Leadership Award

tegan

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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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

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.

BlacKkKlansman Discussion

symposium

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: 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.

Special Event: Anthony Green, “Today’s Music Through Activism”

On November 20th I attended Anthony Green’s event where he demonstrated his take on the relation between contemporary music and political activism. I knew hardly anything about the event before attending, so I went into with with no expectations. The event was performance-oriented, as well as sound-oriented, as Green used a culmination of his voice, a piano, his body, percussion, balloons, a marker, fixed media audios, and the audience’s voices to create a soundscape which he then presented to viewers through both fluid and jagged movements of his body. Green sang, screamed, hummed, yelled, and made a variety of other sounds that I lack the vocabulary to properly explain. He combined these sounds with movements of his body, sometimes jumping or strumming his hands all over himself to create a beat, other times using his hands and arms to accentuate the feelings he was conveying through the sounds he made. This event was Green’s way of combining, what I would call, non-traditional and experimentational music with activism with the intention of making his audience aware of the Black experience in the United States.

While Green’s performance fits into nearly everything that’s we’ve learned this semester, I personally feel that it coincides with Josh Kun’s Audiotopia the best. For me, Green created a space, maybe not a world but most definitely a space, in which the non-traditional and unfamiliar sounds that he was making steadily started to become more familiar. The show opened with his quoting a line where a judge condemned a Black man to be lynched, or “hung like a goose”. Green then performed, what I interpreted to be, the events of that lynching through an unconventional vocal performance. The sounds Green created communicated an inability to breathe as well as a sense of terror and discomfort. He did this partly by vocalizing sounds while attempting to breath in through his mouth, and by grabbing at his throat, or thumping himself on his chest/back, and making choking sounds. There were also times where he would disrupt this aural illusion of struggling to breath by mimicking the sounds of people, occasionally a woman based on the high tone of the sounds, screaming in agony, anguish, or rage, at the events that were transpiring.

Green added to his audio space by performing a dance/stomp routine which communicated a sense of togetherness and camaraderie, despite him performing the number on his own. Green also encouraged the audience to sing with him, or hum with him, while he wrote the names of Black people who had died because of the color of their skin or because of their activism on balloons before setting them free to roam and move on stage. The audience, lead by Green, hummed church hymns that were typically sung in the Black community at funerals while he slowly went along and popped each balloon- mimicking the sound of a gunshot and how these people died. Overall, Green transformed the warm, dark, confined space in Emery into a audio space within which he communicated the fear, anger, and resistance that can be seen and felt in the Black community through his unfamiliar and inspirational utilization of non-traditional sounds and body movement.

Juliana Burch 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 Green performance was scheduled as part of the events organized by the New Commons Project at UMF.

Upcoming English Events

December 9

Down the Rabbit Hole . . . to Victorian Fantastical Literature.

All are invited to this gallery of words, images, and music that enables visitors to experience Victorian fantastical literature from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and much more. December 9, 6:00-8:00 p.m. (feel free to drop in any time); Olsen Student Center, North Dining Hall C.

Alice Key in Hand

December 10

Literary Theory Presentations and Roundtable Discussion

Students from ENG 455 will be giving presentations on their final projects for the course on Monday, December 10, from 3:10-6:30, in Lincoln Auditorium in Roberts. The presentations will be organized into three panels. The presentations are free and open to the public.

Monday, December 10

3:10-4:10 On Garland-Thomson’s Staring: How We Look

Kirstin Corey, “The Body: Experience, Prejudice and Perception”

Conor Crandall, “Looking at the Strange in Gulliver’s Travels

Jane Metsker, “Staring in Wilfred

Caitlin Hession, “Scars to your Beautiful: An Analysis on how Society and Self Perceive Breast Cancer Scars”

Curtis Cole, “Ludic Staring: How Video Games Define Visual Communication.”

 

4:20-5:20 Audio and Visual Texts

Cora Curtis, “Abstraction in Visual and Auditory Art”

Brandon Becker, “Sounds of Horror on Film”

Kristine Sarasin, “Music and Character Depth in Adult Animation”

Belanna Morales, “Communication in Acoustic Spaces: A Sound Studies Analysis of Begin Again

Annie Moloney, “Soundtrack as Collage: An Analysis of Sound and Storytelling in I’m Not There and the Music of Bob Dylan”

5:30-6:30 Musical Performance

Nichole Decker, “Musical Parody, Mickey Katz, and Weird Al Yankowitz”

Hailey Wellington, “Nina Cried Power: Hozier’s Audiotopia”

Juliana Burch, “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys- An Aural Dystopian Album”

Jessica Leibowitz, “Discovering the Invisible Cities Opera”

Art As Understanding of Social Change

David Ross, an artist, an intellectual, and art curator came to UMF on September 26 to give a talk about art and social change.

 Coolest bar in town! Ross, never a bar guy, is a regular at  Dogwood  in Beacon, NY. The only bar he ever liked. And definitely a fav of mine. (https://www.upstatediary.com/david-a-ross/)

The time we live in is a complicated but a fascinating one, and so has every other time been that came before this one. Ross asked us in the audience, “how have we recorded our time?” There are lots of books and scholarly sources that detail the events and movements of history, but did you ever think about art as a capsule into past and current times? Art is an artist’s way of understanding and comprehending the time we are in.

As a seasoned art curator and intellectual, Ross has come to a conclusion that, “art makes us think why we think what we think.” That’s a lot to unpack, let’s read that again. “Art makes us think why we think what we think,” about social change and about what the generation coming of age is going through. Art as a collective is a display of multifaceted and multimedia interpretations of the world around us. To create art, you must effectively stop, stare, think and finally, create an interpretation. Your interpretation.

Our fast paced culture has everyone missing out on the critical catharsis and contemplation of the times in which we live. Ross believes in the power of art museums “as places that talk about the idea of slowing down.” The act of going to an art museum — taking perhaps the better part of an afternoon, at least — to observe, absorb, and to think will provoke new thoughts and stimulate our minds to insights about our world.

Ross has done lots of observation and contemplation of his surroundings which has led him to believe that the “problem in our culture is the need for quiet, slow reflection.” In our current time, especially, is it important to document, reflect, and contemplate silently.

The individual conundrums which we all experience can be better understood by creating our own art. In this way, museums play a crucial role for the sanity of the people. Ross whole heartedly expressed that, “museums can effect change.” Museums as an “open forum among artists” provide space for us to “slow down” and evaluate and react to social change.

Do you have a message about our time? You do? Great! Put your message out there however you can. As Ross and many other thinkers have said, “art is art,” make it however and what you will, just make it meaningful.

English Majors Share Capstone Projects at Symposium

UMF recently hosted its annual Symposium Day, a day where students across different majors can present work they have been spending anywhere from a semester to a whole year working on.

Symposium presentations run the gambit from creative endeavors to scientific research. Symposium allows students to present their research and their projects, as well as take questions from fellow students, faculty members, and other audience members.

For English majors, Symposium Day consisted of various presentations across a variety of topics. Some presentations included analyses of adaptation, such as Richard Southard’s presentation on Music as Adaptation, how novels and authors brought about the birth of a new genre, such as Jessica Casey’s presentation on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein being attributed to the birth of science-fiction, and reflecting on the lives and works of influential authors and writers, such as Anthony Lewis’s presentation on the life and music of Bob Dylan. English seniors also presented their Capstone projects in the Landing.

Capstone is the last class in every major in which students pursue a topic of interest in a project unique to the major, such as portfolios for creative writing majors, an art show for art majors, and for English majors, research papers. Capstone classes are a semester long and are almost entirely dedicated to research, which culminates in a presentation on the topic (usually Symposium, though there are other events depending on the semester and the class, such as the Senior Reading for Creative Writing majors).

The senior presenters consisted of Ciara Keene, Justine Walp, Anthony Lewis, Allison Turtlott, Jessica Casey, and Rosemary Penny, all sponsored by English professor Kristen Case.

Symposium presentations also include two one year-long Research Fellow award winners, one of which was held by English major Curtis Cole. Cole’s presentation, titled Enchanted Assemblages: Creative Pedagogy and Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, was sponsored by English professor Dan Gunn. There were also many Wilson Scholar awards, which are dedicated to shorter semester long, but still more in depth projects. These projects included Hannah Calkin’s poetry book and the process of creating and publishing it and Lauren Stetson’s practicum in intensive nonfiction.

Symposium Day is overseen and organized by the University Culture Committee. English professor Misty Krueger serves as the chair, with professors Paul Stancioff, Patti Bailie, and Olivia Donaldson serving as the other members.

Symposium Day is named for UMF alumni Michael D. Wilson, who graduated UMF in 1976 and was killed in an accident shortly before beginning a teaching position in Aroostook County. Presentations are made possible by Wilson Research Fellow Awards, Wilson Scholarships, and the students and faculty advisors.
For this year’s symposium program of events, visit http://www2.umf.maine.edu/symposium/wp-content/uploads/sites/107/2018/04/Symposium-Book-2018-1.pdf.