Spring 2018 Literature Courses

Spring 2018 Literature Courses

This course is an introduction to Shakespearean drama, which is both enormously influential in Western culture and somehow central to our notions of what literature is and can do.  We will study seven plays, concentrating on their deployment of various poetic languages, their construction as literary artifacts, and the theatrical and performance issues they raise.  The tentative reading list for spring includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest.   In the context of this particular group of texts, we will be taking up questions related to colonialism, constructions of race and gender, political ideology, textual editing, Renaissance theatrical performance, and the genre of the late plays.    Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

Studying nineteenth- and twentieth- century British literature, we will explore three important literary periods: the Romantic, Victorian, and twentieth-century.  We will learn about the events and contested issues of the culture as we examine the diverse ways writers (such as William Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, Wilfred Owen, and Virginia Woolf) responded and contributed to these in the content and form of their writing.  The events are tremendous: an economic revolution that remakes the landscape physically and socially, a political revolution that raises hopes and then dashes them, scientific discoveries that trouble traditional beliefs, a cataclysmic war, and profound changes in the legal status of women, to name just a few.  Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

T 1:50-5:10  (EIREANN LORSUNG)

This course offers a mix of theoretical and material work. We will read small, alternative, and independent publishers’ books (and other artifacts) to think about what it means to be a (micro-) publisher as well as to think about what kinds of writing have entered the literary scene via these publishers over the past decade or so. We will encounter and grapple with the question “What is a book?” and use books we read (and those we make) to address it at the axis of form and content. In addition to reading literary work, we will read scholarly writing on small press publishing as we work to articulate our own editorial/publishing/artistic philosophies. Part of our time will be spent in bookmaking practica, in which students will learn to bind physical books. Students in this course can expect to read a book a week for much of the semester, write three papers, and work independently or in a team on a final editorial/publishing project.  Prerequisite: ENG 100 and sophomore standing.


Since the coming of sound to movies, the American movie thriller in all its forms — crime stories, war movies, Westerns, sci fi and horror, etc. — has offered a reflection of the American character, the movies changing as American society changed. The thriller may have offered an exaggerated, sometimes even distorted view, but one always somehow connected to the audience it served. This course will examine a number of key movie thrillers, and the social context which produced them and which they reflected.


Primary readings in literary and cultural studies theory will provide conceptual frameworks for offering critical commentary on contemporary culture (literature, film, television, music, etc.). That commentary will take the form of blog posts, reviews, recaps, tweets, podcasts, etc. Also included in our primary readings will be contemporary blogs and websites that offer reviews and cultural criticism.  Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

In this course we examine historical and contemporary constructions of the female body in Western culture: in medicine and science, in law, in popular culture, in literature, and in sports culture. Our goals are to become more astute cultural critics, to better understand the political, personal, intellectual, and social ramifications of dominant constructions of the female body, and to analyze challenges to these constructions—in theory, research, literature, the arts, and in everyday embodied practices. Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

Students will investigate foundational schools of literary theory, learn about the field of English as an academic discipline, and think about how being an English major prepares them for life and career after their degrees are completed. As a result, students will become aware of different critical approaches to literature and will begin to define their individualized interests and aims in the major.  At the end of the course, each student will complete a concentration statement that explains how four or more of the elective courses in the major form a coherent group.  Prerequisite: ENG major, ENG 181, and one 200-level literature course.

The focus of this course will be Native American literature and film primarily written and produced over the last two decades. We will place that material in the larger context of the history of Native American representation in film and literature. We will be especially attentive to Native American literature that has been adapted to film, but we will also look at films with original scripts, at experimental films, and documentaries.  Prerequisite: 200-level ENG literature class or JR/SR standing.

How do British Victorian novels evoke complex worlds and welcome readers into them?  During a period of extraordinary transformation, how did the diverse kinds of novels that were popular in the Victorian age enable writers and readers to understand themselves, their relation to others, and their place in the world?  What can we today–as we face the challenges within our own local and global communities–learn from these novels?  We will explore the multifaceted worlds–physical, social, and psychological–created in a variety of Victorian novels, such as the sensation novel, the multiplot novel, and the adventure novel, including novels by some of the following: Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, H. Rider Haggard, and Bram Stoker. Prerequisite: 200-level ENG literature class

An advanced seminar, focused on three novels: Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen; Middlemarch, by George Eliot; and The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James.  The works of these three writers constitute a central tradition in the history of the English novel, and they share many formal and thematic features, including moral scrupulousness, precise evocations of social circumstance, carefully modulated irony, narrative subtlety and complexity, and an interest in representing consciousness.  We will read and discuss the novels in detail and consider them in relation to one another and in the context of recent scholarship.  Students will spend the last six weeks of the semester working on substantial seminar papers, which they will present to the class.  Prerequisite: 300-level ENG literature class other than ENG 300.


An advanced seminar, focusing on a capstone independent research project, for senior English majors who have already taken one 400-level seminar.  Students will draw on the knowledge they have developed during their coursework in the major to create a project that synthesizes and extends that knowledge and engages in a wider scholarly or professional conversation. Research topics may be influenced by the instructor’s areas of expertise. Students will present their capstone projects publicly and will write reflections on the research process.  Prerequisite: senior ENG major and 400-level ENG literature course.


Looking back at Spring 2017


Brunch for graduating senior English majors



Richard Southard’s presentation, part of his Wilson Scholars presentation on literary adaptation and the art of magic.

Symposium Day Highlights

Game Day in the Proto-Science Fiction Class

The Surrealist Salon

At the inaugral Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society) meeting.



Adaptation and Magic



Literary Adaptation and the Art of Magic” was a performance and presentation by Creative Writing and English major Richard Southard. With the support of a Wilson Scholarship in Spring 2017, Richard worked on a scholarly and creative project focused on adaptations of literature to magic. He developed a set of card magic routines adapted from a variety of literary texts (e.g., a card trick based on John Keats’s “The Human Seasons), which he performed, and he also gave a presentation about the history of magical adaptations of literature and about his own process of adaptation. Since card magic works best in a more intimate setting, for the first fifteen-twenty minutes of the event small groups (4-5 people) from the audience joined Richard on stage, where performed one card trick for each group.



You can experience Richard’s magic for yourself through videos posted on YouTube, including his adaptation of John Keats’ “The Human Seasons.”

The New Commons Project

English majors at UMF should be excited by the arrival this fall of the first stages of The New Commons Project, supported by a Mellon Grant, which will endeavor to build a collection of 24 cultural works (novels, plays, poems, graphic novels, essays, paintings, songs, symphonies, albums, films, videos, performances, philosophical treatises, scientific works, manifestos…). Over a five year period, each of those works will provide a focus for discussion and programming on the UMF campus.

The works will be nominated for inclusion via short videos. Anyone living in the state of Maine can make and submit a video nominating a favorite work. Submissions are already open.

UMF English major Astra Pierson has already submitted her video!


From the press release about the program:

UMF awarded prestigious Mellon Foundation grant

FARMINGTON, ME  (July 10, 2017)—University of Maine at Farmington President Kathryn A. Foster is proud to announce that the University has received a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This prestigious award will be used to support the creation of a New Commons Project in Public Humanities and Arts for UMF and the Maine community.

“Over the course of our history from the 1860s to the present, UMF has championed humanities and arts as a cornerstone of a quality education to help individuals broaden their horizons and contribute to their community,” said Foster. “We are honored by this significant Mellon Foundation award and the opportunity to spotlight a collection of wide-ranging works selected by and for our Maine community.”

Through the next five years, the New Commons Project will help give voice to the role of UMF as a public liberal arts university and as a cultivator and steward of artistic and creative works and the communal ideas they bring to life. Starting in fall 2017, UMF will work with the Maine Humanities Council, schools, libraries and other groups to solicit video entries about works of literature, philosophy, history, music, art, film, theatre and other arts and humanities disciplines that merit a place in a New Commons today.

“The creation of a statewide digital ‘commons’ of artistic, cinematic, historical, literary, and musical work has the potential to become a national model for public liberal arts colleges and state humanities councils who create, share, and disseminate knowledge in behalf of the common good,” said Eugene Tobin, a senior program officer for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities at the Mellon Foundation.  “We are very pleased to support this thoughtful and innovative contribution to the public humanities and the people of Maine.”

From the wide array of works nominated and posted to the on-line Commons, a project advisory group will select 24 works—classic or contemporary, diverse and compelling—for special use and value to the Maine community in the 21st Century. People on campus and throughout the state will come together on-line and in-person to study, discuss and draw insight and inspiration from these varied and meaningful works.

“As a public institution, UMF celebrates a legacy of providing the community access to the rich experience and exchange of ideas that are found in the arts and humanities,” said Eric Brown, UMF provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The Commons Project invites creation and consideration of our cultural commons found in novels, paintings, films, symphonies, essays, poems, graphic novels, sculptures, treatises, songs or any other artistic and humanistic medium.”

For each work, UMF will host a number of open-to-the-public events, including a faculty-led seminar, public lecture by a prominent scholar, and workshop. In collaboration with local school districts and the Maine Humanities Council, the New Commons Project will coordinate community engagement projects around each work. A digital portal will be established to provide the community with access to extensive online resources. A Digital Commons course will be available to students in which they will work with a Public Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow to create portal content that will be accessible statewide.

“A commons is something that belongs to all of us. It represents a public good, like clean air or knowledge, from which we all benefit. We want the New Commons Project to embody that idea,” said Kristen Case, UMF Associate Professor of English and Director of the New Commons Project. “We can’t wait to see what works of art, literature, and ideas our diverse community believes we need to consider together here and now.”

For more about the New Commons Project, including how to submit nominations, visit the website at http://newcommons.umf.maine.edu/.


Local Bookseller Offers Student Discounts

Devaney, Doak, & Garrett Booksellers Present UMF Student Reward Program

Hi there. I’d like to take moment to introduce DDG Booksellers’ new University of Maine-Farmington Student Reward Program. In 2017 few personal choices have more power to affect the health of our local communities than where we choose to spend our money. We recognize that many college students have potent reasons to be price conscious, but that they are also conscious of the value of supporting businesses which support their communities. DDG has been Farmington’s Independent Bookstore for over 26 years. Our commitment to community is evident in the national and statewide awards we have won recognizing our community outreach to schools. While the UMF Bookstore has ceased carrying books and become an ecampus.com affiliate, DDG remains committed to providing a physical place to carry, sell and discuss books.

To make supporting a community business with your course book purchases possible we are establishing a new student reward program which works with UMF Faculty members who wish their students to have the choice to buy their books at an independent bookstore. The way it works is simple. Students who enroll will receive both a 10% discount on their course book purchases and a 5% customer reward card on all store purchases given after after every ten books bought here. You can sign up by email or when you stop by the bookstore to pick up your course books. Thanks. We really appreciate your business.
(Please share widely.)

Mythologies Assignment

ENG 300
Blog Assignment 1 (Barthes)
Due date: Feb 16
Length 500-600 words

For your blog post on Mythologies, choose one of Barthes’s essays that you would like to discuss in more detail.

The blog post should briefly explain (using quotations) a key idea from that essay. Then, you should apply that idea from the essay to a discussion of another cultural text of your choice (e.g., using “Wine and Milk” to talk about American beer advertisements, or “Soap Powders” to examine American detergent advertising or to jump off to another similar topic, such as using Barthes’s methodology to discuss the mythology of deodorant). You should be able to include images, links, and even video to your post if you wish.

Humanities Spring Reception 2016


The Division of Humanities (which includes the Department of English) each year hosts a spring reception to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year. Faculty members Pat O’Donnell (UMF’s Trustee Professor), Kristen Case (Little Arias), and Jeffrey Thomson (Fragile) read from recently published work or work  in progress. Miriam Cohen and Roshan Luick provided music.


Students (and their faculty sponsors) who received Wilson Scholarships  were recognized: Curtis Cole (sponsored by Lorna Hughes), Nathaniel Duggan (Shana Youngdahl), Jill Gingras (Gretchen Legler), and Timothy Stokes (Daniel Gunn).

Several students were honored for receiving awards and fellowships from organizations outside UMF, including several Fulbright Fellowship winners (which will enable the students to pursue research or creative projects or teach English as a foreign language): Travis Bent (a history major minoring in French and Spanish whose Fulbright will allow him to serve as an English teaching assistant in Spain); Kyle Manning, who graduated in 2015 as an English and Creative Writing double major, and who will be spending a year in Quebec researching bilingual comic blogs; Caroline Murphy, Secondary Education-English (also a 2015 graduate), who will be an English teaching assistant in Bulgaria.  Additionally, Creative Writing and English major Kim Arthurs completed a semester with the Movies from Marlboro program for young filmmakers.

The ceremony also announced several BFA awards: Senior Award (fall): Nathaniel Duggan; Senior Award (spring): Sarah Winchenbach. The Beth Eisen Memorial Scholarship went to Sarah Williams.

Bryce Cundick, librarian at Mantor Library, announced the winners of the Mantor-sponsored On Our Minds writing contest. All three winners were Humanities students: First, Jinni Workman; second, Mariah Haggan; third, Aimee DeGroat.

Humanities students won several other writing prizes over the past year: Aimee DeGroat was a finalist in the Hollins University Fiction Contest for her story “Feel Something.” Tim Bushika took first prize in UMA’s Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival Student Poetry Contest for “Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean.” Nathaniel Duggan won the COPLAC (Consortium of Public Liberal Arts Colleges) David J. Prior award for outstanding essay on the public liberal arts experience for “Liberal Arts Degrees and Lobster Tanks: A Lesson in Stopping to Smell the Fishy Roses.”

Each year the Division of the Humanities Presents two honors for achievement in the the field of English, the Eleanor Wood Scholarship and the Maude L. Parks Award. In 2016, there were ten students who were finalists for the awards. There were two winners, and eight students who earned honorable mention. Honorable mention went to: Samuel Bennett, Tiffany Bishop, Julia Fletcher, Tyler Gadaire, Carolyn Newhouse, Janelle Noonan, Laura Pulito, and Kristen Simmons.

The Maud L. Parks Award was presented to Holland Corson.

The Eleanor Wood Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Brigid Chapin.





During the week of May 2, the UMF courses participating in the Adaptations Co-Lab staged a week-long event called Adaptacon. Following the practice of science fiction, cosplay, and anime conventions, Adaptacon offered two tracks, creative and academic. Students presented critical papers on adaptation as well as staging, screening, displaying their own adaptations.

Adaptacon culminated in a party and costume contest, a final celebration of adaptation, where many of the creative adaptations were performed and displayed. The central event of the evening was a costume contest (in which contestants came dressed as their favorite literary or media-related characters). Additionally, there was a tableau vivant of the Seven Deadly Sins (see photos above); scenes from a new translation and adaptation of Sophocles’ play Ajax; Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson set to music; poster displays from Francophone Cultures Through Film; an installation by INS 377 (Border Crossings) students; various adaptation projects from British Texts and Contexts and American Texts and Contexts; and much, much more. Below is a selection of photographs from the evening.


Lauren Crosby sang three songs, each one an adaptation of a different Jane Austen novel (including a bluesy Emma), while the Seven Deadly Sins listened.


Richard Southard adapted four Walt Whitman poems to card magic.


Artwork by Marissa Smith and Lauren Stetson (based on Cheryl Savageau’s poetry collection Mother/Land and Elizabeth Strout’s novel Olive Kitteridge).


There was a lot going on throughout the building during the event, including British Text and Contexts presentations in one of the basement classrooms.

Costume Contest:



From Sophocles’s Ajax, adapted to a contemporary setting:




Adaptacon involved several participating courses:

ART 221 Painting I

ENG 251 British Texts and Contexts I

ENG 272 American Texts and Contexts

ENG 477 Popular Genres

ENG 477 Jane Austen and Popular Culture

INS  377 Border Crossings

FYS 100 Francophone Cultures through Films

As part of the academic track, both Popular Genres and Jane Austen and Popular Culture offered panels where students presented their final research projects from the two classes:

Panel Title: Horror

Kurt Mason, “Scream Queens: A Genre Mash-Up and Modern Revival of the Classic Whodunnit”

Angela Hutchins, “No Flesh Shall Be Spared: The Challenge of Female Conventions of the Horror Genre in Richard Stanley’s Film Hardware

Josiah Adams, “Zombies and the Mediums of their Dismemberment”

Kat Newcombe, “Eat the Children: Zombies in Young Adult Literature as Seen in Charlie Higson’s The Enemy Series

Francis Hartnett, “Perpetuating Hatred in the Face of Extinction: Apocalyptic Bigotry and Telltale’s The Walking Dead

Carolyn Newhouse, “From a Scream to a Snicker: An Exploration of Horror-Comedy as a Genre”

Panel Title: Popular Genres and History

Holland Corson, “The Fall of Non-Fiction: Mockumentary and the Destruction of the Documentary”

Brandi Merry, “The Nostalgia of Mad Men: Adapting the Historical Novel to Television”

Robyn Noe, “Adapting Arthurian Fantasy: From T.H. White to BBC’s Merlin

Victoria Alagna, “From The War Zone To Your TV Screen: An Analysis of Call of Duty As A War-Themed Video Game”

Panel Title: Superhero and Science Fiction

Nikki Hodgins, “’Deceived by their true nature’: An Exploration of Morality in the Superhero Genre Through the Lens of Marvel’s Daredevil

Avalon Almador, “Dexter Morgan: The Complexities of a Tragic Hero”

Justin Fisette, “’Genre is irrelevant. Your genres will adapt to service us’: The Borg as both zombie and science fiction”

Janelle Noonan, “’Put these References Waaay up Inside your *ahem,* Morty’: Intertextuality and Fan Genre in Rick and Morty

Jane Austen and Contemporary Culture

Kimberly Biddlecom,”‘None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives:’ Overcoming Gender Limitations in Persuasion” (9:50-10:15)

Madeline Boyes, “Exploring Motherhood in the Works of Jane Austen” (10:15-10:40)

Astra Pierson, “Freedom and Limitation in Clueless” (10:40-11:05)

Nathaniel Duggan, “Adaptation as Conversation: Rediscovering Relevance in Mansfield Park through Film” (11:05-11:30)

Lauren Crosby, “The Defense of Fanny Price through a Feminist Lens” (10:10-10:30)

Josh Cardella,  “A Conversation: Adaptations of the Second Proposal Scene in Pride and Prejudice” (10:30-10:50)

Elizabeth Ferry, “Re-vision of Pleasure v. Virtue in Sense and Sensibility–Austen’s Classic, Film Adaptation, and Young Adult Literature”  (10:50-11:10)

Dot White, “The Box Hill Picnic: Prelude and Postlude” (11:10-11:30)

Jane Austen and Popular Genres (students from both classes on one panel)

Gia Pilgrim, “Contemporary Cross-Cultural Adaptation of Jane Austen: In Bollywood and Hispanic America”

Audrey Blaufuss, “Adaptation Takes the Next Step: Cinematic Techniques Evolve New Meaning in Persuasion

Jasmine Heckler, “The Conversation of Morality in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and Present-Day Fan Fiction”

Curtis Cole, “Plateau, 2016 A.D- ∞: Understanding the Zombic-machine’s Semiological Features”



Fulbright Winners

Some good news about recent and new graduates from English, Secondary Education, and the Humanities:

FARMINGTON, ME (May 5, 2016)—The University of Maine at Farmington is proud to announce that the Fulbright U.S. Student Program—among the most prestigious national awards for postgraduate study—has awarded a UMF graduating senior and two UMF alumni with 2016 Fulbright Fellowships.

This highly competitive national program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department to promote good will internationally, enables college graduates, young professionals and artists to conduct research, teach English as a foreign language or pursue a creative project in more than 150 countries.

“Receiving a Fulbright award is such an honor and a significant personal achievement,” said Kathryn A. Foster, UMF president. “We are so proud of this year’s recipients and the course they’ve charted as ambassadors to the world. UMF has strategically invested in growing our Fulbright program to support this type of academic excellence and this year’s strong showing underlines its success.”

At UMF, a faculty committee, under Fulbright adviser Anne Marie Wolf, associate professor of history, was very involved with the Fulbright candidates, commenting on student statement drafts, conducting on-campus interviews and providing observations for applications.

Recipients for the very competitive award are selected by the Fulbright Program based on their academic and professional record, language preparation, feasibility of their project or course of study and personal qualifications. The Fulbright Program awards roughly 1,900 U.S. student awards annually, nationwide.

Current senior Travis Bent from Norridgewock is majoring in history with minors in international and global studies, French and Spanish. His fellowship will have him traveling to Spain to be an English teaching assistant in social science. “My professors at Farmington and my adviser Dr. Wolf have really transformed my college experience,” said Bent. “They gave me the tools to make the impossible, possible. This is an unbelievable opportunity for me.”

Kyle Manning, a 2014 UMF graduate in creative writing and English, is currently at l’Université du Maine in Le Mans, France, giving English conversation lessons. He will be headed to Montreal to work on his Fulbright research project on comic blogs as an emerging genre. He will also work with the organizers of a blogging festival and network with these writers.

Caroline Murphy, a secondary education major and 2015 UMF graduate, has been traveling and working at the Kennebunk Beach Improvement Association since graduation. Her Fulbright award will have her working as an English teaching assistant in a high school in Pernik, about 12 miles from Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. She will also be teaching about American culture and possibly coaching the school’s speech and debate team.

In addition to UMF’s strong showing in this year’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program, UMF has had ongoing significant success in the Fulbright Scholar Award Program, a program for college faculty and professionals. Since UMF’s recognition as a “Top Fulbright Producer” by the U.S. State Department in 2012, the University has added an additional five members to its ranks of Fulbright Scholars.