This Week in English | February 12-18, 2024

A Glimpse into New Core Requirement Class 

This semester marks the first offering of ENG 215: Theories and Practices of Writing, a new core course for the English major. We started the term exploring how the teaching of writing in academic spaces has changed over the last 150 years and how certain practices and beliefs about writing just refuse to go away (i.e., good writers are born that way). For the past two weeks, students have been deeply engrossed in rhetorical genre theory, unpacking how genres help us mediate activity. This week, students are starting their first major assignment: collecting data on their own writing processes to examine the many interconnected ways writing helps them do things within and outside of academia. \

On Thursday, Feb 8th, the class was visited by Dr. Sherri Craig from Virginia Tech, who discussed her “circuitous route” into the field of writing studies and the interdisciplinary scholarship she does, particularly as it relates to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Dr. Craig’s visit was sponsored by the Stephen E. King Chair and was recorded (please reach out to Heather Falconer for access in the short term). 

English Students Work on an Awareness Campaign with Local Non-profit

Fifteen undergraduate and graduate students from Dr. Katie Swacha‘s ENG 418/518: Social Justice, Research, and Community Action seminar braved the early morning cold air to visit Welcome to Housing furniture bank in Old Town on February 8th. The students are using their burgeoning skills in professional writing and community-based research to work with Welcome to Housing on a public awareness campaign this semester. The campaign will be aimed at increasing knowledge and empathy surrounding issues faced by many of Welcome to Housing’s clients—e.g. homelessness, addiction recovery, and domestic abuse. To prepare for this work, students have been reading and analyzing media articles related to these issues, as well as academic articles on social justice, asset-based narratives, and rhetorical framing. Stay tuned for updates on the students’ progress! 

Moxley Translation of Marie Uguay’s Journal Published in January

Toronto-based Cormorant Books published Jennifer Moxley’s English translation of Québec poet Marie Uguay’s Journal on January 27, 2024. Back in the fall of 2021, English joined with the Canadian-American Center to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the death of this remarkable poet who published three volumes before her untimely death at the age of 26. The new volume, which is based on the French edition published by Boréal in 2005, is distributed by the University of Toronto Press.

Despite the surgical changes imposed on her body and her mounting loneliness, Uguay’s work evokes a lust for life and a passionate pursuit of artistic ambition. Journal, edited by Stéphan Kovacs and translated by Jennifer Moxley, demonstrates both the maturity of Uguay’s voice and the raw emotions in her writing process, cementing her place in the Québecois literary scene.

Moxley is teaching a graduate seminar on the poets Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov this spring, along with a section of ENG 308: Writing Poetry.

Paid Work Opportunity at VEMI Lab Open House on Tuesday

The VEMI Lab at UMaine is hiring writers, editors, and videographers and is holding an open house on February 13th for students to learn more. This year’s Ulrich Wicks Distinguished Teaching Fellow Walli Ullah is currently interning at VEMI Lab and has this to say: “I am learning the most I’ve learned in any internship…. so I would highly recommend English students to try their hand at the Open House.” Bringing an updated resume to the Open House is strongly encouraged. Undergrad and MA students are encouraged to apply! 

Friedlander Presents on Poet David Melnick at SFSU on Thursday

Along with MA-program alumna Alison Fraser, and poets Ron Silliman and Jeffrey Jullich, Benjamin Friedlander co-edited a collection of “four landmark works of queer experimental poetry by the reclusive cult poet David Melnick” for Nightbook Books in December of 2023. This Thursday, Friedlander will be joined by J. Gordon Faylor and Jo Aurelio Giardin at the San Francisco State University’s Poetry Center for a celebration of Nice: Collected Poems. The event is cosponsored by Small Press Traffic, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Friedlander is teaching a graduate seminar on “Unfinished Business: Nineteenth-Century America and the Present” (ENG 542) this spring, along with a section of ENG 222: Reading Poems. He is the editor of Paideuma

Proposals for CUGR Summer Fellowships Due Thursday

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

Kirkus Reviews Anticipates Talty Novel

Tom Beer’s February note from the “Editor’s Desk” at Kirkus begins with a remembrance of N. Scott Momaday and concludes with a look ahead to the publication this summer of Morgan Talty’s first novel. 

Could the gatekeepers of the publishing world again be opening doors to more fiction by Native writers? Recent years have offered some hopeful signs: Morgan Talty’s 2022 story collection, Night of the Living Rez (Tin House), won the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, and Amanda Peters’ 2023 novel, The Berry Pickers (Cata- pult), received the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize and the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal. Talty’s first novel, Fire Exit (Tin House, June 4), is one of the most highly anticipated books of 2024. Momaday’s legacy lives on.

Talty is teaching ENG 342: Native American Studies for the first time this spring, along with a section of ENG 205: Introduction to Creative Writing. 

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! 

March 1 Deadline for Terry Plunkett Poetry Prize

The guidelines for the Terry Plunkett Poetry Prize can be found here. The submission portal closes on March 1, 2024. The Plunkett Festival will take place on Saturday, April 27. More information can be found on their Facebook page.

Mark Your Calendars for Cat Sebastian Event on March 26

WGS is hosting queer romance author Cat Sebastian for a Q&A and writing workshop on Tuesday, March 26 at 12:30 and 5pm respectively. No advance registration is required for the lunch-time Q&A. The afternoon workshop is open to all UMaine community members but is limited to forty participants. Advance registration is required. Please email Elizabeth. to reserve a spot. The first 18 undergraduates to reserve a spot will receive a free copy of Sebastian’s 2023 novel We Could Be So Good!   This event is co-sponsored by the Stephen E. King Chair. Sebastian is on IG here.

This Week in English 144 was sent to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the department on February 12, 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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University of Maine Language Acknowledgment