Congratulations to Melissa Rohrer for her well-earned $500 David Leeming Graduate Award for Service. This award recognizes one English or Medieval Studies graduate student who demonstrates excellence in service or outreach to the department, university, institution, or community. The committee noted that Melissa has tirelessly served the needs of the Department of English, especially its graduate students. She has served as both Vice President and President of the English Graduate Student Association, has served on other committees and subcommittees devoted to the improvement of graduate student life, and, most recently, she helped to organize and coordinate the interdisciplinary Early Modern Studies Working Group at UConn.
Congratulations to Nicole Lawrence, who has won the $500 Francelia Butler Graduate Award for Teaching Innovation. This award recognizes one English or Medieval Studies graduate student who demonstrates commitment to innovative teaching and reflective practice that supports student engagement and learning in a non-FYW course. The committee noted that Nicole has an impressive record of teaching accomplishments across the curriculum in English and in writing studies. Her work is especially noteworthy for innovative course design and imaginatively conceived assessment practices.
Congratulations to Abigail Fagan, who has won the $500 Milton Stern Dissertation Award. This award recognizes the best dissertation submitted for a PhD in English or Medieval Studies. The committee noted that Abigail’s dissertation, “Bloated: Power and the Body in American Temperance Literature,” makes clear and creative interventions in multiple fields of study, providing a new understanding of women’s history in the nineteenth century and indeed of the idea of political activity in the broad time period she considers. Abigail’s claims are based on sweeping archival work and expressed in elegant, readable prose.
Patrick Hogan, Arnab Roy, and Severi Luoto organized the Literary Universals Workshop in May.
Literary universals include properties and structures ranging, for example, from genre patterns through metaphor and imagery, and from ethical or political themes through formal features of prosody. Technically, literary universals are features of literary works that recur across unrelated literary traditions with greater frequency than would be predicted by chance. Traditions are unrelated if they are distinct in their sources and have not influenced each other through interaction, at least not with respect to the feature under consideration. Thus, early Chinese and early European poetry count as unrelated by this definition, but Latin New Comedy and English Renaissance comedy would not count as unrelated. (For further discussion, see “What Are Literary Universals?“)
Though the study of literary universals was dormant for some time, developments in cognitive and affective science have revived the study of cross-cultural literary patterns, enabling new insights into their nature and origins. Moreover, the study of such patterns holds promise for contributing to our understanding of human cognition and emotion, thus cognitive and affective science themselves.
This one-day workshop explored topics in the study of literary universals. For information on speakers and topics, please consult the program.