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.




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.

May Term Travels


Olivia Hamilton (Elementary Ed, English Concentration); Taylor Ann McCafferty (English); Mackenzie Kelley (English) enjoying Sorrento on the UMF travel course in Italy.

Senior Brunch! (2015)

As the Spring 2015 semester eases into its end, the graduating English and English education majors shared a lovely brunch with the English faculty. This gave students a final hurrah! with the peers and professors that guided them through their undergraduate careers. The morning was lively with exciting conversation and tasty food; students reflected on their college experiences and talked about what is still to come. Senior brunch was the perfect opportunity to shake off a crazy—but memorable—semester.


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The Medieval and Renaissance Forum at Keene State College: A Narration of Before, During, and After the Experience

“Looking at the program of the day’s readings, it felt immensely empowering to see my name alongside college professors, scholars, and other very impressive people—getting to discuss my own piece with these folks as well, was even more of a privilege.”—Molly Olsen


From left to right: Molly, Eric, Tyler, Sam, and Misty

It’s proven quite difficult to stop talking about the Medieval and Renaissance Forum at Keene State College! On Friday, April 24, Molly Olsen, Sam Oppenheim, and myself hopped into a UMF van with Dr. Eric Brown and Dr. Misty Krueger to head for the long awaited trip to Keene, New Hampshire. The trip started early Friday morning and lasted through Saturday night.

Although I was really excited to be invited to join the conference, I was also nervous about presenting to people that were perhaps more knowledgeable in the field than me. Luckily, Eric and Misty provided us with ample time to revise and edit our papers as well as rehearse the presentations. By the time of our presentations (Friday at 2:25), I felt amply prepared to give it my best!

I wasn’t alone in my feelings of nervousness; Molly said,

When someone at the conference asked me if I was a Medievalist I was quick to reply, “Well, I’m an English teacher.” Because, although through my studies I have found history and historical works incredibly interesting and important, I am not particularly drawn to this time period (well, at least not beyond wishing that I was Daenerys Targaryen, but that’s a story for another day…). Coming from this mindset, I knew that this event was going to be very different from anything I’d ever experienced, and I was excited to see where it took me.

All of our presentations turned out really well and elicited questions and positive responses from several attendees: three of which were undergraduates from Dartmouth and their professor, Dr. Tom Luxon. Our audience was attentive and inquisitive, challenging us all. Sam said, “Having Tom Luxon sit right across from me and stare me down during my reading was intimidating, but a challenge I was willing to take on!” Perhaps the best part of the presentation was that it gave me a sense of life in English academia, and also provided me with the opportunity to share my work with my peers by choice; rather than with my professor and peers for a grade. This distinction changes everything.

Molly: Presenting a paper I wrote at an academic conference was not only truly educational, but also gave my thoughts and opinions a validation I had never gotten to experience before. The whole event reminded me how glad I am that we have professors at this school who are willing to help us find, participate and thrive in these kind of opportunities.

Other key moments from Friday:

  • Delicious food (Italian and Thai)
  • A memorable reception with hors d’oeuvres and refreshments at the president’s house.
  • Molly tried Thai food for the first time—ever—and loved it!
  • I ate duck for the first time (sorry, Sam, it’s totally not my thing).
  • I had the most comfortable king size bed in the whole world all to myself.
  • Molly and I stayed up Friday night to make crowns fit for the occasion. Alas, they never would have survived the ride home.

On Saturday, we decided to separate and go to the sessions that appealed to each of us. In total we saw 8 panels: some of which were amazing (For those, I felt like I couldn’t write quickly enough or take enough notes), some merely average, and some terrible. The variety of work, both in topic and quality, was amazing. The breadth of work that I saw at the panels provided me with considerable context in which to place myself as an academic—in a sense, the forum validated my confidence in myself. By the end of the presentations, we all seemed to be in agreement about the breadth of the work presented.

Molly: The entire conference was incredibly informative in many different ways. Watching so many people present their papers and ideas in one day, really made me think about the way in which I, as a future educator, will teach my students about these sort of topics. The pop culture integration, the jokes, the anecdotes, the passion, as well the overall ways in which people presented, showed me what will keep your audience’s attention, and what may leave them doodling on their notepads. Knowing how to present your ideas in a dynamic and informative way is such a tremendous skill to have, and I felt like I was getting a sort of boot camp in the entire practice.

Sam: It was incredibly fun listening to all of the different papers, some great and some really terrible. The best, believe it or not, came from our sister school. Robert Kellerman of UMA had this amazing essay on Pericles and made me want to read the play!

After the panels, we were all exhausted; but we still had the keynote address by Coppelia Kahn, a founding member of Shakespearean studies. She presented a hypothesis on how Shakespeare became so popular in modern societies. A point that I thought was particularly noteworthy was that after Shakespeare’s death, his plays were ignored for 44 years, only to be revived by William Davenant. Thus, Davenant is responsible for Shakespeare’s preservation.

Following the keynote presentation we headed to the medieval feast. The themed dinner was relaxing after a long day. Dinner boasted delicious herbed chicken, corn on the cob, diced potatoes, and much more. Aside from the corn, none of these foods were traditionally finger foods. Alas, for the sake of “historical accuracy” and role playing, we had to giggle our way through our meals with nothing but our hands as tools. Between that, the music, and the metal knights guarding the two food tables, I’m sure that the medieval feast will prove hard toforget!

In hindsight, the Medieval and Renaissance Forum at Keene State College was a developmentally significant event in my undergraduate career, and I hope that I’m able to attend more conferences in the future! I want to thank Eric and Misty for the chance to participate. Additionally, I want to thank all four of them (Eric, Misty, Molly, and Sam) for all of the great conversations and memories, as well a their support throughout the event. I’ve spoken to Molly and she also hopes to attend other conferences; she said, “I hope to attend more conferences in the future, although I doubt that any of them will ask me to eat chicken with my hands again—huzzah! for arguable historical choices (and wet wipes)!” Likewise, I’ve spoken to Sam and he wanted to add the following: “Above all else, it was a blast getting to know Tyler and Molly and having many intellectually stimulating conversations with Eric and Misty. It was a truly great experience and I was honored to be a part of it.”KeeneStateForumMedRenCollage

—Tyler M. Michaud

Snape: The Abject Hero

In chapter 7 of Karen Coats’ book entitled Looking Glasses and Neverlands, we are exposed to the culmination of the book as a whole. In each chapter, up to this point, Coats has been unfolding her study of children’s literature, using Jacques Lacan as a foundation for her work. In the last chapter, called, “Abjection and Adolescent Fiction,” Coats moves away from her usual format of including and explaining multiple Lacanian themes and instead focuses on one primarily: abjection, and its prevalence in adolescent literature.

Coats jumps right in, in chapter seven, immediately illustrating her thesis on page 138, using the bone-chilling example of the Columbine shootings in 1999. According to Coats, both Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the shooters at Columbine, embodied what it means to be abject; an outsider. In Coat’s own words, abject individuals are those who have “an intensely ambivalent relationship toward the walls that prevent him or her from fitting in.” (138) Coats goes on to add that, often times, the constant tension of hating those who possess social connections, at the same time as desiring those connections for oneself, results in violence or aggression. Essentially, abjection means to “operate at the social rim.” (138) Additionally, those who push others into the realm of the abject tend to view those individuals as not “clean and proper,” but anathemas to their own social realm.

But in chapter 7, Coats does not simply define abjection, painting it like an inherent unhealthy thing. Instead, she focuses on its prevalence in adolescent fiction and the ways by which those who are abject can escape the confines of abjection. One of her examples of abjection in adolescent literature is the story called Whirligig. Written by Paul Fleischman, Whirligig follows a character named Brent Bishop, a teenager who could be considered both “socially abject…and psychologically abject” (152). In the story, Brent Bishop embodies abjection. As is common with most abject adolescents, Brent has moved from state to state, and finds himself continually in doubt as to where he is. As Coats puts it, “With every move, he checks to make sure the proper ear is pierced, the proper clothes available, the proper hairstyle effected.” Brent embodies abjection, and is even visually abject when he shows up to a party dressed in the “wrong” attire. When his attempts at winning over a girl he likes fail, Brent reaches his limits of humiliation – of not fitting in to that social realm in which he desires to fit – and leaves the party in anger. On his way home, Brent closes his eyes while driving his car, in an attempt to commit suicide. He crashes into another car, but ends up surviving. The other driver, a girl named Lea, however does not. But this is where the transformation takes place.

As restitution for his act, Lea’s mother asks Brent to construct four whirligigs and to take them to the four corners of the U.S. In doing so, Brent encounters Lea through his artwork, and ends up breaking through the realm of abjection and into acceptance by other artists and eventually shares his story with others, accepting his place in the human community.

Though Coats focuses much on the realm of abjection, she also offers, as we see through this piece of fiction, avenues through which the abject individual can escape abjection. Among others, art and religion are the most prolific, Coats says.

Coats then uses the rest of her chapter to give other examples, and finally to posit that adolescent literature is filled with the abject, to not only appeal to adolescents, but to also help them cope with their own abjection.

But abjection goes beyond Coat’s study, and can be found, also, in countless modern works of fiction. Take, for example, the Harry Potter series. For anyone who is familiar with the series, the first assumption would be to label the title character Harry as abject. His parents died long ago, he was raised but an unloving, spiteful family, and the world of Magic is so unique and unknown to Harry that he is essentially abject, especially in the first few books of the series. But as we read through the series and encounter other important characters, we see that Harry is not, at his core, abject. Instead, I would propose that it is Snape, the (in)famous professor at Hogwarts that is one of the most abject characters of J.K. Rowling’s magical universe.

When he was at school himself, Snape thought he had found a new life. He was in a place where his kind – wizards and witches – were not only accepted but were the norm. But as he manoeuvred his way through his studies, Snape not only grew dreadfully apart from his friend Lily Evans (Harry’s mother) but was made into a spectacle by many of his Gryffindor rivals. Through this constant rivalry, Snape grew up apart from friendship, only forming relationships with a select few. His abject nature continued throughout his whole life, primarily during his double-agent duties that made him both a heroic stalwart and hated, back-stabber (the latter being falsely labelled) to many. In the end, Snape not only gives his life in service of Dumbledore and Hogwarts, but proves that one cannot judge solely based on perception, and that abject individuals, though outsiders in their own right, not only serve their own purpose in fiction, but help to prove the point that being different is indeed not entirely a bad thing.

Silence is the New Black

(Below is a post I wrote for Prof. Johnson’s English 455: Literary and Cultural Studies)

In chapter 2 of Acoustic Territories, LaBelle focused on the home, the interior and the normal life noise. How noise has become the enemy is suburban communities. Adults seek to contain noise within the home, not letting that sacred territory be breached by outside interference, for instance by a car passing by blaring its radio (47). But they also seek to keep the noise of the home within the home. This was challenged by the idea of the ‘Talking House’ which sought to project the sound within the home to the outside world, essentially breaching that barrier (65).

The suburban was juxtaposed to the prison system of the early 1800s. Where silenced was used as a punishment, where physical punishment “’not only itself resistant to language but also actively destroys language, deconstructing it into the pre-language cries and groans” (72). The prison system in those times kept prisoners completely silent leading to a mental degrading (71).

This section on the prisons reminded me of the popular series Orange is the New Black that takes place in a woman’s prison. The story follows Piper Chapman, a woman who was incarcerated for helping a drug deal ten years prior. In this show the ultimate punishment, aside from transfer to maximum security or time added to their sentences, is being sent to Security Housing Unit (SHU) or solitary confinement.

Chapman experiences SHU three times and the first time was the worst. The cell is a beige cement box with nothing but a cot, a toilet and a sink for furnishings. The door has a tiny window is only uncovered when the warden wishes to speak to her or meals are brought. The hours of silence continue until it was broken when she heard a voice coming from the cell next to hers. She questions if her neighbor is real. The hours of silence make her wonder if the voice is actually her desperate need for company. In this way silence is truly a punishment, one that gives Chapman extreme mental strain. The audience never truly figures out if her neighbor was real but that made it more poignant. As LaBelle said, “The possibility of insanity though lurked as an ever-present risk, as the silent system stripped the prisoners of any real social relation” (71). It conceivably caused Chapman the need to imagine a conversational partner, to cut through the aching loneliness of solitary confinement.

Janae Watson was another character sent to SHU in the series. She is feisty and argues with a guard which sends her to solitary. When she returns her overwhelming joy at being outside, the cloudy sky no hindrance, is almost painful to watch. She is harder upon returning, less argumentative but there is a new coldness in her.

In Orange is the New Black the use of solitary confinement is a punishment. Silence is the greatest punishment because these women have created a community, one that helps them get through the long months of incarceration. Silence is imposed on them throughout the day, and at night they are not supposed to talk. Much like the suburbia LaBelle describes. Yet SHU is much worse. Silence becomes a crushing blow to the human psyche, cruel and yet accepted by the penitentiary system.

Commencement 2014 Snapshots

Behind the scenes, faculty getting ready before the ceremony, sometimes arriving wet from the pouring rain:

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After the ceremony, gathering back in the tent (still raining) for pictures:

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Graduating English Majors w/ faculty

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Graduating Creative Writing Majors w/ Faculty

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Humanities Spring Reception 2014

One purpose of the Humanities Division’s Spring Reception is to honor that year’s award and scholarship winners. For 2014:

Wilson Scholarships

Cidney Mayes (sponsored by Misty Krueger)

Nate Sylvester (sponsored by Teal Minton)

Kara Chiasson (sponsored by Eric Brown)

Cadyn Wilson (sponsored by Kristen Case)

Grace Kendall (sponsored by Teal Minton)

Curtis Cole (sponsored by Erin Kappeler)

Sean Igoe & Nicole Lejonhud (sponsored by Pat O’Donnell)

John Buys (sponsored by Sabine Klein)

Lauren Breton (sponsored by Sabine Klein and Clarissa Thompson)


SANDY RIVER REVIEW Editor Choice Winners

  • The winner for Spring 2014 is Maileny Guillen for her poem “Bedroom in Arles.”
  • The winner for Fall 2013 is Cadyn Wilson for her nonfiction piece “Hymn.”



MAUD L. PARKS AWARD: Kellie Sanborn.


Wood and Parks Awards Honorable Mention:

Nicole Byrne

Nicole Clark

Jill Gingras

Carinne Haigis

Taylor McCafferty

Jenna Silliboy

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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