Monday, December 20, 2010

Congratulations to Pat Conner!

Yesterday was the department's big retirement party for former department chair, former director of the WVU Press, and Eberly Centennial Professor of English Pat Conner. TCH regrets that we didn't get pictures of Pat holding forth from the stairs at Laura Brady and Tim Sweet's house. Pat said he'd keep his remarks brief, and, you know what, he did! Maybe too brief, in fact; I for one enjoy Pat's stories and would have liked to have heard a bit more about the midget and the madman hired the same year as Pat. Also, did you know that among Pat's theatrical credits is a turn as Uncle Willie in a production Philadelphia Story? Wish we had a photo of that...

And as Pat assured us, he'll continue his research. As regular readers of the blog know, Pat is pretty hot stuff in his field. Remember that post about Our Recent Achievements? Well, while the rest of us were achieving at a respectable level, Pat was busy presenting papers at a conference in, oh, Malta, among other locales, and basking in the glory of two upcoming sessions in his honor at the 46th International Congress of Medieval Studies to be held in Kalamazoo in May 2011. In addition to those sessions—"Rethinking Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts: Papers in Honor of Patrick W. Conner" and "Anglo-Saxon Exeter and Its Afterlife: Papers in Honor Patrick W. Conner"—the international "Sources of Anglo-Saxon Culture" is sponsoring a third session, "Anglo-Saxon Studies in the Digital Age: A Session in Honor of Pat Conner." Quite frankly with this level of fame it's a wonder Pat ever had time for us!

Of course thanks to our hosts, Laura and Tim, for allowing us to drape our coats all over the place and for providing the food and the decorations, the memory book and—get this—a card basket! Do these two think of everything or what?

But most of all, congratulations and thanks and best wishes and happy trails and good stories and martinis to Pat for all he's done for the department and the university and for the friendship he's so generously extended to all of us.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Appalachian Prison Book Project

The Appalachian Prison Book Project has once again made the news. For a nice writeup, see the story in the Charleston Daily Mail.

The APBP website is here, which does a very nice job of explaining their efforts to provide free books for men and women in prison. Dictionaries are in particular demand so, if you've got a spare one, the APBP would love to be able to send it to someone who could really use it.

Call For Papers: Undergraduate Literature Symposium at Wheeling Jesuit University

Nineteenth Annual Literature Symposium for Undergraduate Students
Hosted this year by Wheeling Jesuit University
Wheeling, West Virginia
Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sponsored by the WJU Department of English

Analytical, theoretical, or interpretative studies of literary works, films, or culture are invited for this annual literary symposium. The top three papers will receive cash prizes. Completed papers should be appropriate for a 15-minute presentation and, therefore, should not exceed 8-10 double-spaced, typed pages (the selection committee will not read any submission beyond the tenth page). One submission per person, please. Only papers written during the 2010 calendar year are eligible. Send a completed paper along with your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (if applicable) to:

Joseph S. Brumble
Department of English
Wheeling Jesuit University
316 Washington Avenue
Wheeling, WV 26003-6243

Papers must be postmarked by Monday, December 20, 2010. Students will be notified of their status by Monday, January 24, 2011. For more information, call 304-243-2338, or e-mail

An Academic Field Implodes: Anthropology

The tremors of change have radiated out from Anthropology over the last week, and related fields are feeling queasy from all the turmoil.

What is the fuss? It seems the executive board of the American Anthropological Association has stripped the word "science" from its long-range goals for the field. Only cultural anthropologists who do not rely on data are welcome (so it seems).

How long has this been going on? The lead up to it has been unfolding over the last decade, with clear lines drawn in the funding-agency sands over the last six. Agencies, such as the NSF, have had the audacity to require actual methods and data to support anthropological claims. Cultural anthropologists have been outraged by what they claim to be oppressive enforcement of European, positivist thought.

How hot is it getting over there? The science-based anthrofolk are now calling the cultural anthrofolk names, arguing that their supposed scholarship has as much quality as that of "creationists".

Why should folk in an English department be interested? Anthropology as a field is very much like many English departments. Linguists would play the role of the science folk, and cultural studies faculty would play the role of the cultural anthropologists (where words like hegemony and hermeneutics come up a lot).

Language Log has several good discussions here and here (with many links and updates therein).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sorry to keep you waiting!

So, yes, wow, hallucinations: not sure, but something powerful happened, because it's taken me a couple of days to recover from Friday's Emily Dickinson birthday party. Not that the poets were all that wild or anything... but that famous, maybe-hallucination-inducing Black Cake plus those poems... well, it was a potent combination, that's all I know.

And just what does Dickinson's Black Cake look like? Like this, one of four small loaves made by yours truly:

And what does it taste like? Like fruit cake, but delicious. Especially when paired with hard sauce, which is—drumroll, please—confectioner's sugar + butter + brandy or rum or whiskey. I made all three, so we could do a definitive taste test. My personal favorite? Whiskey, thanks for asking.

So the poets partook, as you can see in this next photo. That's Charity Gingerich in the foreground dressed as "'Hope' is the thing with feathers— / That perches in the soul — " (note the red bird as corsage...) and Danielle Ryle way in back dressed as "It's all I have to bring today — / This, and my heart beside — " (she cut out that red heart while waiting for her students to drop off their portfolios: talk about time well spent...).

And then we each chose a short (but oh-so-intense) Dickinson poem to read aloud. I got #28:

We lose — because we win —
Gamblers — recollecting which —
Toss their dice again!

—which makes you think, doesn't it? And say it out loud—it'll just take a few seconds and really does sound so good.

And then, finally, toward the end of the evening, those remaining gathered by the fireplace for this photo, with MFA alum Beth Staley calling out Dickinson lines for us to say as she snapped the pictures.

So, yes, we had a nice time and we wished you were there and next year everyone is invited and we'll have Black Cake and hard sauce, hallucinations and poems. I promise.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Congratulations to our creative writing students...

who shared work from their English 418: Creative Writing Capstone projects at yesterday's reading. And congratulations and thanks to our MFA students who served as mentors.

Here's the group: back row, left to right: Justin Anderson, Micah Holmes, Matt London, Danielle Ryle, Seth May, Tori Moore, Rebecca Schwab, Rachel King; and front row, left to right: Dave Palmeri, Stefania Piatkiewicz, Tiffany Burrow, Selby Stanton, Jordan Weisenborn, Carolyn Brewer.

Students, faculty, mentors, and parents all agreed: it was a terrific reading!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Better set aside some time this weekend...

for reading the blog because you'll want to; after all, Friday, December 10, is Emily Dickinson's birthday and the poets are celebrating at my house. Her famous Black Cake is a fruit cake, which is perhaps a negative, but good authority tells TCH that it's also an hallucinogen, which is certainly a positive. Also, the contemporary version of this intimidating cake is served with hard sauce—you're liking that already, aren't you?—which is, of course, just an alcohol delivery system. As is the cake, truth by told. It's one thing to eat a fruit cake; it's quite another to eat a fruit cake after the fruits have been macerated in brandy. So stay tuned. If we hallucinate, we'll let you know. And regardless, some of the poets are dressing up as Dickinson poems. Yes! Can't wait to see circumference. And to put you in the spirit of things, how 'bout this seemingly small poem, #1568:

Sweet Pirate of the Heart,
Not Pirate of the Sea -
What wrecketh thee?
Some Spice's Mutiny -
Some Attar's perfidy?
Confide in me -

Here's hoping for pirates and confidences. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Andrea Bebell, ABD

This morning the Tenants were happy to see the following announcement from Gwen Bergner:

"I'm so pleased to announce that Andrea Bebell passed her booklist exams and oral with flying colors! She did a truly outstanding job. Thanks to Andrea's committee of Cari Carpenter, John Lamb, John Ernest, and Donald Pease for creating a rich and productive scholarly community for Andrea's project."

Bolton Reading...

Congratulations to the undergrads who braved both the cold and their own first-time-reading nerves to share their work at this past Sunday's Bolton Creative Writing Workshops reading at the Honors Hall. We enjoyed listening to your stories and poems! Here's a pic of some of them:

And... here's a pic of just their teachers, talented and hard-working MFA students without whom the Bolton workshops would not exist. (back row: Justin Anderson, Charity Gingerich, Heather Frese, Danielle Ryle; front row: Lisa Beans, Kelly Sundberg, Tori Moore):

And here's one of three Boltoneers from Bennett Hall who seem to be enjoying the reading, their baked goods, and their hats.

Thanks as always to Russell and Ruth Bolton whose generous gift to WVU/the Eberly College makes the Workshops possible. More to come next semester. See you then!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pushcart II

And I failed to mention another WVU Pushcart Prize nominee:

MFA grad Ann Claycomb, whose story "Proof of a Wedding Photo, 1969" now moves on to the final round.

Go, Mountaineers!

Go, Ann!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pushcart Prize nominees

Thanks to the extraordinary literary taste of a sagacious sprite*, WVU is rolling in Pushcart Prize nominations. A partial list:

Connie Pan (first-year MFA) "The Patron Saint of Exits" (fiction)
Katie Fallon (MFA graduate) "The Youngest Eagle" (nonfiction)
Charity Gingerich (third-year MFA) "Of the Meadow" (nonfiction)
Sara Pritchard (MFA graduate) "Help Wanted: Female" (fiction)
Kelly Sundberg (second-year MFA) "Secrets and Lies" (nonfiction)
John Shumate (MFA graduate) "Contessa's Diesel Phone" (fiction)
Justin D. Anderson (second-year MFA) "Brushfire" (fiction)

* The sagacious sprite is none other than WVU MFA student (and Pushcart Prize winner) Sarah Einstein.

Best of luck, everyone!


Winter Comes to Colson Hall

Both seasonally and meterologically appropriate and probably the first time the song has been sung by two guys (well, in public anyway). Discuss.

P.S. Warning: within the diegesis, the lyrics promote alcohol and tobacco consumption by minors. Viewing by assistant professors requires senior faculty approval.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hello Kitty says...

Hello Kitty is just skatin' by to say congratulations to, well, her, and Sanrio, on the occasion of the company's 50th anniversary. Kitty herself is younger (b. 1975) but still deserving of applause, don't you think? A round of applause for Kitty, please.


And Hello Kitty also wants to congratulate our MFA students whose work has been selected to represent WVU in the 2011 Intro Journal Awards competition sponsored by AWP.

In poetry: "Light and Its Results I Feel Deeply" by Lisa Beans and "Discovery Isn't Always about Space" and "Poem for a Late Summer Day" by Charity Gingerich

In fiction: "Like an Eagle, a Real One" by Heather Frese

In creative nonfiction: "Diorama" by Kelly Sundberg

Congratulations to all, especially Kitty of course, and best of luck to our writers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Professional Writing and Editing capstone event

On Thursday, December 2, four Professional Writing and Editing (PWE) students showcased the work they've done this semester in their respective internships. The students created posters that featured examples of their writing and editing projects and described the rhetorical strategies and organizational knowledge they drew on to produce each text. M.A. in PWE students also participated in the event, as they judged the posters as well as the capstone students' oral presentations on their work. Congratulations to Alexandra Castillo, who interned with the WVU Community Design Team; Candace Nelson, who supported tenants within the WVU Business Incubator; Lyndsey Loughry, who worked for the WVU Alumni Association; and Amanda Farley, who wrote for M.T. Pockets Theatre Company.

CFP: RSAP Prize for Best Article on American Periodicals

ProQuest and the Research Society for American Periodicals (RSAP) proudly announce a $1000 Article Prize for the best article on American periodicals by a pre-tenure or independent scholar in an academic journal with a publication date during 2010.

The second annual ProQuest-RSAP Article Prize will be awarded at the American Literature Association conference in Boston, MA May 26-29, 2011. Articles will be judged by a committee of three scholars drawn up by the RSAP Advisory Board. The winner and two honorable mentions will be notified by January 28, 2011 and will be featured as panelists on an RSAP-sponsored distinguished papers panel at ALA.

Applicants are invited to submit three print copies and one electronic copy of their articles together with a registration form available at <>. Thanks for forwarding ONE electronic copy to the committee chair and for sending THREE paper copies to the following address:

Kathleen Diffley
Department of English
University of Iowa
310 English-Philosophy BLDG
Iowa City, IA 52242-1492

All copies should be formatted for blind review and thus without identifying references or title. Applicants for the ProQuest-RSAP Article Prize must be current members of RSAP when they submit their work.


*RSAP encourages submissions from individual authors as well as from journal editors
*Submissions are not limited to work utilizing electronic databases
*Winners must agree to register and attend ALA 2011.
Become a member of the Research Society for American Periodicals by subscribing to American Periodicals

....Tomorrow, The World

Click to expand

And now, as promised, here's the world map of visitors to TCH. If anyone is planning on going to Greenland during break, please let us know.

Today, America.....

Click to expand
The Tenants would like to thank Holly Wendt of Casper College for taking some time from shooing the antelope out of her yard in order to check out TCH and complete our map, giving us visitors from every state. Thanks too to Dave Foreman for, we gather, keeping the yard antelope-free long enough that Holly could log on to the computer.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dr. Matthew Ferrence

Not Dr. Ferrence
The final piece of paperwork (the Electronic Thesis filing sheet) is now circulating among the members of Matt Ferrence's committee: John Ernest, Chair; Gwen Bergner; Tim Sweet; Dennis Allen; and John Grammer (of Sewanee University), and congratulations are in order to Matt for successfully defending his dissertation, “You Are and You Ain’t: Redneck Literature and the Imposition of Identity.” If you would like to congratulate the thesis itself, its Facebook page is here.

Oh C'mon!

Click to enlarge. Number of visits by state indicated in virtually identical shades of green.
As regular readers of TCH will recall, we noted in July that we'd received visits from every state but one. Although alumnus Dave Foreman pledged to set off to Wyoming and log in from there, we haven't heard a word since we handed him a basket of fried chicken through the car window and waved him goodbye down the road. As of today, matters still stand as pictured above. Dear Wyoming, it's okay if you want to ignore us, but we'd like Dave back, please.

Just In Time For The Holidays: Proofreading Job at the Dominion Post

The Dominion Post has an immediate opening for a part-time proofer. Applicants must work well under deadline pressure and be available to work nights, weekends and holidays. Sharp knowledge of grammar, spelling and punctuation is required; knowledge of Associated Press style is a plus.

E-mail cover letter and resume to Managing Editor Pam Queen

Dr. Jon Harvey

This morning, over their coffee, The Tenants were very pleased to see the following announcement from Katy Ryan:

"I am delighted to report that Jon Harvey passed his dissertation defense. His dissertation, 'Mythscapes: Violent Spaces in Postmodern Literature and Culture,' inspired a lively discussion about space, violence, fiction, and affect. The defense also had the unusual visual of one committee member slowing bleeding from the head throughout. My great thanks to his fantastic committee: Gwen Bergner, Sandy Baldwin (who slipped on his way to the exam), Ryan Claycomb, and Lisa Yaszek (from Georgia Tech)."

Dr. Harvey has agreed to let us issue a commemorative plate in his honor, which we hope will be the first in a long series celebrating graduates from the doctoral program. Instructions on how to place advance orders will be available soon.