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Department of English Newsletter: March 2014

Posted on June 18, 2014

March 2014

Department of English Newsletter

in this issue

“What Are You Reading?”/Interview with Mary Turzillo (’70)/Faculty at Work/Kate Chopin Story Recovery/Restoring Art Digitally/Alumni News/Digital Grads/Breaking Genre Writers Conference/Gary’s Retirement Party

March 2014

“What Are You Reading?”

On Friday, January 17th, the
spring Colloquium Series kicked off with a roundtable discussion of books read by
department members. The roundtable, moderated by Megan Swihart
Jewell, featured Jim Sheeler, Marie Lathers, Paul Jaussen, Kristin Kondrlik,
Michael Parker, and Chris Strathman. What follows is a recap of some of their
remarks.

Michael Parker:

I
presented David Halperin’s How to Be Gay which builds upon a seminar he
offered of the same title at the University of Michigan. How to Be Gay argues
for the relevance of a gay culture which Halperin states is important to gay
men, primarily, as it offers a means of responding to the negation and
exclusion of gays. He writes that gay men carve a space for themselves within a
heteronormative culture by queering objects and figures that Halperin deems to be
already signs of the abject (Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, etc.). The response
to these objects through camp can then be seen as an effort to both critique
and destabilize dominant culture.

 

Marie
Lathers:

The Luminaries is a new novel by New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton.  It won the Man
Booker Prize in 2013. Standing at 834 pages, I’d advise you sit down
while reading it.  It is a frolicking novel about a gold mining town in
New Zealand in the mid-19th century. Twelve men meet in a hotel drawing
room one evening to discuss three mysteries that are linked:  the death of
a miner, the disappearance of a boat man, and the drugging of a
prostitute. In flashback, each of the twelve reveals something to us. I’m
looking forward to seeing how it all fits together.

Paul
Jaussen:

I
don’t know if there is a connection between the two books I’ve been reading,
but I found them both interesting. Lisa Siraganian’s Modernism’s Other
Work: The Art Object’s Political Life
(Oxford 2012) is an important
reassessment of the notion of artistic autonomy in modernist authors.
Siraganian argues that we need to distinguish between the autonomy of art and
the autonomy of meaning, and claims that the latter has a significant, positive
political function. The book is valuable for anyone interested in
twentieth-century Anglo-American literature. Eternity, not autonomy, is the key
word in my second book, Krzysztof Michalski’s The Flame of Eternity: An Interpretation
of Nietzsche’s Thought
(Princeton 2011).  This series of essays offers
a meditative and provocative account of Nietzsche’s key terms—nihilism, life,
eternal return, overcoming­—putting them in conversation with, somewhat
surprisingly, a religious idiom. The chapter comparing the death of
Socrates in the Phaedo with the death of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew
is worth the price of admission.

 

Christopher Strathman:

In The Forgiving Self: The Road from Resentment to Connection  (Random House 2001), academic, psychologist,
and author Robert Karen articulates a compelling non-theological theory of
forgiveness. The book’s three parts—on loss, resentment, and connection—chart a
path from the anger, bitterness, and spite of broken relationships to a
forgiveness of self and others essential for mature human love. Along the way,
the author enlists works of literature, such as King Lear, Pride and
Prejudice
, The Idiot, and Beloved; film, such as All About My Mother, Ma Vie en Rose, Mississippi Mermaid, and A
Mongolian Tale
; as well as composite case studies from his private
practice, to elucidate his theory. For me, most intriguing is the last chapter
on “Letting Go,” which I liken to Martin Heidegger’s idea of poetry as a “gelassenheit,” or a “letting go,” of
language.

 

Interview with Mary Turzillo (’70)

CWRU: You
were a professor of English at Kent State University. What was your field?

Turzillo: My
dissertation was titled The Writer as
Double Agent: Essays on the Conspiratorial Mode in Contemporary Fiction
. It
was basically a study of the use of unreliable narrator in Thomas Pynchon, John
Barth, Vladimir Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, and others.  So my field was 20th-century
literature. All of these writers had a science-fictional—or let’s call it
speculative— element to their work.

As
to teaching, I was at Kent State’s Trumbull Campus, and taught just about every
period of literature. They kept hiring other 20th-century lit
specialists, so if I wanted to teach literature, and of course I did, I had to
study like mad to teach other periods. I liked the survey courses, because I
liked seeing young people discover writers they’d never heard of, or writers
they had assumed were old and fusty. It was lots of fun.

Several
of my students have become published writers, and several became college teachers.
It also gives me great joy to know that my students learned to enjoy poetry and
fiction.

CWRU: Is
there something about your time at Case that helped to make this book possible?

Turzillo: What
an exciting time that was! What vivid memories! Unpacking the intricacies of
language in P.K. Saha’s linguistics courses. Examining machine poetry generated
by UNIVAC programmers who later helped create the first language translation
applications. Spending a hundred dollars all at one time for the first time in
my life on books at Zubal Book Store. Hearkening to the blast that mutilated
the Rodin Thinker in front of the Cleveland Art Museum. Discussing Bradbury and
Heinlein with physics students.  Discovering that Tolkien was a Beowulf scholar. Unearthing two poems
Roger Zelazny had published as an undergrad in Skyline, the  literary publication of Cleveland College.
Reading Man’s Rage for Chaos as part
of a Roger Salomon course, the first lit crit book I ever read that spoke from
the creator’s point of view.  Reading the
entire of Paradise Lost aloud in Dr.
John S. Diekhoff’s home one Saturday and falling in love all over again with
the music, not just of Milton, but of the English language. All of these
experiences, from the violent political drama of the time to the glorious
intricacy and art of language, all of these grew me as a writer. How amazing it
was to be alive and to be a writer at that time.

And
of course it is. It still is.

The interview with Mary Turzillo continues here.

Faculty at Work:

Eighteen Books in Five Years

Partenia, a
Pastoral Play.
A Bilingual Edition by Barbara Torelli Benedetti, Lisa
Sampson, and Barbara Burgess-Van Aken (2013)

White Out:
The Secret Life of Heroin
by Michael W. Clune (2013)

Writing
Against Time
by Michael W. Clune (2013)

SPEAK by William
Doll
(2014)

 

Black Dogs
and Blue Words: Depression and Gender in the Age of Self-Care
by Kimberly
Emmons
(2010)

The
Appearance of Print in Eighteenth-Century Fiction
by
Christopher Flint (2011)

Rhetoric in
the Flesh: Trained Vision, Technical Expertise, and the Gross Anatomy Lab
by T. Kenny
Fountain
(forthcoming April 2014)

Green is the
Orator
by Sarah Gridley (2010)

Loom by Sarah
Gridley
(2013)

 

American
Mastodon
by Brad Ricca (2011)

 

Super Boys:
The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—the Creators of
Superman
by Brad Ricca (2013)

Always on My Own: My Life on the Street by James E. Long and William Siebenschuh (forthcoming 2014)

 

A Pocket
Guide to Analyzing Films
by Rob Spadoni (forthcoming 2014)

 

Emily
Dickinson and Philosophy
by Jed Deppman, Marianne Noble, and Gary Lee Stonum (2013)

 

The Weight
of Heaven
by Thrity Umrigar (2009)

 

The World We
Found
by Thrity Umrigar (2012)

 

The Story
Hour
by Thrity Umrigar (forthcoming August 2014)

 

Making
and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural
Perspective
by Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi, and Martha Woodmansee (2011)

 

Alum Credits
English Graduate Studies Training with Recovery of Kate Chopin
Story

Bonnie James
Shaker (MA 1990, PhD 1998) and co-author Angela Gianoglio Pettitt have
recovered the printed text of Kate Chopin’s “Her First Party,” a short story
whose manuscript was previously thought lost or destroyed. “Her First
Party” appears as a Reprint Feature in the December 2013 issue of
Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, 30.2. It is
accompanied by Shaker and Pettitt’s critical essay, which attempts to
reconstruct fin de siècle periodical
editorial history in hopes of understanding why the
Youth’s Companion held Chopin’s manuscript so
long that it published the story after her death. Shaker and Pettitt found “Her
First Party” in the American Periodical Series archive, an electronic
database of more than 1,100 periodicals circulating from 1741-1940. Shaker had
relied extensively on the APS in microfilm format for her dissertation
and book,
Coloring Locals: Racial Formation in Kate Chopin’s Youth’s
Companion
Stories (U Iowa P 2003).

 

When I was
asked to write for the department newsletter about finding “Her First Party,” I
originally thought I would recount the tale of how two researchers and a
librarian discovered a hidden Kate Chopin short story in a periodical archive.
But the truth is, I have no story to tell. We simply looked—and much later than
we might have. Our instantaneous discovery was made possible by the APS archive’s database migration from microfilm to electronic format. As we wrote
in our article:

The American Periodicals Series (APS), a rich archive of the [Youth’s] Companion’s complete New England edition, was converted from microfilm
to a digitized database in 2000 (Cotton and Fisher). Yet apparently no one in
these last thirteen years—including us—conducted the most basic of searches
regarding Chopin and the periodical. To ensure that we would not miss any of
the features in the electronic APS, we enlisted the help of research librarian
Erin Burns at Pennsylvania State University, who began with a simple author
search inside the Youth’s Companion title. There, in descending order of
publication date, emerged Chopin’s stories—”Her First Party” topping
the list….we [had] uncovered a buried Chopin print less than thirty seconds
into our project.

If there is
a story to tell, it is about the questions we graduate students in Guilford
House learned to ask that prompted a revisiting of the APS archive in
the first place. In the late 1980s and ‘90s, the English Studies culture wars
were raging, and faculty members’ collegial humor (Roger Salomon: “I am an old
New Critic, in the flesh” and Lee Abbott: “I suspect we’re here because we like
books”) was shared alongside a graduate student petition to hire the
department’s first feminist theorist. If every faculty member was not, as
Gerald Graff urged, “teaching the conflicts,” we graduate students were
nonetheless living them— a tension that productively inspired our work.

This tension
still exists in Chopin studies. I
asked Angela Pettitt, a friend,
instructor at Penn State Shenango, and fellow
journalist-turned-academic, to join my project to help me keep my theoretical compass
on north. Like me, she has experienced the collaborative negotiations of writing
for daily media. Our backgrounds, combined with the awareness that much of
nineteenth-century fiction was produced for periodicals (shout out to Bill
Siebenschuh, who told of Dickens fans waiting on the docks for new installments
of Little Nell), also informed our research question: What might we learn by
studying Chopin’s fiction through the medium that first circulated it? The
answer, in part, is “Her First Party.” I am delighted to share news of—and
credit for—the recovery with the CWRU English community.

A link to Shaker and Pettitt’s introduction may be
found via Project Muse.

 

What Does English Have to Do With It? Prostate
Cancer, Informed Decision Making, and Technology

 

By
Otis “Shaun” Owens (’06)

Eradicating prostate cancer became a personal
mission for me on a Saturday afternoon in 2007 at a church health fair. It had
been almost one year since I had matriculated into my master of public health
program at Emory University. At the health fair, I was moved by the testimonies
of two prostate cancer survivors who had founded a non-profit to educate men about
prostate cancer and the importance of making informed decisions about prostate
cancer screening. Prior to the health fair, I had limited knowledge about the
disease. However, at the conclusion of the health fair, I was not only more
knowledgeable about some of the research regarding the unequal burden of
prostate cancer among African-American men, but I was convinced that there was
an urgent need to create innovative new strategies that could educate men about
the disease. Therefore, I have dedicated the past seven years of my career to developing
and evaluating programs that can help men become more informed about prostate cancer
and the risks, benefits, and uncertainties of prostate cancer screening.

I am currently a PhD candidate in Health Education,
Promotion and Behavior at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of
Public Health, where I am carrying out research to explore the feasibility of
using technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and touch-screen computers to
provide prostate cancer education. My dissertation research, titled “A
Community Driven Approach to the Development of a Digital Decision Aid to
Facilitate Informed Decision Making for Prostate Cancer Screening Among
African-American Men in Communities of Faith” involves a collaboration between
the academy (i.e., computer science, media arts, and public health experts) and
the faith community to collaboratively develop and evaluate a computer-based,
avatar-led module to teach men about prostate cancer and prepare them for a
conversation with their doctor. Some results of my research indicate that many
African-American men, ages 40-65 are using technologies such as computers on a day-to-day
basis. My research also demonstrates that these men are open to using
technology for receiving prostate cancer information as long as the technology
is physically accessible, uses simple language, contains culturally appropriate
characters/avatars, and is easy to use.

From writing convincing grant proposals to drafting
a script for the avatars used in my research, my English degree from Case
Western Reserve University has been useful in every aspect of my research. Whether
your career leads to an English Literature professorship or a health scientist
position, English is essential to almost every facet of life.

 

Restoring Art Digitally at Hermes Press

Since
her graduation from Case Western Reserve University, Eileen Sabrina Herman
(’12) has been knee-deep in the publishing business. Putting her
Bachelor of Arts in English and Art History to work, Herman has been working as
the Managing Editor at a mid-sized publishing company called Hermes Press. Hermes
Press is a publisher of comic book reprints, art books, and comics histories.
So far in her work at Hermes, Herman has successfully restored art using
digital tools such as InDesign and Photoshop, including the long running Buck Rogers comic (most recently she has worked on the
Gray Morrow years) and George Wunder’s Terry
and the Pirates
. She is currently working on restoring the third
volume of the Charlton years of The
Phantom
, a comic that follows the adventures of the first masked super hero,
The Ghost Who Walks.

 

Herman
also works on the public relations side of Hermes, composing and editing all of
the written content that gets sent out about the various upcoming books and
comics.  She runs the social media that comes out of Hermes, ranging
from monitoring the Facebook page to uploading all of the press releases to
their Tumblr.

 

When
not visiting her fiancé in Chicago (also a 2012 CWRU graduate), Herman can be
found with her headphones on, firmly entranced with the world of Adobe
Photoshop, painstakingly re-coloring hundreds of comic strips and comic books
that date from the 1930s onward. She also helps in running the exhibitor booth
for Hermes at various conventions around the United States, most notably at the
San Diego Comic Con, which she has attended every year for the last thirteen
years.

 

Parts
of Herman’s experience in publishing can be attributed to her long association
with CWRU’s undergraduate newspaper, The Observer, where she worked over
the years as a Layout Editor for the different sections, culminating in her
senior year when she served as the Editor-in-Chief.  In other words, she
finds herself still obligated every chance she gets to tell undergraduates at
CWRU to go work at The Observer!

Alumni News

Shelley Bloomfield (’83) is an Agatha Award nominee for You Cannoli Die Once in the best first novel category:

William Broughton (’12) has been chosen for a three year fellowship at
the University of Cologne studying the integration of Mass Digitization
images into Digital Scholarly Editions. It’s a Marie Curie Action Early
Stage Researcher fellowship in the Digital Scholarly Edition Initial
Training Network (DiXiT). http://dixit.uni-koeln.de/

Congratulations to Jamie McDaniel (’10) selected as a 2013 “Excellence in Teaching Award” recipient at Pittsburgh State University.

Danielle Nielsen (’11) has an article in the current issue of CEA Foum:

http://journals.tdl.org/ceaforum/index.php/ceaforum/article/view/7018

Brandy Schillace (’10) is now the research associate and guest curator at the Dittrick Museum of
Medical History. She works in public engagement and was recently featured in Belt Magazine Strange Medicine” and on
H-Net’s H-Sci-Med-Tech, “Museums
and the Muse: The Future of Collections in a Digital Age.”

Encoding Emily Dickinson

PhD
candidates Kate Dunning and Nicole Emmelhainz have begun a Digital Humanities
project with the goal of text encoding all of Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts.
The Text Encoding Initiative, or TEI, is a consortium of institutions and
scholars across various fields of Digital Humanities. Thus, TEI is not a
descriptive coding language the way HTML or XML are, but rather it is a set of
rules applied to XML, a coding language specifically used for managing data.
TEI-conformant XML allows the text encoder to embed in the digital text the
structure of the physical text, as well as the specific functions of the
language used. Coding the structure might include marking up titles, paragraphs
in prose, lines and line breaks in poetry, or particular speakers in drama. Marking
up the language might include coding parts of speech, syntax, or specific
content elements, like places, foreign language references, or particular
themes. An additional benefit is that, on a manuscript, one can also include
the materiality of the document, including cross outs, layout, and various
types of marginal notes.

The
Digital Dickinson Manuscript Project will complement a recently-launched Harvard-run
archive (www.edickinson.org) that makes available digital scans
of Dickinson’s poetry manuscripts. This archive also includes a text-encoded version of the 1998
Franklin variorum of Dickinson’s poetry, which offers increased searchability
of Dickinson’s poems, but lacks many of the benefits that would come from
directly encoding the manuscripts, for example, the ability to recognize a
blurred line between what constitutes a poem versus a letter for Dickinson, or
the relationship between the text and the way it is presented physically in the
manuscripts.

 

With
the ultimate goal of obtaining a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital
Start-Up grant, Kate and Nicole have been working with the Baker-Nord Center
for the Humanities, which awarded them $2,000 to run aTEI-focused Service
Working Group this spring. As part of this grant, they brought in TEI expert
Syd Bauman on March 7 to provide an introductory workshop on XML and TEI. The
interdisciplinary Working Group and the larger project have attracted much
interest not only from the
CWRU community but members of the Dickinson scholarly community as well.

Next
fall, Martha Nell Smith, a leading Emily Dickinson scholar, founder of the
Dickinson Electronic Archive, and co-founder of the Maryland Institute for
Technology in the Humanities, will be coming to CWRU to present a Digital
Humanities lecture and a workshop. In conjunction with this visit, Kate and
Nicole will use the Service Working Group’s funds to host a Digital Dickinson
Symposium, allowing for collaborative discussion about text encoding the
manuscripts, as well as other digital Dickinson initiatives. Kate and Nicole
are also collaborating on a publication detailing the significance of their
project both for Dickinson studies and Digital Humanities.

If
you are interested in contributing to the project or participating in the
working group, please contact either Kate or Nicole.

 

Summer 2014 Conference

Breaking Genre: In the Context of Others

Breaking Genre, a writers conference, will take place Saturday, May 31st, 2014, on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. Keynote: Thrity Umrigar. Presenters: Mary Biddinger, Cinda Williams Chima, Joyce Dyer,
Michael Grant Jaffe, Phil Metres, Lynn Powell, Jim Sheeler, S. Andrew
Swann, Samuel Thomas
. One Day Conference. Breaking Genre brochure

Gary’s Retirement Party

 

Gary Stonum with grad students current and former: Brad Ricca, Catherine Dunning, and Wells Addington.

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