TTh 3:00-4:15 p.m., Shingleton Hall 8

Monday, May 6, 2013

Contemporary World Fiction in English Conference Conference 05.06.13

Welcome to the English 328 Contemporary World Fiction in English (CWFE) Conference Conference 05.06.13. During our final exam period, our class is holding a conference comprised of the student's seminar papers. Each paper has been targeted to an actual professional conference; hence, our "conference" conference. This assignment is intended to professionalize our students through learning how to target and present their work to specific professional audiences.

CWFE Conference Conference Panel Topics and Presenters:

Textual Significations: Danielle Furr, Eric Huber, Nathan Rinard

Mythologies: Masculinities, Curses, and Goddesses: Amanda Edlow, Carissa Helm, Logan Umbach

SmartGeek and Other Identities: Ashley Harris, Olivia Albright

Gogol Ganguli: What's in a Name? Maddi Armstrong, Renee Reedy

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: DR + NJ = SF? Ile Kauppila, Andrew Anderson

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Junot Diaz Resources, with Thanks to Dr. Andrea Smith

Thanks for an energetic discussion with and your probing questions for Wednesday's guest lecturer, Dr. Andrea Smith, Assistant Professor of Spanish here at SU. Copious thanks, also, to Dr. Smith for introducing Dominican author Junot Diaz and his freshman novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao to us all. I found Dr. Smith's lecture quite valuable for placing the novel's rich tapestry of cultural references within their linguistic, cultural, and historical contexts. I hope that you all did, too. I expect that Dr. Smith's lessons will continue to inform our future class discussions on the novel.

As promised, Dr. Smith has provided valuable online resources including her powerpoint presentation [here] and a comprehensive website attempting to demystify the numerous Dominican references in Diaz's novel [here]. Enjoy your reading!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Junot Diaz Wins Another Big Literary Award

Photo: The Gardian
He won the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which we'll begin this week, and now Junot Diaz wins the largest-paying major award for a short story, the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank short story prize for his work "Miss Lora" about an underage boy who enters a romantic relationship with a female teacher. Read an interview with Diaz in The Gardian here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Small Reference to "A Small Place"

Image: cover of Edwidge
Danticat's 2013 novel
Claire of the Sea Light
Thank you all for an energetic discussion of Edwidge Danticat's ironically titled story "Seeing Things Simply." I could barely keep up with the number of hands shooting into the air, all of you wild with urgency to discuss various aspects of the story. Profuse thanks to SU President Dr. Tracy Fitzsimmons for visiting our class and for jumping full bore into the fray, offering valuable insights on Haitian daily life and pointing out the overarching theme of the story: oppression. These are the most exciting, fun, and rewarding kinds of class discussions--and how wonderful to share with a welcome guest!

In our discussion of the character Catherine's exploitation of Princesse, I mentioned a long essay by Jamaica Kincaid called "A Small Place." Google Books offers an 11-page preview [here]. I defy you to finish this preview and not buy the entire book on Amazon. If you'd like to read the reflective exercise (including an excerpt of Kincaid's essay) that I gave to my GCP Trinidad and Tobago group last year, click [here].

Finally, for those of you interested in the blog I created for that trip, click [here]. Any questions about Trinidad, Tobago, or the GCP program? I'm happy to answer questions or gush about how great the trip and program are.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Call for Writing Contest Entries

Attention undergraduate student writers! 

The Shenandoah University English Department invites submissions of original poetry and short stories for the annual S. Gordden Link Poetry and Bruce C. Souders Fiction Writing Contests. Each contest prize is $250. Submission deadlines for both writing contests: extended to March 18.

Poetry entries may consist of no more than five poems. Short stories may be no longer than 5,000 words. Students who submit manuscripts must be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credit hours) at Shenandoah during both semesters of the 2012-13 school year. Submitted manuscripts must be unpublished in any other form. Each entry should identify the writer on only the cover sheet to ensure anonymity until judging is complete. The English faculty will judge all submissions and its decisions are final. Submit one typed copy of each entry to Jo Strader in the Office of Arts & Sciences located in Henkel Hall, Room 206, or via email at Contact Associate Professor of English Joanne Jacobs at for more information.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

That Educational-Emotional Breakdown

Great discussion in our last class on how our study can change our lives... and those of others by our example (if they're willing). Let's keep talking about how literature--and art in general--can change the world. The idea is central to postcolonial studies.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Want to Recognize an Exemplary SU Teacher?

Has an SU professor helped you expand your learning? Made a difference in your life? Taught you to view the world in a new way? If so, why not nominate that professor for an Exemplary Teaching Award? For the past 20 years, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) has presented The Exemplary Teacher Award each year to one SU faculty member. This year’s award will be presented at the Commencement Ceremony on Saturday May 11, 2013.

Specific criteria are determined by Shenandoah University within the following broad general guidelines: excellence in teaching; civility and concern for students and colleagues; commitment to value-centered education; and service to students, the institution, and the community. To nominate an outstanding professor, submit an email letter to Dr. Rodney Bragdon <> within the next week or 10 days. The letter should explain the ways in which the professor meets these criteria:

  • Must be a full-time SU faculty member, but not necessarily a member of the United Methodist Church.
  • Must have an exceptional reputation as a teacher in terms of knowledge of the subject, course organization, clarity of instruction, and availability to students.
  • Is expected to contribute to the welfare of Shenandoah University and to the greater community.
  • Is expected to show interest in scholarly and professional achievement. Recitals and lectures before learned societies are considered on an equal footing with publications, research, application of professional expertise, or postgraduate study.
  • Should demonstrate reasonable concern for student welfare in areas beyond the academic.
  • Collegiality in the candidate shall be defined as cooperation with and respect for colleagues even when there is basis for debate.

Monday, February 25, 2013

David's Story Quiz for Monday, February 25th

David's Story cover
Please answer the following quiz questions in a comment to this post. You will begin work in class today. This quiz is open-book, open-notes, open-library, and open for discussion with classmates. You may use Internet sources only if they are online scholarly journals; online scholarly books; or online scholarly collections that end in .gov or .edu. You must cite all sources you use to complete this quiz both in text and in a list of Works Cited at the end of your answers. Collaborations of no more than two classmates will be accepted if both authors' names appear in those comments. This assignment counts as two participation grades. Answers #1-4 are due by class time on Wednesday, 2/27. Answers #5-8 and the Extra Credit are due by class time on Friday, 3/1. Be prepared to discuss the questions, answers, and their significances to the entire novel.
  1. What does David do to the hit list he finds?
  2. What happens during Dulcie's nightly visitations?
  3. What does the narrator practice doing at malls?
  4. Why?
  5. Who is Ouma Ragel's father?
  6. What industry does Thomas try to hire David to join?
  7. Why does David delve so deeply into Le Fleur/Griqua research?
  8. Why does the narrator abandon the narrative?
Extra Credit (1 point): What South African government policy did Andrew Le Fleur's goal of a separate Griqua homeland prefigure?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Want to Learn About Graduate School and Eat Free Pizza?

Virginia Tech Graduate Center
Attention ALL SU students! Did you ever wonder about graduate school but didn't know how to find out.... How much does it cost? Are there scholarships? How do I apply?  What programs would make sense for me?  What kind of job could I get afterward?

Next Friday, March 1st, at 5:00 p.m., in HHH 222 are the time and place for answers.

Representatives from the Virginia Tech Graduate School will be in Halpin-Harrison Hall, room 222, next Friday, March 1, at 5:00 p.m., to answer your questions about graduate school over free pizza. Click here for a list of Tech's graduate programsSU faculty will also be on hand to answer any other questions.

All SU students from any major and any academic level are invited. Questions? Email Dr. Michelle Brown at or visit me in Henkel 218.

Friday, February 22, 2013

More on Racism and White Privilege

Thanks for a great discussion in class today on racism and white privilege in apartheid era South Africa (as depicted in David's Story) and in the contemporary United States. Classmate Danielle Furr reminded me of Peggy McIntosh's great list of white privileges in her paper "Unpacking Your Invisible Knapsack." Here's McIntosh's list, with thanks to Danielle for supplying it. Let's continue this conversation. In the meantime, take note of McIntosh's list. How many items of privilege do you carry around without even thinking about them?

SU Global Film Festival

Background on Saartjie Baartman

Video poem by DeDe Hunt

Trailer for the film Black Venus, about Ms. Baartman

How does gaining a better understanding of Sara Baartman through these clips enhance our understanding of gender- and race-based themes in Zoe Wicomb's novel David's Story?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Writing Assignment on David's Story and Witness to Apartheid, a film by Sharon Sopher

How do these clips from the film Witness to Apartheid inform your reading of Zoe Wicomb's David's Story? Submit a 2 paragraph comment to this post by midnight, February 20.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

International Journalist Elizabeth Colton at SU on 2/21

Dr. Elizabeth Colton
Photo: American Committee
on Foreign Relations

Dr. Elizabeth Colton will speak on Thursday, February 21 at 4:00 p.m. in the Byrd Board Room. She will also speak during Dr. Gina Daddario's 2:00 class in HHH 107, which is open to anyone on campus.

Dr. Colton's talk is titled "Diplomacy and the Media: At Home in the World's Hot-Spots."

Dr. Colton taught at the Department of Mass Communication at Shenandoah in the 1990s. She left in 2000 and joined the Foreign Service where she worked as an Officer and Spokesperson at the American Embassy in Riyadh, Algiers, Khartoum, Baghdad and Islamabad.

Before the Foreign Service and Shenandoah, she worked for ABC News, NPR, NBC News, etc. Finally, remember those Iraqi soldiers in the Gulf War who surrendered to a journalist? She was that journalist.

This talk will be of especial interest to students with an interest in international politics, journalism, and the Foreign Service.

Monday, February 11, 2013

V-Day + 1 = One Billion Rising

This Friday, February 15th, at 1:30 p.m. in the Brandt Student Center, the Women's Studies Program at Shenandoah, the student women's group LIBERATE, and numerous faculty and students are sponsoring ONE BILLION RISING, an event to raise awareness of the fact that one in three women and girls are raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Statistically, that's one billion people worldwide. Will you rise with us? Thanks to Maddie Newell for a great documentary!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ceremony Assignment for Monday, 1/28/13

Leslie Marmon Silko
We have discussed the interrelationships among healing, ceremony, and storytelling in Laguna/Pueblo culture. We will continue exploration of these links in writing today.

Assignment: In a two- to three-paragraph comment to this post, answer this prompt: in Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Betonie says, "White people are only tools that witchery manipulates; and I tell you, we can deal with white people. . . . because we invented white people" (122). What does Betonie mean by "witchery"? What does he mean by the claim "we invented white people"? Finally, what is the nature of Betonie's relationship with Tayo?

You will begin work on this very short essay in class today; you may finish at any time prior to the deadline posted below. Use standard English. Cite textual evidence from Silko's novel. Remember: summarize or paraphrase most evidence and quote only when the exact phrasing is unique or especially important. Your comment may respond to previous comments as long as it otherwise fulfills these assignment criteria. Citation includes in-text citation and a list of Works Cited. See the citation link on this blog for instructions. In order to post a comment here, you must have an online account compatible with Blogspot. You may use either an existing online account, like your SU Gmail account, or set up a new one expressly for online work in this class. You may use whatever online moniker you prefer (barring the offensive) as long as your posts include your name. After the semester is over and final grades issued, you are free to disable any online account you used for this class. This assignment counts as one participation grade and is due by midnight on 1/29/13.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Shenandoah Languages on Facebook

You may know that Dr. Andrea Meador Smith, Assistant Professor of Spanish, SU Languages and Literatures, created and maintains a "Shenandoah Languages" Facebook page on which she posts announcements and links to articles and videos pertinent to literature and language study. I hope you'll take a look!