Puget Sound English Department

March 31, 2010

Deadline Approaches

The deadline for submitting work to the yearly departmental writing awards is Friday, April 2. Submit your poetry, fiction, or an analytical essay written for a 400-level course in Wyatt 335.


March 30, 2010

What To Do With An English Major?

Filed under: Employment,General — ATH @ 10:38 pm

Here’s one possibility: public interest work. Information on jobs and internships with USPIRG below. Deadline for submitting a resume is Thursday, April 1:

A Message to Graduating Seniors:
You are no doubt trying to decide what you will do next year, or even for the next 5 years. I want to let you know more about opportunities in the public interest field.


U.S.PIRG is a federation of state-based public interest advocacy groups. This year we are hiring 100 graduating college students to determine where this country is going: to solve our energy problems; to reform the campaign finance system; to fight for banking reform and fix the financial crisis; to fight hunger and homelessness; and make an impact on many other public interest issues.

We are currently accepting applications through Thursday, April 1st. Please send your resume to ijeon@washpirg.org and make sure to include your contact information for a brief, follow-up phone interview. For more information I invite you to check out our website, www.uspirg.org/jobs.


Irene Jeon
Program Associate, WashPIRG
1402 3rd Avenue, Suite 715
Seattle, WA 98101
(o) 206.568.2854 x2007
(f) 206.568.2858

March 29, 2010

Weds. Night Poetry Reading on Campus

from Professor Bill Kupinse, an event this Weds., March 31:

Poetry Reading by Tammy Robacker

Author of The Vicissitudes

7 p.m., Wednesday, March 31

Murray Boardroom, Wheelock Student Center

Free and Open to the Public

Sponsored by Gender Studies and the Department of English

Your Ass Is Grass

cusses my dad who mows the lawn mad on his only goddamned day

off. And he’s ringing my neck for it. From the front window, I hang

back in the curtain and let him curse me but decidedly,

he should be dead. So, I close one eye and cut off his head

with my fingers. Form them like two busy blades born to a pair

of scissors—and cut cut cut that mean mug clean off

his shoulders. He stands in the yard headless, jerking

the pulley of the rotary mower. He huffs and wheezes

final breaths. That floating head hovers for me like poor old Yorick

speckled with soil and lime green seedlings. Running rivulets

of oily adult sweat that break apart and bleed out

once they reach his neck. They leave a watery puddle of fluid

muddled in his deep throat crease. Believe me, I have studied that

pulpy wrinkle many times at the dinner table. The way it jiggled

while he ate. Split when he swallowed. It cuts a liquid line clear

across his throat like a butter knife might. But, that never stuck. So,

I evaporate his face in a haze. In the fumes of raw blue fuel pluming

up from the sputtering motor, I hear his mouth still mutter. Then,

I detach him and gas him in the grass for good measure.

– Tammy Robacker, from The Vicissitudes (2009)

What to Read: Big Questions

W.E.B. DuBois famously claimed that “the problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the color line,” a problem that the election of an African American president may or may allow us to claim has been “solved.” One year plus into the historic administration, scholars and pundits are increasingly expression disillusionment toward the early euphoric suggestions that Obama’s election demonstrated the existence of a “post-racial” era in American life. To be fair, there have always been skeptics who argue that Obama’s success may in fact be the exception that proves the rule of continued discrimination and inequity against certain racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Yale Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, and English Robert Burns Stepto addresses the questions raised by reading “race literature” in the Obama era in a forthcoming book, A Home Elsewhere: Reading African American Classics in the Age of Obama (Harvard UP). The book promises to reanimate and reassess some of the issues Stepto dealt with in an earlier project, From Behind the Veil: A Study of African American Narrative (U Illinois P, 1979; 1991) by putting Barack Obama’s own autobiography, Dreams From My Father, in conversation with some of the major themes characteristic of African American literature, including paternal absence, repeated migration, and the necessity–and difficulty–of self-creation.
In an interview with the online journal Inside Higher Ed, Stepto explains his project:

As I try to comprehend this “moment” in the twenty-first century, as we complete the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency, I ask myself, for example, are African Americans still “invisible”? Are they still beset with “double consciousness”? Might the election signal, as some dearly hope, that the nation is now dedicated to its “creeds and lives” instead of its “laws and knives”?

Stepto argues further that his larger goal is not simply to reinforce racial boundaries by limiting the conversation to Obama’s effect on African American literature, but to broaden the scope by considering how Dreams from My Father, like Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom, Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, tells not just an African American story, but a profoundly American story of direction, self-creation, and finding one’s way in the world. As Stepto says in the IHE interview,

I’d prefer to discuss how reading Obama has affected my teaching of American literature, not just African American literature. Here is an example. For years, in my “American Autobiography” course, I have taught Yoshiko Uchida’s Desert Exile, the story of her family’s incarceration in the camps created for Japanese Americans in WWII. At one early point, she writes of how, in Berkeley, Calif., she and her sister, Keiko, became Americanized in their names at school and university (UC Berkeley) as Yo and Kay. Last semester, I read that and I couldn’t help thinking about Barack’s names. His story about having to choose between “Barack” and “Barry,” sometimes continually in his life, is an American story. And it is profoundly a story of how he would present himself to the American public during a national election. Think about it: Americans elected Barack, not Barry. Wow.

Wow, indeed.

March 26, 2010

Crosscurrents Deadline: Midnight tonight!

Don’t forget: the deadline for submissions to Puget Sound’s literary magazine is tonight, at midnight. Questions and submissions to ccr@pugetsound.edu

Writing Contest: Creative Nonfiction

This announcement of a very profitable writing contest for students comes to us somewhat circuitously, via Zanzibar, where Professor Julie Christoph and her family are spending a year on a Fulbright-sponsored research and teaching venture. You can find their family blog, featuring photos, reflections on life in Zanzibar, and thoughts on life in a very different culture here. Thanks, Professor Christoph, for the heads up!

Note that the deadline is April 29, and the awards range up to $10,000.

The Norman Mailer Writers Colony and the National Council of Teachers of English are pleased to invite submissions for the 2010 Norman Mailer College Writing Awards for Creative Nonfiction.

Cash prizes of up to $10,000 will be awarded to National Winners. Four finalists in each category will be awarded trophies. Sixteen semifinalists in each category will be awarded certificates.

Submission Guidelines
Norman Mailer produced extraordinary works in many genres, including the category of this year’s award: Creative Nonfiction. Students may submit work in any of the subgenres of creative nonfiction: memoir or autobiography, essay, literary journalism, profiles of people or places, and so on. Whatever its type, the best work will be true material presented with compelling literary merit.

Entries will be accepted online only and may include one or more pieces of writing. Winners receive travel and lodging to attend the Colony’s National Award Ceremony. Entries accepted March 22 – April 29, 2010, Noon CST.

* The Two-Year College Competition is open to first- and second-year full-time students enrolled in a community college, junior college, technical college. Maximum 15 single-spaced pages.
* The Four-Year College Competition is open to current full-time students. Maximum 15 single-spaced pages. The college winner receives a scholarship to the Norman Mailer Writers Colony during the summer of 2011.

Students may submit one or more pieces of writing. Although there are page limits for these pieces, quality is far more important than quantity. No late entries will be accepted.

For complete submission guidelines and judging criteria, or to submit an entry, visit the NCTE website. If you have any questions, please contact me directly at nmw@ncte.org. I wish your students the best of luck!

Best regards,
Lucas Beals
Marketing Specialist
National Council of Teachers of English
(877) 369-6283

March 25, 2010

Jews in Early America: A blog

Many scholars are using blogs and other internet forums to publicize and popularize their work, especially its more esoteric aspects. There’s resistance among traditional scholars, as well as justified concern for the future of the scholarly press. But such blogs in their best instances allow scholars to maintain their academic and intellectual integrity while drawing on the breadth of their interests in ways conventional publications don’t yet allow. Professor Laura Leibman of Reed College is a respected and well-published scholar of early America who has chosen to create a blog “designed to provide interested lay-people, genealogists, and educators with resources on early American Jews and the communities they came from.” Her blog, Travels through Jewish History, features discussions of Jewish theology and early religious practices, comments on diasporic communities in early America and the Caribbean, reflections on (and photos of) Jewish cemeteries, and the occasional recipe. It’s lively, thoughtful, personal, and informative–especially as it brings to light an oft-overlooked element of the early American experience.

Take, for example, her post on the Letters of Abigail Levy Franks (1696-1756), in which she draws our attention to a new edition of the collected letters (Ed. Edith B. Gelles), provides a link to a brief on-line biography, and offers a fascinating–but concise–discussion of the role of the private (or, in 18th-century terms, the “familiar”) letter: a genre that not only allowed for the maintenance of familial intimacy across distances, but also served as a venue for the writer to display her social refinement and upward mobility–in part through her mastery of penmanship. As Leibman notes, “Letter writing manuals like The Young Clerk’s Guide (1708) and The Secretary’s Companion (1728) provided scripts for people to follow in order to display their social graces appropriately; handwriting guides helped the writer learn to display her refinement visually.” (Note that she provides a link to a guide to an early American handwriting guide, as well.) All this and a link to her Early American Handwriting Game, and early America starts to seem like a pretty great place to spend a virtual afternoon.

March 24, 2010

National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference at Puget Sound Friday and Saturday

To add to the already abundant intellectual offerings on campus this week, Professors Suzanne Holland and Kristin Johnson remind us that the National Undergraduate Bioethics Conference will take place here on campus this Friday and Saturday, March 26 & 27. They write:

[W]e hope that if you are free and interested, you will feel welcome to attend any sessions during the two days. You can see the preliminary schedule on the conference web site. […W]e want to thank the many Puget Sound faculty who are participating in the conference in one way or another, giving seminars on areas of expertise, judging the Bioethics Bowl, and so on.

Finally, we call your attention in particular to the three plenary addresses, all of which are in Schneebeck. Each is being delivered by a highly regarded bioethics scholar, and each talk quite distinct. Please feel free to join us!

Friday Morning 9:30-10:30: Annette Dula, PhD: Health Disparities as a Bioethics Issue: A New Challenge. Dr. Dula is an expert in African-American health and bioethics issues.

Friday Evening 6:00-7:00: Carl Elliott, MD, PhD: An Atypical Suicide? The Clinical Trial as Pharmaceutical Marketing Tool Dr. Elliott’s current research is on the ethics of “Pharma.”

Saturday Morning 10:15 – 11:15: Hilde Lindemann, PhD: Family Perspectives on Health Care. Dr. Lindemann is well known for her work in feminist bioethics and philosophy.

Reminder: Creative Writing Days–TODAY


Tonight (Weds.) 7-9 p.m., Readings and Book Signing with faculty authors Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of the novel Wench, and Ann Putnam, author of Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye. This event takes place in the Murray Boardroom and Reception Area and is open to the university community and the public.

On Thursday, March 25, there will be a reading of fiction and poetry, featuring faculty writers Beverly Conner, Erik Ellis, Laurie Frankel, Bill Kupinse, Hans Ostrom, and Lynn Sokei, from 4-6:30 p.m., in Trimble Forum. This event is open to the university community and the public.

Another Award for Alexie

Filed under: Creative Writing,Literature,Publishing — ATH @ 11:17 am
Tags: ,

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation has announced that its 2010 award for fiction goes to Sherman Alexie for War Dances. The award is given for the best fiction published by an American author in the preceding calendar year; Alexie’s work out beat out those by fellow finalists Colson Whitehead (Sag Harbor), Lorrie Moore (A Gate at the Stairs), Lorraine M. Lopez (Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories), and Barbara Kingsolver (Lacuna).

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