August/September 2020

Department of English Newsletter August/September 2020

Upcoming Department Events

Publications & Acceptances

James Brunton’s article “Representing Queer Identity after Same-Sex Marriage: Biopolitical Revisionism in Todd Haynes’ Carol headlines the summer 2020 issue of Literature/Film Quarterly. Also in July, James was interviewed for the Kenyon Review blog, where he discusses his latest poetry collection and work in progress. James also published two creative non-fiction works in the spring/summer issue of New South.

Arden Eli Hill has an essay about gender, miscarriage, and adoption titled “Baby Weight” in the parenting magazine Hip Mama.

Edinburgh University Press accepted a new book by Guy Reynolds for publication. Sensing Willa Cather: The Writer and the Body in Transition will be published in 2021 by EUP as part of their New Twentieth Century book series.

Shawn Rubenfeld’s short story “The Stranger” appeared in the most recent issue of Permafrost, his short story “Moses Walk on Water” appeared in the most recent issue of Little Patuxent Review, and his short story “I Am Here” appeared in the most recent issue of Inkwell.


Rachael Shah’s book Rewriting Partnerships: Community Perspectives on Community-Based Learning was published this summer with Utah State University Press.

EcoTheo Review features Hannah VanderHart’s review of Kristi Carter’s recent poetry collection, Aria Viscera (April Gloaming).

Jamaica Baldwin had the following poems published this summer: “Back in the Day,” The Adroit Journal, “What Remains” and “Haibun for My Brother,” december magazine and “Home,” Guernica.

Jordan Charlton’s poem “The Big Day” was named first runner up in the 2020 Lucy Terry Prince Prize by Mount Island. His poem will appear in the journal’s summer 2020 issue and in their 2021 print anthology Revive!.

Over the summer, Ilana Masad published a flash fiction story, “B.”, on People Holding. They reviewed Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford for the Texas Observer; The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine for NPR; Tomboyland by Melissa Faliveno also for NPR; The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi for the LA Times; and Alice Knott by Blake Butler for Best Damn Writing Magazine. They interviewed Tiffany McDaniel about her new novel, Betty, also for the LA Times.

Jessica Poli’s essay “Eclipse” was published in wildness.

Conferences, Readings, Workshops & Presentations

The Willa Cather Spring Conference, which is normally in Red Cloud, went virtual this year, and Melissa Homestead presented “Art and the Market in Greenwich Village: Willa Cather’s ‘Coming, Aprhodite!’ and Edith Lewis’s ‘Chains of Darkness.’” The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society, of which Melissa is president, had to postpone its planned symposium in the capital region of New York state in June, so Melissa helped organize a series of webinars on recent monographs featuring Sedgwick chapters.

On Tuesday, September 8, at 6pm CDT, Ilana Masad will take part in “Come as You Are,” a virtual discussion between Carly Israel and Masad, hosted by Jaded Ibis Press and moderated by Elizabeth Early, to celebrate Israel’s debut memoir, Seconds and Inches. The event will take place on Facebook Live. On Tuesday, September 29, at 5pm CDT, Masad will be speaking to German poet Anja Kampmann and her English-language translator Anne Posten about Kampmann’s debut novel High as the Waters Rise (which comes out September 15 with Catapult Books). The event will be hosted by Minneapolis, MN independent bookstore Magers & Quinn Booksellers and will take place on FB Live also, on the store’s Facebook page.”

Activities, Accolades, & Grants

Rachel Azima was elected Chair of the Midwest Writing Centers Association (MWCA) Executive Board. MWCA fosters collaboration and scholarly activity among writing centers in 10 states: Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Upper Michigan, and Wisconsin.

It’s been a busy summer for the Walt Whitman Archive. In addition to the publication of Whitman’s cultural geography scrapbook in May, the Archive has just released a digital variorum of the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. Three years in the making, and with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the variorum is one of the most technically innovative and revelatory projects ever undertaken by the Archive. It includes the complete text of Whitman’s first volume of poetry, with line-by-line links to all known previous manuscript versions. Additionally, the edition includes variants and insertions among the printed copies of the book, related periodical publications, and a bibliographical list of surviving copies in collections around the world. Work on the project was led by Nicole Gray, with contributions from numerous Archive staff members at UNL, including Brett Barney, Matt Cohen, Caitlin Henry (M.A. ’19), Kevin McMullen, and Ken Price.

Just after finishing the NEH grant on the 1855 variorum of Leaves of Grass, the Archive received a new NEH grant to support the collaborative research project “Walt Whitman’s Journalism: Finding the Poet in the Brooklyn Daily Times. ” This project will explore a key period in Whitman’s life and oeuvre, clarifying a long-standing debate about Whitman’s journalistic career. Additionally, it will provide free access to a new trove of largely unknown Whitman-authored texts, and will serve as a model for other projects seeking to attribute authorship to anonymous periodical materials. The project draws on the expertise of collaborators and consultants from seven institutions across the U.S. and beyond. Kevin McMullen (Ph.D ’18) deserves special praise for his leadership role on the grant proposal.

Also this summer, Matt Cohen was named as a Whitman Archive project co-director, alongside Ken Price and Ed Folsom. Matt’s more than two decades of involvement with the project stretches back to his graduate school days at the College of William & Mary, and has included work on numerous sections of the Archive, in addition to invaluable contributions in the mentoring of graduate and undergraduate research assistants. Project Manager Kevin McMullen was also elevated to the rank of Research Assistant Professor. Congratulations to Matt and Kevin on these well-deserved promotions.

Katie Schmid Henson’s unpublished novel Queen Nothing, was a finalist in the Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize for the novel. Her second unpublished book of poems, So Long a Thrall, was a finalist in the Trio House Press Trio Award for a first or second book.

Thirty-one members of the National Book Critics Circle, including Ilana Masad, released a letter to the NBCC’s board in late August, which was the result of the collective labor of nearly fifty critics over the course of two months. The letter outlines clear and actionable short, medium, and long term recommendations for the organization to pursue in order to fulfill its Anti-Racism Pledge, broaden its membership, and create a more transparent, equitable, and nurturing environment for Black and historically marginalized critics. Over 65 additional NBCC members, including Hope Wabuke, have added their names in support—roughly double the number of original signatories. Whether or not the NBCC takes on these recommendations remains to be seen.

Have news or noteworthy happenings to share?

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