February 2010 Archives

First Annual English Undergraduate Conference!

The Department is proud to present its first annual English Undergraduate Conference April 27 and 28. English majors will showcase their work, exchange ideas in a variety of formats, and engage in lively discussion with peers, instructors, and professors. Students will present critical essays or creative work they've produced in upper division courses as well as research for UROP, Directed Study, or other programs. All are welcome to attend!

March Brings New Faculty Books

Cover image of Sudden Fiction LatinoProfessor Ray Gonzalez publishes his third book this year, an anthology he co-edited with Robert Shapard and James Thomas. Sudden Fiction Latino: Short Short Stories From the U.S. and Latin America (W. W. Norton) features U.S Latino writers Sandra Cisneros and Junot Diaz alongside Latin American legends Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolano. . . . Professor Josephine Lee publishes The Japan of Pure Invention: Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado with University of Minnesota Press. Tracing the history of The Mikado's performances from Victorian times to the present, Professor Lee reveals the continuing viability of the play's surprisingly complex racial dynamics as they have been adapted to different times and settings.

English BA Alumni in the News

Brooks Doherty (BA 2005 magna cum laude), dean of faculty at Rasmussen College in Brooklyn Park, calls for us to "embrace all forms of writing--even those we may not have mastered yet" (such as Twitter and Facebook) in a Star Tribune Commentary February 18. . . . Erik Storlie (BA 1962), who taught English, Composition, and Humanities for 30 years at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, talks about his second career as a teacher of meditation at the U's Center for Spirituality and Healing.

Click the following link to watch Moira's spoken word:


Would you like to talk a little bit about your spoken word piece?

I wrote the "If I were in Charge" poem as a result of a writing prompt I was given in high school. I use it often when I am working with young people because it promotes agency and values individual voice in a world that is so easy to become lost in.

How long have you been doing spoken word? Why did you start?

I started writing poetry when I was really young (since before I can remember), and began performing poetry when I was 15 years old, after a group of poets from California came to my high school. I went to the workshop they were holding sort of by accident and at the end of the workshop, a leader came up to me and said "You're gonna share your piece right?" and I did. I was nervous, shaking, and almost crying, but I did. And if you had told me then, that I would have performed in front of a thousand people and traveled across the country to do spoken word by the time I was 21, I would have never believed you.

Describe one or two of the organizations/student groups in which you are involved. What is your inspiration for getting involved with this organization/ student group?

When I moved to MN from Madison, WI, I knew I wanted to continue working with spoken word and with youth. I knew of the MN Spoken Word Association because they had visited Madison a few times. I almost immediately sought them out and began my work as a Youth Programs Intern, working mainly with the youth slam series "Quest for the Voice." Now, almost 4 years later, I can say I have learned an invaluable amount of skills as a poet, teacher, organizer and leader from the director and artistic director Shá Cage and eg Bailey.

I also work with the student organization Voices Merging. This year I became the president of the student organization and am so proud to be a part of this group. Every 2nd and 4th Monday, Voices Merging hosts open mics in Moos Tower. When I became a member, we had 50 or so people in attendance at each event. Now, we have over 400 diverse students and community members who come every other week to share their stories and talents and to appreciate one another.

How has your involvement changed your University experience? What have you gained from such experiences?

When I first came to the U, I was in classes I didn't want to be in, I was having trouble finding people with similar interests as me and was too shy to really break the mold of what advisers and professors were telling me. Once I became involved in the community and student organizations, and did HECUA's Writing for Social Change Program, I gained a sense of confidence and agency I hadn't had before. I began taking classes that I wanted to learn from (not just ones that would help my major), taking all the opportunities that presented themselves (Including the Community Engagement Scholars Program, National Student Exchange, and UROP) and I don't think I would have been so intentional, had I not learned from my community and student involvement.

Congratulations Moira Pirsch!

Moira Pirsch has been selected to be the next Engaged English Scholar for the month of February! Moira is involved in the Community Engagement Scholars program (CESP) and HECUAs Writing for Social Change. Moira is dedicated to social change through the arts, specifically poetry, spoken word, and hip-hop. She works with youth off-campus and is very involved in on-campus groups as well. She has worked extensively with Voices Merging and the MN Spoken Word Association. This spring she is organizing a three day hip-hop conference. Moira's work is grounded in her passion for literary arts, her love of people and her desire for social change.

Professor Katherine Scheil on the Macbeth Curse

Professor Scheil talked with MPR about historical origins for the belief that productions of "the Scottish play" will be cursed. Possible causes include the occult content in the play, economics, and the play itself: "You know the play has a lot of violence and a lot of sword play. . . . And a lot of scenes in the dark, which increases the possibility for something to go wrong." A production of Macbeth opened last weekend at the Guthrie Theater.

MFAs Win SASE/Jerome Grants

Congratulations to 2010 SASE/Jerome Grant recipients Brian Laidlaw (MFA candidate), Margie Newman (MFA alumna), and Mike Rollin (MFA alumnus), who received between $2000-3000 as emerging writers.

*Tuesday, February 9th 3:30-4:30pm in 226 Lind Hall --- Refreshments

Want to make $1,700 to study what you love?

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) provides grants of
up to $1,700 for undergraduate students either to carry out a project of the
student's own design in close collaboration with a faculty sponsor or work
with a faculty member on her/his scholarly or creative project.. The
deadline for Summer and Fall 2010 projects is March 8. If you have
questions about UROP, please attend this session to talk with Rebecca
Rassier at rassi003@umn.edu. or click here


*Wednesday, March 10 3:30-4:30 in 226 Lind Hall --- Refreshments


Want to write every day for a full semester? or get 8 credits for an
internship? Want to learn how to change the world while you do that?

HECUA (Higher Ed Consortium For Urban Affairs) offers semester long, off
campus study programs that integrate social justice and experiential
learning where you have an Internship and class 2 days/week. You are still a
U of MN student and receive 16 credits. The program explores the ways in
which writers (you!) and lit can impact social change.
/ www.hecua.org

Minnesota Book Award Finalists

Faith Run.jpgProfessor of English Ray Gonzalez, MA alumna (1992) Alison McGhee, and MFA alumnus (1998) Scott Muskin have been nominated for 2010 Minnesota Book Awards. Professor Gonzalez is up for his third Minnesota Book Award with the poetry collection Faith Run (University of Arizona Press). McGhee's Song of Middle C (Candlewick Press) is nominated for best children's literature, and Muskin's The Annunciations of Hank Meyerson, Mama's Boy and Scholar (Hooded Friar Press) for best novel and short story. Winners will be announced April 17.


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