English Major Brunch 2014

English majors and faculty joined each other for brunch to celebrate all of their hard work. Congratulations to the class of 2014!

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Post-symposium Interview with Curtis Cole and Cidney Mayes

After the Wilson Scholar presentations finished, I was fortunate enough to sit down with two of the presenters, Cidney Mayes (Senior) and Curtis Cole (Freshman), to talk about their presentations. 

Cidney Mayes: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey Online: Creating a Digital and Pedagogical Resource for Secondary Teachers and   Students (Sponsor: Misty Krueger) Website: http://northangerclassroom.org/

Curtis Cole: Postmodern Japanese Existentialism (Sponsor: Erin Kappeler)


Me: What inspired you to create your projects?

Cidney: It was while taking a class with Misty on Jane Austen that I began thinking about it. Misty came up to me, she knew I was interested in Austen, and said that she’d help me. I wanted to focus on social context and the social sphere and translate that for the 21st century.

Curtis: I had written a paper on Japanese existentialism in ENG 181; and, after I finished, I still wanted to know more! I like big landscapes. A lot of people only look at one tree, but I don’t. I look at the tree, clouds, the forest beyond, and everything else.

Me: What was the process like? 

Cidney: Misty was like, “We’re gonna get you this scholarship!” We had to start in June, almost a year ago. I spent all summer working on it. I was going into student teaching, so I knew that I would be busy. Misty was extremely helpful. We met about once a month to check in, and continually talked through email.

Curtis: The process for me started in November, but I didn’t truly focus on it until January, and then it was like a hectic time-consuming work session.  

Me: What do you think the long term impact of your presentations will be?

Cidney: I think that the research I’m doing is ahead of the curve. My mentor is an Austen scholar, and we both really wanted to create something that would be innovative to the community. Putting Austen on the level of high schoolers is sometimes frowned upon by the Austen community. I want to bridge the gap between high schoolers and Austen through social media. By promoting the accessibility of knowledge, I was able to do that. 

Curtis: My impact is going to be more of an impression of myself. I’m hoping my presentation will prove that I’m a hard-working student. Throughout this process I was able to work with Erin, but I really wanted to work through most of it by myself—to prove that I could. 

Me: So, what’s next for you two? 

Cidney: I’m looking into getting my master’s in library services. The programming skills I gained while working on this will be great for that! Then, in a few years, I am going to buckle down and become an English teacher.  

Curtis: Well, I just started so I have a ways to go. But, I know I’m going to get my graduate degrees. Although my project doesn’t correlate directly to my goals, it gave me experience working on a long term research project. 

Me: Any final thoughts on the process? Or working with your mentor or other professors here at UMF?

Cidney: At UMF we really have a unique relationship with our professors. They’re always 100% available, no matter what questions you have. Overall, I think that both of our presentations went well. 

Curtis: I’m still pretty new here, but my experience has been great. The professors here are amazing and they always make time for you.  

End interview

Thank you both for your insight! Make sure you check out Cidney’s website above, especially if you’re an educator or future educator!

Scholar Lisa Brooks at UMF

Lisa Brooks

Lisa Brooks

Wednesday, April 16 

11:45 a.m.,Thomas Auditorium

Lisa Brooks, associate professor of English and American studies at Amherst College and former UMF Libra scholar, presented a lecture entitled, “Finding Namaskonti: Native American History in Farmington Falls.” 

It attracted a wide range of people, including those from the community. Perhaps the local emphasis is what attracted students, staff, and community members alike.

Brooks’ historical discussion on the oral tradition and the  “last Indian” was interesting. In addition, her inclusion of local artifacts, such as Hannah Susup’s Basket, located in the Farmington Library, Farmington, ME, made the lecture more personal. 

Lisa Brooks, thank you so much for coming back up to UMF!  The community is wholly more enlightened since your lecture.

Encounters: UMF Libra Scholar Annette Kolodny

April 10, 2014

Q&A with English (and other Humanities) majors:

In an intimate setting, Annette Kolodny had a discussion with students and faculty about the opportunities available to English majors. Kolodny believes that lacking complexity is what holds people back. English majors, on the other hand, are capable of the higher order thinking necessary to succeed. She beautifully described the English major as an opening of new doors in communications, and within each is a different reality that facilitates higher thinking. She said that having an aptitude for empathy and analysis renders the English major versatile. 

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Libra Scholar Annette Kolodny

“Papal Bulls, Wishful Wonder, and the Many Fictions of the Doctrine of Discovery”:

Later the same day, students and faculty reconvened for Kolodny’s lecture “Papal Bulls, Wishful Wonder, and the Many Fictions of the Doctrine of Discovery.” 

“This lecture examines the language of the original papal bulls that set out the legal parameters for what became known as the ‘doctrine of discovery.’ I argue that the bulls effectively constructed the language and tropes by which early explorers claimed to have ‘discovered’ lands previously unknown (and unclaimed by) any Christian. In keeping with the linguistic constructions demanded by the language of the bulls, early explorers claimed firstness by asserting that they had been greeted with wonder and awe by the Native peoples. But in fact, a number of Eastern Algonquian stories of first contact with Europeans wholly undercut these descriptions of “wonder” and thoroughly undermine European assertions of first contact and so-called discovery. My remarks will concentrate on texts from the Penobscot Nation in Maine, including Joseph Nicolar’s Life and Traditions of the Red Man and a story that had previously remained only in oral tradition but was told to me by former Penobscot Nation chief James Sappier.” 

This riveting lecture covered a time span from A.D. 1000, Leif Eiriksson’s exploration of Vinland, to 1534, when European fisheries established from southeastern Labrador to Nova Scotia and Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

Afterwards, students and faculty joined the conversation. Kolodny, an articulate and entertaining speaker, graciously answered each and every question. She ended her presentation by bringing her visitation full-circle; she said, “This is where an English degree can take you.”

As always we want to take the time to say how much we appreciate our guests: Annette Kolodny, thank you so much for your eye-opening presentations!

Miss the event? Download a copy of the handout below:

 Page 1: Kolodny Handout pg1

Page 2: Kolodny Handout pg2

Page 3: Kolodny Handout pg3

Visiting Writers Series: Maria Flook

On Thursday, March 27th, author Maria Flook read her work to the community. She is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod and My Sister Life: The Story of My Sister’s Disappearance. Flook has been published in many genres including: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She considers herself a storyteller and is passionate about her craft.  

Flook has also published two collections of poems, “Sea Room” and “Reckless Wedding,” winner of the Houghton Mifflin New Poetry Series.

After the event, the students were able to meet and talk to Flook at a book signing.


Encounters: Mary Louise Pratt


Mary Louise Pratt

Monday, March 17th: Globalization and Language 

On Monday, students and faculty filled The Landing for scholar Mary Louise Pratt’s presentation on globalization and language. Pratt first became involved in the research of globalization and language when she felt there was, in her words, “nobody talking about it.” Languages are being lost at a faster rate now than ever before; every two weeks the last speakers of a language die.

There are five elements language learners must have to be successful: time, effort, desire, input, and opportunities to use the language. Lacking any of these is detrimental to maintaining a mastery of a given language. A good example of this can be found in the push for high schoolers to develop proficiency in a foreign language before entering college or the workforce; while the intentions are laudable, what often happens is that students, once beyond the classroom, are left without opportunities to speak the foreign language. As such, their proficiency in that language quickly diminishes.

On another note: Language is subjective; words and meanings count more or less for different people. And this elasticity, that human comprehension is capable of, can become problematic. To clarify, our ability to produce language is smaller than our ability to comprehend it. This creates a complicated dynamic between speaker and listener.

Furthermore, language is becoming murkier because of the production of translingual pieces.  For example, Pratt showed a video of the Bolivian rap group, Ukamau Y Ke, who mix languages in their works—according to Pratt this is a form of linguistic rebellion. Written literatures, compared to these highly transmittable aural forms, are limited because globalization does not increase the number of languages used in literature.

The future of global language is uncertain. But Pratt expressed in this eye-opening presentation the importance of embracing all linguistic forms and mediums—because of this uncertainty.

Wednesday, March 19: Workshop on Translingual Poetry 

Two days later, students and faculty rejoined Mary Louise Pratt for a workshop on translingual poetry. Participants were divided into four groups, and each group analyzed a different poem. For each work the following questions were considered:

  • How are the two languages brought together?
  • By what means are they brought together?
  • What relation is created between them?

This hands-on workshop served as an extension of her presentation on Monday, and it gave participants the opportunity to experience her work for themselves.

For those that may have missed the workshop and want to experience one of Pratt’s activities, continue reading: Click on the hyperlink of comedian George Lopez’s stand-up. Watch it and ask yourselves the following:

  • How many character do you observe?
  • What do the accents, bilingualism, and phonetics communicate?
  • What is the relationship of the two languages?
Mary Louise Pratt

Mary Louise Pratt

Thank you so much Mary Louise Pratt for an insightful and engaging look into globalization, language, and translingual poetry!