Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Well, we are famous for our outstanding teaching...

—So it stands to reason that we'd also have many outstanding teachers among our graduate students. And of course we don't like to choose among them, but choose we must, just this once, at the request of the Dean's office.

So—drumroll please—this year's Outstanding GTA is Rebecca Doverspike. Should she be unable to fulfill her duties (by which I mean shaking some hands at an award ceremony or two), we'll be turning to Jessi Lewis and Dominique Bruno, who are also quite outstanding. Congratulations all around.

And, for your reading pleasure, here is the official announcement from Adam Komisaruk:

Congratulations to Rebecca Doverspike, who has been selected as the English Department recipient of the 2013-2014 Eberly College Outstanding GTA Award! Rebecca will receive a plaque at the College awards ceremony later this spring, a certificate at the English awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 16th and a free book of her choosing.

Congratulations also to Dominique Bruno and Jessi Lewis, who have received English Department Exemplary Teaching Awards! They will each be presented with a certificate at the English awards luncheon and a free book of their choosing.

The selection committee (Ballentine, Brady, Komisaruk, Samyn, Sura) had the honor of reviewing some remarkable portfolios from this year's nominees. Please join us in saluting the winners and all our graduate students for their distinguished contributions to the research, teaching and service missions of the English Department.

Matt Ferrence and the Publication of All-American Redneck

The Tenants were very pleased to learn this week that Matt Ferrence, one of our Ph.D. graduates who is now an Assistant Professor at Allegheny College, has a book coming out from the University of Tennessee Press that was based on his dissertation. The book makes its official debut at the end of the month, but is already available at Amazon, if you want to check it out. We're including the official blurb below so that you can see what Matt's thesis is (and how interesting it is).  Heartiest congratulations and an added "Boy howdy" to Matt!

The Official Blurb:

"In contemporary culture, the stereotypical trappings of “redneckism” have been appropriated for everything from movies like Smokey and the Bandit to comedy acts like Larry the Cable Guy. Even a recent president, George W. Bush, shunned his patrician pedigree in favorof cowboy “authenticity” to appeal to voters. Whether identified with hard work and patriotismor with narrow-minded bigotry, the Redneck and its variants have become firmly established in American narrative consciousness.

This provocative book traces the emergence of the faux-Redneck within the context of literary and cultural studies. Examining the icon’s foundations in James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo—“an ideal white man, free of the boundaries of civilization”—and the degraded rural poor of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road, Matthew Ferrence shows how Redneck stereotypes were further extended in Deliverance, both the novel and the film, and in a popular cycle of movies starring Burt Reynolds in the 1970s and ’80s, among other manifestations. As a contemporary cultural figure, the author argues, the Redneck represents no one in particular but offers a model of behavior and ideals for many. Most important, it has become a tool—reductive, confining, and (sometimes, almost) liberating—by which elite forces gather and maintain social and economic power. Those defying its boundaries,as the Dixie Chicks did when they criticized President Bush and the Iraq invasion, have done so at their own peril. Ferrence contends that a refocus of attention to the complex realities depicted in the writings of such authors as Silas House, Fred Chappell, Janisse Ray,and Trudier Harris can help dislodge persistent stereotypes and encourage more nuanced understandings of regional identity.

In a cultural moment when so-called Reality Television has turned again toward popular images of rural Americans (as in, for example, Duck Dynasty and Moonshiners), All-American Redneck reveals the way in which such images have long been manipulated for particular social goals, almost always as a means to solidify the position of the powerful at the expense of the regional."

Monday, March 17, 2014

Educational Justice and Appalachian Prisons Symposium

This just in from Katy Ryan. Not only is it open to the public, it's free!

The schedule for the Educational Justice & Appalachian Prisons Symposium, April 4 - 6, is now complete:

There will be roundtables and keynotes on imprisonment, higher education, and restorative justice. There will be artists, scholars, judges, lawyers, correctional administrators, imprisoned and formerly imprisoned people. Plenty of food and good company. Please spread the word!  

Highlights include-- 

  • Dwayne Betts, Poet and author of A Question of Freedom; served eight years in Virginia prisons. (I'm teaching his memoir right now, and it's great.
  • Rebecca Ginsburg, Founder of the Education Justice Project (Univ of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana); author of Cabin, Quarter, Plantation: Architecture and Landscapes of North American Slavery (Yale UP, 2010); and co-editor of At Home with Apartheid: The hidden landscapes of domestic service in Johannesburg (U of Virginia P, 2011) 
  • Jean Trounstine, Co-Director of Changing Lives Through Literature and author of Shakespeare Behind Bars: The Power of Drama in a Women’s Prison
  • Kyes Stevens, Founder of the Alabama Creative Arts + Education Project (Auburn Univ.)
  • Jim Rubenstein, Commissioner of the WV Division of Corrections
  • Larry Starcher, former WV Supreme Court Justice
  • Jim Nolan, Professor of Sociology, former police officer and FBI officer
  • Valena Beety, Assoc. Law Professor and Chair of the WVU Innocence Project
  • Anne Rice, Coordinator of TEDx talks inside prisons; African American Studies, Lehman College
  • Graduates of the WVU English program who have been teaching in prisons, Laura Leigh Morris and Jonny Blevins
  • Lashonia Etheridge-Bey, D.C. Office on Returning Citizens Affairs
  • Jacqueline Sakho, Mediator in capital cases; Heinz Fellow, Duquesne Univ.
All events are free and open to the public.

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 EGO Colloquium Call for Papers


The 2014 WVU English Colloquium is accepting abstracts for papers and panels that examine everything and anything related to pop, culture, or a mixture of both.  We will accept literature papers from all nationalities, genres, and time periods, as well as papers on rhetoric and composition. We will also accept creative writing individual submissions and panels.

Papers may deal with any of the following (not an exhaustive list):
Pop Culture
Histories of Culture (and Literary History)
Critical Receptions
Theories of Canon Formation
Marketing criticism
New Economic Criticism
Identity Formation
Psychoanalytic Studies
Global/Atlantic World paradigms
Postcolonial Narratives and Postcolonialism
Gender and Sexuality Studies
Adaptation, Appropriation, and Parody
Myth and Folklore
Transmedial Studies
Collective Memory
Nationalism and Sovereignty
Influence studies

To propose an individual paper, please submit an abstract of 300 words as an attachment to Jeff Yeager, EGO President, at Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address in the top left corner your submission.

To propose a panel of three to four papers, please submit a group abstract of 500 words explaining the thematic concerns of the panel and short abstracts (150-200 words) of each individual paper. Submit abstracts as one attachment to Please include the names, institutional affiliations, and e-mail addresses of all participants.

To propose creative writing, send 3-5 poems or a 2-3 page excerpt from a fiction/non-fiction piece to Please include your name, institutional affiliation, and e-mail address. To propose a creative writing panel, send a 500 word group abstract along with the poems or fiction/non-fiction excerpts.

Registration will be $10.
Extended Submission Deadline: 24 March 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dominique Bruno, ABD

The Tenants are very pleased to announce that, on Tuesday, Dominique Bruno passed her qualifying exams and is now officially ABD. After discussing Gender Theory, the public sphere, and the publishing industry in the eighteenth century with her, Dominique's committee, which consisted of Adam Komisaruk (Chair), Marilyn Francus, John Lamb, Valerie Lastinger, and yours truly, pronounced her ready to begin writing a conduct book (or, alternatively, to write a dissertation about them).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Faculty Research Colloquium

Virtuosity, Disability, Documentary: Technique and the Disabled Body in Oral History Performance


by Ryan Claycomb



Documentary theatre may have been the dominant form of political theatre in the first decade of the 21st century, but the success of certain of its performances rested as much on the perceived virtuosity of its performers as on the apparent veracity of its sources.  Theatre of the Real, it would seem, worked best when staged with old fashioned mimetic brilliance.  But even as many of these performances sought to advocate for marginalized identity categories, they rested on decidedly ableist performance paradigms.  Read against Anna Deavere Smith’s Let Me Down Easy, that virtuoso performer’s 2009 performance about U.S. healthcare, two different productions of oral history performance on disability feature disabled actors offer different ways to understand both the form and its politics.  Through these shows, these performers mark their performances of disability by a different sort of virtuosity, one that emphasizes the difference of exceptional bodies, and makes visible the differences that Smith’s performances elide. 



March 19, 2014

2:30 p.m., 130 Colson Hall