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Department News

IU English students' work featured by Lilly Library

Undergraduate Bernadette Patino is the author of a new web exhibit called "Documenting Empire: Frank L. Crone's Photographs of Colonial Philippines." This exhibit focuses on a collection of photographs kept by Hoosier Frank L. Crone, the American Director of Education in the Philippines from August 1913 to June 1916. Crone's photographs demonstrate the contradictory messages of the new American imperialism based on President William McKinley's plans for "benevolent assimilation" in the new colony.

Mary Bowden is a Ph.D. student and author of "Building Jerusalem in America: William Ashton and a Trans-Atlantic Utopia." In 1834, the Manchester laborer William Ashton crossed the Atlantic with a group of fellow-thinkers to found a utopian colony in Mount Carmel, Indiana. This exhibit tells the story of that colony: from its origins in early nineteenth-century radical thought, to its establishment on the Indiana frontier, to its eventual dissolution in 1836.

Two web exhibits curated by Christoph Irmscher

Music for the Worms: Charles Darwin at the Lilly Library

Two new web exhibits, both curated and written by Christoph Irmscher, have just been published by the Lilly Library.

"Walt Whitman at the Lilly" is based on an exhibit at the Lilly compiled on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, an event that had a profound influence on Walt Whitman's life and work. The exhibit highlights the extensive Whitman-related holdings of the Lilly, combining generous excerpts from his writings with a chronological overview of his career.

"Music for the Worms: Charles Darwin at the Lilly Library" was designed by our very own Alex Teschmacher. The exhibit tracks Charles Darwin's career from the publication of his first bestselling book, the Journal of Researches, widely known as the Voyage of the Beagle, to his last popular success, a book about earthworms. "Music for the Worms" also features an extensive chronology of Darwin's life.

Both exhibits are intended to serve as teaching tools: whether you are looking for an image of the first edition of Origin of Species or a newspaper clipping of an interview with Whitman, annotated and edited, in ink, by Whitman himself, or you just want students to admire Whitman posing for the camera with his fake butterfly, we (or, rather, the Lilly) got it! Both exhibits are freely accessible on the Lilly's website.

Christine Farris honored with the Distinguished Service Award

Professor Christine Farris

On September 25, Professor Christine Farris received the Distinguished Service Award from Provost Lauren Robel in recognition of her outstanding work for the department, College, university, and profession. Her many contributions to IU include her fifteen years as the Director of Freshman Composition, her term as Associate Chair of the department, her eighteen years of work with the Advance College Project, her service on innumerable committees for the university, her election to the Executive Committee of the national flagship professional organization in her field, and much, much more. We congratulate Christine on this richly deserved honor.

Kara Kendall-Morwick awarded the Bruns Graduate Essay Prize

We are pleased to announce that Kara Kendall-Morwick has recently been awarded the Bruns Graduate Essay Prize by the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA). Her paper "Dogging the Subject: Samuel Beckett, Emmanuel Levinas, and Posthumanist Ethics" was hailed by the committee as a "well crafted" and "in-depth engagement with the work of Samuel Beckett, but this is a different Beckett as seen through a posthumanist lens and its connections to questions of cognition and animality. " This work is part both of Kara's dissertation, directed by Ed Comentale, and a forthcoming article in the Journal of Modern Literature.

Creative Work(s) of the Week, 2011-2012

Creative Work(s) of the Week, 2011-2012

"There can't be enough poetry in our lives," writes Michael Adams, Director of Undergraduate Studies, in his foreword to this volume of undergraduate work chosen for the Creative Work of the Week, a public arts project of the department's Office of Undergraduate Studies. With thanks to all of those who submitted their work, the Creative Work(s) of the Week posted during the 2011-2012 academic year are reposted in this e-chapbook. Enjoy!

Download the e-chapbook here. >>

Two Lifetime Honors

Christine R. Farris

Two members of English have recently been honored for lifetime achievement. Professor Christine Farris received the IU Distinguished Service Award, and Scott Sanders, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Christine has long been a central figure on this department, and a key player as well on campus and in the state, not least for her engagement with writing instruction. In demand nationally as a consultant, Christine has also chaired many committees locally, such as including recently the Honorary Degrees Committee, while serving her professional community in other leadership roles.

Scott Russell Sanders

Scott Sanders' fiction and essays are increasingly part of the contemporary American canon. Scott travels widely giving readings and teaching. Recently, his book Wilderness Plots underwent a unique musical adaptation, and the show was aired by WTIU.

Palmer-Brandon Winners

Panagiota Doukas

BOTH winners of the 2012 Palmer-Brandon Award are English majors! Congratulations to both Panagiota Doukas and Michael McDowell!

Panagiota Doukas, nominated by English, has excelled in all her work in this department. Nick Williams, one of her nominators, praises Panagiota's "curiosity regarding literature and culture, her intelligence and interpretive imagination," while Richard Nash adds that her "maturity and poise" truly set her apart.

Michael McDowell was nominated by Philosophy, but Michael is also majoring in English, so we're delighted to honor him here as well. Michael is "buoyant in the world of ideas," writes Judith Brown, who contributed a letter of support for Michael's nomination. "He will thrive in challenging environments, whether academic or not."

Panagiota and Michael exemplify the very best IU and English has to offer, and we're incredibly proud to have been able to work with them!

The Palmer-Brandon Award in the Humanities is given each year to one (or two) third-year juniors to support their ongoing scholarly or creative work. Recipients are expected to be the top one percent of undergraduates in their fields in terms of academic achievement, intellectual ability, and commitment to the humanities.

Patricia Ingham Awarded NHC Fellowship

Patricia Ingham

Patricia Ingham, Director of Graduate Studies in English, has been awarded a year-long residency Fellowship at the National Humanities Center, at Research Triangle, North Carolina. Patty will be working on her book manuscript, titled "Medieval New: Innovation, Novelty, History," a study that suggests that, far from being committed to a changeless order, medieval culture was very engaged with issues of novelty and innovation. "Medieval caution about the 'newfangled' (the term itself coined by Chaucer) emerged alongside an excited fascination about new ideas and things," says Patty.

"We can learn from reflections on the relation between tradition and innovation that begin in the twelfth century," Patty argues, "especially because so-called 'traditional' disciplines (like English literature) so clearly continue to be laboratories for the invention of the new and innovative." Patty and her co-researcher Constance Furey, from Religious Studies at IU, also received funding from the Vice President for Engagement for their "Initiative on the Humanistic Study of Innovation."

Graduate Honors

Ming Holden

Three graduate students — Ming Holden, Chris Basgier, and Andy Oler — in our department have recently earned prestigious campus-wide awards.

M.F.A. student Ming Holden is this year's recipient of the Wells Graduate Fellowship, meant to honor an IU graduate student who best exemplifies the character traits fro which Herman B. Wells was known: leadership, academic excellence, character, social consciousness, and generosity of spirit. Ming worked as an operational partner with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to mobilize a theater group for young Congolese women in the slums of Nairobi. Here she is with some friends from that project.

Ming also served the Mongolian Writers Union as its first-ever International Relations Adviser during her year as a Henry Luce Scholar in Mongolia and worked towards the formation of a Mongolia PEN Center.

Chris Basgier and Andy Oler

The Herman F. Lieber Award for Associate Instructors honors truly outstanding teaching on the IUB campus. English is delighted to have two honorees this year, Ph.D. students Chris Basgier and Andy Oler.

Distinguished Alumna Carolyn Reidy

Carolyn Reidy

Carolyn Reidy (Ph. D. '82), current CEO at Simon & Schuster, was on campus October 20-21, to accept a Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. Having earned her Ph. D. from IU English, Carolyn graciously agreed to speak in English's own Distinguished Alumni Series. A fascinating event: in a fast-moving hour, Carolyn talked about the fate of reading, writing, and publishing (print and electronic), answering questions from a full room of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. It was, among other things, a tour de force of generic analysis, as Carolyn ran through a series of transformations in young adult fiction, the pros and cons of e-books, and even books about knitting for your cats!

Alumni, Emeriti, and Other Friends

Taming Cannibals

Bill Germano (Ph.D. '81), Dean of Humanities at Cooper Union, and former editor at Columbia UP and Routledge, paid a visit to the department last month as part of of our Distinguished Alumni Series. He spoke both on “the invention of the male voice” in opera, and on the pains and pleasures of academic writing. We are lucky indeed to have alumni like Bill who are so generous with their time and wisdom.

Pat Brantlinger, Rudy Professor Emeritus of English, has just published the third installment in his extraordinary trilogy of works investigating the imagination of race in the Victorian era: Taming Cannibals: Race and the Victorians (Cornell 2011) follows Dark Vanishings (2003) and the field-changing Rule of Darkness (1988).

Finally, Joel Silver of the Lilly Library, and adjunct professor in English, has received a glowing review of his Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly, which tells the story of the relationship between J.K. Lilly and one of the great antiquarian booksellers of the day. This review, published in India, will interest all friends of the Lilly Library, and of Joel. Congratulations, Joel! Read the review here. >>

ta' SoH jatlh tlhIngan?

Michael Adams

Well, neither does Michael Adams. But as editor of From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages (forthcoming next month from Oxford UP), he can probably get by in Klingon better than most of us.

Michael has been on a tear this year. He edited the volume titled "Cunning passages, contrived corridors": Unexpected Essays in the History of Lexicography (Polimetrica, 2010), and two collaborations with Anne Curzan have also appeared this year: the 3rd edition of their textbook, How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction (Pearson Longman), and a volume of essays titled Contours of English and English Language Studies (University of Michigan Press, 2011).

And of course Dickensians of all stripes will be waiting at the docksides for the release of "Cratchit: The Etymology" in The Journal of Literary Onomastics!

Congratulations to Michael for an amazing year, and for having such fun things to write about.

Susan Gubar and Scott Herring Honored

Susan Gubar

IU English has long enjoyed a reputation for national leadership in the scholarship on gender and sexuality studies. Two recent honors confirm and extend that tradition of scholarship.

Susan Gubar, Distinguished Professor Emerita of English, learned earlier this month that she had been inducted into the American Philosophical Society, the oldest (founded by Benjamin Franklin!) and most exalted learned societies in the nation.

Scott Herring

Associate Professor Scott Herring won the Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies for his innovative and brilliant book, Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism. (NYU Press, 2010). The “Lammy” is the most prestigious recognition in the nation for LGBT studies. Previous awardees include Sharon Marcus, George Chauncey, and Regina Kunzel.

A Season of Honors

Maurice Manning and George Hutchinson

It's been a great spring for our superb faculty. Maurice Manning and George Hutchinson were both awarded Guggenheim Fellowships. As if that were not enough, Maurice's book The Common Man was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry!

Two of our number received prestigious campus awards: Steve Watt was honored with the Tracy Sonneborn Award, in recognition of a distinguished career of research and teaching. And Dana Anderson earned the Student's Choice Award for Excellence in Teaching, a great honor for a great teacher.

Distinguished Alumni Event

Anthony DeCurtis and Lisa Klein

On March 28, two of our distinguished alumni talked to a mixed audience of undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty about their lives in writing and how their work in English shaped those lives. This was the second of our series "How to Do Things With English."

Anthony DeCurtis (Ph.D. 1980), described a trajectory from writing music reviews for the Herald-Telephone in graduate school to Contributing Editor at Rolling Stone. Lisa Klein (Ph.D. 1989) puts the research skills and passion for historical understanding she developed in graduate school to use in her successful series of historical novels for young adults, like Cate of the Lost Colony. Both emphasized how reflection on language and literature opened new worlds to them, and made it possible to imagine new audiences for their writing.

Faculty Spotlight: Robert D. Fulk

Robert D. Fulk

One of the world's great authorities on Anglo-Saxon, in all its literary and linguistic aspects, Rob Fulk, Chancellor's Professor of English, is in the middle of an astonishing spree of publication.

The Beowulf Manuscript

2010 saw the release of The Beowulf Manuscript: Complete Texts and the Fight at Finnsburg, in Harvard's prestigious Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library. This follows the 2008 release of the fourth edition of Klaeber's Beowulf, which won the Best Edition Award from the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists. This year has already seen the release of A Grammar of Old English, Volume 2 from Wiley-Blackwell, and in 2012 Oxford will publish his edition of The Old English Canon of Theodore, while Broadview plans a release of An Introduction to Middle English: Grammar, Texts.

IU English is extraordinarily proud to have a scholar of such international distinction on its faculty.

New Books from English Faculty

Persecution Plague and Fire

Since last fall, seven members of the English Department have seen the release of new books. Most recent is Ellen Mackay's Persecution Plague and Fire: Fugitive Histories of the Stage in Early Modern England (Chicago).

Go Figure: Energies, Forms, and Institutions in the Early Modern World

Ellen"s colleagues in the Renaissance, Judith Anderson and Joan Pong Linton, teamed up to edit Go Figure: Energies, Forms, and Institutions in the Early Modern World (Fordham).

Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy

Paul Gutjahr's magisterial biography, Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy, has just been released from Oxford. Harvard University Professor Leigh Schmidt calls it an "impressive achievement," a "remarkably panoramic view of nineteenth-century American Protestant thought."

Image, Text, and Religious Reform in Fifteenth Century England

Late in 2010, two stellar first books were issued by Cambridge. Shannon Gayk's Image, Text, and Religious Reform in Fifteenth-Century England was included in the press's renowned series, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature. And Jesse Molesworth's bracingly revisionist account of the rise of the novel, Chance and the Eighteenth-Century Novel: Realism, Probability, Magic, also came out from Cambridge.

Chance and the Eighteenth-Century Novel

Finally, through copyright legerdemain, the 3rd edition of How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction, by Anne Curzan and our own Michael Adams, was just issued with a 2012 copyright date. Once again, Michael shows us how to be ahead of the curve!

Coming soon: a digest of all that Rob Fulk has been publishing over the past 12 months — so much it needs its own column!

Maura Smyth Awarded Junior Fellowship from Harvard University's Society of Fellows

Maura Smyth

In early 2010, Harvard University’s Society of Fellows invited our department to nominate a candidate for their Junior Fellowship. We learned just a few weeks ago that our nominee, Maura Smyth, has been awarded this prestigious fellowship — the first student from Indiana University to do so.

Maura's dissertation director, Linda Charnes, says that Maura's thesis offers a "compelling and fresh alternative to more standard arguments about the emergence of the novel."

"The Flight of Fancy, 1611-1735" explores the splitting of the faculty of Imagination into two parts, the first of which is reserved for the enlightenment empiricist project, while the second, called "the Fancy," is given more free reign. Taking up works by Shakespeare, Hobbes, Milton, Cavendish, Haywood, and Behn, Maura argues that "the Fancy" plays a crucial role in the emergence of women's writing in the long seventeenth century.

We congratulate Maura, and her committee: Linda Charnes, Penelope Anderson, Ellen MacKay, Richard Nash, and Dana Anderson.

Laura Dassow Walls receives James Russell Lowell Prize

The Passage to Cosmos

Congratulations to Laura Dassow Walls (Ph.D., ’92) for receiving the very prestigious James Russell Lowell Prize from the MLA, a recognition given each year to the best work of literary scholarship, for The Passage to Cosmos:  Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America (Chicago 2009).  Laura is the John H. Bennett Jr. Chair of Southern Letters at the University if South Carolina.

The Passage to Cosmos was also named one of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title Awards, it has gone on to win the Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians as the best book of the year in intellectual history, as well as recently being named the winner of the Michelle Kendrick Memorial Book Prize as the best book of 2009 in the field of Literature and Science.

The Passage to Cosmos, though the third of Laura's single-authored monographs, actually began taking shape (as she acknowledges with typical grace and eloquence) while she was in graduate school here, writing a dissertation on Thoreau and Natural Science under the direction of Lee Sterrenburg.  She was, at that time, one of the founding members of the Science and Literature Affinity Group that brought together graduate students and faculty in English and other disciplines.

Distinguished Visitors

Distinguished Alumni

On November 3, about 80 members of the departmental community — undergraduate majors, graduate students, faculty, friends from the University — gathered in the IMU to welcome two distinguished alumni of our department: Bill Colson (Ph.D. '76) and William Grimes (BA '73).

Grimes and Colson both shared anecdotes and insights about how they ended up at the higher reaches of journalism — Grimes still works at the New York Times, and Colson retired recently after many years at Sports Illustrated — and how their study of English shaped that path. Perhaps the best sound bite came from Bill Grimes: what good is a degree in English? It makes you a "superior person," something that helps with employers and everyone else!

Distinguished Alumni

This is the first of what we hope will be a regular series. Stay tuned for Spring 2011, when we expect to host Lisa Klein and Anthony DeCurtis, both of whom received their Ph.D. from the department.

Tony Ardizzone Publishes New Book, The Whale Chaser

Tony Ardizzone's new novel, The Whale Chaser, has just been released from Academy Chicago Publishers. Set in Chicago and British Columbia, the novel also opens a window onto la storia segreta, the internment of Italian Americans on the West Coast after Peal Harbor.

David Bradley describes the novel as a "masterful merger of story and history, metaphor and metaphysics, explanation and confession. Ardizzone's eye, ear, and recollection are incredible."

Shane Vogel Receives Honorable Mention

Shane Vogel

Shane Vogel's The Scene of Harlem Cabaret received an Honorable Mention for the Errol Hill Award, an annual recognition from The American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR) for the best book in African American Theater.



Two Extraordinary Careers

Just this past week, two distinguished scholars with connections to our department have been honored.

Sau-Ling Wong

Sau-ling Cynthia Wong (B.A. in English from IU, 1970), was celebrated at a banquet September 10. She won the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Asian American Alumni Association here at IU.

Susan Gubar

Susan Gubar was given the President’s Academic Excellence Award at a banquet September 14. It is the highest award conferred by the President of the University.

We are proud to be connected to two trailblazing scholar-critics like Susan and Sau-ling.

National Notice

Christoph Irmscher

In the summer of 2009, Christoph Irmscher hosted an NEH-funded Institute in Bloomington centered on the life, work, impact, and regional connections of James John Audubon. It was a great success, as the NEH clearly recognized when they funded a second iteration, to take place in Summer 2011. Christoph's list of invited guests includes chairman of the Hopkins Writing Seminars, Dave Smith; award-winning Canadian novelist Katherine Govier; and filmmakers Larry Hott and Diane Garey, of Florentine Films.

Also joining Christoph on the faculty for the Institute will be two old friends of the department: Scott Sanders, and Sheila McDermott-Sipe, who did her graduate work here, and who now teaches at Bloomington High School South.

Professor Emeritus John Eakin

We're kicking off what will be a regular highlight feature on emeriti with a quick glance at what John Eakin has been up to since he retired in 2002.

He's been up to a lot: in fact, John has published two more books, the most recent being Living Autobiographically: How we Create Identity in Narrative (Cornell 2008).  An internationally renowned expert in life writing, John will travel this year to Paris, London, and Maastricht to deliver new work on memoir, narrative, and identity.

Check out John's profile on the "Emeriti Faculty Profiles" page here. >>

We have renovated the look there, and will fill in with pictures when we get them.

IU Writers Home and Away

New Yorker

Check out page 36 of the current issue of The New Yorker there you'll find Cathy Bowman's consonant-crunching gem of a poem, "The Sink." It's an extra pleasure that the other poem in the issue is by Yusef Komunyakaa, an old friend and colleague.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the 70th IU Writers' Conference concluded. Bob Bledsoe, the Director of the Conference, sent me these words about this extraordinary tradition:

"The 70th Indiana University Writers' Conference ended Friday, June 11, 2010. On Monday, June 7th, we took a moment to remember Herman B. Wells — who founded the conference with Cecilia Hendricks — on his birthday. The conference is the second oldest in the nation, after The Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and another demonstration of Wells' foresight.

"Conference participants and guest faculty spent a busy, productive, inspiring week attending classes, workshops, panel discussions and readings. Participants take time off of work, away from their busy lives, and for that week, they make Bloomington home."

As a final note, let me recommend the fine video documentary about the conference, to be found at:

Scott Herring Publishes New Book, Another Country

Another Country:  Queer Anti-Urbanism

Another Country redraws the map of queer studies.” — Robert McRuer

Scott Herring’s latest book — Another Country:  Queer Anti-Urbanism (NYU Press) — ranges freely across space, time, and media to challenge the overwhelmingly urban focus of LGBTQ scholarship. Along the way, Scott analyzes and celebrates the workings of “rural stylistics.”

IU English Maintains its Profile as a Major Center of Feminist Scholarship

Tarez Graban’s essay, “Theorizing Feminist Pragmatic Rhetoric as a Communicative Art for the Composition Practicum,” was awarded 2009 Elizabeth A. Flynn Award for the best essay of feminist scholarship published in the field of rhetoric and composition. Congratulations, Tarez!

“So Blessed to Be Here”: A Celebration of Don Belton’s Life in Literature

Carmen Williams

On May 5, about sixty people gathered at the Lilly Library to honor and remember our friend, teacher, and colleague, Don Belton, and his life and impact as a writer. Organized by his students and by Christoph Irmscher (who also curated a display of items from Don’s estate), the event featured readings of Don’s published and unpublished writing by Carmen Williams, Sophia Parkinson, Nina Mamikunian, Justin Chandler, and Caroline Diggins. Click her to see a Picasa album from the event. Justin wrote this to Christoph, and has agreed to let us share it:

The reading was an amazing experience. The way the work came together reminded me of conversations with Don. It was as if once again he was speaking about the importance of my own song, the importance of sincerity, the need to recognize and struggle with my history, and the truth, change, and redemption that writing can bring. I hope this is the story Don would have liked to leave behind, because it is one that is beautiful and inspiring, a powerful statement about Don as a writer as well as a human being.

Student Videos in Honor of Graduation Week

"Child’s Play"
By Shannon McEnerney

If only I turned right
instead of left –
isn’t that how it always is?
but what if I just stayed and stayed and stayed
for long enough – now isn’t that what changes things?

Shannon McEnerney, a winner of this year's Honors Thesis Award, reads her poem "Child’s Play," and discusses the virtues of brevity it with her professor Maurice Manning.

Clara Mitchell, winner of the Palmer-Brandon prize last year, talks with her professor and friend, Rae Greiner, about teachers and students.

Mark Harrison’s class on "Decadence" elicited this evocative dramatic reading by Carrick McDonald of "Spleen," by Ernest Dowson, who also gave us such phrases as "gone with the wind," "days of wine and roses," and the first recorded use of "soccer" to mean football (which means soccer). Ah, Wikipedia!

Poetry Highlights

Ryan Teitman

It turns out April is not so cruel after all.

Two signal achievements by departmental poets make the point.  Ryan Teitman will leave Bloomington this summer to take up a two-year position as a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.  Each year, only five poets get the nod. Ryan will not be teaching—only writing, meeting with other writers, reading…and more writing.

The Common Man

Houghton Mifflin released The Common Man this month — Maurice Manning’s fourth book of poetry. Like Maurice’s ravishing previous book, Bucolics, the new collection is a unified sequence of poems. Maurice’s fellow poet Dave Smith calls The Common Man “memorable music, entertaining, rich, often spooky-wise.”

New Faculty Publications

If anyone needs to be reminded that our work often cuts to the heart of the institutions in which we live, the two most recent publications by members of the department provide that reminder.

College Credit

Christine Farris has edited (with Kristine Hansen) a new collection of essays on the increasingly complex suture between high schools and universities when it comes to writing instruction at all levels. College Credit for Writing in High School: “The Taking Care of” Business features essays on “shopping for credit vs. learning to write,” on the evolution and current status of AP English classes, and other matters. The book is splashed all over the current NCTE website — a sign of its timeliness and importance.

Cultural Critique and the Global Corporation

Purnima Bose has edited (with Laura Lyons) a different kind of investigation into institutions. Cultural Critique and the Global Corporation (IU Press) features essays on General Electric (Purnima’s contribution), Dole, Bechtel, DeBeers, Coca-Cola, and Cisco. An Afterword by Christopher Newfield takes up the “case of nanotechnology.”

Finally, I’d like to draw attention to the attention Mary Favret and Judith Brown are getting for their recent books. Mary receives a fine review from David Simpson in the March issue of the London Review of Books, while Judith got a good one in the Weekly Standard.

The End?: IUB’s Annual International Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference 2010

The End?

This year’s Graduate Student Conference is provocatively titled The End? Speakers from all over the country, and right here in Bloomington, convene from Thursday through Saturday in a full-to-bursting schedule of events. Check out their cool website, at:

The opening panel (Thursday 1:30-2:45) focuses on Digital Humanities and features—all from Bloomington—John Walsh, Sarah Smith-Robbins, and Grant Simpson. Thursday night at 7 our own Ross Gay reads from his work at Boxcar Books. The conference keynote lecture will be by Sean O’Sullivan, from Ohio State (Friday at 4:15). And our own Jen Fleissner has the big job of offering the last word on The End (Saturday at 4).

“Monstrosities: Unruly Creatures of Mind, Body, Text.”

In Fall 2009, the students who walked into Rae Greiner's English L371—the dreaded course on theory innocently titled “Critical Practices”—probably felt some measure of horror, anticipating being eaten alive by the likes of Jacques Lacan. But Hansels and Gretels all, they survived, producing some fascinating final projects centered on our course theme, “Monstrosities: Unruly Creatures of Mind, Body, Text.” Check out these creative approaches to the class.

RED: The Musical

Steve Greist’s and Laurel Proctor’s RED: The Musical features a fully-conceptualized album (complete with liner notes) with two original songs, “The Monster in Me” (Laurel in the role of “Red”) and the Simone de Beauvoir-inspired “The Feminine Mystique” (performed by Steve as the “Wolf”).

The cut, “Feminine Mystique,” begins:

Lurking through this place—the domain of my subsistence—
If I found from time to time, a girl to eat, I would.
So from this pesky path they pace (the bane of my existence)
I must seduce the sublime and mysterious Little Hood.

Listen here:

Kyle Mayes’s beautifully illustrated “Beauty and the Beast” presents “a slight retelling of an old story,” in which one of three sisters discovers the truth about the “Lord of Lamrelain”:  unlike his froggy forerunners, he will never be transformed into a handsome prince but is nevertheless good on the inside.

Other students made two- and three-dimensional projects, including painting and sculpture.  Two wood-and-glass dioramas by Sarah Waters contained six paper dolls, pinned like butterflies in a (monstrous) scientific display.

Having cut their teeth on deconstructive practices, the students of L371 effectively undermined the false opposition between "creative" and "scholarly" writing, and did so with great imagination.

Maura Stanton Receives Distinguished Scholar Award

English Professor Maura Stanton has been named the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the IU Office of Women’s Affairs.

Michael Adams’ Slang: The People’s Poetry named Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Michael Adams’ Slang: The People’s Poetry (Oxford 2009) was named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine. Congratulations, Michael!

Christoph Irmscher Featured in Audubon Documentary for PBS

Christoph Irmscher has been featured in a recent John James Audubon documentary for PBS, A Summer of Birds. The documentary premieres in Louisiana on LPB on December 2 at 7PM, and will be rebroadcast on December 6 at 10AM and 7PM. It is also available online for a limited time at

Music for the Worms: A Darwin Exhibit at the Lilly Library, Curated by Christoph Irmscher

Darwin Themester Exhibit at the Lilly Library
Music for the Worms

November 18 through December 19, 2009
Lilly Library, Lincoln Room

The exhibit runs from November 18-December 19 and will go online after that. It features a first edition and presentation copy of Origin of Species as well as an early American edition of Darwin’s "abominable" book (as he himself called it); the first edition of Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication and the first American edition of Descent of Man; rarely seen photographic portraits of Darwin, his American collaborator Asa Gray, and his main adversary Louis Agassiz; as well as several original Darwin letters, two of them entirely unpublished, and some anti-Darwinian cartoons.

An autographed letter by Darwin’s German supporter Ernst Haeckel and a spendidly illustrated copy of Louis Agassiz’s Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America are also included. The exhibit was curated by Christoph Irmscher in the English Department. For more information, email Christoph Irmscher at or or call 443-622-3277. A catalogue of the exhibit with extensive commentary on the items is available at the Lilly Library. The Lilly Library is open from 9-6 Monday to Friday and from 9-1 on Saturdays.

Judith H. Anderson Awarded Isabel MacCaffrey Prize

Judith H. Anderson’s Reading the Allegorical Intertext will be awarded the Isabel MacCaffrey Prize for the best book on Spenser and Renaissance literature published in 2008-2009, a prize conferred by the International Spenser Society. The prize will be publicly announced at MLA.

Judith Brown Featured in IU’s Research & Creative Activity

Professor Judith Brown and her new book, Glamour in Six Dimensions, have been featured in Indiana University’s Research & Creative Activity. Read the article by Jeremy Shere >>

IU’s Creative Writing Program Among the Top in the Nation

Indiana University’s Creative Writing Program in the English Department ranks #12 in the nation, according to Poets and Writers Magazine, one of the two main professional journals for writers. IU’s Creative Writing beats out such illustrious programs as Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and University of Houston. The ranking is a recognition of the program’s long tradition of commitment to quality and to nurturing some of the most talented young writers from America and abroad.

Jonathan Elmer, Chair of the English Department, said, "We can all be proud of this wonderful program and the talented writers, teachers, and students in it."

"We are very pleased with this news," said Samrat Upadhyay, Director of Creative Writing. "We’ve always known that our program provides a rigorous and supportive environment for writers to develop their craft, to grow as thinkers and teachers, and that our graduates go on to publish well and do wonderful work all over the country. This honor confirms our dedication to our students and to the art of writing, and validates the wonderful community we have here."

Read the IU press release >>
Read the Poets and Writers piece >>
View the Poets and Writers list of rankings >>

Ed Comentale Publishes New Book: The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies

Professor Ed Comentale has co-written and edited a forthcoming book of essays about the cult-classic film The Big Lebowski. The new book, The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies, will be pubished Nov. 1, by IU Press. Portions of the book have been previewed in The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe. Read the IU press release here >>

Christoph Irmscher writes for the Los Angeles Times Book Review

Christoph Irmscher’s review of Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America (Harper, 2009) has been published in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Read the review >>

Christoph Irmscher and Joel Silver on WFIU

Christoph Irmscher, Joel Silver, and Trevor Winn recently gave an interview for WFIU, talking about the treasures of the Lilly Library. Read or listen to the interview >>

Katherine Govier reading on Monday, July 27th, 2009

This coming Monday, July 27, at 6 p.m. in the Maple Room of the Indiana Memorial Union the NEH-sponsored Audubon Institute at IU will host a public reading by Katherine Govier, one of the most important Canadian novelists working today. Her novel Creation, about John James Audubon in Labrador, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2003. She is the author of seven other novels, among them Three Views of Crystal Water (a Globe and Mail Book of the Year in 2005), and three short story collections. She has also edited two collections of travel essays. Katherine is the winner of Canada’s Marian Engel Award (1997) and the Toronto Book Award (1992), and she has co-founded Writers in Electronic Residence, a national online writing program connecting Canadian writers in their homes to high school students in classrooms across Canada from Newfoundland to the Arctic to Vancouver Island. Her current work in progress is The Ghost Brush, a novel about Hokusai’s daughter. Feel free to contact Christoph Irmscher at with any questions.

Christoph Irmscher Wins Exhibition Award

The online exhibition catalogue for Christoph Irmscher’s bicentennial Longfellow exhibition at Harvard’s Houghton Library has won the prize for the Best Electronic Exhibition Catalogue by the Association of College and Research Libraries Rare Book and Manuscripts Section. View the exhibition >>

Michael Adams Publishes New Book, Slang: The People’s Poetry

Professor Michael Adams has published a new book, Slang: The People’s Poetry, with Oxford University Press. Read the IU press release >>