Tag Archive for English Department

Garrett Offers First Literary-Historical Analysis of the Episode in New Book

Matthew Garrett

New book by Matthew Garrett.

Matthew Garrett, assistant professor of English, is the author of Episodic Poetics: Politics and Literary Form after the Constitution, published by Oxford University Press in April 2014.

In Episodic Poetics, Garrett merges narrative theory with social and political history to explain the early American fascination with the episodic, piecemeal plot.

Since Aristotle’s Poetics, the episode has been a vexed category of literary analysis, troubling any easy view of the subsumption of unwieldy narrative parts into well-plotted wholes. Episodic Poeticsproposes a new method of reading and a new way of conceiving of literary history. The book combines theoretical reflection and historical rigor with careful readings of texts from the early American canon such as The Federalist, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and the novels of Charles Brockden Brown, along with hitherto understudied texts and ephemera such as Washington Irving’s Salmagundi, Susanna Rowson’s Trials of the Human Heart and the memoirs of the metalworker and failed entrepreneur John Fitch. Garrett recounts literary history not as the easy victory of grand nationalist ambitions, but rather as a series of social struggles expressed through writers’ recurring engagement with incompletely integrated forms.

Read more about Garrett in this past Wesleyan Connection article.

Cohen, Hornstein, Nakamura, Shusterman Awarded Tenure

Newly tenured faculty are, from left, Lisa Cohen, Abigail Hornstein, Miri Nakamura and Anna Shusterman.

Newly tenured faculty are, from left, Lisa Cohen, Abigail Hornstein, Miri Nakamura and Anna Shusterman.

The Board of Trustees recently conferred tenure to four Wesleyan faculty. Their promotions take effect July 1.

They are: Lisa Cohen, associate professor of English; Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics; Miri Nakamura, associate professor of Asian languages and literatures; and Anna Shusterman, associate professor of psychology. Other tenure announcements may be released after the Board’s May meeting.

“Please join us in congratulating them on their impressive records of accomplishment,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth.

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching are below:

Lisa Cohen joined the English Department’s creative writing faculty in Fall 2007. Her courses are focused on nonfiction writing, the literature of fact, modernism, and gender and sexuality studies. She has published a wide range of essays and the critically acclaimed book, All We Know: Three Lives (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2012). In this work, she presents the biographies of three 20th-century women whose significance in modernist culture in England and the United States is equaled only by their absence from previous historical investigations. Critics have widely recognized the stylistic achievement of her writing, as well as the innovations of her archival project and her reframing of the genre of biography.

Abigail Hornstein teaches courses in a variety of areas, including corporate finance, investment finance, and econometrics. She has a particular interest in multinational strategy and China, and her work addresses such questions as how corporate characteristics affect the quality of corporate capital budgeting decisions, and how corporate and country-level governance mechanisms affect both foreign direct investment in China and the stock listing patterns abroad of Chinese firms.

Miri Nakamura teaches courses on literary and filmic approaches to Japanese modernity. More particularly, she works on Japanese literature from the Meiji era to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 – with a focus on fantastic fiction, including robot literature and gender theory. In her forthcoming book, Monstrous Bodies: The Rise of the Uncanny in Modern Japan, she brings methodologies from literary studies, cultural history, and critical theory to bear on understanding the link between monstrosity and femininity in the modern Japanese imagination.

Anna Shusterman offers courses in developmental psychology and on relations between language and thought. Always interested in building bridges between laboratory-based findings and real-world interventions, she focuses on the cognitive development of young children and that of populations with varied linguistic backgrounds. Her research has shown multiple ways that humans become more effective at spatial and numerical reasoning once they master the relevant language, such as “left” and “right” in the domain of space or the natural numbers in the domain of mathematics.

Chase’s Memoir Published; Reviewed in Multiple News Media

Memoir by Clifford Chase.

Memoir by Clifford Chase.

Clifford Chase, visiting writer in the English Department, is the author of The Tooth Fairy: Parents, Lovers and Other Wayward Deities published by Overlook Press on Feb. 6.

The Tooth Fairy is a humorous memoir of a man torn between isolation and connection. Chase tells stories that have shaped his adulthood through intimate confessions, deadpan asides and observations on the fear and turmoil that defined the long decade after 9/11. He writes about his aging parents, whose disagreements sharpen as their health declines; his sexual confusion in his 20s; the joyful music of the B-52s; his beloved brother, lost tragically to AIDS; and his long-term boyfriend—always present, but always kept at a distance.

The Tooth Fairy was reviewed in The Paris Daily ReviewNewsdayThe Minneapolis Star-TribuneBooklistKirkusBiographile and SliceChase also wrote an op-ed titled “The Teeth of Memory” published in the March 6 edition of The New York Times.

In a Slice article, Chase explains how he began writing in one-sentence fragments. “In early 2001, as life was unfolding. I had only the vaguest intuition of what I was doing—what constituted a ‘good’ fragment, where it should go in the narrative, why writing this way felt right to me. But I’d always liked working in vignettes, and I suppose The Tooth Fairy simply shrinks the unit of the vignette down to a single sentence. At first I was writing just a single essay, but then I wrote another, and it began to seem like the form had enough possibilities to be sustained over the course of a book.”

In this Henry Review video, Chase discusses his memoir in a Q&A.

Chase also is the author of the cult classic novel Winkie, the memoir The Hurry-Up Song, and he edited the anthology Queer 13: Lesbian & Gay Writers Recall Seventh Grade.

Nguyen’s Chapter on Vietnamese, African Americans’ Citizenship Published

Marguerite Nguyen, assistant professor of English contributed a book chapter titled, “Like We Lost Our Citizenship: Vietnamese Americans, African Americans, and Hurricane Katrina,” for the book Improbable Southerners: Asian Americans in the South, published by the University of Illinois Press in 2013.

Saint’s Article Published in African Cinema Journal

Lily Saint, assistant professor of English, is the author of “You Kiss in Westerns: Cultural Translation in Moustapha Alassane’s Le Retour d’un Adventurer” published in The Journal of African Cinemas in October 2013.

Willis’s Poetry Published in Several Journals, Anthologies

Elizabeth Willis

Elizabeth Willis

Elizabeth Willis, professor of English, authored several poems recently:

  • “Alive” is forthcoming in American Reader in 2014.
  • “Ephemeral Stream” was posted on Poem-A-Day, Academy of American Poets online on Jan. 2, 2014.
  • “Survey” was published in A Public Space No. 17 in 2013.
  • “The Witch” is included in the forthcoming 100 Poems Your Teachers Don’t Want You to Read anthology to be published by Penguin Putnam in 2015.
  • “Watertown Is Ninety-Nine Percent Land” is included in the forthcoming Collected in One Fund Boston Benefit anthology to be published by Granary Books in 2014.
  • “Oil and Water” included in the Oh Sandy!: A Remembrance anthology was published by Brooklyn Rail in 2014.
  • “The Witch“ was included in the Norton Anthology of Postmodern Poetry anthology published by Norton in 2013.
  • “R. D. / H. D.” appeared in Far From the Centers of Ambition published by Lenoir-Rhyne University in 2013.
  • “Bright Ellipses: The Botanic Garden, Meteoric Flowers, and Leaves of Grass” is forthcoming in Active Romanticism to be published by the University of Alabama Press in 2014.

Korda Published in Common Law, Medieval Studies Publications

Natasha Korda, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, faculty fellow and professor of English, authored “Coverture and Its Discontents: Legal Fictions On and Off the Early Modern English Stage” published in Married Women and the Law in England and the Common Law World published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2013.

She also is the author of “The Sign of the Last: Gender, Material Culture and Artisanal Nostalgia in Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday” included in the special issue on “Medieval and Early Modern Artisan Culture” published in The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies in 2013.

Willis Delivers Talks, Poetry Readings, Receives 2 Residencies

Elizabeth Willis

Elizabeth Willis

Elizabeth Willis, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, professor of English, recently presented several poetry readings and talks. She read poetry at Hobart & William Smith College on Feb. 28; Ithaca College, Feb. 25; Maison de la Poesie, Paris, Jan. 22; the University of Toulouse, Jan. 16; at “Oh Sandy!: A Remembrance,” Industry City in Brooklyn, N.Y on Nov. 10, 2013; and at Naropa University, July 9, 2013.

Willis spoke on “Everybody’s Autodidacticism: American Poetry and the Democratic Ideal” at the Conference on “Modernist Revolutions: Paradigns of the New and Circulations of the Word in American Poetry” at the University of Toulouse Jan. 16-17; and on “Notes on Hell, Fire, and Brimstone” during the Talk on Climate Change Panel at Naropa University, July 2013.

In addition, Willis received the 2013-14 President’s Award from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association.

She received a residency at Ithaca College Feb. 24-27 and at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop next fall.

Connor Publishes 10th Poetry Collection

Tony Connor

Book by Tony Connor.

Tony Connor, professor of English, emeritus, is the author of The Empty Air, published by Anvil Press Poetry in 2013.

Connor’s 10th collection is framed by military encounters. In the first poem a young man grapples with a malfunctioning machine-gun, while the author grapples with the poem he is making from this event, memory or fantasy. In the surrealistic sequence that ends the book, a strange army invades a country collapsing into societal and semantic dissolution.

Connor’s abiding preoccupations continue into his eighties: his own life and the lives around him, passing time and its traps, poetry and its transfiguration of the commonplace. Yet all is not solemn as Connor extends his range into comic verse and dramatic dialogue. His new poems mix fantasy and reality in unexpected ways, always with the unobtrusive hand of a skilled craftsman.

Scibona Honored with Writing, Book Publishing Award

Salvatore Scibona

Salvatore Scibona

Salvatore Scibona, the Frank B. Weeks Visiting Assistant Professor of English, is the winner of this year’s Ellen Levine Fund for Writers Award for his novel-in-progress Where In the World Is William Wurs?

The award is sponsored by the New York Community Trust and the Ellen Levine Fund for Writers. Members of the Teachers and Writers Collaborative nominated Scibona for the award, which comes with a $7,500 grant. Awards go an author who has previously published a print edition of one or two books of fiction, and who doesn’t currently have a publishing contract for a second or third book of fiction.

Scibona’s first novel, The End, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award from the New York Public Library. The End is published or forthcoming in seven languages. A former FAWC Fellow and a graduate of St. John’s College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Scibona has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, an O. Henry Award, a Pushcart Prize and a Whiting Writers’ Award.

In 2010 he was named one of the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40″ writers to watch. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space and Harper’s. Scibona also will leading seminars at the 2014 Wesleyan Writers Conference.

Ellen Levine, award-winning author, teacher, mentor and social justice advocate, died in 2012.

Cohen’s All We Know Shortlisted for PEN Award

Book by Lisa Cohen.

Book by Lisa Cohen.

Lisa Cohen, assistant professor of English, was recently shortlisted for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography for her book, All We Know: Three Lives.

For more than 50 years, the PEN awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across such diverse fields as fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation and drama. With the help of its partners and supporters, PEN will confer 16 distinct awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes in 2013, awarding nearly $150,000 to writers, editors and translators.

The final winners and runners-up will be announced later this summer and will be honored at the 2013 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Oct. 21 at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York, N.Y.

“We at PEN are grateful for the work writers and scholars like Professor Cohen are doing to advance the study and appreciation of literature,” said Cameron Langford of the Membership, Literary Awards and Writers’ Fund at PEN American Center.

Cohen’s book also was nominated for a 2012 inaugural Plutarch Award for “best biography of the year” and was named a National Book Critics Circle Finalist.

5 Questions With . . . Resident Writer Kit Reed on New Books

Kit Reed (Photo by Beth Gwynn)

Kit Reed (Photo by Beth Gwynn)

In this issue of the Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Kit Reed, resident writer in the English Department. Reed recently published two new books, Son of Destruction (Severn House), in which a reporter searches for his father and winds up investigating cases of human spontaneous combustion; and The Story Until Now (Wesleyan University Press), a rich collection of 35 stories that displays the range and complexity of her work.

In a recent review of Reed’s two books in The New York Times, thriller writer Chelsea Cain wrote: “Reed finds humanity in the most fantastic places. She does it without pretension. And she does it with a sense of humor and no apologies. In my Museum of American Writers, I’d have a statue of Kit Reed in the lobby.”

Q: You’ve described yourself as “transgenred.” Would you talk about that?

A: Mother Isn’t Dead She’s Only Sleeping, my first novel, was a comic novel, set in Fort Jude, Florida. At War As Children, my second, was elegiac; both were drawn immediately from life. The third, The Better Part, was drawn from life but included one imagined detail: The narrator was the daughter of a man who ran the world’s largest correctional school for troubled teens. I’ve always been interested in dystopias, which makes some editors believe it’s SF—that is, speculative fiction, where writers can expand their imaginations beyond the seen world. The novels have, variously, been marketed accordingly, and the short fiction goes where editors who like a particular story take them, which means they’ve been in The Yale Review, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, The Kenyon Review, Asimov’s SF, Missouri Review, New Haven Review, and… and… You get the idea. And I’m described as a “literary” writer (The Norton Anthology)!

George Saunders and Karen Russell came that route somewhat later. Editorial territory is less hostile now, and few reviewers have picked up on the fact that they are writing (shhh) SF, but that’s what they’re doing. It’s a friendlier climate for, OK, works that expand the imagination.

Literary, sometimes comic, always reality-based, but sometimes SF, oh right, and a couple of psychothrillers in the ’90s. In short, I’m “transgenred” because I don’t belong anywhere.

Q: What inspired your latest novel?

Novel by Kit Reed

Novel by Kit Reed

A: A spectacular instance of spontaneous human combustion in St. Petersburg, Florida.