This Week in English | September 25, 2023

Heather Falconer Wins Writing Across Curriculum Award 

This past summer the Association for Writing Across the Curriculum recognized Heather Falconer’s monograph Masking Inequality with Good Intentions: Systemic Bias, Counterspaces, and Discourse Acquisition in STEM Education as the 2023 recipient of the WAC Best Monograph Award. The award is given annually to an authored book (including books by multiple authors) that makes an exceptional contribution to WAC scholarship, including (but not limited to) WAC programming, administration, pedagogy, and impact.

The Selection Committee had this to say about Falconer’s accomplishment:

This award goes to Heather M. Falconer for Masking Inequality with Good Intentions: Systemic Bias, Counterspaces, and Discourse Acquisition in STEM Education (The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado). The selection committee believes that this is a book we need at this cultural moment, one that takes an unflinching look at how efforts toward equity and inclusion in STEM disciplines are too often naive to the politics of language practice.

Falconer follows six students from historically underrepresented backgrounds as they navigate a multi-year undergraduate research program in biological, chemical, computer, and forensic sciences. Her methodology is impressive, grounded in interviews and observations. At the same time, she delivers astute and accessible explanations of key terms, recognizes the complex interplay of systemic and individual factors, and employs scholarship from both critical race theory and writing studies to contextualize the experience of the students. Their voices come through, as does hers.

In Falconer’s careful examination of the vexing institutional obstacles these students face even in a well-designed, linguistically and racially aware program, she argues that such efforts may not be enough if the students’ intersectional identities, aspirations, and goals are not sufficiently recognized and addressed. Meanwhile, she recounts how some faculty mentors, albeit too few, create vital counterspaces in which students grow as emerging scientists and writers. She delivers some important practical recommendations for pedagogy and program development but perhaps more significantly articulates questions and frameworks that will inform future research.

The book is available in open-access formats on the WAC Clearinghouse.

Professor Falconer joined the Writing Studies faculty of the English Department in the fall of 2021. This semester she is teaching a section of ENG 320: Technical Communication for Engineering and a seminar/workshop on Technical Editing and Document Design for advanced undergraduates (ENG 416) and graduate students (ENG 516).

Jonathan Barron Publishes New Article on Robert Frost

Jonathan Barron’s article “New Hampshire’s Secret Modernism: ‘For Once, Then, Something’” was recently published in The Robert Frost Review. Professor Barron writes:

Even today, for all the intellectual interest Frost’s work has gained, the experimentalism of his poetics continues to be devalued. In this essay, I argue that Frost’s often challenging philosophical and scientific ideas depend as much on experimental poetics as does the poetry of his modernist peers. I argue that, for Frost, all good poets necessarily experiment, which is to say, they break from conventional expectations and conventions. My essay returns to the annus mirabilis of 1922, when T.S. Eliot published The Waste Land to argue that the seemingly traditionalist poetry in Frost’s book, New Hampshire (1923), like a Trojan Horse, explodes the same Victorian certitudes about ideas and poetic form as did Eliot’s poem. More specifically, I argue that the poems in Frost’s book pit the inherited poetic tradition against itself to question its foundations. In so doing, they represent as much of an experimental challenge to older Victorian poetic convictions as Eliot’s poem.

Professor Barron is teaching a 400-level seminar on Frost and Environmental Poetry this semester, along with a section of the core requirement ENG 222: Reading Poems.

Rosalie Purvis Leads Lunchtime Conversation on Queerness and Theatre

The next installment of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s “Lunch and Learn” series takes place on Wednesday, September 27, at noon in Room 314 of the Memorial Union. Rosalie Purvis, who holds joint appointments in English and the School of Performing Arts Division of Theatre and Dance, will lead a conversation about “queerness and theatre.” Lunch from the Harvest Moon Deli in Orono will be provided.

AI in Writing Classrooms: Yes, No, Maybe So? 

All are invited to hear ENG 317 Students present their research on generative AI in writing classrooms this Thursday!

Katie Swacha‘s ENG 317: Business and Technical Writing students are preparing briefing presentations in response to the following questions: What are the pros/cons of generative AI for writing classrooms at UMaine? What strategies/resources might English faculty and students at UMaine use to incorporate and/or deal with generative AI effectively in their writing classrooms?

This project aims both to 1) help students to practice applied workplace research and writing in response to a real rhetorical situation, and 2) provide student feedback, research, and perspectives on these pressing questions.

Students will present their findings in short presentations on Thursday, September 28 from 9:30-:10:45 in Corbett Business 109.

All members of the UMaine English Community are invited to attend!

Kathleen Ellis and Jefferson Navicky to Read from New Books of Poetry

Please save the date of Thursday, October 12, at 4:30pm for a poetry reading by Kathleen Ellis and Jefferson Navicky (venue to be announced), both of whom published new books earlier this year. The event is part of the longstanding collaboration between the New Writing Series and the Honors College’s “Cultural Odyssey” course, which is taught by Mimi Killinger.

King Chair to Host Graphic Fiction Workshop on October 13

A Graphic Fiction Workshop is scheduled for Friday, October 13th, 1:00pm-2:00pm in the Writing Center. Robin Furth, a long-time researcher for Stephen King and author of the Dark Tower comic series for Marvel, will be offering a workshop on how to transform a book or story into graphic fiction. Space is limited, so email Professor Caroline Bicks if you’d like to reserve a spot ( This event is free and open to all members of the UMaine community, although preference will be given to students.

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