Tuesday, August 31, 2010


42nd Annual Convention
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-10, 2011
New Brunswick, New Jersey

The 42nd Annual Convention will feature approximately 350 sessions, as well as dynamic speakers and cultural events. Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.

More information here.
Abstract Deadline: September 30, 2010

Hours for the Writing Center--Evansdale

The Writing Center will be holding drop-in tutoring hours at the Evansdale Library, Study Room 131, on Mondays from 3:00 -- 5:00 pm and Wednesdays from 2:30 pm -- 5:00 pm.

Wednesday hours will begin on September 8 and Monday hours will begin on September 13.
And be sure to check out The WVU Writing Center Blog:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Party Report

Well it’s that season: the picnic, the meet-and-greet, the officially sanctioned mingle: three events in three days and yours truly is pretty much small talked out. And I forgot to take pictures, so a brief report will have to do.

Friday was the department’s annual picnic though, sadly, the picnic-y fixins’ didn’t last long. Graduate students, did you gobble everything up? Are you really so underpaid that you can’t afford to buy ramen noodles and thus save a few sub sandwiches for your faculty? I mean, really. Other than that, it was a swell time with children and dogs and bocce and, yes, a few crumbs to pick at and some rather pleasant chit-chat. The perfect start to the semester.

Saturday was the MFA meet-and-greet-and-read… though as soon as Director Mark Brazaitis left, the students breathed a collective sigh of relief and no one would admit to bringing anything to read. As they explained it to me, wasn’t the whole point of the proposed read-around to get people talking and weren’t they already talking and why did we have to bother with, you know, actual creative writing? Hmmm, I said, I guess I see your point.

Sunday was the very fancy dean’s reception for endowed professors and chairs. No flying WV cookies for us, no sir! Sargasso! Midget bananas and giant apricots and chicken on a stick and very tasty, very tiny BLT’s. Yum. Your English department was well represented with Professors Brady, Conner, Ernest, Hall, and Sweet, along with this-here poet, doing the mingling on behalf of us all. We heard several uplifting speeches and felt generally congratulated and ready to go on to further greatness.

Whew! Yes, what a weekend, huh? I for one am all set to put down my plate and start some serious educating. What do you think? It could be fun. And yes, there will be flying WV cookies at some point. Don't you worry.

Friday, August 27, 2010

CFP: Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900

The 39th annual Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900 will be held at the University of Louisville, February 24-26. Critical papers may be submitted on any topic that addresses literary works published since 1900, and/or their relationship with other arts and disciplines (film, journalism, opera, music, pop culture, painting, architecture, law, etc). Work by creative writers is also welcome.

Visit our new website for complete submission guidelines: http://www.thelouisvilleconference.com/ Click on “Call for Papers” Prearranged panels are also welcome. Group Societies are welcome

Deadline for submission is September 15, 2010 (postmarked). 

The Conference Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=131421218223

The Discourse of HIV/AIDS

A Publishing Opportunity:

Last Spring, Dr. Joyce Mathangwane of the University of Botswana visited our department and presented her work on the discourse analysis of HIV/AIDS. She is now headlining a book on the topic and is looking for contributors.

That could be you!

Check out the following for information. Look at all those potential categories!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

MFA Meet & Greet

COW, WVU's Council of Writers, is happy to announce its annual MFA Meet & Greet.

When: Saturday, August 28, 5 p.m.

Where: 1261 Carlisle Avenue

What to bring: potluck dish; family; lawn chair; 1-2 minutes of your poetry or prose for a read around

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Although, hmmm....

As Professor Hazen points out, yesterday's NYT article is a...uh...remake of an article from 2000. In the current one, though, Kirk is played by Robert Pattinson.

So, the New York Times is like "What's new, Kirk Hazen?" and Kirk is all "The quotative be like...."

For the latest update on Appalachian dialect from our very own linguist, see The New York Times.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let's Make a Fort!

This installation piece by artist Matej Kren (read more here [update: please be advised a button for another article on this site is NSFW.]) looks like something we could totally do ourselves, don't you think? Between all the new books for fall classes, the stacks of reading accumulated by booklisting PhDs, our personal collections, and whatever is left over from this year's grad student book sale--well, this seems entirely feasible.

Note that I left library books off the list. Aside from keeping university property safe, it would be too easy. And mine are already in the shape of a bunker in preparation for the coming year. Best wishes to everyone for the new semester!

Victorian Studies conference

Victorian Epidemics
Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada
Banff, Alberta April 29-30, 2011

Keynote speaker: Pamela Gilbert, Albert Brick Professor of English, University of Florida Dr. Gilbert has published widely in the areas of Victorian literature, cultural studies and the history of medicine. Her first book, Disease, Desire and the Body in Victorian Women’s Popular Novels, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1997, followed by Mapping the Victorian Social Body (SUNY Press, 2004) and The Citizen’s Body (Ohio State University Press, 2007), and Cholera and Nation (SUNY Press, 2008).

This international conference will bring together specialists in
Victorian art history, history, gender studies, science, and
literature to contemplate the theme of disease in Victorian England
and its colonies. Papers will address medical and social histories of
disease, literary and artistic representations of disease, and disease
as metaphor in Victorian culture.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
-Victorian plagues: cholera, TB, venereal disease, influenza, smallpox
-histories and narratives of disease
-identity and pathology
-disease and the body
-disease as metaphor, languages of disease, contagion, illness
-disease and colonization, disease and globalization
-art as disease, mass culture as disease
-the spread of commercialism
-visual and literary representations of disease and illness
-sewers, filth, miasma
-slums, prostitution
-health and hygiene
-representations of illness
-mental illness
-imperial anxiety and disease

Please submit a 500 word abstract and short (50-75 word bio) by
September 15 to Kristen Guest, Program Chair, kguest@unbc.ca

The conference will take place in Banff, Alberta in the heart of the
Canadian Rockies. The town of Banff is surrounded by the spectacular
scenery of Banff National Park, which offers excellent opportunities
for both hiking and downhill skiing in late April. Banff is
approximately one hour from Calgary and is easily accessible by car or
air (regular and reasonably priced shuttles are available from Calgary
International Airport).

Accommodations and sessions will be held in the Banff Park Lodge.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Occupational Hazards

Once again, The Onion has gotten a little too close to reality. The scariest thing about their story, "Graduate Student Deconstructs Takeout Menu" is that, uh, most of the interpretations seem right (albeit a little more focused on the free play of signification than is customary now) (that's so '90's).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dolphin, er, Hummingbird Report

Well, I wanted to blog about My Summer Reading and, more specifically, about The Island of the Blue Dolphins, which I’m sure everyone but me read ages ago—though, quite frankly, I’m not sure it’s really for younger readers.  It’s pretty much one terrible thing after another: the mother: already dead; the father: soon dead; the brother: eaten by wild dogs; the main character: left alone on an island in the Pacific with said wild dogs.  And that’s, like, just the first few chapters. 

When I inadvertently (?) left the book at home, the plot had taken a more positive turn—the main wild dog, “the one with yellow eyes,” was (kind of) domesticated after nearly being killed by the protagonist (hmm… what’s the lesson there, ladies?)—but, still, this book is a real downer.

Which is why I’m glad I “forgot” it and am now surrounded by hummingbirds!  Sure, they’re addicts, but they’re so cheery about it.  “More nectar, please,” they say pretty much all day (see impossible-to-take photo).

So, yes, the Dolphin Report is now the Hummingbird Report.  Also, the Poet in the Woods Report and the I Think I Heard a Car Today Report.  The trees are lovely, thanks for asking, and, yes, quite unlike The Start of the Semester, which looms—I mean, entices—with its Opportunities for Educational and Personal Growth. 

And of course when I return to Morgantown, I fully intend to finish that damn Dolphins book.  It’s, like, a Newberry winner, but I dunno.  Even the ever-intrepid (and attractively coifed) Nancy Drew would be a little daunted by a whole pack of wild dogs and the prospective of making spear tips all day long. 

I’d tell you that I’m going to blog about the book when I’m done, but that’s a lie.  I don’t want to ruin it for you since I know, given this teaser of a plot summary, that you’ll want to read (or re-read!) it for yourself very, very soon.  So, have at it.  And then we can form a TCH What’s Up with That Dolphins Book book club/therapy group and get the semester off to a good start.

Jobs at Bucknell

Thanks to Dave Foreman for alerting us to two job openings at Bucknell, one a tenure-track job in Creative Writing (Fiction) and one a fulltime visiting position in film/media studies, both in the Department of English. The webpage with links to both job listings is here. Bucknell's homepage is here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Time For a Change?

Just in time for the start of the semester, furniture and clothing from Mad Men are being auctioned off for charity on eBay.

The new main office?

It seems like a good time to have that Bake Sale and raise some money to redecorate, just like we talked about.

If you want to do some personal shopping and bid on one of Betty or Joan's dresses, the auction itself begins here.

P.S. Note use of the passive voice in the first sentence.

Feeling Passive?

The world of grammatical guides is all too often like Fox News, lots of directives and little accuracy. The most enduring trend of wrongness has been the assault on the passive voice in English.

I am not sure about your personal feelings for the passive (I really like it myself), but we can all agree that if folk are to complain about it, they should at least identify correctly what it is. We turn now to Language Log to walk us through the carnage here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

And Speaking of Placement....

.....it seems time to present the updated placement statistics for graduates of the doctoral program. Despite the downturn in the job market the past two years, our overall placement rate is still very good:

WVU English Department PhD Placement Statistics, Past 15 Years:

Tenure Track Jobs: 31 (77.5%)
Full-time Adjunct or Visiting Positions: 4 (10%)
Administration: 3 (7.5%)
Alternate Career: 2 (5%)

And, while it has been taking our graduates a bit longer to move from adjunct teaching positions to fulltime tenure-track jobs, the placement rate is still good for the past five years:

2006 Graduates:
Tenure Track Jobs: 4 (100%)

2007 Graduates:
Tenure Track Jobs: 1 (33%)
Administration: 1 (33%)
Alternate Career: 1 (33%)

2008 Graduates:
Tenure Track Jobs: 3 (100%)

2009 Graduates:
Tenure Track Jobs: 2 (50%)
Adjunct or Visiting: 2 (50%)

2010 Graduates:

While it's a bit too early to tell what the 2011 job market will look like, the graduating class of 2010-2011 does have some reason for optimism.

The ADE Explains It All

Not unlike a James Cameron movie, the academic job search is a long, drawnout process that lasts nearly a year. So, even though school itself hasn't started, it's already time for graduate students interested in academic careers to begin preparing their application materials. To help with that, the ADE (Association of Departments of English) has a webpage with useful articles about various aspects of the academic hiring process that is located here. Jobseekers are also reminded that the English Department has its own advice pages and that current graduate students can consult with the Placement Director, the always helpful John Ernest.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

RJ Gibson Update

Sometimes, on hot summer nights, some of the older tenants sit on the front porch of Colson Hall drinking glasses of sweet tea and reminiscing about former students. When they do, sooner or later the conversation gets to RJ Gibson, who has just published a chapbook with Seven Kitchens Press, which has a nice writeup here.

One night last week we passed around the book for awhile and read to each other from it and said that we were all glad that RJ was doing so well and then the name of the press made us remember that we might be hungry and it seemed like time to go back into the house and see if there was any of that pecan pie left although we were pretty sure that Mark had eaten the last piece when nobody else was looking.

Creative Writing at WVU e-Newsletter

Happy August everyone --

Creative Writing Program assistant and MFA fiction writer extraordinaire Rebecca Schwab has composed a creative writing e-newsletter, which features stories, photos, and an interview with Molly Brodak, a WVU MFA graduate who recently won the Iowa Poetry Prize.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:

Question: To what or whom do you owe your success?

Answer: To West Virginia University and all its MFA-in-Creative-Writing faculty.

Okay, so this isn't an actual excerpt. But it's close. Or at least in the same universe.

If you would like to receive the e-newsletter, email me at Mark.Brazaitis@mail.wvu.edu and I will be sure to add you to the list.


Friday, August 6, 2010

German Chancellor Fellowships

The German Chancellor Fellowship: An International Opportunity for Prospective Leaders and Young Professionals

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Overview of the Fellowship:

Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awards ten German Chancellor Fellowships annually to young professionals in the private, public, not-for-profit, cultural and academic sectors who are citizens of the United States. Application is open to all professions and fields of study, with preference for individuals in economics, law, social sciences and the humanities.

The program, which also includes fellowships for citizens of the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China, sponsors career-oriented individuals who demonstrate leadership and the potential to strengthen ties between Germany and their own country through their profession or studies.

Prior knowledge of German is not a prerequisite.

Fellowship Details and Eligibility:

The German Chancellor Fellowship provides for a stay of one year in Germany for professional development and research. Applicants design individual research-related projects tailored to their professional background and decide at which institutions or organizations to pursue them. Before submitting an application, they must establish contact with a prospective host (mentor), who agrees to supervise them during the stay in Germany.

Applicantsmust be U.S. citizens and have a bachelor's degree; candidates must have received their degree after September 1, 1999. Successful candidates have come from such fields as government, social and policy sciences, law, journalism, communications, management, finance, economics, architecture, public service, the humanities, the arts, and environmental affairs.

Program and Application Information:

The program begins September 1 and lasts twelve months. It is preceded by three months of mandatory language classes in Germany.

Monthly stipends range from 2,150 to 2,750 EUR, and additional allow-ances are available for accompanying family members, travel expenses, and introductory German lan-guage instruction in the United States.

The application deadline for the 2011-2012 fellowship is October 15, 2010.