Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Diamonds in the Rough?

We all fight the good fight against plagiarism. But I would ALMOST relish getting that fraudulent paper if it was anything like the bogus Magna Carta essay submitted by "Henchminion" to a website for would-be plagiarists.

I think my favorite part might be the reference to Bollock and Maidenhead's Interminable History of the English Law. A classic, that.


Image from "All thine castles are within ovr possession," by Undertoad.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Congratulations to Brian Ballentine

The Tenants are very pleased and not at all surprised to learn that Brian Ballentine has just been named Outstanding Teacher in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. As one student evaluation put it, "Knows his stuff. Dresses very well." While the comment does not cover all of the many reasons why Dr. Ballentine received this award, the Tenants can attest that both of these things are absolutely true.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Graduate Assistant Position for Spring in the Office of Graduate Education

The Office of Graduate Education & Life
Graduate Assistantship Position Announcement

Mission Statement: The Office of Graduate Education & Life actively supports the holistic development of WVU’s graduate and professional students to advance their scholarship, professionalization, and personal growth. Working collaboratively with academic programs, we are committed to providing a rich learning environment that attracts and retains students who work closely with faculty to effectively meet the evolving needs of the
State of West Virginia, the nation, and the global community through advanced graduate training.

Overview: This graduate assistant will collaborate with the staff of the Office of Graduate Education & Life to assist with day-to-day office operation, data entry and analysis, event planning, and professional development and recruitment efforts as needed.

Start date: early January (TBD). Completion date: June 30, with possibility of renewal for the following academic year.

Qualifications and Required Skills:
• Strong writing skills
• Excellent communication skills
• Highly developed interpersonal skills
• Ability to work well with a diverse group of people
• Strong organizational skills
• Ability to adapt quickly to changing priorities and demands
• Strong computer skills
• Knowledge of social media outlets
• Strong attention to detail
• Ability to work independently
• Ability to maintain confidentiality

Preferred Skills:
• Experience with assessment, qualitative research, and/or SPSS or SAS

• Full tuition waiver
• $1,500 per month stipend
• Graduate student insurance coverage

Application Process:

DEADLINE January 3, 2012
By January 3, 2012, please submit a cover letter, resume/CV, and a 500 word-writing sample to:
Tammy Smith

*For more information about this position, please contact

16th-Century Poem Discovered in Wise Library, Media Frenzy Ensues

The story of a previously unknown Early Modern love poem that was recently discovered in the Rare Book Room at WVU's Wise library by guest lecturer Elaine Treharne started out as a university press release, which has been making the rounds on Facebook and was then picked up by LiveScience. It finally made its way to, one of this particular Tenant's favorite websites, which puts its own typically amusing spin on the story, as their title, "Mysterious 16th-Century Sext Discovered in Copy of Chaucer," suggests.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Teresa Pershing, ABD

The Tenants are pleased to announce that Teresa Pershing has officially passed her Qualifying Exam for Doctoral Candidacy. The committee (Donald Hall, Marilyn Francus, Adam Komisaruk, Anne Mellor, and Dennis Allen) was impressed by Teresa's erudite written exams and by her highly articulate and poised performance during the oral and is now looking forward to what promises to be a very interesting dissertation on error, sexuality, and early 19th-century England (perhaps necessarily in that order).

Mary Ann Samyn Wins Caperton Award

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has studied with her (or even heard her talk about her classes and her students' work) that Mary Ann Samyn has just won the Caperton Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing for this year. In official parlance, the award is intended to "recognize tenured faculty members who exhibit dedication and proficiency in the teaching of writing." Less officially, the Tenants are working on a sonnet in honor of Mary Ann's richly deserved award, which should be finished sometime around the end of finals if they can get the final couplet right.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Caption Contest

OK, so here ya go: something to lift your spirits during these final, exhausting days of the semester: a caption contest!

Post your suggestions in the comments section.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What a great reading!

Today's ENGL 418 Creative Writing Capstone reading was the best yet. Really terrific work. Thanks to all our readers—Kim Nold, Chase Fraicola, Maggie Matsko, Hannah McPherson, Josh Cooper, Chris Milam, Brittney Polen, Abby Hohn, Kayla Shane, and Caitlin Walker—and to their MFA mentors—Justin Anderson, Ben Bishop, Micah Holmes, Jeremiah Shelor, Connie Pan, Kelly Sundberg, Rebecca Childers, Lisa Beans, Shane Stricker, and Melissa Atkinson.

Here's a photo of some of these writers (back: Josh, Chris, Chase, Caitlin, instructor Mary Ann Samyn; front: Hannah, Kayla, Brittney; not pictured: Kim, famous for her cart-wheels, Maggie, who had to dash off to another capstone, and Abby, who just dashed off). Congratulations to them all!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Leave it to Pat Conner

... to have not one but two retirement parties. This past Saturday we gathered at Ethel Morgan Smith's house where we ate the most darling petit fours (really!) and admired her Christmas tree and toasted Pat once again. Not that he's not deserving, of course. Pat is, as you no doubt know, a pretty big deal—as our former chair and colleague, as a teacher and mentor, and as a scholar. He's definitely earned a fete or two... though when he started speculating about next year's celebration, we began to wonder. But we'll worry about that later. For now, just lots of congratulations to Pat. And we hope you will be King Lear very soon, Pat, and break a leg and don't forget about us when you become a famous actor.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Alumni News (And A Little Bit Of Electioneering)

Once again, the mail's arrived at Colson Hall, with some very good news and a little bit of politics thrown in.

Marisa Klages (Ph.D. '08) writes to say that she's been granted early tenure at LaGuardia Community College (part of the CUNY system), where she's Director of Outcomes Assessment and, now, an Associate Professor. The Tenants heartily congratulate her.

On the political side, Anthony Zias (Ph.D. '08 and now an Assistant Professor at Coppin State in Maryland) wrote to say that he is on the ballot for the MLA Delegate Assembly for the Mid-Atlantic region and would like your vote. Anthony very helpfully added that our own Professor Ballentine is running in a different contest in the same region so that you can actually vote for both of them. He did not mention whether the two of them constitute a party or, if so, what their platform might be.

ENGL 491A Poster Presentations

Congrats to the ENGL 491A - Professional Writing & Editing Capstone undergraduates on their internship poster presentations on Tuesday.
  • Winner of the exhibit's Best Poster Competition, Alexandra Ries demonstrated how "green" writing can be repurposed for various media and audiences.
  • Kelsey Gaus shared interviewing techniques practiced at WV Living Magazine with interviewees including WVU men's basketball coach Bob Huggins.
  • Chris Kees discussed the challenges of consolidating 100-page reports on technical topics (such as isoelectric solubilization) into concise abstracts for online indexing.
  • Alyssa Thompson showed the importance of clear organization and good design for a service directory used by paralegals in a law firm.
  • Wendy Spaw acquainted exhibit visitors with the issues involved in working with an oversees author to edit a manuscript originally written in Portuguese.
  • Barbara Hall demonstrated the complementary nature of graphics and text in a small business' pricing sheets, business cards, and direct mail.
Thanks to everyone who walked through the exhibit to support these young writers!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CFP: Undergraduate Literature Symposium


Twentieth Annual Literature West Virginia Literature Symposium for Undergraduate Students
Fairmont State University, Fairmont, WV
Saturday, 18 February, 2012

Sponsored by the School of Language and Literature, College of Liberal Arts, Fairmont State University

Analytical, theoretical, or interpretative studies of literary works, films, or culture are invited for this annual literary symposium. Presentations must be in English, though the works studied may be in any language. 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 2011 calendar year are eligible. Electronic submissions are preferred. Note: Papers must be formatted either in Word or .rtf.

Attach completed paper along with your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address, AV requirements (i.e., computer projection, DVD player and TV, etc.) and send to Dr. Angela Schwer (

Papers must be submitted no later than midnight, Friday, December 16, 2011. Students will be notified of their status by Friday, January 27, 2012. For more information, e-mail

Friday, November 25, 2011

As Finals Approach....

This Thanksgiving, about the time that the pumpkin pie was passed around in the old oak dining room of Colson Hall, the Tenants had come to a general agreement that, as Finals Week draws near, students might well take Evil Scientist Heinz Doofensmirtz as a role model, viz.:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Upcoming Capstone Events

Students in English 491A, the Professional Writing and Editing Capstone, will showcase the work from their internships at a poster presentation on Tuesday, November 29, in 130 Colson. The posters will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then from 4-5 p.m. the students will be on hand to discuss their work.

Students in English 418, the Creative Writing Capstone, will read from their work on Thursday, December 8, at 10 a.m. in 130 Colson. Chase Fraicola, Abby Hohn, Hannah McPherson, and Chris Milam will read creative nonfiction; Josh Cooper, Maggie Matsko, Kim Nold, Brittney Polen, and Kayla Shane will read fiction; and Sarah Keller and Caitlin Walker will read poetry. The students' MFA mentors will do the introductions.

Hope to see you at both of these events.

Monday, November 14, 2011

CFP: Drama, Theatre, and Performance Regional Conference

CALL FOR PAPERS: “Drama, Theatre, and Performance Regional Conference”

The Drama, Theatre, and Performance Consortium at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University announces its next biannual conference for Saturday, March 31, 2012 at Pitt.  We seek papers and presentations from regional scholars (grad students and faculty members) on a range of topics in the wide field of drama, theatre, and performance.  Possible areas for papers include: the necessary relations among evolution, nature, and performance, American drama abroad, the formation and institutionalization of performance cultures, theatre for working-class audiences, performance and cognition, theatre as autoethnography, and relations among performances and literary production in post-colonial societies.  Please send 150-word abstracts of your 20-minute paper proposal to Bruce McConachie ( or Susan H. Smith (  Deadline: January 30, 2012. The Consortium will notify all applicants by February 27.       

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Grants for Travel to the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke

The John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American
History and Culture, part of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book &
Manuscript Library at Duke University, announces the availability of
travel grants for research travel to our collections.

The John Hope Franklin Research Center seeks to collect, preserve, and
promote the use of printed and manuscript materials bearing on the
history of Africa and people of African descent.

Research grants are available to any faculty member, graduate or
undergraduate student, or independent scholar with a research project
requiring the use of materials held by the Franklin Research Center.
Grant money may be used for travel, photocopying, and living expenses
while pursuing research at the Rubenstein Library. Applicants must live
outside of a 100-mile radius from Durham, NC. The maximum award per
applicant is $1,000.

The deadline for application is January 31, 2012 by 5:00 PM EST.
Recipients will be announced in March 2012. Grants must be used between
April 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013.

For more information and to download a copy of the application form,
please visit:

Applicants are encouraged to contact Jennifer Thompson, the Franklin
Research Center's research services librarian, before submitting their
application. Past applications have demonstrated that those who spoke
with a staff member about their projects produced stronger applications.
Contact information is listed below:

Jennifer Thompson
John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American
History and Culture
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Duke University, Box 90185
Durham, NC  27708-0185
Phone: 919-660-5922

Monday, November 7, 2011

English Club Trip to See Much Ado About Nothing

"Speak low if you speak love."
William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

     Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington DC
       Saturday, December 3rd at 2:00 PM

All WVU Students Welcome.

Students are carpooling and departing at 7:00am. $10 covers the cost of tickets and gas. Overnight accommodation and meals not provided.
Contact Abra Sitler at for more information by Friday, November 18, 2011.

Consultant Positions for Spring in Business and Economics

If you're an English graduate student and need some extra money (possibly so that you can attend the benefit Jazz Concert for the Appalachian Prison Book Project, see below), we've just received the following call for consultants in the College of Business and Economics for next semester......       

"The College of Business and Economics seeks to hire additional graduate level students for consultant positions in the Business Communications Center (BCC) for the spring 2012 semester.  The positions are part-time, approximately10 hours per week, and the compensation is $10 per hour.            

Consultants will work with business students to improve written and oral communication skills, not by proofreading or editing, but by coaching students about strategies for editing their own work. We want students to be able to assess their own overall communication skills and identify their weaknesses rather than provide a temporary 'fix.' 

Some of the qualifications necessary to be a consultant include being able to respectfully communicate with the student and set priorities so that the student understands that ownership of the task belongs to him or her."       
Students interested in applying for one of these positions would need to send a letter and resume via email to Elizabeth Tomlinson, Business Communications Center Director:



This Friday: Benefit Concert for the Appalachian Prison Book Project

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spring Semester Courses and Workshops from the Office of Graduate Education

Spring Workshops:

RefWorks 2.0 - Join librarians Noel Kopriva and Penny Pugh for a hands-on workshop covering the basic features of RefWorks, an online service for managing references. In RefWorks, you can organize and store citations, create bibliographies and in-text citations, attach documents, and share references with other scholars.

November 8, 4-5:30 PM at Downtown Campus Library, Room 136.

November 10, 4-5:30 PM, Evansdale Library Classroom.

Writing Effective Conference Proposals- Learn how to craft an effective conference proposal to present your work at an academic conference.

December 5, 5:00-6:30, Oglebay Hall 107

Spring courses:

1. Preparing Future Faculty Seminar, GRAD 694

Preparing Future Faculty is a 2-credit seminar that will enlighten you on the transition from graduate student to faculty member. Participants will be expected to complete weekly readings and foster discussion on course topics, including the following:

· How to apply for academic jobs

· Teaching, research, and service responsibilities of an assistant professor

· Preparing for tenure and promotion review

· Current issues in the academic job market and higher education

· Considering non-academic jobs

2 credits, Pass/Fail

Tuesdays, 3:00-4:30

Dr. Jonathan Cumming, Dr. Jenny Douglas

2. Scholarly Teaching, GRAD 710

This course provides a foundation for teaching at the college level based on educational research. Students will learn best practices for employing active learning, fostering higher order thinking skills, and creating courses with meaningful, measurable learning goals.

3 credits

Time: Tuesdays, 2:00-5:00

Instructor: Dr. Michelle Withers, Assistant Professor of Biology

3. Teaching Capstone, GRAD 693

This course is intended as the capstone requirement for the Certificate in University Teaching. For more information about the Certificate, please contact Dr. Jenny Douglas at

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Big Doings

Sorry to fall behind with the party report, but, well, you know how it is.

And yes, I did say "party report." There have been parties. Plural. Didn't you know?

First, faculty gathered to celebrate Kirk Hazen's fancy NSF grant, as mentioned a few posts ago, and, yes, I was the hostess and, yes, I really did cook that seared tenderloin with mustard-horseradish sauce. It was good; we missed you.

Then lots of faculty and current and former grad students celebrated the publication of Katie Fallon's book, Cerulean Blues: The Personal Search of a Vanishing Songbird, at a party at the MAC. Jesse Fallon, veterinarian extraordinaire, provided the intro to the intro; Kevin Oderman provided the intro itself; Katie provided the evening's highlight, a reading from the book; and Katie's dad provided a humorous anecdote about Katie's trip to Colombia and guns.

Finally, this wouldn't be a post about "big doings" if I didn't mention that Glenn Taylor was on "Saturday Night Live." Or, his book was. The skit is too stupid to include here, but Glenn's second novel, The Marrowbone Marble Company, is featured prominently in the background, right next to Eat Pray Love, as you can clearly see. If this isn't fame, I don't know what is.

And thanks to "Vitamin Steve," some crazily-named friend of Glenn's, for the screenshot.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lonesome October

The environs of Colson Hall seem to have completely skipped over the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and gone right for that ashen and sober skies thing, with an occasional fine drizzle added. Even the graduate students are looking a little crisped and sere depressed.

Some of the Tenants, however, are cheered by the following vision of The Future, in which it becomes clear that, although Justin Bieber has been talking to other departments, he really only loves us and will buy us that dress we wanted and take us to a party.


The Jefferson Scholars Foundation at UVA: Doctoral Fellowships and a CFP

The University of Virginia seeks outstanding PhD, JD, and MBA candidates to apply to its graduate programs.  Outstanding candidates will be considered for the Jefferson Fellowship.  For full details about the Fellowship, please go to

The Jefferson Scholars Foundation requests submissions of manuscripts on the topic of Birth and Origins for consideration in the 2nd issue of our peer-reviewed academic journal, the Jefferson Journal of Science and Culture. We invite scholars in all fields to submit papers relevant to the theme. Theoretical as well as empirical manuscripts are welcome.  Collaborations between scholars from different fields are particularly encouraged as are single-author works with an interdisciplinary scope.
 Topics may include (but are not limited to):

 • birth of a specific cultural practice
 • background and origin of a specific term or element of your field
 • etiology of a specific pathological or physiological process
 • early histories of a paradigm or society

To submit, email your manuscript to by November 21, 2011.  Please carefully review the submission guidelines provided on our website:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Job Search Advice

For job seekers:

There's a lot of job search advice out there on the academic blogosphere, some of it sound, some of it a little less so. Here are two such blogs with series on the job search. Please feel free to post others in the comments.

Tim Morton at Ecology without Nature

The Academic Gig. Begin here, and the rest you can find under the category "jobs."

Be sure to leave links to others in the comments, and I'll add them to this post as they come in.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

EGO/COW Book and Bake Sale 2011

The 2011 version of the EGO/COW Book and Bake Sale is coming to Colson Hall in exactly one week. This year's sale, on Thursday, October 20 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, may be the largest book and bake sale to date! Please let your students, friends, and even people you may not especially like know about the date and time of the sale. Thanks in advance for helping EGO and COW make this the most successful book and bake sale in recorded history. The members of EGO and COW hope to see everyone there and we look forward to feeding minds and mouths alike. See you next Thursday in Colson 130.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Next Monday: Public Talk on Mobile Storytelling

"Bringing the Art of Design to the National Park Service:  The Fort Vancouver Mobile Project"
Dr. Dene Grigar
Director and Associate Professor
The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program
Washington State University Vancouver

7-830pm Colson 130
Monday, October 17
Free Public Lecture

In the 21st century, how best to relate the history of the National Park Service's Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, the most popular historical attraction in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area and a major archaeological site, with more than 1 million visitors per year and 2 million artifacts to show?  With digital stories told via mobile devices.  This talk, given by Dr. Dene Grigar, focuses on the "Fort Vancouver Mobile," an NEH-funded project that brings together a team of 18 experts and scholars from throughout the digital humanities field -- including historians, archaeologists and academics specializing in digital media production as well as literature, rhetoric and writing -- to tell the story of the fascinating and multicultural history of the place once dubbed the "New York of the Pacific."  Specifically, she will discuss the way design and non-fiction historical writing come together when mobile devices are used for digital storytelling.

Sponsored by the Center for Literary Computing and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Sturm Week

TCH would like to welcome poet Carol Frost, this year's Sturm Writer-in-Residence, to Morgantown.

And of course we want to congratulate the poets who will be working with her:

Melissa Atkinson (MFA, 2nd year)
Lisa Beans (MFA, 3rd year)
Ben Bishop (MFA, 2nd year)
Evan Blake (MFA, 1st year)
Melissa Ferrone (undergraduate)
Micah Holmes (MFA, 3rd year)
Sara Kearns (MFA, 2nd year)
Rachel King (MFA, 3rd year)
Matthew London (MFA, 3rd year)
Christina Seymour (MFA, 1st year)
Isabelle Shepherd (undergraduate)
Jacqulyn Wilson (MA-PWE, 2nd year)

And congratulations, too, to Emily Issacs, winner of this year's Virginia Butts Sturm Creative Writing Award.

OK, poets, we expect to hear all about the workshop with Carol and to read the amazing poems you'll be writing as a result. No pressure, though.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Postdoc at CalTech's Huntington Library

The Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Research Division of the Huntington Library invites applications for a Two-Year Postdoctoral Instructorship beginning Fall 2012. Area of specialization: early American literature and print culture, or transatlantic (British and American) long eighteenth-century literature and print culture. We are particularly interested in candidates working on issues related to religion. The teaching load is three ten-week undergraduate courses per year (quarter system). The position is contingent upon completion of Ph.D.
Interested candidates should submit a letter of application, vita, dossier with at least three letters of recommendation, thesis abstract, and writing sample by email to: or mailed to: English Postdoctoral Instructor Search, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, MC 101-40, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena CA 91125. Application deadline is November 30, 2011.
Caltech is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Women, minorities, veterans, and disabled persons are encouraged to apply.

Another Great Poet

Tomas Transtromer, the great Swedish poet, has just been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Academy cited his "condensed, translucent images" as giving us "fresh access to reality."

Sounds about right.

Here's a seasonally appropriate poem from Transtromer's 1958 collection, Secrets on the Way, and translated by Robin Fulton in 1987's Selected Poems (edited by Robert Hass):

Weather Picture

The October Sea glistens coldly
with its dorsal fin of mirages.

Nothing is left that remembers
the white dizziness of yacht races.

An amber glow over the village.
And all the sounds in slow flight.

A dog's barking is a hieroglyph
painted in the air above the garden

where the yellow fruit outwits
the tree and drops of its own accord.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And now, a word or two from Rilke

Some books can and should be read many times. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke is one such book. Have you read it? Recently? I'm reading it, again, for the creative writing capstone class tomorrow, and I'm struck, as always, by how deeply wise this book is. It's hard to choose just one passage to quote, so here are two, from the translation by Stephen Mitchell.

First, a (beautifully) humbling passage about teaching and mentoring and general advice-giving, which is what Rilke was being called on to do in response to Franz Xaver Kappus, the military student who wrote to him in 1903:

"Of course, you must know that every letter of yours will always give me pleasure, and you must be indulgent with the answer, which will perhaps leave you empty-handed; for ultimately, and precisely in the deepest and most important matters, we are unspeakably alone; and many things must happen, many things must go right, a whole constellation of events must be fulfilled, for human being to successfully advise or help another" (14).

And then, an equally beautiful and perhaps more uplifting passage about learning:

"... have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer" (34).

Rilke certainly doesn't need my commentary, nor do you, so I'll stop here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Even More Very Good News

The Tenants are pleased to see that Anthony Zias (Ph.D. '08) has just had an essay published in PsyArt (and in the same issue as a piece by Claire Kahane no less). Since the journal is online, you can actually read "The Repetition of Unrecognized Desire: An Analysis of the Traumatized Subject in Joyce Carol Oates’s Son of the Morning" without even leaving the house to go to that library place. Anyone who knows Anthony won't be surprised to learn that the essay is a Lacanian reading of Oates. You can get your "interpretation of the Other's desire" fix right here.  

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A warm welcome to Colson Hall's newest tiny tenant!

Our heartiest congratulations and best wishes for a good night's sleep to Associate Professor Cari Carpenter, proud momma of baby Adalyn Clare Carpenter-Bowen, born on September 28 at 8:57 p.m. 

That's 8:57 p.m. Mountain Time, since--fortunately for them, unfortunately for us--Cari, Eric, and Adalyn are sabbatical-ing in charming Fort Collins, Colorado* this year, so Adalyn won't be resident in Colson for awhile yet.  This gives us lots of time, however, to plan many ways to spoil her rotten. 

Adalyn Clare Carpenter-Bowen, 8 lbs, 3 oz and 21 inches long

* A. K. A. "Fort Fun" to those of us who once upon a time lived 30 miles east in the feed-lot/slaughterhouse town of Greeley.  Good news, Cari:  you can have a Rio margarita now!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships

This week, the mailbox at Colson Hall has been full of fellowship announcements:

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 2012

Kanner Fellowship in British Studies
These three-month fellowships, established through the generosity of Penny Kanner, support research at the Clark Library in any area pertaining to British history and culture. Fellowships are open to both postdoctoral and predoctoral scholars.
Stipend: $7,500 for three months in residence.
Application deadline: 1 February 2012

From the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation:

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships ( support the final year of dissertation work for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences.  Eligible proposals have religious or ethical values as a central concern, and are relevant to the solution of contemporary religious, cultural or human rights questions.  The stipend for the Newcombe Fellowship is $25,000 for a twelve-month period of dissertation writing. (Deadline: November 15, 2011)

From the Very Good News department...

The Tenants are super happy to congratulate MFA alum Christina Rothenbeck ('11) on the forthcoming publication of her chapbook, Girls in Art. Dancing Girl Press will do the honors and you can get your copy in August 2012.

From her new home at the University of Southern Mississippi, Christina also reports that she misses Pat Conner (hey, who doesn't?) and that her chapbook includes "a few new bank robbery poems," which is a statement you just don't hear every day.

So congrats to you, Christina... and yes, we will give Morgantown your love.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mark Brazaitis traveled to Washington D.C. to celebrate 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.

Associate Professor and Creative Writing Program Coordinator Mark Brazaitis traveled to Washington, D.C., this past weekend to attend ceremonies celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. Brazaitis served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala from 1990 to 1993 and as a Peace Corps trainer in the same country from 1994 to 1995. A few notable Peace Corps authors: Paul Theroux, Maureen Orth, Bob Shacochis, Richard Wiley, Mike Tidwell, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, Norman Rush, P.F. Kluge, and John Coyne. For more, see:

As part of the celebration, Brazaitis attended a ceremony at the Library of Congress honoring writers who have been Volunteers. Chris Matthews, a Volunteer in Swaziland from 1968 to 1970 and the host of Hardball with Chris Matthews, and James Billington, the long-serving head librarian of the Library of Congress, were featured speakers.

With several other former Volunteers who served in Guatemala, he attended a reception at the house of the Guatemalan ambassador to the U.S., Julio Armando Martini Herrera (see photo). Mucha amistad!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kelly Sundberg, Award Winner

Congratulations to MFA student Kelly Sundberg, who won the "Bridging the Gap" prose contest sponsored by Slice magazine at the Slice Literary Writers' Conference in September.

Kelly received $100 and her piece will be published in the spring 2012 issue of Slice.

The contest was judged by a panel of agents and editors.

As Kelly reports, "I'm really excited. I think Slice is a great journal, and the conference was really helpful."

Not surprisingly, Kelly now has agents and editors interested in her work.

Congratulations to a terrific writer!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2012-2013 Hench Post-Dissertation Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society

Scholars who are no more than three years beyond receipt of the doctorate are invited to apply for the Hench Post-Dissertation Fellowship, a year-long residential fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society. The purpose of the post-dissertation fellowship is to provide the recipient with time and resources to extend research and/or to revise the dissertation for publication. Any topic relevant to the Society's library collections and programmatic scope, and coming from any field or disciplinary background, is eligible. AAS collections focus on all aspects of American history, literature, and culture from contact to 1876, and provide rich source material for projects across the spectrum of early American studies.

The Society welcomes applications from those who have advance book contracts, as well as those who have not yet made contact with a publisher. The twelve-month stipend for this fellowship is $35,000. The Hench Post-Dissertation Fellow will be selected on the basis of the applicant's scholarly qualifications, the appropriateness of the project to the Society's collections and interests, and, above all, the likelihood that the revised dissertation will make a highly significant book.

Further information about the fellowship, along with application materials, is available on the AAS website, at Any questions about the fellowship may be directed to Paul Erickson, Director of Academic Programs at AAS, at

The deadline for applications for a Hench Post-Dissertation Fellowship to be held during the 2012-2013 academic year is October 15, 2011.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Calliope Meeting...

As just announced on the Bolton Writing Workshops blog, based on an email from Marsha Bissett, who got the info from Mark Brazaitis, here's the deal with the first meeting of the year for Calliope:

A meeting of all students interested in working on Calliope, WVU's award-winning undergraduate literary magazine, will be held on Tuesday , October 4, at 7:30 in room 130 of Colson Hall. Students interested in the top editorial positions (editor-in-chief, managing editor, fiction editor, poetry editor, etc.) as well as students interested in contributing in other ways to the editorial and publication process are encouraged to attend. No experience is necessary! Enthusiasm is a plus!

Students who are not able to attend the meeting but would like to be on the Calliope staff should email or call the magazine's faculty sponsor, Mark Brazaitis, at

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kirk Hazen Receives NSF Grant for "Phonetic Variation in Appalachia"

This just in from Department Chair John Ernest:

Professor Hazen
"I'm very pleased and proud to announce that Kirk Hazen's project, "Phonetic Variation in Appalachia," has been fully funded by the National Science Foundation--a grant of $239,724. Kirk's track record is simply amazing. Since he has been at WVU, this is the third proposal he has had funded by the NSF, and all three were funded on the first review. What continues to impress me the most, however, is Kirk's commitment to this work in all of its manifestations and applications. From the classroom to the community, from his interactions with established scholars to his devoted mentoring of rising students, Kirk approaches his work with a clear sense of the importance of understanding how we have spoken our way through the world--how the world changes our language use and how our language use has the potential to change our worlds."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Susan Webster Schultz Lecture

Department of English and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will host the English Department’s Eberly Family Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring a presentation by Susan Webster Schultz, Professor of English at the University of Hawaii. Her discussion, “Writing Alzheimer’s: It Must Be Experimental” is scheduled for Monday, September 19 in 130 Colson Hall from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Call For Applications: Mellon Dissertation Fellowships

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is pleased to offer fellowships funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for graduate students who:

* are enrolled in a doctoral program in a graduate school in the United States

* will complete all doctoral requirements except the dissertation and be ready to start research for it as early as June 1 and no later than September 1, 2012, with approval of the dissertation proposal by April 1, 2012

* plan to do dissertation research primarily in original source material in the holdings of archives, libraries, historical societies, museums, related repositories, or a combination

* will write the dissertation and receive the Ph.D. degree in a field of the humanities or in a related element of the social sciences.

To such students, CLIR offers approximately 15 competitively awarded fellowships carrying stipends of up to $25,000 to support dissertation research for periods of 9 to 12 months. Applicants may be of any nationality and may propose to conduct their research anywhere in the world (including in multiple countries), but must be enrolled in a U.S. graduate school and be studying here, not on a campus abroad even if operated by a U.S. institution.

In partnership with the Preservation Directorate at the Library of Congress, for the 2012-2013 academic year CLIR is offering an additional fellowship award through this program to support original source dissertation research at the Library of Congress. Applicants must meet all standard eligibility requirements for the program as well as certain fellowship specific requirements, and will receive a regular stipend of up to $25,000 over the 9 to 12 month fellowship period. The CLIR/Library of Congress fellow will also be eligible to receive up to $6,000 in living expenses.

The application deadline is 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, November 15, 2011. Fellowship awards will be announced on April 2, 2012. Fellowship tenure will begin between June 1 and September 1, 2012, and end within 12 months of commencing. The application form, detailed instructions and further information are available online and may be found at

Public Lecture: "The Historian as Ventriloquist"

This just in from Sandy Baldwin:

Please note the upcoming lecture by Tom Cohen (and maybe also by
Elizabeth Cohen): "The Historian as Ventriloquist: The Joys and
Pitfalls of Speaking for Past People." The presentation will be held on
Friday, 30 September at 3:30 PM in Oglebay 118.

About Tom, from the York University (Canada) website:
"Professor Tom Cohen (*Thomas* only when in print) works on
Renaissance Italy, Rome especially, and that city*s rural hinterland.
His take is a mix of cultural and political anthropology. He studies
gestures and symbols and decodes actions. As a writer, he often uses
microhistory, telling fine-grained stories about the lives of ordinary
Romans. He looks to coalitions, conspiracies, trades, bluffs, dares, and
wily dodges. A devotee of style and vividness in scholarly writing, he
tells stories about seductions, betrayals, conspiracies, murders, and
poisonings, not just for the tales themselves, but for the clues they
offer about the culture of negotiation and the habits of coalition that
made a distant world work. As a social historian with a Humanities
inclination, employs close reading to extract the hidden esthetics of
everyday language. His current main project is a book on a rebellious
village high in mountains east of Rome."

Tom's recent books include Cultural History of Early Modern European
(Brill, 2009), and Love and Death in Renaissance Italy (Chicago,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

There is money in poetry.

That caught your attention, didn't it?

And it's only a small exaggeration. There is money, in poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction, for one lucky undergraduate who is selected as this year's Virginia Butts Sturm Creative Writing Scholarship recipient. So if you're an English major with a creative writing concentration, think about how great it'll feel to hit it big and tell your parents that being a writer does pay! Deadline: Wednesday, September 28.

And if you're a poet, grad or undergrad, don't miss the deadline---Monday, September 19---to apply for this year's Sturm residency with poet Carol Frost. She's pretty terrific. And here's a poem to prove it.

All Summer Long
The dogs eat hoof slivers and lie under the porch.
A strand of human hair hangs strangely from a fruit tree
like a cry in the throat. The sky is clay for the child who is past
being tired, who wanders in waist-deep
grasses. Gnats rise in a vapor,
in a long mounting whine around her forehead and ears.

The sun is an indistinct moon. Frail sticks
of grass poke her ankles,
and a wet froth of spiders touches her legs
like wet fingers. The musk and smell
of air are as hot as the savory
terrible exhales from a tired horse.

The parents are sleeping all afternoon,
and no one explains the long uneasy afternoons.
She hears their combined breathing and swallowing
salivas, and sees their sides rising and falling
like the sides of horses in the hot pasture.

At evening a breeze dries and crumbles
the sky and the clouds float like undershirts
and cotton dresses on a clothesline. Horses
rock to their feet and race or graze.
Parents open their shutters and call
the lonely, happy child home.
The child who hates silences talks and talks
of cicadas and the manes of horses.

“All Summer Long” by Carol Frost from Love and Scorn: New and Collected Poems. © 2000 by Carol Frost. Published by TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Poetry in your pants

Last summer, parts of Morgantown were visited by the "Midnight Poet," who would leave cryptic and frankly not very interesting poems on people's porches and doors overnight.  Colson Hall tenant Cari Carpenter received one, and it was fun to speculate about what the writer might be trying to accomplish by secretly distributing poetry door-to-door.  Was it performance art?  A cry for help?  Terrorism?

This video suggests that there might be better ways to be a poetry vandal.

--and while you're at the "Salvo Boutique," Goodwill, or Lucky's Attic, be sure to pick up the requisite pieces for this fall's retro-chic Flashdance look.  Since this is a very complicated ensemble to put together, here are some helpful instructions:

And remember that when it comes to accessories, "You can even add a little bit more, all the way up your wrist, to look like a people in the 80s!"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Career Workshops for Graduate Students

The Office of Graduate Education has announced the following workshops:

September 12: CVs for the Academic Job Search Oglebay 107, 5:00 – 6:30

September 19: Cover Letters for Faculty Positions Percival Hall 316, 5:00 – 6:30

September 27 & 29: How to Conduct a Literature Review

September 27: Downtown Library, 4:00 – 6:00

September 29: Evansdale Library, 4:00 – 6:00

*Please register by emailing or calling 304-293-7173

October 3: Teaching Statements for Faculty Positions Oglebay 107, 5:00 – 6:30

October 17: Teaching Portfolios for Faculty Positions Oglebay 107, 5:00 –6:30

October 24: Research Statements for Faculty Positions Percival Hall 316, 5:00 – 6:30

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CFP: Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS) Conference

One of the interesting trends in academia in the past couple of years is a growing dissatisfaction with the standard conference format and various attempts to structure conferences in a way that allows substantially more discussion between participants than the traditional three paper panel with 30 minutes for questions. As Professor Komisaruk notes, this conference has an innovative structure. According to Adam, "The format is a little different: you submit your paper online to be read in advance, present for five minutes, then spend the remaining hour in discussion."

Call for Papers
Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS) Conference
Picturing the Nineteenth Century
March 22-25, 2012
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Though its title foregrounds art and visual culture, this conference will treat"picturing" in all its many senses: imagining, representing, framing, mapping. We invite papers and panels that consider how the nineteenth century represented itself to itself - through depictions of subjectivity, history, and culture; through emerging technologies and disciplines; through self-conscious "meta" attempts to understand methods of representation - and how our own technologies and disciplines create multiple pictures of "the nineteenth century." Interdisciplinary papers and panels are especially welcome.

Featured speakers include Nancy Armstrong (English Department, Duke University), Julie Codell (Art History Department,Arizona State University), and Shawn Michelle Smith (Visual & Critical Studies, Art Institute of Chicago).

Themes include but are not limited to:

"The visual turn" and its technologies
Canons, institutions, and practices of art and literature
The materiality of the literary: illustrations, cover designs, advertising, publication
Display, exhibition, and spectatorship
Cartographies,real and imagined
Urban geographies and ethnographies; mapping and tracking people
Imperialism as visual practice; global mappings and re-mappings
Representations of selves and bodies; life writing
Modes of representation: narrative, image, statistics, chronology
Archives, libraries, and their histories
Digitizing the nineteenth century
Teaching the nineteenth century

Deadline: October 17, 2011. For individual papers, send a 250-word proposals; for panels, send individual 250-word proposals for each paper plus a 250-word panel description. Please include your name, affiliation, and e-mail address on the proposals.

Contact for more information

Monday, August 29, 2011

Humanities Summer Internship Brownbag

Since Tenants Dominique, Sreya, and James are involved in this, this should be fun as well as informational:

"Humanities Summer Internship Brownbag

Come and hear English and history graduate students talk about their summer internships! In summer 2011, The Office of Graduate Education & Life funded 6 humanities doctoral students to find internships outside the university setting. Come learn about these students’ experiences and future possibilities for your own summer funding!

September 22, 12:00-1:00
Monongahela Room, Mountainlair

Drinks and snacks provided; bring a brownbag lunch"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kate Ridinger Smorul, ABD

The Tenants were very pleased to see the following announcement from Katy Ryan:

"Congratulations to Kate Ridinger Smorul for passing her booklist examination. Committee members were Ryan Claycomb, Mary Ann Samyn, Lisa Weihman, and Juliana Spahr (Mills College). Many thanks to this wonderful committee and to Kate who is poised to write a critical-creative, genre-busting dissertation. Great work."

Congratulations, Kate!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What is hip?

I'm no style maven, but I will admit that I like to see what folks are wearing when fall semester starts.  On my trip up High Street to campus on the first day of classes, I was walking behind a woman who was sporting a full-on Flashdance look:  open-necked sweatshirt with dolman sleeves (and elbow patches!), skinny jeans, flat black leather boots, and big hair.

Now, I have very little room to critique this look, since I sported it myself in college.  However, being a firm believer in the maxim that "If you wore it the first time around, you shouldn't wear it the second time around," you won't be seeing me in that getup anytime soon, although I confess that I do, in fact, still have two vintage Flashdance-y sweatshirts and a Marithe + François Girbaud stonewashed denim mini skirt in my closet. At the time, that skirt was the single most expensive piece of clothing I'd ever bought.

If you clicked the link above, you probably noted that Flashdance star Jennifer Beals is one of our people--a fellow English major who studied American literature at Yale, and sent a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise to Brooke Shields upon her admission to the other Ivy down the road because she felt it was "necessary reading before you go to Princeton."

Well, literary fashions come and go, too.  This semester I'm using the 10th edition of the Pearson American literature anthology in my English 242 class, and as I put together my syllabus, I was interested to see what had been added and, maybe more importantly, left out since the previous edition.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, you couldn't have found an American lit anthology that didn't have at least a couple of token poems by H. D., an Imagist poet who'd recently been "reclaimed" and rescued from obscurity.  Everyone was talking about how she was one of the overlooked geniuses of Modernism.

In the 10th edition, there's not a single poem by H. D.  There is, however, a lot more Ezra Pound than there was in the 9th edition.  Guess that as the years go by, we're becoming more willing to overlook his involvement with Italian Fascism.

Ernest Hemingway, meanwhile, is relegated to a scant four pages in a 2300-page tome:  he's represented by a single, fairly obscure story, "In Another Country."  Yet this edition includes a few writers who previously have pretty much only been mentioned as the butt of jokes, like Carl Sandburg and Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I guess those two are kind of the Flashdance sweatshirts of the literary scene this season, rescued from ridicule to be appreciated in a new context.

I think Tower of Power captured the fickleness of fashion best:  "Hipness is what it is...and sometimes, hipness is what it ain't."  Either way, as the song goes, "If you're really hip, the passing years will show" if you're hipper than hip, or if what's hip today becomes passé.

Let's hope, though, that none of those 70s fashions come back.  Gahhh!!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

CFP: Queer Places, Practices, and Lives Symposium at Ohio State

Queer Places, Practices, and Lives: A Symposium in Honor of Samuel Steward

The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

May 18-19, 2012

Deadline for proposals: Sept. 16, 2011.

Confirmed speakers
Joseph Boone, Tim Dean, Kale Fajardo, Roderick Ferguson, Brian Glavey, Scott Herring, Eithne Lubhéid, Victor Mendoza, Deborah Miranda, José Esteban Muñoz, Hoang Tan Nguyen, Juana Marí­a Rodrí­guez, Nayan Shah, Justin Spring, Susan Stryker, Shane Vogel


We invite proposals for the inaugural queer studies conference at The Ohio State University. The title is meant as an expansive call to consider a host of issues evoked by queer places (local/global, urban/rural, North/South, East/West, public/private, mobility/immobility …), queer practices (sexual cultures, expressive cultures, political activism, academic work …), and queer lives (biography, hagiography, psychology, sexology, history, development …). We envision the conference as an opportunity both to take stock of inter/disciplinary trends as well as provoke new ideas and frameworks for future work.

The inspiration for this expansiveness and reevaluation is Samuel Steward, an OSU alum of the 1930s and the subject of Justin Spring’s critically acclaimed biography Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade (2010). As a literary studies academic, writer, and visual and tattoo artist, Steward lived a highly varied life, coming into contact, and in some cases forming long-lasting friendships, with such figures as Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Thornton Wilder, André Gide, Thomas Mann, Alfred Kinsey, Albert Camus, Christopher Isherwood, George Platt Lynes, and Paul Cadmus. As something of a gay Casanova (and a scrupulous archivist of his sexual encounters), Steward also “linked in,” as he might say, with such movie stars as Rudolf Valentino and Rock Hudson.

In 1995, Steward’s estate donated funds to the OSU English department to further research in LGBTQ scholarship, but these funds have only recently been “rediscovered.” To pay tribute to this queer Buckeye who studied at, taught at, and invested in OSU, we are taking our points of departure for panel themes from Steward’s life and work. Papers may thus address any of the following (or related) topics:

Aestheticism, decadence, Catholicism
Archives and material culture
Biography, autobiography, life-writing
Body art and modification
Colonialism, imperialism, decolonization
Expatriatism, migration, diaspora
Genealogies, invented traditions
Performativity, self-elaboration, world-making
Popular genres (pulp, erotica, mystery novels)
Public intellectuals and subcultural lives
Queer life in the academy, 1920-present
Race and ethnicity
Regionalism (especially the Midwest)
Rural, urban, suburban sexual geographies
Sailors, seamen, and other seafarers
Sexology (especially Havelock Ellis and Kinsey)
Sexual pleasure and perversity (BDSM, porn, hustling)
Visualities (painting, photography, film)

In addition, we are planning to publish a collection of essays on Samuel Steward after the conference. Thus, papers that focus on any aspect of Steward’s life and work are especially welcome.

Send 500-word abstract and 2-page CV by Sept. 16, 2011 to Joe Ponce (

Friday, August 19, 2011

School Starts Monday

Local Boy Makes Good: Ryan Claycomb Takes Over as Placement Director

This just in from the office of John Ernest, our new department chair:

"Ryan Claycomb has generously agreed to take on the role of PhD Placement Director.  You'll be hearing from him soon.  I know he will do a great job.  He has a very savvy sense of the mysterious ways of the usually somewhat random job market, and he has a sharp sense of how to increase your chances of standing out in your application materials.  Please join me in welcoming him to this new role and thanking him for his dedicated service to our program. 

While I'm stepping back from the role of PhD Placement Director, I'm still going to hold the weekly practice sessions for interviews and professional presentation this fall.  We'll meet on Thursdays at 4:00 in Colson 106.  If you're in the doctoral program, I hope you will join us, regardless of where you are in your studies."

Twice the Poetry, Twice the Pleasure

Jim Harms, a professor in our Creative Writing Program, will be publishing two books before the year is over.

What to Borrow, What to Steal will be coming out from Marick Press. Although Jim isn't calling the volume his "uncollected poems," it does tap into his wealth of unpublished gems.

Marick Press is distinguishing itself as the publisher of exceptional poetry. Its mission statement says it "seeks out and publishes the best new work from an eclectic range of aesthetics—work that is technically accomplished, distinctive in style, and thematically fresh."

Meanwhile, Jim's Comet Scar will be coming out from Carnegie Mellon University Press. It will be his sixth book of poetry with CMU Press, following Modern Ocean, Quarters, The Joy Addict, After West, and Freeways and Aqueducts.

The beginning of "Comet Scar":

Comet Scar
Grant McLennan, 1958-2006     For months after his death    Phoebe sings along    in the back seat    to "Comet Scar"    without a word    except the words    to the song. Then,    one day, she asks    "What's a comet scar?"    and I say it's what's left    from coming so far...

Glenn Taylor and Ellesa Clay High Reading

Two professors in WVU’s MFA in Creative Writing Program will give a reading of their literary works September 15 at 7:30 p.m. in 130 Colson Hall. The reading is free and open to the public.

A member of the Lower Eastern Ohio Mekoce Shawnee, Ellesa Clay High is the author of Past Titan Rock: Journeys into an Appalachian Valley. She is an associate professor in the Department of English and specializes in American Indian Literature, Creative Writing, and Appalachian Literature.

In addition to her works of nonfiction, Professor High writes poetry, fiction, and scholarly essays. She is completing a book on the indigenous history and cultures of West Virginia.

Glenn Taylor, a native of Huntington, West Virginia, recently joined the Creative Writing faculty in the Department of English. He is the author of the novels The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart and The Marrowbone Marble Company.

Taylor’s first novel, The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, was published by the WVU Press before being picked up by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. About the book, novelist Chuck Kinder said, “I was hooked immediately by the narrative voice, which I would describe as take-no-prisoners in tone. The combination of hyperbole and hilarity throughout is what I would call High Hillbilly in the purest form.”

Please come! It will be a great evening.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ACLS Competitions Now Open

The American Council of Learned Societies has just announced that its 2011-12 ACLS fellowship competitions are open: "You will find the most updated and comprehensive information on all our programs on the ACLS website: As in previous years, the majority of competition deadlines are in the early fall."

Sunday, August 14, 2011


The department is happy to welcome everyone back from summer vacation! And we'd like to give a special hello to all our new graduate students and four new faculty members: David Beach, who will be in charge of English 102; John Jones, who will teach professional writing and editing; Tom Sura, who will oversee the composition program; and Glenn Taylor, who will teach fiction writing.

David and Tom have been sequestered most of these last two weeks in the training workshop for our new grad teaching assistants, but John has been spotted carrying boxes to his office and Glenn has been seen both in his office in Colson and on his bike, with youngest son Eli happily in tow, on the streets of South Park.

We'll be having our annual department picnic on Friday, August 26, from 4:00 p.m. to dark (!) at White Park. The department provides lots of food, but as you may recall from last year, our grad students sure do like the KFC. Better plan to get there early.
Since small town news usually includes something about food, especially homegrown vegetables and homemade casseroles, I’ll let you know that the tomatoes in my garden are quite delicious, as my dog Theo can attest. He regularly helps himself to a cherry tomato or two and barks when I try to harvest them without saving one for him. Tim Sweet has also generously shared his tomato crop, though, alas, Tim was sorry to report that the zucchini were lost to pests. A real shame and disappointment, as you can imagine.

As of this writing, we have no news about casseroles, but if you want to make a casserole and deliver it to one of our new faculty, let me know and I'll post something about it!


The Council of Writers, or COW, as it is affectionately known, will hold its first event of the season this Thursday, August 18, at 7:30 p.m., at the swanky rooftop bar at the Hotel Morgan. In case you don’t know (or have forgotten, though that seems unthinkable), COW is the student organization of our MFA program. Thursday’s gathering will include food and drink (bring your allowance!) and an informal reading.


Road construction. I have nothing good to say about this other than it’ll probably be done just as the undergrads are arriving. If we’re lucky, that is.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Meet New Poet Laureate Philip Levine

Even my dad knows about our new poet laureate, Phil Levine, so you better get up to speed. Of course my dad and Levine are both native Detroiters, but still.

Anyway, you can find out more about Levine here and here.

And if you'd like to hear Levine read one of his most famous poems, "They Feed They Lion," you can do so here.

Finally, isn't this a great book cover? I certainly think so.