Leadership Award

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UMF student from Windham honored with International Student Leadership Award

FARMINGTON, ME  (May 15, 2019)—
University of Maine at Farmington senior Tegan Bradley, from Windham, has recently been honored with a Student Leadership Award by the International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta.

She is one of only three recipients of the 2018-19 leadership award.  Introduced in 2008, the competitive Student Leadership award recognizes student members for demonstrating outstanding service and leadership on the chapter level.

Bradley joined the newly installed UMF chapter of Sigma Tau Delta in 2017.  During her time as a member of the honor society, she has served as both treasurer and vice president.

Her outreach to individual members and ongoing dedication to the society’s goal to promote interest in literature, writing and the English language has helped to advance the organization on campus. Her leadership was instrumental in bringing honor society members together to obtain official recognition of the UMF chapter by the University’s Student Senate.

A creative writing major, Bradley was awarded funding through a competitive Proctor & Gamble grant last fall to complete an urban internship in The Telling Room in Portland. She is planning to graduate from UMF next fall and wants to pursue a career in teaching creative writing and publishing.

Sigma Tau Delta has more than 900 active chapters worldwide and inducts approximately 9,000 members annually. The organization presents awards annually in the areas of writing, performance and service.
Photo Caption: Tegan Bradley
Photo Credit: UMF Image

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Humanities Spring Reception 2019

Spring was (and, as of May 13, still is) late in coming this year, but the annual Humanities Spring Reception arrived right on time, providing a bit of sunshine (well, emotionally anyway) in a gloomy spring and on an otherwise gray day.

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Pre-ceremony and post-ceremony music was provided by English major Cora Curtis.

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Faculty member Pat O’Donnell read from her most recent novel, The Vigilance of Stars.

The Spring Reception also provides a chance to acknowledge student accomplishment from the preceding year.

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Pictured from left to right, Eireann Lorsung, Annie Moloney, Tegan Bradley, Sabine Klein, and Master of Ceremonies Christine Darrohn.

Two students from the Humanities who received Wilson Scholars awards for Spring semester were recognized: Annie Moloney, Creative Writing/English, whose project “To Touch One Another: Ethical Boundaries of Human Violence” was sponsored by faculty member Eireann Lorsung; Tegan Bradley, Creative Writing, whose project “Hair: A Graphic Narrative” was sponsored by faculty member Sabine Klein.

Currently off campus for a study abroad program in Peru, Andrea Swiedom (Creative Writing/English) was recognized as a Wilson Fellow, for the project “The Recipe Commons,” sponsored by Luann Yetter. As part of her project, Andrea has created an active blog called The Recipe Commons: Telling Stories of Migration Through Food.

 

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Each year, Islandport Magazine sponsors a writing contest. In 2019, several UMF students performed well in the contest, including prize winner (and Creative Writing major) Aimee Degroat (for the story “Down to It”), and honorable mentions Meagan Jones (Creative Writing; standing, to the left), for the story “The Wish,” and Bethany Wicks (Creative Writing; standing, to the right), for the story “Frosted Windows and Salt Stains.”

The Spring 2019 BFA Senior Award went to Kristine Sarasin, who was present but somehow didn’t make it into a photograph by herself, although you can see her in the background behind Megan and Bethany in the picture above.

The UMF English Department offers two yearly awards to students in English, the Maude L. Parks Award and the Eleanor Wood English Scholarship. The Maude Parks Award is given to a junior student at UMF demonstrating excellence in communication arts in the field of English. The Eleanor Wood English Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding junior or senior English Major (including Creative Writing and Secondary Ed-English) who has been a student at UMF during both his/her freshman and sophomore years. It is to be based on academic achievement in the field of English.

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Awarded Honorable Mention for the English awards were Kasey Erlebach (English/Secondary Ed-English), Syl Schulze (Creative Writing), and (not pictured) Margaret Pomerleau (English/Secondary Ed-English).
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The Eleanor Wood Memorial Scholarship winner was Zoe Stonetree (Creative Writing), above. The Maude L. Parks award winner was Andrea Swiedom (who is still in Peru). Zoe and Andrea were multiple winners this year, as Zoe was also the recipient of the Alice James Books Director’s Chair Fellowship for fall 2019, and Andrea was also named as the recipient of the Beth Eisen Memorial Scholarship.

The reception was also a time to recognize members of the UMF branch of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society, including newly inducted members, Rowan Bagley, Grace Barnard, Juliana Burch, Aimee Degroat, Ali Hooper, Jennie Ingall, Meagan Jones, Darby Murnane, Liz Niznik, Billie Rose Newby, Bethany Wicks, and Meaghan Wildes. Also recognized were the slate of officers for 2019-20: Tegan Bradley, President; Billie Rose Newby, Vice President; Liz Niznik, Secretary; and Grace Barnard, Social Media Liaison.

Photography by Bob Bailie.

Capstone-Alone in the Dark: Isolation in the Horror Genre

Hi all! I was encouraged by Dr. Johnson to share the website of my Capstone with everyone! I look at the role of isolation in the horror genre by analyzing the books Frankenstein and Dracula, and the movies Alien, Scream, and HushClick here!Screen Shot 2019-05-10 at 2.41.03 AM.png

English Majors Get Jobs

Recommended article by Paul T. Corrigan, “English Majors Get Jobs,” from Corrigan Literary Review: (click on title to to full article)

Over the past several years, I’ve collected stories and advice from well over a hundred duly employed English majors (see “Want a Job with that English Degree?”). Overwhelmingly, they share that their degrees have helped them find meaning as well as money. According to multiple surveys, most employers in the U.S. positively want to hire college graduates with the kinds of skills fostered in English and other liberal arts—with skills in writing and communicating most important of all. But perhaps the most convincing evidence about English majors’ financial prospects comes from recent data on employment and earnings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. That data, analyzed in several reports, overturns some of the most widespread stereotypes about English majors with the following facts.

The Echo of History & The BlacKkKlansman

Amidst the cultural events on the UMF campus, the New Commons Project has been off to a radical start this spring. Beginning with lectures on hip hop and Kendrick Lamar’s latest album Damn to most recently with a screening of BlacKkKlansman this past Friday, February 8. Focusing on cultural events having to do with race and racial equality, the New Commons Project followed the BlacKkKlansman screening on Friday night with a symposium day of lectures on Saturday, February 9.

Directed by Spike Lee, the BlacKkKlansman came out in 2018 and is based off of a true story which was originally a memoir written by Ronell Eugene Stallworth that was published in 2014. Stallworth wrote this memoir based on his experience working as a cop for the Colorado Springs Police department in the 1970s.

Lincoln Auditorium in the Roberts Learning Center was packed on Friday night with only a handful of empty seats. The main character in the film, Ron Stallworth, is a young African American that joins the Colorado Springs Police Department to infiltrate the local KKK chapter. In the film, Stallworth’s actions and interactions with the KKK chapter are a wonderful paradox. First, Stallworth calls the chapter on the phone to pretend to be interested in becoming a member and then is partnered with a fellow cop, who is white to be the white Stallworth that interacts with the KKK in person. It isn’t until the end of the film that David Duke, the KKK leader, learns that Ron Stallworth is in fact African American. No one knew that he was black because of his white partner — Flip Zimmerman, played by Adam Driver — and all of the KKK members began to accept him and eventually nominated him to be one of their leaders.

Ron Stallworth’s two-part character presents us with the ultimate racial duality or double consciousness. Firstly, Stallworth’s character is an African American in a mostly caucasian police department. Secondly, Stallworth risks his life and his partner’s life (character, Flip Zimmerman) by pretending to join the KKK in order to learn more about the violent and racist organization.

The film screening was followed with a panel discussion with several professors from UMF and our partner University of Le Mans, France. UMF faculty Sarah Maline, Associate Professor of Art History; Andre Siamundele, Assistant Professor of French; and Michael Schoeppner, Assistant Professor of History were led in discussion by UMF’s Libra Scholar Delphine Letort. Professor Letort is visiting UMF from Le Mans University. The panel members shared their thoughts on the film. Professor Letort commented on how Spike Lee reversed the message of D. W. Griffith’s 1915 film The Birth of a Nation of white people being afraid of black people to the reality that it is black people that are more rightfully afraid of white people. UMF’s Professor Schoeppner was really taken aback by the film and shared with the audience his observation that “history doesn’t repeat itself, it echoes.”

This idea of history echoing itself was brought up again in Saturday’s symposium. Audience members of students and faculty talked about how violence against race keeps on happening, why it keeps happening, and what we can do about it. It was agreed by many that there is no immediate or sole solution, that there is no one film or work of art that can change the world, no matter how moving it may be. The change is with the people and the people — us, me, and you — need to keep the conversation going. Talking about racial injustice issues in academics and in our everyday lives will help to keep replacing ignorance and fear with education and open-mindedness.

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Some Sentences From “Persuasion” – A New Commons Project Talk

RP101-0701Daniel Gunn, professor of English at UMF gave a talk last Wednesday December 5, 2018 in the Emery Community Arts Center on Some Sentences From ‘Persuasion’, a Jane Austen novel. This talk took the form of an academic reading journal of the profound intricacies that fascinate professor Gunn in Austen’s Persuasion. This talk was part of the Jane Austen series put on by the New Commons Project.

Kristen Case, associate professor of English and colleague to professor Gunn, prefaced the audience for what they were about to experience. Professor Case described professor Gunn’s investigatory research as slow, quiet, and “attentive to really understand the meaning of another’s words and sentences.” It is not every day that one pays such meticulous attention to the functionality of another’s writing. Professor Gunn is truly “Austen’s ideal reader,” affirmed professor Case.

It is the language at the sentence level in Persuasion that fascinates professor Gunn. His unusual, experimental readings of individual sentences captivated the audience in the Emery last Wednesday as professor Gunn took us all on a journey through his mind of the inner workings of Austen’s language. Gunn spoke with such passion and excitement as he shared his discoveries with us. “The narrator’s voice is not always the narrator’s” and “the withholding of the last phrase of the sentence is powerful” in select sentences throughout the Austen novel.

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If there is a heaven, Austen would have been smiling down upon professor Gunn last Wednesday. Among linguistic and grammatical investigation, there was also immense praise of Austen’s genius on Gunn’s behalf. He claims that her “arrangement [of syntactical elements] as brilliant” and the “sequences of phrases as ironic.”  One such example: … a dead young lady, nay, two dead ladies, for it proved twice as fine as the first report, gives the notion that Persuasion is “Austen’s saddest novel,” claimed Gunn. He also believes that the work is “a reminder of how precise Austen is to the natural world.”

Gunn delivered his discoveries with passionate understanding and appreciation of Austen’s technique. He continues to dissect her sentences, looking for more meaning, that Gunn knows is there, awaiting to be unpacked. At the conclusion of his presentation, professor Gunn called “the novel itself a ‘tender sonnet’ with a sense of loss.”

IMG_5869Upon hearing the enthusiasm in professor Gunn’s talk and learning about the profound inner workings of Austen, I felt a deep need to acquire a copy of Persuasion and save it for the day when I can read and experience for myself the inner workings of Austen’s genius.

Professor Gunn’s deciphering of thirteen select sentences from Jane Austen’s Persuasion can’t help but excite the mind of the listener. We discovered, with and through professor Gunn, the relevance and significance of Austen’s inner workings, truly a rare event.

For more information on upcoming New Commons Project events, please click here.

Special Event: Jonathan Cohen on “Disciples of Dionysus: Nietzsche and the Ramones”

On November 7th, I attended Jonathan Cohen’s talk on “Disciples of Dionysus: Nietzsche and the Ramones”. I walked into the even not knowing what to expect because I knew nothing about Nietzsche or the Ramones, and my knowledge of Dionysus was limited to his association with wine or alcohol. Cohen began his talk by discussing who Dionysus is the Greek God of wine, fertility, chaos, and the law. While this is a confusing mix of traits to associate with one God, Jonathan Cohen thoroughly explained how all these things could connect. Dionysus is a God of the law because in mythology he decided which laws were good enough to be followed, and is therefore not always lawful. His disciples were often women who, if I remember correctly, would punish men by ripping them apart and eating the pieces of their bodies.

Clearly, there is a lot of lawlessness here as well as the association with outcasts. Next, Cohen gave some context as to how Nietzsche connects to this. This part was a little difficult for me to follow and retain, as I don’t have a lot of practice with philosophy, but I know that early in his career, he positioned himself musically with another composer and later in his career was fervidly against him. His musical progression became less neat and more chaotic in order to achieve a different sound.

Finally, we arrived at the Ramones. Cohen explained how the Ramones are the true disciples of Dionysus and Nietzsche because of their outcast brand of rock. Everything from their physical appearance, their sound, and their lyrics suggest a group of people who are outside of order and have their own rules. Cohen showed us his point by having us listen to songs by the Ramones and read the lyrics at the same time. They are tricksters, similar to Dionysus, and use terms that embody the other, such as pinhead, punk rocker, punk, cretin, and lobotomized.

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This connects to Josh Kun’s Audiotopia most strongly through the idea of discovery. In his introduction, Kun describes how the music around him growing up influenced his perception of the world. It created this audiotopic space where things he had never thought of before were possible. As he exposed himself to new music his understanding of the world grew. Cohen described that during the Ramones’ time, there were not many bands quite like them. In fact, they often drew themselves in direct contrast with the Beach Boys, who were clean and had a clean, good sound. The Ramones projected a new identity for listeners, and they projected a new sound. Their sound was more chaotic and allowed listeners to bring their own experiences to the table when listening to their music. This is evident by the followers they attracted and how popular they became. Music allows people to gain access to different kinds of culture and learn about new ideas in a safe way. Even as Jonathan Cohen played their songs for us, we too learned more about the Ramones and their connection to Nietzsche and Dionysus.

Belanna Morales is a senior English major at UMF. This post was originally written for the UMF Literary Theory 2018 blog, which is used by students in ENG 455 Literary Theory to write about course reading material and sometimes to apply the ideas from course readings to events on campus. The Jonathan Cohen talk was scheduled as part of the ongoing Noisy, Wild, and Extremely Troublesome: Lectures in the Arts and Humanities at the University of Maine-Farmington, sponsored by the Humanities Division at UMF.

Special Event: Anthony Davis on John Coltrane’s “Alabama”

In early November I went to Anthony Davis’s talk “Race, White Backlash and the Spiritual Quest: Jazz Responds to the Struggle for Civil Rights” on John Coltrane’s “Alabama”, which was written in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing that resulted in the deaths of four young African American girls in 1963. Davis discussed, in depth, the history of the event and of jazz during his talk. What interested me was the way he broke down how the composition of “Alabama” allowed any listener at any time to feel the grief that was the response to the bombing. While listening to the details of the song, I thought about our discussion of Josh Kun’s Audiotopia and how it applied to “Alabama”.

Kun defines songs as audiotopias when they “[function] like a possible utopia for the listener…[and] is experienced not only as sound that goes into our ears and vibrates through our bones but as a space that we can enter into, encounter, move around in, inhabit, be safe in, learn from” (Kun 2). When Kun describes the idea of an audiotopia, he thinks about songs as being separate from music, which allows them to embody this quality. However, I think here we can see that “Alabama” functions in this way without having (or needing) lyrics.

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Coltrane’s “Alabama” is not, however, a utopia, even if we use the definition Kun gives which is the central quality of having “no known location” (Kun 2). The song is clearly dealing with a world in which four children are killed because of their race. In other words, not an ideal world. Further, it truly is about a particular place. It is about Alabama. It is about racial tensions in the United States. On this level here, we can understand the song as an audiotopia because the song becomes the place. Any listener from any location and time is transported into the Alabama of 1963. The listener is emotionally transported to this moment in time, and the listener is allowed to move around in this space.

Davis shows us how “Alabama” does all this. Although I am not overly familiar with musical theory, I do understand that different musical keys can give different experiences to the listener. When Coltrane used his particular jazz key in this song and with his minimal instrumental arrangement, he provided a specific voice, and this voice was somber. Because of the bareness of the arrangement, each instrument can be heard clearly speaking its mind. Of course, as I describe it here it sounds simple, as though anybody could write a song within a key and create a mood. But one thing about music is that it is never just notes on a page. The performance itself is the most important part. It was very interesting to be able to watch the performance and also see how the music lined up with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech in response to the bombing. The performance and the notes themselves all work to create this audiotopia–this place where listeners are brought back to this moment in time and gain something from each listening experience.

Belanna Morales is a senior English major at UMF. This post was originally written for the UMF Literary Theory 2018 blog, which is used by students in ENG 455 Literary Theory to write about course reading material and sometimes to apply the ideas from course readings to events on campus. The Anthony Davis talk was scheduled as part of the events organized by the New Commons Project at UMF.

Today’s Music Through Activism: Performance by Anthony Green

On November 20th, 2018 I went to see Anthony R. Green’s performance Today’s Music Through Activism in the Emery Performance Center at the University of Maine, Farmington. It was a solo performance, with various music, sounds, media, and even audience voices involved. I didn’t know anything about Green before the performance started besides one clip we watched in class of him, that confused me more than anything else. But Today’s Music Through Activism was on a whole new level.

The entire production had a focus on bringing the experience of being black in America to light. Recent events, like police brutality and unlawful shooting of black people were included, as well as the history of the black experience, shown through “WE CANNOT BE AFRAID/KINDNESS RECITATION” a performance on a lynching. Music, and by extension, sound and performance, has always been an expression of identity and experiences. Not all of Green’s identity or experiences were shared by the audience in rural Maine college with a 60% female attendance, but that’s why it’s important that we did watch and participate.

This reminded me of a section in Josh Kun’s Audiotopia on Whitman’s I Hear America Singing. Whitman’s experiences of supposedly listening to all of America singing neglected to hear the voices of anyone that wasn’t a straight, white, upper class, and predominantly male person. This was obviously a case of selective hearing on Whitman’s behalf, because it wasn’t as if black people were invented after he made all his money. To contrast this, Green’s performance was all about being black: being black in America, showing black creativity, being a black performer, a black singer, and a black person. This was his way of expressing his identity and imagination through sound. He sung, stomped, talked, played piano, choked, hummed, and screamed through the set. Each sound was purposeful and chosen as a way to express his message.

I would say that Green’s creativity is something that I would have previously considered “unique” or “a little weird”, but the message and his efforts really hit home for me when we were invited to sing along with him in “Rest in Pow’r: a Song for Survival Echo Round”. It was then that Green sung the three lines over and over, then played the melody, and had us sing along with him. I think it really brought us in a new place and experience on being black in America, by literally having us in the form of our voices part of the performance. We can be part of the problems, or the solutions, but in that moment, we were singing with him, and echoing what he was singing: for those dead by violence against black people, may they rest in power.

Hailey Wellington is a senior at UMF, with a major in Secondary Education-English. This post was originally written for the UMF Literary Theory 2018 blog, which is used by students in ENG 455 Literary Theory to write about course reading material and sometimes to apply the ideas from course readings to events on campus. The Anthony Green performance was scheduled as part of the events organized by the New Commons Project at UMF.