This Week in English | January 22-28, 2024

Welcome Back

Did you know that the English Department is host to several informal spaces in Neville Hall where majors, minors, and Master’s students are welcome to read, talk, do group work, or just hang out between classes? 

The booklined Ulrich Wicks Reading Room is in the English Department and has comfy couches as well as desk space. Tea and coffee (and the occasional snack) is available at no cost to students. 

The Writers’ Block is right next door in Neville 302 and is home to Storied, the undergraduate creative writing club led by English majors that meets on a weekly basis. It is usually free and is a good place both for quiet reading and for group work. 

The Writing Center is upstairs on the fourth floor and often has open desks even when peer tutorials are taking place. 

And the newly renovated ground floor of Neville also offers many more places to perch, work, eat, and rest in the corridor that leads to the large auditoriums. We have exciting news to announce about a public artwork that will be installed in the lobby outside those auditoriums this summer—but we’ll save it for the next bulletin!  

English Alum and BDN Reporter Publishes Book on Bangor

English BA program alum Emily Stoddard Burnham recently published Downtown, Up River: Bangor in the 1970s with the Yarmouth-based Islandport Press. A longtime reporter on the cultural beat for the Bangor Daily News, Burnham credits her education at UMaine for nourishing her gift for storytelling: 

I think having an early start in storytelling — whether writing fiction as part of my English degree, creating zines with the Student Women’s Association and WMEB, and the handful of history classes I took — all played a big part in the things I’ve focused on in my journalism career.

You can read more about Burnham and her new book here

Maine Campus Seeks Copy Editors 

The editor-in-chief of the Maine Campus newspaper wrote last week to ask that all English majors and minors be made aware of opportunities for paid employment for copy editors this spring. The position description is attached. Ginny Crossland, who is a third-year student majoring in English and journalism, holds the role of Co-Head Copy Editor, so you’d be joining her team!

And the Advanced Structures and Composites Center Seeks Student Communications Specialists

The Advanced Structures & Composites Center is seeking a Student Communications Specialist to aid the Office of Communications. This 12-month position, offering up to 30 hours a week of work. This position will begin as soon as the right candidates are selected. A full position announcement is attached.

Departmental Self-Study and External Review

This spring semester the English Department will be conducting an extensive self-study in advance of hosting an external review in the fall of 2024. The self-study offers an opportunity for faculty members to engage with students and alumni of both our BA and MA programs to identify program strengths as well as areas where there is room for us to improve. We will also be consulting with our partners across campus and in the community. If you would be willing to share your perspective with us in the coming months, we’d love to hear from you in a reply to this bulletin! 

All-Day Workshops with Cartographer Margaret Pearce This Week and Next

The McGillicuddy Humanities Center will host two all-day workshops this week and next with Dr. Margaret Pearce, a Maine-based cartographer and Citizen Potawatomi tribal member.  

These all-day workshops are for students curious to explore the relationship between cartography and writing: both mapping as a form of writing, and mapping as a way of drawing out the spatial relationships in linear narrative. If the idea of mixing maps and writing sounds like fun, these workshops are for you! 

Wednesday, January  24: 9 am–4 pm for writers. 

Wednesday, January  31: 9 am–4 pm for cartography, GIS, and other geospatial students, including students who have taken courses in digital humanities or geovisualization. 

Workshops will take place in the Digital and Spatial History Lab, Center Stevens Suite 305. Lunch will be provided. The workshops do not involve software. We will work on paper. 

Students in both workshops are asked to bring one page of written text (poem, report, story, description) that includes a river (any kind of river). The river does not have to be the focus, but it does have to be present. The page can be taken from a longer work. 

To register for a workshop or for more information, please contact Beth Wiemann at the McGillicuddy Humanities Center.  

Call for Proposals for Undergraduate Fellowships this Summer

We encourage English majors to apply for a Summer CUGR Research and Creative Activities Fellowship. These fellowships support $4,000 for an undergraduate student to conduct faculty-mentored research. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to submit a proposal. The deadline to apply is February 15, 2024, at 4:00 pm. 

Undergraduate students should apply HERE.

More information about the Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) and these fellowships can be found on the CUGR website, or by emailing your questions to

If you’d like to brainstorm project ideas, feel free to visit faculty office hours and/or drop by the chair’s office in Neville 304.

MA Alum Co-Edits Book

Aaron Pinnix earned an MA in English in 2012 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher in American studies at Universität Konstanz in Germany, where his research is on ocean-focused poetry that conjoins ecological and social justice. Pinnix is the co-editor, with three other scholars, of a new volume called Rethinking Infrastructure Across the Humanities. Defining infrastructure as “a combination of sociotechnical, political, and cultural arrangements that provide resources and services,” the contributors to the volume “show how infrastructures are both generative forces and the materialized products of quotidian practices that affect and guide people’s lives. Organized via shared conceptual foci, this volume demonstrates infrastructuralist perspectives as an important transdisciplinary approach within the humanities.” Pinnix completed the Poetry and Poetics concentration at UMaine and worked with Professors Billitteri, Evans, Friedlander, and Moxley.

Save the Date: Plunkett Poetry Festival at UMA in April

The 22nd annual Terry Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival will take place on Saturday, April 27. This year, the festival will include live readings in the Danforth Gallery and the Jewett Hall Auditorium on the Augusta campus of the University of Maine at Augusta, and will include participation from Maine high schools, the University of Maine System campuses, and the Maine poetry community.

The keynote speaker will be Brian Turner, who is best known for his poems about serving in the Iraq War. His poems resonate today given current global conflicts. His poems are empathic and intersectional, often showing multiple points of view and the ripple effects of violence on a community.

The festival is free and open to all. Event details are in the works and organizers encourage you to check the Festival’s webpage often for details as they are finalized.

This Week in English 141 was sent to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the department on January 22, 2024. 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.