This Week in English | April 19 – 26

We are in the end stretch of the semester now, with defenses and presentations and awards ceremonies galore! Please read on to see all the talks and performances members of our community have prepared for us. Please do make an effort to make time to support your friends, peers, and colleagues. Read on for all the details: 

The English Department Award and Recognition Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, April 25th at 4:30 at the Foster Innovation Center. There will be snacks and drinks for everyone to enjoy as we celebrate the accomplishments of our dear students and faculty, including the induction of incoming Sigma Tau Delta members, recognition of the winners of the Grady, Grenfell, Turner, and Hamlet writing prizes, and much more. Hope to see you there!

Over the past year, Paige McHatten, an undergraduate recipient of the McGillicuddy Humanities Center Fellowship, had the opportunity to work on a creative and critical project that both explores and questions the representation of women in media. In her own words:

“With the help of my faculty advisor, Dr. Hollie Adams, I’ve read a variety of scholarship and literature—from Virginia Woolf to Laura Mulvey, Monique Wittig to Bell Hooks—that has informed both my nonfiction and creative writing. During my time working on this project, I’ve been fortunate enough to have published my second chapbook, GOODNESS!, as well as written a collection of short stories that relate to what I’ve learned in my research.”

Her fellowship presentation, titled “The Rule: a Critical and Creative Presentation,” will be held at the IMRC on April 19th at 4:30 pm. See flyer for additional details.


The English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) will be holding its annual Spring Symposium on Friday, April 21st, from 5pm to 8pm in Room 57 Stodder Hall.

The theme: “Next: By definition, coming immediately after the present. So, what comes next? What do we do with our research or seminar work outside of the circumstances in which we conducted them? That is, how do we expand on our ideas and introduce them to a new audience, creating conversations that will move our contributions into new spaces? Presenters will be asked to consider what comes next and how their work can transcend beyond their time as an MA student.” 

Presenters include: Madeline Bruegger, Cat Stanfield, Dylan Morin, Jade Hichborn, Aaron Thibodeau, Michelle Hoeckel-Neal, Jayson Heim, Gabriella Fryer, and Katie Mathews.

In the fall 2023 semester, Joanna Crouse will be teaching ENG 244: Maine Writers

“In this course we will be exploring Maine identity, that is, what it means to be a ‘Mainer’ both to us and to the various writers we read. What makes life in Maine different from life elsewhere? How do these writers represent this unique identity and sense of place? We will read novels, short stories, poems, essays, and creative nonfiction to focus on a variety of perspectives, such as the Indigenous populations of Maine, the people who were born and raised in Maine, the ‘transplants,’ the outsiders’ perspectives on the native Mainers, and the many ethnic voices of Maine, such as the Franco-Americans and the Somali immigrants. We will also be discussing various myths and (mis)representations of life in Maine as well as universal themes that arise from the poetry and prose we read, such as the

important role of humor and of nature in our lives, our relationship with death, etc.

Assignments include (but are not limited to) several short response papers, a creative project, and an essay on a Maine work chosen and read by the student. We will be reading great writers such as Ruth Moore, Carolyn Chute, E.B. White, Morgan Talty, Stephen King, Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry Perley, Richard Blanco, Sarah Perry, and many more”

The following English students have been selected as two of the four incoming McGillicuddy Humanities Center undergraduate fellows for the Fall 2023/Spring 2024 semesters!

  • Iris Loehr for her proposal, “Mountain People: Essays on Place and Personhood in Appalachia”

  • Sarah Renee Ozlanski for her proposal, “The Language of My Grandmother is a Language of Resistance: How the Matrilineal Transmission of Pisanki Express Cultural Identity.”

Congratulations to you both and good luck with the development of your projects!

Madeline Bruegger’s thesis defense “Navigating The Kaleidoscope of Object(ives): A User-Experience Approach to Cultural-Historical Activity Theory” will be held Thursday, April 20th from 3:00 to 5:00 PM in 313 Shibles Hall. 

For those who can’t attend in-person, you can join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android by following this link:

Activity Theory, specifically third-generation activity theory also known as Cultural-Historical Theory or CHAT (Engeström, 2001, 2015; Leontiev, 1978, 1981; Vygotsky, 1978) has largely been used as a framework for studying different networks of activity, encountered by subjects who utilize tools or mediating artifacts in order to divide their labor within particular communities. This theoretical and empirical project analyzes a transnational user’s experiences performing their identity on Instagram by answering the research question: How do users with transnational literacy experiences perform their identity and manage communities through the mediation of particular technologies on Instagram? Using mixed-methods from four streams: 1) semi-structured interviews, 2) rhetorical analysis of participants’ personal Instagram data (including images, captions, account biographies, and stories), 3) recordings of participants using think-aloud protocol, and 4) analytical memos of participants’ Instagram activity, in this thesis project I aimed to accomplish three goals: outline and historicize influential generations of Activity Theory, present a new approach to Cultural-Historical Activity Theory called the “User-Experience CHAT Model,” and lastly, apply the new model to a case study. The results of the study suggest that users on social media sites may communicate with particular communities, but also past, present, and future versions of themselves. As users engage in activities across time, they encounter a field of interpretation informed by contexts, which influence their present experiences as they produce an object. Thus, users’ identities are constantly in a state of transformation and becoming as their object(ive)s in social media activities transform across time.

For more information, contact Madeline Bruegger at or Heather Falconer at

Professor Carla Billitteri has received a faculty grant for her project “Magnetic surrealism: Laura (Riding) Jackson 1930s poetics.” and she tells us more below:

 My project continues and expands the examination of the philosophical dimensions of Laura (Riding) Jackson’s poetics I began in my book Language and the Renewal of Society (2009). As I discuss there, the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza—in particular his doctrine of knowledge—permeates (Riding) Jackson’s thought from her earliest steps as a poet and a critic, although she only makes this engagement explicit in texts written after her renunciation of poetry in the 1940s.

Having extensively analyzed (Riding) Jackson’s mature work, I am now eager to discuss her collaboration with the New Zealand artist Len Lye, whose surrealist art was inspired by Māori and Samoan indigenous aesthetics.  The title of my project alludes to a series of drawings, titled “Earth Magnetic” Lye produced between 1927 and 1935, the years of his collaboration with (Riding) Jackson. The magnetic pull of the earth appropriately captures the grounding connection between these two artists and the deep consonance of their aesthetic and philosophical beliefs.

The synthesis of Surrealism and Spinozism (Riding) Jackson arrived at in the 1930s by way of her collaboration with Len Lye anticipates and to some extent articulates the themes of contemporary new materialist philosophy, especially Gilles Deleuze’s ethology of affect and Jane Bennett’s political ecology. While Len Lye’s surrealist aesthetic has received due attention, the surrealist aspects of (Riding) Jackson’s early work have been scarcely covered and its relationship to contemporary thought has not been taken up at all, largely because the influence of Spinoza has been ignored. By focusing on her synthesis of Surrealism and Spinozism my project will provide a richer picture of (Riding) Jackson’s early work and will bring this work into dialogue with such contemporary discourses as ecocriticism, affect theory, and new materialism.

WGS and English are co-sponsoring a research talk by Qian Zhang on Thursday May 4th, from 3:30 to 4:45, to be held in Neville (likely the writing center, if this works with Paige Mitchell!).

Zhang (who lives here in Orono) has an MA in film studies and is set to defend her doctorate in CMJ at Ohio University. Her dissertation, titled Maternal Temporal Horror Cinema: Maternal Subjectivity, Temporality, and Horror, examines “global horror cinema” (her turn of phrase) and with particular attention to both “queer” and “maternal” concepts of time. Recent published work includes a winning essay of the 2022 SCMS Horror SIG Graduate Student Prize and also a new piece on Asian American Horror.

The Winners of our many departmental awards are listed below: 


Departmental Graduating Senior in English

April Messier

Hakola Award:

Molly Glueck

Grady Awards Division 1 


First place: Iris Loehr

Second place: April Messier


1st place: Iris Loehr

2nd place: Katie Brayson

Grady Awards Division Two : 


Winner: Madison Brown’s novel excerpt Hattie

Runner-up: Walli Ullah’s “Ring Ring”


Winner: Madison Brown, for their poems

Runner-up: Thomas Sears, for their poems

Turner Prize

Undergraduate awards:

1. Mina Helinski: “Phenomenological Analysis of the Pardoner”

2. Molly Elizabeth Glueck: “I shall kill no albatross: Romantic liberalism, slavery, and the creation of the non-human poet”

Graduate awards:

1. Katherine Matthews: “Becoming Meat: Ecofeminism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”

2. Madison Brown: “Indigenous Futurity in the Face of Apocalypse: Traditional Knowledge (TK) as Survivance in Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves”

Grenfell Prize for Poetry

First Prize $250 Traditional Form: McHatten, “The Murder of the Girlhood Express” [Sestina]

First Prize $250 Experimental Form: Roberts, “Paper Horses”

2nd Prize, $150, Any Form: Ouellette, “Amid the Debris”

3rd Prize, $100, Any Form: Loehr, “American Gothic”

Hamlet Prize 

Kathryn Elizabeth Brayson, “”Dante’s Septuple Feature”

Alumni News

Good news from Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed, who received her MA here in 2016.

After receiving her Ph.D. at Indiana University (where she also taught), Nataliya has been an Assistant Visiting Professor at Colgate. Next year she’ll join the Slavic Department at Harvard, where she will be a Preceptor for their Ukrainian language program!

Writing Center Accolades

Donald L. Patten’s “Past Trauma in Modernity: Impressions of COVID-19” art exhibition will be held at the Minor Gallery in Old Town Maine from June 2nd to 30th. His initial art proposal was polished and refined by many members of our Writing Center, for which he shows his gratitude by inviting you and anyone who is interested to the opening reception on June 2nd from 4pm to 6pm. See flyer attached.


Strange and Interesting! Carla Billiterri shared an article from the George Washington University titled: GW English Professor Uses AI to Teach Shakespeare and Critical Theory

WGS is hosting a Reproductive Justice Workshop, facilitated by Nurse Practitioner Lindsey Piper on Thursday April 20, Bangor Room, Memorial Union 3:30-4:45. Tea and cookies will be included!

Immediately following this event is our CELEBRATION of graduating WGS majors and minors and also an initiation ceremony to TRIOTA (5:00 to 6:00 in the Bangor Room); Come join us for a cheese and fruit reception!


The University of Maine’s journal of conservation and sustainability, Spire, is dropping its 2023 issue on Friday, April 21 in anticipation of Earth Day. Spire is a collection of art, poetry, and essays focused on conservation and sustainability in Maine. You can find out more by visiting their social media:

Instagram: @spirejournal

Facebook @Spire Journal ,

Twitter: @Journal_Spire

Research Talk from the Center for Sustainability Solutions

Field Philosophy as Engaged Research: Practice, History, and Theory

Wednesday, April 19 from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Speaker: Adam Briggle, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Texas

Sustainability raises a host of philosophical questions about ethics and values, knowledge and power, and more. And yet philosophy is not part of the predominant approaches to and discourses around sustainability. This is due to dysfunctions in society and in philosophy. In this talk, Adam Briggle will focus on the latter, by arguing that philosophers have fallen victim to disciplinary capture, which consigns them to irrelevance or, at best, very indirect impacts. Public philosophy, in various ways, seeks to change this situation, and it is having a renaissance. The talk will focus on field philosophy, which is a species of public philosophy that is both a collaborative practice of engaged scholarship and a theory of knowledge that contrasts with the disciplinary model of knowledge production.

Adam Briggle is an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Texas. He is the author of A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking (2015), Socrates Tenured: The Institutions of 21st Century Philosophy (co-authored with Robert Frodeman, 2016), and Thinking through Climate Change: A Philosophy of Energy in the Anthropocene (2021). He currently serves on the Sustainability Framework Advisory Committee for the City of Denton, TX, which is drafting a local climate action plan. He is also involved in social and political movements for transgender rights in Texas.

To request a reasonable accommodation, contact Ruth Hallsworth, 207.581.3196 or

All Mitchell Center talks are free and open to the public. Talks are held virtually via Zoom and in-person at 107 Norman Smith Hall, UMaine.

  • Virtual attendance: Complete the registration form to receive Zoom connection information.

  • In-person attendance: The Mitchell Center requires masks for all indoor events.