This Week in English | February 5-11, 2024

A Glimpse into Three English Classes

This spring, Jonathan Barron is teaching a section of ENG 381: Themes in Literature devoted to the topic of “poetry and myth.” He writes in with this welcome update: 

For the week of February 5th, the class on myth and American poetry will read Melvin Tolson’s “Rendezvous with America,” and the first sections of his epic poem, “Harlem Gallery.” There, Tolson brings to his “Gallery” the poets, jazz musicians, and painters of 1930s and 1940s Harlem to play with American cultural myths of race and class.

Morgan Talty is teaching a section of ENG 342: Native American Literature this semester. (As a heads up, the following course report includes reference to sexual violence.)

We’ve been reading TONS of legal briefs in Native American Literature, starting with Johnson v. McIntosh (1823) which we read in full, and this week we will be wrapping up those briefs and also reading the full court case of Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe (1978), which ruled that federally recognized tribes do NOT possess the inherent sovereign power to try and prosecute non-natives who commit crimes on lands deemed “Indian Country.” This case is a huge reason why one in three Native women will be raped, assaulted, and murdered in their lifetime (the federal government has jurisdiction for these crimes but have historically failed to uphold their responsibility). With this, we follow up with the 2013 Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act, which partially overruled Oliphant and restored to tribes some inherent power to try and prosecute non-natives. These documents are crucial for when we read Louise Erdrich’s The Roundhouse and continue to build toward a major question of the class: How do we read Native Fiction in academia? Is there a lens we can use?

Michelle Hoeckel-Neal is a second-year MA student who is teaching a section of ENG 101 this spring. Program coordinator Ryan Dippre provides this account of a recent class in which Professor Lisa Neuman paid a visit: 

Students in Hoeckel-Neal’s ENG 101 spoke with Dr. Lisa Neuman about her article, “Indian Play: Students, Wordplay, and Ideologies of Indianness at a School for Native Americans” (published in The American Indian Quarterly, 2008). Dr. Neuman described her research process, which included studying archives, interviewing former students of Bacone College, and visiting community members in the area. She also offered students valuable advice for writing in academia, emphasizing the importance of setting a routine and stepping away to rest the mind. The class considered how writers use “wordplay” to negotiate, express, and challenge their identities. It was an insightful and generative conversation that concluded with Dr. Neuman’s wisdom for all writers: “You are important. You have something to say.” We are grateful to Dr. Neuman for her valuable insights!

UMaine Press Publishes Becoming Modern: The University of Maine, 1965-2015

This month marks the publication of Becoming Modern: The University of Maine, 1965-2015, a six-hundred page history of our university that was edited by Howard Segal and Ann Acheson, with our own Deborah Rogers serving as associate editor. The volume includes an essay on the National Poetry Foundation (now the Center for Poetry and Poetics) by recently-retired English professor Laura Cowan.

Since the 1960s, the University of Maine has transformed from a traditional land-grant school concentrating on agriculture and engineering into a vastly more diversified institution with a national and international reputation in many fields. Articles in this volume discuss the organizational change that led the once-autonomous University of Maine to become part of the newly created University of Maine System; the growth of research, interdisciplinary programs and centers, and the graduate school; the evolution of the undergraduate curriculum and technological changes supporting teaching; and the expansion of a wide variety of student services and activities.Throughout, the University of Maine has continued its community outreach and service mission as one of the nation’s first land-grant universities, expanding beyond agriculture, business, and engineering to include marine sciences, public policy, humanities, museums, and the performing arts.

The volume can be ordered online here.

ADE Bulletin Publishes Issue on English Majors Careers

The Association of Departments of English (ADE) is a national organization that supports the work of literature, writing, and cultural studies departments and programs. As a part of MLA Academic Program Services (MAPS), the ADE provides opportunities and resources that help its members successfully lead and manage their academic programs or departments. The ADE regularly publishes a bulletin and the most recent issue provides insight both conceptual and practical on developing career readiness through the English major, and offers a number of models as well. We’ll include some of the findings in future bulletins.

Mitchell Center Event Celebrates Our Maine Today

Our valued colleagues in The Mitchell Center invite you to attend an event this coming Monday between 3:00-4:00pm celebrating Our Maine: Exploring Maine’s Rich Natural Heritage, which was published by Down East Books this past August. 

The event will provide “a behind the scenes look at the process of herding academics and practitioners to produce a book for all Mainers: those who live here and those for whom Maine lives in their hearts.” It was “created by thirty scientists, photographers, and painters, many of them faculty and alums of the University of Maine.”  

English majors and minors interested in Literature and Nature (ENG 238, offered this spring with Professor Elizabeth Payne) as well as the Writers of Maine (ENG 244, last offered in the fall with Professor Jody Crouse) will find the program relevant to their studies. 


Aram JK Calhoun (Emeritus Professor of Wetland Ecology and Conservation, Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology, University of Maine) is particularly interested in conservation of natural resources on private lands using collaborative approaches that are locally designed and implemented. She lives in rural Maine with her husband Mac and together they explore Maine from sea kayaks, white water canoes, hiking boots, skis, snowshoes, and scuba gear. Having traveled the world extensively, Aram still counts Maine as among the most beautiful places on earth.

The work of Malcolm “Mac” Hunter (Emeritus Professor, Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology, University of Maine) has covered a wide range of organisms and ecosystems, especially forest birds and amphibians. He has worked in over thirty countries and been active with many conservation organizations, most notably serving as President of the Society for Conservation Biology. Many natives like Mac think of Maine as the universe; for him it is only the center of the universe.

Kent H. Redford is Principal at Archipelago Consulting, a Portland company  designed to help individuals and organizations improve their practice of conservation. He has written extensively on the practice of conservation, protected areas, sustainability of tropical resource use and mammalian ecology. Maine remains amongst his favorite places and he and his wife, Pamela, are enjoying exploring the state.

More information about the event is available here. To request a reasonable accommodation, contact Ruth Hallsworth, 207.581.3196 or at

McGillicuddy Humanities Center Presents “Visions 2024: More of What Makes Us Humans” on Thursday 

In 2020, the MHC presented its first “Visions” event, highlighting current work in the arts and humanities. In 2024, they are pleased to present the sequel: Visions 2024. 

A showcase of current research and creative projects in the arts and humanities, 2024 Visions, will be held on Thursday, February 8 at 5:30 p.m. in the Collins Center for the Arts.

The event, highlighting faculty research supported by the Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center, is free and open to the public and will feature  light refreshments, poster presentations, art installations, and talks from the CCA mainstage.

We <3 Chapbooks Event on Thursday 

Paige McHatten, Victoria Hood, Gabriella Fryer, Ava Bloom, Julia Hills, and Brianna Lemarier are all affiliated with UMaine English and have all brought out chapbooks recently. Brief bios are included below.

We <3 Chapbooks is a free reading featuring local Bottlecap Press authors that will take place at Bangor Beer Co. on Thursday, February 8th at 5pm. This event is free and open to all ages.

Julia Hills is a budding poet originally from Southern Maine. She studied poetry and poetics at the University of Maine, receiving her bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2023. Julia takes inspiration from Allen Ginsberg, Anne Sexton, and Bernadette Meyer; poets who tested the limits of poetry in content and form. Julia has one chapbook published through Bottlecap Press that covers the tiring act of having a body and interacting with it daily. 

Ava Bloom, self proclaimed charming lady, was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and is pursuing a degree in English and Philosophy from The University of Maine.  She has published her two chapbooks, New Year’s Resolutions in March and Sweet Dreams! with Bottlecap Press and her third chapbook The Things You Pay No Attention independently. She writes about the things she knows and the things she one day hopes too.

Gabriella Fryer is a writer, wife, and mother of three. Originally from the Midwest, Gabriella is enjoying life in New England while working on her MA in English at the University of Maine. Her poetry chapbook, titled Muted Red, was published by Bottlecap Press in 2023; her poetry can also be found in Broadside Journal, Shemom, and 12 Willows Press.

Paige McHatten is a student, poet, and fiction writer at the University of Maine, where she studies English, Journalism, and Media Studies. She has edited the undergraduate literary magazine, the Open Field, for the past two years. Last spring, she completed a year-long fellowship for the McGillicuddy Humanities Center, in which she produced a collection of creative and critical writing that explores and questions the representation of womanhood in the media. She is the author of two chapbooks, WORLD PEACE AND COWBOYS (2022) and GOODNESS! (2023). In her free time, she plays guitar badly, talks either too loudly or too much, and tries not to take herself too seriously. 

Victoria Hood (she/her) is the author of a collection of short stories My Haunted Home (FC2) and chapbooks Death and Darlings and Entries of Boredom and Fear (Bottlecap Press). Her book of poetry, I Am My Mothers Disappointments, is forthcoming from Girl Noise Press (2024). She hopes to discomfort, humor and charm.

Brianna Lemarier is a student of literature and a writer currently studying at the University of Maine. She is passionate about storytelling in its many forms, and she calls New England her home. Her one vice she vows to never change is the copious amounts of coffee she consumes. Sea Bird is her first chapbook.

Proposals for CUGR Summer Fellowships Due by February 15 

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.

Monson Center Summer Residency

Kristin Case is a valued colleague in English at UM Farmington. She writes with this interesting opportunity for undergraduates to pursue independent scholarly or creative projects at an artist residency this summer in Monson, Maine. Here are the details as Professor Case kindly provided them:

For the past two years, UMF has been offering a special FREE residential summer course for Pell-eligible and first-generation college students offering the opportunity to pursue an independent scholarly or creative project at an artist residency in Monson, Maine. You can read more about the program here. This year, we are opening the seminar to students from other campuses in the system, so I am writing to ask if you would be willing to a) forward the application to your students or b) have me give a short zoom presentation to your classes about the program. We’d really love to get some applications from Orono this year! The application deadline is 2/15, and we will make admissions decisions by 3/1.

Details about the program are included in the application here.

The program gives priority admission to Pell-eligible/first-gen students, but other students may apply, and may be accepted, depending on the applicant pool. We also prioritize students who have at least 42 credits. This program is 100% cost-free for admitted students. Dates for the 2024 Seminar are August 4-22.

Please let me know if you have questions, or if your students do—I’d be very happy to talk them through the application, or to fill in any details about the program. 

Departmental Self-Study and External Review

As has been mentioned in previous installments of this bulletin, this spring semester the English Department is 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! 

This Week in English 143 was sent to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the department on February 5, 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.

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