With the massive AWP literary conference in town April 8-11, and the just slightly smaller Creative Writing Program Celebration at the Weisman Art Museum 7-9 pm April 10, it seemed the right time to interview Madelon Sprengnether. Twenty years ago, the Regents Professor wrote and shepherded the proposal for the MFA in Creative Writing through various levels of University approval so the Program could begin granting the degree in 1996. What about the MFA Program is she most proud of? "The accomplishments of our graduates," she answers quickly. "The proof is in the pudding." The growing number of alumnae/i publications parallels the feverish output of Creative Writing Program faculty: This spring, Professor Sprengnether publishes (and reads from--see listing below) both a memoir, Great River Road (New Rivers), and a prose poetry collection, Near Solstice (Holy Cow!). What does this all have to do with lab research on memory? Read on.
Senior English major Mason Nunemaker is a poetry editor for our annual undergraduate literary arts journal Ivory Tower, created by students in a two-semester English magazine production class. According to Nunemaker, this year's content has just been finalized (from over 600 student submissions!). "I'm very excited to see how the pieces all converse with each other," he reports, "especially across the different genres of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and visual art." A poet himself, Nunemaker won a poetry award from the University's Steven J. Schochet Endowment for GLBT Studies awards program, and he's also an officer for USlam, the U's spoken word poetry team. How does he see printed and performance poetry differing? Read on.
The Department of English welcomes admitted prospective graduate students March 12-13. Events scheduled include a reading by an MFA alumnus, a discussion with current PhD students, class visits, and dinner with graduate students and faculty. We look forward to meeting you!
In the last three years, Associate Professor Dan Philippon has researched and taught in Germany, Italy, and France, buoyed by a Fulbright and a fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich. The travel has widened his thinking about food writing and the sustainable food movement, subject of his current research. "Although my specialty will always be American environmental literature, I can't think in isolation anymore," reports Professor Philippon, who serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies. "Now, when I think of American writers, it is always in a global context. And when I think of global processes, like climate change, I think of their effects on particular places and particular people--like the Italian rice grower I met, whose paddies depend on meltwater from the Alps." How does that book-in-progress involve Alice Waters, Wendell Berry . . . and a certain Italian rice grower? Read on.
Jessica McKenna, course coordinator for the Department of English, has been honored with an Outstanding Service Award from the College of Liberal Arts. These awards celebrate the extraordinary contributions of staff in CLA. Director of Undergraduate Studies Dan Philippon presented McKenna with the honor at a ceremony in McNamara Alumni Center January 21. Congratulations!
Professor Paula Rabinowitz's 2014 book American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street (Princeton) is reviewed this week in the January 5 New Yorker print magazine and online. Professor Rabinowitz has also been interviewed frequently about the book, the latest with an Irish radio station (she's on from 35:17 to 48:05).
When Golden Gopher football players take the field against Missouri in the Citrus Bowl, three English majors will be among them, reveling in Minnesota's first New Year's Day bowl game in 50 years. Junior defensive back Eric Murray is a starter who made the coaches' All-Big Ten Second Team. Sophomore wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky played in seven games this fall. Offensive linebacker Luke McAvoy (right) this year won the Gophers' Tony Dungy Character and Community Service Award and was Academic All-Big Ten. In the midst of finals week, we grabbed McAvoy, a senior, for a quick download on the life of a football-playing English major. Read on.
The largest literary conference in North America lands in the Twin Cities April 8-11, and our Creative Writing Program faculty and alums are all over it. English Chair Ellen Messer-Davidow recommends Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century--and a thriller or two. Plus an annotated list of the latest fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from professors, alums, and students, and information about our unique collaboration with Penumbra Theatre in February. Read the winter 2014 e-Quarterly!
"There continues to be a large segment of the population that believes overcoming addiction is a matter of willpower," says Mark Mishek (summa cum laude BA 1974; JD with honors 1977), CEO and President of the recently merged Hazelden and Betty Ford Foundations. The former, which he's led since 2008, has of course been a pioneer for 65 years in defining addiction not as a crime or character flaw but as a disease. Changing minds is still difficult. "The thing that's helped right now in a sad sort of way," Mishek notes, "is that with the opioid crises affecting young males more than any other population, more parents are realizing that it's not a matter of willpower, it's not a matter of more education, more self-knowledge, and so on. While that stuff's important, it can't get you well in and of itself." How did Mishek come to lead the nation's largest nonprofit addiction treatment provider? Two words: liberal arts. Read more.
PhD candidate Eric Brownell will defend his dissertation "Gothic Heroines and Cultural Trauma in 20th Century Literature and Film," as directed by Dr. Lois Cucullu, at 1 pm Friday December 5 in 207A. All are welcome for the public portion of the defense.
Since September, three English professors have published new works. Professor Paula Rabinowitz's American Pulp: How Paperbacks Brought Modernism to Main Street (Princeton University Press) has drawn praise for its passion and acuity. She was invited to write about her favorite post-war pulps in The Wall Street Journal. Fresh from his third appearance in the annual Best American Poetry anthology, Professor Ray Gonzalez published the "vibrant" (according to Booklist) Soul Over Lightning (University of Arizona Press), his 13th poetry collection. Finally, Professor Nabil Matar published his authoritative compendium of research on British Captives from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, 1563-1760 (The Atlantic World, Brill). Congratulations to all!
You may have read Mary Petrie's story in The Star Tribune this summer, or on the Today Parents site. Not long after her oldest child, Stryker, graduated high school last spring, he presented Petrie (PhD 2000) with a wrapped gift. Inside was a book proof of a novel Petrie had written more than a decade ago--a novel a New York agency had shopped unsuccessfully, and Petrie had put aside. Her son had proofed, formatted, and readied the book for self-publishing--to thank the Inver Hills CC professor for raising him and to, as Petrie has said, take "your mother's dreams off the shelf." A story that good needs a follow-up, and we did. Read more.
On the 100th anniversary of his birth, we celebrate influential poet and longtime U professor John Berryman with a free, public conference October 24-26 at Andersen Library. Publisher FSG has just released new versions of Berryman's Sonnets, 77 Dream Songs, and The Dream Songs, along with a New & Selected--and series editor Daniel Swift will give the conference keynote, along with poets April Bernard, Henri Cole, and Michael Hofmann, who introduced the three reprints. Here are 10 reasons to join us for a weekend delving into the words and worlds of the Pulitzer Prize winner.
Her work has been called "spellbinding" (by The New Yorker) and "beautifully written" (by Outside magazine). A big welcome to Kim Todd, a new creative nonfiction addition to the Creative Writing Program faculty roster. Todd has written one book about that vagabond Sparrow, another about a female naturalist who, in 1699, voyaged from Amsterdam to South America to study insect metamorphosis (Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis), and her self-explanatory first, Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America. It's no surprise she holds masters in both environmental studies and creative writing (from the University of Montana). What led her there? Read on.
Intent on figuring out how to construct solid plots, Professor Julie Schumacher wrote her first book for younger readers in 2004, a decade before young adult fiction became so popular it spawned an abstinence movement. Schumacher's third such effort, The Book of One Hundred Truths (2006), won a Minnesota Book Award for Young Adult Fiction. This summer she shows off her plot chops with the adult comic novel Dear Committee Members, a book consisting only of fictional letters of recommendation--from a single imagined Creative Writing professor--that nevertheless contains classic (and compelling) exposition, conflict, climax, and denouement. Indeed, as an admiring Slate review points out, what finally happens in the tale "turn[s] the book's theme upside down," revealing the moral weight beneath the undeniably funny characterizations. For Schumacher's favorite novel-in-letters and other revelations, read on.