Department of English Newsletter May 2016

Upcoming Department Events

Publications & Acceptances

A twentieth anniversary re-issue of Grace Bauer's book The Women At The Well is forthcoming (shortly) from Stephen F. Austin State University Press. The new edition features an Introduction by poet Kelly Cherry, an updated addendum from Grace, and a blurb from poet and critic, Alicia Ostriker, who calls the book "an important addition" to women's midrash poetry.

Steve Behrendt has the lead essay in a special issue of Forum for Modern Language Studies just published in April and devoted to studies of 19th-century collaborative life-writing. Steve's essay is called "'There is no second crop of summer flowers': Mary Leadbeater and Melesina Trench in Correspondence."

Joy Castro's travel essay "Effort" appeared in the Spring 2016 print issue of Bellingham Review.

A room of people using the Oculus Rift VR HeadsetWheeler Winston Dixon has published a new essay, "Slaves of Vision: The Virtual Reality World of Oculus Rift", Quarterly Review of Film and Video (April 7, 2016). "The Oculus Rift [VR headset] is a completely immersive experience, blocking out anything but the fantasy world that it provides for the viewer," says Dixon. "There's no one else in this Oculus world except for the game player, and the digital characters conjured up by the game makers - the rest of the real world has been effectively shut out. Thus, it doesn't matter where you are in a genuine physical sense with Oculus Rift, you're no longer part of actual existence, having traded it in for a fantasy world. While it's a predictable step in the evolution of digital technology, indeed, even in the evolution of cinema - which has sought to be an immersive and overwhelming medium since its first inception - I view a world in which a significant portion of the population are living in an alternative universe rather than contributing to the real one with some alarm. It may be that life in 21st century, with its endless procession of terrorism, wars, famine, and ecological collapse is too much for the human mind to handle, and escape is the only option... the urge to 'check out' is certainly understandable. VR is absolutely going to be addictive, and the proof is already right in front of us. What will happen when a large portion of society, increasing exponentially daily, is 'tuned out' from reality?" Photo of Piero HeliczerThe article owes a considerable intellectual debt to Charles Eric Maine's brilliant vision of a Dystopian VR world, the darkly prophetic novel Escapement (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1956), and director Montgomery Tully's 1958 film adaptation of the novel, also titled Escapement, from Maine's own screenplay.

Dixon has published a review of "Independent Stardom: Freelance Women in the Hollywood Studio System" by Emily Carman in Choice (May 2016), and a brief essay on the work of the late poet and filmmaker Piero Heliczer, on the occasion of a career retrospective of Heliczer's work at the EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam, January 2016. Dixon's essay is in the catalogue for the exhibition, "Piero Heliczer: A Selection of Texts and Images," edited by Ruth Sweeney, and appears on page 20.

In addition, Dixon has completed eight new films, posted on Vimeo: An American Dream, Still Life, Closed Circuit, The Shapes of Things, Summer Storm, City, Lago di Garda and Acceleration. They range in length from a half an hour to three minutes – and cover a number of different topics and approaches – the total viewing time is about 2 hours. They’re ”cinepoems” in the tradition of Man Ray, gathering widely disparate images together into an often conflicting, sometimes coherent whole.

Of An American Dream, critic David Finkelstein commented that "the stately motion of slowed down footage makes [the images of destruction within the film] look beautiful and peaceful, and much more orderly, as you can watch the forces of physics controlling the motion of each individual fragment. The musical score, a heavenly choir of voices over one long sustained electronic chord, adds to this sense of violence numbed and spiritualized... ”

Image from Dixon's film Still Life of people standing in an open, well-lit interiorOf the much more optimistic Still Life, critic Jorge Orduna wrote that “the world turns. The oceans give and take their power. The trees grow, the sun rises and sets, and we all go through it daily, and yet we don’t think about it. In this collection of images, you’re forced to think about it, even if it’s only for a brief time. For 30 minutes, you see both the stillness and motion of life. Watching the film without interruption, with headphones on, you feel as though you’re in your own cocoon, and by the end, you’ll have a new appreciation for the world around you.” Dixon will have an invited screening of his new video work at the Amos Eno Gallery in New York City this coming Fall, 2016.

The New Companion to Digital Humanities, 2nd Edition was published in May with contributions from five UNL DH faculty (three from the department of English). Articles include: Ken Price's "Social Scholarly Editing", Matthew Jockers's "Text Mining the Humanities" (co-authored with Ted Underwood of UIUC), Steve Ramsay's "Hard Constraints: Designing Software in the Digital Humanities", Will Thomas's "The Promise of the Digital Humanities and the Contested Nature of Digital Scholarship", and Kay Walter's "Only Connect: The Globalization of the Digital Humanities" (co-authored with Daniel Paul O'Donnell, Alex Gil, and Neil Fraistat).

Chigozie Obioma published an essay on writing, "Distance Makes the Mind Grow Sharper," for UK's Big Issue Magazine.

Patrick T. Randolph recently published a new article in the spring issue of the College ESL Quarterly, Physical Exercises That Boost Brainpower in the ELL Classroom, Part II. This article looks at how recent research in neuroscience supports physical exercises before and during class as a means to boost ELL students' cognitive functions and retain more the learned material. He covers the importance of such proteins as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and a number of the attention- and learning-based neurotransmitters responsible for better learning. He also offers a number of activities he uses in his own English language classes at UNL.

Jack Vespa published a piece titled Approaching Shakespeare Romantically on the Romantic Textualities teaching blog in January 2016.

Nicole Gray's article "Aurality in Print: Revisiting Roger Williams's A Key into the Language of America" has recently been published in PMLA.

Jaime Brunton's poem "Iowa" appears in the current issue of Quiddity .

Gabriel Houck's short story "You or a Loved One" won 2nd place in Glimmer Train's New Writer Awards, and will be published in an upcoming issue of Glimmer Train.

Xavier Navarro Aquino's story appeared in Guernica's April issue. He also had another story accepted for publication in The Literary Review.

Cover image from Maria Nazos' STILL LIFEMaria Nazos' chapbook of poems entitled Still Life was published in April by Dancing Girl Press. She has a six-poem translation sequence from the Greek, of Dimitra Kotoula, forthcoming in The Mid-American Review entitled "The Slow Horizon that Breathes." Her poem "Breathe Hard, Sing Deep, and Bring it on Home" was accepted for publication in The Tampa Review. Her poem "We Bury A Gecko at 3 AM, After Drinking Too Much White Rum" is forthcoming in The Greensboro Review. Three of her translations have appeared in Issue 23 of Drunken Boat. Her blog "Tips for Handling Rejection" has recently appeared in The North American Review.

Katie Schmid Henson published two poems, "Portrait of Womb, Mixed Media" and "The Spouse" at Booth. Her article on embodiment and teaching, "The Person Most Powerful" appeared in the Spring issue of Writing on the Edge. Her poem "The Horse in the Field" will appear in the Spring issue of Sixth Finch.

In June, Rhonda Garelick will speak at a conference on the "(An)aesthetics of Electricity" at the University of Hildesheim in Germany, on "post-electric" theater and eco-performance in works by contemporary American playwrights.

An excerpt of Erin M. Bertram's chapbook manuscript Relief Map, "[8] Bone: to look at with one eye, to sight," was accepted for publication in the inaugural issue of Indicia.

Conferences, Readings, Workshops & Presentations

Rhonda Garelick will be going to Paris in June, on a commission from the Wall Street Journal to write a cover story for their Sunday Travel section on the re-opening of the iconic Ritz Hotel, which has been closed for the past three years for renovations. She will stay at the hotel, sample its cuisine, tour its famous suites (including Coco Chanel's and Marcel Proust's), audit a cooking class at its famous Ecole Escoffier, and interview staff, guests, and executives about the Hotel's role in over a century of French culture and history. She will also do a voiceover narration for an accompanying video of the Ritz in a kind of 'you are there' sidebar to the article.

Marco Abel gave an invited lecture in the English Department at the University of Missouri on April 22. His talk, "Biopolitical Education: The Edukators and the Politics of the Immanent Outside," was based on a forthcoming essay he co-authored with Roland Végső.

Marco Abel presented "'School is Out': Christoph Hochhäusler's Polit-Thrillers and the Fate of the Berlin School's Utopian Politics" as part of the panel, "'School Is Out', or What Happens When a Wave is No Longer New?," which he organized for and chaired at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Atlanta, March 31, 2016. Fellow panelists included Gerd Gemünden (Dartmouth), Eric Rentschler (Harvard), and Margrit Froelich (UC-San Diego).

Rachel Azima attended the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA) Collaborative in Houston to present and pilot the IWCA Climate Survey with Neil Simpkins and Kelsey Hixson-Bowles. The survey explores the racial climate at writing center professional gatherings.

Grace Bauer recently chaired a panel on "Writing the Poetic Series" at the first annual New Orleans' Poetry Festival. She also participated in a group reading at the conference. Grace will be reading on May 5th at the Mojava Cafe reading series here in Lincoln.

Steve Behrendt was one of the many English Department participants in the recent conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association held here in Lincoln in April, where he presented a paper on Melesina Trench's early science-fiction long poem, Laura's Dream; or, The Moonlanders.

Crystal Bock Thiessen has been invited as a U.S. Department of State English Language Specialist to conduct workshops on international team teaching in Kiev, Ukraine from June 22-July 8. She has also been invited by the University of Macau to plan and conduct workshop camps on teaching English through art and photography in Macau, China from July 23-August 8.

Crystal Bock Thiessen, instructor in Programs in English as a Second Language, presented "Effective Error Engagement in the Academic ESL Classroom" at the international Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland on April 6.

Steve Buhler gave a public lecture, "Shakespeare's First Folio &— and the First Folio's Shakespeare" on April 19 at Omaha's Durham Museum in conjunction with an exhibit co-sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library. Steve also delivered the 25th annual Holder Memorial Lecture at Nebraska Wesleyan University on April 21: "'Eloquence Is Action': Rhetorics of Response in Shakespeare." The inaugural Holder Lecture was given in 1991 by Les Whipp of UNL's Department of English; the second Holder Lecture was given by Joy Ritchie, later Chair of our department. Steve gave yet another lecture, "The First Folio and the Re-Making of William Shakespeare," on April 22 in conjunction with Love Library's display on that day of UNL's own First Folio, part of the library's month-long exhibition, "Shakespeare and His World." Finally, on April 27, Steve gave a presentation at Waverly High School on "Talking and Singing Like Shakespeare" as part of the Durham Museum's Scholars in Residence program. He was interviewed for NET Radio about the Durham Museum's First Folio exhibit, which continues until May 1. His Durham Museum lecture will eventually be aired on KIOS-FM, Omaha, and also made available via podcast.

Joy Castro served as a visiting writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, April 7-8.

June Griffin and five colleagues facilitated a pre-conference workshop titled "Moving from Pro Forma to Performa: Music and Performance in the Writing Classroom" at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Houston on April 5.

Matthew Jockers gave invited lectures at Northern Illinois University and Cornell University.

Tom Lynch presented a paper titled "Always Becoming Bioregional: An Identity for the Anthropocene" at the International Symposium on "Regional Becomings" at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France in early April. The talk was subsequently solicited by the editors of Caliban: French Journal of English Studies for publication in a forthcoming special issue on the theme of "sharing the planet." The conference was enlivened by a series of student protests and strikes against proposed labor law changes and the neo-liberalization of French universities. The second day of the conference, the main university campus, where the conference was being held, was closed due to protests and the conference was instead conducted in a modular classroom on a satellite campus.

Mike Page presented the paper "H.G. Wells and the Foundations of American Science Fiction" at the NCSA conference on April 16. On April 23, Mike gave a presentation on "John W. Campbell, the Futurians, and the Golden Age" at Constellation 7, Lincoln's science fiction convention.

Ken Price gave a talk at the C19 conference held at Penn State on "Prospects for a Scholarly Edition of Charles Chesnutt." At the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association meeting he joined Adrian Wisnicki and Liz Lorang in a panel on "Getting Started in Digital Humanities." With Nikki Gray, he fielded questions about the Walt Whitman Archive during a poster session on "Nineteenth-Century Studies Digital Humanities at UNL."

Patrick T. Randolph gave three presentations at TESOL's 50th Anniversary International Convention and English Language Expo in Baltimore, Maryland. His panel and workshop, (also with Chris Dunsmore of PIESL) Breaking the Unwanted Stepchild Curse: Elevating the Image of ESL looked at how ESL/ELL departments across the globe can improve their exposure on university and college campuses. He was also a featured speaker for the TESOL session, I Want to Write a Book! Getting Published with TESOL. Here, he covered crucial points and hints for future authors who may want to work with TESOL Press. His last talk, Cat Got Your Tongue? Inspiring Teachers While Demystifying English Idioms, focused on recent research in the fields of neuroscience and cognitive linguistics that help teachers present idioms in the ELL classroom.

Jack Vespa presented two conference papers in April: "Creating Curricula, Relevance, and Interiority" at the College English Association conference in Denver, and "Charlotte Smith's Scenic Lyricism" at the Nineteenth Century Studies Association conference in Lincoln.

Jeannette Schollaert will present her paper, "Ecofeminist Faulkner? Revisiting As I Lay Dying and Go Down, Moses" as part of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) panel, "Rethinking Wilderness," at the American Literature Association conference on May 26 in San Francisco, CA.

Linda Garcia Merchant with the other members of the ARCHIVAL MOVIDAS panelOn April 7, 2016, Linda Garcia Merchant was one of six panelists on a roundtable, entitled Archival Movidas (Archival Moves) at the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies in Denver, Colorado. The roundtable featured contributors to the forthcoming anthology, Chicana! New Narratives of Women's Activism and Feminism in the Chicano Movement Era, a volume of essays on Chicana feminist organizing, activism, and leadership in the 1960s and 1970s. Garcia Merchant presented on the recovery of a publication produced by feminists of color in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Women of Color Newsletter, as part of the oral history initiative, Somos Latinas: Recreating the Latina Activist Network in Wisconsin. Somos Latinas is a collaborative effort of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chicano Latino Studies Program, Service Learning Center and the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Photo of roundtable discussionOn Thursday, April 7th, Bernice Olivas, Linda Garcia Merchant, Arden Eli Hill and Visnja Vujin presented a roundtable discussion at the National Association for Chicana and Chicano studies in Denver, Colorado. The roundtable illuminated the ways UNL graduate TA's in the English program bring their individual skills and lived experiences to the writing classroom as a way of teaching for inclusivity and social justice. The round table was assembled by Bernice Olivas and featured graduate TA's who represented composition, literature, creative writing, ethnic studies, and digital humanities at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Bernice Olivas (Composition and Rhetoric) discussed the benefits of incorporating writing strategies that emerge from Chicana studies, Native Studies, African American studies and other ethnic studies scholars into the writing classroom. Visnja Vujin (Literature, Chicana studies) discussed the ways transnational rhetorics influence the writing classroom and the challenges non-native English speakers employed as Composition instructors face within the writing classroom; Linda Garcia Merchant (Literature, Chicana Studies, Film, & Digital Humanities) discussed the ways traditional place based pedagogy succeeds and fails as a method of introducing concepts of culture to a demographic reflective of an R1 Midwestern, land-grant University. Arden Eli Hill (Creative Writing, Poetry) discussed strategies of positioning himself as a white ally through his white privilege in the classroom when he has both white and mixed race heritage from both his biological and adoptive family.

Katie Schmid Henson's paper, "'Being Herself Invisible': The Loss of Epiphanic Girlhood as Trauma in Mrs. Dalloway" was accepted for a panel at the 26th Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference in Leeds.

Activities, Accolades, & Grants

Chigozie Obioma's The Fishermen won the Art Seidenbaum/LA times First Fiction prize.

Mike Page is co-chairing the Academic Track for this year's World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, August 17-21. The Academic Track will be in conjunction with the Campbell Conference which ordinarily is held at the University of Kansas. Mike will be the Guest Scholar/Teacher at the 2017 Intensive Institute for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas.

Patrick T. Randolph's co-authored book with Paul McPherron of Hunter College, Cat Got Your Tongue?, continues to be on TESOL's Press's Best Seller List.

An excerpt of Erin M. Bertram's chapbook manuscript "Relief Map" won the 2016 Gaffney/Academy of American Poets Prize, and her full-length manuscript "It Is Not a Lonely World" won the 2016 Karen Dunning Scholarly Paper/Creative Activity Award. Erin also received a Graduate Student Travel Fellowship in support of a workshop on silence she co-facilitated at the 2016 National Association for Poetry Therapy Conference.

Jaime Brunton ;successfully defended her dissertation, Opera on TV, on April 4. Jaime would like to thank her committee, Professors Kwame Dawes, Stacey Waite, and Roland Végső for their invaluable feedback and support.

Linda Garcia Merchant's commendation for her contribution to the U of Wisconsin Chicano Studies ProgramOn April 15, 2016 Linda Garcia Merchant, along with Dr. Andrea Arenas (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Dr. Maria Cotera (University of Michigan) were the opening plenary session for the 2016 4W Summit on Women, Gender and Wellbeing, "Wellbeing & Empowerment: Wisconsin & the World" held at the Pyle Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their talk, Connecting Nuestra Historia: Stories of Strength and Struggle Across the Generations, featured the work done on the national Chicana Por Mi Raza Digital Memory Collective, and the Somos Latinas Digital History Project of Wisconsin. Garcia Merchant and Dr. Cotera received commendations for their "contribution to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chicano Studies Program" from the Chicano Latino Studies Program, and United States Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin).

Maria Nazos was recently awarded a Great Plains Fellowship.

The English Graduate Student Association is pleased to announce this year's recipient of the Star Professor Award, Dr. Jonis Agee. The Star Professor Award is presented to one professor per year for excellence in teaching and exceptional support of graduate students in the English department. This is the second year that the award has been given. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Jonis Agee!

Have news or noteworthy happenings to share?

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