Tag Archive for English Department

Pfister Invited to Teach American Literature in China

Joel Pfister

Joel Pfister, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities, chair of the English Department, is invited to serve as one of two American faculty members in the West-China Faculty Enhancement Program in American Studies.

The program, which will take place in July in Xi’an, China, is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and China Association for the Study of American Literature.

Pfister will present 10 intensive, two-hour lectures on American literature to faculty from universities in western China that have poor rural students. He’ll also conduct a seminar session on American studies pedagogy.

“The aim is to better equip these university teachers to teach American literature and American history within a wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated American studies context,” Pfister says.

Olin Unferth’s Revolution National Book Critics Finalist

Book by Deb Olin Unferth

A book written by Deb Olin Unferth, assistant professor of English, was named a 2011 finalist in the National Book Critics Circle.

Olin Unferth’s Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War (Henry Holt) is one of five finalists in the autobiography category. In the memoir, Unferth describes the year she ran away from college with her Christian boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas.

Winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards will be announced at the awards ceremony on March 8 at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium in New York.

Read more about the finalists online here.

Millett Visiting Writer Edwidge Danticat to Speak Feb. 8

Edwidge Danticat is the 2012 Millett VIsiting Writer. (Photo courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation)

MacArthur Fellow and award-winning author Edwidge Danticat will deliver a reading at 8 p.m. Feb. 8 in Memorial Chapel. Danticat, a Haitian-American writer, is the 2012 Fred B. Millett Visiting Writer.

Danticat, a 2011 recipient of the Langston Hughes medal, is the author of Breath, Eyes, Memory (an Oprah Book Club selection), the story collection Krik? Krak! (a National Book Award finalist), The Farming of Bones (an American Book Award winner), and the novel-in-stories, The Dew Breaker. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. Create Dangerously, her most recent book, is a collection of essays.

She also is the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and Haiti Noir.

Danticat received a B.A. from Barnard College and an M.F.A. from Brown University. She worked as a visiting professor of creative writing at New York University and the University of Miami.

“I am absolutely thrilled that we are finally able to bring Edwidge to Wesleyan especially in this particular manner as the Fred B. Millet visiting writer— given Millet’s defense of free speech,” says Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of African-American Studies, director of Center for African-American Studies. “Besides her numerous accomplishments and personal lost, she continues to work tirelessly exercising such graceful restraint in her work as she gives voice to experiences that are often erased. Since the 2010 earthquake, she remains a devoted soldier in Haiti’s non-ending battle for humanity.”

The Millett Visiting Writer event is held annually in honor of the late Fred Millett, professor of English, emeritus. Cynthia and George Willauer ’57 are two of the initial donors.

The English Department, African American Studies, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Office of Diversity, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and Academic Affairs are co-sponsoring the event.

Danticat’s visit is part of the Spring 2012 Writing at Wesleyan Russell House Series on Prose and Poetry.  To view the upcoming speakers, see: http://www.wesleyan.edu/writing/community/writing-events.html

Reed Authors New Story Collection

Book by Kit Reed.

Kit Reed, resident writer in the English Department, is the author of the book, What Wolves Know, published in spring 2011.

The collection of stories includes tales of mothers who are monstrous in their maternalness, families on the brink of implosion, children mutated by parental pressure in every dream home a dystopia. The title story is about a boy raised by wolves who struggles to adapt to the modern world.

Read more about this story collection and others at http://www.kitreed.net/.

Bachner Authors Book on Violence in Fiction

Book by Sally Bachner

Sally Bachner, assistant professor of English, is the author of The Prestige of Violence: American Fiction. 1962-2007, published by the University of Georgia Press in 2011.

In The Prestige of Violence, Bachner argues that, starting in the 1960s, American fiction laid claim to the status of serious literature by placing violence at the heart of its mission and then insisting that this violence could not be represented.

Bachner demonstrates how many of the most influential novels of this period are united by the dramatic opposition they draw between a debased and untrustworthy conventional language, on the one hand, and a violence that appears to be prelinguistic and unquestionable, on the other. Genocide, terrorism, war, torture, slavery, rape, and murder are major themes, yet the writers insist that such events are unspeakable. Bachner takes issue with the claim made within trauma studies that history is the site of violent trauma inaccessible to ordinary representation. Instead, she argues, both trauma studies and the fiction to which it responds institutionalize an inability to address violence.

More information on the book is online here.

5 Questions With . . . Natasha Korda on “the Women Behind the Scenes”

Professor Natasha Korda, pictured here in London, is an expert on the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

This issue we ask “5 Questions” of Natasha Korda, professor of English, professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality studies. Korda’s book, Labors Lost: Women’s Work and the Early Modern English Stage, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in September 2011. She also co-edited a book, Working Subjects in Early Modern English Drama, published by Ashgate in February 2011.

Q: Professor Korda, you’ve taught English and gender studies at Wesleyan since 1995, and you were promoted to full professor in 2010. What courses do you teach and what are your scholarship interests?

A: My area of expertise is Renaissance literature and culture, particularly the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and my scholarship focuses on the subjects of labor and property, especially women’s labor and property, in Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatic literature and theater history. At Wesleyan, in addition to the Shakespeare lecture and introductory courses like “Shakespeare on Film” and “Renaissance Drama,” I have taught advanced seminars cross-listed with the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, including “Historicizing Early Modern Sexualities” and “Staging Race in Early Modern England.” This spring, while on sabbatical, I will be teaching a graduate seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., on “Mastering Research Methods at the Folger.”

Book by Natasha Korda

Q: You’re the author/editor of more than 20 articles and four books including Shakespeare’s Domestic Economies: Gender and Property in Early Modern England (2002) and Staged Properties in Early Modern English Drama (2002). Your newest book, Labors Lost: Women’s Work and the Early Modern English Stage (2011) argues that the purportedly “all-male” stage of Shakespeare’s time relied on the labor, capital and ingenuity of women behind the scenes of theatrical production. In what ways did women contribute, and how were they acknowledged?

A: The rise of the professional stage in England relied on women of all stripes, including ordinary crafts- and tradeswomen who supplied costumes, properties and comestibles; wealthy heiresses and widows who provided much-needed capital and credit; wives, daughters and widows of theater people who worked actively alongside their male kin; and immigrant women who fueled the fashion-driven stage with a range of newfangled skills and commodities. The work of female seamstresses, laundresses, dressers (known as “tirewomen”), wigmakers and head-dressers, among others, was woven into the very fabric of player’s costumes, congealed in the folds of their starched ruffs, set into the curls of their perukes, and arranged in the petticoats of boy-actors, while the terms of female moneylenders were calculated in the playing-companies’ balance sheets and inscribed in the terms of their bonds. Female “gatherers” collected entrance fees at the doors and galleries of theaters, while the cries of female hawkers echoed inside and outside their walls and the wares they sold were consumed in the “pit,” galleries, and on the stage.

Korda Authors Book on Working Women’s Role in Theatrical Production

Book by Natasha Korda

Natasha Korda, professor of English, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, is the author of Labors Lost: Women’s Work and the Early Modern English Stage, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in September 2011.

Labors Lost offers a fascinating and wide-ranging account of working women’s behind-the-scenes and hitherto unacknowledged contributions to theatrical production in Shakespeare’s time. Korda reveals that the purportedly all-male professional stage relied on the labor, wares, ingenuity, and capital of women of all stripes, including ordinary crafts- and tradeswomen who supplied costumes, props and comestibles; wealthy heiresses and widows who provided much-needed capital and credit; wives, daughters and widows of theater people who worked actively alongside their male kin; and immigrant women who fueled the fashion-driven stage with a range of newfangled skills and commodities.

Korda also is the co-editor of Working Subjects in Early Modern Europe, published by Ashgate Press in 2011.

In addition, Korda received a one-month International Visiting Fellowship at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom in 2012.

Nisse Receives ACLS Fellowship

Ruth Nisse, associate professor of English, associate professor of medieval studies, received a $40,000 fellowship grant from the American Council of Learned Societies for 2011-12. During the fellowship, she will complete her book Jacob’s Shipwreck. The study focuses on the “co-emergence” of Christians and Jews in12th and 13th century England and Northern France. She argues that the the two communities mediated their relations through the reception, translation and rewriting of ancient texts.

Tölölyan Delivers Inaugural Lecture at Oxford’s Diasporas Programme Launch

Khachig Tölölyan

Khachig Tölölyan, professor of letters, professor of English, has been actively involved in the launching of the University of Oxford’s Diasporas Programme in June. Tölölyan is the editor/founder of Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies and an internationally known expert on diasporas and transnationalism.

On June 2, Tölölyan delivered the inaugural lecture titled “Diaspora Studies: Past, Present and Promise” at the program’s launch. He is a scholar in residence at Wolfson College (one of the 40 colleges and halls that make up the university), where he is a tutor and consultant to various graduate students, postdoctoral faculty and researchers at several programs, all of which deal with diasporas, migration, transnationalism and globalization in some way.

In addition, Tölölyan delivered the keynote lecture at the University of Mainz in Germany at a conference on “Trends and Tensions in Contemporary Diaspora Studies” on May 19. He also guest lectured at the University of Toronto on “The Trajectories of Contemporary Diaspora Studies,” on March 25.

4 Faculty Speak at Diasporas Conference in France

Khachig Tölölyan, Typhaine Leservot, Ashraf Rushdy and Indira Karamcheti were invited to speak at a conference hosted by the Universite Paul Valery, Montpellier III June 20-23. The event is titled “Diasporas and Cultures of Mobility.” Rushdy and Karamcheti are invited visiting professors.

Tölölyan, professor of letters, professor of English, editor/founder of Diaspora will be the keynote speaker. He will speak on “Twenty Years of Diaspora Studies: Success through Confusion.”

Typhaine Leservot, associate professor of letters, associate professor of romance languages and literatures, will speak on “”Maghrebo-Quebecois and Franco-Maghrebi: towards Distinct Identities?”

Ashraf Rushdy, professor of English, professor of African American studies, academic secretary, will speak on “An Apology for the African Diaspora: Race, Regret, and Reconciliation.” He will examine how the social relations of people of African descent have been affected by the development of two competing discourses – one of ‘diaspora’ and the other of ‘apology.’

Karamcheti, associate professor of English, associate professor of American studies, will speak on “Names and Global Habitations: the South Asian Diaspora and the Problem of the Proper Name.” It concerns the inability of the diaspora from India to claim its national origin in its name, and the effects of this on the kinds of claims it can make on history and its own ethical treatment.

In addition, Karamcheti presented her paper at Montpellier titled “Sex Messaging: Writing South Asian Diasporic Sexuality” on May 30. Her paper examined the representation of South Asian female diasporic sexuality through the films Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, and Sita Sings the Blues, examining the relationship between the Indian nation’s aestheticizing, the diaspora’s politicizing, and the U.S. feminist universalizing of that sexuality.



Cohen Organizes Reading of Fiction, Memoir Writer Sybille Bedford

In honor of the centennial of the writer Sybille Bedford, and in conjunction with The Paris Review, Lisa Cohen, assistant professor of English, organized an evening of readings of her work on March 24 in New York City. Cohen writes about Bedford in The Paris Review. Cohen’s writing has appeared in Fashion TheoryBookforumPloughsharesThe Boston Review, and other journals and anthologies. Her book, All We Know—portraits of the neglected modernist figures Esther Murphy, Mercedes de Acosta, and Madge Garland—will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2012.

Sybille Bedford (1911-2006) was one of the great 20th-century stylists of the English language.


Garrett Researches Social History, Literary Form in 18th, 19th Centuries

Matthew Garrett, assistant professor of English, teaches his ENGL 209 course, From Seduction to Civil War: The Early U.S. Novel. He also teaches classes on transatlantic poetry between the 16th and 19th centuries and literature of the revolution.

Matthew Garrett brings research interests in American literature, narrative theory, literary and social history, and social theory to Wesleyan’s Department of English.

Garrett, an assistant professor, joined the department in 2008. He has a B.A. from Bard College, a M. Phil. from Cambridge University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

“I came to Wesleyan to work with superb scholars and to teach students who are famous as some of the best in the world. That combination of active scholarship and exciting teaching is truly exceptional, and I think it distinguishes Wesleyan from both its liberal-arts and big-university peers,” he says. “Every professor wants a robust environment for both their writing and their teaching, and Wesleyan has a tradition of sustaining these mutually nourishing and interdependent activities.”

Garrett focuses his research and writing on the relationship between social history and literary form, particularly in Anglophone culture in the 18th and early 19th centuries.