Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pat Conner Honored at Kalamazoo

Those interested in the goings-on in Colson Hall may be interested to know that I recently returned from the big medieval conference at Kalamazoo, where I was delighted to participate in a series of panels honoring our recently retired colleague Pat Conner. He was feted with all due ceremony and hilarity (including the presentation of a Pat Conner action figure, complete with grey hair, mustache, and tall buff body), and a stellar series of speakers. Pat was rightly remembered for his signature contributions to the paleographical and contextual study of the Exeter Book (which is surely the most remarkable manuscript collection of vernacular verse to survive from any Eurpoean tradition before 1000), as well as for having been perhaps the most important motivating figure in bringing digital scholarship to Old English Studies, both through ANSAX-NET (an early and still thriving listserv focused on matters Anglo-Saxon) and through his groundbreaking Beowulf Workstation. Either contribution alone would have marked him as having had a significant impact on the field.

All of the Pat Conner panels were extremely well attended, literally standing room only in two cases (and it would have been three, but one panel was fortunately held in a very large area). Besides my own small contribution (a paper using metrical analysis to offer a bit of additional confirmation for Pat’s theory about the tripartite structure of the Exeter Book), there were papers presented from a raft of stars in the field, including the following:

Michelle Brown, former Keeper of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library, speaking on depictions of facial hair in Anglo-Saxon manuscript illumination.

Kevin Kiernan, perhaps the world’s leading expert on the Beowulf manuscript, speaking on The Electronic Beowulf, which included a nod to Pat’s groundbreaking Beowulf Workstation.

Elaine Treharne, from Florida State, with a fascinating paper on Exeter guild documents, which both responded to Pat’s work on Exeter guilds and argued for the reinterpretation of a whole genre of texts which have always been seen as manumissions but may more properly be understood as guild memoranda.

Tom Hill, of Cornell Univeristy, on The Wanderer, a paper which noted that The Wanderer very likely includes the first recorded account of a Germanic homage ritual, making that Exeter poem of exceptional historic, as well as literary, significance.

Papers by Timothy Graham, Susan Deskis, Donald Scragg, and Carol Farr rounded out the panels nicely, and the sessions as a whole were a beautiful international tribute to Pat, who has been friend, mentor, and inspiration to more than one generation of students and scholars. And as even this summary of papers presented suggests, Pat’s work continues to be influential, which will surely extend Pat’s influence to a further generation as well.

It was a great experience all around, and a wonderful tribute to Pat from his friends and colleagues from here and abroad.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lost Cat

Jim Harms' and Amanda Cobb-Harms' cat Lorca has gone missing in the South Park neighborhood in the vicinity of Grand and Wilson streets. He's orange with white stripes and wearing a blue collar with a bell and mood ring attached.

Lorca is greatly missed. If you find him, you can contact Amanda at:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy Retirement, Jo Ann!

Some CWE folks gathered this past Sunday to help Jo Ann Dadisman celebrate her retirement.

Among those in attendance was Vern Dolmage, direct from Canada and appearing one night only with his guitar.

Toward the end of the party, Jo Ann told one of her signature stories... which she said was about how fortunate she's been to work with us, but we're pretty sure it's the other way around.

So, thanks, Jo Ann, and best wishes, and yes, we do want to visit the farm and see all the cats. Just let us know when!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Congrats and Best Wishes... the following undergrads and grads who are going on to MA, MFA, and PhD programs. Don't forget to send us a postcard or two, ok?

WVU undergraduates headed to English and creative writing grad programs:

Zac Cromie: Clemson, MA

Aaron Dawson: WVU, MA

Chelsea Hensey: Georgia College & State University, MFA

Yonina Hoffman: Ohio State University, MA/PhD

Veronica Kidwell, WVU, MA

Elizabeth Staggers: WVU, MA

Ben Welton: University of Vermont, MA

WVU MA, MA-PWE, and MFA students headed to PhD programs:

Sarah Einstein (MFA): Ohio University, PhD in Creative Writing

Pat Herald (MA): University of Kentucky, PhD in English

Allison Hitt (MA-PWE): Syracuse University, PhD in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric

Christina Rothenbeck (MFA): University of Southern Mississippi, PhD in Creative Writing

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dr. Zerne

Jean-Baptiste Chardin, The Governess, 1739
This just in from Professor Francus: "Congratulations to Lori Zerne, who successfully defended her dissertation, 'Dwindling into a Wife: Women and the Culture of Marriage in Britain, 1760-1820,' in a discussion that featured governesses, chaperons, and mothers in law--and multiple subversions of marriage. Well done, Lori!" The Tenants are very happy to be able to add their own congratulations.

Either the mechanisms of chaperone-assisted protein folding or
a graphic representation of the plot of Belinda.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Plagiarism Fun!

For some semester-end shock and fun, check out what angry, technologically-adept Germans are able to reveal about plagiarism:

A politician, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, was recently discovered to have plagiarized parts of his doctoral thesis. The extent to which he plagiarized is now coming to light, and it is a jaw dropper.

Language Log, from which I stole this idea for a post, notes that because of this fellow's reaction (which has been to laugh it off in a rich, playboy kind of way) plenty of people have put some effort into assessing his work. The result is as visually appealing as the plagiarism is morally reprehensible.

This image is a barcode "scan" of his dissertation with representation as the fraction of pages (original page here): The blue lines are table of contents, bib, and other addenda. The black lines are pages with plagiarism from a single source. The red lines are pages with plagiarism from multiple sources. The white lines are pages with no plagiarism.

Be sure to check out the markup of individual pages here.

The moral of the story is easy: If you are a fabulously wealthy politician and you want to get a graduate degree, make sure the person you hire to write your thesis actually writes it and does not just plagiarize most of it from other sources. A lack of quality control can lead to inconvenient embarrassment.

So Many Things!

So many things to tell you and so many things have gotten in the way of the telling. Sorry 'bout that!

OK, so let's begin.

First, and maybe most importantly, the MFA reading was held April 28. This is, as you well know, the event of the season, and this year's writers did not disappoint. Here's a pic of our grads: Sarah Einstein, Aaron Hoover, Christina Rothenbeck, Charity Gingerich, Tori Moore, Rebecca Schwab (turning nicely in the other direction), Danielle Ryle, Heather Frese, and Alex Berge. Don't they clean up nicely? And they write well too, which means we can go ahead and give them their degrees after all. Whew!

The next day we kicked off our weekend celebration of the MFA program's 10th anniversary with a gathering of 20 or so current and former students and faculty at Black Bear where we hung out, ate burritos with interesting names, and watched some folks (not us) "dance" to the live music. I'd say more about that, but you sort of had to be there.

On Saturday we gathered for a fancy dinner at Hatfield's. Yep. And even Dean Bob Jones was there to help us celebrate 10 great years of writing and friendship. The reading was truly impressive. MFA friends Rudy Almasy, Laura Brady, and Tim Sweet were also in attendance, as was everyone's favorite, Gail Adams. Here we are looking all proud in a 10th anniversary kind of way.

Finally, here's a pic of this semester's grad poetry workshop. They look cute, don't they? And relieved---no doubt because they had finished writing sonnets and were now free to try to stop hearing iambs everywhere they go. Good luck with that, poets!

So that's it, pretty much. You're caught up. Don't you feel better? I know I do.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Funding for Female Faculty--Call for Applications--WVU Advance Project

This just in from Ann Oberhauser in Women's Studies:

Melissa Latimer, Department of Sociology
 The WVU ADVANCE Sponsorship Program is an external mentoring program supported by the NSF ADVANCE program for women in NSF funded disciplines in CEMR and ECAS. The WVU ADVANCE project aims to catalyze institutional climate change, promote diversity and inclusivity, support women in science and engineering, and promote the success of all faculty.

The Sponsorship program uses a mentoring approach developed by Hunter College’s NSF ADVANCE funded Gender Equity Sponsorship Program, where WVU faculty (Associates) will be paired with mentors (Sponsors) to work on a clearly identified project with specific outcomes. Associates may receive up to $10,000 to support their work and Sponsors will receive $5,000 for their participation.

To apply click the Faculty Equity Initiative link at the top of the WVU ADVANCE page ( For more information, contact Dr. Kasi Jackson at (304) 293-2339 ext. 1154 or .

Applications are due May 31, 2011.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Congratulations to Dr. Roy

Professor Ernest has just announced that "...Sohinee Roy successfully defended her dissertation, Beyond Protest: The Ethics of Reconciliation in Post-Apartheid White Writing. It was a very distinguished defense, in which Sohinee discussed her dissertation and her field with impressive knowledge, authority, and composure." 

Either Sohinee's defense or the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings in South Africa, 1996
TCH is happy to extend its congratulations to Dr. Roy. 

Congratulations to Danielle Ryle!

... whose poems "Pastoral, Possibly" and "It's Always a Soliloquy" won
Iron Horse Literary Review's "Discovered Voices" competition!

The annual prize, which was won in nonfiction last year by our very own Emily Watson, honors writers from AWP-affiliated creative writing programs. In other words: this is a big deal. And... we've won two years in a row. So, yea for us.

But, of course, mostly yea for Danielle. Her poems will appear in the February 2012 issue and she'll receive $150 and two copies. See, mom and dad, there is money in poetry.

Oh, and why the Audubon print? Because Danielle considers Audubon one of her influences... and, like him, she is an unnervingly keen observer.

Summer Grants for Doctoral Research

Every spring the English Department awards two $250 grants to help support doctoral student research during the summer. TCH is pleased to announce that Beth Staley and Aaron Percich are this year's recipients.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bet you didn't know...

that Jim Harms also writes fiction. Yes! And unlike fiction by other poets I could mention (sob!), his stories are publishable.

Isn't this just about the best cover ever? We certainly think so.

For more info and to get your copy (better act fast—this is a very limited edition), check out the Wallflower Press site.

Congrats, Jim. Now, stop surprising us and making us look bad.