Faculty Highlights (2014 thus far)

This is the first of several posts from members of the UMF literature faculty reflecting back on the highlights of the previous year.

Michael Johnson

The highlight of the year for me was the publication in Feb 2014 of my book, Hoo-Doo Cowboys and Bronze Buckaroos: Conceptions of the African American West, by University Press of Mississippi. A revised and expanded version of a paper on director Quentin Tarintino’s film Django Unchained (presented at the 2013 Western Literature Association Conference) was solicited by the editors of Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies for a special roundtable on the film to be published in fall 2014.

This past spring was a particularly wonderful and intellectually engaging semester. The Why English? series brought us the amazing Sir Christopher Ricks lecture on T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. One of the other highlights of the year was performing in the staged reading of The Waste Land along with several colleages in the Arts and Humanities. Also, as a member of the various Libra Scholar and University Forum Series committees, I participated in bringing several engaging speakers and distinguished scholars to UMF throughout the semester: Mary Louise Pratt, Annette Kolodny, and Lisa Brooks. For the Annette Kolodny visit, Prof. Sabine Klein and I collaborated with University of Southern Maine professor Lorrayne Carroll on a Libra Scholar proposal to bring Prof. Kolodny to spend time at both campuses. Prof. Klein and I both spoke at an event honoring Dr. Kolodny sponsored by the University of New England and hosted by UNE Prof. Jennifer Tuttle at the Maine Women Writer’s Collection. Another enjoyable collaboration was with UMF’s Prof. Stephen Pane on his Beethoven’s Opus 111 and “late style” project. As part of the project, I gave a talk on the “late style” of Langston Hughes. Prof. Pane and I, as part of this event, coordinated a group of students in a staged reading of excerpts from Hughes’s late work, the long poem Ask Your Mama, which included joining in with the class to sing “The Hesitation Blues” between sections of the poem. This was, I think, my first public performance singing the blues!

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