Friday, October 29, 2010

"WVU Student Voices: Undergraduate Writing on Display"

As part of WVU's upcoming Mountaineer Week festivities, students from several undergraduate English courses will showcase their writing at the following event:

"WVU Student Voices: Undergraduate Writing on Display"

Friday, November 5, 4-5 p.m.

Bluestone Room, 2nd floor, Mountainlair

This event will be a great opportunity to learn about the many interesting and intellectually engaging ways that WVU undergraduates use writing in their academic lives. A variety of the English department's courses and programs will be represented, including the Undergraduate Writing Program (English 101, 102, and 103); the Shakespeare course (English 363); the Professional Writing & Editing program's Multimedia Writing course (English 303); and the Creative Writing and Literature capstone courses (English 418 and 496).

Please support our undergraduates and their writing by attending this fun, enlightening event.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On Richard Ford, Kids, and the MFA

In case you haven't seen it, Richard Ford gives his list of ten rules for writing here.  For the most part, I think they're pretty good rules.  I get it.  I shouldn't drink and write.  The same advice probably goes for drinking and Facebooking too.  And drinking and blogging, which I'm not, by the way, doing right now.

Still, I struggle with advice #2, which says "Don't have children."  I'm a parent, and I just don't agree with that.  I'll be the first to admit it's not easy trying to write and raise a child, but it's no harder for me than for the person who has to work an extra job proofreading at night, or the person with insomnia, or the person with a chronic illness.  And I'm inherently resistant to the implication that there is one writing process that works unilaterally.  For that reason, I also struggle with Annie Dillard's, The Writing Life, because ahem, I have a life life.  I can't go isolate myself in a windowless tool shed and write for twelve hours a day.  Does that make me less of a writer? 

Well, actually, yes it does, but maybe someday, I'll have the luxury of time.

For now, I may not have marathon nights of manic writing, but I have Sunday mornings where I sit in my office with the sun coming through the window, a cup of coffee next to me, and my laptop on the desk.  The writing still happens; it just happens differently.  My MFA gives me the structure and allows me time to be a writer, rather than just a parent, and our program here has a diverse population with multiple candidates like me. Fortunately for us, this program provides that space for difference. 

You can see my work here .

And you can read more about the WVU MFA here .

From Kelly Sundberg: Secretary, Council of Writers.  Moo.

EGO's Annual Book Sale/Bake Sale

Last Wednesday, October 20th, was EGO's annual book sale/bake sale extravaganza in Colson 130. The doors opened at 9AM, and there was a fair amount of traffic until we closed the doors at 4PM. We had many awesome book donations and over 25 people who donated baked goods.

VP Rebecca Schwab setting up the baked goods table.

Overall, we had a successful day. There were many delicious treats--apple pies, mocha brownies, Halloween-themed cookies, cupcakes, etc.--and a great selection of books, with sections ranging from fiction to history to religion & philosophy.

Want to know the best part?
EGO made $1,056.68. The bake sale brought in $210.50, and the book sale made $846.18 (why yes, yes I am counting the spare change found on the floor). So a very big thank you to the donators, the volunteers, and everyone who supported EGO last Wednesday.

This post brought to you by Allison Hitt, EGO secretary.

Monday, October 25, 2010

News of Student, Faculty, and Staff Professional Activity
Issue 2010 No. 4

PATRICK CONNER presented two papers from his research on the work of early medieval guilds this summer: “A Collection of Anglo-Saxon Additions to a Gospel Book from England:Bern, Burgerbibliothek, MS. 671,” was presented to the International Association of University Professors of English at its triennial meeting in Valetto, Malta on July 20, 2010.

Conner also presented “Fifteenth-century Abingdon’s Richard Forman, Ironmonger and Poet,” to the International Association of University Professors of English Pre-Conference Medieval Symposium in Sliema, Malta on July 16, 2010.

A family emergency kept Pat from attending the Medieval Association of the Midwest, Iowa City, IA, on September 15-17, 2010, to present "Abingdon‘s Bridge Poem, A Fifteenth-Century Monument to Labor"; it was nevertheless read there, and a report of its very positive reception was shared with him.

On October 27, 2010, Pat was invited to present "Clues in the Exeter Book: A Case History in Manuscript Study" at the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College in the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College.

Conner will present "Abingdon's Guild of the Holy Cross, Celebrating the Subjugation of Nature" to the Southeastern Medieval Association on November 20, 2010, in Roanoke VA. This year's conference is sponsored by Virginia Tech and Roanoke College.

Pat is moreover humbled by a rare honor. The Richard Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies and Manuscript Research at Western Michigan University has issued a call for papers to sponsor two sessions for the 46th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI in May, 2011. The sessions will be titled “ Rethinking Anglo- Saxon Manuscripts: Papers in Honor of Patrick W. Conner” and “Anglo-Saxon Exeter and Its Afterlife: Papers in Honor of Patrick W. Conner.” Furthermore, the international project known as “Sources of Anglo-Saxon Culture” is also sponsoring a session titled “Anglo-Saxon Studies in the Digital Age: A Session in Honor of Pat Conner.”
A full call for papers can be accessed at

MARY ANN SAMYN published five poems- “The Moon Through a Skylight,”
“Octoberish,” “Speaking of Ferocity at Sunset,” “You Can Thank Me
Later,” and “You Got Your Wish; I Got Mine"-in POOL. A review of her
most recent book, Beauty Breaks In, appeared in Mid-American Review.

JIM HARMS read with Sharon Olds as part of theConcord Literary Festival to benefit the New Hampshire Writers Project (October16, 2010). He has five poems inthe current issue of Hamilton StoneReview: “What Leonardo Knew,” “Wetback(1967),” “Understanding Opera,” “Thom Gunn,” and “The Sunday Birds.” His poems “Condition Blue” and “TheBuilding” are in the current issue of TheLouisville Review. Finally, Animals in Distress & Pluto, a limitededition book of two stories, will be published by Wallflower Press (New York)in March 2011.

KIRK HAZEN published a chapter entitled "Labov: Language Variation and Change" in The SAGE Handbook of Sociolinguistics. The chapter is an argument for William Labov's place as a linguist, rather than a sociolinguist, in modern language study. SAGE (who uses the full capitalization as bumper nuts in the publishing world) was able to shrink down the 10,000 word article to 15 pages with double columns and 9 point font.

JOHN SHUMATE's short story "Garfield Park" will appear in this fall's themed ("nourishment") issue of 5X5 Literary Review.

RUDY ALMASY's essay "The Elizabethan Church as Restoration: Notes on Richard Hooker's Rhetorical Strategy" has just appeared in Renaissance and Reformation, Volume 32, Fall 2009.

Rudy also participated in two sessions sponsored by the Richard Hooker Society at the recent Sixteenth Century Society Conference held in October in Montreal. He was one of three individuals on the Richard Hooker Roundtable: The Future of Hookerian Studies, and he presented "The Redeemed and Unredeemed Mind at Work: Hooker's Rhetorical Strategy in Two Sermons." He also continued on the Executive Council for the Society for Reformation Research, and was elected to a term on the nominating committee for the Sixteenth Century Society.

IRINA RODIMTSEVA’s article “On the Hollywood Chain Gang: The Screen Version of Robert E. Burns’s I am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang! and Penal Reform of the 1930s-1940s” came out in the Fall 2010 issue of Arizona Quarterly.

VLADIMIRA DUKA recently presented a paper titled "Cultural and Linguistic Pluralism in the Writing Classroom" at the Watson Conference, in Louisville, KY on Oct 15 2010.

DONALD E. HALL gave a paper titled "Is There a Transnational Queer Studies?" at a workshop on transnational issues in American Studies sponsored by the University of Graz at the City College of New York.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lisa Russ Spaar Reading

Poet Lisa Russ Spaar will read at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 21, in the Robinson Reading Room of the WVU Library. This reading is sponsored by the Department of English and the College of Arts and Sciences. It is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception and book signing.

Spaar is the author of Satin Cash (Persea Books, 2008), Blue Venus: Poems (Persea Books, 2004), and Glass Town: Poems (Red Hen Press, 1999), for which she received a Rona Jaffe Award for Emerging Women Writers in 2000. Twelve of her poems appear in The Land of Wandering: Exquisite History, Volume 1 (The Printmakers Left / University of Virginia Press, 2005), and numerous anthologies, most recently in Best American Poetry 2008. She is the author of two chapbooks of poems, Blind Boy on Skates (Trilobite/University of North Texas Press, 1988) and Cellar (Alderman Press/University of Virginia, 1983), and is editor of Acquainted With the Night: Insomnia Poems (Columbia UP, 1999) and All That Mighty Heart: London Poems (University of Virginia Press, 2008).

Spaar's work has appeared in many literary journals, including Denver Quarterly, Image, The Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Slate, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Spaar is the Director of the Area Program in Poetry Writing at the University of Virginia, where she is Professor of English and Creative Writing, an Advising Fellow, and the winner of an All-University Teaching Award, a Harrison Award for Undergraduate Advising, and a Mead Honored Faculty Award.

"It's an honor and a pleasure to have Lisa Russ Spaar read her work at WVU," said Mark Brazaitis, the director of WVU's Creative Writing Program. "Her poety is precise, elegant, and evocative. And her insomnia anthology is must reading for anyone who has ever been acquainted a little too intimately with deep hours of the night."

For more information, contact Mark Brazatis, director of creative writing, at (304) 293-9707 or

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Temporary Positions at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

DATE: October 20, 2010

TO: Applicants for Anticipated Temporary Positions in the Department of English

FROM: Dr. John Marsden, Temporary Faculty Recruitment Chair.

SUBJECT: Procedure for application

We invite applications to generate a pool for anticipated temporary positions for Spring 2011. Applicants must have a master’s degree (ABD or PhD preferred) and experience in teaching both composition and literature.

Deadline for application: The Recruitment Committee will begin reviewing applications November 20. 2010. Applications should contain:

A letter of application including a statement of the numbers of years’ experience and courses taught.

A curriculum vitae including date and place of employment as well as your status (full time, part time, TA, etc.) for positions you have held. The c.v. should also provide full evidence of scholarship and professional growth, and detail the extent of department/ university/ community service.

A one-page statement of teaching philosophy making clear how your teaching practice is informed by and reflects your philosophy.

A select packet of recent material to indicate the quality of your teaching including materials such as:

•student evaluations and peer observations
•sample syllabi and sample assignments
•list of relevant course work

Transcripts (unofficial acceptable at this time)

Three letters of recommendation


1. Initial reading of applications

Members of the R&S Committee will independently read and evaluate applications.

2. Ranking

Teaching ability and experience is the most significant qualification for this position. Scholarly growth and service will also be taken into account. After reviewing applications, the R&S Committee as a whole will discuss and rank candidates and prepare a list for departmental approval. Review of files will begin on November 20, 2010 and a meeting to rank qualified applicants will follow shortly thereafter.

3. The departmental vote to approve candidates

Candidates’ materials will be open to departmental scrutiny prior to voting. Once presented with a slate of candidates, the department will vote to approve or not approve each candidate listed individually. To be approved for a temporary position, the candidate must be approved by the majority (50% plus one) of tenured or tenure track faculty in the department. The departmental vote will take place over two full days.

4. Final approval

Once approved by the department, the candidates’ folders of materials along with official transcripts will be forwarded to the Dean’s office for approval.

5. Notification

Notification in writing that a candidate has been approved by the department for teaching will come from the Chair of the R&S Committee after the departmental vote. The official offer of employment will come from the Dean.

According to current English Department policy, temporary faculty may teach for a maximum of three years in the Department.

Please feel free to contact me regarding any questions you may have concerning the recruitment and selection process.

English Department
110 Leonard Hall
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, PA 15705
Phone: 724-357-2261

[Blog Editor's Note: This should entail a 4/4 courseload, but, since Pennsylvania schools are unionized, the positions at IUP tend to pay quite well. Note the possibility, suggested at the end, that this position might be renewable for up to three years.]

From the Second-in-Command COW Officer

Attention: The Book Sale/Bake Sale is going on right now! Colson 130. You can find great books, scrumptious baked good, and free coffee all in an 800 square foot room. What a deal.

I am continuing what Heather Frese started last week--ie. musings from us MFAers. First, I want to give a shout out to Charity Gingerich, whose essay “Of the Meadow”, was recently accepted for publication in Ruminate. Nice work, Charity! I also want to give a shout to all the Tenant professors who graciously agree to conduct independent studies. My two studies, led by Mary Ann and Katy Ryan, have been invaluable. Go give your independent study prof a hug, or better yet buy them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant. They don’t get paid for this folks.

Now for the art over which I’ve recently obsessed:

-David Simon's The Wire: This Baltimore-based TV drama should be required viewing for every aspiring novelist. I tried to convince myself the characters weren’t real people by watching actors’ interviews. It didn’t work; I still keep thinking about them when falling asleep.

-Veronica by Mary Gaitskill: The minute I finished this book I immediately typed out paragraphs so I could study Gaitskill’s writing. Yes, it’s that good. I especially love the precise and innovative way she describes characters’ physical movements and emotions.

-Andrew Wyeth’s painting, esp. his Helga series: An occasional bright color among earthy tones. Use of light and shadow to illuminate his subjects. His own descriptions of his painting.

While in an independent study on ekphrasis, I wrote flash-fictional vignettes based on photographs in Robert Frank’s The Americans. I included a vignette below. You can find the "Bar--Las Vegas, Nevada" photograph, and other Frank photographs, here.

Bar—Las Vegas, Nevada

A man gazes at a list of song selections on a jukebox. It’s early morning, and light from large round windows form three spotlight-like circles across the white floor. The man stands between torn tiles and cement on which the jukebox sits. The light is harsh on his eyes. He’s had a long night—an average night around here. He’s kept his shirt tucked in, remnants of gel hold down his very black hair. Except for face, revealing his too many beers, and his slouching, he could be ready for another night on the town. Having mused too long over his final gambles, he hasn’t thought left to pick a song. He wants something more upbeat than the last selection--”Earth Angel”, something to wake him so he head north, home. His wife will have breakfast waiting—pancakes and eggs, good crispy bacon, not like the floppy stuff around here. She doesn’t complain. One of the lucky ones, he never loses. He never wins much, either but he always breaks even. “How does he do it?” Women on the reservation ask his wife. “Good luck,” she says and grins. “Only Indians would call breaking even good luck.” All the women laugh. “I call it good luck when my drunken man collapses on the couch and not the front steps,” another woman says. And they all laugh again. The song titles finally focus in the man’s eyes. Afraid they’ll merge again, he hastily chooses, “Rock Around the Clock.” He turns his body away from the noise, the tune grating on his nerves rather than waking him. A thin white man slides off a bar stool, whoops, and, standing in one of the rings of light, moves his body to the song’s rhythm. The light’s glare doesn’t hurt the man’s eyes as much now, or maybe he’s used to it. He rubs his pupils with his fists and spits on a palm and rubs the spit against his shoes to polish them. No matter how he’s feeling or how much money he’s got, it’s important to him to look good. Listlessly his eyes search the bar for his friend in whose car he road down. He knows he’ll have to hitchhike. No big deal, he thinks. Done it dozens of times. Resisting the urge to sit back down, he completes his hardest task of that day: pushing himself out the double doors and into the very bright morning.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Too Good Not To Share

Today, Sarah Palin endorsed John Raese for the Senate seat....representing Pennsylvania.

David Jolliffe Lecture

"Literacy--Urban, Rural, Suburban: What's the Difference, and What Difference Does It Make?"

Eberly College Alumni Recognition Award & Lecture
Honoring David Jolliffe
Wednesday, October 27th
4:30 p.m. Gold Ballroom, Mountainlair, WVU

David Jolliffe was born in New Martinsville, West Virginia, and received his B. A. from Bethany College and his M. A. from West Virginia University before moving to Texas, where he earned his Ph.D. in English, with a specialization in rhetoric and composition, at the University of Texas at Austin. A former high school English teacher (at Wheeling Park High School), Jolliffe taught for 10 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago and 11 years at DePaul University. Since 2005, he has been Professor of English and Curriculum and Instruction and the initial occupant of the Brown Chair in English Literacy at the University of Arkansas.

In his address, David first will provide an overview of what many commentators characterize as 'the literacy problem' in contemporary culture. He will then clarify a definition of literacy that focuses on a person's ability to recognize and deal with situations in his or her life that involve substantial reading and effective writing, and he will explain the degree to which several features of urban, suburban, and rural communities support the development of this critical literacy. He will conclude by offering five specific recommendations that will, ideally, help residents of different kinds of communities confront the literacy demands that 21st-century life and work present. There should be time for questions at the end of the talk.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Call for Submissions: NCSA Article Prize and Emerging Scholars Award

NCSA Article Prize

The Nineteenth Century Studies Association (NSCA) is pleased to announce the 2011 Article Prize, which recognizes excellence in scholarly studies from any discipline focusing on any aspect of the long 19th century
(French Revolution to World War I). The winner will receive $500 at the 32nd Annual NCSA Conference, hosted this year by the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, from March 3 to March 6, 2011.

Articles published between September 1, 2009 and August 31, 2010 are eligible for consideration, and may be submitted by the author or publisher of a journal, anthology, or volume of independent essays. The submission of essays that take an interdisciplinary approach is especially encouraged.

The winning article will be selected by a committee of NCSA scholars representing diverse disciplines. Please send three hard copies and full bibliographic citation of the article to the chair of the committee: Professor Jeremy King, Department of History, Mount Holyoke College, 50 College Street, South Hadley MA 01075. Questions may be addressed to him at Applicants must verify date of actual publication for eligibility, and provide an email address so that receipt of their submission may be acknowledged. One entry per scholar or publisher is allowed annually. Essays written in part or entirely in a language other than English must be accompanied by English translations.

Deadline for submission is November 19, 2010.

NCSA Emerging Scholars Award

The Nineteenth Century Studies Association (NCSA) is pleased to announce the 2011 Emerging Scholars Award. The work of emerging scholars represents the promise and long-term future of interdisciplinary scholarship in 19th-century studies. In recognition of the excellent publications of this constituency of emerging scholars, this award recognizes an outstanding article or essay published within five years of the author's doctorate. Entries can be from any discipline focusing on any aspect of the long 19th century (the French Revolution to World War I), must be published in English or be accompanied by an English translation, and must be by a single author. Submission of essays that are interdisciplinary is especially encouraged. Entrants must be within five years of having received a doctorate or other terminal professional degree, and must have less than seven years of experience either in an academic career, or as a post-terminal-degree independent scholar or practicing professional.

Only articles physically published between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011 (even if the citation date of the journal is different) are eligible for the 2011 Emerging Scholars Award. Articles published in any scholarly journal, including on-line journals, or in edited volumes of essays are eligible and may be submitted either by the author or the publisher of a journal, anthology, or volume containing independent essays. In any given year, an applicant may submit more than one article for this award. The winning article will be selected by a committee of nineteenth-century scholars representing diverse disciplines. Articles submitted to the NCSA Article Prize competition are ineligible for the Emerging Scholars Award. The winner will receive $500 to be presented at the 32nd annual NCSA Conference,"Money/Myths," in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 3-6, 2011. Prize recipients need not be members of the NCSA but are encouraged to attend the conference to receive the award.

Deadline for submission is November 19, 2010.

Send three off-prints or photocopies of published articles/essays to the committee chair: Phylis Floyd, Associate Professor of Art History, Michigan State University, 25 Kresge Art Center, East Lansing, MI 48824-1119. (Electronic submissions will not be accepted.) Address all questions to Please note that applicants must verify date of actual publication for eligibility and provide an email address so that receipt of their submissions may be acknowledged.

EGO's Rail Trail Cleanup

The weekend directly following midterms is a time for throwing yourself upon your bed or couch and not moving for 48 hours. It is also a time for picking up trash along the Rail Trail. Well, that’s how some members of EGO spent the weekend anyway.

On Saturday, October 16th, 10 members of EGO (along with one spouse, one father, and two dogs) met at the Marilla Park Office in Sabraton to clean up part of the Rail Trail. The park staff provided us with gloves and trash bags, and we set out in 2 groups to pick up trash.

We spent 1 1/2 hours picking up cigarette butts, plastic and glass bottles, empty bags, and tires. Some of the more notable treasures included:
• a Yankees hat
• a railroad spike
• an entire bicycle
• miscellaneous hubcaps
• Mr. Potato Head lips

We also experienced some harrowing experiences of extreme trash cleanup that entailed collaboration (and, more specifically, a human chain).

Photos and commentary provided by Allison Hitt, EGO secretary.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Newsy Happenings

Travel Report

Some of the MFA poets have just returned from the Dodge Poetry Festival where they had what sounds like a fabulous time. Charity Gingerich reports that she “took 15 pages of Dodge notes” and we’re happy to post one of her photos here: of Lisa Beans, Danielle Ryle, and Christina Rothenbeck at The Strand. Lisa wrote to say “Dodge PoetryFestival = awesome. My favorite was probably Mark Strand’s craft talk… everything he said you can take to the bank.” How’s that for an endorsement? And Mark Strand (no relation to the store), in case you don’t know, is the Robert Redford of poetry: famously good-looking and getting better with age. But that’s neither here nor there, and we’re certainly not the type to get distracted by such things. Hence, no photo here. (Google him.) In any case, we trust that the girls wore WVU gear everywhere they went (though, curiously, not in this photo...) and continued to spread the word about how amazing and underrated we are. Right, girls? Please send pics of the four of you in your fringe-y Mountaineer get-ups.


Seen on the Street

This past Tuesday your humble blogger saw grad student Micah Holmes (2nd year MFA) walking down High Street in the vicinity of Mark Brazaitis’ house. Just what was Mr. Holmes doing, my dog and I wanted to know. Up to trouble? Nope. On his way to the library! To do Old English-y things, we're pretty sure! And on a very sunny day, no less! Impressive.


Professors Say the Darnedest Things

“Every bad girl collaborative needs a girl who will pretend to be a goody two shoes,” said Professor Catherine Gouge to, ahem, yours truly during the, ahem, department meeting.

Now, just why was she saying such a troublesome thing and why to me—? I have absolutely no idea. She’s just like that.


From the Signs of Nature department…

Not sure exactly what this has to do with literature, but the Farmers’ Almanac is a text, so… the prediction is for harsh winter. And how do we know this, you might ask. Good question. Some of the signs include “thicker than normal corn husks,” “woodpeckers sharing a tree,” “raccoons with thick tails and bright bands,” “mice eating ravenously in the home,” “spiders spinning larger than usual webs,” “unusual abundance of acorns” and squirrels madly collecting up said-acorns, and my two favorites, “pigs gathering sticks” (who knew and for what purpose?) and “the early arrival of the Snowy owl.”

O, how I wish I had a snowy owl as a friend! Maybe top-notch bird-girl and WVU alum and now instructor Katie Fallon could introduce me—?

In the meantime, Tenants, be on the lookout for stick-gathering pigs, and if you see any, please post a comment here and let them (the pigs) know that stick houses are not the way to go. And enjoy the fall colors. The trees seem, just this week, to have decided to get over their funk and give us a little turning after all.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

EGO Meeting Friday

The English Graduate Organization will be meeting on Friday, October 15th at 4pm in 130 Colson. All graduate students are encouraged to attend. Hope to see you all there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

From the Desk of the Head COW

Your friendly neighborhood Council of Writers is now entering the blogosphere. Members of COW will be semi-sporadically posting MFA comings and goings, bits of our work, readings we’re digging, and/or a quirky combination of the above, because who knows what’ll actually happen when a bunch of creative writers are given official blog access and allowed to run wild.

What has COW been up to lately, you might ask? We’ve been busy planning a docket of literary events for this semester and next. COW is super excited to join EGO in the annual Book Sale/Bake Sale on Wednesday, October 20 from 9am to 4pm. Cheap books, delicious treats—what could be better? Only if you, Tenants readers, came out and joined us. And, you know, bought stuff.

Next up is the MFA reading, coming to you live from Zenclay at the family-friendly hour of 6pm on Friday, November 12. Come one, come all, to hear some, not all, of the MFAs read their work, and take home a complimentary copy of Joinery, promised this time to be in chapbook form. Rebecca Schwab will delight and amaze with her emcee skills, which are perhaps so delightful and so amazing that I’d see fit to label them skillz. It’s on the blog now, Rebecca. There’s no going back.

We’re also pleased to announce that our Spring Reader is Mike Czyzniejewski (we’ll hold a workshop on pronouncing his name prior to his visit, but for now, let’s just refer to him as Mike). Mike is editor-in-chief of Mid-American Review and author of the book Elephants in Our Bedroom. He’s published fiction in a slew of literary journals and is recipient of a 2010 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mike teaches at Bowling Green State University, where the campus is very, very flat. Look for Mike’s arrival and subsequent rendezvous with Morgantown’s hills in early April.

In closing, in keeping with the quirky blog post/things we’re reading/things we’re writing trend, my current reading-for-fun book is Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which is science-y and vivid and altogether rad. Plus, Rebecca Skloot signed my book when she visited WVU. And she has an MFA! She has an MFA, and people are reading her very well-written book! Giving Ms. Skloot a run for her money is Sara Pritchard, who also has an MFA, and whose book Crackpots arrived in my mailbox today. I feel some two-timing coming on. As for my stuff, here are links to a not-so-recently-published story and a few poems.

I feel compelled to end on a cow pun, but will spare you since it’s my first blog and the steaks are high.

(Get it? Steaks?)


Monday, October 11, 2010

Pride Week 2010

October is MFA Program Awareness Month

It seems to be quite a month for the MFA program. First, there was the HuffPo piece (see below) that listed us as one of the Top 20 Underrated Programs in the country (and explained why Mark has been so cagey lately).

Then, today, Mary Ann Samyn's "My Life in Heaven" was featured as "Monday's Poem" in the Arts and Academe section of The Chronicle of Higher Education website.

The Tenants can hardly wait to see what happens next.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Finally, a Top-20 List That Makes Sense

WVU's MFA in Creative Writing Program gets a much deserved plug as "underrated" -- on the Huffington Post Web site, no less:

Thanks to Kelly Sundberg for bringing this to our attention.

Thanks to the MFA students and the Department of English faculty and staff for creating such a dynamic program. Underrated? How about simply superb.

Happy weekend!


For Profit Colleges

In what has to be the longest opinion piece ever published on the Internet, Maria Bustillos, writing for The Awl, gives you the scoop on the for profit colleges. For the easily exhausted, the Tenants will provide an excerpt:

"According to Frank Donoghue’s book, The Last Professors, fully one-third of American two- and four-year colleges were for-profit by 2003. The University of Phoenix alone currently enrolls over 440,000 students, making it the second-largest higher-education system in the country after SUNY. In 2008, when Donoghue’s book was published, the seven biggest public companies running these schools had a combined market cap of over $22 billion and enrolled nearly 700,000 students—nearly seven percent of all college students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities that year. Total for-profit enrollment had ballooned to over a million by the time of the GAO investigation."

This is particularly relevant because:

"The General Accounting Office reported on August 4th on an undercover investigation that revealed the widespread fleecing of students in order to grab a staggering amount of Federal money: $24 billion in loans and grants provided by the Department of Education in 2009 alone."

And, of course:

"Instruction at for-profit schools is provided exclusively by employees of these companies, rather than by professors—there’s no such thing as research or tenure at a for-profit 'university'—and accreditations are relatively shakier than at traditional schools. Donohue reports that the University of Phoenix never even applied for accreditation from the most prestigious agency for business schools, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, for example. Only 26 percent of their instructors have been with the University of Phoenix for four or more years. Classes are shorter—24 hours of instructor time for a class, compared to 40 hours at a traditional school."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The MLA Commission on the Status of Graduate Students in the Profession has its own webpage. Particularly notable is the sidebar, which contains a number of links: to career resources, reports on graduate education, and even a guide to Doctoral Programs, among other things.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tattoos and Typos

Tattoos and typos, yes, but not tattooed typos, thank goodness.

But according to The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide, 3rd year MFA Christina Rothenbeck's last name is Westover.

Oh dear.

In any case, aren't we proud of Christina and MFA alum Lauren Reed whose literature-related tattoos (Roethke and The Aeneid, respectively) are included in this collection?

Yes, I think we are.

What would you NOT do for 20 billion?

Zach Weiner at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a recent post about the different pronunciations of "nuclear". Now this word has been granted way more than its 15 minutes of fame (see here and here for several discussions). Yet it still seems to have some power over the minds of so many Americans.

Weiner's comic (here) bases its humor off the idea that the nu-kyu-lar pronunciation is
so abhorrent that a physicist would be incapable of pronouncing it that way without imploding. It is a funny comic (as most of his are), but I am mesmerized by how this word has become somewhat of a litmus test for academia and the political left.

Do the Tenants know of other words with such political cache?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ooh! We Like This!

Beginning today, each Monday of The Chronicle's Arts & Academe page will feature a poem chosen by Lisa Russ Spaar. Remember her? She's the one I was just telling you about in last week's newsy happenings post. She'll be reading on campus on Thursday, October 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Reading Room. In the meantime, check out this week's poem, by David Baker, and what Lisa has to say about Whitman and Dickinson and how their writing practices are perhaps both strange to us now and strangely familiar:

Whitman and Dickinson both composed much of their work on scraps of paper and in small notebooks or hand-stitched booklets. Dickinson wrote at a table the size of a child’s desk. How did the exigencies of 19th-century life and the technologies of writing culture inform the poems they made—Whitman, the printer, with his choice of an oversized folio for his quicksilver tonal shifts, his relentless lists and cataloging? Or Dickinson’s wildly compressed, volatile, arguably Twitterable and hypertextual scribal explosions that often flooded and confounded the page at hand?

And of course plan to hear Lisa read her own amazing work in just a few weeks.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Winterthur Research Fellowship Program

Winterthur Research Fellowship Program Application
Due Date January 15, 2011

Winterthur, a public museum, library, and garden supporting the advanced study of American art, culture, and history, announces its Research Fellowship Program for 2011-12. Winterthur offers an extensive program of short- and long-term fellowships open to academic, independent, and museum scholars, including advanced graduate students, to support research in material culture, architecture, decorative arts, design, consumer culture, garden and landscape studies, Shaker studies, travel and tourism, the Atlantic World, childhood, literary culture, and many other areas of social and cultural history. Fellowships include 4-9 month NEH fellowships, 1-2 semester dissertation fellowships, and 1-2 month short-term fellowships.

Fellows have full access to the library collections, including more than 87,000 volumes and one-half million manuscripts and images.Resources for the 17th to the early 20th centuries include period trade catalogues, auction and exhibition catalogues, an extensive reference photograph collection of decorative arts, printed books, and ephemera. Fellows may conduct object-based research in the museum's collections, which include 85,000 artifacts and works of art made or used in America to 1860, with a strong emphasis on domestic life. Winterthur also supports a program of scholarly publications including Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Material Culture.

Fellows may reside in a furnished stone farmhouse on the Winterthur grounds, and participate in the lively scholarly community at Winterthur, the nearby Hagley Museum and Library, the University of Delaware, and other area museums. Fellowship applications are due January 15, 2011. For more details and to apply visit

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Opportunities at UCLA (The Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies)

UCLA Center for 17th-& 18th-Century Studies
and the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

Combined fellowship information can be found here:
Post-doctoral application forms can be accessed directly via this link:

Clark Short-Term Fellowships:

Fellowship support is available to scholars with research projects that require work in any area of the Clark's collections. Applicants must hold a Ph.D. degree or have equivalent academic experience. Awards are for periods of one to three months in residence. Stipend: $2,500 per month in residence. Application deadline: 1 February 2011.

ASECS/Clark Fellowships:

Fellowships jointly sponsored by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Clark Library are available to postdoctoral scholars and to ABD graduate students with projects in the Restoration or the eighteenth century. Fellowship holders must be members in good standing of ASECS. Awards are for one month of residency.Stipend: $2,500 for one month in residence. Application deadline: 1 February 2011

Kanner Fellowship in British Studies:

This three-month fellowship, established through the generosity of Penny Kanner, supports research at the Clark Library in any area pertaining to British history and culture. The fellowship is open to both postdoctoral and predoctoral scholars. Stipend: $7,500 for three months in residence. Application deadline: 1 February 2011

Clark-Huntington Joint Bibliographical Fellowship:

Sponsored jointly by the Clark and the Huntington Libraries, this two-month fellowship provides support for bibliographical research in early modern British literature and history as well as other areas where the two libraries have common strengths. Applicants should hold a Ph.D. degree or have appropriate research experience. Stipend: $5,000 for two months in residence. Application deadline: 1 February 2011

Ahmanson-Getty Postdoctoral Fellowships:

This theme-based resident fellowship program, established with the support of the Ahmanson Foundation of Los Angeles and the J. Paul Getty Trust, is designed to encourage the participation of junior scholars in the Center's yearlong core programs.

The core program for year 2011–2012:

Rivalry and Rhetoric in the Early Modern Mediterranean directed by Clark Professor Barbara Fuchs (UCLA)

The program, which is based at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, invites applications from humanities scholars whose research interests relate to the representation of empire and imperial rivalry in the early modern Mediterranean. The field of Mediterranean studies has grown tremendously in recent years, with rich investigations both within the national disciplines and in a comparative framework, placing empires side by side. This series will focus on the imbrication and entanglement of the various actors in the early modern Mediterranean (the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires, Portugal, Morocco, France, England, Venice, and so forth). How is imperial competition managed in different genres? How do literary and cultural productions render the alterity and the attraction of the cultures encountered? Rivalry and Rhetoric will feature three symposia that take us from the broadest problems of representation to a case study—early modern England—for which the "Mediterranean turn" has radically changed the field.

“Envisioning Empire in the Old World,” the first and broadest meeting, will consider problems of visual, material, and textual representation of contact zones and encounters among the Mediterranean empires. Topics include: Spain in Italy, Spain on the Ottomans, versions of Lepanto, North African Borderlands, travel writing, captive’s tales, merchants and ambassadors, citational and textual traditions, lingua franca and the problems of communication, and contested spaces on the page and the stage.

“Black Legends and Domestic Dissent” explores the intersections between the discourses that discredit Spain or the Ottomans as imperial actors and the contestation of orthodoxy in the domestic sphere. How is anti-Spanish sentiment used across Europe, and how does it enable local or national forms of resistance? How do conceptions of the Ottomans intersect with or influence conceptions of Spain? What is the role of race in the black legends? Conference sessions will focus on different iterations of black legends across Europe and the Americas, as well as on their interpenetration.

“Imagining the Mediterranean in Early Modern England” explores how England engages the Mediterranean as conceptual space, and how this engagement intersects with those of other European nations. What role does the representation of Mediterranean empire serve in thinking through England's own expansion? How is the threat of the Mediterranean negotiated in various genres? How has the canon of early modern English writing changed in response to the Mediterranean turn of recent years? Topics include: the geography of revenge tragedy, Iberian tragedies, Shakespeare's Mediterranean, Machiavellianism on stage, Spanish plots and plotting Spaniards, translation and appropriation.

Scholars will need to have received their doctorates in the last six years, (no earlier than July 1, 2005 and no later than September 30, 2011). Scholars whose research pertains to the announced theme are eligible to apply. Fellows are expected to make a substantive contribution to the Center’s workshops and seminars. Awards are for three consecutive quarters in residence at the Clark. Stipend: $37,740 for the three-quarter period together with paid medical benefits for scholar. Application deadline: 1 February 2011