Acclaimed poet, musician, and writer Joy Harjo, who was the reader for UConn’s 55th Annual Wallace Stevens Poetry Program on March 28 and 29, 2018, has been named the 23rd US Poet Laureate. The first Native to hold the position, Harjo hopes through poetry and unpoliticized dialog to bring healing and humanizing to disparate groups of people.
Chapters written by Ellen Carillo and Jason Courtmanche were featured prominently in a Higher Education Research & Development 38.1 review of Deep Reading: Teaching Reading in the Writing Classroom.
Reviewer Jessica Gildersleeve notes that Ellen’s chapter, “Preparing College-Level Readers to Define Reading as More Than Mastery,” emphasises the practice of “mindful reading” as a “holistic framework to encompass a range of reading practices.”
Jason’s chapter, “Why Read? A Defence of Reading and the Humanities in a STEM-Centric Era,” Gildersleeve finds “particularly striking.” The STEM students Jason surveyed “valued reading for pleasure in a way that college English majors did not, but … they still considered it to be intellectual work, and for this reason it tended to be abandoned when in competition with other studies and social media. However, throughout their study with Courtmanche, these STEM students did recognise through the content of their reading—including Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Lois Lowry’s The Giver—that engagement with the arts is critical in contemporary society. “According to one student, ‘In the books we read, we saw the disastrous consequences of a mentally lazy society: that as people choose to think less, create less, feel less, and form less meaningful relationships, the less of a choice it becomes.’” Jason’s intention to recruit some students to the English major gave way to a more powerful outcome: “‘future scientists, engineers, businesspeople, actuaries, pharmacists, and dentists came to the conclusion that reading literary fiction not only could offer them pleasure, recreation, and escape, but could actually improve their critical understanding of the world, deepen the emotional experience of their relationships, and foster empathy with other human beings. … Far from simply converting English students themselves to ‘the cause,’ Courtmanche’s approach emphasises the power of valuing reading for those outside the discipline and, later, the academy.”
Listen to Davyne Verstandig reading her poem “A Woman Should Carry” in the Hartford Courant.
For translating Phoebe Giannisi‘s poetry from the Modern Greek, PhD candidate Brian Sneeden has been awarded the World Literature Today Translation Prize in Poetry.
Sneeden was sponsored by Dr. Peter Constantine, director of the university’s Program in Literary Translation. Sneeden’s translations of Giannisi’s work also recently received a 2018 PEN/Heim grant.
Robert Con Davis-Undiano, World Literature Today’s executive director, applauded the skill of the winning entries, remarking: “it’s no surprise that these translators are emerging from some of the finest translation programs in the world. As a pioneer in the field of literature in translation and translation studies,” he added, “World Literature Today takes pride in fostering great talent emerging from the international world of translation studies.”
See the full prize announcement and World Literature Today‘s web site.
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.
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.
Patrick Hogan, Arnab Roy, and Severi Luoto organized the Literary Universals Workshop in May. <https://literary-universals.uconn.edu/2018/10/26/literary-universals-workshop/>.
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.
Wonderful news–Melissa Rohrer, Alaina Kaus, and George Moore have recently accepted some fabulous jobs.
Melissa has a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of English at Kansas Wesleyan University.
Alaina has accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of English at Georgia Southwestern State University.
George has accepted a position as Development Writer for the Office of Advancement at the University of Bridgeport, CT.
Suli Serrano-Haynes ’20 (English, CLAS; English Education, ED) has won a 2019 UConn IDEA Grant for her project, “Bridging the Gap: Empowering the Voices of Black Women in University Classrooms.”
Suli is examining Black female experiences as part of university-based classroom discussions. The goal is to participate in the greater conversation–supporting Black Women pursuing higher education–and provide university stakeholders with information to better serve their students.
The UConn IDEA Grant program awards funding to support self-designed projects including artistic endeavors, community service initiatives, entrepreneurial ventures, research projects, and other creative and innovative projects. Undergraduates in all majors at all campuses can apply. Applications are accepted from individuals and from small groups who plan to work collaboratively on a project.