Author: Claire E. Reynolds

Katie Grant (2019) Wins Award

Congratulations to Katie for winning the 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Award for her summer project titled “Assessing Public Perception of K-12 Public Schools Using Anchoring Vignettes.” Katie has an exciting summer of deep engagement with the process of academic inquiry, and we look forward to hearing about it!

Published Novel for Joseph Reynolds

Professor Joseph M. Reynolds, who teaches for us and at Trinity College, Dublin, has a new novel out: Make Dust Our Paper will be released by Anaphora Literary Press on July 20.

There will be a book launch, reading, and signing at West Hartford Public Library on August 15 at 7:30pm.

Kate Schapira Presentation


Poet, writer, and activist Kate Schapira on Thursday, February 23rd at 12:30 pm in the Stern Lounge, “Plant Lives for Human Lessons: Denaturalizing Human Writing.” Coffee & cookies will be served.

This talk should be of interest to anyone looking for new ways to talk and write about climate change in their scholarly and human (not that those are necessarily mutually exclusive!) lives. It will also be a chance for listeners to increase our imperfect awareness of living relationships, and to bring that increased awareness back to our work. 

Kate Schapira facilitates a Climate Anxiety Counseling booth in Providence. A recent environmental essay is here, and recent eco-anxiety poems are here

Schapira is the author of six books and eleven poetry chapbooks. For the past ten years, she has curated the Publicly Complex reading series in Rhode Island, a series that brings writers of intricate poetry and prose to public venues. She teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown University, where she was awarded the Barrett Hazeltine Award for excellence in teaching in 2014. 


Sponsored by the Committee on Seminars, Symposia, and Scholarly Development.

Asha Nadkarni: Seminar on Eugenic Feminism

The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute (AAASI) will be hosting a seminar with Professor Asha Nadkarni on January 30, 2017 at 4 PM in the Stern Lounge. This seminar is based on Professor Nadkarni’s Eugenic Feminism: Reproductive Nationalism in the United States and India (University of Minnesota Press). Eugenic Feminism considers the vexed relationship between reproduction, citizenship, and nationalism via the exclusionary impulse of eugenics in the first half of the twentieth century. This seminar will involve a pre-circulated chapter. Those interested in participating should contact Cathy Schlund-Vials ( by January 18, 2017. This seminar is co-sponsored by the UConn Department of English.


Professor Nadkarni received her B.A. in gender and women’s studies from Connecticut College and her M.A./Ph.D. from Brown University. Her research and teaching interests include postcolonial literature and theory, transnational feminist theory, U.S. empire studies, and Asian American studies, with an emphasis on the literatures and cultures of the South Asian diaspora.  She is presently at work on a second project, tentatively titled From Opium to Outsourcing; this work is concentrated on representations of South Asian labor in a global, neoliberal imaginary.

Melissa Rodriguez Publication in Hartford Courant

“Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Write Off English Majors”

“Oh … so you want to be a teacher?” There is no question more irksome, and it always comes after I confess that I’m an English major.

Some people will go on to half-jokingly say how sorry they are for me. Others, those without even the slightest social skills, will tell me a liberal arts degree is purposeless.

That’s where they’re wrong. The significance of a liberal arts degree is not in the specific major or concentration that a student chooses, but rather the transferable skills that are learned, refined, polished and of lifelong use in the job market. We write essays that foster our ability to analyze, evaluate and critique literature, ideas and opinions. We refuse to take information at face value and constantly rethink and question what appears as plain fact to others. We challenge what many accept without considering alternative perspectives.

This gives us the inclination to constantly pursue anything that will educate us further and allow us greater insight into the complexities of human thought and its meaning. It is what makes us innovators, not with our hands but with a much more powerful tool — our minds. We can create new meaning from the original thought of others and can intellectually and emotionally engage with text and the people who write it. The repetitive use of these skills lets us work with people of various temperaments and work ethics.

Those hundreds of essays we write nurture our ability to articulate a point of view or an argument that is clear and concise. This discipline not only makes us well-written individuals, but well-spoken ones too. Our expansive literary experience trains us to note differences in tone, writing style and diction. We intertwine words as seamlessly as basket weavers do wicker — our prose is strong, durable and carries a lot of weight.

Stephen King said writers have the ability to perform telepathy. In his memoir “On Writing,” he says writers have the power to create a mental image with the use of description, storytelling and figurative language that is so vivid it exists to readers. This creates closeness between reader and writer and brings us into the same space mentally although we may be in different locations and time periods. Writers can make our readers see our images and feel our words without ever having to open our mouths. This power is what makes our words believable, it is what makes us sound confident and authoritative.

Companies look for students who think as individuals, have a creative edge and can tailor written and verbal communication to the audience they are addressing. They value liberal arts students who have mastered many transferable skills. We can tell you what to say and how to say it so that you will secure any business deal. We can write the emails that create connections between employees and employers across different companies and industries to provide a service, receive one or come together on a collaborative project. We have a heightened sense of communication; a sixth sense that can defuse tense situations and prevent them as well.

There is more to writing essays and reading books than English majors are given credit for. They make us effective communicators, help us accept constructive criticism and foster teamwork. They make us problem solvers, teach us initiative, planning and organization, and, most important, how to always keep learning.

To those who count us out and believe that we are not equally valuable as you are to employers: Keep believing that we have no secure place in the job market. Keep doubting our ability, our worth and the multitude of skills and experience that we possess. We want you to. The greatest way to beat your opponents is to never let them see you coming. So, keep on.

Chris Vials on CBC Radio

AMERICAN FASCISM: IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE? Donald Trump has been called a buffoon, an entertainer, a circus clown. He’s also been called a fascist. But he’s aiming to called Mr. President. What does the Trump campaign, and the voters it’s mobilized, have in common with Fascism, not only in Europe but in America’s own dark past?

Chris Vials was interviewed on the history of fascism in the U.S. on CBC Radio’s national show Ideas with Paul Kennedy October 28.


Brian Sneeden

PhD student Brian Sneeden  read from his translations of the work of Phoebe Giannisi, an internationally acclaimed Greek poet, at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York City on October 15th as part of the four-day Antigone Now Festival of Art and Ideas, which incorporates a wide diversity of artistic and literary disciplines. The performance, directed by Isabella Martzopoulou, explores issues of gender, land, and dispossession through movement, music, and poetry.

Author Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon, associate professor at Vassar College, spoke at the Benton Museum on October 13, 4:30-6pm.

This black southern writer born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, is the author of the novel Long Division  and a collection of essays,  How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Laymon has written essays, stories, and reviews for Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHubThe Los Angeles TimesEbony, and Oxford American, and is a columnist at The Guardian.

Long Division was named one of the Best of 2013 by  Buzzfeed, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and the Crunk Feminist Collective; it was short-listed for numerous awards and won the 2014 Saroyan International Writing Award. Three essays in How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America have been included in the Best American series, the Best of Net award, and the Atlantic’s Best Essays of 2013. He was selected as a member of the Root 100 in 2013 and 2014 and Ebony Magazine Power 100 in 2015.

Kiese Laymon has two books forthcoming, including a memoir called Heavy, which will be released in 2016, and the novel And So On, which is expected for the Spring of 2017, both from Scribner.

Sponsored by English, American Studies, Asian and Asian American Studies, Associate Dean’s Office, Creative Writing, the Hartford Campus, History, the UConn Humanities Institute, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.


Monica Popescu Lecture

Literary Establishments and the Cold War: Rethinking African Literary History”

Monica Popescu is Associate Professor of English at McGill University. She is the author of South African Literature Beyond the Cold War which won the Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities in 2012 as well as The Politics of Violence in Post-Communist Films. She has published on contemporary South African literature, the war in Angola, nationalism and post-communism.

Wednesday, October 5, 3pm in Austin 217 (Stern Room)

 Sponsored by the Department of English and the Human Rights Institute