Fall 2018 Courses

Fall 2018 Literature Courses

In this course, we will study English poetry, prose, and drama from early Anglo-Saxon lyrics through 1798, with an emphasis on literary, historical, and cultural contexts. The material will be divided into three loose historical clusters—Medieval, Early Modern, and Eighteenth Century—and we will consider a series of related texts in each of these areas. We will also be following three important themes throughout the semester: the constitutive power of literary languages; Christianity as context; and the construction of gender, particularly in the depiction of women.  For fall, 2018, texts will include substantial selections from Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and Paradise Lost; Robinson Crusoe; and additional work by Elizabeth I, Donne, Herbert, Lanyer, Congreve, Pope, Goldsmith, Leapor, and other writers.  Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

An interdisciplinary study of African American literature examined in the context of music, art, film, and other media representations of African American life that will include a wide range of literary, historical, and cultural materials (from ancient African folk tales to contemporary black writers, performers, and artists).  This semester the course will be part of the 1968 Then and Now Co-Lab and will have a particular focus on the mutual influence of African American aesthetic and political movements: from the Black Arts and Black Power movements of the 1960s to today’s Black Lives Matter movement.  Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.


This section of American Texts and Contexts will focus on the way memory, history, and trauma have shaped American literature since the Colonial Era. Throughout the semester, we will read novels, personal narratives, histories, dramas, and poetry by such authors as William Bradford, Allison Bechdel, Willa Cather, Louise Erdrich, and Tony Kushner among others. We will consider how authors approach personal and national pasts and how they deal with difficult personal and national experiences.

Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.


In this course, we will study literature and film that explores the connection between gender and the historical processes of globalization. We will analyze how gender is implicated in the literatures of people and cultures in and between nations, covering topics such as the black diaspora, transnational economics and labor, immigration and migration, water and ecoliterature, tourism and travel and new genres such as petro-fiction and narco-novelas.  Authors might include Monica Ali, Chris Abani, Dionne Brand, Jenny Turner, Bharati Mukherjee, Helon Habila, Yuri Herrera, Mohsin Hamid, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

This course will feature a range of texts by women from the beginning of the western literary tradition through the present, including Sappho, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Helene Cixous, Gertrude Stein, Robin Coste Lewis, Anne Boyer, and others. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between gender and form and look closely at the way the act of writing is both practiced and thematized in the work of these writers.  Prerequisite: ENG 100; for students in ENG, SEN, CWR, or ELE-Language Arts, ENG 100 and ENG 181.

This team-taught course will introduce students to the fundamental principles of digital and public humanities in a semester-long engagement with the New Commons Project. Students will study the four works featured in the semester in depth, attend all New Commons events, interact with New Commons guest lecturers/performers, and create a digital or public outreach project based on one of the four works. Through the works studied in this course will be drawn from several disciplines, the approach will be Humanities-based, involving discussion about and interpretation of works, close attention to language and meaning, and analysis.

This is an advanced course in eighteenth-century English literature.  We will begin by looking at some of Addison’s Spectator papers to get a sense of the social, cultural, and literary atmosphere of the eighteenth century.  Then we will move on to consider works by Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Charlotte Lennox, a collection of women poets, Oliver Goldsmith, Samuel Johnson, and Jane Austen.  Texts from this period tend to be comic, satiric, highly rational, socially engaged, and formally sophisticated.  We will, in addition, be reading a series of critical essays, including work written from feminist, historicist, and formalist perspectives, in an effort to develop a preliminary idea of the issues addressed by eighteenth-century scholars and the range of possible interpretive strategies suggested by their work.   Prerequisite: one 200-level ENG literature class.

Study of representative literature from 1798 to 1832, with an emphasis on poetry, gothic fiction, and a theme: “the power of the imagination.” Texts are chosen from the works of writers such as Wollstonecraft, Austen, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, the Shelleys, and Keats. Prerequisite(s): One 200-level ENG literature course.

An exploration of the concept of environment in American writing from the 19th century to the present, this course will address fundamental questions about the relation between nature and culture at play in American writing about the natural world.  Readings will include ​writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Leslie Marmon Silko, Roy Scranton, Michael Pollan, and others.  Prerequisite: one 200-level ENG literature class.

Study of various theoretical approaches used in the analysis of literature, with the emphasis on contemporary developments in literary theory, with a particular focus this semester on semiotics, sound studies, and cultural studies. Texts will include Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, Josh Kun’s Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America, Brandon LaBelle’s Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life, and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s Staring: How We Look.  Prerequisite: one 300-level ENG literature course other than ENG 300.

This course in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British fiction focuses on representations of the complexity of selfhood in an era of profound intellectual and social upheaval.  We will study examples of late nineteenth-century realist and Gothic fiction and of early twentieth-century fiction that boldly reinvented the conventions of narrative.  As we do so, we will familiarize ourselves with intellectual contexts, such as late Victorian degeneration theory and early twentieth-century psychology; we will study transformations of British society, especially regarding gender roles; and we will consider the impact of global events, particularly the cataclysmic Great War.  Fundamentally, we will ask what forces—psychological, social, and natural—shape and buffet the self, what is the potential for knowing oneself (or one’s selves) and others, and how do different modes of fiction pose and explore such questions.  Our texts will include fiction by at least some of the following: Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Virginia Woolf.   Prerequisite: one 300-level ENG literature course other than ENG 300.




English major Belanna Morales

“Does inspiration exist? Is there some kind of guaranteed way to be inspired, to produce ‘good’ work?” Junior English major Belanna Morales aimed to answer these questions in her audio essay on what inspires writers.

“I was curious if it was random and luck, or if it was hard work or if there was something in the world that causes inspiration,” Morales said.

Throughout Misty Krueger’s English 201 class, “Public Writing,” students have learned what public writing is and how to become engaged with it. Public writing is exactly that: writing for the public, and more targeted audiences. The course emphasizes writing for the Web and public relations, and includes work in producing audio essays.

Morales, a member of the class, was unsure of where to begin. “I was stuck, so I thought to myself, what do I have in my toolbox? I study English/Creative Writing, I work as a writing tutor [at Mantor Library] and see people struggle, so I thought of ways I could help them write essays.”

From there, she delved into navigating between investigating her questions on inspiration and the software used to compile the finished product.

“One of the hardest things was figuring out how to use the software; the longest process was putting it together and making sure it sounded pretty flawless,” Morales said.

For her essay, Morales interviewed English professor Kristen Case and two students. They agreed that yes sometimes things do come to you, and especially things from your past can inspire you, but you have to make it work

“One quote I highlight is from Kristen Case, who actually quoted [Pablo] Picasso; ‘Inspiration has to find you when you’re working,’”

One quote that did not make it into the final essay from English/Creative Writing major Annie Moloney echoes this sentiment; “Writing is a ‘labor of love,’ and you need to put in the work to see your inspiration become reality.”

“For example, the more you read, the better you write,” Morales added.

For Morales personally, she revealed that inspiration comes to her from memories or images she encounters throughout the day. “I’ll be inspired by a series of events and think ‘oh I hadn’t thought of that before,’ and I’ll write about that.”

In addition to investigating inspiration, tackling such an interactive format allowed Morales to see the ways in which audio and spoken word can add to the written word.

“One friend commented that my essay sounded like a documentary because of the mix of me and clips of my interviews. My listeners can get a direct comparison of what they’re saying [out loud vs. on paper],” she said. “You can’t hear [people’s] voices when you write a paper. and you can’t always have three quotes in a row.”

In addition to adding more depth to the written word, Morales observed that audio and talking out loud can break down mental barriers.

“Normally I don’t enjoy talking to strangers. I find conversation difficult, but this time it wasn’t that way,” she said. “I was so interested, any barriers I would put on myself beforehand kind of disappeared.”

“Sometimes there’s a barrier between your mind and the screen,” she added. “[During tutoring], people will be like, ‘I don’t know what to say,’ and they’ll tell me what they want to say and I’ll be like, ‘that’s great! Write that down!’ It’s great to take down that barrier; people don’t feel so much pressure to phrase things a certain way when they’re talking.”

Although she is not sure when she’ll have the opportunity to do another project like this, Morales said that she would like to do more audio essays in the future.

“Everyone should take this class!” Morales exclaimed with a laugh.

UMF Student Theatre Celebrates Shakespeare with Performance of Hamlet

The lights dimmed as two guards, Bernardo and Marcellus, emerged on top of the ramparts of the castle Elsinore. Suddenly, the stage floor was blanketed in a bright green fog, as the sentries, now joined by Horatio, bore witness to the ghost of King Hamlet.

Hamlet was one of the UMF’s biggest shows ever produced, and the cast boasted several English majors and one professor. English major Julie Guerra portrayed Laertes, the brother of Ophelia, and Professor Dan Gunn took on the role of Polonius, a chief counsellor of the King and the father of Laertes and Ophelia.

Guerra has been in many shows during her time at UMF, including Wait Until Dark, Letters, and a student directed play called Home Free. Hamlet was her first Shakespeare performance, but she’s been a fan for years.

Laertes and Claudius

English major Julie Guerra as Laertes

“It was senior year high school that I had a really great class with a teacher who loved Shakespeare,” Guerra remarked with a chuckle. “Since then, I’ve really loved Shakespeare too.”

A member of Student Theatre at UMF (STUMF), Guerra knew going into the auditions that she wanted to play the part of Laertes.

“I wanted to get involved with the sword fighting!” she exclaimed. “The combat was weird to learn because I’m not a very angry person, but [after] stepping into the character and learning, it became muscle memory and it was really fun.”

Guerra showcased this combat training particularly well during Laertes’s and Hamlet’s final duel before Claudius and Gertrude. She was also able to demonstrate her understanding of Laertes’s emotions and motives as the poison tipped blade was thrust into Hamlet’s chest, in order to avenge the deaths of Ophelia and Polonius.

Unlike Guerra, Gunn’s first theatre performance experience consisted of scenes from various Shakespeare works with the UMF honors program, directed by Jayne Decker, who also directed Hamlet.

“About 15-20 years ago, Jayne Decker wanted to do some scenes from Shakespeare with the honors program and she thought faculty involvement would be fun,” Gunn said. “[There were] three or four faculty members, the students. I played the part of Hamlet’s Ghost in those days.”


Dan Gunn (second from right) as Polonius

In addition to playing Polonius, Gunn served as the dramaturge for the cast. The dramaturge is someone who knows about the play, teaches the cast about the play, and meets individually with actors to go over lines and reflect on their meanings.

“During rehearsal, I would talk to people about lines, or people would ask me questions,” Gunn said. “There was a funny moment; when we rehearsed the part where I die on stage, the actors were struggling with capturing the sense of madness. Jonas [Maines], who played Hamlet, stopped to ask a question. I got up to explain and then laid back down to keep playing dead,” he recalled with a fond smile.

Guerra and Gunn both agreed that performing Hamlet as opposed to simply reading it helped to further their understanding of Shakespeare and the art of theatre as a whole.

“Actually performing it is so much more emotional, less cerebral. Hamlet especially is full of emotional shifts and deep and complicated feelings,” Gunn said. “Teaching [Hamlet] as though it were a poem, I look at it more cerebrally, thinking about the cold art of it, whereas it just seems more connected to feeling in the body with me now since I’ve had the experience of acting some of these parts.”

“I think there is a difference between just reading Shakespeare and performing Shakespeare,” Guerra said. “It is a different view of the work, and you start to love the characters a bit more, especially when you work with them for such a long time.”

In addition to understanding the play on another level, Guerra also appreciated the opportunity to work with professor Gunn outside the classroom.

“Dan Gunn is great; I had a class with him. He would meet with us to learn lines, and then he played my character’s father on stage,” she said. “It was cool to interact with professors in a way that wasn’t super academic. There’s camaraderie in being cast mates as opposed to just seeing each other in class.”

Although Guerra and Gunn stated that their educations in English gave them tools to work with in regards to deciphering Shakespeare’s language, it was still a learning experience for both.

“A lot of [English] majors are into theatre, and I think Hamlet and Shakespeare is what drew them to participate,” Gunn said. “I feel it is an honor to perform Hamlet because of how crucial it has been to the English literature since the 17th century, and I think a lot of English students felt that importance as well.”

“There really isn’t a limit to what English majors can become involved in,” Guerra said. “English majors are pretty open to anything.”

Upcoming English Honor Society events


Julian Saporiti encourages UMF students and faculty to reflect on stories of Japanese Internment during WWII


Julian Saporiti tuning his guitar after a performance of a song about Vietnam

Recently, UMF welcomed musician and phD student Julian Saporiti, who presented a multi-media presentation entitled “No-No Boy” on the history of Japanese internment camps across the United States during World War II, inspired by his doctoral research at Brown University. “No-No Boy” is a term used to define Japanese Americans who refused to pledge loyalty to the United States after World War II and refused to sign up for the draft.

The internment of Japanese Americans came after Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Over 100,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes (especially in California and along the west coast) and relocated to internment camps across the west and midwestern United States.

“After Pearl Harbor, anti-Asian sentiment really began to grow,” Saporiti stated during a presentation to a UMF English class before his Emery Arts performance. “There was a lot of racial fear and economic competition.”

Saporiti’s work mainly focuses on the individual stories of Japanese Americans who lived in these internment camps. He has overall talked to 60 people and fully interviewed 30. For Saporiti, it is more important to get the details of these stories right and let them send a message on their own, rather than trying to push a political agenda.

“I don’t have much of a political message except ‘know your history,'” said Saporiti. “I go for these individual stories because for me, those have a bigger impact. It’s a lot easier to feel sympathy when you can actually put a face behind a label or a movement.”

To tell these stories, Saporiti employs another principle element of his work: music. Stating that he studies history through music, Saporiti has written several songs that describe the life and atmosphere of an internment camp, while also telling the stories of individual people he’s met there.

One of his most notable stories comes from a dear friend referred to only as “Joy,” a now 90-year-old woman who was sent from Los Angeles to the internment camp “Heart Mountain Relocation Center,” in Heart Mountain, Wyoming at age 15. When telling Joy’s story, Saporiti discussed an instrumental part of her time: her involvement in the George Igawa band, a jazz band made entirely of Japanese Americans who wanted to continue to pursue their passion and take their minds off of their situation.

“They were allowed to pursue this dream because jazz music was considered incredibly American,” Saporiti explained. This story led to a song about Joy and the George Igawa band called “The Best God Damn Band,” one of several pieces he performed during his presentation.

Saporiti also has a personal connection to these stories and this research as a result of being Vietnamese American and growing up in Nashville, Tennessee. Some of his works reflected his thoughts of Vietnam and immigration

The audience was engaged and thoroughly interested in what Saporiti had to say on many topics, including how the treatment of Japanese Americans is reflected in today’s modern racial and political climate, with the new target of fear and hate being the Muslim community.

“When I tell the people I interview that I do talks like this at colleges and perform these songs and tell their stories, I always ask them if they have a personal message they’d like me to tell you guys,” Saporiti said. “And they all say pretty much the same thing: don’t let this happen again.”

To find out more about Saporiti’s work, listen to more music, and learn more about Japanese internment, visit his website at nonoboymusic.tumblr.com.

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.


UMF hosts Henry David Thoreau Bicentennial Symposium

On Friday, Sept. 22, UMF celebrated the life and work of author Henry David Thoreau. The event kicked off in the morning with a roundtable discussion, followed by a talk from guest speaker James Finley. Professors Steve Pane and Kristen Case performed a collaborative piece featuring Pane on piano and Case reading poetry. Finally, the symposium ended with a documentary by filmmaker Huey: Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul.


James Finley

James Finley delivered a thoughtful and thorough analysis of Thoreau’s collection, The Maine Woods. In his lecture, Finley offered insight into Thoreau’s appreciation for wilderness.

“I think his book The Maine Woods is fascinating as it is both an environmental book and a political book,” Finley said. “I think he liked how Maine wasn’t as developed as Massachusetts, so he could go canoeing for three weeks and not run into dams.”

“As a thinker, he never lands on one place and stays there,” Finley said in regards to what he found interesting about Thoreau. “He’s always rethinking and revising his thoughts.”

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Kristen Case and Steve Pane

English professor Kristen Case collaborated with music professor Steve Pane on a performance that showcased their connection to Thoreau. Case read poetry inspired by Thoreau’s journal entries, and Pane accompanied her on piano. Pane also performed a solo piece (with a brief flute interlude).

Finally, the symposium ended with the documentary Henry David Thoreau: Surveyor of the Soul, directed by Huey. Surveyor of the Soul featured interviews from Thoreau scholars and a fitting soundtrack comprised of “tunes that Thoreau would have sang around the fire,” discovered when Huey flipped through the Thoreau family songbook.

Huey addressed many issues Thoreau would have with the world today; “There’s the issue of environmental ethics today, people chaining themselves to the White House fence, and also Standing Rock…” he said. “There’s all that, and Native Americans, they’re still struggling to get their rights, so I think that what he was touching upon are issues that we still haven’t fully resolved in our society.”

When an audience member asked Huey for his personal thoughts on Thoreau and if he felt the film rang true to him, Huey posed some questions of his own, including: “Who is Henry David Thoreau?”

The bicentennial symposium delivered multiple answers. Thoreau was an environmentalist, author, philosopher, rebel, and a friend of the finer things in life.

“He’s a special figure in American writing. We have a finite time to be on this planet, and Thoreau really makes you think about that,” Case said. “Are you really spending your days the way you want to? I think that’s a question we need to be asking.”



UMF English Department kicks off the new year with Fall English Barbecue


English majors and professors discussing classes, the food, and literature

On Friday, Sept. 15th, the English faculty and several English majors gathered at professor Daniel Gunn’s house for the inaugural Fall English Barbecue. Set in the perfect backdrop with a comfortable breeze, trees with fiery leaves of red, orange, and gold, and an endless soundtrack of classic and indie rock, the event was an opportunity for current faculty and upperclassmen to meet incoming English majors and discuss the life of an English major at UMF.


Professors and students discussing favorite books and authors

Incoming English majors had the opportunity to meet and talk to English professors about the different classes they offer, bond over literary puns and apparel, and enjoy a scrumptious barbecue dinner and dessert, thanks to professor Gunn and his wife.

Upperclassmen attended as well. Along with catching up with old professors and acquainting themselves with the unfamiliar ones, they also talked with the new students about classes, homework, and campus life around UMF in general.


Professors and students had the chance to bond over various literary jokes and apparel

The barbecue lasted well after the skies turned black for the night. The English department looks to keep this budding tradition alive for years in hopes that new English majors will feel welcome in their new community.

Noisy, Wild, and Fire-Breathing: a Discussion on Dragons, Westeros, and Storytelling

panel again

On September 4th, “Noisy, Wild, and Extremely Troublesome: Lectures in the Arts and Humanities” kicked off the new school year with an engaging discussion about the smash hit HBO series Game of Thrones, based off the series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George RR Martin. Presented by UMF English professors Eric Brown, Kristen Case, Daniel Gunn, and Michael Johnson, the panel and the audience joined in a rigorous analysis of the show’s narrative, storytelling, and its mysterious appeal to a vast audience; comparing these elements from past seasons with the current season.

Beginning with Johnson, he expressed that his favorite part of the show was its tendency to draw on multiple genres. Case explained that she is not typically a fan of fantasy, however, Game of Thrones drew her in with its exploration of power (powerful characters, power dynamics, etc.), as well as their fight scenes. She claims that Game of Thrones fight scenes are “compelling,” adding that “the cinematography, the music, the imagery, it all builds tension and you can feel the anxiety that comes with the action.”

Gunn enjoys the excess that comes with Game of Thrones. As a reader of the series before watching the show, he was thrilled to see the excess of the world of Westeros brought to life on the screen. Like Case and Johnson, Brown was also interested in the layers of genre. He appreciated that the first season was lowkey on the fantasy register, allowing fans outside of the genre to approach it easily. He went on to say that the series “has advanced beyond the books,” which he would go on to explain is both a good and bad thing for the series as a whole.

The audience chimed in with their own responses to how they got into the phenomenon. Many agreed that it was the compelling storylines that drew them in, and others enjoyed that the world of Westeros felt immersive and complete. However, fans who read the books argued that this translation is lost in the show.

One audience member explained what he feels is the biggest downfall of the series, with which everyone agreed: “Martin wasn’t done when the TV adaptation started. He gave them an outline to work with, he’s nowhere near done the books. What people like about Game of Thrones is the expansiveness, but now Martin has to wrap up the series in two books.”

Case reiterated this point, stating that the narrative was “slightly clumsy this season” because they need to tie things up. The storytelling and consistency has suffered as a result: for example, travelling across vast distances now happens in a matter of an episode instead of a season. Brown agreed, arguing that at this point, “the series is spinning out plot after plot, it’s going too fast to keep up with.”

Despite this season’s fall in storytelling, the panel and audience agreed that the characters and cinematography come together to create an intensity that draws audiences closer to their screens. “We really see the characters transform, like Jamie [Lannister], who went from kind of a lazy heartthrob into this respected war hero,” Case claims, “and Daenerys, who at the beginning was a child sold into marriage, and she’s now the Queen of Dragons. The character arcs are compelling.”

As Game of Thrones comes to a close next season, our panel and audience will be glued to their screens to see how it the epic adventure ends. According to Johnson, whenever that end may come, “we plan to be back in Lincoln for another discussion!”

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.