This Week in English | October 23, 2023

Morgan Talty Visits Writers of Maine

Morgan Talty visited Jody Crouse’s ENG 244: Writers of Maine class last week to discuss his acclaimed collection of stories Night of the Living Rez. Professor Crouse offers this account of the visit:

Talty talked with students about how these are, in fact, Maine stories, how he gets ideas for writing, what one of the central questions of the book might be (“How metaphorically do the dead come back to life”) and the inherent power of the short story genre. The students were captivated the entire class, appreciated the “realness” of his stories, noted elements such as how, at times, his syntax reflected the internal landscape of the characters, and had so many questions and comments they ran out of time.

Swacha and Heim Report on Podcast Production 

Dr. Katie Swacha and Jayson Heim (MA in English ’23) will present at the Special Interest Group on Design of Communication (SIGDOC) conference in Orlando this Friday and Saturday. Their paper explores the role that professional and technical writing scholars, students, and interns can play on interdisciplinary podcast production teams. The paper details Katie and Jayson’s experiences helping to produce the Maine Policy Matters podcast out of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at UMaine with attention to building community relationships, foregrounding accessibility, and providing professional pathways to students. Jayson began his work on the podcast as a graduate student intern last year as part of the English Department’s English Career Internship Program, and he is now employed full-time at the Policy Center as a communications specialist. Current undergraduate student Nicole LeBlanc is currently interning at the Policy Center under the supervision of Jayson and as part of Dr. Swacha’s ENG 496: English Career Internship course. This presentation is being sponsored by Caroline Bicks, the Stephen E. King Chair in Literature and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center.

Barron Presents on Robert Frost and Edward Thomas

On October 6, 2023 Jonathan Barron was one of the invited speakers for a public zoom event, “Hampshire / New Hampshire: Edward Thomas / Robert Frost.” The event was an online discussion, with readings, between members of the Edward Thomas Fellowship and the Robert Frost Society. It was part of an annual Edward Thomas Weekend (6 – 8 October 2023) held in England at Avenue Pavilion, The Avenue, Petersfield.

MA Alum Asif Iqbal Lectures at Berkeley Institute for South Asia Studies

Carla Billitteri brings to our attention a milestone in the career of MA Alum Asif Iqbal. On November 2, Iqbal will give a public lecture on the impact of the Partition on the political transformation of East Bengal via an analysis of two novels, Shahidullah Kaiser’s Sangsaptak: A Bengali Saga (2001) and Akhteruzzaman Elias’ Khoabnama (2021). Here is the abstract for his talk:

The acceleration of the Pakistan Movement intensified the Hindu-Muslim hostility in the subcontinent, thereby jeopardizing the locally evolved syncretic ethos permeating the lives of the subaltern classes in rural East Bengal. With political rumblings threatening the traditional Hindu-Muslim coexistence, East Bengal’s inhabitants, as witnesses to the crisis of nationalism, also participated in the political process. Subsequently, as characters in the Bengali novels, they project the tensions of Partition, offering the readers a testimony to their being impacted by the political transformation of East Bengal. Two such novels in translation, Shahidullah Kaiser’s Sangsaptak: A Bengali Saga (2001) and Akhteruzzaman Elias’ Khoabnama (2021), illustrate the anathema of communalism as politically entrenched. It also altered the rural social composition. These novels, with their focus on East Bengal’s Muslims—split between the promises of the emergent Pakistan nation and the drastic communal disharmony that endangers the lives of their Hindu neighbors—disavow communalism in the wake of Partition. My comparative evaluation of the translated novels suggest that the two great Bengali writers of the Twentieth Century invoke an unfinished struggle in anticipation of the emergent possibility of Bangladesh.

Asif Iqbal, the recipient of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Research Award, is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Oberlin College, Ohio, USA. He is currently working on his book project “Two Partitions: Anglophone & Vernacular Cultural Imaginings of Postcolonial Bangladesh.” Iqbal is widely published in peer-reviewed journals, such as the South Asian Review, and in edited volumes including the Routledge collection Transcultural Humanities in South Asia: Critical Essays of Literature and Culture (2022). One of his forthcoming articles is based on a major Bengali trilogy, Shawkat Ali’s Dhakkhinyoner Din (2016).

This Week in English 134 was sent to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the department on October 24, 2023. 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 English Department Group. To learn more about faculty members mentioned in this bulletin, visit our People page.

If you would like to support the mission of the English Department, please consider a donation to the Annual Fund through this secure online portal.