Thursday, June 24, 2010
February 3-6, 2011, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
250-word max abstract and 2-page vita due August 1, 2010
Plenary speaker: Laura Mandell, Professor and Director of Research Initiatives for Interactive Media Studies, Miami University
The Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS), a yearly thematic institute series hosted by the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin, invites paper proposals for the first of its 2010-2011 symposia, “The Digital and the Human(ities): Access, Authority, & Identity.”
This symposium will be the first of three events that aim to contribute significantly to the digital humanities by posing a series of hard questions about the tensions between its key terms. What can we say we have learned about the relationships between the digital and the human, and between the digital and the humanities? Efforts to promote collaboration and cross-fertilization between the humanities on the one hand and digital technology development on the other have overcome some conflicts between these areas of work. But to what extent have such efforts also revealed or repressed conflicts between the digital and the humanities that remain unresolved? Have they spawned new conflicts? Theorists routinely revise and extend concepts of the digital and of the human. But do practical initiatives in the digital humanities hold as yet under-articulated consequences for such theories? And, conversely, how might theoretical discussion of the digital humanities help clarify pressing practical problems in the field?
This symposium will focus on the threshold concepts of access, authority, and identity in relation to the electronic mediation of humanness. What do innovations in the digital provision of access and maintenance of authority mean for human identity, and, conversely, what do new ideas about, and forms of, identity mean for our evolving norms of access, authorship, and authorization? A number of high-visibility electronic experiments in radical access and the reconfiguration of authority have now come – and many have gone. What have we learned, and in what wayshave these experiments changed humanities conversations broadly?
Abstracts of 250 words or less and a 2-page vita should be submitted to the co-directors of the Institute (Brian Bremen, Matt Cohen, and Lars Hinrichs) c/o Andrea Golden at: firstname.lastname@example.org by August 1, 2010. Papers will be roughly 15 minutes in length, presented in non-concurrent panels, so that all attendees can attend all sessions. For past and future TILTS themes, visit us at
Friday, June 18, 2010
A Conference sponsored by the Ohio University English Department and Quarter After Eight
October 22-23, 2010 / Ohio University / Athens, Ohio
Keynote Address by: Anne Francis Wysocki
Special Reading by: Imad Rahman
“Literature is news that stays news.”
It was Alexander Pope who remarked “the sound must seem an echo to the sense,” while Ezra Pound admonished writers to “make it new.” This conference seeks to explore how theorists, critics, compositionists, essayists, fictionists, poets, and other writers have defined or used different critical paradigms, as well as experimented with different forms to make their writing new or to more perfectly echo their sense.
This conference will dovetail with a feature of critical essays on the history and future of experimental writing in Quarter After Eight, a literary journal focused on innovative writing. All conference papers will be considered for publication in this feature.
We are looking for work from the fields of Comparative Literature, Composition Studies, Creative Writing, Critical Theory, Folklore, Linguistics, Literary History, Rhetoric, and other disciplines related to literary study.
§ New definitions of the term “experimental”
§ The future of experimental writing
§ Re-examining early literary experiments, e.g. the work of Alexander Pope, William Blake, Laurence Sterne, the Romantics, the Modernists, Magic Realists, etc.
§ Pushing the boundaries of rhetorical traditions and/or pedagogies
§ Pushing the boundaries of academic discourse
§ Bridging or transgressing genres
§ Post-colonial innovations in form
§ The influence of critical theory on literary experiments
§ L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E or post-avant poetry
§ Lyric Essays
§ Prose poetry and flash fiction
§ Technology’s influence on form
Please submit a 1-2 page abstract or a 5-10 page representative sample of your creative work by September 1, 2010 to:
Defining the New: Experiments and Innovations in English Studies
Ohio University Department of English
360 Ellis Hall
Athens, OH 45701
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
If you miss animated conversations about writing: register for the Writer's Workshop (see below).
If you miss Kori's column, you can check out her debut on the "real Internet" at Suite101.com, here.
If you just miss Glee, you can take a quiz to find out which character you are. The rest will be up to you.
TCH: Working tirelessly to improve your summer.
The deadline to sign up for the West Virginia Writers' Workshop is fast approaching. In fact, when you wake up tomorrow, it will be here.
So sign up!
For more info, see the WVWW Web site: http://www.as.wvu.edu/wvww/
For even more info, see: http://eberly.wvu.edu/eberly_news/2010/5/19/pancake-to-headline-west-virginia-writers-workshop
For non-West Virginia Writers' Workshop concerns, including how to hold Saturn on your fingertips, see: http://www.as.wvu.edu/~dallen/
Friday, June 11, 2010
Gulf Coast Announces 3rd Annual Barthelme Prize
Gulf Coast is happy to announce that the 2010 Barthelme Prize for short prose is now open for submissions!
No matter what you call it--flash fiction, prose poems, micro-essays--send us your work of 500 words or less. The winner will receive $1,000 and will be published in the issue of Gulf Coast due out in Spring 2011, along with the two runners-up.
Last year we were happy to publish three excellent pieces of short prose by Matthew Yeager (2009's winner), Tracy Guzeman, and Joseph Holt. We were especially excited to find that these were the first (but surely not last) publications for Tracy and Joseph!
Entries are due August 31st, 2010 and each entrant will receive a year's subscription to Gulf Coast.
For more information, see their website here.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
“Nine months ago, there were five of you in here,” Will Schuester tells his twelve students on last night’s season wrap up of Glee. “And we sucked. I mean, we really sucked.” For those of us who have been privileged to follow the show from its inception this past fall, we know the truth of this as much as the characters, as images of Artie singing “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” as his co-stars do semi-cartwheels over his chair immediately spring to mind. In particular, those of us who are trained as writers, theorists, and critics have seen the plot evolve and mutate, seen the characters grow from simple stereotypes to surprising, human individuals.
The title of the episode is “Journey,” but for we writers, perhaps a better name would be “Trajectory” (and not a bad name for a rock band either). As first seasons of TV shows tend to do, Glee has taken time to try new styles and tones, mixing in guest characters as part of its ongoing stories. In fact, I’ve asked myself multiple times while watching the last nine episodes whether or not the plot was deviating too much. Why has Quinn been in the background for most of the last nine episodes? Why do Kurt and Finn’s parents have to hook up? What’s with Jesse and what does he really want? If anything, though, this finale episode proves that even though production schedules and other factors inevitably interfere with TV writing, the folks at Glee know they are creating something that is not episodic, but ongoing. From the pilot to the emotional final note of this last installment, the authors know that they need to finish what they started. And they do.
As we’ve seen before, Glee doesn’t like to go for the expected. Still, I sat down to watch the finale concerned that the occasion and the content that needed to be wrapped up would drift into the realm of predictability and sentimentality. There’s regionals and all that’s at stake, Rachel’s identity angst, and of course, the arrival of Quinn’s baby. In the hands of less capable writers, the episode would have built toward the performance at regionals and the inevitable opening of the envelope – the climatic moment would be the revelation of the winner and in the midst of all this, we’d also get a detailed scene of Quinn’s delivery, complete with lots of sobbing and tissues. Instead, all of these things are over halfway through the episode. Structurally, it shows that in fiction, be it literature or TV, time matters. When you’ve got this much to deal with in forty five minutes, choices have to be made – but the way that you as a writer make them can also clinch the reader’s satisfaction as well.
In dealing with this large amount of material, the finale also demonstrates that Glee is still not afraid to take risks with audiences. In my last few Glee reports, I’ve written about the relationship between Rachel and her birth mother Shelby, as well as the entanglement of Jesse as a pawn in Shelby’s plan to be reunited with her. In spite of how much I enjoy the theme of parental relationships, I’ve repeatedly questioned why this plotline even exists to begin with. Not anymore. Spoilers withheld, Shelby’s story and the progression of plot development from back at the beginning of the show converge in a way that, like so many other resolutions on the show, makes us realize that these writers knew what they were doing all along. In the end, the characters remind us of who they’ve become throughout the course of the episodes – how they have switched and reversed roles, and become better people. Their signature cover of "Don't Stop Believing" is even revived, performed this time by not just those five students, but the entire ensemble trading leads on the verses. Musically and plotwise, the story comes full circle, and to me, this ending felt unified, and movingly so.
Surely there are people who weren’t stunned by the outcome of the episode. Personally, I was. The conclusion leaves open tons of possibilities for the forthcoming seasons – a further potential conflict with Rachel and Shelby (should we have the pleasure of seeing Idina Menzel in future episodes), a new relationship for Emma, a possible shift in objectives for Sue. The best move made in this area, perhaps, is Vocal Adrenaline’s expected triumph over the gang in the regionals competition. While I still prefer my version of disqualification and mass sabotage proposed in my last installment, these characters still need something to work toward, just as all characters need things to work for. If they get want they want too easily, we may feel momentarily happy for them, but the story won’t be very interesting. As Will himself points out, “Life is really just a beginning and an end…and a whole lot of middle.” Isn’t that the case for our work as writers, too? It’s not what we remember most, but what’s in the middle is the most important part. Without plot – especially without an interesting, unpredictable one – there is no beginning or end.
Some final non-writing related season wrap up notes:
Best Sue Sylvester Quote: It's a tie:
1. “I’m having a hard time listening to anything you’re saying right now. Your hair reminds me of a briar patch, and I keep expecting little racist Disney animals to pop out singing songs about bein’ down on the bayou.”
2. "KISS MY ASS, JOSH GROBAN!"
Best Song: Vocal Adrenaline’s performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which provides not only an enticing song and dance number complete with symbolic choreography, but a surprisingly fitting soundtrack for a pivotal moment in the story.
Best potential theoretical essay: “‘I Don’t Menstruate.’ ‘Neither Do I.’ Sue Sylvester, Gender Roles, and Judith Butler.”
My short list of songs that should be performed on Glee:
“One Way Or Another” – Blondie (Sue)
“Let’s Groove” – Earth Wind and Fire (Will)
“Celebrate” – Three Dog Night (Finn and Rachel)
“Toucha Toucha Touch Me” (Emma) OR: A Rocky Horror Picture Show episode, starring Will and Emma as Brad and Janet and featuring Finn and Puck as Rocky and Frankenfurter respectively. Brittany and Santana as Columbia and Magenta, maybe?
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The Department of English at the College of the Holy Cross invites applications for a visiting part-time African American appointment in the fall, 2010 and spring, 2011 terms. Ph.D. is preferable, but A.B.D. status will be considered. We anticipate that the position will become a full-time tenure-track position the following year. The part-time position carries a 2-2 teaching load on a two-day, WF schedule: one upper-level African American Literature course and an upper-level Masterpieces of American Literature (non-majors) course in the fall; an upper-level Contemporary African American Novel course and again a Masterpieces course for non-majors in the spring. (A substitute African American course topic for the spring is negotiable.) The classes are capped at 25 students.
Please send a cover letter describing research and teaching interests, curriculum vitae, a statement on teaching philosophy, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation to Patrick J. Ireland, Associate Professor & Chair, Department of English, College of the Holy Cross, One College Street, Worcester, MA 01610.
The College of the Holy Cross is a highly selective Catholic liberal arts college in the Jesuit tradition. It enrolls about 2,700 students and is located in a medium-sized city 45 miles west of Boston. Holy Cross belongs to the Colleges of Worcester Consortium and the New England Higher Education Recruitment Consortium . The College is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and complies with all Federal and Massachusetts laws concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action in the workplace.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Maybe I, too, was seduced by the eye candy that is Jonathan Groff. But this isn’t altogether bad. At least from my experience, the insertion of Jesse’s character allowed for great opportunities to see Rachel experiment with her own identity, and how after her failed/forced relationship with Finn, she is able to feel wanted.
Now I’m not so sure it was such a good idea. Last week, I was bothered by Jesse’s unacknowledged absence from the show. It seemed like somebody in New Directions would say, “Wait a minute, where’s Jesse?”, or Rachel, upon finding out that Shelby is her mother, would have run to tell him the news. Upon bowing at the altar of the Internet Movie Database after the episode, though, I learned that the air dates of this week’s and last week’s episodes were swapped in order to push the Lady Gaga episode into the series/season finale week for May. Some strategic editing was done for continuity, and when I found out about this, I was willing to let my concerns about Jesse go – all would be answered this week. Maybe. Actually not.
Let’s review what we’ve got here – Shelby uses Jesse as a shiny lure to attract Rachel so she can get her biological daughter’s attention. Jesse’s moment of initiative in this plot occurs when he puts the tape of Shelby singing into Rachel’s dads’ box of baby goodies. But here’s what I don’t understand at all: what’s in it for Jesse? We can assume that in order to gain information about Rachel for Shelby, the following had to take place:
1) Jesse takes on the world’s most elaborate “acting exercise” to get Rachel’s attention. This includes making out with her, accepting gifts of Care Bears from stuff animal machines, having her refuse sex with him, and apparently going to a Wiggles concert.
2) Jesse transfers to McKinley High under the guise of helping the gang snag regionals and making Rachel happy. This means that during his senior year, he moves in with his uncle in another school district and gives up the chance to spend that last year with his own team.
3) Jesse commits the ultimate act of stone cold rejection when he, having done his duty to Shelby, smashes an egg on Rachel’s head and takes off with his buddies.
It looks like an intriguing plot, but here’s what’s missing: what’s in it for Jesse? All of these things involve him giving up an awful lot just to do his coach a favor. I expected an answer to this question last night, and when I didn’t get one, I started to doubt whether or not this was a good move writing-wise. Was there money involved? Did Shelby pull strings to get him into the University of California Los Angeles (“it’s in Los Angeles”?). I’d potentially buy this more if I had some kind of answer to this. Getting a chance to be with Rachel doesn’t work – although it could have, if Jesse admitted to Shelby that he had a crush on her. But even that is too simplistic. With everything Jesse has going for him, nothing I’ve seen explains why he would be willing to even temporarily sacrifice that and go through some serious adjustments just to do something for his teacher. Similarly, if he really did “love” Rachel, does that tell us love equates to public humiliation? As it is, Rachel doesn’t even know the real reason why Jesse dated her to begin with – as she shares with Will, she still thinks it was to throw a monkeywrench in the game right before regionals and make her emotionally cave. In the end, I can’t help feeling that the folks at Glee dealt me a raw deal – give us a potentially interesting character, only to completely strip him of all likability in the end as a way to compensate for that missing information. However, if the plan was to make me as a viewer agree with Rachel that Jesse should be eaten by a lion, then perhaps the writing accomplished exactly what it was supposed to. Having said that…
My finale prediction: Neither of the rival Glee teams will walk away with the title. Somehow, the shenanigans of the last eight episodes, from the Jesse Affair to Shelby making out with Will to the acts of cheating and vandalism both groups are guilty of will be revealed and affect the outcome. If this doesn’t happen, my money is on Vocal Adrenaline. Not because the McKinley kids don’t bring in tha’ funk (clearly they do) but because having them win regionals would give them nowhere to go in future episodes. The show has already been signed on for two additional seasons, and somehow they need to keep the tension up. There is nothing like unachieved goals – or serious rivalries – to fuel that tension.
Other non writing notes
Best Song: Puck, Finn, and an ensemble of Sheets n’ Things workers sing “Loser.” I wish it had been longer. Puck wearing the work apron and playing guitar in the aisle was one of the funniest things ever. But this could also be my eighth grade nostalgia fix talking.
Worst Song: A potentially moving version of “It’s a Man’s Man’s World” by Quinn is totally shortcircuited by a backup crew of grossly pregnant teens trying to ballet dance. Epic fail.
Best Sue Sylvester Line: “You’d make a fine trophy husband. And as you can see from my décor, I love me some trophies.”
Biggest WTF Moment: Terri asks Finn how old he is.
Video Link: Watch Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele perform in Spring Awakening in 2007