Sunday, January 29, 2012

CFP: Literary London, 2012

Call for Papers
Literary London 2012

Hosted by: the Institute of English Studies, University of London
Organised by: The Literary London Society
4-6 July 2012
The 11th Annual Literary London conference will be hosted by the Institute of English Studies, University of London, on 4-6 July 2012. The Institute is located in Bloomsbury, at the centre of literary London, and just a few minutes’ walk from such attractions as the British Library, the British Museum, and the clubs, pubs, and restaurants of Soho. It is at the heart of London: one of the world's major cities with a long and rich literary tradition reflecting both its diversity and its significance as a cultural and commercial centre. Literary London 2012 aims to:
  • Read literary and dramatic texts in their historical and social context and in relation to theoretical approaches to the study of the metropolis.
  • Investigate the changing cultural and historical geography of London.
  • Consider the social, political, and spiritual fears, hopes, and perceptions that have inspired representations of London.
  • Trace different traditions of representing London and examine how the pluralism of London society is reflected in London literature.
  • Celebrate the contribution London and Londoners have made to English literature and drama.
Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers, comprised panels, and roundtable sessions, which consider any period or genre of literature about, set in, inspired by, or alluding to central and suburban London and its environs, from the city’s roots in pre-Roman times to its imagined futures. While the main focus of the conference will be on literary texts, we actively encourage interdisciplinary contributions relating film, architecture, geography, theories of urban space, etc., to literary representations of London. Papers from postgraduate students are particularly welcome for consideration. While papers on all areas of literary London are welcomed, the conference theme in 2012 is ‘Sports, Games, and Pastimes’. Topics that might be addressed are:
  • Sport: participation, spectatorship, and sporting events including the three London Olympics
  • Gambling
  • Shopping and fashion
  • Pubs and coffee houses
  • Games and hobbies
  • Holidays, downtime, and park-life
  • Child’s play
  • Reading and writing as pastimes
Please submit all proposals for 20-minute papers, comprised panels, and roundtable sessions using the online forms at
All proposals must be received by the deadline of 1 April 2012
For more information about the conference, please contact the conference organiser, Martin Dines, at
The full call for papers, online proposals forms, and information about the Literary London Society and the Literary London Journal can be found at the Society’s website:
Please circulate this CFP far and wide!
Best wishes
Brycchan Carey
President of the Literary London Society

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Grad Student Rap

While most graduate students do not have time to type the entirety of Moby Dick on a roll of Scott, some do have time to write a serious musical composition bemoaning grad student life. Enjoy!

Material Culture

For those of you interested in some of the more unworn paths of human endeavor, the Tenants have discovered a particularly novel way in which to spend your free time.* A seller on EBay named the_heppcat is currently auctioning the entire text of Moby Dick typed on toilet paper. Starting bid is $399.95 (but shipping is free). For the more sceptical among you, the webpage includes a number of videos of the_heppcat unrolling various "volumes" of the text to show that it is, in fact, complete.

Now, so far, there are no bids, but if this "mod oddity" sells, the Tenants are considering setting up a cottage industry in the barn, inscribing various literary works on non-standard items. As with those Project Runway challenges that involve making clothes out of items found at The Dollar Store, however, where contestants who select some kind of fabric are always ridiculed, we intend to eschew anything as obvious as yet another form of paper. The first project: writing the works of Emily Dickinson on Skittles.

*Not recommended for graduate students, who, as everyone knows, have no free time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's a very pretty book...

And lovely inside too. Jim Harms' Comet Scar, that is. Just out from Carnegie Mellon. Have you gotten your copy yet? You'll be wanting to, of course. Jim will be reading on March 8 and you'll want to be ready. You can read straight through or you can do what I do, which is just open the book anywhere and begin. Here's the poem I read first:


She's listing the leaves again.
She's beginning with leaf
like a hand, then
leaf like a little leaf.
She's folding the leaf
like a letter into a map
to fit in her pocket.
Dear Me, How are you
but I already know.
She's licking a lemon
plucked from my tea,
the glass on a tray on
the porch steps.
She's shaking a spoon
of wet sugar.
She's lecturing a year-old
nest finally fallen
from the elm, saying
How could you? She walks
the nest to a pile of leaves;
she buries it deep, she digs it out.
She spends fifteen minutes
trying to throw it back
into the tree before
she looks at me again,
before anything else.

I like that one, don't you? Effortlessness is so hard to pull of. I learned a lot just by typing. That's how poetry works, sometimes: it sneaks up on you.

Congratulations to Jim. And remember: March 8, 7:30 p.m., in the Gold Ballroom. Until then, happy reading.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spring Reading Series Kicks Off

Our first reading of the semester—this Wednesday, January 18, at 7:30 p.m. in 130 Colson—will feature two alumni authors: Katie Fallon (MFA) and Ida Stewart (BA). Here's a little something to tide you over until then...

From Katie's Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird:

My legs could barely carry me up a steep logging road, but this tiny bird had just completed a 3,000-mile trip despite tremendous odds—perhaps dodging storms, evading predators, and dealing with shrinking habitat the entire way. Since this bird was more than two years old, he'd made that journey at least six times. I admired our little cerulean a great deal. He was much stronger than I was. A bird equivalent of me would have dropped into the Gulf after only a few feet.
Greg asked if I wanted to hold the cerulean warbler. This was a silly question, of course...

The warbler cocked his head and looked at me with a clear black eye. A month earlier, he may have stared at scarlet macaws and other tropical birds during migration. He could have looked down at oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. And now, he peered at me. I swallowed, tried not to cry, and instead focused on memorizing all of his intricate markings and colors.

And from Ida's Gloss:


A mountain of song and dance.
Everybody's leading who's got feet
and not got time enough to listen.
J's on the banjo asking who knows
the words, if you do sing along,
if you don't, pick it up quick.
Red's learning the old song, a new
old way. Thinking it's too far away
from home, too fancy, everybody's got
a different notion of fancy.
The old ways, the right ways, the shortcut
up around and down
and up again. Everybody says
I got a plan, I got a plan,
then waits to see what summer says,
but she just comes and goes,
another gust of dance. This mountain,
this is me and you. All of you. This place
we're in all talk. All follow
and sidestep. All call and response.
All of you, there is no middle ground,
it's all middling, and there is no higher road.
There is no more, no more than this
song and dance has a climax,
has a peak or an end.

Hope to see you at Wednesday's reading. WV cookies provided, of course.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dr. Justus

Dr. Justus, at the precise moment of transformation.

The Tenants are very pleased to announce that regular, normal graduate student Jeremy C. Justus has become Dr. Justus. The apotheosis occurred during a conversation with his dissertation committee, a far-flung and distinguished group: Judith Halberstam, Donald Hall, Judith Roof, and Timothy Sweet, as well as yours truly. Since much of the dissertation defense centered around issues of privacy, agency, and subjectivity in an era of hyper-surveillance, with Facebook serving as a continual example of new forms of both narrative and self-fashioning, it was apt that this photo hit hundreds of people's newsfeeds even as the committee was still congratulating him.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Writing Contests

Jon Scott Nelson Freshmen Creative Writing Contest

This contest is open to all WVU freshmen. Prizes are awarded for first ($100), second ($75), and third place ($50). Creative writing only. Please submit one entry in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry (a poetry entry should be 3-5 poems; a prose entry no more than 20 pages).

Jon Scott Nelson First-Year Writing Award

All students enrolled in English 101 (or English 103) during either the Fall 2011 or Spring 2012 semesters are eligible with up to three prizes awarded annually ($75 each). Please submit one essay written in an English 101 (or 103) class.

Jon Scott Nelson Professional Writing and Editing Award

This contest is open to all students enrolled in PWE courses. All essays must have been written for English 301, 302, 303, 304, and/or 305 for the 2011-12 academic year. Up to three prizes will be awarded (up to $75 each). An entry should be no more than 10 pages but may include more than one piece of professional writing.

Waitman Barbe Creative Writing Contest

This contest is separated into three divisions (fiction, poetry, and non-fiction) and is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors only. One prize ($100) and one honorable mention ($50) are awarded in each division. Please submit one entry in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry (a poetry entry should be 3-5 poems; a prose entry no more than 20 pages). This contest is funded by the James Paul Brawner Endowed Writing Award Fund.

James Paul Brawner Expository Writing Contest

This contest is separated into three divisions—English 102, undergraduate writing (including English 103 and all WVU classes), and graduate writing from any course at WVU. First ($100), second ($75), and third ($50) place awards are normally awarded for each division. Please submit one example of expository writing from any class taken at WVU during 2011-12. Students may not submit more than one entry per division.

Russ MacDonald Graduate Creative Writing Contest

This is the only creative writing contest solely for WVU graduate students. Generally, three prizes are awarded annually ($100 each). Please submit one entry in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry (a poetry entry should be 3-5 poems; a prose entry no more than 25 pages). This contest is funded by the James Paul Brawner Endowed Writing Award Fund.

Appalachian Writing Award

This contest is open to all undergraduate students at WVU who grew up in Appalachia, which includes all of West Virginia, and whose work is set in Appalachia. The student will receive a scholarship ($350 value) to the West Virginia Writers' Workshop, which features writers of national reputation and will be held July 19 to July 22 in Morgantown. Submit one story or essay (up to 25 pages) or five poems. This contest is funded by writer Dwight Harshbarger.

Deadline for all contests:
Friday, March 9, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. in 100 Colson Hall

All submissions must have been written for classes at WVU; doctoral dissertations and MA theses not eligible. Students' names should be omitted from the entries. Attach a 3 x 5 card to the entry which lists: name, local address, email address, local telephone number, class rank (fr, soph, etc.), 700 number, title of entry, and name of contest entering (be sure to specify which division within the contest if applicable), and instructor/class for whom the paper was written. Students’ entries will be disqualified if information is missing from notecard. Winners will be notified by April 13 and will be invited to the Department’s annual Awards Luncheon held on Wednesday, April 18. Any WVU student is eligible for these contests; however, the student’s entry must have been written while the student was enrolled at WVU. Students may not submit the same entry for more than one contest or more than one entry per contest. For more information, email Marsha Bissett at

No entries submitted after the deadline will be accepted.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Spring Workshops from the Office of Graduate Education and Life

Once again this semester, the Office of Graduate Education is offering a number of workshops focused on the job search:

January 17: Campus Interviews for University Faculty Positions

January 23: Grant Writing Essentials

February 6: Finding and Applying for Postdoctoral Fellowships

February 13-24: Online Teaching Statement Workshop

February 20: Fundamentals of Online Course Design

March 5: Teaching Large Classes

March 12: Writing CVs for University Jobs

March 19: Writing Cover Letters for University Jobs

April 9: Writing Teaching Statements for University Jobs

April 16: Writing Research Statements for University Jobs

To see more information and to register, follow this link to the university calendar:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Initial CFP for the MMLA in Cincinnati in November

"We fully intend to build on [the success of the 2011 conference] as we prepare for this year’s meeting, which will be held 8-11 November 2012 in Cincinnati, at the beautiful Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza hotel. Registration opens March 5, 2012.

The informal theme for the 2012 meeting, chosen by 2012 MMLA president Craig Dionne of Eastern Michigan University, will be:


possible sub-themes include:

indebtedness and influence
borrowers and lenders
bonds and contracts
economies of lack
states of debt
oaths and promises
cultures of expenditure
Occupy literature
trans-cultural capital
symbolic economies
ecological materialism
rethinking civic missions/practices
literature of demand
emotional obligation
debts of affect
student loans

Prof. Dionne has chosen an exceptionally timely and important theme, one which should inspire lively discussion. We are now accepting special session proposals. The deadline for Special Session proposals is March 9, 2012. To submit a proposal, please complete the Special Session Proposal form at: ( Watch the website ( for more details, and please do plan on joining us for what promises to be another stimulating and enjoyable conference.

With all best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year--"

David Posner, Executive Director
Loyola University Chicago

Spring Semester Readings

The Department of English and the Creative Writing Program have an impressive slate of readings this spring. Here they are:

Katie Fallon and Ida Stewart Reading
Wednesday, January 18
130 Colson Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Dagoberto Gilb Reading
Wednesday, February 8
Gold Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.

Zachary Schomburg & Manual Cinema
Tuesday, March 6th
123 Pleasant Street, 8:00 p.m.

James Harms Reading
Thursday, March 8
Gold Ballroom, 7:30 p.m.

Matthew Zapruder Reading
Tuesday, April 3
Downtown Library, Robinson Reading Room, 7:30 p.m.

Calliope Reading
Thursday, April 19
130 Colson Hall, 7:30 p.m.

418 Reading
Thursday, April 26
130 Colson Hall, 11:30 a.m.

MFA Reading
Thursday, April 26
Rhododendron Room, Moutainlair, 7:30 p.m.