Congratulations to Distinguished McKnight University Professor of English John Watkins, who has been named a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow. The Guggenheim Foundation supports projects by humanities scholars, creative writers, artists, and scientists: This year, 178 fellows were chosen out of almost 3,000 applicants. Watkins will be completing a book project on interdynastic marriage in European peacemaking from the late Middle Ages to the end of the 17th century. More about Professor Watkins here. Associate Professor of English Peter Campion received the fellowship in 2011.
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Erik Storlie (BA 1962; MA English 1962, Berkeley 1965; PhD American Studies, University of Minnesota 1976) says he was born too late to be a Beat and too early to be a hippie, but he hit the 20th century exactly right to hang with Dylan, drink with poet (and Minnesota English professor) James Wright, drop acid with Timothy Leary, help bring Zen Buddhism from Berkeley to Minnesota, and join Robert Bly in the early days of the Men's Movement. Luckily for the rest of us, he's chronicled his journey through all these adventures in a new memoir, Go Deep & Take Plenty of Root: A Prairie-Norwegian Father, Rebellion in Minneapolis, Basement Zen, Growing Up, Growing Tender. An affable 73-year-old, Storlie sat down for an interview in Lind Hall, nearby where he teaches at the University's Center for Spirituality and Healing. Read more.
On Thursday and Friday, April 3 and 4, the Department of English is pleased to present the fifth iteration of a conference celebrating our undergraduates' creative and critical work. This year, there will be papers on everything from Shakespeare to the video game Mass Effect, along with poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Actor and BA alumna Naomi Ko, who has a featured role in the new independent film Dear White People, will speak at the top of a panel on fiction, identity, and desire Thursday evening at 7 pm. A panel of alumni discusses employment and the road out from English on Friday morning at 8:50 am. Plus much more! Free and open to University students, faculty, and friends.
Very few debut novels are reviewed in the august New York Times Book Review: as of December, PhD candidate Anne Marie Spidahl's Nothing stands among them--surveyed favorably by polarizing novelist Tao Lin, no less. Under the name Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon, Spidahl published her first novel with the small press Two Dollar Radio in November. She started Nothing while an MFA student in creative writing at the University of Montana six years ago and won a MacDowell Colony Fellowship to continue work on it. With influences as disparate as Lou Reed's songs and Theodor Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment, the book follows two young people stumbling around Missoula in a haze of alcohol, pills, and wildfire smoke, seeking at once annihilation and some recognition of their painful emptiness. Spidahl is now studying 20th- and 21st-century novels and theory. Read more.
What is our new Assistant Professor Amit Yahav reading (besides the 18th century)? What new books are out from faculty, students, and alums? How is English participating in Northrop Auditorium's Grand Reopening? Find out in the new issue of our alumnae/i newsletter, e-Quarterly.
Assistant Professor Amit Yahav joined the English faculty this spring semester, after teaching at the University of Haifa and Johns Hopkins. A scholar of 18th-century literature, she graduated from Tel-Aviv University and earned her PhD in English Literature at Johns Hopkins University. When she's not immersed in the 18th century, she can be found reading picture books to "very short people with an even shorter attention span"--and also checking out contemporary fiction (she recommends Chinghiz Aitmatov's The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years). Read more to find out about her current research and what she misses about her hometown, Tel Aviv.
Professor Timothy Brennan was named the Samuel Russell Chair in the Humanities for the College of Liberal Arts for a three-year period, 2014-17. The Russell Chair is intended to promote outstanding teaching and scholarship in the humanities and involves an annual allocation of $25,000 in support. Brennan publishes Borrowed Light: Vico, Hegel, and the Colonies with Stanford University Press in March. He has also been awarded Sabbatical Leave with Supplement for the calendar year 2015. Congratulations!
The Association of Writers & Writing Programs holds its annual conference starting Thursday, February 27, in Seattle. Because the schedule is an eye-drying monument of panel and reading information, we made it easy with a quick compendium of what 16 faculty and alums are doing at the festival (which draws 10,000 some attendees). From Professor Peter Campion weighing in on John Berryman to BA alumna Cheryl Strayed addressing the rise of Rumpus.com, there's a plethora of "must see." (Plus, at the conference's book fair, student Carrie Lorig will be unveiling her new chapbook with Forklift, OH, and alumnus Josh Ostergaard his nonfiction debut with Coffee House Press.) Read on.
Third-year Creative Writing Program nonfiction student Scott F. Parker this year won the Monkey Puzzle Press' prose chapbook contest with a slim collection entitled in here--authored, provocatively, by The Synthesis. The book itself declares that its inventive texts may be read as poetry, philosophy, or fiction but seek to be memoir. Chapters include "all criticism is autobiographical," which mashes together quotes from Parker's widely published book reviews, and "unanswered questions?" which features nearly four pages of them (favorite: "Why not . . . accept that it's time that uses you?"). As Patricia Weaver Francisco notes on the back cover, this is an intimate little book that despite (because of) its challenging form effectively communicates aspects of the writer's personality and interests as much if not more than a standard "I was born in XX and did XX" narrative. Parker has also published a runner's memoir (Running After Prefontaine), two musings on musical icons (Revisited: Notes on Bob Dylan and ME | EM: One Listener's Confession), and an edited volume of writings on coffee (Coffee - Philosophy for Everyone: Grounds for Debate). Read more.
Nadia B. Hasan (BA 2002; JD 2006) braved her father's disappointment when she chose to major in English; he preferred pre-med or engineering. But her degree prepared her for the reading and analytic rigor of the University of Minnesota Law School and nine years thus far of law practice, first with Johnson & Condon, then Hinshaw & Culbertson, and since last summer in the Minneapolis office of Cozen O'Connor. These days, she notes with amusement, her dad claims he was the one who suggested English. Read more.
Assistant professor Elaine Auyoung, who joined the department this past fall, has been named a Institute of Advanced Study fall 2014 Residential Fellow. Fellows work intensively on their own research and creative projects and meet regularly to discuss their work and exchange ideas at the IAS offices. Auyoung's project is entitled "Missing Fiction: The Feeling of Realism." . . . Five English professors have received Imagine Fund Annual Faculty Awards, which support innovative research in the arts, design, and humanities. The professors and their projects are as follows: Dan Philippon, "Ideal Meals: Ecology, Morality, and Pleasure in the Sustainable Food Movement"; Paula Rabinowitz, "Lineages of the Literary Left: Essays in Honor of Alan M. Wald"; Jani Scandura, "Proximity: A Case Study"; Katherine Scheil, "The Shakespeare Circle and Anne Hathaway Shakespeare"; and John Wright, "The Worlds of James McCune Smith: Science, Race Elevation, and the Brotherhood of Chess." Congratulations to all!
How many first-time screen actors get to go to Sundance Film Festival with one of the buzziest films in competition? Naomi Ko (BA 2011) was busy January in Park City, Utah, with press interviews, brunches, luncheons, and parties around the acclaimed feature Dear White People (which was filmed on the U campus). Since graduating, Ko has acted and written for such local theaters as Mixed Blood, Theatre in the Round, Mu Performing Arts, and Bedlam. Last August, Ko heard from a theater producer she'd worked with, Jamil Jude, about movie auditions taking place the next day. Ko went, and she was the only cast member to win a principal role without an agent. The film follows four African American students at an East Coast private college. According to its director, Justin Simien, the film is "about the difference between how the mass culture responds to a person because of their race and who they understand themselves to truly be." Though the Asian American experience has been well-represented in theater, says Ko, there's as yet no Asian American film equivalent to DWP. "I'm working on one," she promises. Read more.
English professor Katherine Scheil has been named 2014 CLA Scholar of the College, an annual award celebrating outstanding achievement by faculty in the College of Liberal Arts. The award recognizes professors who have taken intellectual risks and whose work has had a significant impact on their field; Scholars of the College receive a stipend totaling $10,000 per year for three years to support their research or creative work. Scheil's most recent publication is She Hath Been Reading: Women and Shakespeare Clubs in America. She is working on a book about Shakespeare's wife Anne Hathaway. Congratulations!
When Shae Moloney (BA) graduated in 2012, she was aiming for a career as an editor and writer, but she hadn't explored where she might find such work. Within three months she had secured a job that included editing and writing. The field was unexpected: human resources. She admits to nervously anticipating beastly labor-management brawls. But these days you can find her waxing cheerfully (and knowledgeably) about Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policy, surrounded by snarling and growling beasts of the actual, not figurative sort. Read more.
"Writing and justice work go hand in hand," says MFA candidate Lalinne Bell. Bell would know: She was already at work on a memoir that confronted the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia when she won the Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship last summer. A collaboration of the Creative Writing and the Human Rights programs, the Scribe fellowship encourages writers to pursue human rights themes in their work: It allowed her to research the testimony of other Cambodian refugees to the United States and write a specific piece about the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, as well as better understand and frame her own family's story as survivors of the genocide. "I want to tell the stories of genocide because they need and deserve to be told," Bell declares. "Writers are the voices of the world, and that is a great power to have." Read more.