This Week in English | End of Semester Edition

This will be the last bulletin I will send as Acting Chair of the Department–stay tuned for Dr. Steve Evans’ return to the post in the fall. I have been honored to serve in this capacity for the past year, but also look forward to returning to the classroom. 

We have had much to celebrate this early May, including the retirement of two of our faculty members–Laura Cowan and Margo Lukens. Many of our dear undergraduates will be graduating this May as well, having made it through a college career which was conducted, at times, virtually. We congratulate them on their many impressive achievements, and will miss seeing them around Neville Hall. 

Please read on for all the news!

Gabriella Fryer and other members of the EGSA have put together a wonderful “Summer Reading list” with recommendations from community members. Please see the guide below.

Summer Reading Guide 2023 EGSA (1)

Professor Caroline Bicks released a new podcast called Everyday Shakespeare: Where Bard Meets Life, which just dropped its first episode last week. Bicks and co-host Michelle Ephraim discuss ‘Plague Life’ in the inaugural episode, available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Graduation is this weekend: Commencement coordinator, Diane Dunn is encouraging faculty, administration and staff to participate in the graduation ceremonies this weekend:

“We truly want our commencement to be a time of celebration.  Commencement is a highlight of the academic year, not only for the graduating classes, but for the faculty, administration, and staff.  The graduates and their families look forward to sharing this moment with the faculty.  As a faculty member, you are critical to the success of our programs, our courses, and, most especially, our students.  We warmly invite and heartily encourage you to participate in Commencement 2023.”

The Commencement schedule is as follows:

  • May 5 : University of Maine at Machias Undergraduate Ceremony 11:00 a.m. at the Performing Arts Center, Machias Campus.

  • May 5: Graduate Commencement Ceremony 4:00 p.m. Alfond Arena, Orono.

  • May 6:  Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies  9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Alfond Arena, Orono.

Additional information can be found at: Commencement 2023 – University of Maine (

If you have questions, please reach out directly to Diane Dunn at

The deadline for ordering regalia has passed but there is a very limited number and sizes of doctoral regalia available through Betty Campbell in the bookstore.

MHC Undergraduate Fellow Paige McHatten is the author of the new chapbook GOODNESS! (Bottlecap Press, 2023),” a collection of poems that center around the written word’s capacity for spreading good. Acknowledging great poets, from Dickinson to Lorde, it attempts to recollect a definition of goodness, but not without adding its own twist. GOODNESS! is as much a poetry collection as it is a scrapbook manifesto. Exploring themes of sexuality, femininity, and the self, it attempts to make meaning in an age of overwhelm. At the same time, it pokes fun at said attempt.”

Christopher Gardner, Sydney Read, and Cora Saddler all have work appearing in the newest issue of Spire, the Maine Journal of Conservation and Sustainability.

Saddler for her work, “Bog Walk”

Gardner for his work, “Post-Modern Prometheus”

Read for her poetry series, “I’ll Become A Whale: A Gentle Reminder”


Read the 2023 issue of the journal here.

Hollie Adams was longlisted for the 2023 CBC Short Story Prize, hosted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. This year marks Adams’s second appearance on the prize longlist. The CBC Short Story Prize has been awarded every year since 1979.

Morgan Talty spoke to the Boston Globe about the shift in literary representation of Indigenous authors. “The literary critic Louis Owens said non-Native readers of Indigenous fiction come to the page expecting a comfortable tour of Indian country. I feel like we have at last moved away from that. Now there are Indigenous stories that aren’t about Indian country but are more about specific tribes, which is what we need considering there are more than 500 federally recognized tribes,” Talty said.

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Department of English are co-hosting a talk by Qian Gang on May 4 from 1:30-2:45 PM in Room 404 of Neville Hall. The talk is titled Witching Time: Motherhood and Counter-colonial Narrative in The Witch (2016), and is described by Qian Gang thusly:

“Motherhood, when considered as a temporal concept, is often associated with repetition and timelessness. Maternal time in cinema—the temporal experience associated with motherhood represented in films— is usually understood, implicitly or explicitly, as heteronormative reproductive time. In the past decade, however, motherhood-themed films reveal a rising tension within the relationship between motherhood and heteronormative reproductive time.

“One exciting example, Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2016), featuring what I call ‘witching time’ to subvert colonial myths that subordinate gendered bodies to the historical narrative. I ask: how does witching time challenge dominant ideological associations between reproductive futurity and settler colonial time and in ways that call attention to historical trauma among Native Americans?”

This presentation is free and open to the public.

Graduate teaching assistant and EGSA president Dylan Morin’s poetry was published twice this spring. His poem “Little Blue Car” was included in the February edition of Beyond Queer Words Magazine, and his poem “Cutting My Father’s Hair” is included in the May 2023 edition of Beyond Words Literary Magazine. Congratulations, Dylan!

Donald Patten will be presenting the results of his McGillicuddy project at the MiNOR Gallery in Old Town, Maine from June 3rd to 30th, with an opening reception on Saturday, June 3 at 4:00 pm. Patten’s project involves humorous adaptations of the works of past masters of the visual arts to contemporary life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speak Up For Intellectual Freedom In Maine 


The Maine Council for English Language Arts shared that the following bills will be heard on May 4th before the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee:

  • LD 123, An Act to Eliminate the Educational Purposes Exception to the Prohibition on the Dissemination of Obscene Matter to Minors

  • LD 1008, An Act to Establish a Rating System for Books in School Libraries. Another bill is also on the agenda

  • LD 618, An Act to Eliminate Critical Race Theory, Social and Emotional Learning and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from School Curricula

If you are concerned about any or all of these bills, please consider submitting your testimony.

The more individual testimonies submitted, the better! It is as simple as submitting a letter online, no matter how brief, expressing your recommendation for how you want the committee to vote along with sharing your reasoning

If you’re interested in submitting a written testimony online:

  1. Go here:

  2. Click on the public hearing

  3. From the pull-down menu, select Education and Cultural Affairs

  4. From the next pull-down menu, select May 4 at 1:00 pm

  5. Fill out the form online, selecting LD 123, upload your testimony, and enter your contact information

  6. Hit submit

  7. You’ll get a confirmation email letting you know your testimony has been received. If you click that you want to testify by Zoom, you’ll get an email with a Zoom link.

Fall 2023 English Courses of Interest 

The English Department has compiled a list of course descriptions for courses being offered this fall. You can find the full list here, but down below are some unique courses that might be of particular interest to undergraduate students:

ENG 371:0001 (26650) Topics in Literary Theory & Criticism: Borders, Displacement, and Diaspora  (Rosalie Purvis)

WH220 – 03:30 PM – 4:45 PM – TTH 

Prerequisites: 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 101 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

In response to ongoing global crises of displacement and migration, writers and artists are constantly inventing ways to circumvent, challenge and soften contested borders of nation, culture, and language. Through the lens of border studies theory, and by examining diverse writing on and about borders, displacement and diaspora, this course investigates literary modes of international and intercultural border crossing and facilitates a range of multi-genre written explorations of different intercultural crossings.

ENG 381:0001 Themes in Literature: Orpheus, the Myth of the Poet (Jennifer Moxley)

227 Neville Hall – MWF 11:00-11:50 AM

Prerequisites:: 6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222


Satisfies the following general education requirement: Western Cultural Tradition.

This course can be taken twice for credit provided that the theme covered is different for a maximum of six credits earned.

When we approach study of literature thematically, surprising connections can emerge.  In this reading-intensive course, we will trace a single, defined theme (Orpheus) through multiple literary works. This journey through a particular theme is a delightful way for you to practice your reading and research skills in preparation for advanced seminars.

Course Description: The myth of Orpheus has captivated writers for centuries. Orpheus—the first poet—is the origin of Sappho’s lyric genius. He charms denizens of the underworld, as well as beasts, rocks, and trees; he is the poet as magician and enchanter of nature, a demigod who reconnects language to the material world. The premature and double death of his bride Eurydice binds love, death, lament, and loss to the lyric tradition. Dismemberment, same-sex love, unleashed female rage, prophecy, and mystery are part of his story as well. He’s there at the origin of Western opera, and snakes his way through the American Blues. In this course we will read and discuss the myth of Orpheus and trace its influence on and symbolic function for poets and writers of the Western tradition, from antiquity to the present day.

ENG 382:0001 (86501) Major Genres Historical Perspective: American Poetry (Benjamin Friedlander)

S155 – 08:00 – 09:15 AM TTh

Satisfies the following general education requirement(s): Western Cultural Tradition

Prerequisites:  6 credits beyond ENG 101 (ENG 170 and ENG 222 recommended) or instructor permission

Course description: Four centuries of American poetry in twenty episodes encompassing major and minor figures and a wide range of genres, media, topics, audiences, and perspectives. Each episode will function as a micro-narrative within the broader history of American poetry, allowing us to dig deep into specific cases while respecting the disjunctiveness that has long characterized American literature. The episodic structure will also allow us to read past and present work together at every stage instead of moving slowly across time like snails on a stalk. Our poems will include texts both written and oral–original to English and in translation–traditional, avant-garde, and popular. A reading-intensive course with a focus on primary sources: an immersion in poetry.


ENG 429:0001 (23937): Topics in Literature & Language: The Uncanny (Gregory Howard)

Nv406 – 09:00 – 9:50 AM –MWF 

Prerequisites: ENG 271 and 6 hours of 300 level literature courses or permission of instructor.

“The uncanny,” as a term for discussion in art, literature, film, psychological investigation, indeed life itself, is notoriously difficult to pin down. It involves the feeling of terror but it is different from “the terrifying.” It may be produced by the ghostly or ghastly, but it is not necessarily found in either experiences of the supernatural or the horrific. Significantly, Freud begins his investigation of the uncanny with aesthetics. This will be our starting point and our fulcrum. How do the texts under consideration produce what may be described as an uncanny sensation? Do they at all? What other feelings, sensations do they produce? How do they do this? Furthermore, why is the uncanny something art is interested in at all?


ENG 490:0001 (23830): Research Seminar in Literature: Robert Frost and New England (Jonathan Barron)

Nv406 – 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM – TTH

Prerequisites: ENG 271 and 6 hours of 300 or 400 level literature courses or permission of instructor

Course Description: Robert Frost is the one poet everyone seems to know. But how much do we know about him? How much do we know about his world? Is Robert Frost the ultimate New England poet? If so, does that mean there is a New England state of mind? In this class, we will learn how Robert Frost, born and raised until age 11 in San Francisco, came to be synonymous with New England. We will learn how New England shaped the poet, and how, in turn, the poet not only shaped 21st century New England but also 21st century American culture.

Incoming McGillicuddy Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellows

Iris Loehr is an English major in the Honors College from Cincinnati, Ohio, whose project is titled “Mountain People: Essays on Place and Personhood in Appalachia.”  Iris will work with faculty mentor James Brophy of the UMaine Honors College.


Sarah Renee Ozlanski is a studio art/English double major from Belfast, Maine; working with associate professor of English Carla Billitteri, Ozlanski’s project is titled “The Language of My Grandmother is a Language of Resistance: How the Matrilineal Transmission of Pisanki Express Cultural Identity.”


Have a wonderful summer, and stay in touch!