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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2012 Appalachian Studies Association conference to be held in Indiana, PA

This CFP caught my eye when it popped up in my mailbox.  The Appalachian Studies Association is a great organization, and I've heard good things about their annual conference, although I've never been.

But here's a terrific opportunity for anyone who's looking for a national conference venue that's close by (about a two-hour drive from Morgantown) and relatively inexpensive--registration is $125 for faculty and $75 for students; both rates include a one-year membership in the ASA.

The theme of next year's conference is "The Wide Reach of Appalachia," and organizers are especially interested in papers on northern Appalachia (that's here, folks):
As mapped by the Appalachian Regional Commission, Appalachia extends as far north as southwestern New York State, but this will be the first time that a national ASA conference has met anywhere to the north of Morgantown, West Virginia. It has been remarked that in the minds of many people, “Appalachia is always somewhere to the south”—but in reality, Appalachia is to the north, too. By a large margin, there are more square miles of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s “official Appalachia” in Pennsylvania than in any other state. We especially encourage proposals on any aspect of northern Appalachia—but also, considering “The Wide Reach of Appalachia,” proposals about the Appalachian diaspora and about Appalachian influences and connections in other parts of the country.

Featured panels will include, among others, literary readings and at least one on Marcellus Shale natural gas “fracking.”
For more information, visit the conference website or download the registration details here.  Deadline for proposals is October 15, 2011.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Babar Goes Back to School and So Do You

Pretty soon, right? I've had that "Sunday night feeling" since last Saturday, so school must be upon us. But not in a bad way...

Anyway, Babar! Remember him? Your other favorite blogger, Dennis Allen, mentioned the return of breezes—"there was quite the cooling little zephyr" the other night—and I suddenly remembered Babar's monkey friend, who is also named Zephyr. Or Zephir. But close enough, and once I started to think about Babar, I sort of had to write this post. To cheer you up about school. Not that you don't like school, but, well, Babar had to go too and he didn't much like it and, so, um, maybe you can think of him as you get your pencil box in order and all that.

The deal with Babar's return to school was that he complained (don't do that!) and thought that going to school was easier than being a grown-up. (Who knows what he'd say about grown-ups who keep going and going to school...) Of course he was wrong. First his pencil broke; then he sat in gum. Let's not even mention the bus ride. Babar was exhausted. And, he had learned his lesson.

Now that you're remembering Babar I bet you want to know all the characters' names. I know I did. Because, in a lot of ways, Babar himself is sort of the least interesting. Isn't that often the case? So here they are. Or, most of them anyway.

They're having a party, it seems. Maybe for the littlest one's birthday. Or maybe it's their version of the back-to-school department picnic. Ok, so of course that's Babar and his wife, Queen Celeste, standing up in the back. Now the monkey is Zephir, as I told you already. The others... well... here's where I might need your help. I think the elephant with the little hat is Babar's brother-in-law, Arthur. The two younger boys and the girl who seems about their size are the triplets. Right? Pom and Alexander are the boys, and Flora (great name) is the girl. The littlest girl is Isabelle. Pretty sure. Not pictured: The Old Lady (aka Madame) and Cornelius, the wise old elephant whose head is sort of misshapen because, presumably, he's so smart.

So, ok! I feel better. Don't you? And please do feel free to chime in with your Babar knowledge. And yeah, I know, Babar is bad bad bad... those books are criticized for a bunch of things. But it's still early-ish August! Don't get all grumpy yet!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Appalachian Prison Book Project

Appalachian Prison Book Project
PO Box 601
Morgantown, WV 26507

August 2, 2011

"It turns out that the story I informed you of that was selected for publication has become a winner. I’ve enclosed a copy of the press release. I owe it all to a book [APBP] sent me called “The Toughest Indian in the World.” ~ A letter to APBP from a man imprisoned in Virginia

Dear Friends,

We write to you on behalf of the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP) in Morgantown, West Virginia. APBP is a community and student organization that provides free books to men and women imprisoned in six states (MD, KY, OH, TN, VA, WV). The Project is staffed by enthusiastic volunteers who have mailed over 8,000 books since 2006.

Each month, we send out hundreds of books that positively impact prisoners' lives, from those who are avid readers to those who are struggling to catch up on their education to those in need of medical information. Take, for instance, a man from Tennessee who wrote to us:

"I received books from you over a year ago. I would like to receive more if at all possible. My situation has changed. I have MS and am bound to a wheelchair so I spend most of my time reading. I don’t have anyone on the outside that can help me with finances or packages. You are very special people to do this for us. It transports me to different lands, tests my ability to solve murder/mystery, and laugh at the comedy."

It is our hope that APBP will continue to serve people who so clearly desire the chance to acquire knowledge and information and to improve their lives while incarcerated.

For the last three years, APBP has benefited from a WVU Public Service Grant that has enabled us to pay for postage, our primary expense (approximately $4000.00/year). We are no longer eligible for the grant, which has put a great financial strain on our day-to-day operations. It is possible that APBP will have to close its doors, temporarily or permanently, if we are unable to raise a significant amount of money.

To continue our work, we need your help. Donating just $20.00 would enable us to send books to 10 people while a $50.00 donation would enable us to provide books to approximately 25 prisoners. NO GIFT IS TOO SMALL.

Appalachian Prison Book Project
PO Box 601
Morgantown, WV 26507

You can also donate paperback books to the project at any time. We are especially in need of the following:
Law dictionaries
Health/Medicine (asthma, diabetes, cancer, AIDS)
Native American and African American cultures
Foreign languages
How to Books (Drawing, Music, Construction, Home & Car Repair)

We accept donations of supplies as well, such as business envelopes, clear packing tape, and sturdy brown wrapping paper. Brown paper grocery bags can also be used. 

Please make your check payable to the Appalachian Prison Book Project, and send to this address:

Appalachian Prison Book Project
PO Box 601
Morgantown, WV 26507

You can also help us through PayPal at Additionally, if you join us on Facebook you can keep up with the latest news about fundraisers, press coverage, and how our work continues to make a difference to prisoners across Appalachia.
If you would like to be on our listserv or have any questions, please contact Katy Ryan (

Many thanks for helping us to promote literacy, education, and hope.

Katy Ryan, Founder of APBP
Dominique Bruno, APBP Intern
James Holsinger, APBP Intern