Thursday, September 27, 2012

Poem Time

Here's one from Jim Harms, just in time for homecoming and football, autumn and the election.

Kennedy Wins West Virginia!

He started out
a friend of Kennedy’s,
though he started out
a Texan.  Today
he swings
on the porch next
door and sings “Someone
to Watch Over Me,”
as dusk thickens
in the street and
grays the day
down to shouts
and T.V.’s mumbling
through open windows.
Twice he’s talked
of Texas as all
horizon, the sort of
promise that slips
as evening wears away
the light, of coming here
to mountains so old
they ache and drift
beneath the weight
of sky, the way day
ends in hill shadow
and dust, smell of slag,
of water.  He delivered
Hancock County
in a locked box, shook
J.F.K.’s hand, and
went home.  But home
is an accident
of calculation or birth,
is where you run out
of money or grace or find
yourself standing still
too long.  L.B.J. sent him
back and Elaine
came with him; she liked
the virgin hemlocks,
the rhododendrons,
so they stayed.
He watches swallows
smoke from the glass
factory’s cold chimney
and waits.  Maybe home
is where purpose falls
in love with the light
settling in the trees
at dusk.  L.B.J. called
once more to say
thanks, to say
Come on home.  But Elaine
liked the chances
of her garden better here,
even when Carter
didn’t need him, even
when summer turned
south and drought
fell on the hills
like a burlap blanket.
There’s no end
to the Texas range
and no horizon here
to remind him what’s
out of reach.  He likes
to hear the roar
on Saturdays
from the stadium
across town, the crowd
noise bending in the silver
autumn air like
a train whistle entering
a tunnel.  He likes
the way the river implies
an ending.  So maybe
home is where we don’t
mind ending, or rather
don’t mind thinking
about ending, or don’t
reach to flick on
the porch light
when afternoon is ending,
ending early, the sun
surprised by the hills. 
How easily
the hills surprise us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Current Thoughts Series: A Retrospective

Earlier this evening Ryan Claycomb presented on his new book Lives in Play: Autobiography and Biography on the Feminist Stage. The lecture went quite well, asking us to consider the interplay of reality and performance, identity and theatre.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Omohundro Postdoctoral Fellowship

Omohundro Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship 2013–2015 

The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture offers a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in any area of early American studies, to begin July 1, 2013. A principal criterion for selection is that the candidate's dissertation or other manuscript have significant potential as a distinguished, book-length contribution to scholarship. A substantial portion of the work must be submitted with the application. Applicants may not have previously published or have under contract a scholarly monograph, and they must have met all requirements for the doctorate before commencing the fellowship. Those who have earned the Ph.D. and begun careers are also encouraged to apply. The Institute holds first claim on publishing the appointed fellow's completed manuscript. The Institute's scope encompasses the history and cultures of North America's indigenous and immigrant peoples during the colonial, Revolutionary, and early national periods of the United States and the related histories of Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, the British Isles, Europe, and Africa, from the sixteenth century to approximately 1820. 

Fellows devote most of their time to research and writing, work closely with the editorial staff, and participate in colloquia and other scholarly activities of the Institute. In addition to a beginning stipend of $50,400, the fellowship provides office, research, and computer facilities as well as some travel funds for conferences and research. Fellows hold concurrent appointment as visiting assistant professor in the appropriate department at the College of William and Mary and teach a total of six semester hours during the two-year term. The calendar year 2014 is reserved solely for research and writing. Institute fellows also have the option of spending a summer at the Huntington Library on a full grant within five years of their residency in Williamsburg. 

The award is open to all eligible persons equally. Foreign nationals may apply. The College of William and Mary is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

Further information may be obtained by contacting: Institute Fellowship, OIEAHC, P. O. Box 8781, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8781. E-mail:   

Information and application forms for Institute fellowships can be found on our web site at 

Application must be postmarked by November 1, 2012.


That's Not What They Meant!, a new book for early Americanists and anyone interested in contemporary US political rhetoric

Michael Austin, a provost and English professor at Newman University (and one of my undergrad instructors from Shepherd Univeristy), has a new book being released tomorrow. The book's title is That's Not What They Meant! Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing. The book is being published through Prometheus Books for the very afforable price of $19 (the link I've provided is to the book listing on the Prometheus website).

Austin's work, which has been partially developed through his insightful, unique, and sometimes downright funny blog Founderstein, works to deconstruct the mythos of a unified set of 'Founding Fathers' for the American republic. Prompted by the casual use of the 'Founding Fathers' as a stick with which to threaten or a talisman with which to legitimate any position in contemporary US political rhetoric, Austin goes back to contemporary documents and debates of the Early Republic period and shows how diverse and messy the founding of our nation actually was--and that the mess and diversity is how things are supposed to be.

Although I haven't read the book (I have read every Founderstein post though), I would say this is going to be an important text for early Americanists (I'm looking at you, Tim Sweet and Ryan Fletcher), or anyone who follows contemporary US politics and the rhetorics of political debate.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tales of Capitalism: Have A Prof Write Your Paper

It's difficult to believe that it's not a satire, but there's now a website, Unemployed that offers to have graduate students and professors bid to write everything from a response paper to a dissertation. Their rationale is that the contemporary system of higher education is not only "corrupt" but that "professors can only stay in business if they force students to write essays, within their disciplines, that will do nothing to contribute to their own education or edification."

This particular professor would be perfectly happy to write a neo-Marxist analysis of the website itself but not without the benefits of collective bargaining to establish a fair return on his labor.

The Oldest Living Tenant Tells It All

School's been going on for awhile, but the weather in the environs of Colson Hall this week has been a reminder that it's still technically summer, with cloudless skies and golden end-of-the-summer light and not a hint of mellow fruitfulness just yet. On days like these, in the afternoons, some of the older Tenants like to sit in Adirondack chairs on the lawn behind the Hall, gazing down the tree-lined vista at the gazebo and the ha-ha in the distance, talking about that one time, back in '87, when that student said that thing.

In the meantime, though, the young folks are all abustle, reading and writing and publishing. Doctoral student Sreya Chatterjee came back from summer vacation with an edited collection in her hand that contains her latest essay. If you've been swayed by Mary Ann's retro-advertising post and want to read something, you can check it out here: "Beyond Barriers: Transnational Feminist Solidarity," Modern Social Thinkers. Ed. Pradip Basu (Kolkata: Setu, 2012).

And recent graduate Dr. Nevena Stojanovic has just heard that her essay on Henry James, “'Like a Dazzling Curtain of Light': Fanny Assingham's performances of Jewishness in The Golden Bowl,” derived from a chapter of her dissertation, has been accepted for publication by The Henry James Review.

On a slightly different note, Teresa Pershing and Kate Ridinger Smorul received grants for research travel from the Robert Stitzel Graduate Student Travel Fund. There's a nice writeup about them here. (As it happens, there turned out to be more publicity about this than anyone expected, and Teresa and Kate both seemed to have been empowered in the process.)

Although it's been getting a bit cold when the sun goes down these days, I may keep sitting on the lawn for just a little while longer in the twilight, looking at the stars, thinking about that time during that one winter that the snow was so deep, but mostly just basking in the reflected glow of the young people's achievements.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Reading is Fun!

Or so vintage ads like the charming one above would have us believe.

Thanks to my new favorite web site, the nearly always interesting Brain Pickings, you too can contemplate why even lions who live in circus cages like to read, and you can do lots of other cool things too—like browse vintage PSA posters from the WPA days, or read Ted Hughes' letter to his son, or listen to David Foster Wallace's famous Kenyon College graduation speech.

Neat, huh?

Of course some of the old-time-y endorsements of reading are a tad ambiguous:

Uh... I really don't know. Sorta depends on what they've been reading...

Still, you gotta admire the plucky spirit of some of these ads... even if you also can't help but wonder just how effective they were.

Current Thoughts Series: Lives in Play

The Current Thoughts Series

Hosted by EGO Presents:

Lives in Play: Autobiography and Biography on the Feminist Stage

A Presentation Based on the Newly Published Book by Dr. Ryan Claycomb

Monday 17 Sept. 2012, at 7:30

Colson 130

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CFP: Acts of Asylum, University of Pittsburgh

The Duse Society—the graduate student organization of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Theatre Arts—is hosting a one-day, interdisciplinary conference, Acts of Asylum. This conference coincides with the opening performance of the University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre's original, devised play City of Asylum Onstage. The conference will be held on April 5, 2013.
City of Asylum Onstage endeavors to encourage public discourse about civil liberties and censorship, increase visibility and compassion for refugee populations, and expose the obstacles faced by asylum seekers. It tells the story of the lives and works of writers who have participated in the refugee writer-in-residence program, City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. To date, these writers include:  Huang Xiang (China), Khet Mar (Burma), Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador), and Israel Centano (Venezuela).
We are soliciting 250 word abstracts for a wide range of humanities based, academic papers as well as practice-based research or installations on the themes of asylum, immigration, censorship, civil liberties, human rights, and the global theatre that contains its citizens in pursuit of these acts of asylum. Topics may also include geographic regions and artists unspecified by City of Asylum Onstage.
A short list of suggested topics includes (but is not limited to):
·      Dramaturgy of asylum
·      Feminism and asylum
·      Grassroots theatre
·      Activist performance
·      Human rights advocacy
·      Group performances or the performance of groups
·      Art/policy intersections
·      NGO operations
·      Borders: geographic, political, social
·      Migrations and movements
·      Interrogations of the refugee body
·      Spaces and places of asylum
Please submit to abstracts or any questions to by October 31, 2012. Please include name, address, and institutional affiliation at the top of your abstract. Please also indicate if you would be interested in tickets for the performance of City of Asylum Onstage following the conference. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Humanities Summer Internship Roundtable This Friday

Starting a couple of years ago, the Office of Graduate Education and Life instituted a summer internship program designed to give doctoral students in the Humanities, specifically English and History, a chance to expand their skill sets and enhance their job prospects. The program has been wildly popular, and this week you can find out why.

This Friday, last summer's participants in the Humanities Summer Internship program will take part in a roundtable in which they discuss how they spent their summer vacations. Participants will include our own Mike Buso and Yvonne Hammond, who worked with the Appalachian Prison Book Project, and Dibs Roy, who was an intern with Oxford University Press of India.

The roundtable is at 2:30 in the Mountain Room of the Mountainlair, (this) Friday, September 14.

Rumor has it that there will be hors d'oeuvres.

Alumni News, Update 402

Professor Ryan sends along more news about some of our graduates, which the Tenants are happy to pass along:
"Laura Leigh Morris (MFA), who is working on a PhD in English with a creative dissertation at Texas A&M, will be Artist-in-Residence for the next two years at a Texas prison, the Bryan Federal Prison Camp. She will be teaching creative writing. Both her position & the program are funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant. 

Allen Mendenhall (MA, English, and JD, WVU) is finishing his PhD at Auburn. He serves as managing editor at Southern Literary Review, adjuncts as a law professor, and has taught in Alabama prisons. You can see the hundred or other things he's up to at  

As many of you know, Jason Stupp (PhD) has accepted a position teaching English at a public school in Cuba, New York (& the coolest grades, 12th & 6th). He's also got a plan that involves organic farming." 

CFP for Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Studies at the PCA/ACA 2013 Joint National Conference


Call For Proposals:  Sessions, Panels, Papers


Marriott Wardman Hotel, Washington, DC
Wednesday, March 27th, through Saturday, March 30th
For information on PCA/ACA, please go to
For conference information, please go to


We are considering proposals for sessions organized around a theme, special panels, and/or individual papers.  Sessions are scheduled in 1½ hour slots, typically with four papers or speakers per standard session.  As always, proposals addressing any topic at the intersection of culture and queerness are welcome.

This year, we are especially eager to receive proposals concerning queers & youth culture and queers & popular music. 

Should you or any of your colleagues be interested in submitting a proposal or have any questions, please contact:

Bruce E. Drushel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Media Studies
Department of Communication
Miami University
Oxford OH  45056
(513) 529-3526

To submit your panel or presentation, go to and follow the instructions for creating an account and making your submission.  Note:  beginning this year, ALL submissions must be made through the conference submission site.  For individual papers, please submit a title and 100-word abstract.  For sessions and panels, please submit paper/presentation titles and abstracts, along with a paragraph describing the central theme, and the names of chairs and respondents (if any).  For each participant, please provide a mailing address, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address.