher James J. Enright, of the installment of the Images of America series devoted to Kingston, New Hampshire.

Following New Hampshire’s independence from the colony of Massachusetts, Hampton residents petitioned the governor for a grant of a township and subsequently founded the small town of Kingston in 1694. Home to both Josiah Bartlett, the second signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the first Universalist church in America, Kingston was known for its moniker, “the carriage town,” due to the many horse-drawn carriage manufacturers, such as Walter S. Clark Carriages, B.D. Cilley Carriage Shop, and Kimball Carriage Factory. The dirt pathways that these horse-drawn carriages once traveled are long gone, but the buildings along those paths remain. The Kingston Plains along Main Street connects nearly 75 of these buildings with its route. It is also home to today’s Kingston Days celebration. This event has endured the test of time, annually bringing townsfolk closer together to celebrate Kingston’s lasting legacy.

The book is available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In addition to being a published author in her first term of college, Williams is also taking a section of LAS 150: College Success reserved for new English majors.

Writing Center News

It’s Writing Center Workshop Season: in week four of the semester, two sections of ENG 101 and MUL 150 peer-reviewed each other’s essays and music bios. MUL Professor Liz Downing, Writing Consultant Amy Jones, and Writing Center Director Paige Mitchell, worked with 30 collaborating students (15 in each course). Mitchell writes: “It was cool hearing and seeing students working on writing across contexts! They were great peer-reviewers and outside readers of each other’s projects!”

The UMaine Writing Center has an APA workshop scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30pm and a pre-law application workshop coming up soon. For more details, or if you’re interested in scheduling a Writing Center workshop for your students, email Paige Mitchell.

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.

Notes from College Composition

Lydia Balestra is an alum of our MA program (spring 2021) where she concentrated in Poetry and Poetics. She is now teaching a section of ENG 101 for the College Composition program as an adjunct, as well as acting as an assistant to Laura Cowan, the director of WGS. In her WGS role, Lydia helps with various departmental tasks, as well as research. Right now she and Laura are working together on a course proposal for a new WGS course on intersectionality and social movements. Lydia also serves as the advisor for UMaine’s Feminist Collective club.

In addition to the above, Lydia has routinely been one of the College Comp program’s most reliable readers during the end-of-term Portfolio Review and, consequently, has been invited to serve on the Appeals Committee. The Appeals Committee is comprised of five ENG 101 instructors who have been among the most reliable readers during the previous semester’s Portfolio Review. The Committee convenes on Thursday of Finals week and reviews portfolios students or instructors believe may have been misassessed.

Lydia offers the following update on her students’ work this term:

With conferences and our first essay completed in the previous week, this week my students read Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle’s metaconcept “Writing Is an Activity and a Subject of Study” and Andrea Lunsford’s threshold concept “1.2 Writing Addresses, Invokes, and/or Creates Audiences.” We discussed Adler-Kassner and Wardle’s claim that writing is not a “‘basic skill’ that a person can learn once and for all” (15) and went on to consider why it is we feel we must continue to study writing.

Everyone then chose one of their favorite narratives to study and shared an informal presentation with the class on how the three elements of Lunsford’s rhetorical triangle could apply to their chosen narrative, placing themselves in the role of the creator in order to speculate on who the intended audience(s) and what the intended message(s) of this narrative might be.

Eric Arnold is an alum of our MA program (spring 2021) where he concentrated in Creative Writing. Eric is now teaching three sections of ENG 101 for the College Composition program as an adjunct and offers the following glimpse into his classes this week:

Among the texts I am assigning this semester, we will have read James Porter’s “Intertextuality and the Discourse Community,” Linda Adler-Kassner’s “Ownership Revisited: An Exploration in Progressive Era and Expressivist Composition Scholarship,” and Min-Zhan Lu’s “From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle.” These texts, along with the rest of my curriculum, not only afford opportunities to “write about writing” to “determine what it is good or bad for, and how,” but also to consider the role that culture and social institutions play in the constitution of self. So far, we’ve been having a good time.

This Week in English 108 was sent to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the department on Monday, October 4, 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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